Category Archives: BASEBALL

PODCASTS

The following are links to both “Ring the Bell” podcast episodes and my guest appearances on various Phillies related podcast shows.

The programs are listed in reverse chronological order along with the name and host of the show for guest appearances.

For “Ring the Bell” episodes the pod can be heard by clicking the Episode link. Guest appearances can be heard by clicking the date of the appearance:

2020

  • 02.12Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter
  • 01.22Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter
  • 01.17Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter

2019

  • 12.26 – Episode 00011: Answering questions submitted to the mailbag by social media followers
  • 12.11Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter
  • 11.30 – Episode 00010: Decision time arrives for Phillies on Franco, Hernandez
  • 11.20 – Episode 00009: The 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot includes six former Phillies
  • 11.14 – Episode 00008: Five Phillies have been named as the National League Most Valuable Player
  • 11.13 – Episode 00007: NL Cy Young Award has gone to a Phillies hurler seven times
  • 11.12 – Episode 00006: Two surprising Phillies skippers have won the NL Manager of the Year Award
  • 11.11 – Episode 00005: Philadelphia Phillies and the NL Rookie of the Year Award
  • 11.09 – Episode 00004: 2019 MLB Awards nominees
  • 11.08 – Episode 00003: Phillies in the 2020 free agent market
  • 11.07 – Episode 00002: Phillies current roster and payroll evaluation
  • 11.06 – Episode 00001: Introduction to the host and podcast
  • 11.04Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter
  • 09.01Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter
  • 08.11Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter
  • 07.22Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter
  • 07.15In Kap We Trust with Shane Meade
  • 07.03Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter
  • 06.16Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter
  • 06.05Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter
  • 05.22Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter
  • 05.11Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter

2018

  • 04.09 Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter
  • 03.28Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter
  • 02.28Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter
  • 02.12Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter

2017

  • 10.04Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter
  • 07.12Phillies Talk with Rich Baxter

2015

  • 06.22Yanks Go Yard with Ricky Keeler

 

If you would like me to appear as a guest on your podcast, feel free to contact me via email at matthew.veasey@verizon.net, or you can slide into my DM’s on Twitter @MatthewVeasey or @PhilliesBell.

 

Baseball Hall of Fame likely to take another look at Dick Allen

For the better part of 15 seasons in Major League Baseball, Dick Allen terrorized big-league pitching as one of the most feared sluggers in the game.

Allen put together a career slash line of .292/.378/.534, slamming 351 home runs among 850 career extra-base hits. He accumulated 1,119 RBIs and scored 1,099 runs. Allen even flashed speed, stealing 133 bases and registering double-digit stolen base totals six times.

In his trophy case can be found both the 1964 National League Rookie of the Year Award and the 1972 American League Most Valuable Player Award. He was a seven-time All-Star as well.

The first seven and two of the final three of those seasons were spent in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform. During that first stint from 1963-69, Allen won those Rookie of the Year honors and followed that freshman campaign with three consecutive NL All-Star seasons.

In his rookie year of 1964, Allen – then known as ‘Richie Allen’ – slashed .318/.382/.557 with 29 home runs, 38 doubles, and drove in 91 runs. He led all of baseball with 125 runs scored and 13 triples that year.

It was his presence in the middle of the lineup as the starting third baseman, combined with the efforts of newly acquired ace starting pitcher Jim Bunning, that pushed the Phillies to the top of the NL standings for most of that summer of 1964.

That those Phillies suffered a historic collapse, losing 10 straight at one point and going 4-13 over the second half of the month to blow a big lead, was no fault of Allen’s. Over those final 17 games from September 16 to the end of that season, Allen slashed .386/.449/.657 with 11 extra-base hits, 13 RBIs, and 18 runs scored.

Defensively, Allen moved from the hot corner out to left field for the 1968 season and then to first base during his final season at Connie Mack Stadium with the Phillies in 1969.

His time with the Phillies during the 1960’s was often as tumultuous as the decade itself proved to be for all of America. For fans who are genuinely interested, I highly recommend reading “God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen” by Villanova law professor Mitchell Nathanson.

There is also an outstanding biography on Allen at the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) by Rich D’Ambrosio, taken from the book The Year of the Blue Snow: The 1964 Philadelphia Phillies“.

For the purposes of keeping this particular piece short, I’ll largely skip over Allen’s non-Phillies seasons at this point. He was traded to the Saint Louis Cardinals on October 7, 1969 in what turned out to be one of the most important deals in MLB history.

The key piece coming back to the Phillies in what was a seven-player trade was three-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove Award-winning veteran outfielder Curt Flood. Instead, Flood chose not to report to the Phillies and embarked on a historic legal challenge of baseball’s reserve clause. The Phillies would later receive a prospect by the name of Willie Montanez to complete the deal.

Allen produced another All-Star season during his one year in Saint Louis, after which he was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had a solid season in LA, where the Dodgers finished just a game behind the arch-rival Giants for the NL West crown. Following that season he was traded once again, this time to the Chicago White Sox.

In 1972, Allen became the American League Most Valuable Player with the Chisox for a season in which he slashed .308/.420/.603 with 37 home runs,  70 extra-base hits, 113 RBIs, and 90 runs scored. It was the first of three consecutive AL All-Star seasons in the Windy City.

In December 1974, Allen was traded to the Atlanta Braves, who would flip him to the Phillies in May 1975. His return to Philadelphia coincided with the team’s rise back to contending status, and Allen joined young sluggers Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski in the middle of the Phillies batting order over the next two seasons.

After helping the Phillies to their first postseason berth in 26 years during the Bicentennial season of 1976 at Veteran’s Stadium, Allen was granted free agency. He signed with the Oakland A’s, for whom he would spend one final half-season before his career ended at age 35.

Allen began appearing on the Hall of Fame ballot in the early 1980’s and would remain under consideration by the Baseball Writer’s Association of America voters for 15 years. He would top off at 79 votes (16.7%), which came in his final year of consideration on that regular ballot in 1997.

Over the last two decades, Allen’s case for the Baseball Hall of Fame has been supported by a number of individuals, none more passionate than Mark Carfagno, who has aggressively championed the cause on social media in recent years.

An impressive 55-page presentation has been created by him at the website “Dick Allen Belongs in the Hall of Fame“, and there is an accompanying Facebook group as well. Another great fan web resource is the Dick Allen Hall of Fame created back in 2011.

There was hope in the winter of 2014 when Allen was voted on by the Veteran’s Committee. Needing 12 of the 16 voters support for enshrinement, when the final totals were tallied, Allen fell just one vote short.

Per Carfagno: “…it’s very political. He should have been elected on the 2014 Golden Era Ballot, but at the last minute Bob Watson was replaced as a voter by Dave Dombrowski who did not vote for Allen. I can say it as a fact since I was told by a very good source. I have so many correspondences, Emails , Letters and experiences that I want to write a book about the campaign. Ups and downs, High and lows, peaks and valleys just like a long baseball season.”

Last summer, Daryl Bell with the Philadelphia Tribune wrote “Phillies’ first Black superstar, who knew how to patiently wait on a pitcher’s mistake to hit a ball seemingly into another ZIP code, is diligently waiting for the day he receives word that he’s been elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He’s also waiting for the day the Phillies finally retire his number 15.

Allen has waited far too long to hear that word and enjoy that day. But now, there is again hope that the wait could be coming to an end.

The Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Golden Days” committee will vote in December 2020 on candidates for possible inclusion in the Hall’s Class of 2021. It is widely believed that Allen will be on that ballot and again voted on for possible enshrinement, and he would again need the support from 12 of the 16 voters.

Just last month, Matt Breen at the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote the following: “He was baseball’s best hitter over the first decade of his career, as Allen’s 165 OPS+ from 1964 to 1973 led the majors, better than all-time greats such as Hank Aaron, Harmon Killebrew, and Willie McCovey. Allen should have become a Hall of Famer in 1983...”

If he is left off the ballot ( a long shot) or the voters somehow get it wrong once again this coming December, that committee would not be scheduled to vote again until late in 2025. Allen would be 83 years old at that point.

The time is long past for Dick Allen to be voted into and inducted at the Baseball Hall of Fame, enshrined there forever with a plaque among the immortals of the game. Crying over those past injustices accomplishes nothing. Only a positive vote this time around will do it. The time is now.

 

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NL East Division comparison: Managers

Over a two-week period at the end of January, I presented a series of pieces evaluating and ranking each of the team’s in the National League East Division on a position-by-position basis.

Those rankings can be found here:

First base, second base, shortstop, third base, catcher, left field, center field, right field, bench/reserves, starting pitching, bullpen.

Those players will have the most to say about how each team fares on the field, and thus in the standings, during the coming season. But the men who write out the lineup cards and make the decisions about who is playing and pitching at any given time will have a big say as well.

If you go back and take a look at my evaluations on each of the positions and incorporate these managerial rankings, you will get a good idea of where each of the teams in the division stand as we prepare for the start of spring training.

Phillies pitchers and catchers are due to report on Tuesday of next week with their first formal workouts coming on Wednesday. The full squad will be in camp by the following week.

The first Grapefruit League game will take place on February 22 when the Phillies visit the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida. The first home game in Clearwater on the 2020 schedule will come the following afternoon when the Phillies host the Pittsburgh Pirates.

NL EAST – 2020 MANAGER RANKINGS

1) Philadelphia Phillies: Joe Girardi

Girardi will be in his first season with the Phillies in the 2020 season. However, he has more actual managerial experience, more of a winning record, and arguably has been under more of a big-league microscope than any skipper in the division. Girardi got his first managerial experience in the NL East when he guided the then-Florida Marlins to a 78-84 mark back in 2006. Though the Fish had a losing record, they also had the lowest payroll in all of baseball. Girardi kept a Marlins team with largely inferior talent in the playoff race until the final weeks. For that performance he was named as the NL Manager of the Year but a dispute with ownership got Girardi fired after that one season. Less than two years later he was hired to take over the highest-profile team in Major League Baseball when he was named as the manager of the New York Yankees to replace Joe Torre. Under Girardi the Yankees would win the 2009 World Series, defeating the Phillies in six games. Over ten seasons in the Bronx, Girardi would guide the Yankees to a 910-710 record and three AL East Division crowns. However, they were never able to again reach the World Series after that 2009 season and did not capture a division title after 2012. When the Yankees were edged out in seven games by what we now know were a cheating Astros team in the 2017 ALCS, Girardi’s contract was not renewed by New York. Girardi will be 55 years of age for the entirety of the 2020 season.

2) Atlanta Braves: Brian Snitker

At age 64, Snitker is the oldest manager in the division. He took over a young Atlanta club going through a rebuilding program similar to the Phillies during the 2016 season. He guided the club to a somewhat surprising first-place finish by 2018, and they repeated as division champions a year ago. However, the Braves have failed to advance in the postseason, losing to Los Angeles in an NLDS in 2018 and Saint Louis a year ago. In last year’s NLDS they led the Cardinals two games to one and held a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the 8th inning in Game Four only to see Saint Louis rally to tie. The Cards then walked it off in the bottom of the 10th, and put the Braves out with a 13-1 romp in the decisive Game Five.

3) Washington Nationals: Dave Martinez

The 55-year-old Martinez is 175-149 over two seasons with the Nationals, his first two seasons as a big-league manager. Of course, his team won the World Series a year ago, and he deserves a ton of credit for keeping them together after a horrendous start. We need to remember that his first team in 2018 went just 82-80 and the club was sitting at 19-31 on May 23 of last season. That gave Martinez an overall 101-111 mark over his first season-plus. From that point onward, the Nationals took off and went an unreal 74-38 (.661) and then moved dramatically through the postseason. The Nats rallied in the bottom of the 8th inning for a 4-3 victory over Milwaukee in the NL Wildcard Game. Then they rallied from down 2-1 in the NLDS to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers, coming from a 3-0 deficit with another 8th inning rally in the decisive Game Five, which they finally won in 10 innings. And with what we now know regarding the Houston Astros cheating scandal, you have to give Martinez and the Nationals a lot of credit in edging out Houston by 4-3 in the World Series. Again they came from behind, winning the final two games after being down 3-2.

4) Miami Marlins: Don Mattingly

Mattingly was a six-time AL All-Star, nine-time Gold Glove Award winner, three-time Silver Slugger, and the 1985 AL MVP over a 14-year big-league career with the New York Yankees, one that could one day see him enshrined in the Hall of Fame. He is 276-370 over four full seasons from 2016-19 as the skipper in Miami. Prior to that he fashioned a 446-363 mark over five seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. That gives him an overall 722-733 record in nine seasons, making him the manager with the longest continuous streak of managerial experience. Of course, he had a far better cast of players to work with in LA, finishing in first place each of his final three seasons on the west coast. But each of those clubs failed to advance to the World Series, and Mattingly finally paid with his job for that failure to get to the Fall Classic. He landed on his feet almost immediately in South Florida but has been forced to deal with a change in ownership accompanied by a complete rebuilding program. It would appear that it is going to take at least another couple of years for the Fish to raise their on-field talent level to compete in the division. Whether Mattingly can survive through that period and still be around once they are good enough to win remains to be seen. He turns 59 in late April.

5) New York Mets: Luis Rojas

This will be the first season for Rojas as a big-league manager. He brings the experience of having guided a number of the younger Mets players while a minor league skipper. Rojas has been a coach and manager in the Mets minor league system since 2007, rising through each level of the club’s system. He was the 2013 South Atlantic League Manager of the Year after guiding Savannah to a championship, and later led the High-A St. Lucie club to a first place finish. Rojas gained further managerial experience in the Dominican pro leagues, leading Leones del Escogido to a championship. He managed Double-A Binghamton in 2017-18, then served as the Mets minor league quality control coach in 2019. Just over two weeks ago, Rojas got the Mets job when Carlos Beltran was caught up in the Astros’s sign-stealing scandal. At 38 he will be the youngest manager in the division by far as well as the least experienced.

 

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Kris Bryant to the Phillies: Would he really be worth the cost?

Buzz regarding the possibility of a trade that would send third baseman Kris Bryant from the Chicago Cubs to the Philadelphia Phillies has once again re-surfaced in recent days.

Some of that is simple wild speculation, fueled in part by the pending three-team trade involving the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Minnesota Twins. That deal would send superstar outfielder Mookie Betts and veteran southpaw David Price to Los Angeles.

One thing that a big trade in Major League Baseball frequently does is spur immediate talk of the next big player that might be dealt. So, that is certainly a part of the equation here.

But another part of the equation is the building reality that, despite oddsmakers seeing the Phillies as a leading contender entering 2020 spring training, many baseball talent evaluators still place the club no better than third-best in the National League East Division.

It has also become common knowledge around the game that Chicago is shopping Bryant, who can become a free agent following the 2021 season.

Bryant could become a pivotal player in that NL East race should the Cubs really decide to actively shop him. All three of the Phillies top division rivals, the Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, and New York Mets, could use an impactful starting third baseman.

Players are scheduled to report for spring training beginning next week. The Phillies enter their preparations for the coming season with Scott Kingery slotted in as the starting third baseman, keeping that position warm for top prospect Alec Bohm.

In a recent evaluation of the position among the NL East clubs, I generously slotted Kingery in at third in my ranking of those players currently slotted in as hot corner starters. Adding Bryant would give the Phillies the top player at the position in the division.

The scheduled starters for the defending World Series champion Nationals and two-time defending NL East champion Braves are among the biggest question marks for those teams at this point. Adding Bryant would push either club, already arguably better overall, further ahead of the Phillies.

So, when considering a deal with the Cubs that would bring Bryant to Philly, there are three questions that need answering. I’ll take a stab at asking and answering each.

What would Kris Bryant add to the Phillies?

Bryant was the first round pick of the Cubs in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of San Diego as the second player taken overall.

He reached the big-leagues in 2015 at age 23 and won the NL Rookie of the Year Award for a season in which he slammed 26 homers, 62 extra-base hits, and drove in 99 runs.

The following season, Bryant became the National League Most Valuable Player. He slashed .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs, 77 extra-base hits, 102 RBIs, and 121 runs scored. Bryant capped his season by fielding a grounder and firing to first baseman Anthony Rizzo for the final out as the Cubs won the franchise’ first World Series title in nearly a century.

Bryant is a three-time NL All-Star. Over five seasons in Major League Baseball he has produced 138 homers and has a career .284/.385/.516 slash line. He has also shown some versatility defensively in handling work at both corner outfield spots, as well as playing in a few games at first base with Chicago over the last couple of seasons.

The Phillies would not be adding Bryant to play left field or first base, at least not on a regular basis. Not at this stage of his career. He would be their third baseman for years to come. While Bryant will likely never contend for a Gold Glove, neither would he hurt the club at third base.

Born and raised in Las Vegas, Bryant is a long-time good friend of Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper, also a Vegas native. The two are virtually the same age, with Bryant having just turned 28 last month. They have known one another since they were children, and played both with and against one another while growing up.

Bryant would add another All-Star caliber ballplayer to the Phillies starting lineup. He and his family would bring true friends for franchise cornerstone Harper and his family to socialize with. And he would add another marquee name to help attract even more Phillies fans out to Citizens Bank Park.

What would it cost to bring Kris Bryant to the Phillies?

This is a big question for a few reasons. One of the biggest is that element of competing against both the Braves and Nationals for his services. Atlanta in particular would seem to have the prospect assets to at least match any Phillies offer.

Each of those clubs arguably has as much of a need at the position as the Phillies, if not more so. Each of those clubs is a legitimate contender already. Bryant would push either of those teams closer to making a long October run. Motivation for both to be involved in talks with the Cubs would appear to be there.

What this does is raise the price for the Phillies if they seriously want their package to win out in a bidding war for Bryant with Atlanta and Washington.

A package for Bryant would absolutely start with top hitting prospect Bohm, who could then become the third baseman of the near future in Chicago. But Bohm alone would not be enough.

The Phillies would have to send at least two more players in such a deal. One of those would need to be a pitcher with some upside. Another would have to be some other prospect with upside.

Would the Phillies ultimately have to decide on whether to part with both Bohm and top pitching prospect Spencer Howard in such a deal? Normally I would say no. That is especially the case when considering what the Dodgers had to part with to get the Betts deal done.

Los Angeles is reported to be sending 23-year-old outfielder Alex Verdugo to Boston and veteran pitcher Kenta Maeda to Minnesota in order to get the deal done.

There was rumored to be some element of competition for Betts in this deal as well. The Dodgers up-and-coming division rivals in San Diego were also said to be interested in Betts, and the Padres have a strong minor league system from which to offer a prospect package.

What is not known is exactly how high a price the Padres were ultimately willing to pay. Also, the Dodgers are reportedly giving Boston some salary relief in the deal, taking on half of the $96 million still owed to Price over the next three seasons. So it’s a different kind of deal.

If the Phillies aren’t willing to put Howard into such a deal, and the likelihood is that they would not, then could they still offer enough to beat out the Braves or Nationals potential offers?

The Phillies could put together a package of Bohm, Kingery, and either of two other pitching prospects, Francisco Morales or Adonis Medina. Morales has a higher ceiling at this point. But by including Kingery, they might be able to get the Cubs to go for Medina instead. Chicago might prefer young infield prospect Luis Garcia, which might alleviate putting Kingery into the deal.

Is Bryant worth the price it would cost?

The Phillies would be getting a player with five years of big-league experience. A three-time All-Star, including last season during which he slammed 31 homers, slashed .282/.382/.521, and scored 108 runs. A former NL MVP who has already won a World Series championship.

While Bryant would only have two seasons of contractual control left it isn’t difficult to see him agreeing to a long-term deal. That would keep he and Harper together as the Phillies 1-2 lineup punch for at least the next seven or eight years.

There is an old baseball axiom that says prospects are prospects. While evaluators can gauge their potential, there is no way to know how a kid with no big-league experience is going to perform against the best players in the world under the glare of the largest spotlight on the biggest stage.

I believe that the Phillies need something even more than another strong offensive weapon. It has been and remains my assertion that the Phillies need another proven, talented, winning veteran starting pitcher for their rotation more than anything else. But that is a difficult piece to acquire, and should not keep general manager Matt Klentak from making his team better right now.

Bryant has proven himself to be one of the top offensive performers in baseball. He is in his prime. He is a lifelong friend of the Phillies resident superstar. He would help close the gap even further between the Phillies and the top teams in the National League. This is a deal they should find a way to get done.

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

 

Oddsmakers list Phillies among 2020 World Series favorites

So, you’re a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies and you feel as if general manager Matt Klentak has not done enough this off-season to elevate your favorite .500 ball club to 2020 contender status?

Well, the folks who set the odds on such things, people not known to make their evaluations through rose-colored glasses, do not rate the team’s potential quite as poorly as some of you.

Oddsmakers at Sports Betting Dime (SBD) currently show the Phillies as having the seventh-highest odds in all of Major League Baseball. This is in line with numerous other sources rating the Phillies as having anywhere from the fifth to eighth best odds to finish the upcoming season as world champions.

While consistently receiving odds placing them within the top  eight teams in the game by betting sites during this off-season, there remains some sobering news for the Fightin’ Phils chances to not only capture the 2020 Fall Classic, but to even win the division or reach the postseason as an NL Wildcard team.

The two-time defending NL East champion Atlanta Braves have the fourth-best odds at the moment, placing them second overall in the National League behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers. The defending world champion Washington Nationals odds place them just ahead of the Phillies as well.

A third division-rival, the New York Mets, slipped past the Phillies to finish in third place in the NL East standings a year ago. The Mets current odds place them right on the Phillies heels for the upcoming season.

Keep in mind that odds in Las Vegas and at some online sites reflect not only actual talent, but also where the money is flowing. In any event, it appears obvious as we prepare to open spring training that the Phillies are being looked upon as legitimate contenders by the professional gambling community.

Where do I think Joe Girardi, Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and the Phillies will finish in 2020? I won’t be making that prediction until some time in mid-March.

But those fans of the Philadelphia Phillies who remain skeptical regarding the team’s ability to contend in 2020 should draw some comfort that the smart money and the oddsmakers currently like their chances.

 

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