Tag Archives: Baltimore Orioles

Phillies meeting with free agent Manny Machado goes well

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Machado met with Phillies brass on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park

It was a grey, rain-swept afternoon in the Philadelphia area. But the local professional baseball team did everything they could to paint a picture of a bright and sunny future with the organization for one of baseball’s highest-profile free agents.’

Whether Manny Machado ultimately decides to put his signature on a long-term contract with the Phillies remains to be seen. But his meeting with club officials this afternoon appeared to go very well.
Per a Tweet from Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Machado stated that his vist to Citizens Bank Park was “pretty awesome” and that he “learned a lot about the organization” during the four-hour Phillies presentation.

The visit began in a bit of a disjointed fashion. In addition to the cold, damp afternoon weather the reception on arrival at the South Philly ballpark seemed oddly uncomfortable.
Machado pulled up in a silver SUV right around 12 noon on the Pattison Avenue side of the ballpark, and stepped out, accompanied by his wife and agent.
He was briefly accosted by a local electrician, 57-year-old Tom Cudeyro, hearkening back to the electrician’s union members whose welcome to Jim Thome some 16 years ago helped encourage the slugger to sign with the Phillies as a free agent back then.
Machado obliged the fan with a photo, and then as the player moved away towards the building Cudeyro yelled “Super Bowl champs! World Series here! Do the right thing and sign! Get the money!
On approaching the door to the building with his entourage, Machado pulled on the door handle and it wouldn’t give. Our potential $350 million dollar superstar was was momentarily locked out of his proposed new home.
After what seemed like an awkward few seconds, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak finally showed up to open the door with a “Hey, Manny!” The player responded “What’s up?” and Klentak finally invited Machado and his group inside. Waiting just inside along with Klentak was manager Gabe Kapler.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia stated that present at the formal meeting overlooking the field were “…Klentak, Kapler, managing partner John Middleton, club president Andy MacPhail, assistant general manager Ned Rice, hitting coach John Mallee and bench coach Rob Thomson.
As that meeting took place, Machado’s picture was displayed on the huge media board out in left field, with the player adorned in Phillies red pinstripes. Scott Lauber of Philly.com Tweeted out a picture of the board taken from outside the ballpark.
The Phillies went after Machado via the trade route back in the summer when he was still a member of the Baltimore Orioles and the Phillies were still battling for the NL East crown. The Los Angeles Dodgers apparently offered more, and the Orioles sent Machado to the west coast. The Dodgers went on to the World Series, while the Phillies faded out of contention.
Despite their disheartening 17-34 collapse over the final six weeks of the 2018 season, the Phillies improved by 14 games in the standings this year. If the club could do the same next season, they would finish with 94 wins. That would likely be enough for at least an NL Wildcard playoff berth.

If Machado (R) signs with the Phillies he would join McCutchen (L) in a completely re-tooled 2019 lineup. (Photo: Keith Allison)
The Phillies are apparently one of three finalists for Machado. The 26-year-old Florida native had a similar visit yesterday with his boyhood dream team, the New York Yankees. Earlier in the week the dark-horse Chicago White Sox also made their own sales pitch.
Klentak has already made moves to better the lineup this off-season. He brought in former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen to play an outfield corner, traded for Jean Segura to become the new shortstop, and dumped Carlos Santana to allow Rhys Hoskins a return to first base.
If he can convince Machado to play third base next to Segura for the next few seasons, the Phillies would have significantly upgraded the left side of their infield. They would also have taken a massive step towards returning to the playoffs, making the first ‘Red October’ in eight years a genuine possibility in the 2019 season.
Based on his comments, it would appear that the Phillies overcame the awkwardness of the star’s arrival at their front door to make a positive first impression. Tonight at what is sure to be a swank dinner in an impressive location, they will try to put the icing on the cake.
Machado is scheduled to spend the night in town, and then fly home in the morning. It would not be at all surprising to find he and his wife Yainee meeting with agent Dan Lozano of MVP Sports Group this weekend.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised to have a Christmas Eve announcement of a deal with one of this week’s three finalists. That deal should come in at roughly 10 years and $350 or so dollars.
The two teams which lose out, especially if those are the Phillies and White Sox, will then likely turn their efforts towards this year’s other big free agent prize, Bryce Harper. If either of those two teams is the winner on Machado, don’t be surprised if they also continue to pursue the superstar outfielder as well.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Manny Machado says his meeting with Phillies was ‘pretty awesome’

Remembering the Jim Thome Era in Philadelphia

With this MLB off-season so highly anticipated here in Philadelphia, I decided to take a look back during this month at some of the more important Hot Stove moments over the course of Phillies history.

So far we’ve traveled back to re-examine big free agent signings of Pete Rose in 1978 and Jose Mesa in the winter of 2000. We also took a look back at a pivotal 1981 trade in which catcher Bo Diaz came to Philly from Cleveland as part of a three-team swap which sent outfielder Lonnie Smith to the Cardinals.
This time around we’re going to take a look back at two different Hot Stove moves from the first decade of the 21st century. One is a free agent signing, the other a trade. Both involve the same centerpiece player, Phillies Wall of Famer and Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Thome.
To understand the motivations for the Phillies deciding to open up their wallets and bring Thome to Philadelphia you need to remember the context of where the franchise was and who the player was at that time.
From 1987 through 2002, a period that spanned the final years of Mike Schmidt‘s career through the final year of Scott Rolen‘s career with the Phillies, the team suffered through 14 losing campaigns over 16 seasons.
The 1993 National League champions had proven to be an oasis in a long, wide desert of losing years. But things began to change as the new century dawned.
Under popular and fiery new manager Larry Bowa the Phillies had nearly captured the 2001 NL East crown. Thanks to a stretch of nine losses in 11 games to open the month of September, the 2002 Phillies finished 80-81. Though it was another losing record, something was obviously different.
The Phillies had a talented core group of position players featuring veteran catcher Mike Lieberthal, exciting youngsters Pat Burrell and Jimmy Rollins, and the power-speed combination of an entering-his-prime Bobby Abreu.
Also, the club was preparing to say goodbye to Veteran’s Stadium. The 2003 season would be the 33rd and final one on turf for the team. A brand new facility to be named Citizens Bank Park was under construction and would open for 2004.
Phillies chairman Bill Giles, club president David Montgomery, and GM Ed Wade knew that there would be major financial benefits coming with the new ballpark. They wanted to make a push to excite the fan base even further, and so went into that off-season on the hunt for marquee names to add to the roster.
On December 2nd they signed 30-year-old free agent David Bell to play third base. This would allow Placido Polanco, obtained the previous summer in trade for Rolen, to shift over to second base, strengthening the overall lineup.
But what the lineup really needed was one truly menacing presence in the middle. A big bopper to serve as an anchor, a game-changing threat with the kind of true power that hadn’t regularly plowed the baseball trade in South Philly since Schmidt’s retirement more than a decade earlier.
As good fortune would have it, just such a talent was coming available on the free agent market. Thome was a 32-year-old veteran of a dozen big-league seasons who was one of the most feared power-hitters in the game at that time.
James Howard Thome was an Illinois native who had been the Cleveland Indians pick in the 13th round of the 1989 MLB Amateur Draft, which was held exactly one week after Schmidt’s retirement.
He first broke into the big-leagues with Cleveland in 1991 with the typical September cup of coffee. The following summer he became a regular at the end of June, but a late August injury brought his rookie campaign to an early end. He returned in 1993 but didn’t receive a promotion back to Cleveland until mid-August.
When the 1994 season opened he was one of the key pieces to a young and quickly improving Indians team. The club bolted out to a 66-47 record with Thome ripping 20 homers. But it was all brought to a sudden end by the player strike.
The true career breakout for Thome came when baseball returned for the 1995 campaign. He slashed .314/.438/.558 with 25 homers and 73 RBI as the Indians won 100 games and an AL Central crown. The Tribe then beat Boston and Seattle to capture the American League pennant before dropping a tough six-game World Series to the Atlanta Braves.
It would prove to be just the beginning of a baseball renaissance in Cleveland. The Indians became the AL Central’s dominant team, winning the division for five straight seasons and six times over seven years through 2001.
However, despite all of their talent and all of the winning, the Indians would return to the World Series just one more time during that stretch of dominance. That one other shot would also fall just short, and may have been the most demoralizing defeat of all.
In Game 7 of the 1997 Fall Classic, Cleveland was just two outs away against the Florida Marlins. But the Fish rallied against Tribe closer Jose Mesa to tie it up. In the bottom of the 11th, the Marlins would win it, sending Thome and the Indians home to another in a series of frustrating late-90’s winters.

During his time in Cleveland, Thome came under the tutelage of Indians hitting coach Charlie Manuel. The plain-spoken homespun wisdom of Manuel would blend perfectly with Thome’s own personality, and the two would become close.


Manuel became the Indians manager from 2000-02 and the club continued to win over the first couple of seasons, including capturing the 2001 AL East crown. However, with a number of the players aging quickly and others gone in trades or free agency, the Indians were losing in 2002.
Manuel was looking for a contract extension and some security as he would try to help the club rebuild. The Indians weren’t willing to meet his terms, and Manuel was fired on July 12. The handling of Manuel’s situation did not sit well with Thome, and would become a factor when he entered free agency that off-season.
Over parts of 12 seasons with Cleveland, Thome slashed .287/.414/.567 with 334 homers, 259 doubles, and 927 RBI. He had been a 3x AL All-Star, a Silver Slugger Award winner, and had finished among the top 10 in AL MVP voting three times, including each of his final two years.
He had also earned more than $40 million to that point in his career and received an annual salary at roughly $8 million per year over his last four seasons in Cleveland. This was the player who entered free agency in the fall of 2002.
The Phillies brass rolled out the red carpet in trying to woo the Paul Bunyan-esque Thome to sign with them. He and his wife, Andrea toured both Veteran’s Stadium and the construction site at Citizens Bank Park with agent Pat Rooney.
While outside of the construction site, a group of electricians union members cheered him on. When Thome stopped to speak with them, the group did a fantastic salesmanship job in representing Phillies fans wishes to have him join the team.
”I heard a lot of great things about Philadelphia,” Thome said per an AP report at ESPN at the time. ”You saw what the people did out there and that was heartwarming. It’s going to be a tough decision.”
Fans of the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team would continue to apply the pressure that night when the Thome’s were treated to a game. On the couple’s introduction to the crowd midway between the second period the Philly sports fans gave him a rousing standing ovation.
The Phillies would ultimately win the bidding for the free agent star in a process that came down to them and a return to Cleveland. On December 6, 2002, Thome inked a six-year deal guaranteeing him at least $85 million and as much as $94 million over the life of the contract.
Thome would deliver everything that the Phillies hoped and then some. In the first season of 2003 the slugger finished fourth in the NL MVP voting as he led all of baseball with 47 home runs, ripped 30 doubles, and registered a career-high 131 RBI.
The 2003 Phillies led the NL Wildcard race as late as September 19. But a season-closing collapse in which they lost six straight and seven of the last eight games left them frustrated as the Veteran’s Stadium era came to an end.

In 2004, Thome blasted another 42 homers and made his first National League All-Star team. Those long balls included the milestone 400th home run of his career. The Phillies won 86 games for a second straight season and moved up from third to second place in the NL East Division standings. But the club would miss out on the postseason once again, this time it was a rough 5-13 stretch in mid-August that did them in.


Meanwhile down in the minor leagues, a 24-year-old first baseman named Ryan Howard was making an enormous impression. In that summer of 2004, Howard blasted 46 homers and had 131 RBI while playing at the two highest levels in the Phillies farm system.
It was fairly obvious that Howard could not be kept in the minors for much longer. But first base was his only real position. It was also Thome’s position, and the veteran still had four more years to run on his contract. Something had to give. The Phillies tried Howard out in left field, but there was no way that the big man could handle the position.
When the 2005 season opened the Thome-Howard had yet to resolve itself. But as so often happens in those situations, fate would step in to lend a hand.
Howard began 2005 ripping 16 home runs and driving in 54 runs while slashing an other-worldly .371/.467/.690 over his first 61 games back at Triple-A.
Thome started fast as well over the first couple of weeks. But then something began to change. The veteran began to slump, and then missed three weeks at the end of May. He returned to the lineup but struggled, hitting just .207 with seven homers through June.
It turned out that Thome had suffered a frayed tendon in his right elbow. He would require season-ending surgery and miss the entire last three months of the 2005 season. The decision to hang on to Howard was apparently going to pay at least short-term dividends.
Getting the call to the big-leagues, Howard would not waste the opportunity. In just 88 games he slashed .288/.356/.567 with 22 home runs, 17 doubles, 52 runs scored, and 63 RBI. For the performance, Howard would be named the National League’s Rookie of the Year.
Howard was just 25-years-old and was now part of an exciting, youthful Phillies lineup that included Rollins and Burrell, still both in their 20’s, and a 26-year-old second baseman named Chase Utley who had emerged that same summer as a future star.
Those 2005 Phillies again fell short of the postseason. But they improved to 88 wins, finished just two games behind the Braves in the NL East race, and were an agonizing one game short of the Houston Astros for the NL Wildcard berth. They had been done in by five straight early-September losses, including a three-game sweep at the hands of the Astros at Citizens Bank Park in which all three were agonizingly close.
The writing was on the wall for the now 35-year-old Thome. The surgery, Howard’s electrifying performance, and the latter’s perfect fit with the core of an emerging contender was going to make Thome expendable. It was time for new GM Pat Gillick to find a deal that would work for both the team and player.
That deal would come together over Thanksgiving, and on Black Friday of 2005 the Phillies general manager sent Thome to the newly-crowned World Series champion Chicago White Sox. The Phillies would include cash to help off-set the nearly $45 million still owed on Thome’s contract over the next three years.
In return the White Sox would send 28-year-old center fielder Aaron Rowand to the Phillies. Rowand had just completed his fifth big-league campaign, his second straight as a full-time starter. He hit .270 with 13 homers, 30 doubles, 16 steals, and 77 runs scored in helping the Chisox capture their first world championship in 88 years.

The deal worked out for both clubs. Thome bounced back all the way from his surgery, blasting 42 home runs and making the AL All-Star squad in the 2006 season. Rowand played a fantastic center field in Philly, including making one of the most memorable catches in team history, one that earned him an eternal place in the hearts of Phillies fans.


Then in 2007 while Thome was ripping another 35 homers with Chicago, Rowand became an NL All-Star and was a key piece in the Phillies capturing the first of five straight NL East crowns.
Meanwhile, Howard made sure that the Phillies didn’t miss a beat with their production from the first base position. In 2006 he followed up his Rookie of the Year campaign by slamming a franchise-record 58 home runs. He also slashed .313/.425/.659 and drove in 149 runs.
For that performance he was selected as an NL All-Star, and then was named as the National League Most Valuable Player. over the next five seasons, Howard would become known as ‘The Big Piece’ with five straight NL East champions, and one of the biggest pieces on a talented 2008 World Series championship squad.
In the late Fall of 2002, Jim Thome arrived in Philadelphia as a drawing card and hopefully the final piece to push an emerging contender to the postseason. He was absolutely the former, but never quite became the latter.
When he left in the Fall of 2005 it was to bring in Aaron Rowand, someone who would not be as big a drawing card, but who became a popular player with the fan base, and who would himself become one of the final pieces to a Phillies posteason team.
Thome would have one final moment on the stage at Citizens Bank Park when he signed to re-join his old mentor Manuel, who was now the Phillies manager. Manuel had been at the helm for that 2008 title and the Phillies were coming off a 102-win season that was the best in franchise history.
Ironically, Thome was brought in because Howard had been injured as the Phillies were eliminated in the 2011 NLDS. With the expectation that Howard’s injury could linger for a couple of months into the 2012 season, it was hoped that Thome could provide a veteran presence and some short-term power at first base.
Alas, it was not to be. The 2012 season turned out to be the most frustrating in more than a decade of Phillies baseball. The team sank to the .500 mark at 81-81, their first non-winning campaign since the 2002 season. Howard would not return until July, and his career would never again be as impactful as prior to the injury.
Thome would not be around for it. With Howard’s return looming and the team at 36-44 and 10 games off the NL East pace, the 41-year-old was dealt to the Baltimore Orioles for a pair of lesser prospects. Thome would help the Orioles to an AL Wildcard berth and appear with them in the postseason that year.
He would retire following Baltimore’s tough five-game loss to the New York Yankees in the ALDS. In 2016, Thome was honored by being enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame.

At just two full seasons and parts of two others, he has the shortest service time of any player enshrined by the club. Few fans will argue Thome’s impact at a time when the Phillies were trying to establish a winning environment and tradition.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Phillies Hot Stove History: The 2002 coming and 2005 going of Jim Thome

Pedro Florimon dropped from Phillies 40-man roster as team prepares for Hot Stove season

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Florimon played parts of the last two seasons with the Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies announced that infielder Pedro Florimon has been outrighted from the 40-man roster. He cleared waivers and has been officially placed for now with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

Florimon has a little more than two years official MLB service time accrued. However, he has also been waived three prior times in his career. Unless some agreement is struck with the team, the 31-year-old will become a free agent.
A native of the Dominican Republic, Florimon originally signed with the Baltimore Orioles organization in 2004 as a teenager. He got his first big-league cup of coffee with the Orioles in September 2011 but was then placed on waivers and claimed by the Minnesota Twins.
With Minnesota, Florimon appeared in 43 games in the 2012 season. Then in 2013 he became a regular for the lone time in his MLB career, appearing in 133 games as the Twins starting shortstop. He slashed just .221/.281/.330 with 15 stolen bases across 446 plate appearances that season.
Over the next three years, Florimon played as a backup infielder with both Minnesota and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Phillies then signed him as a free agent in December 2016, and then again last November.
In parts of two seasons with the Phillies, Florimon slashed .274/.320/.444 with two homers and 11 RBI. He also stole one base and scored 19 runs across 125 plate appearances over 65 games.
Florimon appeared in 21 games at shortstop this past season with the Phillies. He also played in four games at second base, one at third base, one in center field, and four games in right field.
On two occasions this year, Gabe Kapler used Florimon on the mound. During a 15-2 rout at the hands of the Braves in Atlanta on March 31, Florimon pitched the bottom of the 8th inning, surrendering a two-run homer to Lane Adams.
During a 12-4 defeat to the Cardinals in Saint Louis on May 18, Florimon retired the side in order in the bottom of the 8th inning. He then stepped up to the plate in the top of the 9th and drilled a home run.
The Phillies now have just 35 players on their official 40-man roster. Three or four of the openings can be expected to be filled by some combination of prospects Adonis MedinaTom EshelmanArquimedes Gamboa, and Daniel Brito, all of whom would need to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft in December.
That would leave one opening for a new player, either added via free agency or acquired via trade. Of course, the Phillies can always make more room by releasing even more players should the need arise.
The most likely players to go could include pitchers Drew Anderson and Yacksel Rios and infielder Mitch Walding. If they are unsuccessful in finding a trade partner, you may see veteran infielder Cesar Hernandez non-tendered at some point down the road this winter.
With the release of Florimon, the Phillies have made just the first of what promise to be a number of roster moves this off-season. While this one was relatively minor, we should expect at least a couple more significant moves coming down the pike.

MLB, NFL, and college football to join those affected by Hurricane Florence

By NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA - Limb View of Hurricane Florence, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72696528
Hurricane Florence (upper right) approaches the Carolinas
(Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Wiki Commons)
The Philadelphia Phillies have an off-day in the 2018 schedule today. Thursday will be spent at their homes, with the slumping club in the middle of the final lengthy home stand of the season.
As the Phillies sit at home, the Miami Marlins are on the road. Today they will be making the short trip down I-95 from New York to Philadelphia following a series there with the host Mets.
After completing their sweep of the Phillies last night, the Washington Nationals headed back south to their home in the nation’s capital. The Nats will host the Chicago Cubs to make-up a game postponed during a series affected by weather just last weekend.
The Nationals, who have now pulled within a single game of the Phillies in the loss column in the National League East Division standings, then go on the road further south for a five-game trip to Atlanta and Miami.
All of this Major League Baseball action up and down the east coast comes at exactly the same time that Hurricane Florence will be reaching the United States.
The massive storm is expected to strike directly at the North Carolina-South Carolina border late Thursday and into Friday leaving destruction and likely death in its wake thanks to high winds, storm surge, flooding, and related issues.
The weather forecast in Philadelphia is looking good for this weekend, with no more than a 20% chance of rain at any point. That is thanks to a high-pressure system, one that will actually be a major contributor to the problems experienced by others.
That high-pressure system will keep Florence to our south, holding it in place in the Carolinas longer. This means heavy rainfall and flooding will continue inland for days after the storm makes its initial landfall at the coast.
But for their division rivals and for at least one of the Phillies own players, the storm will still be having an effect. In fact, because of the proximity to the storm area and even the slight chance that it could track a bit further north, the Cubs wanted to have their trip to D.C. postponed until October 1.
Whitney McIntosh with SB Nation described how the whole Nationals-Cubs situation developed in the first place, and why this particular date was selected for the make-up game:
“…all stemmed from a rainy weekend in D.C., which involved more than 10 hours of rain delays over multiple days. Including a Friday night debacle (September 7) where the Nationals wanted to call it early and Cubs players held out in the hopes the rain would move on. Frustration abounded and fans were confused as the delay dragged on into the night. That all led to a late-night postponement and a true doubleheader played on Saturday (which was also delayed!), followed by yet another postponement on Sunday. With Thursday the only shared off day for both teams, it was the easiest and only choice for a rescheduling.”
Bottom line, MLB did not want to risk the chance of rescheduling on October 1, which was the Cubs preference due to the storm. What if that game proved vital to the standings and was itself postponed by weather? Such a scenario could then back-up the entire postseason schedule. “Our voices have certainly been heard, but we don’t have any control,” said Chicago GM Theo Epstein per McIntosh.

Phillies newcomer Justin Bour was born in Washington, D.C. and went to college at George Mason University in northern Virginia. He is the lone player currently on the 40-man roster who is from the general area to be impacted by the storm.
Rios hails from Puerto Rico, and has family still
affected by last year’s Hurricanes Maria and Rita
25-year old rookie relief pitcher Yacksel Rios hails from Puerto Rico, where Hurricanes Maria and Rita caused extensive damage and killed more than 3,000 people just one year ago. The island is still trying to recover today.
I’ve been thinking all the time,” Rios told Matt Gelb of Philly.com late last September. “At least I had contact with my older brother. Just, I’m worried if they’re eating or not. I know they have some supplies there. But I don’t know for how long it will last them. They say power will be gone for months. I feel desperate. I can’t talk with them. I want to send things. If they need something, I want to send something. But they don’t respond.
Those are exactly the types of emotions that folks in the Carolinas will be experiencing in the coming hours, days, weeks, and even months.
Just two weeks ago, my wife and I drove down to Florida from Philadelphia, and of course drove right through the areas to be directly impacted by Hurricane Florence. By coincidence we stayed overnight at a hotel in Florence, South Carolina. Beautiful country with wonderful people, many of whom will have evacuated by now.
The lone MLB game that is likely to be directly affected by the storm will come on Friday night in Baltimore, where the host Orioles contest with the Chicago White Sox faces an 80% chance of thunderstorms due to the outskirts of the storm. However, the NL East teams will each have to keep the storm in mind as they travel up and down the coast.
Football games are being affected as well. College games are already being rescheduled at Clemson, Liberty, and Coastal Carolina. The Marshall at South Carolina game has been cancelled completely.
In the NFL, the Carolina Panthers are scheduled to be at the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon. Panthers coach Ron Rivera stated that the team is making “several contingency plans” for the players and their families per Jordan Rodrigue with the Charlotte Observer.
“And our thoughts and prayers most certainly go to everybody that is in the path of this hurricane, just to make sure everybody is safe. But we do have a few plans, and as each day goes by we will see where we are before we make any decisions.”
The Eagles fly to Tampa for a game this weekend
The Philadelphia Eagles travel south to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. It is expected that many fans of the Super Bowl champion Eagles will be making the trip. Any who are planning on traveling to Florida over the next couple of days should be sure to check for changes and delays to airline and train schedules.
Local Philly meteorologist Katie Fehlinger with CBS3 commented on the Eagles game and travel impacts for fans per Glenn Erby at the USA Today’s “Eagles Wire”:
Unless fans are connecting in Charlotte or Atlanta, I doubt they’d have any major problem flying there. We and Tampa will thankfully be spared the worst of the storm. I can’t imagine many would be driving or taking the train, but those routes are probably going to be closed off, clogged or rerouted.
STAY INFORMED at this link for the National Weather Service dedicated site for updated information on Hurricane Florence.

Phillies justified in not including Sixto Sanchez in a Manny Machado trade

Phillies unwilling to part with top prospect Sanchez
The Philadelphia Phillies appear to have lost out in their pursuit of shortstop Manny Machado for the time being by the narrowest of margins.

I say for the time being because, as most already are aware, Machado is due to be a free agent this coming off-season. The Phillies will be considered as perhaps the leading contender to lure him with a long-term contract at that time.
But for now, the club finished as runners-up to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who acquired Machado from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for five prospects.
The lead prospect in the Dodgers offer, and the one who made the difference, was 21-year-old Cuban outfielder Yusniel Diaz. The fourth-rated prospect in the Los Angeles system at the time of the deal, Diaz punctuated his attractiveness to the Orioles brain trust by homering twice in the MLB Futures Game this past Sunday.
The other four prospects acquired by the Orioles will receive fine write-ups and every positive aspect of their various scouting reports will be highlighted. But in the end, it will be the success or failure of Diaz to make the big leagues and become an impact player which makes or breaks this deal from the Baltimore perspective.
So, this leads to the question of why the Phillies were unable to put together a package that would have enticed Baltimore even more. With one of the game’s top farm systems, they certainly could have matched those four back-end prospects that the Orioles received from Los Angeles.
It comes down to that lead piece in the deal. The Orioles group, led by general manager Dan Duquette, simply liked Diaz better than the best player the Phillies and GM Matt Klentak were willing to include.
That player is believed to be pitcher Adonis Medina, a 21-year-old right-hander who is the Phillies current second-ranked prospect. On the just released Baseball America mid-season Top 100 prospects list, Diaz came in at #47. Medina does not make the list.
The current MLB .com Top 100 rankings show Medina as the #73 prospect, with Diaz down in the #84 slot. Quite obviously the O’s evaluation leaned closer to that of the folks at Baseball America.
To win this particular battle and land Machado for their lineup in the here-and-now, only one thing would have gotten it done. The Phillies would have needed to make their top prospect, pitcher Sixto Sanchez, available in the package.
Including Sanchez was apparently never going to happen, and so Machado heads off to Hollywood to join the AL West-leading Dodgers lineup.
Outside of the hardcore followers, many Phillies fans may be wondering who is this Sanchez kid? Why wouldn’t the Phillies include a prospect – any prospect – if it would land a true superstar? Especially one such as Machado, who seemed to ideally fit what the club needed. A proven run-producer for the middle of the lineup.

Well, especially for those more casual fans who don’t pay attention to things like the minor league system on a regular basis, let me introduce you to Sixto Sanchez.
Sixto Sanchez
Sanchez is a 19-year-old (he turns 20 on July 29) native of San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic. The right-handed pitcher is the Phillies top prospect. Baseball America ranks him at #16 overall, while MLB.com has him as the 23rd rated prospect in the game.
Baseball America ranks just three pitching prospects in the entire sport ahead of Sanchez: Forrest Whitley with the Houston Astros, Mitch Keller of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Michael Kopech with the Chicago White Sox. Whitley is more than a year older than Sanchez, the other two nearly three years older.
His Baseball America scouting report starts out as follows:

“Sanchez is one of the hardest-throwing starting pitchers in the minors, but you wouldn’t know it from his delivery. He has easy, fluid mechanics that he repeats consistently, helping him command a lively fastball that sits in the mid-90s and touches 100 mph.”

At MLB.com, their write-up on him concludes with the following:

“The Phillies have understandably limited Sanchez’s workload to date, but the right-hander could start forcing their hand soon. Seeing him in the Philadelphia rotation, with an ultimate ceiling to potentially lead it one day, by 2019 seems a distinct possibility.”

Another potentially big part of the reasoning that the Phillies held off on giving up what they feel is such a big piece of their future? The Phillies organization is in a completely different place than the Dodgers.
Los Angeles has won five straight NL West titles but has advance to the World Series just once in that time. That was last October, where they fell just short in the Fall Classic, losing in a dramatic seventh game to the Astros. Getting that close and falling agonzingly short has to be a major incentive for LA to act now.
The Phillies meanwhile are just emerging from a five-year stretch of bottom-dwelling baseball. They are trying to build something sustainable for a long run of their own and are still at the beginning of that process.
Todd Zolecki at MLB.com summarized the situation well:

“By most accounts, the Phillies were aggressive enough to be runners-up for Machado, but in the end the Dodgers were more aggressive. They wanted him more because they felt they needed him more. They are trying to win a World Series this season. The Phillies see themselves at the beginning of a run and are not willing to mortgage the future for two-plus months of Machado.”

More than one baseball scout has dropped a Pedro Martinez or Jose Fernandez comparison on Sanchez. You just simply cannot trade that level of talent away. Especially not without a guarantee that Machado would remain beyond this season.
No matter how the 2018 season plays out, Phillies fans are likely to be satisfied with it. The team is back contending with a number of talented, young players. They will have tons of money and a motivated ownership/management team looking to spend it this off-season.
The future is bright. And that future may end up including both Machado and Sanchez wearing red pinstripes, playing and winning together for many years in front of those fans at Citizens Bank Park. If it plays out that way, anyone disappointed now would be foolish not to admit to the wisdom of what didn’t go down this week.