Tag Archives: Brad Miller

Philadelphia Phillies in the MLB 2020 free agent market

Embed from Getty Images

Super agent Scott Boras again finds himself in the middle of much of the big Hot Stove season action

 

Welcome to the latest episode of the ‘Ring the Bell‘ podcast. For those simply reading this piece at the website, it doubles as the script for today’s episode.

As I discussed in yesterday’s episode which evaluated the Phillies current roster and payroll situations, the ball club has a number of important needs. General manager Matt Klentak will find himself increasingly under the glare of the spotlight as this Hot Stove season moves along and he attempts to fill those needs.

First, let’s take a minute to run down the list of what I see as those Phillies needs this off-season, in order of importance:

  1. Starting pitching
  2. Starting pitching
  3. Center field
  4. Bench
  5. Bullpen
  6. Third base (?)

That was not a typo in listing ‘Starting Pitching’ twice. It is simply that important, first of all. And also, the club needs two new proven winning veteran starting pitchers, at least one of whom should be an “ace” level rotation arm. Now, let’s take a look at who is available on the free agent market.

STARTING PITCHING

There are two big names here, Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg. They should and will be the Phillies top two targets in free agency. Principal owner John Middleton has made the addition of top-level starting pitching a priority for the team, and is prepared to spend top dollar to secure such an arm.

The problem is not going to be one of either money or will power. The problem for the Phillies will be that they are not the only team in search of this level of pitching talent, not by a long shot.

The world champion and division rival Washington Nationals and their World Series opponents, the Houston Astros, are not simply going to let Strasburg and Cole respectively walk away from their ball clubs without a major effort to retain them.

Also, it is publicly known that the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels will be shopping aggressively for this type of arm as well. Speculation is that the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, and Atlanta Braves are among any number of other teams with the desire and money to land one of these top two starting pitchers.

It’s hard to know what is going through Strasburg’s mind. There has been some speculation that opting out of his contract with the Nationals was purely a strategy to get more money from the only organization he has ever known.

The 31-year-old, 10-year veteran was due to make another $100 million over the next four years in Washington. Some have speculated that he could get another $50 million and another year, at least, on the open market.

While it would not be a surprise to see the Nationals and Strasburg announce a new deal at any point, that is far from a given. The longer he hangs out there on the market, the more clubs are going to his agent, Scott Boras, with interest.

Cole is also represented by the Boras Group. The 29-year-old is the biggest name on the free agent market this winter. I expect to see Boras take him on a tour of interested teams and cities, similar to what we saw happen last year with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Don’t expect to see Cole sign with anyone until February.

While the Phillies will be in the mix for both, their money and genuine interest making them legitimate contenders, they should not be considered the favorites for either pitcher. Cole, a native of Newport Beach, is said to be interested in either a return to SoCal or a spot at the top of the Yankees rotation. Strasburg, a San Diego native, may also go the SoCal route if he doesn’t return to D.C.

It is going to be curious to watch the Phillies pursuit of a top arm, because as I said, what the rotation really needs is two more experienced, proven, veteran starting pitchers.

The longer that Cole remains unsigned, and Strasburg as well for that matter, and the longer the Phillies genuinely believe that they are in the mix for one or the other, then it becomes a somewhat dangerous game.

There is a large group of talented starting pitchers just below the talent levels of Cole and Strasburg. Most if not all of those pitchers are going to sign somewhere earlier than at least Cole will be signing. The Phillies are going to have to commit to one of the next level of pitchers by Christmas, possibly even within the next few weeks.

The most obvious target would appear to be 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels. Turning 36 years of age two days after this coming Christmas, Hamels has already said that he would be open to a return to the club with whom he broke into the big-leagues and first became a star.

Judging by social media, Hamels remains popular with the fan base. And judging by his comments, the feeling is mutual.

MLB Phillies insider Todd Zolecki quoted Hamels earlier this week:

I know Philly is finally trying to make that push. They’re building their roster. If I fit on their roster and their plans, I’d love the opportunity to come back. It’s probably more on their end, though, to reach out and see if I actually do fit in their plans. It would be difficult for me to say, ‘Hey, I want to play there, can you guys make it happen?’ But I’m always willing to play for that team and city and attempt to win a World Series. That’s where I am right now. I just want to have the opportunity to get to the postseason, just so that I can try to win.

Hamels then went on to say, according to Zolecki, that he would even be willing to play on a one-year contract:

I’m not there to handcuff somebody or an organization…I can do one year here and there and just play as long as I can play. I think that’s what will help give me an opportunity to play on teams that are trying to go to the postseason. If you need one guy, I can just kind of bounce around. Obviously, if the Phillies were interested in longer than one, I’d entertain that, too. But I think I want the opportunity to have as many opportunities to get to the postseason and try to win. I’ll go every year. I’ll prove myself. I don’t mind having my back against the wall. I think I perform better like that anyway. It just keeps me more accountable.

This just seems to make too much sense. Hamels is clearly interested in a return to the Phillies. The fans would love to have him back. He has the talent and experience that the club is looking for, and he has something else going for him – Hamels is left-handed. The club has not had a truly effective southpaw in their rotation since, well, since Hamels left in 2015.

No longer in his prime, this could absolutely work on a one-year deal with a club option for another year or two. The Phillies, as long as all the medicals check out, should waste no time with this decision. Klentak should be on the phone with Hamels agent today.

If they just can’t work something out, or don’t want Hamels for some reason, there are other interesting arms.

Available free agent left-handers include 30-year-old, 4x NL All-Star and former World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner…32-year-old, 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel…33-year-old Korean native and 2019 NL All-Star Hyun-Jin Ryu…29-year-old, 2017 NL All-Star Alex Wood.

Available right-handers would include 29-year-old, former first round MLB Draft pick Zack Wheeler…31-year-old, 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello…30-year-old, 2019 AL All-Star Jake Odorizzi.

There are a few dozen other possibilities as well. But frankly, anyone other than the pitchers mentioned already would be a disappointing addition.

The Phillies would be wise to take Hamels up on this word, and wrap him up to fill the 3-4 slot in their starting rotation for 2020. Then they can concentrate all of their efforts into trying to land one of the really big fish.

CENTER FIELD

There are a lot of Phillies fans who seem to think that the club is okay here with either Scott Kingery or Adam Haseley. Frankly, if you truly want to be a contending team, I think that is just crazy talk.

Kingery has handled himself admirably out there for someone who is not a natural outfielder. Haseley deserves much credit for rising from Double-A to a regular big-league role last season.

But neither is the answer for a contending Phillies ball club.

Kingery needs to be handed his natural second base position and allowed to play it every single day, barring some situational need or emergency. Haseley would be well served getting more everyday plate appearances at Triple-A or serving a fourth outfielder apprenticeship in 2020.

There has been some chatter on social media about the team bringing back free agent outfielder Corey Dickerson, who excelled with the Phillies following his arrival from Pittsburgh at this past season’s trade deadline.

Yes, Dickerson hit .293 with eight homers and 34 RBIs in just 137 plate appearances with the Phillies. Extrapolate those numbers over a full season and you have something like a 35 homer, 120+ RBI campaign.

However, the 30-year-old Dickerson is a free agent for the first time. He is going to parlay that performance into a nice, well-deserved payday. And he is, unfortunately, not a center fielder. Just 27 of his 571 big-league games in the outfield have been played in center.

If you are thinking of putting him in left field and having Andrew McCutchen slide over to become the everyday man in center field for the Phillies, you really need to think again.

McCutchen is now 33-years-old and has not played center field regularly in either of his last two seasons. He is coming off major knee surgery as well.

While he can spot-start or slide over temporarily during a situational or emergency need, as he did for 10 starts and 15 total games this past season with the Phillies, he is no longer the player who won a 2012 Gold Glove Award as a center fielder.

Roman Quinn is also not the answer. I love Quinn’s tool set and have been publicly in his corner for a few years now. But even someone who is as big a fan as I am has limits. Quinn has proven that he simply cannot remain healthy long enough to be a reliable starting option.

No, what the Phillies really need is a new center fielder, someone from outside the organization. Unfortunately, there really are not quality options available this year in free agency.

You have a premier defender such as Juan Lagares. There is pure base stealing speed in Billy Hamilton. There is an aging veteran such as 34-year-old, 5x AL All-Star, 4x AL Gold Glove Award winner Adam Jones.

None of those is a realistic option. Jones played just one game in center last year for the Dbacks, and two years ago with Baltimore he was rated as one of the worst regular center fielders in the game defensively by Fangraphs.

Lagares will turn 31-years-old in spring training and has just a .254/.297/.361 career slash line in 2,119 career big-league plate appearances. With a slash of just .242/.297/.326 over 3,089 plate appearances, Hamilton is even worse with a bat in his hands.

There is no answer available in free agency. If the Phillies want to improve in center field, it is going to have to come via trade.

During this past season, I wrote that a worthy trade target could be found in Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. He turns 30 years of age early in the 2020 season and can become a free agent after next year.

If I’m Klentak, I’m on the phone looking to see if we can find a reasonable match in trade for the 2018 Gold Glove Award winner and ALCS Most Valuable Player.

THIRD BASE

Don’t count me among those who feel that the Phillies need a third baseman. Again, this is assuming the club does what I think it should do – give second base to Scott Kingery, and cut ties to Maikel Franco by not offering him arbitration.

If I’m running things, top offensive prospect Alec Bohm is starting at third base on Opening Day 2020. I let him know that right now.

When Bohm’s season ends following the conclusion of the Premier 12 tournament, at which he is Team USA’s starter at the hot corner, I tell him to go home and enjoy the holidays. Just keep working out and stay in shape. Don’t report to Clearwater until early February. And be mentally ready for your role as the Phillies starting third baseman.

Now, that’s me. The club could actually go in a number of directions. They could offer a contract to and bring back Franco as the starter, at least to begin the season. Then let him try to hold off Bohm for as long as he can.

Or the club could offer a contract to Cesar Hernandez, cut ties with Franco, give the third base job to Kingery, and fill center field some other way. Once Bohm is deemed ready, they could either slide Kingery back to center if no good option has emerged, or work out some king of position-sharing scheme involving the players. That option seems too messy.

Another option would be to cut ties with Franco and sign a free agent. There are a handful of interesting options if the Phillies try to take this route.

In order of talent, those free agent options would be Anthony Rendon, Josh Donaldson, and Mike Moustakas.

Rendon will be expensive and would tie up the position for years, meaning that the Phillies would either be banking on the NL getting a DH as soon as the 2021 season, or they would be considering a trade of either Bohm or Rhys Hoskins. I love Rendon as a player, but with Bohm nearly ready, this just doesn’t seem like the right move.

Donaldson just played on a one-year deal with Atlanta at a $23 million salary. He’ll turn 34-years-old a month from today. Perhaps the Phillies could lure him with a similar one-year offer? That would mean Bohm at least starts the season back at Triple-A.

The 31-year-old Moustakas is a bit trickier. He played with Milwaukee this past season at $7 million and received a $1 million buyout of his contract for next year, rather than the Brewers committing to his $11 million mutual option.

Moustakas is going to be seeking a multi-year offer from some team. He is still young enough that someone is likely to make that kind of offer in order to add a 35-homer bat to their lineup. I am betting it won’t be the Phillies.

Again, my choice here is to give the job to Bohm, spend your free agent money on pitching, and move on from the old, losing Franco-Hernandez infield combination.

BENCH

Putting together a bench group that includes at least a few veteran options for new manager Joe Girardi, preferably options that can hit the ball, will be another Klentak challenge.

The Phillies are already slated to have Jay Bruce return. He should help out as a pinch-hitter, on the outfield corners, and could even turn out to be a lefty-hitting backup first base option, giving Hoskins a blow against a few tougher right-handed pitchers. Girardi should be able to get him plenty of at-bats to keep him sharp and happy.

Assuming the Phillies move on from both Franco and Hernandez, as well as Odubel Herrera, that leaves other outfield depth options as Roman Quinn and Nick Williams. The infield would need help. There are a bunch of interesting options who could fit the bill:

The club could try to re-sign 30-year-old Brad Miller, who appeared in 66 games with the Phillies this past season. Miller played four different positions, mostly at third base and in left field, and produced a dozen homers in just 130 plate appearances.

38-year-old Ben Zobrist can play second base and an outfield corner. He even covered shortstop for one game last season with the Cubs.

Starlin Castro turns 30 at the end of spring training. He played both second and third this past year with the Marlins, and even held down shortstop, where he was a former starter, in three games.

At age 36, Howie Kendrick showed just how valuable he can be in a part-time role while helping the Nationals win their World Series. Kendrick, who played in 39 games with the 2017 Phillies, saw time at first, second, and third this year in Washington.

30-year-old Derek Dietrich ripped 19 homers in 306 plate appearances while covering first, second, and left field this year in Cincinnati. He even appeared in one game at the hot corner, and has played in 146 career games there.

33-year-old Eric Sogard hit .290 while playing five different positions between stops in Toronto and Tampa Bay this past season.

Former popular Phillies outfielder Hunter Pence turns 37 in April, and enjoyed a bounce-back campaign in which he was named to the American League All-Star team. His bat, outfield glove, and infectious enthusiasm could be a perfect mix for this team’s bench group.

The Phillies could use a reliable backup catching option, and yesterday I mentioned one of their former prospects as a possibility. That would be 31-year-old Travis d’Arnaud, who finally stayed healthy this past season and showed off his fine combination of offensive and defensive skills.

More veteran backstop options who could add an alternative to Andrew Knapp include 37-year-old Russell Martin, 34-year-old Matt Wieters, 32-year-old Bryan Holaday, 36-year-old Robinson Chirinos, 34-year-old Jonathan Lucroy and a half-dozen or so others.

These are just a representative sample of the dozens of names who could fill out a veteran bench for the Phillies.

BULLPEN

As I mentioned on yesterday’s podcast, assembling a bullpen is a tricky proposition from year to year. The Phillies pen was decimated by injuries this past season, but most of those arms should be back in 2020.

They could do nothing, and still end up with an effective group. However, adding someone as a strong, veteran back-end option couldn’t hurt. Dellin Betances, Will Smith, Steve Cishek, Will Harris, and Pedro Strop are just a few of the couple dozen veteran relievers available.

And how about this possibility: lefty Jake Diekman? Wouldn’t it be sort of ironic if the Phillies brought back both Hamels and Diekman, who they traded away together in 2015, in the same off-season? Diekman turns 33 in January, and struck out 84 batters over 62 innings this past season as a southpaw out of the pen.

Again, as with third base, I don’t feel this is an area of desperate need. But if the Phillies want another bullpen arm, there are plenty from which to choose.

WRAPPING IT UP

Well, that’s a look at the free agent market. The Hot Stove season is officially underway. Free agents can sign with any team at this point, though signings of the bigger names are likely to take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

And those free agent ranks are only going to swell when the December 2 deadline passes for teams to offer arbitration, which is the decision that the Phillies will need to make on Franco and Hernandez.

As we move through the off-season, this podcast will focus occasionally on rumors regarding the club, and I’ll certainly be talking and writing about any big signings.

I hope you’ll come back tomorrow, when I’ll be talking about the MLB Award winners to this point, as well as the nominees for the major awards to be handed out next week, including the Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Awards in each league.

Remember, you can follow any written pieces or podcast episodes through links at the Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds @philliesbell. I hope you’ll stop by and enjoy. Until next time, God bless you and yours.

What the Phillies should do with Matt Klentak for 2020

Embed from Getty Images

Klentak traded for Realmuto prior to the 2019 season

 

The Philadelphia Phillies announced in late October 2015 the hiring of then 35-year-old Matt Klentak as their new general manager. Despite his relative youth, Klentak had an impressive volume of experience in baseball.

Like many of us, he played the game as a kid. But he was also good enough to continue in the game at the collegiate level, playing all four years at Dartmouth, including the final three as their starting shortstop.

After graduating with his Economics degree, Klentak was hired by the Colorado Rockies in 2003. The following year he moved on to work in the Labor Relations Department of Major League Baseball.

In 2008, Klentak was hired by the Baltimore Orioles as their Director of Baseball Operations. That hiring was made by the Orioles then-President Andy MacPhail, whom Klentak had impressed while helping work on the 2006 MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Neither MacPhail nor Klentak had their contracts renewed by Baltimore following the 2011 season. However, Klentak was not out of work for long, hired that off-season by the Los Angeles Angels as their assistant general manager.

The Halos had a chance to hire Klentak as their GM when the position opened in the midst of the 2015 season but opted to go in another direction. During that same summer, MacPhail joined the Phillies organization.

When that 2015 season ended, MacPhail ascended to the team president position with the Phillies. One of his first orders of business was to hire his old Orioles protege Klentak as the Phillies new general manager.

During this past summer it was revealed in the media that both MacPhail and Klentak had recently received contract extensions. Those extensions would keep MacPhail in his role through 2021, and Klentak in his position through the 2022 season.

Despite those contracts there has been a vocal backlash against both MacPhail and Klentak from an increasingly frustrated Phillies fan base.

Calls have grown over recent weeks as the team fell out of playoff contention for a complete change in the Phillies decision-making regime. Those changes included not only the president and GM, but also on down to manager Gabe Kapler, whose situation I addressed in a piece just yesterday.

I already addressed the situation regarding MacPhail months ago and have repeatedly and publicly called for his ouster. No change in either the GM or managerial positions is going to matter in improving the club over the long haul without a change at the very top.

So, the question today is, should the Phillies retain Matt Klentak as their general manager?

In evaluating Klentak’s job performance, it is important to understand that the position includes a number of responsibilities that few fans ever see or care about. Let’s assume he is experienced enough to handle those responsibilities competently.

What matters to the fan base is how Klentak performs in actually bringing talent to the baseball organization, especially to the team at the big-league level. In a city like Philadelphia, winning is what matters more than anything.

Most successful rebuilding operations take roughly four years before yielding success. In the four years of the MacPhail-Klentak regime, the Phillies have accumulated an overall 298-350 record. They have not enjoyed a single winning season, let alone reached the MLB playoffs.

Not only that, but the organization appears to have deteriorated at the minor league level as well. In the summer of 2015, the Phillies were widely considered to have a top ten organization where minor league talent was concerned.

This summer, after four years of the MacPhail-Klentak regime making picks in the MLB Draft and bringing in prospects to the system through other methods including via trades and the July 2nd international signing period, the Phillies system is rated near the bottom by most respected evaluators.

Not all of that failure is on Klentak. The fact is that he is restricted in some ways by the need to answer to and coordinate with MacPhail and the scouting staff on the draft and amateur signings process.

There was also a reluctance by Middleton, as advised by MacPhail, to make money available for signing big-name free agents during those first few years.

However, that financial restriction was very publicly lifted last fall when Middleton announced that the Phillies were, as reported by ESPN, “…going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it.

So, let’s simply evaluate Klentak on his actual performance since that time in adding talent to the big-league club, and then in reinforcing the team when talent shortfalls became obvious and injuries struck.

The off-season prior to 2019 was considered a success after Klentak signed free agents Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen for the outfield and traded for shortstop Jean Segura and catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Those four moves dramatically increased both the experience and leadership levels of the ball club, as well as the proven talent level available to Kapler in the everyday lineup.

Klentak did not entirely ignore the pitching situation either. He made an astute under-the-radar trade early last December, swapping out relief pitcher Luis Garcia to the Angels for southpaw reliever Jose Alvarez.

Also, in the Segura trade to Seattle, Klentak received veteran right-hander Juan Nicasio, who had briefly pitched with the Phillies in the 2017 campaign.

Finally, in early January he signed one of the best and most consistent relief pitchers of the last decade as a free agent in David Robertson.

The Phillies roster was obviously improved as the regular season got underway, and with the new offensive firepower and deeper bullpen, the club was picked as a postseason favorite by many prognosticators.

Almost from the outset, that bullpen depth was tested by repeated injuries. At various points over the next few weeks and months the Phillies would lose a parade of relievers for the season.

Robertson, Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek, Victor Arano, Seranthony Dominguez. All were expected to be key contributors. The five would combine for just 52 total appearances, less than a full season worth of work.

In late May, Odubel Herrera was lost in a completely unexpected manner after he was arrested for domestic battery on his 20-year-old girlfriend in an Atlantic City hotel room. Herrera would be suspended by Major League Baseball and was done for the entire season.

Within days of that blow to the lineup, the Phillies would also lose McCutchen for the season due to a devastating knee injury and subsequent surgery. They would receive a combined 98 games worth of play from their anticipated starting left and center fielders.

Klentak tried to help fix the Phillies bench with the addition of veteran Jay Bruce.

Klentak did make various moves over the course of the season in attempts to bolster his bench and then cover for those losses to the starting lineup. Those included trades for veteran outfielders Jay Bruce and Corey Dickerson, the purchase of utility man Brad Miller, and the signing of free agent Logan Morrison.

Unfortunately, both Bruce and Dickerson would be lost to the team for large chunks of the season after each initially provided valuable contributions to the club as it struggled to remain in contention.

It would also have been Klentak’s decision to allow rookie Adam Haseley, the club’s first round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, an opportunity to go from Double-A to the big-leagues at age 23 in just his second full year of professional ball to help cover for those outfield injuries.

There were offensive inconsistencies in both approach and results from the players who were actually in the lineup. Klentak acted to address that situation with the removal of hitting coach John Mallee in mid-season.

Trying to cover for the bullpen losses, Klentak purchased reliever Mike Morin, picked up Jared Hughes off waivers, and signed free agents Blake Parker, Fernando Salas, and Nick Vincent.

Salas pitched in just three games. But the other four became key members of the bullpen, generally making solid contributions over the season’s final couple of months. The foursome combined to pitch in 91 games, allowing 72 hits over 90 innings with an 83/26 K:BB ratio.

The one area of the ball club that was never properly addressed was the starting pitching rotation. Management, including Klentak, made a bet on the incumbent group of pitchers to improve in the 2019 season. It didn’t happen.

Aaron Nola failed to reproduce his Cy Young contending season of a year ago. Jake Arrieta just plain failed, and then was lost due to injury after 24 starts.

Vince Velasquez was again unable to maintain consistency in a starting role, especially in lasting deep into his outings. Nick Pivetta pitched so poorly that he was eventually relegated to the bullpen on a full-time basis. Jerad Eickhoff returned from injury, then got injured again.

Perhaps the one starter who exceeded expectations was Zach Eflin. Around a horrendous six-start stretch from late June through late July that got him also relegated to the pen, Eflin provided an impressive opening and closing stretch.

Lefty Drew Smyly was a mostly positive addition to the Phillies rotation by Klentak.

Klentak attempted to cover for the losses of Arrieta and Eickhoff and the ineffectiveness of Pivetta by signing Drew Smyly and trading for Jason Vargas in July. That pair of left-handers would make 23 combined starts with the Phillies over the last two months.

Together, Smyly and Vargas went 4-6 and allowed 122 hits over 118 innings with a 111/45 K:BB ratio. Essentially the two provided back-end rotation production when what the team really needed was at least one ace-level starter for the playoff push.

The failure to add at least one high caliber starting pitcher, and more preferably two, was perhaps the single most important and decisive factor in the Phillies ultimately falling short of a 2019 postseason berth.

The loss of McCutchen and Herrera to the lineup, and later of Bruce, Dickerson, and Roman Quinn. The losses of Robertson and the others in the bullpen. Backslide seasons from Nola, Pivetta, Rhys Hoskins, and Maikel Franco. The mediocre production provided by Segura. You simply cannot put any of that on Klentak.

You cannot make a valid argument that the GM didn’t make moves trying to plug the holes in the lineup, on the bench, and in the bullpen. The one area where you can legitimately criticize is the starting rotation. Vargas just wasn’t good enough.

Dallas Keuchel went to division rival Atlanta for reasonable money as a free agent. Marcus Stroman went to the division rival Mets for a reasonable return that the Phillies may have been able to beat earlier by putting a package together led by pitching prospect Adonis Medina.

You can make a legitimate argument that even had they landed either of those two arms rather than doing the Vargas deal, the Phillies might still have fallen short of the postseason. Perhaps. But they would have enjoyed a far better chance.

The argument that over four years, Klentak has failed to put together a winning organization at the big-league level is a legitimate one. However, that it didn’t happen this year was largely due to situations beyond his control. His efforts to plug those holes were largely commendable.

However, the failure to build a farm system that is not ready to inject talent in waves to the Phillies, or to be used as truly enticing trade assets, is problematic. That is especially so when considering the young talent amassed by all of their rivals in the National League East Division.

For me, the time is now for change at the top of the Philadelphia Phillies organization. That begins with club president Andy MacPhail. But it also extends to general manager Matt Klentak. As the top decision makers, they have failed the organization. Both need to go.

Philadelphia native Chaim Bloom of the Tampa Bay Rays would be my choice to run the Phillies baseball operations.

My choice to replace MacPhail would be Philly native Chaim Bloom, a longtime executive with the consistently over-achieving Tampa Bay Rays organization despite being just 36 years of age.

My gut tells me that Middleton won’t be able to admit his mistake in granting them both an early contract extension and throw in the towel on either at this point. Fans will be disappointed by the return of the entire Phillies decision-making regime for 2020.

However, if there were to be such a change at the top, you would likely see Kapler either go as well, or find himself seriously compromised as a new regime took control, perhaps wanting to bring in their own man to take over in the dugout.

There is simply too much talk about the Phillies front office and management in the media and among the fan base for Middleton to leave the situation go unaddressed. Expect there to be some announcement this week or next on the 2020 status of MacPhail, Klentak, and Kapler.

Bullpen stars as Phillies down Tigers 3-2 in 15 innings at Comerica Park

Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’k5TeUvu5Scx3TOnIN7In6Q’,sig:’pmzcAKBh_O4aHwJNKzzddF8zCpLMahTQcr9J4CzuVCQ=’,w:’594px’,h:’395px’,items:’1039700066′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })});//embed-cdn.gettyimages.com/widgets.js

Rhys Hoskins delivered the game-winning hit in 15th inning

The Philadelphia Phillies (53-48) edged out the host Detroit Tigers (30-66) by a 3-2 score in 15 often frustrating innings on Tuesday night at Comerica Park.

The victory, which came in a game that began nearly 40 minutes late due to rain and ended six innings late due to the failure of both offenses to produce with runners in scoring position, was the Phillies fourth in five games. It also moves them to five games over the .500 mark for the first time since July 2.

The Phillies had a couple of chances to put some distance between themselves and Detroit in regulation play, the first coming in the very first inning when Rhys Hoskins singled and Bryce Harper doubled with one out. Both would end up stranded.
In the home 1st inning, rookie Tigers second baseman Harold Castro reached on an error by Scott Kingery, who continues to be played out of position by the Phillies on a nightly basis, this time at shortstop. Nola than hit Miguel Cabrera with a pitch. Castro moved to third on a ground out, and then raced home to score the game’s first run when Nola bounced a wild pitch in the dirt that J.T. Realmuto couldn’t block.
In the top of the 2nd, the Phillies went on top via an unlikely source. Roman Quinn powered up, blasting his first home run of the season out deep to left field, a two-run shot to put the Phillies up by a 2-1 score.
Phillies take a 2-1 lead on this rocket off the bat of Roman Quinn, his first homer of the season.

Embedded video

See Phillies Nation’s other Tweets

That score remained into the 6th inning when, in a nod back to that 1st inning, the Phillies blew a huge opportunity only to see the Tigers score. In their half, the Phillies put the first two runners on, and had the bases loaded with one out. But Adam Haseley and Quinn each popped out to end the threat.
In their half of the inning, the Tigers tied it up. Castro led off with a double and came around with the tying run when Nicholas Castellanos doubled one out later.
That was all the scoring in regulation play. Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola would go 7 strong innings, and Tigers starter Matthew Boyd pitched around all the trouble over 6 innings as numerous scouts watched the trade deadline target from the stands.
Both bullpens then did a fantastic job. None was more effective than former Phillies starting rotation member Nick Pivetta. He came on with one out in the bottom of the 8th inning and tossed 3.2 hitless shutout innings, walking one and striking out five batters.
Both teams blew opportunities to win it, and it took a great defensive play to keep the Tigers from walking it off in the bottom of the 14th. Castellanos led off with a double. After a strikeout and intentional walk, pinch-hitter Brandon Dixon rolled a base hit to left field.
Castellanos came racing home with appeared to be the winning run. But Brad Miller, who had entered the game as a defensive sub in left field in the 12th inning for Nick Williams (who himself had been pinch-hit for by Jean Segura), fielded the ball and came up firing. Realmuto snared the ball on the first base side of home plate, and dove back to apply the tag to the sliding Castellanos for the second out. Alvarez then struck out John Hicks, and the Phillies went to the 15th inning for the first time this year.
The Phillies finally pushed the key run across in the top of the 15th inning. Scott Kingery started it off by slashing a triple into the right field corner. When Rhys Hoskins followed by slinging an inside-out base hit to right field, the Phillies finally had the lead at 3-2.
In the bottom of the 15th, Jose Alvarez tossed a second shutout frame to earn the victory. The Phillies bullpen ended up tossing eight innings, allowing three hits and walking three batters. Now the two teams will get a short night sleep, with the series finale set for a first pitch just under 13 hours from the time this one ended.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE

Phillies – Aaron Nola: 7 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 1 walk, 7 strikeouts. 105 pitches, 67 for strikes.
Tigers – Matthew Boyd: 6 IP, 5 hits, 2 earned, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts, 101 pitches, 68 for strikes.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME: RHYS HOSKINS

The biggest hit of the game may have actually been Scott Kingery‘s triple to lead of the top of the 15th inning. That put someone in scoring position for Hoskins to drive in for what proved to be the game-winning run. But Kingery was 0-6 with four strikeouts prior to that.
Another player who has to be mentioned is Pivetta, who went 3.2 scoreless innings. He allowed no hits, walked one, struck out 5 batters. Then there was Brad Miller with his great throw. And J.T. Realmuto with a fantastic tag on that play. Jose Alvarez got the ‘W’ with two shutout frames.
But it was Hoskins who came through in the clutch when so many had failed in that situation for a long time in this game. His RBI single ended up the winner, and the Phillies first baseman had two hits and two walks while batting out of the two-hole in the lineup.

TICKET IQ NEXT GAME


Phillies blast four homers for second straight night to rally past Mets

Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’0nplm5UaRtRbc6u06lAoSA’,sig:’yhV8Uk42EUgrAsdzrVQq1coT3NiOXDvhgkt4s1bLmDc=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’667847316′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })});//embed-cdn.gettyimages.com/widgets.js

Maikel Franco homers for the second consecutive game

The Philadelphia Phillies (41-38) defeated the visiting New York Mets (37-43) by a 7-5 score on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

It was a second consecutive offensive explosion that carried the Phillies, with the club powering at least four home runs on successive nights for the first time in over a decade.
This time it was no blowout. The Phillies fell behind early. But rather than tuck their tails between their legs and accept defeat, as seemed to happen too often during their recent losing spell, the team showed renewed heart in fighting all the way back.
It was not at all a good night for Phillies starting pitcher Jake Arrieta. He never got it together while surrendering four earned runs over the first three frames to put the team into an early 4-1 hole.
The Mets started the game with three consecutive singles which led to their scratching out two runs in the top of the 1st inning. Solo home runs by Amed Rosario in the top of the 2nd and Dominic Smith in the top of the 3rd off-set a solo homer by Scott Kingery to leadoff the home 1st inning.
A solo home run off the bat of Rhys Hoskins, his 18th of the season, pulled the Phillies within 4-2 in the bottom of the 4th inning. In the top of the 6th, Jeff McNeil‘s RBI single countered that to push the Mets lead to 5-2.
The bottom of the 6th inning would prove decisive, as the Phillies put a big crooked five-spot up on the scoreboard. Bryce Harper started it by working a walk, and then J.T. Realmuto drilled a one-out double into the gap to put runners at second and third. Jay Bruce then grounded out with Harper scoring to make it 5-3, and Cesar Hernandez‘ infield single allowed Realmuto to roll home with the run that pulled the Phillies within a run at 5-4.
That’s when the Phillies again plugged in their power cords. Maikel Franco stepped in and rifled his second home run in as many nights. His 11th homer of the season was a two-run blast that pushed the Phillies on top for the first time all night at 6-5. Thomson then sent Brad Miller up to pinch-hit for Arrieta. Miller took a curveball and lifted it into the right field stands, giving the Phillies back-to-back homers and a 7-5 lead.

Embedded video

Maikel Franco’s two-run rocket in the bottom of the 6th put the Phillies on top for the first time at 6-5.

39 people are talking about this

Those twin longballs appeared to irk Mets reliever Wilmer Font, who had come in for Mets rookie starting pitcher Walker Lockett. Font immediately fired a ball that nailed Kingery in the head. The Phillies hottest hitter was okay, thanks to his helmet and the angle of the blow.
Home plate umpire Joe West wasted no time, immediately signaling a warning to both benches. Already hot from seeing his top hitter get nailed, that warning got Phillies skipper Gabe Kapler justifiably enraged. He charged out of the dugout and was immediately tossed by West, Kapler’s second ejection in the last few days.

Embedded video

Kingery gets nailed near the noggin. Joe West warns both benches. Gabe objects nicely (?) and gets run for the second time.

107 people are talking about this

That lead held into the top of the 8th when the Mets nearly tied it up. Again, it was new Phillies-killer McNeil trying to do the dirty work. His ground-rule double with a man on and two outs was challenged by Mets skipper Mickey Callaway, who thought it was a game-tying two-run homer. The umpires were judged to be right by the replay crew.
Thomson then made the move to bring in Hector Neris to face powerful Mets rookie first baseman Peter Alonso as the go-ahead run. Neris won the battle, getting Alonso to pop out to first base for the third out. Neris would come out again for the 9th inning with the Phillies still holding their 7-5 lead.
Robinson Cano started the frame by working a full count and then lacing a double to left field. One out later, Todd Frazier also worked the count full and then drew a walk. Neris would have to face the go-ahead run at the plate. He struck out Smith  on four pitches for the second out, and up stepped former Phillies catcher Wilson Ramos. Neris got him on a 4-3 ground out, and was awarded his 16th Save of the season as the Phillies won it 7-5.
After last night’s offensive explosion laugher, for the Phillies to not only rally from behind to win, but also to have the bullpen fight to hold the hard-earned lead was enormous. No, it wasn’t pretty, but they won’t all be pretty wins. A win is a win is a win, especially after a seven-game losing skid.
The Phillies have gotten themselves turned around in the right direction. Now they need to do the job, finishing off a sweep of the Mets on Thursday night.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE

PHILLIES – Jake Arrieta: 6 IP, 9 hits (2 homers), 5 earned, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts. 85 pitches, 50 for strikes.
METS – Walker Lockett: 5.1 IP, 5 hits (2 homers), 4 earned, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts. 82 pithes, 52 for strikes.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME: MAIKEL FRANCO

He only had one hit in four at-bats, but it was a big one. Franco’s two-out, two-run home run finally pushed the Phillies in front by a 6-5 score after they had trailed all night.
Also, Franco made a nice defensive play in the top of the 4th inning. After Arrieta threw away a pickoff attempt while trying to get McNeil at first base, the runner rolled around to third. Alonso then chopped a grounder to Franco, who made a difficult throw to the plate to nail McNeil, keeping the Phillies within 4-1 at that point.

TICKET IQ NEXT GAME


Would Phillies be better with Kingery-Franco than Hernandez-Kingery at 2nd and 3rd?

Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’SxhU2iudSo1Wu7f_l2L3KQ’,sig:’Us0TZNHa5_BRykyd1djmtTx67l5ekynibpwROmP54Bo=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’1031720098′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })});//embed-cdn.gettyimages.com/widgets.js

Maikel Franco should be playing third base every day

Things have been going pretty badly for the Philadelphia Phillies over the last three weeks. And it now appears that one former starting position player, third baseman Maikel Franco, may be in the proccess of being given up on by the manager.

Phillies skipper Gabe Kapler had two lineup cards to fill out on Wednesday as his club was set to play a day-night doubleheader against the Washington Nationals. In the first, Kapler named Scott Kingery as the starting third baseman. In the lineup announced for the nightcap, newcomer Brad Miller is scheduled to man the hot corner.
When Kapler needed bats off the bench to pinch-hit in that opening 6-2 defeat at the hands of the host Nationals, he went to Miller and the repeatedly ineffective Andrew Knapp.
Franco certainly hasn’t helped his case with the bat this season. the 26-year-old hasn’t produced a multi-hit game since May 13, and has just two home runs since April 26. However, Franco is also the third-best defensive third baseman in the National League, eighth-best in baseball, so far this season according to Fangraphs.

Is keeping Franco out of the lineup the best move to give the  Phillies a chance to win baseball games these days?
In Kingery, the Phillies have a player who won a minor league Gold Glove Award for his play at second base just two years ago. Over the last 14 games covering his own last 67 plate appearances entering today, second baseman Cesar Hernandez was slashing at just the .115/.179/.213 mark.
Would the Phillies be better off with Kingery at second and Franco at third on an everyday basis, rather than Hernandez at second and Kingery and others juggling the hot corner? Would the defense become more consistent? Better overall? Would that help win some ball games?
Franco has always been a streaky hitter. From Opening Day through April 27 covering the entire first month of this season, Franco was slashing .271/.360/.542 with seven homers among a dozen extra-base hits with 22 RBIs. Everyone was bestowing “the best #8 hitter in baseball” title on him. If he were playing every day, Franco would likely have another streak similar to that one at some point.
The question as to what to do with center field is a legitimate one. Roman Quinn is back from his latest stay on the Injured List. He is clearly the best defensive center fielder available to the team right now. But how long would Quinn remain healthy if playing every day, given his consistent injury history?
For me, defense matters. And also, you play your best team available at the time. You worry about injuries when (if) they occur. I play Kingery at second base, Franco at third base, and Quinn in center field every day. Meanwhile, I do my best to find a more veteran center field option.
I fully understand that Hernandez has his “fan club” among a certain segment of the fan base. That is fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. This is mine.
The only opinions that matter belong to Kapler and Matt Klentak. We’re seeing their choices, and they simply aren’t working. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.