Tag Archives: Carlos Beltran

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.

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

With Gabe Kapler out, what’s next for the Phillies?

Embed from Getty Images

Kapler was let go after two seasons as the Philadelphia Phillies manager

 

Under tremendous fire from their fan base after a disappointing 2019 season, the Philadelphia Phillies had to make some type of change at the management level. Today, that change was announced.

The Phillies have fired manager Gabe Kapler after two seasons as the skipper and with one year remaining on his contract. The club went 80-82 in 2018 and then finished at 81-81 in the recently completed campaign under his guidance.

Telling in the decision is that it reportedly did not come from club management in the front office, but instead was made by ownership.

Per Bob Nightengale and Chris Bumbaca of USA Today: “The decision was made by Phillies owner John Middleton, and not general manager Matt Klentak, a high-ranking Phillies executive told USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity.

Middleton then released a statement himself, as reported by ESPN:

Several years ago, I promised our loyal fans that I would do everything in my power to bring a world championship team to our city. I will never waver from that commitment. … I have decided that some changes are necessary to achieve our ultimate objective. Consequently, we will replace our manager.

Just last week, I wrote that the Phillies should bring Kapler back. I felt that, while he indeed made mistakes, the injury situation was bad enough that he should be given the final year of his contract in 2020 to see if he could push the club forward.

However, Middleton reportedly took the time to not only consider the situation in his own head, but also sought out the opinions of a number of his team’s key players. It can now be assumed that those players did not aggressively back their manager.

So, the owner made the decision that most of the problems with the 2019 Philadelphia Phillies were in the clubhouse and the dugout, and not in the front office. That much became clear when Middleton also let it be known that Klentak would “lead the search” for the new manager.

Be sure of this, while Klentak sorting through the candidates during the search and lining them up for interviews may indeed be the case, no manager will be hired at this point without input and likely final approval from Middleton.

I believe you can also be sure of another thing as well – the new manager will have some real experience in that role, unlike Kapler when he was hired.

That would leave out candidates such as former Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez and the recently retired Carlos Beltran, two hot names being bandied about to fill one of the open MLB managerial positions this off-season.

While I believe he would make a perfect candidate, I do not believe that Joe Maddon will be the man. A big-league skipper for parts of 16 seasons, Maddon has an overall 1,252-1,068 record.

He has taken his teams to the postseason eight times, and won a World Series with the 2016 Chicago Cubs. Maddon was also the Tampa Bay Rays manager when they captured the American League pennant in 2008 before dropping the Fall Classic to the Phillies.

However, Maddon is widely seen as the front-runner for the open managerial position with the Los Angeles Angels. He has history there, spending more than three decades from 1975-2005 as a player, coach, scout, minor league manager, and big-league coach.

Maddon also served previously as the Angels interim manager in both 1996 and 1999. It is hard to believe that he wouldn’t take that job, hoping to help make Mike Trout and company into legitimate contenders.

So, let’s get right to it. Who do I see as the leading contenders to become the new Philadelphia Phillies manager beginning with the 2020 season? I have three leading candidates.

Buck Showalter

Now 63 years of age, Showalter has been the manager with four different organizations: New York Yankees (1992-95), Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2000), Texas Rangers (2003-06), and Baltimore Orioles (2010-18).

Showalter has an overall record of 1,551-1,517 and won a division title with three of the four clubs. However, his teams had winning seasons in just 10 of the 19 full years that he was at the helm, and only reached the postseason five times.

It may be in his favor that he was hired for the Orioles managerial job during the time that current Phillies club president Andy MacPhail was serving in that position with Baltimore and while Klentak was their Director of Baseball Operations.

Joe Girardi

Turning 55 years of age this coming weekend, Girardi was the man in the dugout as the New York Yankees skipper when the Bronx Bombers took out the Phillies in the 2009 World Series. He put together an overall 910-710 mark in the Big Apple over 10 seasons from 2008-17.

Girardi’s teams reached the postseason six times, and reached the American League Championship Series four times. Just two falls ago, his Yanks held a 3-2 lead in the ALCS vs Houston before the Astros rallied to win the final two games.

He also won three World Series rings as a member of the Yankees late-1990’s dynasty. Girardi was the NL Manager of the Year with the Florida Marlins in 2006 after keeping a low-budget team in Wildcard contention for much of the summer. But he was fired following that one season after clashing with owner Jeffrey Loria.

Mike Scioscia

A local product who was born in Upper Darby and attended Springfield High School and Penn State University, Scioscia will turn 61 years of age in late November.

He was the manager with the Angels for 19 seasons from 2000-2018, leading that franchise to their only World Series championship in 2002. During his tenure the Angels won six AL West Division titles, including over five of six seasons between 2004-09.

Scioscia had an overall 1,650-1, 428 record at the Angels helm and seven of his teams reached the postseason. However, despite having the game’s best player in Trout for most of that time, the Angels made the playoffs just once over his final nine years.

He had a 13-year playing career with the Los Angeles Dodgers and was the starting catcher on their 1981 World Series championship team. Scioscia was an NL All-Star in both 1989 and 1990.

Other possibilities who fit the bill of an experienced big-league manager who might be open to consideration for the position would include John Farrell, Dusty Baker, John Gibbons, Clint Hurdle, Brad Ausmus.

Whomever gets the job of trying to guide the Philadelphia Phillies back to the postseason from inside the locker room and dugout, both Klentak and MacPhail should now consider themselves as being squarely on the hot seat.

The Phillies have not only failed to reach the postseason during the four full seasons of the MacPhail-Klentak front office regime, but the minor league system is widely regarded as among the weakest in the game.

That comes after four years of their leading the draft and international signing process. If the Phillies cannot become winners on the field, and should that minor league organization not begin to display legitimate depth of talent, heads in the front office should be the next to roll.

ALDS Prediction: Houston Astros over Boston Red Sox

One ALDS opens this afternoon with Houston hosting Boston

The Division Series open today in the American League, and each series features a strong AL East contender.

I’m picking both of these “beasts of the east” to go down at the hands of what like slightly more talented opponents.

In one ALDS, the Houston Astros, champions of the AL West, will be facing the Boston Red Sox, champs of the AL East. In the other series, the Cleveland Indians, champions of the AL Central and the defending American League champs, will be taking on the wildcard New York Yankees.

Let’s take the Houston-Boston matchup first. The Astros won 101 games during the regular season, running away with the AL West crown by 21 games.

It was the franchise’ first division title since 2001, and puts them into the postseason for the second time in three years. In 2015, Houston was edged out in a five-game ALDS by the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals.

The Red Sox went 93-69, and held off the Yankees down the stretch to capture their second consecutive division title, their third in five seasons. The Bosox were swept out of the ALDS a year ago by Cleveland.

Left-handers Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz are scheduled to pitch the first two games in Houston for Red Sox skipper John Farrell. Veteran righty Doug Fister is slated to go on Saturday in Game Three back at Fenway Park in Boston.

For the Astros and manager A.J. Hinch, taking the mound will be trade deadline acquisition Justin Verlander in the opener. The veteran righty will be followed by lefty Dallas Keuchel in Game Two at home.

Hinch has not yet announced his starter for Game Three. That choice will likely come down to veteran Charlie Morton or young righty Lance McCullers.

The Red Sox feature one of the most exciting young lineups combos in baseball. That lineup, with ages in parentheses, includes shortstop Xander Bogaerts (25), third baseman Rafael Devers (21 later this month), left fielder Andrew Benintendi (23), center fielder Jackie Bradley (27), and right fielder Mookie Betts (25 in two days.)

Each of those players is likely to contend for AL All-Star berths and league awards for years to come. Their presence virtually assures that Boston will continue to contend into the next decade.

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia and DH Hanley Ramirez bring veteran leadership and experience, as well as continued offensive production as they move towards their mid-30’s.

Farrell won’t hesitate to use normal starters David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, or Rick Porcello out of his bullpen, especially in the first couple of games. Joe Kelly, Addison Reed, and lights-out closer Craig Kimbrel, all righties, could allow Farrell to easily go to a “bullpenning” game strategy.

For Houston, the lineup also features a group of dynamic youngsters. Second baseman Jose Altuve (27), shortstop Carlos Correa (23), third baseman Alex Bregman (23), and center fielder George Springer (28) give the Astros their own core group for years to come.

One reason that I like Houston to win this series is their veterans. Catchers Brian McCann and Evan Gattis, DH Carlos Beltran, and outfielder Cameron Maybin are part of a versatile group that has been through the wars.

The Astros also have one of baseball’s top “X-factor” players in Marwin Gonzalez. The 28-year old switch-hitter can literally play every position on the diamond. He played 19 games at third base, 22 at second, 31 at first, and 38 games at shortstop, as well as 47 games in left field.

On the mound, Hinch can turn to righties Brad Peacock, Joe Musgrove, Will Harris, Chris Devenski, Luke Gregerson, and closer Ken Giles. From the left side, former starter Francisco Liriano is his lone option. Also, he may opt to use McCullers out of the pen.

The Astros ran away and hid in their division. This was a team assembled with a deep October run in mind. I think they get at least into the middle of the month. The veteran lineup options make a difference for me in predicting Houston to win in four games.

Astros threaten to make a mockery of AL West race

The rampaging Houston Astros are threatening to make a mockery of the American League West Division race, and we’re only six weeks into the 2017 Major League Baseball regular season.
The Astros have jumped out to a 25-11 record through games of Friday, May 13. That is the best record in baseball, and leaves the club eight games in front of their nearest divisional rivals.
Since their Saturday afternoon matchup with the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium was rained out, Houston will take that mark into a makeup day-night doubleheader on Sunday.
Part of the equation in building such a huge lead has been that their chief expected challenger for the AL West crown, the in-state rival Texas Rangers, have been decimated by key injuries.
However, that takes nothing away from what Houston has been able to accomplish of their own accord. With 173 runs scored, the Astros are third in the American League. The cumulative pitching staff Batting Average Against is just .226, the best mark in all of baseball.

TOP OF THE ROTATION A TOUGH 1-2 COMBO

“We know what we’re capable of,” said pitcher Lance McCullers, per Mike Fitzpatrick of the Associated Press. “We can do some pretty cool things if everyone does their job.
McCullers comments came after the righty had tossed six shutout innings to help Houston to a 5-1 victory over the Bronx Bombers on Friday night. New York had entered that game tied with the Astros and the Baltimore Orioles with 11 losses, fewest in MLB to this point.
The 1-2 punch at the top of the starting pitching rotation has been a leading reason for Houston’s dominance. McCullers is 3-1 with a 2.92 FIP and 1.117 WHIP with a 57/13 K:BB ratio over 48.1 innings. And the 23-year old hasn’t even been the Astros top starter.
That distinction goes to 29-year old Dallas Keuchel. The lefty was the American League’s Pitcher of the Month for April. Keuchel is 6-0 with a 1.69 ERA, 0.869 WHIP, and has a 50-17 K:BB ratio. He has yielded just 37 hits over his first 58.2 innings.

ASTROS VERSATILE OFFENSIVE ATTACK

The Houston offensive attack is extremely versatile and deep, led by an AL All-Star in three of the last five years. With three straight Silver Sluggers in his trophy case, second baseman Jose Altuve is off to another strong start. Altuve is hitting .298 with a .367 on-base percentage. His nine steals lead the club. His 21 runs scored are tied for the team lead.
Talented 22-year old shortstop Carlos Correa also has scored 21 times. His 20 RBI are second on the team, and his 15 extra-base hits lead all Astros hitters.
Center fielder George Springer has 21 runs scored as well. His seven home runs are tops in the lineup, and his 20 RBI leave him tied for second with Correa.
Veteran catcher Brian McCann was a big off-season trade acquisition from those Yankees. The 7x All-Star and 5x Silver Slugger winner is proving that he is still a threat at 33-years of age. McCann has a .381 on-base percentage. He is third on the club with a half-dozen homers, and leads Houston with 21 RBI.
Josh Reddick signed a four-year, $52 million free agent contract this past off-season. The 30-year old right fielder has hit for a .291 average. Reddick has produced 10 extra-base hits, 18 runs scored, and 16 RBI.

IMPORTANT BENCH PIECE

23-year old third baseman Alex Bregman got off to a cold start to the season. But since April 11, Bregman is hitting .293 with a .383 on-base percentage. However, the youngster has yet to prove that he can deliver any pop from the hot corner. Bregman is still searching for his first home run of the year.
Bregman and high-profile Cuban signee Yuli Gurriel have been producing modest numbers at the corner infield positions.
Into the breech has stepped Marwin Gonzalez, providing tremendous versatility and unexpected offensive production. Gonzalez leads the Astros with nine home runs. His 21 RBI have him tied for the club lead with McCann. On defense, he has stepped in at five different positions.
“I can pinch-hit for anybody because I have Gonzalez,” manager A.J. Hinch said per John Perrotto of Fan Rag Sports“If Carlos Beltran’s on the bench and Marwin is on the bench, I can hit Beltran whenever I want because Marwin can cover. He can cover center, right, left, all infield positions.”

SOME BULLPEN INCONSISTENCY

Chris DevenskiWill HarrisMichael Feliz, and Brad Peacock (before the latter’s recent demotion to AAA) have all been reliable options out of the bullpen for manager A.J. Hinch.
Meanwhile, closer Ken Giles, setup man Luke Gregerson, and top lefty Tony Sipp have been the most inconsistent pieces to that bullpen mix. If they can become more consistent, Houston may never be challenged in the division all season long.
In their just released new Top 100 Prospects ranking, Baseball America placed five Houston youngsters among the top 67 on their list. With four starting position players, three starting pitchers, and four members of the pen all in their 20’s, the Astros figure to remain contenders for a long time to come.


Everything is going right so far for the Houston Astros in the 2017 season. Every team hits some bumps in the road over a long 162-game season. But if Houston doesn’t start hitting a couple real soon, they may make even more of a mockery out of the AL West race than it has already become.


2016 Winter Meetings: Houston Astros

When the Winter Meetings open in National Harbor, Maryland next week, look for the Houston Astros to be one of the big players in free agent deals, big trades, or both.
A new Collective Bargaining Agreement could soon be announced between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association. If that happens, the Astros could strike even more quickly.
The two biggest free agent names tied to Houston at the moment are a pair of veteran bats, Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Beltran.

ENCARNACION AND BELTRAN HISTORY

Encarnacion has spent the last eight seasons of his 12-year big league career with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was an AL All-Star for the third time in 2016 when he hit for a .263/.357/.529 slash. He also produced 42 homers, 34 doubles, 127 RBI, and 99 runs scored.
Beltran was with the New York Yankees for the last three years before moving on to the Texas Rangers this past season in a trade deadline deal for three prospects.
Encarnacion will turn 34 years old in January. In addition to his DH work, he has made first base appearances in anywhere from one-third to one-half of the Blue Jays’ games over the last five seasons.
Beltran turns 40 years old at the end of April. In addition to his own DH work, Beltran has seen plenty of outfield action. He could still play at least part-time on a corner.

ASTROS HAVE ALREADY ADDED FOR 2017

Houston has already made a handful of moves this offseason as the club seeks to return to the postseason. After a 2015 AL Wild Card berth and narrow ALDS loss to the eventual world champion Kansas City Royals, the Astros finished in third place in the AL West in 2016.
Featuring a tremendously talented young core which includes second baseman Jose Altuve, shortstop Carlos Correa, center fielder George Springer, and third baseman Alex Bregman, the team is looking to add veterans for a serious 2017 push.
To that end, general manager Jeff Luhnow has already added catcher Brian McCann, outfielders Josh Reddick and Nori Aoki, Cuban defector Yulieski Gurriel, and pitcher Charlie Morton.

LUHNOW MORE AGGRESSIVE THIS OFFSEASON

At the GM meetings in early November, Luhnow was quoted by Jeff Kaplan for the Houston Chronicle.
“We’ve always had more of an attitude of wait and see how the market develops and figure out where we can get some value and where we can get players that are complementary,” Luhnow said, per Kaplan“But now we need to be more aggressive. We need to try and get out in front of some things and secure some players to help us win.”
Luhnow has already demonstrated that new aggressiveness. Expect the Astros to add at least one more big bat in the coming days or weeks.
Such a move could also signal further dealings, such as a trade of Evan Gattis. There is even some speculation that Houston could try to move one of its top kids, perhaps Correa, Bregman, or Springer, in a move to land a big arm such as Chris Sale.
The Astros are not conceding the AL West Division to the talented Texas Rangers. They will be doing everything possible to not only make a run at the division title in 2017, but to position themselves for a run at the first World Series championship in franchise history.