Tag Archives: Gio Gonzalez

Phillies need to find a way to slow down Ryan Braun

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Ryan Braun has been a Phillies-killer for years

Over the course of his 13-year career in Major League Baseball, outfielder Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers has done a lot of damage against a lot of opposing teams.

Braun, who served a 65-game suspension back in 2013after admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) during his 2011 National League MVP-winning campaign, has blasted 331 home runs over that career.
The Philadelphia Phillies have been victimized by Braun more than most, to the point that he is now high on the list of “Phillie-killers”, those players who consistently do damage when the two teams meet.
Over 74 regular season games played against the Phillies, 72 of those as starts, Braun is slashing .378/.417/.711 with 25 home runs, 71 RBIs, and 44 extra-base hits with a 1.129 OPS. He even hit the Phillies during the one postseason series between the two clubs. During that 2008 NLDS he delivered five hits and a pair of RBIs. Ironically, he went 0-4 in the lone Brewers victory of that series.
At Citizens Bank Park, Braun has ripped successive generations of Phillies pitching to the tune of a .406/.453/.804 slash line with 14 homers and 43 RBIs over 36 games.
During Tuesday night’s 6-1 victory for the Brewers, Braun crushed his ninth home run of the season. It was just another successful night in South Philly for the now 35-year-old slugger, who is enjoying his best power year since the 2016 season.
In addition to that tainted 2011 NL MVP Award, Braun has finished among the top three in the voting in two other seasons. He was the 2007 National League Rookie of the Year and is a six-time NL All-Star and five-time Silver Slugger.
After manager Craig Counsell sat him out for the previous three Brewers games, using him only as a pinch-hitter, Braun was back in the starting lineup to torture the Phillies last night. Fans who head down to the ball park tonight can expect to see him in there again, looking to continue his onslaught.
The Brewers (25-19) trail the first-place Chicago Cubs by 2.5 games in the NL Central Division race, but are five games back in the loss column. The Phillies (24-17) are 3.5 games up in the NL East Division standings, three in the loss column over the New York Mets.
Coming into this series, the Phillies had been finding a way to win despite consistently dropping their series openers. This time around they won that opener. In order to capture their fourth series in a row the Phillies need to slow down Braun and beat the Brew Crew on Wednesday night in this third of a four-game set.

WEDNESDAY STARTING LINEUPS

PHILLIES LINEUP

  1. Andrew McCutchen CF
  2. Jean Segura SS
  3. Bryce Harper RF
  4. Rhys Hoskins 1B
  5. J.T. Realmuto C
  6. Cesar Hernandez 2B
  7. Sean Rodriguez 3B
  8. Phil Gosselin LF
  9. Jake Arrieta P

BREWERS LINEUP

  1. Lorenzo Cain CF
  2. Christian Yelich RF
  3. Ryan Braun LF
  4. Mike Moustakas 3B
  5. Jesus Aguilar 1B
  6. Keston Hiura 2B
  7. Manny Pina C
  8. Orlando Arcia SS
  9. Gio Gonzalez P

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

  • Jake Arrieta: 4-3, 3.78 ERA, 1.320 WHIP, 47 hits allowed over 50 innings across eight starts with a 42/19 K:BB.
  • Arrieta has six Quality Starts among his eight outings this season, but has lasted just five frames in two of his last three.
  • The Phillies right-hander has made 17 career starts vs the Brewers, going 8-6 with a 3.22 ERA, allowing just 69 hits over 100.2 innings. Arrieta lost both starts vs Milwaukee in 2018, giving up 8 earned runs and 11 hits over 8.2 innings.
  • After surrendering three home runs in his most recent start last Friday in Kansas City, Arrieta has now given up eight long balls on the year. His current 1.4 HR/9 is the highest since second big-league season back in 2011.
  • Gio Gonzalez: 1-0, 1.69 ERA, 0.938 WHIP, 11 hits allowed over 16 innings across three starts with a 12/4 K:BB.
  • Gonzalez has given the Brewers three straight starts of 5+ innings since his promotion after starting the season with three starts for Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre.
  • The lefty signed with the Brewers as a free agent on April 27 after being released by the Yankees five days earlier. He had signed on with the Yanks back in spring training after splitting last season with the Brewers and Nationals, the latter of whom he pitched with from 2012-18.
  • Gonzalez was once Phillies property, having been obtained from the Chicago White Sox as part of the Jim Thome – Aaron Rowand deal in 2005. The Phillies sent him back to the Chisox a year later along with Gavin Floyd in a trade for Freddy Garcia.

BRUCE WILLIS THROWING OUT FIRST PITCH

Golden Globe and two-time Emmy Award-winning actor Bruce Willis has starred in many films shot in the Philadelphia area: “The Sixth Sense”, for which he won a People’s Choice Award, and “12 Monkeys” among them. Willis family moved from Germany, where his father was in the U.S. military service, to New Jersey when he was just two years old. He grew up a Phillies fan in Carney’s Point, New Jersey and was a graduate of both Penns Grove High School and Montclair State University in New Jersey. He is taking batting practice prior to the game tonight and will be throwing out the honorary first pitch.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES

  • Maikel Franco has the second-best fielding percentage among all National League third basemen. After handling four chances cleanly on Tuesday night, Franco has gone 30 games since making his lone error of the season back on April 9. However, he is hitting just .042 in his career over 24 at-bats against Gonzalez, and so is out of the starting lineup on Wednesday.
  • Bryce Harper remains one of just four hitters in the National League with 25 RBis and 25 walks on the season. Two of the other three are playing in this series: Rhys Hoskins and Christian Yelich. Harper leads all of Major League Baseball with 163 walks since the start of the 2018 season. Harper and Andrew McCutchen are the only NL hitters with at least 25 runs scored and 30 walks this season.
  • Cesar Hernandez has 45 hits this season, second-most among all NL second basemen. He is slashing .348/.415/.522 since April 10, though without much run production.
  • After throwing out Orlando Arcia trying to steal second base and Lorenzo Cain trying to swipe third last night, Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto leads all of Major League Baseball with 15 runners thrown out this year, more than twice as many as the next highest backstop.
  • Jean Segura singled in the first inning last night, upping his first inning average to the .469 mark this year.
  • The Phillies currently have four right-handed relievers on the Injured List who were expected to be bullpen keys: David Robertson (right arm flexor strain), Victor Arano(right elbow), Tommy Hunter (right arm flexor strain) and Edubray Ramos (right biceps tendonitis). Ramos is expected to return next week, Arano possibly within two. Hunter hopes to begin a minor league rehab by the end of the month, and Robertson hopes to be back by the end of June.
  • Scott Kingery began a minor league rehab stint last night at Lakewood. He is expected to play twice this week at Double-A Reading and then return to the Phillies as a super-utility player this coming weekend.

WEDNESDAY PROGRAMMING INFORMATION


Phillies lefty pitching prospect Cole Irvin appears ready for his shot

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Irvin has risen through the minors and is knocking on the big-league door

We’re now less than three weeks before Phillies pitchers and catchers are due to report for the start of spring training in Clearwater, Florida. Most of Phillies Nation is waiting, now impatiently, for the sudden lightning bolt of an announcement on the Bryce Harper and Manny Machado free agent situations.

However, many sources have reported that the club is also still considering options to improve the starting pitching rotation. Specifically, a proven veteran left-handed winner would be a perfect fit for a club hoping to contend in what appears to be a tough NL East Division in the 2019 season.
The primary name floating around has been that of free agent Dallas Keuchel. The lefty could still return to the only team for whom he has ever pitched, the Houston Astros. However, the Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers also would appear to be good matches.
While there are other veteran left-handers available, including former Phillies pitcher Gio Gonzalez, there is also an option available from inside the organization, one that might be as good an option as any other than Keuchel.
That option is California native Cole Irvin, the club’s #10-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline. Irvin, who turns 25-years-old on January 31, was the Phillies fifth round choice in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of Oregon.
Irvin signed quickly that summer and was sent straight to Low-A Williamsport. There he made a strong impression, going 5-1 with a 1.97 ERA and 0.964 WHIP over 10 games, seven of those starts. He allowed just 36 hits over 45.2 innings while striking out 37 opposition batters.
In the following 2017 campaign, Irvin split the year between High-A Clearwater where he made 11 starts and AA-Reading, for whom he made another 13 starts. Over 25 games at the two levels, 24 of those starts, Irvin went 9-9 with a 3.39 ERA and 1.176 WHIP. He surrendered 140 hits over 151.1 innings with an excellent 118/38 K:BB ratio.

Irvin pitched the entirety of last season at the highest level of the minor leagues. For the Phillies Triple A-Lehigh Valleyaffiliates he made 26 appearances, 25 of those as a starter. He went 14-4 with a 2.57 ERA, 1.054 WHIP, and allowed just 135 hits over 161.1 innings with a 131/35 K:BB ratio.
For that performance, Irvin was named as the International League Pitcher of the Year. Back in October here at Phillies Nation we named Irvin as our Lehigh Valley IronPigs Player of the Year.
Overall in his three-year professional career, Irvin has pitched in 61 games, 56 of those as a starting pitcher. He has put together a 28-14 record with a 2.84 ERA and 1.094 WHIP over 358.1 innings. The southpaw has yielded just 311 hits, including just 27 home runs, and has a strong 286/81 K:BB ratio.
Irvin is a Tommy John surgery survivor, having missed the entire 2014 college season. He now throws both a two- and four-seam fastball, mixes in two breaking balls well, has a solid changeup, and knows how to throw strikes. He has also proven adept at inducing ground balls, something that would be of tremendous value at Citizens Bank Park if he can keep it up.
With these results and his demonstrated command and control, Irvin would be a top prospect – if he threw his fastball at 95-96 mph. But since he “only” works in the low-90’s with it, he doesn’t get the respect that his record says he deserves.
During the 2018 season, the Phillies former farm director Joe Jordan was quoted on Irvin by Jim Salisbury for Baseball America:
He really knows how to pitch. He’s 90-92, and he can go get a little more when he needs it, but he really commands well. His changeup is a good pitch. He’s really learned to pitch inside to righties, and that’s opened up the outer part of the plate for his changeup. The slider and the curveball are good. He has a good arm, a good mix and a good brain. He’s very equipped. Never does he go into an outing without a game plan. He prepares like a major leaguer.

Irvin could probably work as an effective lefty in the middle of the Phillies rotation right now. (Cheryl Pursell)
Right now, Irvin appears to be blocked. With Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta currently fronting the rotation, the club appears set to open spring training with Nick PivettaVince VelasquezZach Eflin, and Jared Eickhoff battling for the rotation spots behind those two.
When the Phillies did have to reach down to Triple-A last season for spot starters, they opted to give those opportunities to righty Enyel De Los Santos and lefty Ranger Suarez, who became the first left-hander to make a start for the club since September 2016.
Irvin has received an invitation to spring training, so he will be there when those pitchers and catchers report. Despite his minor league success and the club’s continuing desire to find a left-hander for the rotation, he will be a longshot to make the team, even if he pitches well.
The Phillies can continue to keep Irvin in their minor league system all through this coming 2019 season without having to put him on the 40-man roster. They won’t be forced to make a roster decision on him until next Fall, when he would be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft if not protected by then.
The best chance for Irvin to make his 2019 debut with the Phillies would be for injuries and/or ineffectiveness by the current options to combine with his own continued strong pitching to force the issue.
Irvin appears to be ready right now if called upon. He knows it and is keeping himself focused. Joe Bloss at MLB.com quoted him after his starting assignment in last summer’s Triple-A All-Star Game: “All I can do is handle what I’m doing and just do my best and develop and get myself in a position to be the next guy.”

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Ready for a big-league opportunity , Cole Irvin is blocked – for now

Lefty starting pitching still a priority for Phillies this off-season

Keuchel won the 2015 NL Cy Young Award with the Astros
After agreeing to a deal with the free agent lefty starting pitcher a couple of days ago, the Washington Nationals today announced the signing of Patrick Corbin to a six-year, $140 million deal. Corbin now joins Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg in the Nationals starting rotation.
With their own rotation headed by a pair of talented right-handers in Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta, the Philadelphia Phillies are known to be looking for a left-hander as well.
The Phillies appear to have been one of the finalists for Corbin. Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported  “five years at what is believed to have been a bit over $100 million” as the Phillies offer.
The Phillies have not had a southpaw in their rotation since Adam Morgan made 21 starts in the 2016 season. They haven’t had an effective left-handed starter since Cole Hamels was dealt in late July 2015.
Having lost out on Corbin to a division rival, where might Phillies general manager Matt Klentak turn next in his search?
There are a handful of remaining left-handed starting pitchers who have each been linked to the Phillies in recent weeks. Each one comes with his own question marks and challenges in bringing them to Philadelphia. Let’s examine a few of the better options.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS VETERAN

The biggest name is that of San Francisco Giants veteran Madison Bumgarner. The 29-year-old helped lead the Giants to three World Series titles earlier in this decade, and was the Most Valuable Player of the 2014 Fall Classic.

Trade rumors involving MadBum have blazed in the Hot Stove in recent days. (Photo: Arturo Pardavilla III)
Bumgarner made four straight NL All-Star teams from 2013-16, finishing among the top 10 in NL Cy Young Award voting each of those seasons. He also knows how to handle a bat, having blasted 17 career home runs and won a pair of Silver Slugger Awards.
After missing the first three months of the 2018 season with a broken hand, Bumgarner returned to make 21 starts. The North Carolina native is owed just $12 million for next season after which he will become a free agent, so there is not a big contract commitment.
However, he would not come cheap as far as the price to land him. Giants new GM Farhan Zaidi is likely to ask for a player/prospect combination with some real value. It might take something like an Odubel Herrera and Adonis Medina package.

HOUSTON ASTROS FREE AGENT

Assuming that Corbin was free agent pitching ‘Plan A’ for Klentak, perhaps the ‘Plan B’ is named Dallas Keuchel, who turns 31-years-old on New Year’s Day 2019.
Keuchel was the Houston Astros seventh round pick in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft. He has spent his entire seven-year big-league career in Houston, and was a key member of the 2017 World Series champions pitching rotation.
Keuchel has a 76-63 career record with a 3.66 ERA, 1.250 WHIP, and 3.72 FIP mark. The Oklahoma native is more of a typical crafty left-hander than a power pitcher, with career 2.76 K/BB and 7.2 K/9 marks.
The 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner has won a dozen or more games in four of the last five years, is a 2x NL All-Star, and has won five Gold Glove Awards including this past season.
It is believed that Keuchel will be looking for a four-year deal at an $80 million total. While that is less than Corbin’s total cost, it still takes him out to age 34. The Phillies supposedly balked at a sixth year on their Corbin offer, which would have been his age 34 season.

LATEST JAPANESE POSTED TALENT

Any of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams who might be interested can now negotiate with lefty pitcher Yusei Kikuchi during a window that closes on January 5, 2019. He will surely sign prior to that date, and I wrote last month here at Phillies Nation that the Phillies are believed to be one of the teams seriously involved.

Kikuchi is an eight-year veteran lefty in the Japanese Pacific League (Photo: えすぱにぃ )
Kikuchi is 27-years-old, and will turn 28 next June, so a signing team will get him for his prime years. He debuted at age 20 in the Australian Baseball League before making his Japanese Pacific League debut later that same year.
Over his eight pro seasons, Kikuchi has gone 74-48 with a 2.81 ERA and 1.177 WHIP. He has allowed 838 hits over 1,035.1 innings across 163 games, 158 of those as starting assignments. Kikuchi has registered a 2.43 K/BB mark and has struck out exactly eight batters per nine innings.
On top of whatever actual contract value a team such as the Phillies might work out with Kikuchi, they would also be obliged to pay what amounts to a 15-20 percent posting fee to his Japanese team, the Seibu Lions.
Danny Knobler at Bleacher Report quoted an unnamed American League scout who has seen him pitch multiple times as follows on Kikuchi’s talent level:

“At least a third starter. If it all comes together, a highly respected No. 2. Will be one of the better left-handed starters in the big leagues.”

However, Knobler also quotes a National League scout who stated: “He’s just fair. Not as good as others who have come over and failed.
I have seen a wide variety of potential contract possibilities for Kikuchi that seem to average out to about five years and $50 million total.

OTHER POSSIBILITIES

There are a number of talented starting pitchers remaining available on the free agent market. Among left-handers with starting experience most likely to be of interest are two who formerly were Phillies property: J.A. Happ and Gio Gonzalez.
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Happ might be only the Phillies third or fourth choice, but could still end up a good short-term option. (Photo: Tom Mihalek)
Happ was the Phillies third round pick in the 2004 MLB Amateur Draft and pitched with the club from 2007-10, including a 2009 season in which he finished as runner-up in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Happ was dealt to the Houston Astros along with a pair of prospects in the deal that brought Roy Oswalt to the Phillies. Over a 12-year career, Happ has gone 109-82 with a 3.90 ERA and 1.309 WHIP.
He was outstanding down the stretch last year after being obtained in trade by the New York Yankees from Toronto. Happ went 8-0 with a 2.69 ERA, allowing just 51 hits in 63.2 innings with a 63/16 K:BB ratio over 11 starts.
Gonzalez was the first round pick of the Chicago White Sox in the 2004 MLB Amateur Draft. He was traded to the Phillies in December 2005 as the player to be named later in the deal sending Jim Thome to Chicago in exchange for Aaron Rowand.
Almost exactly one year later the Phillies sent Gonzalez back to the White Sox as part of a deal in which the two teams swapped starting pitchers, Gavin Floyd going to Chicago and Freddy Garcia coming to Philly.
In January 2008 the Chisox included him in yet another deal to bring Nick Swisher from the Oakland Athletics. It was with the A’s that Gonzalez finally broke into the big-leagues from 2008-11.
Following a 2011 season in which he was an AL All-Star, Gonzalez was dealt for the fourth time his career. This time the A’s sent him to the Washington Nationals as the key piece that brought back a four-player package.
With the Nationals, Gonzalez became a rotation mainstay. From 2012 through late this past summer he compiled an 86-65 record with a 3.62 ERA and 1.283 WHIP. He was a 2012 NL All-Star when he finished third in NL Cy Young voting.
Happ is now 36-years-old. Gonzalez is 33-years-old. You might be able to get either pitcher on a two-year contract at something along the lines of $20 million total value.
Among the available right-handed rotation options the most attractive is probably another former Phillies property, Charlie Morton.
How much the Phillies might be willing to spend on a starting pitcher in the free agent market might depend on how much they commit to improving their offense in that same manner.
The Phillies are believed to still be among the front-runners for both outfielder Bryce Harper and infielder Manny Machado. That could complicate their making a move on a big-ticket arm. However, it apparently didn’t slow them down from going after Corbin.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Phillies still want a lefty starter after losing out on Corbin, so who is available?

Phillies targeting lefty pitching this off-season per Jim Bowden

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Former big-league GM Jim Bowden has inside info on Phillies targets

Philadelphia Phillies general manager Matt Klentak and his counterparts across Major League Baseball have now wrapped up the annual GM meetings, held over the last three days in Carlsbad, California.

This morning, Jim Bowden reported for The Athletic that he had reached out to sources inside the Phillies organization, along with the other 29 organizations.
The former GM and MLB Executive of the Year obtained information as to the club’s “biggest needs and priorities for the next month and the remainder of the winter“, and then gave his opinion as to which players the team might target in trades and as free agents.
Two of the needs and priorities for the Phillies would be fairly obvious to any fan who followed the team this past season: improving the offense and defense.
The Phillies ranked 29th of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball in errors committed despite ranking just eighth in total chances handled. This caused the club to also finish 29th in fielding percentage.
Offensively the club finished tied for 21st in runs scored and OPS. Despite a supposed emphasis on reaching base, the Phillies finished tied for 18th in baseball in on-base percentage. They were 15th in home runs and 23rd in stolen bases.
Among the bats that Bowden mentions as being on the Phillies radar are the two biggest free agent names, two frequently linked to the club: Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.
Also mentioned as possible free agent targets for the club in the outfield are Michael BrantleyA.J. Pollock, and Andrew McCutchen. Trade targets in the outfield ranks among those rumored as available are Mitch Haniger and Kevin Kiermaier.
Infielders who Bowden believes that the Phillies will be looking at are free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson and shortstop Jose Iglesias.
Every pitcher attached to the Phillies by Bowden is a southpaw. The list includes free agent lefty starters Patrick CorbinDallas KeuchelGio Gonzalez, Hyun-jin Ryu and J.A. Happ, and left-handed reliever Zach Britton.

Also on Bowden’s list as Phillies pitching targets are Japanese lefty Yusei Kikuchi and Seattle Mariners left-hander James Paxton, rumored to be available on the trade market.
We’ve covered the Phillies interest in a number of these players already here at Phillies Nation this off-season. Continue to follow us as the days and weeks move along, and more and more of these logs are tossed onto the Hot Stove fires. We’ll have all of the most reliable Phillies rumors and reports, as well as stories on any deals that actually get done.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Lefty pitching reportedly among Phillies top priorities this off-season

What if the Phillies are unable to land any impact talent this off-season?

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Phillies GM Matt Klentak is squarely on the hot seat this Hot Stove season

One of the most highly anticipated and important ‘Hot Stove’ seasons in Philadelphia Phillies history is about to get underway. Dozens of players across baseball are now free agents, and by this weekend they will be able to negotiate with the Phillies and other ball clubs.

The Phillies have a ton of money to spend. It is possible that controlling owner John Middleton and his partners could make upwards of $100 million available to GM Matt Klentak in order to add new players via free agent signings and/or trade acquisitions.
There has been a great deal of speculation among the fan base on which players the Phillies might target. Bryce HarperManny MachadoCraig Kimbrel or another elite reliever? Patrick Corbin or some other proven starting pitcher?
For a variety of reasons, both the team itself and those of us who cover the Phillies like to talk and write about the possibilities. Adding the right couple of players, after all, could vault the club to contending status entering the 2019 season.
That kind of talk is exciting. It gets us excited. It gets fans excited. When fans are excited, they like to read about the team. Obvious then why we writers like to drum up scenarios in which the Phillies sign talented ball players.
But just once, and only once because I too like to remain positive, let’s whisper softly the words that no one really wants to consider: what if the Phillies are unable to sign anyone this off-season? By that, I mean anyone of consequence. No Harper. No Machado. No Kimbrel or Corbin or Josh Donaldson or J.A. Happ?
This is, after all, a very real possibility. While the Phillies indeed have tremendous financial resources available, they are not the only team with such resources. They are not the only team that wants to get better on the field. They are not the only team that would like to add a drawing card to their roster.
Let’s say that Clayton Kershaw stays with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The two sides have already agreed to extend their negotiating window by a couple of extra days in hopes of working out an extension. That is a very strong possibility.
And let’s say that Corbin ends up going home to the New York Yankees, which seems a foregone conclusion in the minds of many evaluators. That would be two prime arms off the market.

Imagine a scenario in which the Braves get Harper and the Brewers get Machado. Two NL contenders improve. (Arturo Pardavila III and Ian D’Andrea)
Who else might be a serious suitor for Harper and Machado? There are a number of possibilities. Among contending teams, the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves appear to be in just as good a financial position as the Phillies.
The Braves are already ahead of the Phillies as the two teams build back from a half-decade of losing. Atlanta won the division going away this year and have some fascinating young talent. Let’s say they add a big basher like Harper to their lineup.
Let’s say the Brew Crew decides to dangle a boatload of cash at Machado in order to get him to give up his shortstop ambitions and play third base for them. And that’s just two competitors. There will be more suitors for both players.
Happ, Kimbrel, Donaldson, Andrew McCutchenDallas KeuchelNathan Eovaldi all decide they would rather play elsewhere.
You see, it takes more than having a lot of money to throw around. It takes someone on the other side willing to accept your money. There’s an old saying: it takes two to tango. Maybe the players take a look at what the Phillies have and simply don’t see enough opportunity to win.
Players love money. We all do. But the vast majority of competitive ball players also want a legitimate opportunity to play in October. To experience the joy of winning a World Series. To earn a ring. To ride on a parade float.

Phillies fans will rake Matt Klentak over the Hot Stove coals if he can’t get big things done this off-season.
What if Middleton and Klentak cannot convince any of the better free agents to sign on with the 2019 Phillies? So maybe you come to spring training with the same young players who spent much of 2018 playing down at Citizens Bank Park.
Maybe you add a second-tier free agent to the mix, someone like lefty pitcher Gio Gonzalez or a 33-year-old Carlos Gonzalez. Or, gulp, Freddy Galvis to improve your defense at shortstop.
How would Phillies fans feel – how would you feel – if Gabe Kapler‘s 2019 lineup on Opening Day was made up of Carlos SantanaScott KingeryJ.P. CrawfordMaikel FrancoJorge Alfaro, and some outfield mix of Odubel HerreraAaron AltherrRoman QuinnNick Williams, and Rhys Hoskins?
Do you think that the Phillies could expect to overtake the Braves and Nationals and hold off a re-tooling Mets squad simply with individual improvements from their own young players? Because I can guarantee you, that is how it would be sold to you.
The Phillies finished in third place on merit this past season, and barely at that. Had the Mets been healthy all year, the Phillies would likely have finished in fourth place. Those are the facts.
The Phillies had one of the worst defensive teams in baseball, and Klentak today alluded to Hoskins returning to left field and another year of a further aging Santana as his first baseman. The Phillies had one of the worst run-producing lineups in the game. How much does that improve if no impact players are added to the mix?
And so, you see what I am getting at here. You see how important the Phillies signing a couple of impact players is for this off-season. Not one. At least two. Because if the Phillies brass should crap out, well, that worst-case scenario would indeed be bleak.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Phillies 2019: the worst-case scenario could be bleak