Tag Archives: Kevin Pillar

Phillies reportedly looking at right-handed hitting center fielders

As potentially convoluted as the Philadelphia Phillies infield situation could get during the 2020 season, the outfield appears to be fairly set at this point

In right field, Bryce Harper put together an outstanding first season in Philadelphia. As long as he remains healthy, Harper is locked into the starting lineup at the position for years to come.

Andrew McCutchen is the left fielder. The veteran is expected to be 100% recovered from the devastating knee injury and subsequent surgery that ended his own first season with the club in early June. In fact, he responded earlier this week to a piece that I published asking what the Phillies could expect from him in 2020.

In center field, 2017 first round draft pick Adam Haseley will enter spring training as the anticipated everyday starter after appearing in 65 games during his rookie season last summer. Haseley, who turns 24 in mid-April, made 40 of his 65 overall appearances in center field in 2019, including 36 starts.

This morning, MLB insider Jon Morosi revealed that the Phillies may be looking to add a right-handed hitting complement to the lefty-swinging Haseley.

 

On the assumption that general manager Matt Klentak is still willing to look at available options outside of the organization, which players remaining on the free agent market might make the most sense for such a role?

The best available right-handed hitting center fielder is probably Kevin Pillar. Having just turned 31 years of age earlier this week, Pillar is a seven-year veteran.

Pillar has spent most of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays, who dealt him to the San Francisco Giants just one week into the 2019  campaign. He went on to enjoy his best season with 21 homers, 61 extra-base hits, 88 RBIs, 83 runs scored, and 14 steals. Pillar also finished fifth among all MLB center fielders in putouts.

Other available free agents fitting the bill of an experienced center fielder who bats right-handed include Peter Bourjos, Rajai Davis, Austin Jackson, and Juan Lagares. Switch-hitting speedster Billy Hamilton is also available.

The Phillies current outfield depth includes left-handed hitters Jay Bruce, Nick Williams, and Odubel Herrera. The latter is not expected to remain with the club into the 2020 season after a highly publicized domestic violence incident last year.

Even the top two outfield prospects in the minor league system, 2016 first overall draft pick Mickey Moniak and 2016 international signee Simon Muzziotti, are each left-handed hitters. Both can play center field but neither is big-league ready at this point.

The lone player on the Phillies current 40-man roster who fits the bill would be the injury-prone Roman Quinn, a switch-hitter. It is a near certainty that Quinn will make the team and fill a reserve outfield role with as long as he is healthy.

Two players who have big-league experience and who fit the right-handed hitting center field bill were signed by the club this winter to minor league deals. Both Mikie Mahtook and Matt Szczur (pronounced ‘Ceasar’) will come to spring training with a shot at filling the role for the club.

In an emergency, McCutchen could slide over to briefly cover the position. He played in 15 games there in 2019 including 10 starts. But his days as an MVP and Gold Glove caliber defender in center are long over, and it would be best to limit McCutchen’s exposure there considering the knee injury.

It is no secret that the Phillies hope to use last year’s .500 finish (81-81) as a springboard to compete for a postseason berth in 2020. Assuming health and continued positive development, Haseley will get the majority of starts in center field.

For the Phillies in the coming season, having a quality, experienced, right-handed hitting option at the position could prove to be a big help, giving Haseley a break against some tougher southpaw pitchers.

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

Dwindling free agent pool still includes players to help Phillies

When the off-season began for the ball clubs of Major League Baseball it was my belief that we were in store for a second straight winter of city tours.

At the very least, super agent Scott Boras was going to take the top pitcher, Gerrit Cole, and the top hitter, Anthony Rendon, around the country to a handful of cities for team visits in a repeat of what happened a year ago with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

As we now know, it never happened. This time around, the vast majority of free agents had a good idea where they wanted to play. Negotiations went down fast, with few team visits at all.

The Phillies got involved, as was anticipated. General manager Matt Klentak was able to land two new pieces in shortstop Didi Gregorius and the starting pitcher that everyone knew they needed in Zack Wheeler.

But even with those two additions, the Phillies appear to need a little more. They play in a tough division that includes a two-time defending champion in Atlanta, the defending world champions in Washington, and an improved New York Mets club. All three of those teams finished ahead of the Phillies in 2019.

It appears that Klentak is ready to hold third base for top prospect Alec Bohm, plugging in super-utility guy Scott Kingery for a few weeks until Bohm is deemed fully ready. And it looks as if Klentak wants to see what former first round pick Adam Haseley can do with an everyday opportunity in center field.

If those things are absolutely true, then the Phillies would not be shopping around for any more starting caliber position players. But they still have needs in the bullpen and on the bench, and another starting pitcher, preferably a left-handed veteran, couldn’t hurt.

So, considering those as the Phillies needs and knowing that the free agent market has seriously dried up, are there any players remaining available who could help the club, and who Klentak might actually still consider inking to a deal?

Earlier this week, Hall of Fame scribe Jayson Stark put out what he considered to be an All-Unemployed Team, with each of the players still out there as available free agents:

And just yesterday, former big-league general manager Jim Bowden published a piece for The Athletic on the top remaining free agents. He listed the Phillies as a “best fit” for two of those, third baseman Josh Donaldson and relief pitcher Will Harris.

Donaldson would appear to be a longshot at best. In fact, there is a very real possibility that the slugger will be manning the hot corner and hitting in the middle of the lineup for an NL East rival once again next year. Both the Braves, with whom he played in 2019 on a one-year contract, and the Nationals are considered the front-runners to land the services of the veteran.

Harris is an intriguing possibility. The 35-year-old right-hander is a veteran of eight big-league campaigns. He was a 2016 All-Star, won a World Series ring with the Houston Astros back in 2017, and has been one of baseball’s top relievers over his last five seasons spent in a Houston uniform.

This past year, Harris allowed just 42 hits over 60 innings with 62 strikeouts across 68 appearances. He also has 23 games of postseason experience on his resume.

Other free agents also still remain who at least fit the mold of what the Phillies could use. They include veteran left starters Drew Smyly and Alex Wood and relievers Steve Cishek, Daniel Hudson, Brandon Kintzler, and Hector Rondon.

For bench bats there are players such as Starlin Castro, Brian Dozier, and Ben Zobrist. If the Phillies do consider a move on a position player who could start, center fielder Kevin Pillar might prove to be a nice fit.

At this stage it would appear that shoring up the pitching staff with a veteran back-end starter and at least one veteran bullpen arm are the best bets for possible additions.

However Klentak chooses to fill in his roster over the balance of the off-season, as the calendar flips to 2020 there remain players out there on the market who could help the Phillies in the season to come.  Those names may not be sexy, but every contending team needs key contributing-level players as well.

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

Giants stomp into South Philly as surprise Wildcard contenders

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Bruce Bochy is in his final season as Giants skipper

The Philadelphia Phillies (55-50) and San Francisco Giants (54-52) are each squarely in the hunt for a National League Wildcard playoff berth with just nine weeks remaining in the 2019 MLB regular season.

However, the two teams came to that race in very different ways. The Phillies bolted out to a hot start over the season’s first two months, leading the NL East Division into late May before stumbling.
The Giants, on the other hand, stumbled out of the gate. As late as June 29, San Francisco found themselves a dozen games below the .500 mark. With the second-worst record in the National League, they sat 8.5 back of a Wildcard berth, 19.5 out and in last place in the NL West.
But the Giants suddenly and unexpectedly turned their season around, and turned the playoff race on its head. They have won 19 of their last 24, moved to second place in their division, and are just 2.5 back in the Wildcard hunt, 1.5 back of the Phillies.
The franchise has won three World Series titles in this decade: 2010, 2012 and 2014. They also reached the playoffs in 2016, the last postseason appearance for the team. With an aging ball club that has finished a collective 60 games below .500 over the last two seaons, this winning burst has shocked most in the game. Can it continue? Can this team possibly sustain their recent hot streak?
On Wednesday, the MLB trade deadline arrives. It was expected that the Giants were going to be a seller. That was the general consensus as recently as three weeks ago. Now, could Farhan Zaidi instead become a buyer, hoping to inject just enough talent to push the Giants back to the postseason for another run?
The Giants offense has averaged just 4.37 runs per game this season, 25th of the 30 teams in baseball. Their 109 home runs are next-to-last in the NL, as is their .698 OPS. Their combined .237 batting average is the lowest mark in the league, and their 28 steals are tied for last. In other words, this is a team that even Phillies pitching without Aaron Nola getting a start should be able to contain.
On the mound, Giants pitching is middle-of-the-road with a .251 batting average against, and ranks 13th in strikeouts and 14th in OPS against. In other words, they should not be a major challenge for the Phillies inconsistent offense.
These two teams have played one another tough over the last three seasons, with the Phillies holding an 11-9 edge in those head-to-head meetings. They will meet again by the bay at Oracle Park in San Francisco in a four-game series during the second week of August.
This is a veteran Giants team that has suddenly remembered what it was like to win 7-8-9 years ago. Many of the position players were around with those title teams. That makes them tough while they are hot. But frankly, this is a team that the Phillies ought to be able to handle. This needs to be a series win, preferably a sweep for the home team.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Alex Dickerson (29/LF): .391/.454/.782, 6 HR, 19 XBH, 23 RBIs, 21 runs (traded to SFG from SD in mid-June)
Kevin Pillar (30/CF): .245/.275/.408, 12 HR, 38 XBH, 54 RBIs, 50 runs
Pablo Sandoval (32/3B): .266/.310/.510, 13 HR, 33 XBH, 38 RBIs, 39 runs
Brandon Belt (31/1B): .233/.350/.390, 11 HR, 30 XBH, 36 RBIs, 50 runs
Mike Yastrzemski (28/RF): .275/.322/.505, 9 HR, 22 XBH, 31 RBIs, 33 runs (grandson of Boston Red Sox legendary Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski is a rookie promoted 5/25)
Buster Posey (32/C): .264/.329/.396, 5 HR, 25 XBH, 29 RBIs, 32 runs
Joe Panik (28/2B): .232/.306/.313, 3 HR, 20 XBH, 27 RBIs, 33 runs
Brandon Crawford (32/SS): .234/.307/.376, 9 HR, 29 XBH, 44 RBIs, 40 runs

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Madison Bumgarner: Just as the Giants don’t have to worry about facing Aaron Nola, the Phillies will not face MadBum in these three games. Both aces went on Sunday for their respective teams. Bumgarner is 6-7 with a 3.74 ERA, 1.153 WHIP and 3.67 FIP thus far in 2019. He has made 23 starts, allowing 132 hits across 139.2 innings with a 140/29 K:BB ratio.
What makes Bumgarner relevant as this series progresses is the MLB trade deadline, which arrives on Wednesday afternoon at 4:00 PM EDT. For months now, Bumgarner has been one of the names subject to the most speculation. He will turn 30 years old on Thursday, the day after the deadline passes, and is due to become a free agent after this season.
Do the Giants really believe they can contend this season? Personally, I don’t. But if they do, perhaps Bumgarner stays. If Zaidi is as smart as I think he is, then a trade of the Giants longtime ace would be a major story right in the middle of this series.
In case you need a reminder of his résumé, Bumgarner was a National League All-Star and finished among the top ten in NL Cy Young Award voting each year from 2013-16. In 2014, the lefty was MVP of both the NLCS and World Series, helping earn his third World Series ring with the Giants. He was also named the AP Male Athlete of the Year for 2014.
Topping it all off, and important for a National League pitcher at this point, he can hit. Bumgarner took home a Silver Slugger in both 2014 and 2015. While teams acquiring him would certainly not be getting MadBum in his prime, they would indeed be getting a pitcher who can still pitch near the top of a rotation, one with tremendous, winning experience.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

TUESDAY – Tyler Beede (26/RH): 3-4, 4.85 ERA, 5.24 FIP, 1.477 WHIP, 66 hits over 65 IP across 13 games (11 starts) with a 62/30 K:BB
WEDNESDAY – Jeff Samardzija (34/RH): 7-8, 3.95 ERA, 4.58 FIP, 1.178 WHIP, 105 hits over 116.1 IP across 21 starts with a 102/32 K:BB
THURSDAY – Shaun Anderson (24/RH): 3-3, 5.06 ERA, 4.68 FIP, 1.487 WHIP, 85 hits over 74.2 IP across 14 starts with a 53/26 K:BB (as of the series opening his is listed as a TBD by the Giants, but it has been Anderson’s turn in the rotation)

THE SKIPPER

Bruce Bochy: Now 64 years of age, Bochy was actually born in Landes de Bussac, France while his father was serving in the U.S. Army. His family ultimately moved to Florida, and he became the first round draft choice at 23rd overall in the 1975 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros.
Bochy reached the big-leagues with Houston in 1978, beginning what would become a nine-season career as a player in Major League Baseball. A catcher, he was famously plowed into by Pete Rose, who was scoring what would prove to be the winning run in the top of the 10th inning as the Phillies rallied to tie up the 1980 NLCS at two games apiece. He was the backup catcher with the San Diego Padres team that won a National League pennant in 1984.
After his retirements as a player, Bochy was hired to manage in the San Diego minor league system. In 1993 he was moved up to the big club, taking over as the third base coach. Then for the 1995 season, Bochy was finally hired as manager of the Padres. Over 12 years as skipper in southern California, Bochy amassed a 951-975 record, guiding the Friars to four division crowns and a 1998 NL pennant.
Let go following the 2006 season, Bochy immediately caught on as manager with the division-rival Giants, and has been the skipper in San Francisco ever since. Over 13 years by the bay, Bochy has a 1,029-1,021 record and has led the Giants to three World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014. His 2016 team went to the postseason as a Wildcard team.
Overall, Bochy is now in his 25th consecutive season as a manager in Major League Baseball. He has a combined record of 1,980-1,996 between his work with the Padres and Giants organizations. He is just 28 wins behind Leo Durocher for 10th place on the all-time MLB managerial wins list, 60 behind Walter Alston for 9th place on that list. That top ten spot is his goal, as Bochy has battled health issues and has already announced that this will be his final season as manager.

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

TUESDAY: It will be a hot time in the old town tonight. Real-feel for the 7:05 pm first pitch is expected in the mid-90’s with moderate winds and no chance of precipitation.
WEDNESDAY: It is going to storm during the day on Wednesday. Question is, how might it affect the game, if at all? Right now the call is for real-feel temps in the mid-80’s at the scheduled 7:05 pm first pitch. There is a 45% chance of showers and tstorms, decreasing throughout the night with light winds.
THURSDAY: For this first game of August, the 1:05 pm first pitch should see a real-feel in the mid-80’s with light winds. There is a slight chance of a lingering shower or tstorm, but nothing that should be a major factor.
South Philly forecast from The Weather Channel