Tag Archives: Matt Kemp

Harper and Machado may prefer Yanks, Dodgers to Phillies respectively

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The Dodgers appear to have passed the Phillies as leaders for Harper

It has long been speculated that the Philadelphia Phillies would be spending big money this off-season. The primary focus of such speculation has been on the two biggest free agents available, outfielder Bryce Harper and infielder Manny Machado.

The Phillies have tons of available cash and a desperate need to add impact offensive punch to their lineup. Each of these 26-year-olds will be looking for monster financial deals. Seems like a perfect match.
Problem has always been that the Phillies are not the only team interested in the two players. They are also now increasingly looking like a second choice, at best, for each superstar player.
Machado is rumored to have long held a desire to play for the New York Yankees. Jim Bowden at The Athletic reported today the following:

“Machado has told friends in Miami that his preference is the Yankees, and if the offers are close, he’ll be headed to the Bronx.”

However, Bowden and others also believe that the Yankees are not prepared to make the same commitment in years and dollars, possibly as much as $350 million over 10 years, that the Phillies are believed willing to spend.
If that is indeed the case, then the Phillies may slip past the Yankees and win his services. Machado has reportedly told the three teams with whom he met this week – the Phillies, Yankees, and Chicago White Sox – that he won’t be making his decision until 2019.
Of course, 2019 is now just over a week away. It is very possible that the Phillies made the best financial offer, and that he and his wife now have to decide whether to accept less, perhaps tens of millions less, in order to fulfill his Yankees dream. That could well  be what is taking place over the next couple of weeks in the Machado power circle.
Harper may also have the Phillies as a second choice. He appears to have more options than Machado, with the Phillies joining the White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers as the leaders of a group that could also include the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants.
The Dodgers just completed a major trade this afternoon with the Cincinnati Reds. In that deal, Los Angeles sent starting pitcher Alex Wood, outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, and catcher Kyle Farmer to Cincy in exchange for pitcher Homer Bailey and two prospects.
Bailey is simply a contract move here, as the Dodgers have no intention of keeping the frequently injured veteran. The two prospects, shortstop Jeter Downs and pitcher Josiah Gray, are enough return for them.
For the Dodgers, this deal was more about clearing some of their outfield backlog, as well as moving contracts. Per Alden Gonzalez at ESPN, this could well have been a Harper precursor deal:

“In the deal, the Dodgers will save roughly $15 million off their luxury tax payroll for 2019 and will clear enough room in their outfield to potentially pursue free agent Bryce Harper or other targets.”

While the Dodgers could be positioning for a better run at Harper, they could also have their sights set on a number of other moves. It is believed that they are in the mix for catcher J.T. Realmuto and ace starting pitcher Corey Kluber in trade talks.
Both the Phillies and White Sox are believed to be willing to give Harper a similar deal to the one mentioned earlier for Machado, something in the neighborhood of $350 million or more over a decade. It is believed that the Dodgers would be willing to beat the average dollars, but do not want to commit that same length.
Bowden commented on this very possibility in his piece: “…Phillies and White Sox could end up offering the biggest and longest contracts, which means Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, might very well be recommending one of those teams to his client when the process is completed.
From rumblings inside the Phillies organization it does not appear that the club is willing to pay out the huge money it would take to land both Harper and Machado. The latter is believed to be their preferred target. Thursday’s meeting at Citizens Bank Park went “pretty awesome” according to Machado,

Let’s presume that in their perfect world, Machado wants the Yankees and Harper wants the Dodgers. Both players decide that the money is huge enough, and each decides to take those offers. What then, after owner John Middleton stated that the club could spend “stupid money” this off-season?
Club president Andy MacPhail was quoted as follows by Mike Rosenstein at NJ.com:
“…while he did say that we could be spending a little bit stupid, he also went to great lengths to say that one of those two signings were not going to be a prerequisite for a successful off-season. You can have a very successful off-season and not include either one of those. That may or may not be the case.”
There are other options available to the Phillies. They could pursue a shorter term deal with someone like Troy Tulowitzki at third base. They could pursue trades and other short term free agent deals, and then go after Nolan Arenado next season. The following year it would be the long-awaited free agency of Mike Trout.
While there are other options for the Phillies, the fan base would no doubt be at least a little disappointed to not land one of the two young superstar free agents this winter. No decision appears to be forthcoming from either player in short order.
Enjoy Christmas and New Year’s, and we’ll likely be heating up this segment of the Hot Stove again in early January.

Dodgers will have 2008 Phillies World Series hero Ryan Madson in their bullpen for the Fall Classic

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Madson will be trying to win his third World Series ring with a third different team

The Los Angeles Dodgers punched their ticket to the Fall Classic with Saturday night’s 5-1 victory in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series over the host Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

The Dodgers will now open the 2018 World Series at Fenway Park in Boston on tonight against the host Red Sox.
This is a return trip for the Dodgers, who a year ago advanced to the 2017 World Series. Los Angeles was edged out in seven games by the Houston Astros last October.
This also marks something of a return to baseball’s biggest stage for two key members of the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies World Series championship team, second baseman Chase Utley and relief pitcher Ryan Madson.
While Utley and Madson are under contract with and have played with the club this season, only Madson will actually be seeing action in the Fall Classic roster that was submitted today.
Madson began this season with the Washington Nationals. He was dealt to the Dodgers on August 31, three days after his 38th birthday.
He would make nine appearances for Los Angeles in September and was particularly effective over the final two weeks of the season. Madson allowed just one run on two hits with seven strikeouts and no walks in five innings down the stretch as the Dodgers battled for a sixth straight National League West Division crown.
Madson was on the Dodgers roster and made two appearances in the NLDS win over Atlanta Braves. He was then included on the NLCS roster in the victory over the Brewers. All total, he has seven postseason appearances so far this year, allowing just one run on six hits over 6.1 innings across seven games with a 6/1 K:BB ratio.
Utley has not appeared at all in this postseason for the Dodgers, though he has been given credit by players such as Matt Kemp and Enrique ‘Kike’ Hernandez for helping them.
A decade ago, both Utley and Madson were pivotal players in their prime as the Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in five games to win the club’s second-ever and most recent World Series championship.
Over 13 seasons with the Phillies, Utley became the greatest second baseman in the history of the franchise. The six-time NL All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger Award winner received National League Most Valuable Player votes on five occasions. He will surely be inducted to the Phillies Wall of Fame sometime in the next few years.
Madson was with the Phillies for the first nine of the 13 big-league seasons thus far in his career. He tossed 630 innings for the club, the vast majority of those as a key arm out of the bullpen.
Madson appeared on the mound in 491 games with the Phillies, with 478 of those coming in relief. He made another 33 relief appearances for the Phillies in the postseason from 2008-11. In the championship-clinching victory over the Rays he was touched for a game-tying home run off the bat of Rocco Baldelli in the top of the 7th inning.
A truly remarkable comeback story, Madson was out of baseball with various injuries for three full seasons. He returned in 2015 in surprisingly dominant form, becoming a vital member of the Kansas City Royals bullpen and winning a second World Series ring.

Utley will turn 40-years-old a week before Christmas and has announced that this will be his final season as an active player in Major League Baseball. Madson has made no formal announcement. But his continuing effectiveness should allow him to catch on with a team for the 2019 season, should he so desire.
Time stands still for no one, and that includes our sports heroes. Utley – warmly remembered by Phillies fans as “The Man” for his heroics here – will be rooting on his current Dodgers teammates as the events of the 2018 World Series unfold without his direct participation.
No matter what happens as this October battle winds the 2018 season to an end, the two will always be cherished and feted in Philadelphia for their contributions to the Phillies teams of the 2000’s.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Ryan Madson on, Chase Utley off Dodgers 2018 World Series roster

Dodgers keep Chase Utley off the field in playoffs, but his impact remains

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(Utley remains a key figure in the Dodgers clubhouse)
The career of former Philadelphia Phillies hero Chase Utley may on the surface appear to be ending with more of a whimper than a bang. That is the case at least if you are counting his on-field contributions to the Los Angeles Dodgers in their latest postseason run.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced the team’s 25-man rosterfor the National League Championship Series today. Just as with the makeup of the team chosen to play during their 3-1 NLDS victory over the Atlanta Braves, Utley was not included.
During the month of September as the Dodgers were fighting off the Colorado Rockies to capture their sixth straight NL West crown in a Game 163, Utley was given just two starts and played only one complete game.
But despite not being on the field, the player known to Phillies fan as “The Man” continues to be a force behind the scenes and in the locker room for the Dodgers.
Just days ago, Kike Hernandez called Utley “…one of the most valuable, if not the most valuable person in the clubhouse.” As reported by Matt Borelli at Dodger Blue, Hernandez went on to describe Utley’s example:
“I had probably the best season of my career…I give most of the credit to Chase, because the work ethic that I created by being around him…If he doesn’t play ever again, he already played his last game of his career and here we are today, we got here at noon and we worked out like if he was active, like if he was ready to start a game tonight. So I’ll never be done saying thank you to Chase.”
Veteran outfielder Matt Kemp, a two-time NL Gold Glove Award winner, three-time National League All-Star, and the 2011 NL MVP runner-up, has sought out Utley for advice here in the postseason.
Despite his best season in years, Kemp found himself platooned in the final weeks and now into the playoffs. He was quoted by Matthew Moreno at Dodger Blue:
“Chase was one of the guys that I went to, you know, because he’s been in a similar situation. But you got so many guys on the bench that can make a big impact. Guys are staying ready and staying hot just in case something happens because you never know when you’re going to come in the game.”

Ten years ago tomorrow, on October 13, 2008, Utley slashed three hits at Dodger Stadium to help the Phillies defeat the Dodgers in Game Four of the NLCS.
This was the famous game where Shane Victorino homered to tie it in the top of the eighth inning, and then Matt Stairs ripped one “into the night” as the Phillies rallied to a 7-5 victory and a 3-1 lead in the series. They would wrap it up two days later behind a Cole Hamels gem.
Utley was in his prime then, a 29-year-old enjoying the fourth of five consecutive National League All-Star campaigns. He was the best second baseman in the game helping lead his Phillies team to the franchise’ first World Series championship in nearly three decades.
Now a 39-year-old who has announced that this will be his final season as an active player, he has been relegated to a behind-the-scenes mentoring role. But as he always did on the field, ‘The Man’ is still working hard, this time trying to end the Dodgers own three-decade World Series drought.

Off the DL and back on the mound, Phillies need Zach Eflin at 100%

Eflin off the DL, on the mound in Dodgers series opener
The Philadelphia Phillies open an intriguing three-game series on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Interest in this series comes from a number of angles for Phillies fans. For many, that starts with the return to South Philly for the final time in the regular season of Chase Utley.
The former World Series hero and future Phillies Wall of Famer has announced his retirement at the conclusion of the 2018 season. He would only return again should the two teams meet in the postseason.
Another angle is the return of Manny Machado. The longtime Baltimore Orioles star was dealt to Los Angeles last week in exchange for a package of five minor league prospects.
The Phillies were rumored to be after Machado for weeks. They are believed to have finished as runners-up in the trade negotiations and will likely be serious bidders and leading contenders for his long-term services in the coming off-season.
I say the “return” because Machado has already faced the Phillies in three games this month while still with Baltimore. He went 3-12 with a double, two walks, a run scored, and an RBI during what were three Orioles losses.
Perhaps the most important of those items of interest is the fact that this is a match-up between a pair of first place ball clubs. The Phillies (55-43) hold a one-game lead over Atlanta in the NL East Division. The Dodgers (55-44) carry a 1.5 game edge over Arizona and a two-game lead on Colorado into this series.
For the Phillies, right-hander Zach Eflin will return to the mound to start in the opener. It will be the first start since prior to last week’s MLB All-Star Game break for the 24-year-old hurler.
Eflin has already faced Los Angeles once this season. Back on May 28 at Dodger Stadium he was drilled for five earned runs and seven hits, lasted just four innings, and suffered the loss during an 8-2 victory by the host Dodgers. Both Matt Kemp and Max Muncy homered off him that night.
In his last outing on July 9, Eflin went five innings in the first game of a doubleheader at Citi Field in what turned out to be a 10-inning walkoff victory for the host New York Mets. He allowed three earned runs on five hits, striking out four and walking none on the night, with 58 of his 84 pitches going for strikes.
After that start, Eflin developed a blister on the middle finger of his right (pitching) hand. The team decided to replace him with Enyel De Los Santos for what had been his regularly scheduled start last Sunday in Miami. The Phillies placed him on the 10-day disabled list, and the thinking was that he would have the entirety of the break to fully heal.
Per Jesse Morris, M.D. at thefantasydoctors.com: “As we know (think Rich Hill & Aaron Sanchez) these can linger and take a long time to heal.” Per Morris, that healing can take as long as six weeks in some cases. Eflin is returning quickly, and the hope is that he will suffer no setbacks and pick his season right back up where it left off.
Eflin has performed like a front-line starting pitcher this season. He will carry a 7-2 record with a 3.15 ERA and a 3.04 FIP into this start. In his first dozen outings, Eflin has allowed 60 hits over 68.2 innings with a 67/14 K:BB ratio.
Count the skipper of the New York Yankees, Aaron Boone, among those impressed by Eflin. After the righty had tossed seven shutout innings in a 3-0 victory over the Bronx Bombers on June 28, Boone commented as follows per Bill Evans of NJ.com:

“Fastball both sides of the plate, mixing in the slider. I knew we had a tough customer coming in. I know he’s been pitching well. Really, we saw three good pitchers for the Phillies in this series and Eflin, you can see why they’re kind of excited about him. I thought he threw the ball really well and really was in command, and he kind of shut us down.”

That is the Eflin that the Phillies need to see tonight, and over the remainder of the season. Quality starting pitching has been the single biggest factor in the club’s rise to the top of the divisional standings, and Eflin has provided a large share of that quality.

Was Atlanta Braves Strong 2016 Finish For Real?

The Atlanta Braves were one of baseball’s hottest teams over the final month, but does that portend a winning 2017 to come?

The Atlanta Braves woke up on the morning of Sunday, August 21 with a big headache. Perhaps for some, it came from a lot of Saturday night partying.
But for the majority of the Braves players, management, and their fan base that headache came from the team’s record on the field.
As of that Sunday morning the Braves had lost their last seven straight games, nine of their previous 10, and were sitting with a 44-79 record that was baseball’s worst.
To make matters somewhat worse, the Braves were trying to celebrate their final year at Turner Field after 20 seasons.
“The Ted” was closing down at the end of the year, with the club on schedule to move into new Sun Trust Park in the Atlanta suburbs for the 2017 season.
The Braves were 0-5 as they closed a homestand that day with a game against the NL East rival Washington Nationals.
With two outs and nobody on base in the bottom of the 10th inning of a 6-6 tie, second baseman Jace Peterson worked the count full against always tough Nats reliever Shawn Kelley.
Peterson then blasted a solo home run, his seventh of the season, deep into the right field stands. 
The walkoff homer put an end to the losing streak, but what it would prove to have started could have never been seen at that point.