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Philadelphia Phillies 2019 season review and player grades

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The 2019 season did not play out as hoped for Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies

 

The 2019 season opened with great expectations and much fanfare for the Philadelphia Phillies. After suffering through seven consecutive non-winning campaigns, this one was finally going to be different.

Phillies owner John Middleton opened up the purse strings in the off-season, allowing for the signing of big ticket free agents Bryce Harper, David Robertson, and Andrew McCutchen.

General manager Matt Klentak swung a few key trades, including a pair especially aimed at improving the everyday lineup by landing a pair of all-stars in shortstop Jean Segura and catcher J.T. Realmuto.

The season began with an exhilarating sweep of the defending NL East Division champion Atlanta Braves in front of raucous crowds at Citizens Bank Park. More than 41,000 showed up for each of those opening series victories.

After the Phillies took all three games by a combined 23-11 score, they appeared to be off and running towards greatness. Following a 7-2 start the club began to level off, finishing April with a 16-13 mark. But that still left them in first place with a one game lead.

In May, the Phillies picked up the pace a bit. They would go 17-11 in the month, and began the month of June still on top of the division while holding a three-game lead.

However, storm clouds had begun to roll in to South Philly. A bullpen that would become decimated by injuries was already weakened by the loss of Robertson. The veteran free agent signing, one of the top relief pitcher in baseball over the previous decade, would appear in just seven games, none after April 14.

Coming off a road trip to Chicago and Milwaukee in which the Phillies went 4-3 against a pair of tough opponents, center fielder Odubel Herrera was arrested for domestic assault on his 20-year-old girlfriend at an Atlantic City casino hotel. Herrera would end up suspended for the season by Major League Baseball.

Less than a week later in the finale of a series in San Diego in which the Phillies were swept by the host Padres, McCutchen suffered a torn left ACL and would also be done for the year. Within a matter of days, the Phillies had lost two-thirds of their starting outfield for the season.

That sweep in San Diego began a June swoon in which the club went just 11-16. Included was a seven-game losing streak during the middle of the month that would be the Phillies longest losing streak of the year. It was part of a stretch of 11 losses in 13 games that dropped them from first place with a two game lead to second place and 6.5 games behind the surging Braves.

The Phillies stabilized a bit in July, going 12-11 over the course of the month. But they were establishing a roller coaster pattern of wins and losses, never able to put together a five-game winning streak all year long.

On the fourth of July, the Washington Nationals pushed past the Phillies in the division standings. By the end of the month they were a half-game behind the Nats in what was becoming a multi-team battle for one of the two National League Wildcard playoff berths.

August was just more of the up and down ride on the 2019 roller coaster. The team went 13-14 during the month, only losing as many as three in a row on one occasion, but unable to win more than four in a row themselves.

The high-point of not only the month but the entire season may have come on August 15. It was certainly the most memorable game and moment.

The Phillies trailed the Cubs by 5-0 into the bottom of the 8th that night at Citizens Bank Park. They got on the scoreboard with a run, but still trailed by 5-1 as the game went to the bottom of the 9th inning.

The club pushed two runs across to make it a 5-3 game, and Harper stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and a chance to play the hero. Did he ever, delivering a walk-off grand slam home run for a 7-5 victory to pull the Phillies within a game of the Cubs in the Wildcard race.

However, they were unable to build any momentum from the uplifting victory. After dropping three of four to end August, the playoff berth that appeared a given during the season’s first couple of months was in serious jeopardy. In fact, the New York Mets had taken their turn in getting hot, pulling within a half-game of the Phillies in the standings as the month ended.

Still, the Phillies entered September with a legitimate chance. They still could have gotten hot – finally – and fought into the postseason. The club began September just three games behind the Chicago Cubs for the final Wildcard spot.

The Cubs would collapse to an 11-16 finish over that final month. Unfortunately, the Phillies would go just 12-16. Following a September 18 victory over Atlanta, the club was still six games over the .500 mark and now within two games of the final playoff berth.

Instead of surging, they slumped. The Phillies dropped eight of their next nine games to fall below the .500 mark for the first time all season and drop completely out of the playoff race. Winning two of their final three, the club would up with an eighth straight non-winning season, finishing exactly at 81-81.

The culprits? The major injuries to the bullpen and outfield were certainly significant contributors. Both the offensive attack and starting pitching were inconsistent all year long. Klentak’s inability to add an ace-level starting pitcher by the trade deadline was also a factor.

With the disappointing finish, the job security of Klentak, club president Andy MacPhail, and manager Gabe Kapler came into question. Many fans called for the heads of one or all of them on the internet and local sports talk radio.

Earlier this week, I gave my opinion as to what I believe Middleton should do in the Kapler and Klentak situations. I had already commented on MacPhail earlier in the summer. You can read each of those pieces at the links following this piece.

This should have been not only a winning season, but a playoff season. Now, whatever management team is in place will need to fill the holes and attempt to position the Phillies for a winning 2020 season.

The following are my grades for every player who appeared with the club during this 2019 campaign. I factored in not only statistical performance, but also the expectations for the player when the season began.

GRADE: A

Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto

GRADE: B

Aaron Nola, Drew Smyly, Adam Haseley, Andrew McCutchen, Scott Kingery, Corey Dickerson, Brad Miller, Hector Neris, Jose Alvarez, Nick Vincent

GRADE: C

Rhys Hoskins, Cesar Hernandez, Jean Segura, Maikel Franco, Zach Eflin, Ranger Suarez, Adam Morgan, Blake Parker, Seranthony Dominguez, Jared Hughes

GRADE: D

Andrew Knapp, Jay Bruce, Sean Rodriguez, Roman Quinn, Phil Gosselin, Jake Arrieta, Vince Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff, Edgar Garcia, Mike Morin, J.D. Hammer

GRADE: F

Odubel Herrera, Aaron Altherr, Jason Vargas, Juan Nicasio, Nick Pivetta, Cole Irvin, Austin Davis, Pat Neshek, Edubray Ramos

GRADE: I (incomplete)

Nick Williams, Logan Morrison, Jose Pirela, Deivy Grullon, Mitch Walding, Dylan Cozens, Rob Brantly, Enyel De Los Santos, David Robertson, Drew Anderson, Tommy Hunter, Victor Arano, Fernando Salas, Yacksel Rios

 

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What the Phillies should do with Matt Klentak for 2020

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Klentak traded for Realmuto prior to the 2019 season

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the MLB trade deadline approaches, Phillies center field target emerges

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Jackie Bradley Jr would slide perfectly into Phillies center field

As the July 31 trade deadline approaches in Major League Baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies have a number of holes that could use filling if the club wants to seriously take a run at the 2019 postseason.

The struggles of the pitching staff are well known to all Phillies fans. The starting rotation could use two more reliable, veteran arms. The bullpen, struggling through numerous injuries all season, could use better options as well.
Among the reserve position players, a more reliable, veteran backup is needed at catcher. In addition, the club could use a more talented veteran bat with some pop than is currently available off the bench for manager Gabe Kapler.
The glaring need in the everyday lineup can be found out in center field. That is the one position that immediately jumps out as an area where improvement is needed.
During this season, the Phillies suffered the unexpected loss of the incumbent starter, Odubel Herrera, to his legal troubles and league suspension stemming from a domestic violence incident. It is not likely that he is ever going to appear in a Phillies uniform again, at least not if the fan base has anything to say about it.
Andrew McCutchen sliding over was a possibility, and the veteran actually filled in a number of games when Herrera had suffered an April injury. But McCutchen was also lost for the season when he suffered an ugly knee injury which required surgery. He will not return until spring training of next year.
Kapler has been trying to get by with a combination of the perpetually out-of-position Scott Kingery and the perpetually injured Roman Quinn. Also, youngster Adam Haseley has been given a shot when healthy.
But if the Phillies are serious about getting to the 2019 postseason and making a legitimate further run by 2020, they need a more proven answer in center field. Enter my suggestion as a potential trade target, Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
Bradley is a 29-year-old Virginia native who was the Red Sox pick at 40th overall in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of South Carolina. He made his big-league debut in the 2013 season, and is now in his fourth season as Boston’s full-time starter in center field.
He is not a big hitter, carrying a career slash line of just .237/.319/.405 over nearly 3,000 plate appearances. He has demonstrated some pop in the past, with a 26 homer-87 RBI campaign during his lone AL All-Star season back in 2016. He has modest speed, topping off with 17 stolen bases a year ago.
What Bradley brings to the Red Sox, and what he would bring to the Phillies were they to find a deal, is truly elite defense in the middle of the outfield. You see, for my money, Bradley is as good a defensive center fielder as I have ever seen. That is not a statement to be taken lightly when I got to see Garry Maddox roam the outfield every day for a decade in a Phillies uniform.
Bradley has won just one Gold Glove Award. That came for his work last year. And that is a flat-out crime, no disrespect to players such as Byron Buxton, Kevin Kiermaier, Brett GardnerKole Calhoun or Nick Markakis, each of whom has taken home one of those plaques awarded in the American League since the 2014 season.
With a defensive outfield of McCutchen in left, Bradley in center, and Bryce Harper in right, the 2020 Philadelphia Phillies would put one of the top defensive groups in the game out there day after day. This season, Bradley would help cover for some of left fielder Jay Bruce‘s defensive shortcomings.
On a championship contender with multiple offensive weapons, a defensive whiz as good as Bradley can be part of the lineup. The Phillies should have those weapons already in place with Harper, McCutchen and Bruce joining shortstop Jean Segura, catcher J.T. Realmuto, first baseman Rhys Hoskins, second baseman Scott Kingery and third baseman Maikel Franco – or top prospect Alec Bohm at the hot corner.
The present group has not produced as consistently as they are capable of during this 2019 season. I still expect them to elevate their individual and collective games over the final two and a half months. Much more should certainly be expected of them over the longer haul in the next couple of years.
Bradley can be a free agent after the 2020 season. The Phillies would have him for a run this year and next, unless they chose to extend him. If the Phillies could ink Bradley to a two-year extension, carrying him through 2022 and his age 32 season, that could be ideal.
The top overall pick of the 2016 MLB Draft, Mickey Moniak, would turn just 24-years-old in May of 2022. He is a center fielder who has begun to look like a potential big-league regular. Should that development path continue at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, then Moniak may be ready. But spending a year serving as a backup to acclimate could also prove valuable.
As a price for Bradley, the Red Sox, like most other clubs, would probably be looking at young pitching. Perhaps a combination of Adonis Medina with one of the more experienced arms such as Nick Pivetta or Vince Velasquez would get it done.
Why would Boston do it? First, the Red Sox can cover the position by sliding over left fielder Andrew Benintendi, who could be a strong center fielder in his own right. In return for a player who they could lose to free agency 15 months from now they would get a pair of live arms.
The Red Sox could call up one of the top power bats in the minor leagues, Bobby Dalbec, to play in left with the Green Monster behind him. Or Dalbec could play first, with Michael Chavis flipping to left. Boston could also shop for a short-term power bat to man the position.
Boston is currently sitting in third place in the American League East Division, nine games behind the arch-rival New York Yankees. They are 1.5 out as part of a five-team scrum within three games of one another in the AL Wildcard race.
The Phillies need more than this, I know. They still have to go out and get better quality pitching of their own. That is going to prove extremely difficult in the present market, with a number of contenders looking for the same thing, a few of whom seem better positioned to land the more talented and experienced available arms.
Fill in your holes. Try to make a run in 2019, but also keep an eye towards 2020 and the following couple of seasons as well. That is what a Bradley deal would be all about. Fill that center field hole with a truly elite defender, and move on to  filling the next hole. Pick up the phone, Matt Klentak, and give Boston GM Dave Dombrowski a call.

Look back at the Phillies in the MLB All-Star Game during the 2010’s

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On right, Victorino, Polanco, Lee, Hamels repped Phillies in 2011

On Tuesday night, Major League Baseball will celebrate many of it’s top names with the playing of the All-Star Game at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.

For Phillies fans, this 90th version of the Midsummer Classic will feature just one member of their favorite ball club. That has been the case in most recent years with the team usually in a non-contending position.
However, this second decade of the 21st century did not begin that way. When the decade opened, the Phillies were on top of the National League. The were two-time defending NL champions, had been legitimate contenders for most of the previous decade, and featured a star-studded lineup and pitching staff.
In the 2010 MLB All-Star Game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, the Phillies had three representatives. First baseman Ryan Howard started and batted in the cleanup spot for the NL squad. Second baseman Chase Utley was voted as the starting NL second baseman for a fifth consecutive year, but sprained his thumb in late June and had to miss the game. Roy Halladay was one of the NL reserve pitchers.
Howard went 0-2 that night, striking out to leadoff the top of the 2nd inning against David Price. Halladay came on to pitch in the bottom of the 6th inning. He surrendered a leadoff single to Derek Jeter, but then got Paul Konerko to roll into a double play. After giving up a base hit to Josh Hamilton, the Phillies righty was lifted by manager Charlie Manuel.
The 2011 MLB All-Star Game was played at Chase Field in Phoenix, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. For the first time since 2004, no Phillies position players were voted in as starters. However, Halladay was selected to start on the mound for the National League.
After Doc pitched two perfect innings, he was followed to the mound by rotation mate Cliff Lee. The Phillies lefty would retire the first five batters he faced before Adrian Gonzalez homered with two outs in the top of the 4th inning. It would be the only run allowed by NL pitching in a 5-1 victory.
The Phillies had three more All-Stars in 2011, but none got into the game. Those three were pitcher Cole Hamels, third baseman Placido Polanco, and center fielder Shane Victorino.
Interesting note: Also on that 2011 NL All-Star squad were Andrew McCutchenJay Bruce, and Hunter Pence. The latter would be dealt to the Phillies at the end of that month. For Cutch it was the first of five consecutive appearances as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bruce was enjoying his first of two straight and three overall with the Cincinnati Reds.
By the 2012 MLB All-Star Game, the Phillies fortunes were waning. After winning the NL East Division for five consecutive seasons, the club sat at 37-50 at the All-Star break. That was last place in the division, 14 games out of first. They would make a second-half run to finish at 81-81, finishing in 3rd. For the first time since 2003, no Phillies appeared in the NL starting lineup.
Despite the struggles, that team still placed three players on the team: Hamels, catcher Carlos Ruiz, and new closer Jonathan Papelbon. The NL squad also featured an exciting 19-year-old phenom outfielder named Bryce Harper, who was making his first of a half-dozen all-star appearances over the next seven seasons with Washington.
Ruiz would replace starter Buster Posey behind the plate for the bottom of the 6th inning, given the dubious honor of handling knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. In the top of the 7th, ‘Chooch’ flew out to left against Oakland A’s reliever Ryan Cook in what would be the lone all-star at-bat of his career.
Hamels tossed a perfect 7th inning in that 2012 game. Papelbon retired Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, the only batter he faced, on a fly ball to left field to end an 8-0 National League victory at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
The Phillies had a pair of NL All-Stars in the 2013 MLB All-Star Game at Citi Field. One was outfielder Domonic Brown, who had gotten red hot for the only stretch of his big-league career, lasting about seven weeks, to earn the nod. The other was Lee, who was greeted, uh, lustily by the New York fans at Citi Field and who responded, uh, stoically.
Brown entered as a replacement in left field for Carlos Gonzalez in the top of the 6th inning and then struck out against Toronto lefty reliever Brett Cecil. Lee pitched the top of the 5th, surrendering a leadoff double to Adam Jones followed by a single by Joe Mauer. After Jones scored on a ground out, Lee got out of the inning by getting 21-year-old Mike Trout to ground into a double play.
Target Field in Minnesota was the site of the 2014 MLB All-Star Game, and the Phillies returned to placing a starter when Chase Utley was voted as the second baseman for the sixth time in his career. He was also the only Phillies all-star that year, the first time since Randy Wolf represented the club back in 2003 that the club had just one player named to the NL squad.
Batting 7th in the lineup, Utley ripped a one-out RBI double off Jon Lester in the top of the 2nd to get the NL on the scoreboard. With two out in the top of the 5th, Utley was hit by a pitch from Chicago White Sox lefty Chris Sale and was lifted for pinch-runner Dee Gordon.
In the 2015 MLB All-Star Game at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Papelbon was the lone Phillies rep. He did not pitch in the game, and would appear in just five more games for the club before being traded to Washington exactly two weeks to the day after the game.
Petco Park in San Diego hosted the 2016 MLB All-Star Game and outfielder Odubel Herrerawas the lone Phillies representative. He took over in center field in the bottom of the 5th inning, then flew out against Kansas City pitcher Kelvin Herrera in the top of the 6th inning. He was pinch-hit for by Starling Marte in the top of the 8th inning.
The National League hosted for a third straight year when the 2017 MLB All-Star Game was played at Marlins Park in Miami. Reliever Pat Neshek represented the Phillies, then much as Papelbon two years earlier, pitched in five more games for the club before getting traded just over two weeks later.
Which brings us to last year. At Nationals Park, Harper got the start in center field in front of his former home fans after putting on a major show the previous day to win the Home Run Derby. One of the backup catchers was J.T. Realmuto, then with Miami and serving as that lone Phillies rep in tonight’s game.
The lone Phillies player selected for last year’s 2018 MLB All-Star Game was pitcher Aaron Nola. The righty came in for the 5th inning and struck out the first two AL batters that he faced in Salvador Perez and Mookie Betts. After giving up a single to Jose Altuve, Nola got Trout to pop out to first base foul territory to complete a shutout frame.
Howard, Utley, Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Polanco, Victorino, Ruiz, Papelbon, Brown, Herrera, Neshek, Nola. Those 13 players all appeared in the MLB All-Star Game during the decade of the 2010’s for the National League squad as a representative of the Philadelphia Phillies. Realmuto joins the list tonight in Cleveland.

Adam Haseley suddenly finds himself starting for Phillies, ready or not

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Series of unfortunate circumstances propel Haseley to the bigs

There has been no official announcement from manager Gabe Kapler, general manager Matt Klentak, or anyone else in the Philadelphia Phillies organization.

But there is no other way to look at the present situation regarding the Phillies injury-depleted outfield. Against all odds, Adam Haseley has become the starting center fielder for a Philadelphia Phillies team that still hopes to contend for a National League East Division crown.
The center field position has been in flux for weeks. The year opened with Odubel Herrera beginning what appeared to be his fifth season as the everyday starter. At just 27 years old and with a contract that runs at least through the 2021 campaign, and with no other healthy candidates appearing ready in the organization, Herrera’s job appeared as secure as any on the team.
However, Herrera came up injured on April 17, just 17 games into the 2019 season. At that exact same time, the perennially injured Roman Quinn was ready to return to the team. Quinn immediately was inserted into the lineup in Herrera’s place.
As most anyone who has followed the team over the last few years could have predicted, Quinn didn’t last long. After just seven games, he came up injured once again. Scott Kingery, the super-utility player who the team believed was also capable of covering center field, also came down with his own injury issues.
This began a nearly two-week period in which the position was in flux. Andrew McCutchen was moved over from left field to cover center field most days. The problem there was that it left a hole in left field. Aaron Altherr‘s game had completely fallen apart, to the point where he was released. Nick Williams wasn’t hitting at all, and would eventually find himself shipped back to Triple-A.
Herrera finally returned from the Injured List on May 4, but he did not produce. Over 22 games and 70 plate appearances during the month of May, Herrera slashed just .175/.257/.302 with no homers, nine RBIs, and five runs scored. He was proving a black hole in the batting order.
And then it really began to completely unravel. Just over a week ago as the club returned home from a tough road trip, Herrera was arrested following a domestic assault incident at an Atlantic City casino hotel. He is now being investigated by Major League Baseball, and his career with the Phillies may be over.
Both Herrera and McCutchen have been lost for different reasons, leaving Harper as the lone Opening Day starter left standing. (Ian D’Andrea)
McCutchen and Kingery, who had finally returned from the IL himself, had been covering center field since that time. Just two days ago, the Phillies completed a trade with the Seattle Mariners, obtaining veteran left-handed power bat Jay Bruce. The plan was to have Bruce as a power lefty bat off the bench, but also to play him in left field against tough right-handers, with McCutchen covering center field and Kingery returning to his super-utility role.
As the old saying goes, the best laid plans often go awry. That seems to be especially the case with the 2019 Philadelphia Phillies. During a crazy rundown play in Monday night’s series opener out in San Diego, McCutchen came up injured as well, clutching at his knee and needing assistance to limp off the field.
McCutchen will undergo an MRI today in order to assess the damage, but he will be out for at least a short period of time. There is a chance that he could be out much longer, even that his season could be over.
McCutchen. Herrera. Quinn. Altherr. Williams. All either injured or failing to produce. And there are only so many players out there available at this point in the season on the trade market. Besides, the Phillies still have other needs to fill if they really want to contend.
So, into the crucible of a five-game losing streak and an injury-ravaged position steps the rookie Haseley. The 23-year-old from Orlando, Florida was the Phillies first round draft pick at eighth overall in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of Virginia.
He opened the season as part of a “First-Round Outfield” at Double-A Reading, playing alongside the club’s 2015 first rounder Cornelius Randolph and 2016 first rounder Mickey Moniak.
After slashing .268/.356/.471 with seven homers, 19 RBIs, 27 runs scored, and four stolen bases, Haseley was promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley just a week ago. Over six games with the IronPigs, Haseley slashed .320/.370/.440 with three doubles and four RBIs.
Tim Pearrell at Richmond.com quoted Haseley just about two weeks ago on making adjustments to the skill level of pitching at the higher levels of the minors:
“A lot of it is all these guys throw so hard, you don’t really have to go up there and swing 110 percent. Just being aware of that, taking advantage of some counts where you can take that risk, it works out.
That is a great attitude and strategy, one that Haseley will have to carry with him when he steps to the plate in a Phillies uniform to face the even better pitching at the MLB level.
Ideally he would not be here. He would not wear Phillies red pinstripes until September under normal circumstances. He probably needs a couple of hundred plate appearances, at least, against higher-level pitching at that Triple-A level.
But the situation in Philly is not ideal. Far from it. And now the young man who was patrolling a college outfield in Virginia just two springs ago finds himself in the big-leagues. He has the talent to play at this level. But it was situations involving a half-dozen players completely outside of his control that put him here at this time.
Now that they have promoted him, the Phillies have to play him. You cannot sit a 23-year-old top prospect on the bench and let him rot away. If Kapler doesn’t like what he sees, or simply doesn’t have the confidence to actually play him regularly, then Haseley won’t last long.
This is obviously not the long-term answer. Haseley starting in center field. Bruce starting most days in left field. But that is where the Phillies appear to find themselves for the immediate future. Counting on two players who were nowhere in their plans just days ago as their division lead fritters away.