Category Archives: Phillies Jerseys 2020

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Leading up to baseball’s winter meetings, we will take a daily look at some of the game’s top free agents and how they could potentially impact the Phillies.

Today: Mike Moustakas, a third baseman who’s been connected to the Phillies multiple times over the last two years and whose agent the Phillies have already touched base with this offseason.
The vitals

You know what you’re getting with Mike Moustakas: power, a .250ish batting average, an OPS about 10 percent above the league average and defense that won’t hurt you.

He’s not Top 5 at his position or even Top 10, but he’s a helpful player who can bat fifth or sixth and produce runs. Moustakas’ .845 OPS last season was 14th among qualifying third basemen, but it was 130 points higher than Maikel Franco’s. If the 2019 Phillies had Moustakas, they probably would have won a few more games.

Moustakas will play the 2020 season at age 31. His 101 home runs the last three seasons are 14th-most in the majors and fifth-most among third basemen. That list:

Nolan Arenado: 116
Eugenio Suarez: 109
Joey Gallo: 103
Manny Machado: 102
Mike Moustakas: 101
Why he fits

The Phillies need another productive everyday player at third base, shortstop or center field. Scott Kingery’s defensive flexibility allows the Phillies to pick from multiple position groups.

If the Phillies can add only one of Didi Gregorius or Moustakas, for example, they’d have to weigh whether Moustakas’ power or Gregorius’ all-around game is more beneficial to their infield.

For the Phillies, signing Moustakas to a two-year deal would allow them more time for Alec Bohm to develop (especially defensively) at Triple A. It would also buy the Phils an extra year to figure out whether Bohm can even play third base, whether Bohm may need to move to first base and make Rhys Hoskins expendable, or whether Bohm himself could be used as a trade chip.
Why he doesn’t fit

If you sign Moustakas to a two- or three-year deal, and Bohm does develop and force the issue, then what? Then you’ve created a problem for yourself and a need to trade somebody to make room on the infield corners.

In theory, it may sound like no big deal — if that happens, you can flip one of Hoskins, Bohm or Moustakas for a player at an area of need. But it doesn’t always work out that way. The league would see the Phillies’ need to make a deal and that would diminish some of the Phils’ leverage.

Moustakas’ age isn’t a big concern — at 31, he’s at the tail-end of his prime, and his next contract is unlikely to take him into his late-30s.
The price tag

Moustakas was forced to sign one-year deals each of the last two offseasons. He deserved better but the free-agent market isn’t always fair or linear.

Coming off a career-high 38 homers in 2017, Moustakas rejected the Royals’ qualifying offer of $15 million and ultimately had to settle for a one-year, $6.5 million deal to return to Kansas City.

Then Moustakas hit 28 homers and drove in 95 runs with a .774 OPS and had to settle for another one-year deal, this time for $10 million with Milwaukee ($3 million of which came in the form of a 2020 buyout from the Brewers).

This winter, Moustakas should finally find a multi-year deal. Something like two years, $24 million seems fair. Moustakas’ side (he’s represented by Scott Boras) will want more years, but teams will be hestitant to commit to his age-33 season. Moustakas still might get three years.

It will be interesting to see whether Moustakas or Josh Donaldson signs first. Both have incentive to let the other set the market. Donaldson was the better player in 2019 but Moustakas was the better and healthier player overall from 2017-19.
Scout’s take

“Fair defender. Power is solid, results are there. Limited athleticism. Threat in the middle of the lineup but the body gives concern for excessive years of commitment.”

Hitting the road this week, or wasting away on the couch in a food coma? The perfect time to binge your favorite NBC Sports Philadelphia podcast! Click here for more.

Jay Bruce Jersey

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Jay Bruce loves to hit, and he loves to talk hitting. He’s good at both. The veteran outfielder has a well-earned reputation for being thoughtful and engaging, and the numbers he’s put up over 12 big-league seasons speak for themselves. Bruce has 649 extra-base hits in 6,500 career plate appearances, including 312 home runs.

A first-round pick by the Reds in 2005, Bruce debuted three years later as a 21-year-old and went on to spend eight-plus season in a Cincinnati uniform. The native of Beaumont, Texas has since bounced around, hopscotching from the Mets to the Indians, back to the Mets, from there to the Mariners, and last summer to the Phillies. At age 32, he’ll head into 2020 in the final year of his current contract.

Bruce sat down to talk hitting when the Phillies visited Fenway Park in mid-September.
———

David Laurila: How have you evolved as a hitter over the years?

Jay Bruce: “As I’ve gotten older and more experienced, a lot has happened in the game in terms of information and hitting philosophy. Numbers have started being attached to thoughts, or assumptions. I definitely pay attention to that. But I wouldn’t say I’m of the launch-angle revolution, or whatever you care to call it. I’ve always hit the ball in the air. I have a problem with hitting the ball on the ground.

“If your fly balls are your misses, that can cause some BABIP issues — there are issues that could potentially zap parts of your game. But if you have power, and are hitting the ball in the air, you’re giving yourself more opportunities to produce a positive outcome. That should be obvious.

“The thing I probably do the most is pull the ball in the air, and that’s one of the, if not the most, successful ways to hit a ball. So for me… I think the outside philosophy of hitting has changed a little bit. When I came up, you were taught to use the other side of the field. Stay up the middle. Even hit the ball on the ground sometimes.”

Laurila: Evan Longoria told me earlier this season that groundballs up the middle aren’t hits anymore.

Bruce: “They’re not. That’s completely changed. I can smoke balls as hard as I want up the middle, and it’s an out. Every single time. There will be someone standing right behind second base, so… the numbers have changed with the shift, and the hitting philosophy has changed for a lot of people because of the shift. You hear a lot of stories about guys who have changed the paths of their careers by buying into launch angle, and swing path. For me, that’s just not the case. Not one time in my career have I ever set out to change my swing path, or my launch angle.”

Laurila: Are there things you have changed?

Bruce: “I’ve changed my stance a little bit, here and there. When I was younger, I stood a lot taller. In 2016, I got more into my legs. And really, this year I started standing taller again. That’s partly because pitchers are pitching differently now. You have to be able to extract the most athleticism out of yourself that you can, in the box. Especially these days. Pitchers are pitching up more.”

Laurila: That’s been the case for a few years now, has it not?

Bruce: “Yes, but it’s really taken off. Velocity is also up more than it’s ever been. And while I’m not sure what the numbers are, it feels like there’s more breaking stuff. Nowadays, pitching is a little less precise, and more about stuff.

“Everyone talks about the doctored baseballs. I don’t know, one way or the other, if that’s true or false. But I do know that higher velocity, and lesser-quality pitches in the zone, are going to create better outcomes when it comes to the power department. So while everybody is getting caught up on the balls being juiced, we also need to look at what type of pitches are being thrown, and where they’re being thrown. Higher velocity is going to produce more exit velocity. In my opinion, anyway. I’m not a scientist.”

Laurila: How is standing more upright helpful to you?

Bruce: “I feel that it’s harder for me to get to the pitches that are farther up in the zone if I’m more cropped in my legs. Especially as I’ve gotten a little older. The athleticism I have — and I’m not calling myself one of the best athletes in the game, not by any means — needs to be optimized to allow my swing to work the best it can. I need to be able to ‘counter-punch’ the opposition, so to speak. Again, guys are pitching with higher velocities, up in the zone.”

Laurila: Do you want to swing at elevated fastballs, or is that a pitch you’re better off letting go?

Bruce: “The short answer is ‘no’ — it’s a very hard pitch to hit when it’s where it’s supposed to be — but there’s also a fine line. If it’s two balls lower than where they want to throw it, that’s a great pitch to hit. I want to have as many options as I can. I don’t want to be one-dimensional when it comes to the types of pitches I can hit.”

Laurila: Are you always taking the same swing, regardless of the pitcher or the location?

Bruce: “The same swing, yes. A swing, in general, is very hard to master. But with two strikes, my thought process changes a little bit. I’ll choke up. I’ll focus on letting the ball get a little deeper. Regardless of the idea that strikeouts don’t matter, they matter to me. I had a tough time [in 2018], but one of the silver linings is that I had one of the highest walks rates, and one of the lowest strikeout rates, of my career.

“If I can be around that 20% range, that’s going to lead to some success. I’ve never been a guy who strikes out 27-28% of the time, but I have been in that 23-24% range. It’s not something I’m proud of. I definitely don’t think it’s a make-or-break thing. You can strike out a lot and still be successful. I won a Silver Slugger striking out 185 times. But the way my swing works, and the way my talent plays… I don’t feel that I have to sacrifice quality of contact.”

Laurila: The way you view strikeouts has changed somewhat…

Bruce: “I’d say that I understand more clearly how I should go about making contact more often. When I was younger, my goal was to just not strike out. That’s not going to work.

“My whole career, I’ve wanted to strike out less. It’s been, ‘What can I do to strike out less?’ Well, I feel that when I started focusing less on striking out less, and more about ending at-bats when they should be ended, it got better. When I get a good pitch to hit, I need to have a swing ready to put that pitch in play, with quality. That’s when the at-bat needs to be over. Fouling it off, or missing it, is how you get to worse counts, and to statistically less-successful outcomes.”

Laurila: Does striking out less require having more than just an A-swing? There are going to be plate appearances where none of the strikes you see are good pitches to hit.

Bruce: “To me, the question would be, ‘What is an A-swing?’ What I tell myself is that the swing I practice in the cage is the swing I want to take to the game. A lot of times, what changes the swing you take from practice to the game is adrenaline. Being a competitor, being a baseball player, when you get to a 2-0 count, you want to crush the ball. You want to hit one to the f-ing moon, so you take too big of a swing and foul the ball off. What I want to do is practice a swing that is repeatable, and under control. You’re right about at-bats. You get good pitches here and there, but after seeing that pitch, it’s not often that you get too many more.”

Laurila: Being neither a top-shelf athlete, nor someone with elite bat-to-ball skills, you need to hit home runs to provide value. Is that accurate?

Bruce: “There wouldn’t be a lot of use for me, especially if I’m not getting on base at an above-average, or elite, clip. Over my career, I’ve basically been a league-average on-base guy. That and above average in slugging. You could ask 20 people whether they thought run-producers are a thing, or not a thing, and depending on when they were born, you’ll probably get a different answer. Coming up, I was taught that there was value in being a run producer — driving in runs, hitting for power, being an impact bat in the middle of a lineup.

“So, yeah. I have to hit for power. Period. Obviously, the way game is evolving, there’s more of a premium being put on defense, and on value that can be derived from other parts of the game. But I think that however you slice it, the most important part of the game is always going to be offense. That’s when it comes to non-pitchers.”

Laurila: When did you start choking up with two strikes?

Bruce: “Probably in… 2015? And there are times I’ll actually choke up for the whole at-bat, depending on who I’m facing, how I’m feeling, and things like that.”

Laurila: Is that a Joey Votto influence?

Bruce: “Yeah. There was some of that.”

Laurila: You’ve probably been asked about Votto a thousand times…

Bruce: “I never mind being asked about him. He’s one of the best, if not the best, hitter I’ve ever come across. His numbers, and his level of success, speak for themselves. But yeah, there was some influence there. It’s not something where he was like, ‘Hey, you should choke up.’ That’s not how he goes about things. He’s an open book when it comes to talking hitting, but he’s… I’ll put it this way: If Joey Votto is choking up, then Jay Bruce can choke up.

“Even if it doesn’t help me physically, mentally it’s a little check point within that at-bat. It kind of gets me into that mode of, ‘Hey, let the ball get a little deeper, and actually see the ball.’ I know everyone says ‘see the ball,’ but for me, when I get to two strikes, that’s what it is. ‘See the ball.’

“I’ve hit a lot of home runs with two strikes, sometimes while choking up. I’m not so much letting the ball get deep as I’m thinking, ‘Let it get deep.’ I haven’t seen my power go down while choking up.”

Laurila: As prolific as he is, Votto has been accused of not being enough of a run-producer.

Bruce: “He’s dealt with that a lot in Cincinnati.”

Laurila: Is that fair?

Bruce: “No. Joey is an elite hitter. I mean, you talk to some people who think his thought process is a little flawed. It’s ‘Hey, he’s the best hitter on the team, so he should be driving in more runs.’ Blah, blah, blah. But how can you argue with… I mean, this guy has led the league in on-base percentage seven or eight times. And when I say, ‘led the league,’ I mean by like 40 points. It’s not even close.

“That’s the name of the game. Right? At the end of the day, it’s about not making outs. Not making an out is the best thing you can do, and Joey has been the best at not making outs for essentially his whole career.

“Watching him is something I’ll always appreciate. I don’t take that for granted. But we’re different. My bread and butter is derived from power. Period. Do I wish that I was able to hit for power, and also get on base at an elite clip? Of course. I’ve done things to try to improve certain facets of my game, but at the end of the day, you are what you are.”

Laurila: Are you and Bryce Harper similar hitters?

Bruce: “I think our power profiles are probably close. He’s clearly a better hitter than me, though. He’s better at not making outs. Maybe not to Joey’s level, but more so than I am.”

Laurila: What about in terms of approach and mechanics?

Bruce: “I’d say we’re similar there, although when it comes to mechanics, Rhys Hoskins is more similar to me. Bryce is a torque-y, powerful hitter. I’m more contact point and leverage. I don’t feel like I’m ever swinging as hard as Bryce is swinging. He’s more rotational, while I’m more directional and wrist-y.

“Rhys never looks like he’s swinging hard, but the ball still goes out. I’d say I’m more in that realm. But as far as the product of balls off the bat, Bryce and I are similar, for sure. Again, both of those guys, Rhys and Bryce, are much better at getting on base than I’ve ever been.

“Now, can you have… there’s space in the game for a lot of different players. I feel I can be an impact hitter on a championship-style team, because teams like that are sequenced correctly. You have guys who get on base, and you have guys who drive them in. You find a way to stretch the lineup, and make it work.”

Laurila: You signed out high school in 2005. Who is most responsible for you being the hitter you are today?

Bruce: “When I came up — we touched on this earlier — it was hammered into me that I had to hit the ball the other way, had to hit the ball the other way, had to hit the ball the other way. I believe there’s a fine line between hitting the ball the other way, and taking your best swing, over and over again. My best swing is simply not to the opposite field. I have power to left-center, but my success comes more to right-center.

“I’ve had a lot of great hitting coaches throughout my career. Alonzo Powell was probably the first person to teach me about a routine, a plan. That was in Low-A, when I was 19 years old, and it really stuck with me. Not his specific plan, but having one, and being committed to it. Back then, I was just a kid. Before that, there wasn’t much thought involved. I was just hitting. I needed to understand what it took to groove a swing, groove an approach, and practice it with intent every day.

“I really learned how to work, and prepare, from Joey, and from Scott Rolen. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate the time I got to spend with them. And Dusty Baker was great. He was a big RBI guy. He taught me a lot about what it takes to drive runs in. Brook Jacoby, Don Long, Kevin Long… all of these guys helped me. Kevin Long kind of got me back on track when I got to New York. He helped me use my legs a little more. Pat Roessler was good, too.

“But really, the person who is most responsible for the hitter I am, is me. I came up as a very young player who’d had a lot of success in the minors. I’d never struggled until I got to the major leagues. I had a lot of fact-finding missions, where I had to figure out things on my own. I’ve had to evolve as the game has evolved.”

Laurila: As we touched on earlier, hitting analytics haven’t changed you, but they have impacted the way you think.

Bruce: “They have. I’m a big believer in analytics. I really am. They tell a story. I feel there needs to be a marriage between the eye test — the old-school thought process — and the information that’s coming in. I’m an advocate of gathering information and using it to make myself better. That said, you can’t just take information and mold yourself into a player you thought up in your head. For the most part, you are the player that you are. But you can become more efficient. You can use what you have, better. That’s what I’m trying to do at this stage of my career.”
——

Earlier “Talks Hitting” interviews can found through these links: Nolan Arenado, Aaron Bates, Cavan Biggio, Matt Chapman, Nelson Cruz, Paul DeJong, Rick Eckstein, Drew Ferguson, Joey Gallo, Mitch Haniger, Evan Longoria, Michael Lorenzen, Daniel Murphy, Fernando Tatis Jr., Justin Turner, Mark Trumbo, Luke Voit, Jesse Winker.

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Make way MLB offseason, it’s officially wedding season — at least it is for Rhys Hoskins and long-term girlfriend Jayme Bermudez.

Saturday Nov. 9, the two tied the knot in front of family, friends and loved ones at the Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe.

It was revealed last week that teammate Scott Kingery was in the wedding party with quite the fun post, but it looks like he changed up his attire for the big day.

And I’m not going to lie, that #DropItLikeItsHos hashtag is now ranked in the top-five most creative weddings tags I’ve seen.

Of course a congratulations is in order for the newlyweds but there’s still one question remaining … their dog Rookie was the ring bearer so … where are those pictures? I’ll be waiting simply because … well, who can pass up a dog in a tux?

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Tick tock, gentlemen.

The nation’s sixth-largest city and its many surrounding suburbs are waiting to hear the fate of Phillies manager Gabe Kapler, pitching coach Chris Young, general manager Matt Klentak and others.
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All staying? All gone? A combination of the two?

Five days following a second consecutive September thud that ended the Phils season under Klentak and Kapler, there is no news.
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Meanwhile, seven other Major League Baseball teams are working to fill their managerial voids: Giants, Padres, Cubs, Mets, Royals, Pirates and Angels.
[More Sports] MLB ignores grassroots with plan to whack minors »

The reported list of managerial candidates is significant: Joe Girardi, Joe Maddon, Buck Showalter, Mike Matheny, Bob Geren, John Gibbons, Brad Ausmus, Don Kelly, Mark Loretta, David Ross, Dusty Wathan, Joe McEwing, Jeff Banister, Raul Ibanez, Will Venable and Carlos Beltran, among others.

Tick tock, gentlemen.

Regardless of what decisions are made in the coming hours, days and weeks, the Phillies’ 2020 roster is expected to be considerably different from this year’s version.
Bryce Harper delivered in every aspect of the game in the first of his 13-year contract with the Phillies.
Bryce Harper delivered in every aspect of the game in the first of his 13-year contract with the Phillies. (Nick Wass/AP)

Bryce Harper’s relentless energy and hustle will be front and center in Year 2 of his 13-year contract. J.T. Realmuto’s contract will get done because, well, he’s the game’s best all-around catcher. Aaron Nola will be in line to make 30-plus starts with a focus on throwing more strikes.
[More Sports] Phillies hire Joe Dillon, former Nats assistant, as hitting coach »

But, who else comes along for the ride as the Phils look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011?

Here are some projections:
Seranthony Dominguez could be anyone from an electric, late-inning option to a spectator, depending on the health of his right elbow.
Seranthony Dominguez could be anyone from an electric, late-inning option to a spectator, depending on the health of his right elbow. (Ed Zurga/Getty)
Who will be here (18 listed alphabetically)

Jose Alvarez, pitcher

Jake Arrieta, pitcher
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Seranthony Dominguez, pitcher

Zach Eflin, pitcher

Edgar Garcia, pitcher
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Deivy Grullon, catcher
[More Sports] Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Reading Fightins announce Hispanic heritage/alternative jersey nights, name changes for 2020 »

J.D. Hammer, pitcher

Bryce Harper, outfielder

Rhys Hoskins, first baseman

Scott Kingery, infielder/outfielder
[More Sports] Phillies focus on Joe Dillon as hitting coach after Mets re-sign Chili Davis »

Andrew McCutchen, outfielder

Brad Miller, infielder/outfielder

Adam Morgan, pitcher

Hector Neris, pitcher
[More Sports] Geography won’t keep Gerrit Cole from the Phillies, agent Scott Boras says »

Aaron Nola, pitcher

J.T. Realmuto, catcher

Jean Segura, infielder

Ranger Suarez, pitcher
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PROJECTIONS: Realmuto’s contract should be priority No. 1, then get to work on the starting rotation behind Nola. Miller and Suarez earned the opportunity to stick around after being among the few highlights in another dismal September. Eflin earned his spot with a consistently good final seven starts. McCutchen is aiming to return from ACL surgery on opening day. Morgan was stellar until his first injured-list stint (7.16 ERA in final 16 games before a season-ending injury). Alvarez proved durable and reliable. Depending on health and what the club does with Pat Neshek (club option) and free agent Tommy Hunter, Garcia and Hammer could start the year in Triple-A. Grullon needs to improve his defense before the club can expect a reliable backup catcher.
Maikel Franco almost certainly has played his last game for the Phillies.
Maikel Franco almost certainly has played his last game for the Phillies. (Matt Slocum/AP)
Who is gone (15)

Jerad Eickhoff, pitcher

Maikel Franco, third baseman

Odubel Herrera, outfielder
[More Sports] Phillies’ search for hitting coach focusing on Matt Stairs, Joe Dillon, Chili Davis »

Jared Hughes, pitcher

Mike Morin, pitcher

Logan Morrison, first baseman/outfielder

Pat Neshek, pitcher
[More Sports] Phillies’ 2020 payroll commitments should allow for another winter of big spending »

Juan Nicasio, pitcher

Blake Parker, pitcher

Jose Pirela, infielder/outfielder

Edubray Ramos, pitcher
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Sean Rodriguez, infielder/outfielder

Drew Smyly, pitcher

Nick Vincent, pitcher

Nick Williams, outfielder
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PROJECTIONS: Franco and Williams have played their last games for the Phillies. The injuries and setbacks are too many to keep Eickhoff, a true gentleman who appeared in only 15 games total the last two seasons. It’s hard to imagine Herrera is anything but persona non grata to the Phillies after he was charged with domestic assault. Vincent (1.93 ERA with Phils) may find his way back.
The Phillies would like to see Adam Haseley prove he’s an everyday center fielder because of Roman Quinn’s health and Odubel Herrera’s status.
The Phillies would like to see Adam Haseley prove he’s an everyday center fielder because of Roman Quinn’s health and Odubel Herrera’s status. (Matt Slocum/AP)
In limbo (14)

Victor Arano, pitcher

Jay Bruce, outfielder

Enyel De Los Santos, pitcher
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Corey Dickerson, outfielder

Phil Gosselin, infielder

Adam Haseley, outfielder

Cesar Hernandez, second baseman
[More Sports] Phillies decline options on Jason Vargas, Pat Neshek and Jared Hughes amid flurry of roster moves »

Tommy Hunter, pitcher

Cole Irvin, pitcher

Andrew Knapp, catcher

Nick Pivetta, pitcher
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Roman Quinn, outfielder

Jason Vargas, pitcher

Vince Velasquez, pitcher

PROJECTIONS: The Phillies must decide if they think Grullon (caught 17% would-be base stealers, 12 passed balls in Triple-A) will grow this offseason to produce more than Knapp (29%, three passed balls, .318 on-base percentage). Hunter has age and injuries working against him. Irvin and De Los Santos have undefined roles working against them, though Irvin’s stuff came back in September. Arano must get healthy and have a good spring, neither of which happened in 2019. Vargas has a club option with a $2 million buyout. One would believe he was a gap start until Klentak or another GM gets serious about adding rotation pieces. Bruce could come back in a bench role. The health of McCutchen and Quinn and how the club values Haseley are factors. Free agent Dickerson likely heads elsewhere to start. Velasquez is a frustrating talent who could be a reliever, starter or left fielder. It appears time to move on from Hernandez and it’s hard to justify keeping Pivetta’s baggage. The Phils could do a lot worse than Gosselin on the bench. They did the last two years.
There is a good chance David Robertson never pitches again for the Phillies.
There is a good chance David Robertson never pitches again for the Phillies. (Alex Brandon/AP)
In spirit only (1)

David Robertson, pitcher

PROJECTIONS: Robertson (elbow) likely won’t pitch again for the Phillies. The 34-year-old probably is out for 2020, the final year of his two-year, $23 million deal … or $169,118 per pitch.
Others on 40-man roster (2)

Arquimedes Gamboa, infielder

Adonis Medina, pitcher
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PROJECTIONS: It may be time to pull the plug on Gamboa, a 22-year-old Double-A shortstop who hit a combined .203 the last two seasons. He earned $555,000 in 2020, or $8,284 per hit. Medina, also 22, limped to the finish line in Reading (8.24 ERA, .305 batting average against in his final seven starts). But he’s probably not going anywhere unless the Phils package him for an MLB starter.

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The Phillies added four pitchers to their 40-man roster on Wednesday night, including Cristopher Sanchez, who was acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Sanchez, 23, is a 6-5 left-hander from the Dominican Republic who pitched mostly at the Single A level in 2019. The Rays were out of room on their 40-man roster and believed Sanchez would be lost in next month’s Rule 5 draft so they peddled him to the Phillies for infielder Curtis Mead, a 19-year-old from Australia who played in the Gulf Coast League last summer.

Sanchez will come to big-league spring training camp in February, but he needs more development time in the minors as he has pitched just 1⅓ inning above the Single A level. Sanchez’ fastball can reach 97 mph. The Phils might have something if the lanky lefty can put it together.

The Phillies also added JoJo Romero, Garrett Cleavinger and Mauricio Llovera to the roster. Romero and Cleavinger are both lefties and Llovera is a power-armed right-hander. All three could figure in the big club’s bullpen picture at some point in 2020.

Romero, 23, was the Phillies’ fourth-round draft pick in 2016. He struggled as a starter at Double A and Triple A in 2019 but pitched well out of the bullpen in Arizona Fall League, giving up just one earned run in 10⅔ innings.

Cleavinger, 25, was a third-round pick by the Orioles in 2015. The Phillies acquired him for Jeremy Hellickson in the summer of 2017. Cleavinger has strikeout stuff – he punched out 83 batters and allowed just 32 hits in 51⅔ innings at Double A Reading in 2019 – but control is an issue as he walked 34.

Llovera, who turns 24 in April, has long impressed club officials with his power arm. He struck out 72 in 65⅓ innings at Reading in 2019.

Players added to the 40-man roster by Wednesday’s deadline cannot be selected in the Rule 5 draft at the winter meetings next month. The Phillies’ roster stands at 39.

The Phillies left a couple of notable young players unprotected. Catcher Rafael Marchan and power-hitting outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz will both be eligible for the Rule 5 draft. If selected by another club, they must spend the entire season in the majors. Both Marchan and Ortiz will play at 21 next season. Neither has played above the Florida State League and both are in need of more development time so the Phillies stand a good shot of hanging on to both.

Ortiz made headlines in the summer of 2015 when the Phillies signed him out of the Domincan Republic for $4 million. He has big power – 19 homers at Single A Clearwater in 2019 – but contact is an issue. He has racked up 297 strikeouts in 835 at-bats while hitting just .212 the last two seasons at the Single A level.

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The Yankees may not have completed their championship chase, but getting close still pays.

The ALCS runner-up Bronx Bombers issued 71 full shares to their players worth $114,367.19 each.
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The total was taken from a total pool of about $80.86 million formed from gate receipts across the playoffs.

The further you make it, the more your team is rewarded, hence the World Champion Nationals players earning full shares of more than $382K while AL pennant-winning Astros took about $256K.

The $80M-plus pool — of which the Yankees and NL runner up Cardinals received $9,703,337.49 — was the third-largest players pool ever.
The Yankees still got paid despite losing in the playoffs.
The Yankees still got paid despite losing in the playoffs. (Matt Slocum/AP)

Last year, the Yankees received about $43K each as a reward for losing in the ALDS to the eventual champion Red Sox.

The dissemination of shares, which is often granted as a show of appreciation by the players to their coaches and support staff‚ was mired in controversy when former set-up man David Robertson rallied a quorum of players to withhold shares to numerous traveling members within the organization, clubhouse attendants, batting practice pitchers, and team analytics liason Zac Fieroh.

Assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere received just half a share.

Robertson was in the final season of a four year, $46M deal, so his stinginess over the team’s playoff earnings was reportedly received poorly within the organization. The veteran reliever signed with the Phillies in the offseason.

The players’ pool is formed from 50% of the gate receipts from the Wild Card Games; 60% of the gate receipts from the first three games of the Division Series; 60% of the gate receipts from the first four games of the League Championship Series; and 60% of the gate receipts from the first four games of the World Series.

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Astros starter Roger Clemens pitches to Cubs counterpart Greg Maddux on April 29, 2005, at Minute Maid Park. The matchup of 300-game winners was the first in the National League since 1892.
Photo: DAVID J. PHILLIP, AP

Second in a series

As the Astros play their 20th season at Minute Maid Park, we are counting down the 20 most memorable games and/or moments in the ballpark’s two decades.

Today, we look at No. 19: a historic matchup of 300-game winners Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux.

When: April 29, 2005
Score: Cubs 3, Astros 2

When Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux faced off against each other in the Astros-Cubs series opener, it was something the National League hadn’t seen in some time.

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Try nearly 113 years.

The Clemens-Maddux matchup was the first time two NL pitchers with 300 or more career wins faced off since July 21, 1892, when the Philadelphia Phillies’ Tim Keefe and St. Louis Browns’ Jim “Pud” Galvin dueled. It was baseball’s first meeting of 300-game winners since the Angels’ Don Sutton and Twins’ Steve Carlton faced each other Aug. 4, 1987.

Neither Clemens nor Maddux disappointed a sellout crowd of 41.232. Clemens tossed seven innings of three-run ball and struck out four while Maddux allowed two runs in six innings and struck out three. He picked up the win after a leadoff home run by Conroe native Jeromy Burnitz broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning.
The April 30, 2005, front page of the Houston Chronicle after the Astros’ Roger Clemens and Cubs’ Greg Maddux faced off in the National League’s first matchup of 300-game winners in 113 years.
Photo: Houston Chronicle

For Maddux, the victory was No. 306 of his career. Clemens entered the start with 329 wins. Following the game, Astros officials collected each starter’s cap and a baseball autographed by the two to send to the Hall of Fame.

They said it: “Maybe I’m just an idiot for not (focusing on the significance), but I was just trying to win,” Maddux said after notching his first victory of the season “I’m trying to get a win. I wasn’t really concerned about who I was pitching against until he was hitting.”

“Greg, I feel very privileged to have pitched at the time he did,” Clemens said. “We have a lot of (active players) that I think — you can maybe count them on your hand — are future Hall of Famers, if you will. For him to weather the storm and get to 300 also, I tip my hat to him. He’s somebody I enjoy watching very much.”

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The Philadelphia Phillies have ousted Gabe Kapler as their manager after just two seasons. Where did it all go wrong and where does the team go from here?
When Gabe Kapler took the reigns as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, he faced a frustrated yet hungry fanbase and inherited a young roster with plenty of potential.

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However, he failed to develop promising players like Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez. He struggled to control a clubhouse full of underachieving stars. He made endless mind-boggling managerial decisions that left him to be consumed by the Philadelphia media.

Initially, there was reason to be excited about Kapler. He was a young, fresh new face at the head of an organization that had a reputation for promoting from within.

He brought an unconventional, analytical perspective over from his time as the Director of Player Development with the Los Angeles Dodgers. After years of disappointment in Philadelphia, the Phillies front office was eager to give him the keys to the clubhouse.

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In this decade, the Philadelphia Phillies have been trying to regain the success they found in the second half of the 2000s. They won five straight NL East titles from 2007-2011, including two NL pennants and a World Series title in 2008.

Since 2011, however, they have let each of their division rivals surpass them except for the Marlins.

It looked as if the Phillies’ luck was about to change in 2018. After two unsuccessful hirings from within the organization in Ryne Sandberg and Pete Mackanin, the Phillies finally outsourced and hired Kapler as their manager in the 2017 offseason.

With high-profile free agent signings like former NL Cy Young Jake Arrieta and first baseman Carlos Santana, Kapler’s team looked to contend right away.

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When he was introduced as Philadelphia Phillies manager in 2017, Gabe Kapler said his goal was to bring a World Series title to team owner John Middleton.

After two seasons without a playoff berth, the Phillies on Thursday fired Kapler, whose team (81-81) underachieved even with the addition of big-money free agent Bryce Harper and whose nontraditional, analytical style irritated many of the franchise’s passionate fans.

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

“I am indebted to Gabe for the steadfast effort, energy and enthusiasm that he brought to our club, and we are unquestionably a better team and organization as a result of his contributions.”

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Kapler is the third consecutive Phillies manager to be fired after no more than two full seasons, joining Pete Mackanin and Ryne Sandberg. Middleton said general manager Matt Klentak will lead the team’s search for a new manager.

The team also announced that pitching coach Chris Young, head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan and assistant athletic trainer Chris Mudd will not return. Hitting coach Charlie Manuel will return to his role as a senior adviser. The new manager will inherit the remainder of the coaching staff.

The Phillies have had internal conversations about Buck Showalter and Joe Girardi, among others, as potential replacements for Kapler, sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney. Some executives have speculated that former Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon could also be a candidate, according to Olney.

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Showalter used to work under Phillies president Andy MacPhail and with Klentak when all were with the Baltimore Orioles.

The Phillies are the eighth team seeking a new manager this offseason, joining the Angels, Cubs, Giants, Mets, Padres, Pirates and Royals.

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“I have tremendous respect for this organization, this franchise and this city,” Kapler said in a statement. “We came into 2019 with very high hopes. We fell short of those, and that responsibility lies with me. The next Phillies manager will inherit a team of talented, dedicated and committed players. There has been nothing more fulfilling in my professional career than the opportunity to work with the players on this team.

“… As I move on, I know that this organization is in a great spot and will see a lot of success going forward. My hope is that I helped contribute to a developing culture in the organization that flourishes in the years to come.”

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Rival executives have wondered if Kapler might emerge as a managerial candidate with the Giants because of his ties with San Francisco’s Farhan Zaidi, according to Olney. Zaidi, the Giants’ head of baseball operations, used to work with Kapler in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office.

Philly took a gamble when it made Kapler the 54th manager in team history in November 2017, hoping a former big leaguer short on managerial experience — he previously had managed only one season in the minors (2007) — could lead the Phillies back to October baseball for the first time since 2011.

But the Kapler era in Philadelphia never took off.

In his first game, the Atlanta Braves rallied from a five-run deficit, winning on a three-run homer in the ninth inning. Kapler faced immediate scrutiny for lifting starter Aaron Nola with the Phillies up 5-0 and one out in the sixth inning. When Philly returned home after a season-opening 1-4 road trip, Kapler was booed resoundingly by Phillies fans.

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The 2019 Phillies became the third team ever to commit more than $400 million to free agents in a single offseason, but they finished 81-81.

YEAR TEAM FA $
2014 Yankees* $471M
2009 Yankees $441M
2019 Phillies* $401M
2008 Yankees* $396.15M
2019 Padres* $327.4M
* Didn’t make playoffs that season
A historic contract given to Harper and big trades for catcher J.T. Realmuto and infielder Jean Segura didn’t help much in 2019. Although the Phillies spent much of April and May in first place, a seven-game losing skid in June stalled any momentum. And while they stayed in the National League wild-card race, they lost eight of nine in late September and ultimately were eliminated from the postseason by Harper’s former team, the Nationals.

Injuries were a big reason the Phillies couldn’t record their first winning record since 2011. They lost leadoff hitter Andrew McCutchen for the season in June, and six of their top seven relievers missed significant time. Free-agent addition David Robertson pitched just 6⅔ innings, and Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter threw a combined 23⅓ innings. Also, starting center fielder Odubel Herrera played just 39 games before he was suspended for the rest of the season under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.

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The Phillies finished fourth in the NL East — 16 games behind the first-place Braves and eight games behind Milwaukee for the second wild-card spot. In 2018, the Phillies were third at 80-82, finishing 10 games behind the Braves.

“I want to thank Kap for his tireless commitment to the Phillies over the last two years,” Klentak said in a statement. “When we hired Kap, it was our goal to develop a positive, forward-thinking and collaborative culture throughout the organization that would allow us to compete with the best teams in the league year in and year out.

“While we have fallen short in the win column for the last two years, I can confidently say that Kap’s efforts have established a strong and sustainable foundation for this organization moving forward.”

Kapler, 44, hit .268 in 12 major league seasons as an outfielder with the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and four other clubs. Before managing the Phillies, he spent several years as the Dodgers’ director of player development.

Out of the gates, Kapler and the Phillies looked like they finally found success. Kapler led his squad to a 56-44 record through 100 games. They entered August in first place in the standings. But this is when things started to go awry.

The Phillies ended the 2018 season 21-34 from August to September, leaving them with and underwhelming 80-82 record and outside of the postseason.

However, Kapler still improved the team by 16 games, so the Phillies organization prepared themselves for an aggressive offseason in 2018. They signed prized free agent Bryce Harper to a record-breaking contract and acquired other valuable pieces like Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson, Jean Segura, and J.T. Realmuto to solidify their rebuild.

Now, Kapler’s team looked like they could contend.

Unfortunately, that was not the case. While the Phillies started off decently in 2019, they hit a quick decline, highlighted by key injuries mixed with a lack of depth and poor managerial decision.

As a result, they finished in 4th place with 81-81 record, despite spending over $400 million in the offseason. They missed the postseason for the eighth straight season.

Thus, Kapler was ousted. The Phillies organization had no other choice than to move on from Kapler, who was the subject of widespread criticism from both the local and national media. While Kapler was certainly not the answer, the Phillies almost decade-long streak of failure has much deeper roots. Kapler was the third straight manager to be fired after only two seasons of work.

NEXT: Cardinals: Yadi Molina continues to break records
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The Philadelphia Phillies now have an expensive roster and a mess of a clubhouse. If they want to compete in 2020, it is in their best interest to completely clean out their coaching staff and start fresh with an experienced manager. Time will tell if the Phillies are ready to compete now, or if they are doomed for more failure in the near future.