Phillies decline 2016 option on Cliff Lee

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Mon, September 28, 2015 01:42 PM Comments: 18

(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

The Cliff Lee era in Philadelphia will come to an end in 2016 as the Phillies have declined to pick up the left-handers option for next season.

The 37-year-old has not thrown a single pitch in the majors this season after aggravating a lingering elbow injury back in spring training. The injury landed Lee on the 60-day disabled list, but the Phillies were hopeful that the lefty would rehab his way back to the big club sometime around All-Star break and allow the team find a trade suitor before the July 31 trade deadline.

That never happened.

Instead, Lee lost his entire 2015 campaign and will likely lose his MLB career after the Phillies’ decision to not pick up his option. His current elbow injury carried over from an injury he suffered last season which resulted in him being shut down twice during a season where he managed to pitch only 81.1 innings.

2015 marked the final year of a five-year, $120 million contract Lee signed back in 2011. The deal included a $27.5 million club option for 2016, but with the Phillies electing to decline the option, they now owe Lee a $12.5 million buyout.

“I don’t think it’s any surprise to anybody,” said interim general manager Scott Proefrock, via ESPN. “We have to communicate it in writing. We haven’t done that yet.”

If this decision by the Phillies leads to Lee retiring, it would spell the end of a stellar major league career.

Over 13 seasons, Lee has compiled a 143-91 record, good for a career .611 winning percentage. Lee’s breakout season came in 2007 where, at age 29, he collected 22 wins en route to a Cy Young season with the Cleveland Indians. Lee joined the Phillies in the middle of 2009 and helped the club reach their second consecutive World Series. In game one of the series against the New York Yankees, Lee made a play on a pop up back to the mound that, still to this day, encapsulates his demeanor on the mound.

Lee would be traded to the Seattle Mariners during the 2009 off-season after the Phillies acquired Roy Halladay from the Tortonto Blue Jays. The lefty would return to Philadelphia, for less money no less, after helping the Texas Rangers reach the 2010 World Series and would join Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt to complete one of the greatest starting rotations ever assembled. After an incredible 102-win season, Lee blew a 4-0 lead in game two of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals in what will likely end up being his final postseason start. The Phillies would later drop the series in five games.

Lee continued to dominate on the mound in 2012 and 2013 despite the Phillies missing the playoffs both seasons, but was inconsistent in 2014 while battling a nagging elbow injury. Overall, Lee sported a winning tenure in a Philadelphia, posting a 48-34 record and a 2.94 ERA over 827.1 innings-pitched in a Phillies uniform.


Phillies shut down Aaron Nola

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Sun, September 27, 2015 12:20 PM Comments: 4

With just seven games left in the regular season, the Phillies have decided to shut down Aaron Nola following his Saturday start against the Washington Nationals.

The 22-year-old made 13 starts for the Phillies after making his big league debut back on July 21. In those starts, Nola posted a 6-2 record with a 3.59 ERA, 68 strikeouts, and just 19 walks in 77.2 innings-pitched. In Saturday’s start against the Nationals, the rookie struck out five batters and walked none over five scoreless frames.

Nola compiled 186.3 total innings in 31 starts between the minor and major leagues. According to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, there should be no innings limit for the right-hander in 2016–a season where he will likely assume the role as the Phillies’ ace.



Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, September 25, 2015 04:27 PM Comments: 6

NationalsThe Phillies are 57-96. In other words, they stink.

You’ve given up on baseball this season. You decided the Eagles were more important (good look, right?). You don’t see any need to pay any more attention to the last-place Phillies, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong.

Here we are. It’s a Friday afternoon in September, and the Phillies have a rare opportunity: take out the Washington Nationals. Eliminate them. Scrub them out like the stain they are, and shove the shirt back into the drawer for the winter. It’s over, Washington. See you later.

The Mets are eight games up on the Nationals. The Nationals have 10 games left to play. It’s pretty damn simple: Beat the Nats three times and take them out. Maybe the Mets win a game or two against the Reds. Who cares. Do the job yourself. Beat the Nationals. No, #BeatTheNats. Make these the biggest three games of the season.

I came of age during the Second Golden Age, the age of sweaty anger toward the Mets. I hated the Mets. We hated the Mets. I sat in Shea Stadium in 2007, watched a Phillies fan start a mini-brawl, and subsequently get thrown two rows south. I sat in Citizens Bank Park a year later and watched a Mets fan suffer a black eye at the hands of an eager Philadelphian. Mets fans had bite. Mets fans had pure blood, sharp fangs and wide eyes. They wanted to kill. You wanted to hate them.

Nationals fans are flies to slap, air to kick, balls of dust to wipe up and toss into the trash. They don’t deserve it. They’re waste. Discard them. Take them out. Start tonight.

And tonight we have Jerad Eickoff, a young and sparkling prize from the Cole Hamels trade. He sports a 3.16 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 37 innings. The kid is solid. He can do it.

Tomorrow we have Aaron Nola, he of the 3.84 ERA. What, he faces Stephen Strasburg? Who cares. He’s nothing. Into the garbage with you.

It can be done. It will be done. The Nationals deserve to be thrown into the pile of mediocrity. They paid too much for Jayson Werth. They risked their sanity on Jonathan Papelbon, the lint that sticks to your t-shirt, the flint of dandruff you just can’t remove. They’re perfect for each other – this team of privileged pawns playing in front of the quietest fans in the whole sport. This is the mission, Phillies: Walk into Nationals Park, guns blazing. Knock out the Nationals. Take no prisoners. Eliminate them.

Prove to those Nationals that they’re a fad in the fading sun. All thanks to that No. 1 pick, the precious thing on which the Nationals built their entire empire. Without Strasburg and Bryce Harper they’re nothing. Lucky fools couldn’t even take advantage of the best hitting season in decades. They deserve nothing but failure.

This is the weekend, Phillies. Take out those Nationals. Make them meet their failure. #BeatTheNats.

Turn the turn UP, Phillies fans. #BEATTHENATS.



Papelbon suspended by MLB, but will appeal

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Fri, September 25, 2015 02:19 PM Comments: 11

And boom goes the dynamite. 

After hitting Manny Machado with a pitch near the head Wednesday night, Jonathan Papelbon has been punished with a three game suspension by Major League Baseball. The 34-year-old will, however, appeal the suspension, making him available to pitch during this weekend’s series against his former team, the Phillies.

Here’s MLB’s official statement via The Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes:

Papelbon was ejected by home plate umpire Mark Ripperger after he drilled the Oriole’s third baseman with a pitch near the head. The video can be seen below.

The first pitch in the at-bat was in the same area, but Machado was able to steer clear of the ball. He wasn’t able to avoid the second attempt, though.

After the game, Papelbon wouldn’t confirm whether or not the pitch was intentional, but said that it didn’t matter if it was or not because “perception is reality.” After MLB’s decision to suspend the closer, it’s pretty clear what the perception is.


Which AL team should you root for this fall?

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, September 25, 2015 10:42 AM Comments: 5

CARTER3The Phillies won’t be in the postseason, but that doesn’t mean you have to ignore baseball’s month-long deathmatch to determine its ultimate champion. Oh contraire. There are many reasons you should embrace the postseason.

But since our beloved Phils won’t be in the dance, maybe there’s a team you’d like to put your rooting interests behind. Here’s where I can help; I’ve created a non-scientific formula guaranteed to help you – discerning Phillies fan – choose the right team to endorse in this year’s pennant chase.

Earlier I tackled the National League. Now let’s look at the American League.

New York Yankees

Rivalry / History: -4.2
You could argue the Yankees are the Phillies’ top American League rival. There’s recent history (2009 Super Annoying Series), proximity and solid payroll and fanbase comparisons. On a related note, how amazing is it that the Phillies and Yankees came so close to playing each other in the 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1980 World Series … but never did?

Been There Before: -8.3
The Yankees didn’t reach the postseason last year. They didn’t reach the postseason in 2013. It doesn’t matter. They get there a lot. They’re annoying. Go away.

Fandom and Raucousness: 8.5
Major points to the Yankees here. Even if it’s an ivory palace, Yankee Stadium would be shaking in the postseason. And you can’t deny that playoff baseball looks better in the Bronx.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: 3.7
A solid offense but a subpar pitching staff means the Yankees are average. They do hit plenty of home runs, however. But here’s the thing: Isn’t it unfair that the Yanks have all these overachieving older players? Teixeira comes out of nowhere … A-Rod defies all logic with a miracle comeback season … Carlos Beltran is probably 50 and still knocking the ball around … look, it’s been a difficult few years here.

Star Power: 5.3
Rodriguez, Teixiera and Beltran are still marquee names to many, along with CC Sabathia. Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda are good starters. Jacoby Ellsbury just gets lost on this team.

Former Phillie Cachet: 0.0
Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Final Score: 5.0
You’re not rooting for the Yankees. If you are, you hate fun.

Minnesota Twins

Rival / History: 0.9
There’s practically nothing about the Twins that angers Phillies fans. I’m docking a tenth of a point because … Trevor May?

Been There Before: 3.7
It wasn’t too long ago that the Twins were regulars in October, along with the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels. In recent years, however, the Twins have plain stunk. Now they’re good again. Like the Astros, change in the American League is a welcome sight.

Fandom and Raucousness: 4.6
Target Field hasn’t yet seen playoff baseball, but fans seem to be highly engaged. Time will tell.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: -1.2
The Twins aren’t that good at baseball. The offense is weak and the pitching is weaker. How the heck did the Twins do this, anyway?

Star Power: 0.6
Miguel Sano is a young kid with tremendous power; he’s on his way to being a star. Otherwise Joe Mauer is still here, and Byron Buxton has huge potential. That’s about it, unless you think Big Pelf has any sort of stroke.

Former Phillie Cachet: -0.1
Trevor May. That’s all we got here.

Final Score: 8.5
You can’t go wrong rooting for the Twins, but frankly, they’re not a great baseball team. You’d be killing other really great teams in the process. Just stay away!

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Rival / History: 1.0
The Angels are one of those teams where there’s practically no actual history or rivalry. Maybe a trade here and there, but seriously, no opinion at all of the Angels. That’s a plus-one.

Been There Before: -0.7
The Angels are pseudo mainstays in the American League postseason, but not enough to bore you.

Fandom and Raucousness: 4.4
Color me slightly unimpressed by the Anaheim scene in October. Rally Monkey be damned.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: -0.5
If not for Mike Trout the Angels might have the worst offense in the American League. There’s nothing great about the pitching, either, unless you really love Huston Street. And look, I do not. The sheer fact the Angels have come this far is nothing short of a miracle.

Star Power: 3.0
Some kid from Vineland, N.J. Also Albert Pujols. Jered Weaver is not the same Jered Weaver. Otherwise, a barren land.

Former Phillie Cachet: 2.9
Shane Victorino is here, and we all love Shane. Too bad Shane is playing atrociously in Anaheim.

Final Score: 10.1
The Angels remain a harmless team; if they go far in the postseason, I won’t be upset. It won’t be great baseball, though.

Houston Astros

Rivalry / History: -3.3
Ugh, the Astros. The Phillies and Astros hooked up in an instant-classic National League Championship Series in 1980. As payback for beating them, the Baseball Gods decided to turn the ‘Stros into physical thorns in the Phils’ sides. Both 2005 and ‘06 ended because they couldn’t beat Houston, and it seemed the only team that constantly beat the Phillies between 2008 and ‘11 were … you got it …

Been There Before: 3.9
It’s been a little while since the Astros reached the postseason. Their tank-to-swank story is pretty incredible, especially if it ends with an appearance in October (still not assured yet). Give them their props.

Fandom and Raucousness: 4.7
Truthfully I’m uncertain about how the Houston crowd plays in the fall. Minute Maid Park is a huge place, and it’s been quite a few years since the Astros were playing meaningful baseball. I’ll give the Astros a slightly above average mark here.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: 7.0
Only the Blue Jays have an offense more entertaining than the Astros. They clobber the ball. The Astros also pitch well, leading the American League in a few major categories. The bullpen has struggled, however. Still, this is a solid product.

Star Power: 3.0
A lot of non-household names here, but Carlos Correa is already the best shortstop in baseball (at age 20), and Dallas Keuchel may win the American League Cy Young. Tons of young talent primed to become big.

Former Phillie Cachet: 0.0
Oh boy. Here’s the thing: The Astros have Jon Singleton, Jonathan Villar and Domingo Santana. We know that. But all three are likely to fall short of the Houston potseason roster. So look, we may have traded away a potential stud (Santana), but it’s not hurting us yet! Optimism! … Also the Astros once employed the ghost of Fausto Carmona! Net zero!

Final Score: 15.3
The Astros are young, hip, and not the Yankees. You can’t go wrong here.

Kansas City Royals

Rivalry / History: -0.4
Of course there’s a history, but it’s pretty old now. Thirty-five years old. And anyways, the Phillies won that series. I see very little reason to dislike the Royals.

Been There Before: 1.3
The Royals surprised everyone when they reached the postseason last year. Then they floored us by actually winning the American League. So they’ve been there before, but seeing the Royals in October is still a relative phenomenon.

Fandom And Raucousness: 6.1
Kauffman Stadium is a great ballpark and shines in the postseason. Those fans are rabid at times. All-around good atmosphere.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: 4.0
The Royals are the Cardinals of the American League – slightly above-average offense and pitching staff, getting by on a little luck. Plus there’s a lot of small ball in KC. So no, they’re not the most entertaining team. But they do baseball relatively well.

Star Power: 2.2
The Royals’ “young” core of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain is notable but not necessarily marquee. Johnny Cueto is a top-tier starter, but he has struggled since coming to Kansas City. But hey, Ben Zobrist is here!

Former Phillie Cachet: 2.2
Former Phillie Ryan Madson is in the bullpen and having a great renaissance season. Former Phillie Joe Blanton was here, but now he’s in Pittsburgh. And Former Phillie Erik Kratz was here, but now he’s a Phillie again. Sorry, Erik Kratz.

Final Score: 15.4
The Royals are not a bad choice. They’re not the best choice, but they’re not a bad choice.

Texas Rangers

Rivalry / History: 0.6
Two obvious pieces of recent history: The Phillies swiping Cliff Lee as #MysteryTeam during the 2010-11 offseason, and the Phillies trading Cole Hamels for a slew of prospects back in July. I’d say net positive here.

Been There Before: -0.3
The Rangers are, in a way, the Phillies’ doppelganger. They’re a few years removed from the postseason, but for a few years, they consistently contended. So while we’ve seen the Rangers more than often in October, they’re not a tired sight.

Fandom and Raucousness: 5.2
Whatever that stadium is called, it actually has a nice vibe come crunch time. Rangers fans are good fans; they might be the only good thing about the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: 3.5
The Rangers are very, very average. But they have Cole Hamels. Which is exciting.

Star Power: 5.3
It’s Texas – of course they have stars. Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton are here, as are young studs Rougned Odor and Delino DeShields Jr. Also they have Cole Hamels. Which is exciting.

Former Phillie Cachet: 6.5
Remember the time the Phillies signed Wandy Rodriguez, but then didn’t? Wandy was on this roster once. Oh! Also Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman, who helped put the Rangers over the top. Go Rangers!

Final Score: 20.8
Root for the Rangers and you’re rooting for Cole and Jake. Okay mostly Cole. But some Jake.

Toronto Blue Jays

Rivalry / History: -1.0
A guy once did something against the Phillies that really stunk. Also Major League Baseball recently made us the interleague rival du jour of the Blue Jays. Still, I feel very little ill will toward the Jays.

Been There Before: 8.0
The Jays are the consummate “Haven’t Been There Before” team. The last time they were there … well, the guy did something against the Phillies that really stunk. It would be fantastic to see the Jays back in the dance.

Fandom and Raucousness: 7.1
Have you watched any Blue Jays home games? Holy crow, those fans. They’re riotous. So fun.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: 7.9
You know what’s fun? Cueing up Blue Jays’ highlights every day because, at some point, someone hit a home run. And the Jays don’t hit cheap homers. They annihilate the ball. They move runners over. They play with energy. And the pitching has improved tremendously over the course of the season. So fun. So. Much. Fun.

Star Power: 5.5
Jose Bautista is the modern-day God of Longball. Edwin Encarnacion makes his arm a perch after he hits one out. Josh Donaldson is like the Royals’ stars in that he’s pretty damn good but still unknown to the layman. Also, this team has Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, who are both big stars. So yes, good star power here.

Former Phillie Cachet: 3.0
Ben Revere! I love Ben. He deserves to be in the postseason. Also, I failed to mention this earlier, but we should give the Jays a half-point for being the first home of one Harry Leroy Halladay. They’re like our blood brothers. Maybe?

Final Score: 30.5
If you don’t root for the Toronto Blue Jays you hate America. I mean … wait … I’m confused …



In my National League rundown I decided a Cubs vs. Dodgers NLCS is most preferred, and frankly, I’d probably rather see the Dodgers get there because of Jimmy and Chase.

Here, I’d love to see a Blue Jays vs. Rangers ALCS, but we’re likely to see that in the ALDS, instead. So, while I love Cole, I’m going Jays here. Give me a Blue Jays vs. Astros ALCS, with the Jays and Dodgers hooking up in the World Series.


Knapp and Pinto honored as Paul Owens Award winners

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, September 25, 2015 07:05 AM Comments: 0

Knapp 1

Andrew Knapp, image- Jay Floyd

The Phillies announced the honorees for the annual Paul Owens Award this year, with catcher Andrew Knapp and pitcher Ricardo Pinto being named as the top performers in the organization’s developmental ranks.

Knapp, began the 2015 campaign with Class A Advanced Clearwater where he posted a .262 batting average with two home runs and 28 RBI in 63 games en route to being named a Florida State League All-Star.  Promoted to Double-A Reading in late June, Knapp would really turn things on offensively, collecting a .360 average along with 11 homers and 56 RBI in 55 games.  Knapp was the Phils’ 2nd round draft pick out of Cal in 2013.

Phillies Nation recently aired a feature on Knapp.  That video can be viewed by clicking here.

Pinto, a 21-year-old righty, tallied a 15-4 record with a 2.97 ERA and a 6.5 K/9 mark in 24 combined starts with Class A Lakewood and Clearwater this season.  For the Venezuelan, 2015 was just his second season pitching in North America.

Earlier in the season, it appeared as thought Reading outfielder Roman Quinn was well on his way toward winning the Paul Owens Award, as he sported a .306 average with four homers, 15 RBI and 29 steals through 58 games prior to being sidelined with a hip/quad injury in June.  The 22-year-old is slated to play for Licey in the Dominican Republic this off-season to make up for lost time. Continue reading Knapp and Pinto honored as Paul Owens Award winners


Papelbon adding to Nationals’ woes

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Thu, September 24, 2015 01:40 PM Comments: 6

Jonathan PapelbonRemember this guy? Of course, how could Phillie fans forget.

Jonathan Papelbon accomplished a lot during his time in Philadelphia. He earned two All-Star selections, compiled an excellent 2.31 ERA over 237.2 innings-pitched, and passed Jose Mesa as the Phillies’ all-time leader in saves with 123. But his abrasive and personality and his willingness to speak the truth without a hint of a filter transformed him into public enemy number one until he was traded to Washington before July’s non-waiver trade deadline.

Since the trade, the Nationals have completely derailed. They have coughed up the NL East to the New York Mets; so much so that they find themselves 6.5 games back with just 11 games left in the regular season. And as Peter Gammons pointed out early Thursday morning, they sport a losing record since acquiring Papelbon.

The Nationals still have a steep hill to climb despite the Mets’ recent struggles. Over their last eight games, the Mets have stumbled to a 2-6 record. The Nationals were able to cut the deficit a tad, but back-to-back losses to the Orioles while the Mets have lost two straight to the Braves have killed the Nationals’ momentum.

Wednesday night’s contest against the Orioles was the latest chance for the Nationals to gain ground on the struggling Mets, but the club failed to win despite entering the seventh inning with a one-run lead with ace Max Scherzer on the mound. The thorn in the Nats’ side was Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, who hit a two-run home run off Scherzer with two outs in the seventh inning to give the Orioles a 4-3 lead.

Then enters Papelbon, who with two outs in the ninth appeared to purposefully plunk Machado near the head with a fastball.

Clearly, Machado was displeased with what appeared to be a deliberate attempt by Papelbon to hit him two innings removed from his key home run. In a post game interview with CSNmidatlantic.com’s Rich Dubroff, Machado took a shot at Papelbon by calling the move “cowardly.”

Home plate umpire Mark Ripperger ejected Papelbon following the pitch, and rightfully so. A pitch earlier in the at-bat was dangerously close to Machado’s head, and while Machado crushed a home run to give the Orioles the lead two innings prior, he didn’t showboat or emphatically flip his bat in triumph.

Papelbon didn’t agree with the umpire’s decision to eject him from the game.

“I was pretty surprised,” Papelbon said, via The Washington Post. “I thought Mark let the crowd get into it a little bit there. I think he allowed that to dictate his decision to toss me there. As players, as umpires, man, we gotta keep our cool out there and let the game play out for itself.”

After the game, Papelbon, predictably, wouldn’t admit whether or not the pitch was intentional. Instead, he gave a painfully ambiguous response to a Washington Post reporter.

Another player who wasn’t too pleased with the situation was star outfielder Bryce Harper, who despite his team’s struggles has maintained his MVP-caliber pace at the plate.

“I mean, Manny freaking hit a homer and walked it off and somebody drilled him,” Harper said, via The Washington Post. “It’s pretty tired. It’s one of those situations where it happens. I don’t know. I’ll probably get drilled tomorrow. We’ll see what happens.”

Way to go, Pap.

Regardless, Papelbon hasn’t been the reason for the Nationals’ collapse, although he hasn’t been as sharp since moving to Washington. In 21.2 innings-pitched, he has given up six earned runs after giving up just seven in almost 16 innings more with the Phillies, and has blown two saves after blowing none with the Phillies.

While the closer has been the least of the Nationals’ problems, instances like last night could stricken fans and the organization with a case of buyer’s remorse, especially if they fail to make the postseason.


Which NL team should you root for this fall?

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, September 23, 2015 04:00 PM Comments: 14

39212-cubsThe Phillies won’t be in the postseason, but that doesn’t mean you have to ignore baseball’s month-long deathmatch to determine its ultimate champion. Oh contraire. There are many reasons you should embrace the postseason.

But since our beloved Phils won’t be in the dance, maybe there’s a team you’d like to put your rooting interests behind. Here’s where I can help; I’ve created a non-scientific formula (from -10 up to 10 for each category) guaranteed to help you – discerning Phillies fan – choose the right team to endorse in this year’s pennant chase.

Let’s begin with the National League. Tomorrow I’ll tackle the American League.

Washington Nationals

Rival / History: -10.0
This metric measures how much me, a Phillies fan, can really root for another team. Here, anything less (or more, or whatever) would be uncivilized.

Been There Before: -7.5
This measures how often a team is in the postseason, which means you’re seeing them repeatedly, which isn’t fun after a while. (Or maybe you like tradition, but whatever, man.) It’s not that the Nationals have been there before a lot, because they haven’t. In fact, the franchise itself (including as the Expos) has only reached the postseason three times. No, it’s not that. It’s that the Nationals and their fans were so cocksure that they’d be in the postseason, that it would be handed to them. So here. Here’s your prize. A negative 7.5.

Fandom and Raucousness: -6.6
This measures the ability of a fanbase to be a lot of fun to watch. Nationals Park … raucous? Hold on, I have to grab something into which I can laugh hysterically.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: 4.9
This obviously measures if said team will hit home runs, pitch well, and be generally fun to watch. The Nationals have an above-average offense thanks almost entirely to Bryce Harper. The pitching staff that was supposed to be the greatest ever is merely average, backed by a bullpen that has played lackluster lately. Then there’s the manager … ooh boy …

Star Power: 7.7
Bryce Harper is the best player in baseball this season. Max Scherzer and his fellow pitchers are stars or near-stars. Jonathan Papelbon is a star. Jayson Werth is a star.

Former Phillie Cachet: 6.1
Werth still gets my love. Papelbon, while great as a Phillie, didn’t quite endear himself to the city, right? Probably a negative point or two. Also don’t forget former Phillie farmhand Gio Gonzalez.

Final Score: -5.4
Yeah, we’re rooting against you guys.

St. Louis Cardinals

Rivalry / History: -4.3
We all remember that dumb, stupid, no good, terrible, ridiculous 2011 NLDS, in which Cliff Lee blew a lead, the offense forgot how to hit, and a squirrel ruined everything else. Also the Cardinals have old-school NL East history with the Phillies.

Been There Before: -7.2
The Cardinals, oh they’ve been there before. They’ve always been there before. Seriously, how do they keep being there before? What do they put in the water in that holiest of baseball holy places?

Fandom And Raucousness: -1.1
I don’t know. Cardinals fans are beloved by Cardinals fans, and hated by most everyone else. I feel indifferent to them. I never remember Busch Stadium to be rocking like Citizens Bank Park. Meh. A little under zero here.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: 6.5
Let’s be honest, the Cardinals do baseball well. The offense is average – if not slightly below average – but the pitching is quite good. They’re tops in the NL in ERA, fifth in strikeouts, and of course, always have that neverending bullpen that mows everyone away starting in the seventh inning. Stupid Cardinals.

Star Power: 3.3
Future Phillie Jason Heyward is awesome and Matt Holliday is one of the league’s more underappreciated stars. Yadier Molina is Yadier Molina, one of the better catchers in baseball. Kolten Wong has had a pretty decent rookie season, and Matt Carpenter broke out this year, but you can’t pick them out of a lineup.

Former Phillie Cachet: 0.3
This version of the Cards is low on former Phillies. They do have Brandon Moss, who tore up AAA Lehigh Valley but wasn’t good enough for Philly. Then he went to Oakland and hit 76 home runs in three seasons. Yup, great stuff. That’s worth 0.3.

Final Score: -2.5
Sorry St. Louis, it’s just that … you know … you’ve been there before.

San Francisco Giants

Rival / History: -4.2
Ugh, the Giants. I don’t want to talk about that dumb 2010 National League Championship Series.

Been There Before: -9.3
Not only have the Giants been there before, but they find ways – despite otherwise mediocre teams – to vulture world championships from better, more deserving teams. Like last year. And in 2012. And I don’t want to talk about that dumb 2010 National League Championship Series.

Fandom and Raucousness: 3.2
To be fair, AT&T Park during the postseason is nuts. But I will not praise further. No sir.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: 6.1
The Giants might have the best offense in the National League. Their pitching staff is solid. Buster Posey is having another elite season, and rookie Matt Duffy has been tremendous.

Star Power: 4.9
Posey is one of the game’s top stars. Hunter Pence remains one of baseball’s most marketable players, though he’s out potentially for the season. And everyone loves Madison Bumgarner. Good star power here.

Former Phillie Cachet: 4.7
Pence and Marlon Byrd are on this team, and while I was never a big Pence fan, many people were. I’ll surrender.

Final Score: 5.4
Yikes. That’s a higher score than I had thought. Look for this formula to get a Version 2 update for next year.

New York Mets

Rivalry / History: -10.0
Automatic lowest score here. Look, we don’t like you, and you don’t like us. Understood.

Been There Before: 4.5
But here’s the thing: the Mets are as tortured as we are in our darkest days. These guys deserve a chance. We had our fun against them from 2007-11; now they get an opportunity to win, something they haven’t done since 2006. I’m cool with that.

Fandom and Raucousness: 4.4
Citi Field can be deceiving, but it has played well as the Mets have improved. The fans are hungry, too. They’re New Yorkers. It would be fun to watch.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: 5.0
A terrible first-half offense but outstanding second-half display, so the Mets trend upwards here. And they can certainly pitch, led by Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom … and … well, hmmm … we’ll see … Point is, they stay in games and then come up big late. I love that kind of baseball.

Star Power: 2.7
David Wright, of course. Yoenis Cespedes is a joy to watch when he’s on point. Michael Conforto’s a rookie but acclimating himself well. Syndergaard and deGrom are becoming stars. Then there’s … yeah … hmmm … we’ll see …

Former Phillie Cachet: -0.7
So John Mayberry Jr. is off the roster, which means the closest we have is Travis d’Arnaud, possibly the best prospect the Phillies have traded recently. He’s good. Sigh. I’m upset about this. But he did give us Roy. Yay! But sigh.

Final Score: 5.9
Oh boy. Yeah. You actually may have to root for the Mets this postseason.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Rivalry / History: -6.3
It seems whenever the Phillies have been really good, the Dodgers have also been really good. They were the Phils’ main adversaries during the First Golden Age of 1976-83, and they laid down to the Phillies of the Second Golden Age of 2007-11. Plus I think Tommy Lasorda still has a hit out on the Phillie Phanatic.

Been There Before: -5.9
The Dodgers aren’t quite the Cardinals, but they’re close, reaching the playoffs a handful of times since 2004. Plus they have all that money and act as if they should be there, right? Yeah.

Fandom and Raucousness: -3.3
Are we measuring raucousness from innings 1-9, or just 7-9? Look, they fill the place when it matters, but you can’t tell me Chavez Ravine is the loudest place on Earth come playoff time.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: 7.1
They hit home runs and get on base. They strike guys out and limit runs. This is a good baseball team, all the way through.

Star Power: 6.8
Adrian Gonzalez. Joc Pederson. Yasiel Puig (if he returns for the postseason, which is doubtful). Clayton Kershaw. Clayton Kershaw. Zack Greinke. Clayton Kershaw.

Former Phillie Cachet: 10.0
No explanation needed. I think I’d be okay with seeing Jimmy and Chase win another ring.

Final Score: 8.4
Phew, I thought for a second we’d have to root for the Mets. The Dodgers are good, they’re fun, and they have Jimmy and Chase. Sold.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Rivalry / History: -3.6
One sad development with the splitting of divisions in 1994 was the loss of the Phillies vs. Pirates rivalry, which struck some high notes in the 1970s and ‘80s. Since, there has only been a cosmetic intra-state rivalry. Plus the Pirates don’t elicit the same anger as the Penguins, or even the Steelers.

Been There Before: -1.3
This is weird. A few years ago this would get the highest score of 10.0, but now the Pirates are veterans of the postseason, and will likely reach October play for the third-consecutive year. Sorry, Buccos.

Fandom and Raucousness: 2.7
PNC Park doesn’t get to Wrigley Field levels, but it’s certainly a fun place to watch October baseball on TV. Fans have been hungry for a championship.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: 5.8
Offensively the Pirates might be the most small-ball team among contenders. They do have a strong pitching staff, highlighted by Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano and the Artist Formerly Known as J.A. Happ. And the bullpen is very good.

Star Power: 0.9
One bonafide star in Andrew McCutchen, and one rising stud in Cole. Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker and Starling Marte are all fine players.

Former Phillie Cachet: 9.3
The Pirates basically have collected all the third-tier Phillies starters of the Second Golden Era: The Artist Formerly Known as JA Happ! Vance Worley! Joe Blanton! Plus Antonio Bastardo! And remember the time we had AJ Burnett?

Final Score: 13.8
Hey, not shabby! Buccos!

Chicago Cubs

Rivalry / History: -0.8
This is a weird one. The Cubs were in the NL East before the 1994 division splitting, but even then the Phils and Cubs weren’t necessarily heated rivals. No real rivalry here anymore.

Been There Before: 0.2
Recently the Cubs weren’t good. But not long before that, they were good. And now you see this weird quandary.

Fandom and Raucousness: 6.4
Cubs fans are crazy. I would love to see Wrigley going insane during the NLCS.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: 5.9
Just about an average offense here – maybe a nudge better than average – with very solid pitching (tops in strikeouts, gives up few hits). Also it’s a good young team constructed very well by Theo Epstein and associates, and manager Joe Maddon is the manager we all want.

Star Power: 5.0
A ton of young talent, from Anthony Rizzo to Addison Russell to Kris Bryant to Jorge Soler to Kyle Schwarber. Jake Arrieta is a Cy Young candidate; Jon Lester always seems to turn it on come playoff time. Few veteran stars, but people are getting to know this team.

Former Phillie Cachet: 0.1
Look! Way down the active roster … Quintin Berry! He was a prospect once!

Final Score: 16.8
The Cubs and their fans are tortured. So tortured. We get that. Go Cubbies!


There you have it. Root for whoever wins that likely wild card game between the Cubs and Pirates to beat the Cardinals, then root for the Dodgers over the Mets. Easy!


Mackanin on board; what does it mean?

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, September 23, 2015 08:47 AM Comments: 3

The Phillies announced Tuesday that Pete Mackanin will remain manager through at least the end of 2016.

Signing a one-year contract with a 2017 option, Mackanin has the opportunity to become the fulcrum of the next great Phillies team. But is that the right move? Should the Phillies have secured the field manager role this early in the franchise rebuilding process? Let’s address some of the open questions.

1. Why sign Pete Mackanin now, before a new general manager is named?

Phillies President Andy MacPhail, tonight at Marlins Park, indicated he’d rather a new general manager focus more on putting a front office team together in his or her first few months on the job. Two things on this: First, as Corinne Landrey smartly pointed out, MacPhail said “he or she” when discussing a future general manager. There has never been a female baseball general manager (though Kim Ng is a solid candidate for a GM opening), so MacPhail’s sheer acknowledgment of considering women speaks volumes. Good on you, Andy.

Second, let’s say MacPhail’s general manager search begins, in earnest, after the season wraps, when focus switches to roster building. It could take a month or so to fill the position. Say a new GM is in place by November 10; he or she would have to assemble a staff, then prepare for the winter meetings and arbitration hearings, all in a short window. As MacPhail noted, the aim is to ensure the new GM is focused more on turning the franchise around in scouting, farm system player development and roster construction. Without these things you don’t have consistently good major league teams anyway.

2. But isn’t it weird that a new general manager couldn’t choose his or her field manager?

Not necessarily. Again, the new general manager would want to focus on building a front office team that best reflects the new strategy of the franchise. Then the GM would want to construct a team that fits that strategy. In time the new GM could potentially select a manager he or she thinks would be best for the team. Until then, Mackanin is a solid choice. He knows the team already, has a rapport with the players – especially the young guys – and would signify a calm in the middle of a stormy process of rebuilding. Players won’t necessarily feel cautious if they know their manager is entrenched for the year; a new manager means more time to feel things out and allow nerves to play a larger factor.

3. So what would Mackanin be expected to do?

Do what he’s been doing: keep a loose clubhouse; continue to develop rapport with players; and teach young players various facets of the game.

4. What shouldn’t Mackanin do?

As we saw this week, Mackanin isn’t shy about expressing his frustration to his players. He benched Odubel Herrera for sulking after hitting a pop-up, which isn’t a bad move, but then used chauvinistic language to describe the move. So with that, Mackanin should be careful with the words he chooses and the type of environment he wants to help foster. It’s not about being “a man.” That language sends plenty of mixed signals.

Also, Mackanin shouldn’t disregard his rookie players. As other teams (Houston, San Francisco, Minnesota) have taught us, rookies can do as much damage as veterans – if not more damage – to opposing pitchers. So, play them! See what the young players have to give; allow the new general manager an opportunity to know his options.

5. Does this move change anything for 2016?

It may signal that the Phillies will play it conservatively in regards to offseason roster building. In fact, they probably should. The new general manager would want to assemble his or her team, then begin working with and understanding the tools at his or her disposal. Plus 2016 may be a year where we see what we have from both young prospects (J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams, Jake Thompson, Zach Eflin) and from players in make-or-break mode (Cody Asche, Cameron Rupp, Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez). It may not be time yet to throw into the mix a well-paid free agent, much as the prospect of Jason Heyward in right field looks tempting.

6. What are Mackanin’s chances of staying on through 2017 and beyond?

If the young core of the 2016 Phillies (Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola, Odubel Herrera, Ken Giles) makes improvements, and you see a generally higher quality of play over the season, that would solidify Mackanin’s 2017 status. As would a miracle run toward the postseason, led by the young core. But if we see the same old mix of old and young, and bad fundamentals, and questionable in-game strategy, Mackanin’s status is much more up in the air. It’s possible, too, that Mackanin does a decent job in 2016, but the new GM has a few ideas for beyond 2016 and wants to change the field manager to his or her preference.

For now, though, it’s good that there’s a form of consistency in the rebuilding process, and at a place where plenty of the young makeup of this team can use it.


Pete Mackanin to manage Phillies in 2016

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Tue, September 22, 2015 04:22 PM Comments: 6

The Phillies announced Tuesday that they have elected to extend the contract of Pete Mackanin, making him the team’s full-time manager in 2016. The deal includes a club option for the 2017 season.

Here’s an official statement by incoming team president Andy MacPhail:

The 64-year-old Mackanin took over as the Phillies’ interim manager after Ryne Sandberg resigned from his managerial duties back on June 26. Since Mackanin has taken over, the Phillies have gone 30-46, but have shown signs of improvement since the All-Star break by posting a 27-32 record.

Mackanin had previously been an interim manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2005 and the Cincinnati Reds in 2007. 2016 will be his first opportunity to manage a ball club without the interim tag.

Previous Page Next Page