The first day of the Phillies’ offseason came and went without any news coming out of One Citizens Bank Way, which means the managerial watch continues into Tuesday. Gabe Kapler woke up Monday morning with his job intact and presumably went to bed the same way. Maybe the computer program that helps out on end-of-season managerial decisions was down Monday.
Anyway, at some point, managing partner John Middleton is going to have to make up his mind about Kapler because the final decision is entirely up to him. In fairness to Kapler, it’s hard to imagine the situation dragging beyond Tuesday.
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One thing general manager Matt Klentak was extremely good at during the 2019 season was adding left-handed power bats to the roster. The least known of the bunch was Brad Miller, who three years ago hit 30 home runs for the Tampa Bay Rays, but then battled serious core-muscle injuries the following season that required surgical repair.
After being traded from the Rays to Milwaukee in 2018, Miller spent time this season with the Los Angeles Dodgers (he was released in spring training), Cleveland Indians (he was granted free agency in April) and the New York Yankees’ triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre affiliate before being purchased by the Phillies in mid-June.
In 66 games with the Phillies, Miller batted .263 with 12 home runs and 21 RBIs in 118 at-bats. Miller drove in all three of the Phillies’ runs with a couple of home runs in the season-ending 4-3 loss to the Miami Marlins. He homered twice in three of his final nine games. According to Elias, he was the first hitter in Phillies history to have three multihomer games in a nine-game stretch.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here,” Miller said Sunday. “It has been a lot of fun.”
The other two impactful left-handed bats added by Klentak were Jay Bruce and Corey Dickerson. The trio of Miller, Bruce and Dickerson combined to hit .258 with an .852 OPS, 19 doubles and 32 home runs in just 396 at-bats.
Only Bruce, 32, is under contract for next season, but the Phillies should probably try to keep either Dickerson, 30, or Miller, 29, as bench bats. Dickerson, who hit .293 with 10 doubles and eight homers in 133 at-bats, would be the more expensive option. He made $8.5 million in 2019.
Miller is open to returning to the Phillies.
“The experience I had here was positive,” he said. “How it is, it’s not really up to me. I went through free agency last year. You just have to take it however it comes to you. They’ll tell you what they think of you and then go from there. I can’t say enough positive things about my time as a Phillie and the staff and my teammates. The sad part for me is I can’t play with this group again. It changes from year to year regardless. But what a great group.”
Miller said being healthy made all the difference for him with the Phillies.
“The year is ebbs and flows, but I know what I’m capable of,” he said. “I think the last couple of years I have really been battling with my body with two different surgeries and I’ve kind of put my body back together, so this year I think when I look back as a whole it was pretty positive for me as far as being on the field and being able to play the last day of the season, which I wasn’t able to do the last couple of years.”
It was Fan Appreciation Day on Sunday and the player the fans appreciated most at Citizens Bank Park was rightfielder Bryce Harper. At one point, they chanted, “Thank you, Harper,” as he stood in right field. Harper, despite being booed a few times during the season, earned the praise by putting together an outstanding first season with the Phillies.
Columnist David Murphy wrote that manager Gabe Kapler’s potential demise could come down to a lack of fan support for the Phillies as attendance declined as the season wore on.
The Chicago Cubs fired Joe Maddon on Saturday, giving the Phillies a shot at a manager who has won a World Series and been to the playoffs eight times in 16 years. I wrote that the Phillies should not miss out on this chance to upgrade at the managerial position.
Tonight: Brewers at Nationals in NL wild-card game, 8:08 p.m.
Tomorrow: Rays at Athletics for AL wild card, 8:09 p.m.
Oct. 22: Game 1 of the World Series
Feb. 22: Phillies face Tigers in spring opener, 1:05 p.m.
March 26: Phillies open 2020 season in Miami, 4:10 p.m.
The Phillies hit 46 home runs in September to set a franchise record for most homers in a calendar month. They finished the season with 215 home runs, which was tied for third in franchise history. They also hit 215 homers in 2004. The 2009 team owns the record for most home runs with 224. The Phillies’ total of 215 homers, however, ranked just 22nd in baseball.
The 1997 Seattle Mariners owned the all-time record for home runs in a season with 264 until last season when the New York Yankees hit 268. This season, Minnesota (307), the Yankees (306), Houston (288) and the Dodgers (279) all passed the record the Yankees established last year.
A record total of 6,776 home runs were hit in 2019, 1,191 more than last season’s total of 5,585, which had been the record. This year’s home run total was 20 percent higher than any other season in baseball history except 2018.
Blame it on the PEBs — performance enhancing baseballs.
Send questions by email or on Twitter @brookob.
Question: Thanks for the great coverage and hard work you guys put in every day. Though Kapler’s job hangs in the balance, I can’t help thinking that things would be so much better if the Phillies could find a few star-caliber prospects, particularly out of Latin America. We seem to get a steady flow of marginal guys (won’t name names) but why can’t we ever stumble onto a Soto, Acuna, Devers, Baez, Lindor, Suarez, Ozuna, etc., etc.? You’d think the Phillies would almost have to discover a real difference-making talent every now and then. (Yes, I know. Sixto Sanchez brought Realmuto. That’s one.) Enjoy the offseason — hope we’re preparing for the playoffs this time next year.
Mark P., via email