Phillies should always have an eye on Mike Trout | Extra Innings
The Angels' perennial All-Star would be the biggest difference maker on the field and at the box office.
The general manager meetings ended last Thursday and the winter meetings are less than a month away, but we could be waiting a while for players such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado to make up their minds about what city they want to play in next season. That does not mean it was a dull week on the Phillies' Hot Stove front.
On the contrary, the team promoted assistant pitching coach Chris Young on Wednesday at the expense of Rick Kranitz, who had seemingly done a solid job in his first season as the Phillies' pitching coach.
Sadly, manager Gabe Kapler also lost his Malibu, Calif., home to the devastating wildfires in Southern California.
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Make sure there’s money left for Mike Trout
Las Vegas has the Phillies as the favorites to sign both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the two premier players on this year's free-agent market. It is highly unlikely that they sign both players, and the better move in my opinion would be getting Harper and letting Machado go elsewhere. Not only is Harper the better hitter and better on-base guy, he is also a member of a National League East rival. Weakening the Washington Nationals while strengthening your own lineup is the best-case scenario for the Phillies.
Harper, by the way, has excelled over the years against NL East teams. He has a .394 on-base percentage and .913 OPS against Atlanta, a .399 on-base percentage and .946 OPS against Miami, and a .370 on-base percentage and .880 OPS against the Mets. He has a .378 on-base percentage and .897 OPS against the Phillies. Harper has hit 14 home runs at Citizens Bank Park, his highest total in any visiting ballpark.
Regardless of what the Phillies do this offseason, one of their main objectives moving forward should be having enough money to sign Mike Trout if and when the situation presents itself. Angels GM Billy Eppler made it clear that he has no plans of dealing Trout this offseason, but the likelihood of that happening become much greater if Los Angeles misses the playoffs for a fifth straight year in 2019. At that point, Trout might insist on leaving, and the Phillies would undoubtedly be one of his desired landing spots. That's why it would be foolish for the Phillies to go after both Harper and Machado now.
As good as those two are, the player the Phillies cannot remove from their sights is Trout. He would be the biggest difference maker on the field and at the box office.
Our Matt Breen handled the news of the day Wednesday about Chris Young replacing Rick Kranitz as the pitching coach.
It's possible that Chris Young will become the best pitching coach in Phillies history. Even if he does, however, the Phillies still mishandled his promotion because it cost Rick Kranitz his job after he had done some solid work in his first season as pitching coach. Here's my column explaining why.
As expected, the NL Cy Young award went to the New York Mets' Jacob deGrom on Wednesday. Phillies ace Aaron Nola finished third in the BBWAA voting, with Washington's Max Scherzer finishing second.
An Aaron Nola contract extension was the subject of a story by our Scott Lauber earlier this week. The Phillies are not in discussions with Nola about an extension, but here's what the parameters for a new deal might look like if the sides do start talking.
It was just awful to hear that Phillies manager Gabe Kapler lost his Malibu home in the Southern California wildfires this week. He described the place as his "heaven" a few years ago. In a text exchange, Kapler said that his family was safe and he had "endless resources" to recover from the loss of his home. "Others are less fortunate," Kapler said before pleading for awareness about what is going on in his home state.
Lauber wrote Sunday that the Phillies, according to GM Matt Klentak, will attempt to make other free-agent moves and trades even if Manny Machado and Bryce Harper take their time before signing.
Today: MLB Most Valuable Player Awards announced
Tuesday: Deadline for teams to set their 40-man roster
Dec. 9: Start of winter meetings in Las Vegas.
Dec. 13: Rule 5 draft and end of winter meetings in Las Vegas.
Stat of the day
According to MLB.com, Major League Baseball and the United States have been sending professional teams to Japan for more than a century, dating to visits by the Reach All-America Team in 1908 and the New York Giants and Chicago White Sox in 1913. The common theme? The American/MLB teams won more than they lost. A lot more.
In fact, the American/MLB record during Japanese tours going into the MLB Stars' six-game series this November was 338-83-26. The Babe Ruth/Lou Gehrig All-Stars went 17-0 in 1934, and the 1955 New York Yankees went 15-0-1 in 1955. The MLB Stars who have periodically been making trips to Japan since 1986 had a 43-20-7 record in nine series against Japanese teams.
This year's team finished its tour of Japan early Thursday with a 4-1 loss that left them with a 1-5 record. It was the worst trip ever for the MLB Stars and only the second time they lost more than they won.
"I know we didn't send our best pitching over there, but the way the Japanese play the game and put the ball in play is a lot of fun to watch and a lot different than the way we play the game," a former major-league player said.
The Phillies' Rhys Hoskins played his only game in the field as a first baseman Thursday and went 0-for-4. He finished the series 3-for-18, but did hit two home runs. Carlos Santana went 5-for-19 with two walks, a home run, and five RBIs in the series.
From the mailbag
Send questions by email or on Twitter @brookob.
I know Phillies management loves Carlos Santana, especially his ability to walk. In your opinion, what are the chances Santana is traded? To me, he is a player without a place to play next season. The Phils talk about the need for their defense to improve but Rhys Hoskins should move back to first base, and Santana is not a third baseman.
Please rank who is more likely to be traded this off-season: Santana, Cesar Hernandez, Odubel Herrera or Maikel Franco?
Greg S. via email
Answer: Thanks for the question, Greg, and for being such a loyal reader of Extra Innings. It's out there that the Phillies would not mind trading Santana to make room for Hoskins at first base. I could live with a lineup that had Hoskins in left field, Santana at first base, and Bryce Harper in right field. That's three guys who get on base a lot with the potential to combine for 90 home runs and 300 walks.
I think at this point Franco is the guy most likely to be traded among those you mentioned, but all four players are certainly available. The Phillies have huge decisions to make on the left side of their infield, and even if they know what they want to do, there's no way of knowing right now if they are going to be able to do it.