Phillies

Aaron Nola's struggles against Marlins continue as Phillies suffer painful, wild loss

Aaron Nola's struggles against Marlins continue as Phillies suffer painful, wild loss

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MIAMI — A Phillies win, which nearly happened, would not have felt right.

Not on this night.

Not on a night in which centerfielder Pedro Florimon, who has become somewhat of a manager Pete Mackanin favorite, suffered a dislocated right ankle that was gruesome to watch (see story).

Not on a night in which Rhys Hoskins, the 24-year-old who has quickly become the face of the franchise, nearly broke his right hand after getting hit by a 97-mph fastball.

Oh, by the way, the Phillies lost, 10-9, after rallying from a 10-4 deficit (see observations). But the loss was almost an afterthought given the injuries.

Fortunately for the Phillies, x-rays on Hoskins’ right hand were negative, and he is day to day.

“It was (97 mph) to my hand, so there was some pain,” said Hoskins, who was hit on the palm of his hand, above his wrist, by Marlins reliever Brian Ellington. “We’ll see tomorrow how it feels.”

Hoskins was hit in the top of the seventh and was removed in the bottom of the frame on a double-switch, a move he did not try to fight.

“Once I saw the double switch, it was only natural,” Hoskins said. “I wasn’t too surprised.”

Florimon beat out an infield hit to the hole at shortstop in the second inning, extending his hitting streak to seven games and improving his batting average to .348. But he got hurt as he stepped on the bag and was in obvious pain.

The game was delayed for about 15 minutes, as Florimon had to be carried onto a cart and taken off the field.

“He’s most likely done for the year,” Mackanin said.

The silver lining for the Phillies is the fact Odubel Herrera is pretty much ready to return from his hamstring injury.

But that is of little consolation to Florimon, who had carved out a niche for himself with the Phillies as a versatile player. In fact, it was just Friday when Mackanin was raving about him.

“I like him as a centerfielder. I like him at shortstop. He’s a good defensive player,” Mackanin said of Florimon. “He’s very athletic. He’s sure-handed. He has good instincts. He’s a switch-hitter with occasional pop. … He’d be a good guy to keep around.”   

Given the calamities of the night, the fact that Aaron Nola hasn’t been able to beat the Marlins this year — or get anywhere close — was pretty far down the list of issues.

Nola (10-10) allowed 10 hits and six runs in five innings.

In three starts against the Marlins this year, Nola is 0-3 with a 10.85 ERA.

“I left balls over the plate again on them, and they’re pretty good,” Nola said. “I think I’ve got them one more time. I will try to make some adjustments.”

And on a night in which so many things went wrong, credit the Phillies' offense for never giving up.

Hoskins and Tommy Joseph each hit two-run homers. It was Hoskins’ 12th homer of the season, ending a five-game drought. For Joseph, it was his team-high 20th of the season, one short of his career high.

Nick Williams added a three-run triple. Oddly, he has three of his four triples this season here at Marlins Park.

But, perhaps, that’s not so odd at all.

Not on this night.

“This,” Mackanin said correctly, “was a wild one.”

Phillies' ramped-up rebuild demands starting-pitching upgrade

Phillies' ramped-up rebuild demands starting-pitching upgrade

Let the record show that on a snowy Friday afternoon 10 days before Christmas 2017, the Phillies ramped up their rebuild.

Dramatically.

What other conclusion can be drawn after the club went out and signed Carlos Santana, one of the best offensive players on the free-agent market? With the signing, confirmed by multiple baseball sources, general manager Matt Klentak has attached a new level of importance to the 2018 season.

Just a couple of days ago at the winter meetings in Orlando, Klentak spoke of how 2018 was going to be a time to "find out" more about the team's young core of players. Who would continue to take a step forward? Who would fall by the wayside?

But now that Santana is here, 2018 doesn't feel like it's just a find-out season. It feels like a season in which the Phillies can continue to find out about players — separate the studs from the duds — and also start nibbling around that second National League wild-card spot.

Sure, a lot has to go right for that to happen.

And one of the things that has to go right is Klentak has to land a starting pitcher to slot in around Aaron Nola and the rest of the staff, which has the look of a bunch of No. 4 and No. 5 starters — until someone steps forward.

Santana's deal is for three years and $60 million, according to sources. Three years is a nice get — i.e., it's not cripplingly long — for a 32-year-old (in April) who hits for power, produces runs and does what Klentak likes best: controls the strike zone. (You could say that Klentak added two players who control the strike zone to his lineup Friday as the trade of Freddy Galvis to San Diego for strike-throwing pitching prospect Enyel De Los Santos cleared the way for J.P. Crawford to be the regular shortstop.)

The Phillies need to do everything within reason to make sure that the first of Santana's three seasons with the club isn't about simply inching the rebuild forward. The Nationals are the class of the NL East, but the rest of the division ranges from ordinary to awful. The Phils, with an improved offense and bullpen (Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter), can play with the Braves and Mets and clean up on the Marlins, the jewelry store that became a pawnshop, in agent Scott Boras' words.

It's just up to Klentak to get more starting pitching, and he's on the case. He admitted that at the winter meetings. He is particularly fond of young starters with years of control remaining on their contracts. Gerrit Cole, Chris Archer and Michael Fulmer fit this description. It takes talent to get pitchers like that. The Phillies have enough depth of prospects to get one of these guys and their reserves of expendable talent just grew with the Santana signing.

Santana, a switch-hitter who has averaged 25 homers, 85 RBIs and a .810 OPS in eight seasons, is going to be the team's primary first baseman. Rhys Hoskins is going to be the primary leftfielder. That means the Phillies suddenly have a young outfielder that they could deal. Maybe they try to capitalize on Nick Williams' strong half-season in the majors and package him for an arm. Or maybe it's Odubel Herrera or Aaron Altherr.

However it plays out, you can be sure that Klentak will be creative. You can rule nothing out with this guy. The other day, we poo-pooed the Phillies signing Jake Arrieta, who is looking for a long-term deal approaching $200 million. But if Arrieta lingers out there until February and is looking for a two-year landing spot, hey, maybe.

We wouldn't even put it past Klentak to entertain the idea of using Santana at third base a little bit — he did play 26 games there in 2014 — and trading Maikel Franco. The Giants were sniffing around, gathering intel on Franco at the winter meetings. There has to be a reason for that. Also at the meetings, an official from a rival club said the Phillies weren't as aggressive as he expected in trying to move Cesar Hernandez. Could it be that Hernandez would get some time at third if Franco were to be moved? Hernandez is still a trade chip, but he doesn't need to be cashed in until July and by that time Scott Kingery should be here.

There are a lot of ways this thing can go. And with the signing of Carlos Santana — which won't become official until he passes a physical next week — the Phillies have guaranteed that the remainder of this offseason will be a busy one.

It has to be.

The stakes have changed for 2018. The rebuild is still in place, but it has been ramped up. Matt Klentak has improved the bullpen and the offense. Now he has to attack that starting pitching and he has the trade weapons to do it.

Source: Phillies agree to $60 million deal with Carlos Santana

Source: Phillies agree to $60 million deal with Carlos Santana

The Phillies' busy Friday continued with a pricey free-agent signing.

The Phils have agreed to a three-year, $60 million deal with former Cleveland Indian Carlos Santana, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury.

It is by far the most expensive contract the Phillies have given out under the Matt Klentak-Andy MacPhail regime.

They had the money. When the offseason began, the only player the Phillies had signed to a multi-million dollar deal was Odubel Herrera.

Santana, 31, has always been a high-walk power hitter. From 2011 through 2017, he walked between 88 and 113 times each season, all while maintaining relatively low strikeout totals for a man with such power and plate selection.

In 2016, Santana set a career high with 34 home runs. Last season, he hit .259/.363/.455 with 37 doubles, 23 homers and 79 RBIs.

This addition provides the Phillies with much-needed pop to protect Rhys Hoskins and also gives the Phils added versatility. Santana is a switch-hitter who came up as a catcher, but he hasn't caught since 2014. The last three seasons, he has played primarily first base. In his eight seasons, Santana has also started 26 games at third base and seven in right field.

The move likely means Hoskins will play left field, and it could facilitate another Phillies trade of an outfielder such as Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr or Odubel Herrera.