Phillies

Phillies-Mets observations: A sweet sendoff for Pete Mackanin in final game as manager

Phillies-Mets observations: A sweet sendoff for Pete Mackanin in final game as manager

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The Phillies ended their 135th season — and Pete Mackanin's tenure as manager — with an 11-0 win over the New York Mets Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
 
Mackanin, informed Thursday he would not manage the club in 2018, will move into a front-office adviser's role next season. He received a nice ovation from the fans before the game. His final record was 174-238.
 
The Phillies played well under Mackanin down the stretch. They went 37-38 after the All-Star break and 16-13 in September. All of this after the team 29-58 before the All-Star break.
 
For the season, the Phillies went 66-96 and finished third from the bottom in the majors. They will pick third in the draft next year.
 
Final attendance at Citizens Bank Park was 1,905,354, down from 1,915,144 in 2016.
 
• Rookie Nick Williams punctuated the win with a three-run, inside-the-park homer in the bottom of the eighth inning. Williams finished with 12 homers and 55 RBIs in 83 games. He clubbed a liner off the center field wall. It bounced wildly and he sprinted around the bases to the delight of the crowd. He received a curtain call. It was the Phillies' first inside-the-parker since Chase Utley in 2011.
 
• Right-hander Nick Pivetta survived five walks, a wild pitch and a hit batsman on his way to six shutout innings in the 26th and final start of his rookie season. Pivetta's final ERA was 6.02. Despite control problems, he allowed just two runs over 17 innings in his last three starts. That should give him a little confidence as he heads into spring training looking to win a spot in the rotation.
 
• The Phillies scored six runs in an eventful fourth inning that saw Maikel Franco clout a three-run homer and Mets first baseman Dominic Smith make a pair of ugly defensive miscues.
 
• Franco ended up with 24 homers. He has 49 the last two seasons. There was credible buzz that Franco was on the trading block earlier this season, but indications are Phillies management is not ready to give up on his talent. (Surely, they'd be selling low if they did now.) Barring a favorable deal coming their way this winter, the Phillies appear to be leaning toward giving Franco another shot at third base next season. The hope is he puts it together as a hitter and becomes a firm piece of the future or a good trade chip.
 
• J.P Crawford made his sixth start at shortstop since coming up on Sept. 5. It seemed rather telling that Crawford got the nod over Freddy Galvis on the final day of the season. Galvis blossomed into a team leader and continued to play Gold Glove caliber defense this season and probably deserved to start on the final day. But Crawford has long been considered the shortstop of the future and his getting the nod at the position on the final day of the season seemed to indicate that the future will start on opening day 2018. Galvis does not have the on-base skills that the Phillies' front office wants to build a team upon. Crawford does, and he got one more bit of big-league experience before the curtain went down on the season Sunday.

• Galvis had wanted to start all 162 games this season. He came six short but did play in all 162 after entering the game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning and stroking a double Sunday. It may have been his last at-bat with the club. The Phillies are likely to shop him for a trade as they look to add some pitching this winter. Galvis became the first Phillie since Ryan Howard in 2008 to play in all 162 games.

• The Phillies out-hit the Mets, 11-2.
 
• Late-season sensation Rhys Hoskins struggled to the finish line. He went 0 for 3 with two walks and three strikeouts Sunday and was just 7 for 52 (.135) with 19 strikeouts and 11 walks since hitting his 18th homer on Sept. 14. Hoskins is set to open the 2018 season at first base.
 
• This wasn't just Mackanin's last game. The members of the coaching staff became free agents after the game. They are free to consult with other clubs. There's also a chance some of them will be back under the new manager. Time will tell.
 
• Next on the docket for the Phillies is a manager search that general manager Matt Klentak has undoubtedly already begun.

Phillies turn sights to starting pitching after adding relievers at winter meetings

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AP Images

Phillies turn sights to starting pitching after adding relievers at winter meetings

ORLANDO, Fla. — Matt Klentak's trip to the winter meetings netted two veteran relievers, Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter.

Now, Klentak's focus becomes starting pitching. He'd like to add at least one before spring training begins, and chances are good that he will.

"We will probably slow down on the reliever front for a little while," the Phillies general manager said on Wednesday, Day 3 of the meetings. "I think for right now, we’ll probably shift our focus back toward the starting pitcher market, see what comes of that and just be patient with it.

"My expectation is that we will have another move before we go to spring training. I would not be surprised if we’re done for the winter meetings, but I would be surprised if we’re done for the offseason."

The Phillies have probed the free-agent market — big-ticket items such as Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are unlikely — and spent the fall gauging other teams on which starters could become available in trades.

"I couldn't handicap the way it'll happen or even if it'll happen," Klentak said. "I think we're continuing to stay engaged with some agents. There's a few teams we've talked to about trades, some short-term options, some more controllable options. I just don't know.

"We've said as an industry and the Phillies have talked about this for a long time: it's so important to be able to develop your own starting pitchers because to acquire them in a trade is incredibly expensive in terms of player capital and to acquire them in free agency is incredibly expensive in terms of total dollars. Maybe never in our history has it been more important to develop starting pitchers."

In recent seasons, the Phillies have added starting pitchers (Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Clay Buchholz) near the end of their contracts. The Phils could still do that and have the money to take on a salary dump. But there would be merit to taking on a younger pitcher who has more contractual control, and the Phillies have the prospects to get in the hunt for Chris Archer, Gerrit Cole or Michael Fulmer, three pitchers who fit this profile.

The Phillies have a logjam in the middle infield with J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery pushing Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez. Galvis and Hernandez are both available for trades. Officials from other clubs say the Phillies have been aggressive in shopping Galvis. The Phils will look to get pitching for Galvis, but the return might not be robust because he is a rental player who will be a free agent after the 2018 season. Hernandez figures to bring a better return because he has three years of contractual control remaining. A person from a club that has spoken to the Phillies about Hernandez said the Phils are looking for two pitchers for him.

Another starting arm is needed to complement a group of starters that includes Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson and Ben Lively.

It's possible the Phils could also look for a veteran outfielder to come off the bench. But it's just as possible that the Phils give in-house prospect Roman Quinn a chance to be that guy. Quinn, a dynamic, speedy switch-hitter, has been plagued by injuries throughout his minor-league career, including last season when he missed significant time at Triple A with an elbow injury. He will turn 25 in May. It might be time to bring him, even if it means filling a reserve role.

"This is a year we want to find out about our young kids," Klentak said. "If we can find out about Roman Quinn, we would like to do that. On the flip side, if we have a chance to bring in a great makeup, complementary player that can help our young kids and show them the ropes a little bit, then we’d be open to that, too. That’s not likely to be an early offseason venture."

Also, as the rest of the offseason plays out, the Phils will monitor the availability of Miami outfielder Christian Yelich. The Phils have long liked Yelich and would certainly try to make a play for him. But as much as the Phillies like the player, Klentak has made it clear he's not in a hurry to subtract core players and prospects. That could hurt the Phillies' chances because it would take a big package of talent to get Yelich.

Notes
The Phillies pick third in the Rule 5 draft on Thursday morning. They will likely make a pick, but there's a strong possibility they will make it for another club and quickly trade the player. If the Phils lost someone in the draft, it could be outfielder Carlos Tocci or lefthander Brandon Leibrandt.

Klentak hinted that hard-throwing pitching prospect Seranthony Dominguez would begin transitioning to the bullpen in spring training. Mark Appel will also make the move to the bullpen.

Marlins continue fire sale by trading Marcell Ozuna

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USA Today Images

Marlins continue fire sale by trading Marcell Ozuna

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Miami has agreed to trade left fielder Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press, the third All-Star jettisoned by the Marlins this month in an unrelenting payroll purge under new CEO Derek Jeter.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the agreement had not been announced and was subject to a physical.

"Ozuna is one of those names that you have to have great respect, especially as much we see him," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said at the winter meetings. "We're at that necessary point of talking through health always, no matter what the player is. It's not just a formality."

An All-Star the past two seasons, the 27-year-old Ozuna set career bests this season with a .312 average, 37 homers and 124 RBIs. He is eligible for salary arbitration and likely will earn more than $10 million. He can become a free agent after the 2019 season.

Miami traded second baseman Dee Gordon to Seattle last Thursday for three prospects and dealt right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, the reigning NL MVP, to the New York Yankees on Monday for second baseman Starlin Castro and two prospects. The Cardinals had a deal in place for Stanton last week, but he invoked his no-trade clause and blocked the move.

"I was just very impressed the fact that we were involved in those conversations," Matheny said. "Unfortunately, that didn't work, but I think that just kind of parlayed into, OK, now what are we going to do?"

Ozuna likely will be in the outfielder with Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham. St. Louis could trade right fielder Stephen Piscotty.

Matheny wouldn't commit to an alignment.

"Something we're appreciative of is the humility of our players to maybe go to a spot where they haven't been before," he said. "You go in with your ideals of what you would like to see, and you're going to have to be flexible."

Center fielder Christian Yelich could be the next to exit the downsizing Marlins, bought by Bruce Sherman's group on Oct. 2.

Miami had a $116 million payroll on Aug. 31, up from $81 million at the end of last year, and is intent on reducing obligations. Stanton was owed $295 million over the next decade, and Gordon $38 million through 2020.