Phillies

Phillies mailbag delivers answers about Ruben Amaro and potential trades

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Phillies mailbag delivers answers about Ruben Amaro and potential trades

For the sixth straight year, October is a quiet month for the Phillies. Yes, they made news by dismissing Pete Mackanin as manager, but the bright lights and excitement of playoff baseball still feel distant.

It will be interesting this fall and winter to monitor the Phillies' managerial interview process and then to see how much money they spend. Team president Andy MacPhail certainly seemed content to lower expectations when he spoke last week.

As we await the exciting period of the offseason, let's take a look at some of the more pressing questions.

Before getting to your individual questions, I'll answer the few dozen tweets and e-mails I received about Ruben Amaro Jr. possibly being the Phillies' next manager with an absolute, unequivocal IT WILL NOT HAPPEN.

Think about this logically ... this is the same front office that replaced Amaro. GM Matt Klentak and owner John Middleton want the Phillies to be a more analytical organization. Amaro, in his tenure as GM, did not come close to fitting that description. 

There's also the perception of it, which the Phillies will not ignore. They know what it would look like to the fanbase if they brought Amaro back as manager. It would feel like more of the same, and it would alienate the fans who are just starting to come back and get excited by all of the Phillies' young players.

Amaro does seem likely to get a managerial job someday but not here, not now. If anything, the reason you might be seeing his name pop in rumors is because the Phillies want to do him a solid and help get his name out there for future managerial openings.

The Phillies need to add two starting pitchers this offseason and probably three. They just don't have enough consistency at that spot in the organization. We hear the word "depth" a lot with the Phillies, but depth doesn't mean the Phils are in good shape. 

Yes, you could start Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Jake Thompson, Zach Eflin ... but are you ever going to begin that game feeling confident in your starting pitcher? There are health concerns with Velasquez and Eflin, repertoire concerns with Lively and Thompson, control concerns with Pivetta, and Eickhoff took a big step back in 2017.

Alex Cobb is out there in free agency. So is Lance Lynn. So are Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, who will make substantially more.

Darvish and Arrieta will probably make too much money and the Phillies don't want to pay big for past performance. So let's cross them off.

With Cobb and Lynn, the Phillies would be wise to closely monitor the market. At this point in the fall, nobody ever predicts that a starter will linger in free agency until he has to sign a one-year, prove-it deal, and yet it happens every offseason. I'm not saying these two will have to do that, but it's a possibility if their market doesn't materialize.

I fail to see the harm in signing someone like Cobb to a three-year, $48 million deal with a fourth-year vesting or mutual option. Yes, he's had Tommy John surgery, but there are risks with literally any pitcher a team ever signs or acquires.

But also keep an eye on the trade market. The Phillies sound much more likely to trade for a starting pitcher than sign one. Names to keep in mind: Chris Archer, Marcus Stroman, Gerrit Cole, Jake Odorizzi. 

I found the phrasing of this question pretty funny. Patience certainly seems harder for older fans than younger ones. My answer is I simply did not understand MacPhail's lowering of payroll expectations for 2018. The Phillies have a bunch of exciting young players, but if they brought back this very same team next season they'd probably win about 75 games. Is that going to entice anyone in that juicy 2019 free-agent class?

You need to move the needle more next year. Why wouldn't you? The Phillies went 35-35 in their final 70 games and could push closer to .500 with a little more help next season.

I can't see it, but I think Tommy Joseph has a better chance to be on the 2018 roster than Freddy Galvis or Cesar Hernandez. Why? Because Hernandez and Galvis will have much more trade value. Joseph at this point is basically a platoon DH, meaning only a small group of teams will have interest and a fit for him. 

If the Phillies' only option is getting a negligible return for Joseph, then why not just keep him and use him as a right-handed bench bat? He's inexpensive and could at least offer some pop off the bench.

That's a tough one. I'd keep both. But if I had to keep only one, it would be Kingery because I think he has a higher offensive ceiling, and because Crawford's reputation should result in a bigger trade return. Though, again, I don't advocate trading either player. Kingery and Crawford should be the Phillies' middle infielders for the next seven seasons.

The Twins had a season nobody would have expected. And I highly doubt they make the playoffs next season. This just seemed like a fluky, nobody-believes-in-us season that you see once every few years. 

The Brewers are closer to the Phillies. Jimmy Nelson is essentially their Aaron Nola. He had a breakout year before an unfortunate late-season shoulder injury while diving back to first base on a pickoff attempt.

Milwaukee also has a lights-out closer (Corey Knebel), and received unexpected production from Travis Shaw (31 HR, 101 RBIs) in the middle of the order. The Brewers are another team that I think regresses next year, especially since Nelson is expected to miss much of the season.

The Yankees are in a different spot. They held on to Aaron Judge, who was a better prospect than anyone the Phillies had. Gary Sanchez turned out better than expected. Brian Cashman swung some amazing trades, particularly with Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. They're just in a different situation because they had more talent in the organization during this period than the Phillies did.

He meant stats. I'll say Hoskins next season hits .275/.380/.560 with 36 homers and 110 RBIs.

There is benefit to keeping one, especially if you believe in one of them more than you believe in Maikel Franco. Let's start with Hernandez. He's been incredibly consistent the last two seasons, hitting .294 both years with OBPs of .371 and .373. He'll have trade value, but there's also value in knowing what you have. With Hernandez, the Phillies know what they have: A high-OBP leadoff hitter who unfortunately doesn't steal enough bases.

I personally think Hernandez will be a better player the next five years than Franco. So there's a reason to keep him around. Maybe it makes the most sense to keep Hernandez at second base and put Kingery at third. It really all depends on what kind of trade offers the Phillies get for Hernandez.

While Phils' search continues, Red Sox get their guy, Mets appear to too

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While Phils' search continues, Red Sox get their guy, Mets appear to too

BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox have hired Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora to be their new manager.

The team made the announcement on Sunday, a day after Cora's Astros reached the World Series.

Cora replaces John Farrell, who was fired this month despite winning back-to-back AL East titles. Farrell's teams won the 2013 World Series, finished last twice and then in each of the past two years won the division but got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

A native of Puerto Rico, Cora is the first Hispanic manager in Red Sox history.

He played 14 years in the major leagues before retiring in 2011, including parts of four seasons with the Red Sox. He was a member of Boston's 2007 World Series team.

Cora has never managed before.

Reports: Mets offer manager job to Indians coach Callaway
NEW YORK — It appears the New York Mets have settled on their choice for a manager.

Several media outlets are reporting the team has offered the job to Cleveland Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway. The New York Post was the first to report the Mets were in talks with Callaway, saying a deal is being finalized.

When contacted Sunday, multiple Mets officials declined to comment.

With his contract set to expire, Terry Collins stepped down at the end of the season after seven years as Mets manager and accepted a position as a special assistant to general manager Sandy Alderson.

The 42-year-old Callaway has been Cleveland's pitching coach for the past five seasons under highly successful manager Terry Francona. Led by ace right-hander Corey Kluber, the Indians led the major leagues with a 3.30 ERA this season, one year after reaching the World Series.

Callaway has never managed at any professional level.

Astros reach World Series, shut out Yankees in ALCS Game 7

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Astros reach World Series, shut out Yankees in ALCS Game 7

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON -- Jose Altuve embraced Justin Verlander as confetti rained down. An improbable thought just a few years ago, the Houston Astros are headed to the World Series.

Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Astros reached the World Series for only the second time by blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Verlander, the ALCS MVP, and fellow Houston ace Dallas Keuchel will have plenty of rest before the World Series begins at sweltering Dodger Stadium.

"I love our personality," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We have the right amount of fun, the right amount of seriousness, the right amount of perspective when we need it. This is a very, very unique group. To win 100 games and still be hungry is pretty remarkable."

The Astros will try for their first World Series title, thanks in large part to Altuve, the diminutive second baseman who swings a potent bat, and Verlander, who switched teams for the first time in his career to chase a ring.

Four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees on consecutive nights after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first crown, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

"This city, they deserve this," McCullers said.

Clutch defensive plays by third baseman Alex Bregman and center fielder George Springer helped Houston improve to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and become the fifth team in major league history to capture a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four. A noted curveballer, McCullers finished up with 24 straight breaking pitches to earn his first major league save.

Combined, they throttled the wild-card Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

"I know people are going to talk about how we didn't win many games on the road. There were some other teams that haven't won many games on the road, either. We just happened to run into a very good team that just beat us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

The Astros also eliminated New York in the 2015 postseason, with Keuchel winning the AL wild-card game at Yankee Stadium.

CC Sabathia entered 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double. He snapped an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night in a 7-1 win.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York went 1-6 on the road this postseason.

After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis.

Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of "MVP" rained down on him.

Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston.

Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe.

It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who lost to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS exactly 13 years earlier.

Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes.

Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning.

A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning.

Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh.

With McCullers in charge, the Astros soon closed it out.

"It's not easy to get here. And I don't take any of this for granted. And this is what we play for," Verlander said. "These are the experiences that you remember at the end of your career when you look back, winning these games, just playing the World Series. Hopefully winning the World Series."