Phillies

Pete Mackanin: 'I still don't know if I'll be here next year'

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Pete Mackanin: 'I still don't know if I'll be here next year'

Pete Mackanin may have received a contract extension in May, but the Phillies' manager has yet to receive assurances from general manager Matt Klentak that he’ll return in 2018. 

“I still don’t know if I’ll be here next year,” Mackanin said before Monday’s game against the Washington Nationals.

Mackanin took over midway through the 2015 season and has presided over the Phillies’ rebuilding project. He went 37-51 to finish 2015, 71-91 last year and was 62-94 heading into the final week of the season. 

Does Mackanin hope Klentak tells him his fate soon? 

“Of course,” Mackanin said. “I’m signed through next year and I assume I’ll be here. But you never know what they’re going to do.”

Mackanin said he’s set to meet with Klentak on Saturday to evaluate players. The season ends the next day, with the Phillies needing one victory over their final six games to avoid their first 100-loss season since 1961. 

“Do you need better coaches? Do you need a better manager? The answer to all these questions is you need better players,” Mackanin said as he quizzed about his future. 

Despite the dismal record, the Phillies have made progress in many areas. They may have found their future star power hitter in Rhys Hoskins. Fellow rookie Nick Williams has shown flashes. Cesar Hernandez is hitting .296. Freddy Galvis is a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop. Adam Morgan has pitched like a permanent setup man (see story). Mackanin believes Aaron Nola has established himself as a “solid No. 3 starter.” 

But the rest of the rotation is uncertain. They still need more offense. And while the Phillies have played well down the stretch, it’s come with no pressure in a sea of meaningless games.

Mackanin was asked if the team made a step forward this season. 

“I think individual players have made a step forward. As a team, of course not. We’re down at the bottom,” Mackanin said. “On the other hand, there are teams with similar records with much higher payrolls that were expected to do much better and haven’t. And when you look at the makeup of the team with all the pitchers that we’ve used and injuries, we’ve had a lot of unproven players.”

Mackanin revealed the angriest he’s been was back in May, when the Phillies went 6-22. He said while he's trying to keep an “even keel,” he gave his team a tongue-lashing after a home loss during that stretch. 

“I just went down the list of players,” Mackanin said. “Every one of them, I pointed out all the good things they’ve done to get here. And I asked after I got done naming every player how good they’ve been and what they’ve accomplished to get here, I asked, ‘How come we’re so bad?’”

Despite injuries and having to rush players to the majors, the Phillies were 33-36 since the All-Star break before Monday’s game. 

Mackanin acknowledged 2018 will be different, when the record will matter much more. He believes it’s time for the franchise to start winning in order to lure the potential free agents needed to become a contender again. 

“We’ve got a ways to go,” Mackanin said. “We’ve got players who have to prove they’re for real. Next year will tell us an awful lot.”

The 66-year-old Mackanin hopes he’s around to see what happens. 

“Blame the managers and coaches. How about if the players perform better?” Mackanin said. “Now, could we get the players to perform better? Everybody tries hard to do that.” 

Phillies come roaring out of All-Star break to blast Padres

Phillies come roaring out of All-Star break to blast Padres

BOX SCORE

The Phillies came back from the All-Star break Friday night and survived a ragged first inning en route to an 11-5 win over the San Diego Padres at Citizens Bank Park.

Carlos Santana led the Phillies’ offense with a three-run home run, highlighting the team’s six-run second inning.

Phillies starting pitcher Jake Arrieta was not sharp. He allowed five base runners — on three hits and two walks — and four runs in the first inning. It did not help that the Phils made two errors in the inning. One of the errors was by Arrieta and he also threw a wild pitch.

Arrieta’s mates got him off the hook with a big second inning against lefty Clayton Richard. The Phils drew three walks in the inning and two of them came around to score. Santana’s 15th homer was the big blow in the inning. Odubel Herrera chipped in with a two-run single and Rhys Hoskins worked a bases-loaded walk.

Arrieta had pitched well — four earned runs in 19 innings — in his first three starts in July. He did not make it out of the fourth inning in this one. He gave up six hits and five runs. Two of his three walks led off innings and became runs.

The Phillies’ bullpen was exceptional. Austin Davis, Victor Arano, Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek and Adam Morgan combined on 5 2/3 scoreless innings. The left-hander Davis earned his first big-league win with 1 2/3 scoreless innings.

The offense erupted for four more runs in the bottom of the eighth to salt the game away.

Santana finished the night with four RBIs.

The attendance was 30,034.

The win improved the Phillies to 54-42 overall and 31-16 at Citizens Bank Park. They maintained a half-game lead in the NL East over second-place Atlanta, which was victorious at Washington. The Nats are 6½ games back.

Notes
• Vince Velasquez (5-8, 4.39) will start Saturday night against San Diego’s Luis Perdomo (1-4, 7.55). Nick Pivetta (6-7, 4.58) will start Sunday afternoon against Tyson Ross (5-8, 4.32).

The blister on Zach Eflin’s right middle finger has healed. He will come off the disabled list and face the Dodgers on Monday night. Aaron Nola will round out the rotation and start on Tuesday. The Phillies wanted to give Nola a couple of extra days of rest.

“He’s been a dependable horse and we thought it was smart to give him a blow,” manager Gabe Kapler said.

• J.P. Crawford, on the DL with a fractured hand, has been cleared to take ground balls and hit balls off a tee. 

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GM Matt Klentak: Phillies made a strong run at Manny Machado, will continue to seek upgrades

GM Matt Klentak: Phillies made a strong run at Manny Machado, will continue to seek upgrades

The Phillies returned to Citizens Bank Park on Friday. Manny Machado was not in their clubhouse.

A drama that consumed much of the All-Star break ended when the Los Angeles Dodgers traded for Machado, beating out the Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers.

“We made a pretty strong run at it,” general manager Matt Klentak said.

The Phillies built their offer around pitching prospects, but Klentak would not reveal the names of the players that were on the table.

Six weeks ago, the Phillies were only on the periphery of the Machado sweepstakes as they were reluctant to part with young talent for a player who could become a free agent at season's end.

Phillies players forced the front office to pursue Machado by staying in the NL East race throughout a June schedule loaded with tough opponents and eventually moving into first place as the All-Star break approached. The Phillies entered Friday night leading the division by a half-game over Atlanta.

“Being active in the rental market is not the best place to be,” Klentak said. “But we felt in this particular case that this player represented a pretty unique opportunity for us and that’s why we did get aggressive.

“I would be surprised if we strongly pursue rentals, high-priced rentals, in the future. It’s just not a good market to be in, but every once in a while it does make sense to pursue something like that. We’re always going to explore opportunities and we explored that one right down to the very end.”

Klentak is still actively looking to upgrade the roster for the stretch run.

“If I had to bet, I would guess we would make a move between now and July 31,” he said.

It is still possible that the Phillies could trade for a player scheduled to become a free agent at season’s end, but not one that would cost the level of prospects that Machado would have. The Phillies are known to have interest in Minnesota infielder Eduardo Escobar and Baltimore closer Zach Britton. Both will be free agents this winter.

Escobar leads the majors with 35 doubles and has an .834 OPS. He can play third base and shortstop. If the Phillies traded for him, they could use him at shortstop and shift Scott Kingery to a super-utility role. Third baseman Maikel Franco, on the trading block not long ago, may have saved himself, at least until the end to of the season, by hitting .352 with a 1.106 OPS in 22 games leading up to the break.

“What Maikel is doing right now and what he has shown in the couple weeks leading up to the break is very reminiscent of what he did in 2015, and it’s a heck of a lot better than what he had done in ‘16 and ’17,” Klentak said. “And he’s still 25 years old. So that’s what makes the trade deadline process difficult is trying to not only evaluate what’s available outside, but also to evaluate what you have internally.”

The Phillies pursued Britton as part of a package for Machado. They remain on the lefty. Adding him would help the Phillies to shorten games.

The Phillies, according to sources, have shown interest in lefty starter J.A. Happ. In a perfect world, however, Klentak said the Phillies would not seek a starting pitcher before the deadline.

“Right now starting pitching has been the strength of our team this year," he said. "We’re very encouraged about not only the five here but also what we have in Triple A, and we’re hopeful that that’s going to mean that we can stay out of the starting pitcher trade market at the deadline because, if you can avoid it, that is definitely a market to avoid.”

The Phillies have long coveted Machado. The in-season window for acquiring him has passed. The team is expected to go hard after him in the offseason when he will be a free agent and the price will be money and not prospects. Of course, Klentak could not comment on that possibility because Machado is someone else’s player and that would be tampering.

“I won’t go there,” Klentak said with a laugh.

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