Phillies

Pete Mackanin out as Phillies manager, will finish out 2017

Pete Mackanin out as Phillies manager, will finish out 2017

Pete Mackanin is out as Phillies manager.

Mackanin will manage the Phillies' final three games this weekend against the Mets but won't return in that role in 2018, despite previously being under contract through '18 with a 2019 option.

Mackanin signed a new contract to join the Phillies' front office as a special assistant to the general manager.

The job statuses of the rest of the Phils' coaching staff will be at the discretion of the new manager.

The timing is somewhat surprising as the Phillies are 35-35 in their last 70 games and have a chance to finish over .500 after the All-Star break. They've played much better baseball the last two months as their young position players and bullpen pieces have found success.

In parts of three seasons as Phillies manager, the 66-year-old Mackanin is 172-237 (.421). He was one of eight men in Phillies history to play, coach and manage for them.

He took over for Ryne Sandberg when Sandberg abruptly resigned on June 27, 2015. The Phillies liked Mackanin's methods of communication and honesty enough to bring him back in 2016 after that interim stint, and they twice extended him to new, short-term contracts.

When Matt Klentak was hired as the Phillies' GM in October 2015, he inherited Mackanin as a manager. The two developed a relationship, but the Phillies, finally in a position to make a push toward .500 or beyond, are now headed in a different direction.

It wouldn't be surprising to see the Phils opt for a young, analytically-inclined manager given Klentak's background and owner John Middleton's desire to push the Phillies to the forefront of that movement.

Phillies acquire reliever from the top team in AL Central

Phillies acquire reliever from the top team in AL Central

Less than two weeks away from the MLB trade deadline, the Phillies announced a trade for right-handed reliever Mike Morin from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for cash considerations.

Morin, 28, was originally drafted in 2012 by the Los Angeles Angels in the 13th round out of the University of North Carolina. In six seasons for four teams, Morin is 10-8 with a 4.48 ERA. This season, he has appeared in 23 games for the Twins and over 22 2/3 innings, he has a very respectable 3.18 ERA and 0.971 WHIP.

Something doesn’t quite add up, though.

Before we take a look at what Morin can offer the Phillies, first, you have to consider why the Twins are offloading him. The upstart Twins are in first place in the AL Central and have playoff and World Series aspirations of their own.  They’re 12th in the Majors with a 4.28 bullpen ERA and good relief pitching never goes out of style, especially when you’re only getting cash considerations in return.

Morin was designated for assignment, despite his decent season-long numbers due to regression towards his career stats. Morin started hot, but has allowed 10 runs, seven earned, on 13 hits over his past 11 1/3 innings. That’s not exactly what you’d like to see on a contending team looking for a stable bullpen arm.

Enter, the Phillies, who are in a similar spot, battling for a playoff position and looking to bolster a bullpen that has let them down considerably of late. They are 25th in the majors in bullpen ERA at 4.98.

At this point in the season, the Phillies know exactly what they have in the minors in terms of players that can come in and help the team, including shuffling Vince Velasquez into relief work for a time and now giving Nick Pivetta a shot. It seems clear from this move that the Phillies aren’t confident there’s any help internally, so, at a very low cost, they’re willing to give Morin a shot and hope he reverts to his early-season form that saw him allow just one earned run over his first 10 1/3 innings of the season.

Seems like it’s worth a shot, but looking beyond his current stats and more towards how he has looked recently paints a more clear and troubling picture.

To make room for Morin on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Seranthony Dominguez was transferred to the 60-day injured list.

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Jean Segura hustles when he needs to and that's OK with Jake Arrieta

Jean Segura hustles when he needs to and that's OK with Jake Arrieta

PITTSBURGH — Jean Segura has jogged into the crosshairs of Philadelphia fans a couple of times this season for not hustling down the first base line. One of his infractions was magnified because it came on the play in which the highly respected Andrew McCutchen suffered a season-ending knee injury back in early June.

So it was all a little ironic that Segura helped the Phillies win an important ballgame Friday night in the very ballpark where McCutchen won the 2013 National League MVP award while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Segura beat out a potential inning-ending double play ball in the seventh inning and that set the table for Bryce Harper’s tie-breaking hit in the Phillies’ 6-1 win over the Pirates.

An inning after extending the seventh for the red-hot Harper — he has five two-hit games and eight RBIs since the All-Star break — Segura entertained everyone in the ballpark with a grueling 13-pitch at-bat in which he fouled off nine pitches. The at-bat ended with his legging out an infield hit with the bases loaded to turn what was a one-run lead into a two-run lead. The Phillies poured it on after that.

After the game, everyone from manager Gabe Kapler to starting pitcher Jake Arrieta was buzzing about Segura’s at-bat and his hustle.

“You can summarize the game by that at-bat, really,” Arrieta said. “Against a bullpen guy (Kyle Crick) that's got a really, really good slider and a mid- to upper-90s fastball.

“Look, Segura strained his hamstring early in the season. He's our everyday shortstop. The hustle thing, I think, is a little overblown because you hit a routine groundball to the infield, guys in the big leagues make that play. So, what's the point of being out by two steps versus three or four steps? That doesn't concern us here. He has the understanding and the awareness to know when to really get after it. That at-bat tonight, that groundball is one of those times. I don't want to see him running 100 percent to first base every time. None of the other guys in here do. But in the right situation, like tonight, he does it and it paid off for us.”

It was pointed out to Arrieta that Philadelphia fans don’t always approve of the type of selective hustle he spoke about.

“But the fans also want him on the field every night so you have to understand the guy at shortstop on the other team is making a ton of money and if the ball's hit to him, he fields it cleanly, he's out,” Arrieta said. “I don't care who's running, if it's Billy Hamilton or Roman Quinn or Scott Kingery. The out is usually made. I think people need to understand that. It might not look great, but big-league shortstops, big-league infielders, they field the ball cleanly and they record the out 99 percent of the time. Segura’s got a really good feel for the game and he knows when he needs to really get after it.”

The Pirates challenged the bang-bang call on Segura’s infield hit in the eighth. He beat it by a hair.

“Segura just grinded and grinded and grinded,” Kapler said. “The hustle was off the charts. Both beating out the double play ball and he broke right out of the box, never hesitated, smelled the hit, gave us everything he had, and beat it out. It was a huge play in the game.”

Segura has been playing in recent days with a bruised left heel.

“I do my best,” he said. “I’m still sore a little bit. At the end of the day, I had to hustle and get down the line because the bases are loaded and we’re up only 2-1 in the eighth inning. That’s huge for us. It got us a couple more runs.

“That’s baseball. You play through injuries. You play through pain. It made me feel even better because I know my teammates are behind me and they see that.”

Arrieta is also playing through some discomfort. Pitching with a bone spur in his right elbow, he was able to give his team 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball. He lobbied Kapler to stay in the game with the bases loaded and the game tied in the sixth inning. Kapler won the debate, Juan Nicasio doused the threat and Harper gave the Phils the lead in the seventh.

The Phillies are 4-4 since the All-Star break.

The Pirates are 1-6.

The Phillies, still trying to right themselves after six weeks of hell that dropped them from first place to third in the NL East, need to continue to pour it on Saturday night behind Zach Eflin and an offense that is starting to warm again.

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