Phillies

Today's Lineup: Aaron Altherr in clean-up spot; J.P. Crawford moves to 2-hole

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CSN

Today's Lineup: Aaron Altherr in clean-up spot; J.P. Crawford moves to 2-hole

Before Rhys Hoskins burst onto the scene and started smashing baseballs over fences at an astronomical rate, Aaron Altherr was the Phillies' most consistent hitter this season.

This afternoon, in the series finale against the Athletics at Citizens Bank Park, Altherr slides back into the clean-up spot for just the third time this season.

Altherr, who didn't start in last night's rain-soaked victory but did come in at the start of the eighth inning as a defensive replacement, is batting .278 on the season with 16 homers and 51 RBIs. In his seven plate appearances from the clean-up spot this season, Altherr has two homers and five RBIs. He'll start in center today.

Hoskins, who's called the clean-up spot home in recent weeks, slides up to third in order today. Hoskins, who's batting .298 with 18 homers and 39 RBIs in 36 games this season, has been held hitless so far in this series by Oakland pitching. He's reached base just once in the last two games as he was intentionally walked last night. He'll start in left field this afternoon.

J.P. Crawford moves up into the two-hole for the first time today for manager Pete Mackanin. It's a big move up the lineup for Crawford, who has yet to bat above seventh in the order. And the move is deserved for Crawford, who came through with two hits and two RBIs last night. He's now riding a six-game hitting streak and has hit .381 with three doubles in that span. He's hit safely in eight of his 11 games with the Phils. He'll start at short today as Freddy Galvis gets the day off.

Both teams' full lineups can be found below:

Phillies
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. J.P. Crawford, SS
3. Rhys Hoskins, LF
4. Aaron Altherr, CF
5. Nick Williams, RF
6. Maikel Franco, 3B
7. Tommy Joseph, 1B
8. Cameron Rupp, C
9. Henderson Alvarez, SP

Athletics
1. Marcus Semien, SS
2. Matt Joyce, LF
3. Chad Pinder, RF
4. Matt Olson, 1B
5. Matt Chapman, 3B
6. Mark Canha, CF
7. Joey Wendle, 2B
8. Josh Phegley, C
9. Sean Manaea, SP

Ricky Bo's MLB rule changes if he was commish for a day

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AP Images

Ricky Bo's MLB rule changes if he was commish for a day

I think most of us would agree baseball has gotten too slow and there's too much inactivity in the modern game.

MLB met last week to discuss possible rule changes, so here are mine, all designed to either speed up the game or make it more exciting.

1. Instant decisions on challenges

No more of this 45-second crap deciding whether to challenge a play. No more of the manager holding up his hand while waiting for his bench coach to get off the phone with the video coordinator to decide whether to challenge. Either you make the call with your naked eye or don't.

It makes the games several minutes longer and can take pitchers out of their rhythm.

2. Move bullpens closer to dugouts

This might not make a huge impact on the length of games, but moving bullpens closer to dugouts would cut down on the 20- to 30-second run-ins from the bullpen, especially with how often teams make pitching changes these days.

The whole process of a manager slowly walking to the mound, taking the ball, making the call to the 'pen and the pitcher coming in for him warmups would be sped up.

3. Four total pitching changes per game per team (barring injury)

It would add a lot of strategy to the games if you limited the number of decisions a manager can make. The game is overly specialized these days so it would mean we'd see less of a lefty specialist coming in for one batter and then coming out.

It might also create some more offense.

4. Limiting defensive shifts

Two infielders on each side just like it was for a generation. I get that teams want to use the available data to determine where to place their infielders for specific hitters, but it wipes away so many hits and has turned the sport into a strikeout-fest.

Hitters who have trouble beating the shift are trying more than ever before to beat it by hitting the ball out of the ballpark. The result is more home runs but also so many more strikeouts. We're on pace for about 500 more strikeouts than any season in history.

This last one won't be popular, but down with the shifts!

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Forget Machado (for now), Phils reportedly eyeing HOF third baseman

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Forget Machado (for now), Phils reportedly eyeing HOF third baseman

Forget Manny Machado (for now). The Phillies are reportedly also interested in an older third baseman who can still hit but would come much cheaper.

That would be Rangers 3B and future Hall-of-Famer Adrian Beltre, according to MLB's Jon Paul Morosi

"The Phillies also have interest in Beltre, sources say, as much for his professionalism as his production," Morosi wrote. "The Phils have the youngest group of position players in the Majors, and team officials see long-term value in Beltre's influence on an emerging core."

Beltre turned 39 in April and has been on the DL four times in the last two seasons, including twice this season with hamstring strains. Still, he's remained one of the better all-around third basemen in the majors, hitting .304 with an .877 OPS the last three seasons. He'd be an unquestioned upgrade at third over Maikel Franco, who has talked over the years about how much he admires Beltre's game.

Beltre is in the final year of his contract and is owed $18 million. The deal includes a full no-trade clause and Beltre would need to waive it to potentially join the Phils. The Phillies are a fringe contender but the Rangers are already out of it at 32-44 and 18 games back in the AL West.

This week, Phillies GM Matt Klentak said he is not opposed to trading for a rental player so long as the Phillies hang around the playoff picture in the next month. Royals 3B Mike Moustakas is another player to monitor in that regard.

Of course, this doesn't mean the Phillies are out on Machado but trading for him midseason would be much more complicated and there's little chance he'd re-sign before first testing the free-agent market.

If the Phillies do trade for him, they just have to make sure everyone in the clubhouse knows the rules about touching his head.

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