Phillies

Tommy Joseph homers twice in Phillies’ loss, officially takes over Ryan Howard’s job

Tommy Joseph homers twice in Phillies’ loss, officially takes over Ryan Howard’s job

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WASHINGTON — Jeremy Hellickson blew a four-run lead and the Phillies suffered a 9-6 loss to the Washington Nationals on Friday night.
 
Hellickson gave up three homers and seven runs (see Instant Replay). Afterward, he owned the loss.
 
“The guys spotted me a four-run lead,” he said. “I’ve got to make that stand up. This loss is definitely on me.”
 
Now that the standard housekeeping is out of the way, let’s move on to the latest developments in the biggest drama surrounding this team.
 
Tommy Joseph hit a pair of two-run home runs, one that helped the Phillies build their early 4-0 lead and one that closed the deficit to three runs after they’d blown the lead.
 
Both of the home runs — one off Stephen Strasburg, the other off Felipe Rivero — were crushed.
 
Joseph’s big game gave him seven homers in his first 21 games with the Phillies. No Phillie has ever gotten to seven homers faster.
 
Joseph’s big night also solidified a watershed decision that manager Pete Mackanin made before the game. Several hours before the first pitch, Mackanin spoke with Ryan Howard and essentially told him he’d lost his job as the team’s primary first baseman to the 24-year-old rookie Joseph.
 
“I can’t say enough about Tommy Joseph,” Mackanin said after the game. “He looks like the real deal and it’s great to have him here.
 
“I talked to Ryan today and told him, ‘I’ve got to go with Tommy Joseph right now.’ I can’t sit Tommy Joseph. I can’t justify not playing the guy.”
 
Mackanin said Howard took the news “pretty laid back.” There was no tension during the meeting.
 
Howard was not available for comment after the game, but he’s been around long enough to know this was coming. He recently sat out five games as Mackanin took a look at Joseph. The newcomer shined in those games. In 21 games since arriving from Triple A, Joseph is hitting .323 (21 for 65) with seven homers and 12 RBIs. His slugging percentage is .677 and his on-base percentage is .333.
 
By contrast, Howard is hitting .150 with nine homers and 20 RBIs in 52 games. He is slugging just .346 and his on-base percentage is just .213.
 
Howard, 36, was the NL MVP a decade ago. He was the middle-of-the-order rock on five NL East championship teams and a World Series title team. He is no longer that player, however. He is still owed about $25 million in a contract that runs out after this season. The job of letting a club icon down easily has fallen in the lap of Mackanin.
 
“I flat-out don’t like it,” Mackanin said. “I don’t like to have to deal with it because of what he’s done for the organization over the years. Once again, this is another year where we’re looking to the future and Tommy Joseph is looking like he’s probably going to be in the future.”
 
Sitting won’t be easy on Howard. He has said he will not quit. Ownership seems reluctant to release him because of all he did in the organization’s run of success from 2007 to 2011. Howard has also done great charitable works in the region.
 
So what’s the solution?
 
“I don’t have a solution,” Mackanin said. “I’m just going to try to get Howard some at-bats, pinch-hit, maybe spot start him here and there. That’s the only solution I have.”
 
Joseph knows the torch has been passed. He has handled his success with humility and shown Howard respect.
 
“He’s the best,” Joseph said of Howard. “The best.
 
“He’s been great. Very easy to talk to. He’s been there for me every step of the way whenever I need something and he’s a good guy to learn from.”
 
The Phillies acquired Joseph four years ago from San Francisco in the Hunter Pence trade. A series of concussions robbed him of development time and forced him to give up catching and move to first base. Joseph’s career was on the rocks as recently as October when the Phillies waived him off their 40-man roster. He could have been selected in the Rule 5 draft, but 29 other teams passed. The Phillies brought him to minor-league spring training camp for what looked like a last chance in March and he pounced on it.
 
Joseph always had a good bat and it’s clear he still does. He’s also finally healthy. It has all added up to the hottest run of his career.
 
“This is what I prepared for all winter long, not only physically but mentally,” Joseph said. “This is what I wanted, an opportunity to play in the big leagues. I’m enjoying my time. I’ve come up through the minor leagues with a lot of these guys and to get the opportunity to play with them in the big leagues — I’m enjoying every minute of it.”

Giants fans seem to absolutely hate the Gabe Kapler hire

Giants fans seem to absolutely hate the Gabe Kapler hire

Gabe Kapler was a pretty polarizing figure in Philadelphia with a slight majority of fans disapproving of his managerial style and general demeanor as skipper of the Phillies. He had some progressive fans in his corner though.

Based on the reactions to the San Francisco Giants' announcement of Kapler as their next manager, you'd think he was the worst thing to ever happen to the game of baseball.

Fans were not pleased with the hire. Not one bit. From fans saying they're no longer going to be fans of the team after 40+ years of fandom to people saying they plan on canceling their season tickets, there was plenty of vitriol directed at the Giants. Here's a sampling:

And a check in from Philly:

Anyway, that's just a sampling. Go check out the Giants' actual tweet to see some of the brutal replies. And good luck to you, Giants fans. You will need it.

Giants hire Gabe Kapler as manager

Giants hire Gabe Kapler as manager

Just over a month after being fired by the Phillies, Gabe Kapler has found another managerial job in the majors with the San Francisco Giants.

Kapler will succeed Bruce Bochy, the team announced Tuesday night. You can read more on the news here.

It is a surprisingly quick turnaround for Kapler, even with the well-documented connection he has with Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. The two worked together in the Dodgers' front office when Zaidi was GM from 2014-18, and Kapler was a finalist for the managerial job in L.A. that went to Dave Roberts ahead of the '16 season.

Kapler went 161-163 in two seasons as Phillies manager. There was a slight chance he could return for a third season and it's what GM Matt Klentak wanted, but ownership was ready to move on and Joe Girardi was hired to lead the Phillies' core into the future. 

It will be a shock to some that Kapler landed on his feet so quickly after a rocky two-year tenure in Philly. His team exceeded expectations in Year 1 and fell well short in Year 2, with two straight horrible Septembers playing a large role. 

Kapler does, however, have qualities that appeal to franchises ready to get creative. The Phillies were in that position when they hired him after 2017 and the Giants are now. The Giants are embarking upon a rebuild that will take years. They lack top-end talent and have numerous players aging out of their effective years. They'll need marginal advantages to win games. Enter Kapler.

It will be interesting to see how Kapler's managerial style changes at his second stop. Surely, he will have learned many lessons from the two years in Philadelphia. How to get your message across. How to communicate with players in a way that leaves no room for uncertainty. What not to say after a bad loss. How to better handle a bullpen.

The members of Kapler's staff have also resurfaced. Former Phillies pitching coach Chris Young took the bullpen coach job with the Cubs, former hitting coach John Mallee is now an assistant hitting coach with the Angels, and infield coach Bobby Dickerson is the new bench coach in San Diego.

The other members of Kapler's staff — Rob Thomson, Dusty Wathan, Jim Gott, Dave Lundquist, Paco Figueroa, Pedro Guerrero, Bob Stumpo and Craig Driver — have remained in their roles under Girardi.

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