Phillies

32 or not, Andrew McCutchen instantly becomes Phillies' top outfielder

32 or not, Andrew McCutchen instantly becomes Phillies' top outfielder

Andrew McCutchen is not as fast as he once was. The days of him beating out an infield single to shortstop or third base are mostly over, as are the days of his elite center field defense.

But he's still a very productive major-league player who does just about everything you want on a baseball field.

The Phillies agreed to a three-year, $50 million deal with McCutchen on Tuesday, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury. It's an interesting move.

McCutchen and Jean Segura lengthen the Phillies' lineup, no doubt about it. They both add skills the 2018 Phillies' lineup lacked — timely hitting, a reduced strikeout rate, gap power, offensive consistency. 

The Phils still have some work to do and remain heavily interested in Manny Machado. If they can add Machado to this new lineup with Segura and McCutchen, it becomes one of the best in the National League. This move does not preclude that possibility.

McCutchen is 32 years old. He seems older because he was a high-level player from his age-22 rookie season in 2009. His decline phase has set in, but he's declined from an MVP level to a very good level. It's not like he's "just a guy" at this point of his career.

These last two seasons, McCutchen has hit .267/.366/.455 and averaged 30 doubles and 24 home runs. His .820 OPS over that span is 21 percent higher than the league average. It's 40 points higher than Odubel Herrera's career-high OPS and 70 points higher than Nick Williams' last season. 

Beyond the numbers, McCutchen is just a more reliable everyday player than Herrera or Williams. It's unclear who he will displace in the Phillies' outfield, but all of their outfielders — Herrera, Williams and Roman Quinn — are subject to a trade this offseason.

McCutchen did not play an inning of center field in 2018, but he did play 128 games in right field for the Giants. Right field at AT&T Park is as tricky as any outfield spot in any major-league stadium. And quite frankly, McCutchen at 32 is still a better defensive centerfielder than Herrera at 26.

The Phillies these last two weeks have essentially swapped out J.P. Crawford and Carlos Santana for Jean Segura and McCutchen. Both are big upgrades. McCutchen can replace all of Santana's plate selection, just with more hits, more speed, more defensive versatility and equal or more power. McCutchen walked 95 times this past season.

The other thing to really like about McCutchen is his durability. He's averaged 155 games played since 2010. 

Some fans will get hung up on the number — really, $50 million for a past-his-prime Andrew McCutchen? — but the money in this instance shouldn’t be the sticking point. The Phillies have a ton of it, there's no salary cap, and this investment won’t hinder any other during the three-year life of the contract. Signing Andrew McCutchen today won’t prevent a big splash down the road.

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Gabe Kapler recalls the challenge of his final days in Philadelphia

Gabe Kapler recalls the challenge of his final days in Philadelphia

SAN DIEGO — The beginning wasn’t easy for Gabe Kapler in Philadelphia and neither was the end. He was booed before managing his first game in Citizens Bank Park in 2018. Eighteen months later, he twisted in the wind for 10 days as Phillies ownership pondered whether to bring him back for the 2020 season or let him go.

Eventually, Kapler was fired but he wasn’t out of work long as the San Francisco Giants hired him to manage their club in November.

At the winter meetings Tuesday, Kapler recalled waiting for John Middleton’s verdict over those uncomfortable final 10 days in Philadelphia.

“Those ten days were challenging because I definitely wanted the opportunity to continue to manage the Phillies,” Kapler said. “I wanted to see the work that we put in, and I wanted to see it through the finish line. In my mind, that finish line was still in the future and in the distance, and I think there's going to be a lot of great things accomplished in Philadelphia next year.

“But it was difficult, and sometimes there's a real silver lining to those situations. I think the Philadelphia Phillies got a great manager in Joe Girardi in place, and I think I have an opportunity to manage a club that I'm incredibly excited about, and the people that I'm working with, I'm really excited about as well. So I think, interestingly, even though it was challenging, those 10 days, it worked out pretty well for the Phillies, and I think it worked out really well for the Giants as well.”

Kapler was asked what he said to Middleton upon learning that he would not return to manage the Phillies.

“The last words were 'thank you for the opportunity,' ” he said.

Kapler was asked how he might have been able to save his job in Philadelphia.

“Probably win more baseball games,” he said.

Kapler’s record in Philadelphia was 161-163. He learned a lot in those two seasons.

“I think the thing that stands out to me is I'm excited about getting every possible strategic advantage as a manager and as part of a coaching staff,” Kapler said. “I think that one of the things that I learned is that sometimes those small strategic advantages come at the expense of some confidence from a player.

“So I think I did a better job in 2019 than I did in 2018 of blending those two things, blending the small strategic advantages with the confidence level of the players, and I think I'm going to do a better job having learned some of those lessons in '18, in 2020, without overcorrecting. I think that's an important part as well. Bringing it back to the middle is important, too, after an overcorrection is made.

“So, specifically, it's just striking the right balance between getting small strategic advantages and confidence levels of players.”

Kapler will be back in Philadelphia with the Giants August 7-10 — unless he sneaks into town earlier for one of his favorite steaks at Suraya.

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Phillies fans, you're gonna love Didi Gregorius based on his Twitter personality

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USA Today Images/NBC Sports Philadelphia

Phillies fans, you're gonna love Didi Gregorius based on his Twitter personality

MLB free agency is in full swing and the newest addition to the Phillies, Didi Gregorius, has quite the personality on Twitter.

More specifically, he really enjoys tweeting after his team wins ... especially with emojis.

It almost feels like Groundhog Day scrolling through his feed. And by the looks of things, he rarely forgets.

Take a look:

Of course, these are only a few of the many he has tweeted out. If you have the time though, look at the rest — there are definitely some hidden gems.

Will he continue this tradition with his new club? Will we be able to see tweets from him stating that the bullpen was worth four fire emojis? What emojis will he assign for Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins and the rest of the team?

These are the hard-hitting questions we want answered right after the news of a signing breaks — but we'll just have to wait and see once Spring Training comes to a close in a few months.

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