Phillies

Additions of Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto give Phillies deepest batting order in NL

Additions of Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto give Phillies deepest batting order in NL

It might not have been the case without the previous acquisition of J.T. Realmuto, but the addition of Bryce Harper gives the Phillies the deepest 1 through 8, offensively, in the National League.

Half of the 2019 Phillies' lineup is new, and the four additions — Harper, Realmuto, Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen — are four of the best five hitters the Phils have. 

Turning a bottom-of-the-order catcher in Jorge Alfaro into a heart-of-the-order bat in Realmuto has massive ramifications for a team's lineup structure. As does adding one of the best dozen hitters in baseball in Harper.

To Gabe Kapler, the most important two spots in the batting order are 2 and 4. Kapler has also said during spring training that the idea is still to lead off Cesar Hernandez, who hit .294 in the two seasons before 2018, when he played half the season with a broken bone in his foot that affected him every swing.

A realistic opening day lineup, based on Kapler's preferences, could look like this:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B (S)
2. Bryce Harper, RF (L)
3. Jean Segura, SS (R)
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B (R)
5. J.T. Realmuto, C (R)
6. Andrew McCutchen, LF (R)
7. Odubel Herrera, CF (L)
8. Maikel Franco, 3B (R)
9. Pitcher

You'll notice that lineup includes four consecutive right-handed hitters. In normal circumstances, a manager may want to split up the righties. But Segura and Realmuto are not typical right-handed hitters. 

Realmuto has hit .288 in his career against righties, 40 points higher than his batting average vs. lefties.

Segura has hit .290 in his career against righties, 14 points higher than his batting average vs. lefties.

Much of this has to do with how well both Realmuto and Segura handle breaking balls from same-handed pitchers. As explained here, Realmuto and Segura rank second and third in the majors among righties the last three seasons in batting average vs. right-handed breaking balls. Only Jose Altuve has been better.

Offensively, this is the deepest lineup in the NL. It doesn't mean the Phillies will score the most runs, but there is no easy pocket of the batting order.

The Dodgers, for example, project to bat Joc Pederson, Chris Taylor and Austin Barnes 6-7-8. Pederson and Taylor are whiff-prone and will struggle to post a combined OBP higher than .335.

The Cubs? Their current 6-7-8 is Willson Contreras, Jason Heyward and Ian Happ. That's close. But go look at Heyward's offensive production since becoming a Cub. Slight advantage to McCutchen-Herrera-Franco.

The Rockies? Their top-five is formidable but the 6-7-8 is Ian Desmond, Garrett Hampson, Chris Iannetta. Nah. Same goes for the Reds.

The Braves? The bottom is Ender Inciarte-Brian McCann-Dansby Swanson. Not much pop.

Aside from the Cubs, the Brewers might be the closest, with a projected 1-8 of: Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, Jesus Aguilar, Travis Shaw, Ryan Braun, Mike Moustakas, Yasmani Grandal and Orlando Arcia.

In any event, it's remarkable the Phillies have reached this place. Many times, the team that "wins the offseason" does not go on to have huge success in the season that follows. But it's just hard to imagine that happening to the 2019 Phils, barring a series of calamitous injuries or a total failure by the starting rotation.

This new-look Phillies lineup has all the skills you want. 

Power from Harper, Hoskins, Realmuto, McCutchen and Franco, plus Herrera, who hit 22 homers last season.

Plate selection from Harper, Hoskins, McCutchen and Hernandez.

Batting average from Segura, Realmuto and the Herrera-Hernandez combo if they revert to their 2015-17 form.

It's gonna be a fun summer.

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Joe Maddon hired by Angels, officially off the board for Phillies manager opening

Joe Maddon hired by Angels, officially off the board for Phillies manager opening

The first of the eight manager jobs open across Major League Baseball to begin this offseason has been filled.

The Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday announced the hiring of Joe Maddon. Maddon's contract is reportedly for three years. A native of West Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Maddon has a long history in the Angels organization. Between 1975 and 2006, Maddon played and managed in the team's minor-league system, served as a coach with the Major League club and assumed the role of interim manager.

Maddon has a 1,251-1,068 record as a manager in the major leagues. He led the Tampa Bay Rays to an American League pennant in 2008 and skippered the Chicago Cubs to a World Series in 2016, their first championship since 1908. Maddon will take over an Angels team that finished 72-90 in 2019, led by two-time MVP Mike Trout.

Though Maddon might have appeared to be an attractive name for the Phillies job, Joe Girardi, Buck Showalter and Dusty Baker are the only candidates known for the position at the moment, according to Jim Salisbury. Baker is meeting with Phillies officials Wednesday, and a hire could come quickly, per Salisbury (see story).

USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports Showalter was the runner-up for the Angles job.



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It's clear Phillies want an experienced manager — could a hire come quickly?

It's clear Phillies want an experienced manager — could a hire come quickly?

Phillies officials are busy again Wednesday as they look to fill the team’s open manager’s position.

According to sources, club officials are meeting Wednesday with veteran skipper Dusty Baker.

The meeting comes after team officials interviewed Buck Showalter on Monday. It is believed that club officials also met with Joe Girardi on Monday.

At the moment, these are the only known candidates for the Phillies’ job, though more could emerge. 

Between them, Baker, Showalter and Girardi have 53 years of big-league managing experience and they have won a combined seven manager of the year awards and 13 division titles. Girardi led the New York Yankees to the World Series title in 2009. His club beat the Phillies in six games.

At a news conference Friday, the day after the Phillies announced Gabe Kapler’s firing, team officials were not specific when asked what qualities they were looking for in a new manager. But by focusing on Girardi, Showalter and Baker, the Phillies are clearly looking for big-league experience in their next skipper, and a person with knowledge of the Phillies’ thinking confirmed this.

“They want major-league experience,” the person said. 

If the Phillies’ search is limited to just Girardi, Showalter and Baker, the club could conceivably make a quick hire — maybe as soon as next week. Monday is a scheduled off day between the League Championship Series and World Series. Thursday is a scheduled off day between Games 2 and 3 of the World Series. Major League Baseball frowns on significant announcements during the postseason but it could OK a managerial announcement on an off day.

If the World Series goes seven games, it would end on October 30.

It is not clear who the Phillies’ top candidate is. It very well could be Girardi because of his experience working with a front office that values the use of analytics in building a roster and running a game. The Yankees are one of baseball’s analytic powerhouses. Girardi, however, is a former catcher who also relies on feel in running a game. That balance could be attractive to the Phillies.

Girardi has also interviewed for the Chicago Cubs’ manager’s job and is said to be on the list of candidates for the New York Mets’ opening. Showalter and Baker have not been mentioned, at least publicly, for other openings. Showalter has extensive connections to the Phillies’ front office. He worked closely with several high-ranking Phillies officials during their time in Baltimore. Showalter skippered the Orioles from 2010 through 2018. He is very interested in the Phillies' job and, according to sources, has done homework on the team's roster.

Baker has 22 years of big-league managerial experience and is a three-time NL manager of the year. He last managed the Washington Nationals in 2017 and led that club to 97 wins and the NL East title.



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