Phillies

Bryce Harper hopes Mookie Betts makes even more money than him

Bryce Harper hopes Mookie Betts makes even more money than him

Bryce Harper was the highest-paid player in MLB history for less than one month, quickly moving down a spot once Mike Trout and the Angels reached agreement on a $430 million extension in late March.

Harper could soon move even farther down the list. Red Sox superstar outfielder Mookie Betts is set for free agency after the 2020 season. If Betts does reach free agency, he will have just turned 28. Harper was 26 when he hit free agency.

Betts is a better all-around player than Harper. Betts hits for average, hits for power, plays great defense and has big-time speed. Betts hasn't been nearly as good this season as he was in his MVP 2018 but still has dynamic offensive numbers and leads the American League with 115 runs scored.

Harper has an edge on Betts and practically every other player in marketability. The Phillies have seen in Year 1 how much of a cash cow Harper is. They've seen it in increased ticket sales, jersey sales and with how quickly the Phanatic headband Harper made fashionable has risen to popularity. All over the city, people are wearing those things. Walking in the city Tuesday, I passed three people wearing them in the span of 10 minutes — a little kid on a bike, a middle-aged woman jogging and a man participating in an outdoor workout class. Harper transcends demographics.

Despite that, Harper wouldn't just be OK with Betts making more money than him. Harper hopes it happens.

"Mookie's an incredible player. If he has an opportunity to make more money than I do, then I hope he does," Harper said this week, according to NBC Sports Boston. "Just like Trout did."

If Betts reaches free agency, the bidding war between teams will be intense, not only because of his elite talent but because so many would-be-free-agent-superstars have already signed long-term extensions with their teams. Players in the Betts tier are becoming available less frequently than in the last few decades.

Harper also realizes that the Betts negotiation could take quite a while, just as his did.

"It's going to be a long process for him, but I think he'll be able to handle that. He has a great head on his shoulders and a great family," Harper said. "I didn't mind it. Only having a couple of weeks in spring training was nice, some extra time with family and friends. But it's part of the process. It's part of what teams and players are doing now."

Don't remind us.

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The lights are dimming for Phillies after 5th straight loss with Aaron Nola on the mound

The lights are dimming for Phillies after 5th straight loss with Aaron Nola on the mound

If the Phillies are packing their bags and heading home in two weeks — as seems likely now — there will be a handful of reasons why they failed to make the playoffs for an eighth straight season.

Let’s see, they didn’t get enough from the two through five spots in the starting rotation, key players, from Andrew McCutchen to just about everyone in the bullpen, got hurt, management did not land a difference-making arm at the trade deadline, and the offense was grossly inconsistent.

There are other reasons but those are some of the biggies.

And if you’re looking for one more, this is a big one, too:

The Phillies are winless in Aaron Nola’s last five starts, a span that started August 25 in Miami and culminated Saturday night when the right-hander delivered seven innings of one-run ball only to see his team suffer a 2-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox in front of 40,688 at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phils have 15 games left.

They are 3 ½ games out of the second NL wild-card spot behind Milwaukee and the New York Mets. The Brewers are one game back, the Mets are three back. Oh, yeah, and the Phils are in fourth place in the NL East.

“I'm not going to sugarcoat it and say we have a bunch of time left because we really don't,” Nola said after the game. “We have 15 games left. It's a good bit, but it's really not that much. We're not going to hang our heads on this one. You never know what can happen. We just have to take care of business tomorrow.”

The Phillies will send Jason Vargas to the mound against Rick Porcello in the finale of the quick, two-game interleague series.

Phillies hitters will need to do more damage against Porcello than they did lefty Eduardo Rodriguez. He struck out 12 in 6 2/3 innings. He threw 105 pitches and got 19 —19 — swings-and-misses, 16 of them on an outstanding changeup.

The only run that Rodriguez allowed came in the bottom of the seventh when he issued a two-out walk to Maikel Franco with the bases loaded.

The Phillies had just five hits (four singles) on the night and were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position. They got a runner to second with no outs in the eighth but Boston reliever Matt Barnes retired J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery to end the threat.

Hoskins put a charge in the ball to right-center, but it died in Jackie Bradley Jr.’s glove.

“I thought I got it enough to at least get it over his head,” Hoskins said.

Ultimately, the Phillies lost it when Hector Neris allowed two singles, a walk and a sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Hoskins acknowledged that the lights are dimming for the Phillies, who need to go at least 6-9 in their final 15 games to have a winning season.

“It’s go time, right?” he said. “Every loss feels heavier and every win feels a lot better. A big one tomorrow to obviously try to split a series, try to create some momentum to go on the road. We know the teams that we’re playing are good, but again I’ll just kind of reiterate: if we can play our game and obviously pitch the way we did tonight and hit the way we know we can we believe and are confident that we can beat anybody.”

Nola has pitched three gems and had two poor outings in his five-start winless streak. In the gems, the Phillies have just not scored runs for him. In this one, he gave up just four hits and struck out nine in seven innings.

“It's frustrating not winning in general, whoever is on the mound,” Nola said. “It was a hard-fought game right there. Every win matters right now.”

Nola’s next start is slated to be Thursday in Atlanta. Will the Phils even be worth mentioning in the race by then?

“We’ve got to find a way to scratch out runs for Nola,” manager Gabe Kapler said.



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Bryce Harper announces release of his latest Under Armour shoe, the Harper 4 trainer

bryce_harper_instagram_under_armour_shoes.jpg
Bryce Harper Instagram

Bryce Harper announces release of his latest Under Armour shoe, the Harper 4 trainer

New drip alert!

Bryce Harper is well known for his heavy shoe swag on the field, from the sick Phillie Phanatic cleats he rocked on opening day to the Slurpee and Funyun jawns he brandished on Father’s Day.

On Friday, Harper announced the release of his latest shoe on his Instagram account, and these aren’t cleats. It’s a versatile edition to his signature Under Armour series.

The Harper 4 trainer is billed as a turf trainer, but in a video posted with the release of the shoe, Harper says, “I didn’t want it to be like a turf trainer, I really wanted it to be a trainer. Something that I could wear away from the field if I was going out to lunch or dinner or whatever and then something I could wear in the cage or at the workout facility or the gym.” 

They currently come in five colors (I’m partial to the black and white ones) and are more of a three-quarter shoe than a high top or low top. They currently retail for around $100.

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