Phillies

Carlos Santana TV incident highlights importance of having veterans in the room

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Carlos Santana TV incident highlights importance of having veterans in the room

Carlos Santana was a polarizing player during his one season in Philly — criticized by those focusing on the $20 million annual salary, respected by those who valued his plate selection, high on-base percentage and ability to play every day. More went into that debate — Rhys Hoskins’ displacement from first base was a prominent factor — and the Phillies were able to change course in a profitable way this offseason. 

Not before Santana was able to make his presence felt, though. 

An interesting story surfaced Monday at ESPN that should add a whole lot of respect to Santana’s name. Santana told ESPN that a couple Phillies played the video game “Fortnite” in a room in the clubhouse during games and it didn’t sit well with him for obvious reasons. It’s hard to believe any major-league player, young or old, would have believed this was OK. 

Santana smashed the TV with his bat. 

"We come and lose too many games, and I feel like they weren't worried about it,” Santana told ESPN. “Weren't respecting their teammates or coaches or the staff or the [front] office. It's not my personality. But I'm angry because I want to make it good."

Santana has since been traded twice — by the Phillies to the Mariners along with J.P. Crawford for Jean Segura, James Pazos and Juan Nicasio, and then by the Mariners to the Indians for Edwin Encarnacion. 

The Phillies needed to make the Santana trade for several reasons — improve the defense by moving Hoskins back to first base, improve shortstop by turning a player in Crawford, who might one day pan out into a proven top-of-the-order, into a .300 hitter in Segura. 

It’s an example of leadership that Santana’s veteran teammates and management appreciated. There are several glowing quotes about Santana from manager Gabe Kapler and GM Matt Klentak within the piece. 

Playing video games in a back room during a game is an extreme example of immaturity, but it’s a reason you shouldn’t dismiss the cliche phrases “clubhouse chemistry” or “veteran presence.” It all matters and it all can affect a team, especially when things are going south as they did for the Phillies in the final month last season. 

Aside from Segura, the Phillies have added four other veterans in Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson, J.T. Realmuto and, of course, Bryce Harper, to go along with experienced players like Jake Arrieta and Pat Neshek. The Phillies have a good balance of youth and experience in their clubhouse, and despite the additions still have an average age younger than 28 in both the lineup and rotation. 

Kapler also talked early in spring training about having higher expectations for clubhouse behavior this year — he’s not going to turn into a stern taskmaster, but a situation as ridiculous as the one Santana discussed shows that baseball wasn’t always the focus, even during work hours, for a few guys last season.

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A simpler approach could get Rhys Hoskins to the future slugger we envisioned

A simpler approach could get Rhys Hoskins to the future slugger we envisioned

The Phillies finally got their slugger of the future.

That’s what Phillies fans and many people around the game were thinking after Rhys Hoskins became the fastest player in MLB history to slug 18 career home runs, accomplishing the feat in 34 games. Hoskins set the mark in a win against the Miami Marlins on September 14th, 2017 and you can relive it today on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

That home run off of former Phillie Vance Worley would also be the last of Hoskins’ rookie campaign. In the two seasons that have followed since, Hoskins has hit a more-than-respectable 63 total home runs. But his slugging percentage dropped in each season since 2017, going from .618 SLG as a rookie to .454 SLG in 2019.

So, where does Hoskins go from here? It would be overly critical to question whether Hoskins will be a one-year wonder. He has posted solid, if not spectacular, power numbers since that first season. But he also hasn’t been anywhere near the conversation for best power hitters in the National League either.

Here’s a reason for optimism: As much as he said the right things, my sense is that Hoskins was negatively impacted by the launch angle, pitch-taking mindset set forth as dogma by the Gabe Kapler regime. Hoskins already possesses those tendencies naturally. Adding more thought to the equation led to plate paralysis. As walks increased, production diminished from a player that this franchise is counting upon to create runs. With Joe Girardi and hitting coach Joe Dillon at the helm, there’s reason to think we’ll see Hoskins get back to “see ball, hit ball” mode.

It also can’t hurt to have a full season under his belt with Bryce Harper. While the two have a good relationship, it couldn’t have been easy to go from leading man to best supporting actor status. That dynamic should come more comfortably for Hoskins in the seasons ahead.

Who knows what the 2020 season will look like? Or if we’ll even have a season? But my bet is that Hoskins figures it out and puts together a 40 home run season in the not-too-distant future.

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Phillies Talk podcast: Shane Victorino joins to talk some ball

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Phillies Talk podcast: Shane Victorino joins to talk some ball

A special guest joined the Phillies Talk podcast Friday: former Phillies All-Star and World Series champion Shane Victorino.

• Victorino on the sports shutdown

• His love of Philly, the fans and how they embraced him

• Why Philly made such a difference in his life

• The confidence that Charlie Manuel and Gene Lamont gave him

• Shane on his famous walk-off outfield assist

• Victorino's 40-yard dash vs. Troy Polamalu

• Victorino on Bryce Harper

• His message to Phillies fans

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