Phillies

Former GM: Phillies better than they realize, must make a trade

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NBCSP

Former GM: Phillies better than they realize, must make a trade

It's July 2 and the Phillies are eight games over .500. The season is more than halfway over, so the "It's still (insert date)" comments really don't apply anymore. 

As Andrew Knapp said Sunday after hitting a walk-off homer to give the Phils a series win over the Nationals for the second straight weekend: "It shows we're here to stay."

Everything said and indicated by GM Matt Klentak lately leads us to believe the Phillies will make an addition or two before the trade deadline. They definitely should. It would improve the team, provide a jolt of energy and be a sign to the entire city that the Phillies are legitimately interested in seeing how far they can take this thing in 2018.

On MLB Network Radio Monday, former Mets GM Jim Duquette spelled out why the front office must add this month.

"Going into the series this weekend I expected this to play out a little differently. I expected the Nationals to rise to the occasion. But, in fact, it was the other way around," Duquette began.

"I was talking to a couple of evaluators the other day, separately, about the Phillies. And it was a question mark, does the front office realize how good this team is? This is a legit good team. Surprisingly so. 

"They need to add something and I hope they're not holding back thinking next year is our year. This team is good enough to get to the postseason this year and compete for the division this year."

Both points are accurate. The National League is wide open. Take a second to consider who you think the best team in the NL currently is. The Braves? The Cubs? The Brewers? None of those teams have played markedly better baseball this season than the Phillies.

The Nats could take off in the second half, but it just doesn't look like their year. Stephen Strasburg is on the DL, Gio Gonzalez is regressing, Bryce Harper has the power numbers and walks but not much else, Adam Eaton and Daniel Murphy don't look completely healthy, and they lack a catcher. 

Yeah, 2019 or 2020 could be even better years for the Phils, but the division might not be as winnable in those years with improvements the other clubs can make.

"Whether it's going after (Manny) Machado, which has been rumored, or Machado and pitching, this is a much better team than ... the Braves get all the talk, but the Phillies are a pretty darn good team," Duquette said.

A key player at a position of need to keep an eye on is Royals 3B Mike Moustakas. Teammate Jim Salisbury reported over the weekend that the Phillies and Royals have had discussions about Moustakas and Kansas City's scouts have been eying the Phillies' minor-league system.

Moustakas would be a definite upgrade at third base, even though he and Maikel Franco do have a similar batting average (.258 vs. 250) and OBP (.313 vs. 300) this season. 

The difference is that Moustakas' power is much more consistent. He hit 38 home runs last season, and from 2015-18 he has a .816 OPS. Over that same timeframe, Franco has a .739 OPS. A 77-point difference is meaningful.

Moustakas is a free agent after the season so he'd be a two- or three-month rental. That will decrease what the Royals can realistically seek in a trade.

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Mets' Jacob deGrom wins NL Cy Young Award as Phillies' Aaron Nola comes in 3rd

Mets' Jacob deGrom wins NL Cy Young Award as Phillies' Aaron Nola comes in 3rd

New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom was the landslide winner of the National League Cy Young Award when the results were announced on Wednesday night.

Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals finished second in the voting and Phillies ace Aaron Nola placed third.

DeGrom received 29 of a possible 30 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young winner, received one first-place vote.

Nola received 27 third-place votes, two fourth-place votes and one fifth-place vote to easily outdistance Colorado's Kyle Freeland, the fourth-place finisher in the NL.

DeGrom, 30, had just 10 wins, fewest ever by a Cy Young-winning starting pitcher in a full season, for a Mets club that finished eight games under .500. However, he led the majors with a brilliant 1.70 ERA.

Nola, 25, was the Phillies’ first-round draft pick in 2014. He blossomed into an ace in his fourth season in the majors in 2018. He finished second in the NL in ERA (2.37) and third in innings (212 1/3) and WHIP (0.97).

Scherzer, 34, led the majors in innings (220 2/3) and strikeouts (300) in 2018 while recording  a 2.53 ERA, the second best of his career.

Nola became the first Phillie to finish in the top 10 of the NL Cy Young voting since Cole Hamels placed sixth in 2014. The last Phillies to finish in the top three were Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, who finished second and third, respectively, in 2011. Halladay won the award in 2010.

Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell won the American League Award over Houston’s Justin Verlander and Cleveland’s Corey Kluber.

Here's the breakdown of the National League voting, courtesy of BBWAA.com:

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Phillies promote Chris Young to replace Rick Kranitz as pitching coach

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Phillies promote Chris Young to replace Rick Kranitz as pitching coach

The Phillies have made a change in their coaching ranks.

Chris Young has been promoted to head pitching coach, said a baseball source, confirming a report by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Young replaces Rick Kranitz, who served as the team’s head pitching coach in 2018.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak was not immediately available for comment on the sudden and surprising change.

A baseball source with knowledge of the move said it was made after Young had received an offer to become head pitching coach with another major league team. It is customary for teams to allow coaches to move on to greater roles or retain them with promotions. In this case, the Phillies promoted Young from assistant pitching coach to head pitching coach so that they could retain him.

Kranitz, 60, remains under contract with the Phillies and could conceivably return to the organization in another role. However, that is doubtful. Kranitz had previously served as a head major-league pitching coach with Miami, Baltimore and Milwaukee and should have no trouble hooking on with another organization.

Before becoming the Phillies’ head pitching coach last season, Kranitz was the team’s bullpen coach and then assistant pitching coach under Bob McClure. McClure and Kranitz were both instrumental in the grooming of Aaron Nola, who will finish in the top 3 of the National League Cy Young voting when the results are announced on Wednesday night.

Young, 37, joined the Phillies a year ago after spending three years with the Houston Astros as pro scouting supervisor. The Astros are one of baseball’s most progressive organizations and Young is well schooled in the modern approach (video, big data, deep matchup study, etc.) that many teams, the Phillies included, are now taking toward coaching, game preparation and execution. 

Earlier this offseason, the Phillies hired Josh Bonifay, another former member of the Astros organization, to be their director of player development. Joe Jordan, the Phillies' previous director of player development, resigned over philosophical differences with the front office in September.

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