Phillies

What Joe Girardi is instructing Phillies players to do during strange time off

What Joe Girardi is instructing Phillies players to do during strange time off

Nobody knows when the 2020 regular season will begin or end. MLB hasn't yet ruled anything out; the goal is to play 162 games but that could prove impossible. To play a full regular season and avoid having playoff games in the wintertime, the season would need to begin in late May, two months later than the initial opening day. 

Two months seems conservative based on the direction of things and when looking at professional sports leagues in countries affected by COVID-19 prior to the U.S.

There is so much uncertainty in a baseball player's world right now. There are the first-world problems for major-leaguers like how do I stay in shape, and the real-life concerns of low-paid minor-leaguers wondering how they stay in shape while also keeping food on the table.

On the field, hitters don't have it quite as bad as pitchers. Hitters will still need to find their timing against live pitching again, but pitchers are so dedicated to their routines and were right on the doorstep of being in regular-season mode when spring training was halted. 

Should they maintain that intensity? Should they treat this current period as if it were December? Should they protect their arms more than usual? 

Phillies manager Joe Girardi joined MLB Network Sunday over the phone and was asked about the most recent message he gave his team:

"We said look, we're gonna have time to prepare for the regular season," Girardi relayed. "Kinda keep it up like your offseason workouts right before you come to spring training, if you're a pitcher and throwing some light bullpen (sessions), do that. Because we really don't know how long we're going to be out and then we don't know how long the season's going to continue. Like, will we play regular season in the month of October? So if you continue to throw five or six innings like you're used to now, you'll be out of gas in the month of October. 

"So we told our players, just kinda wait by the phone. A lot of guys stayed in Clearwater, especially the rehab guys. And we should know more as time goes on. But we have to be flexible and let the health officials and our government and Major League Baseball do what they have to do."

We're all in wait-and-see mode. Things are changing rapidly. Just two days ago the Yankees voted unanimously to remain in Tampa, but now only a skeleton crew will remain after a Yankees minor-leaguer tested positive for COVID-19. That was the first known COVID-19 case in professional baseball. 

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National League dominates MLB fan loyalty rankings, Phillies land in Top 10

National League dominates MLB fan loyalty rankings, Phillies land in Top 10

Will baseball's 60-game return have enough oomph to keep fans interested? It's a question that scares some of the game's biggest names, but I have no doubt Phillies fans will be supporting their team in late July.

And according to a new ranking of MLB fans' loyalty, the Phils will probably fare better than most.

The new Forbes ranking, released Wednesday, attempts to rank each fanbase by its respective loyalty, a tall task. The ranking factors in things like local TV ratings, stadium attendance, ticket demand, merch sales, and social media reach, then adjusts for local population. 

It's an imperfect science, but it's not a bad approach. And the Phillies finished in the Top 10, so I'll take it - even if they could've been higher.

Phillies fans rank No. 9 in loyalty among all 30 teams, according to Forbes, and sixth among seven NL teams in the Top 10. Here's the Forbes explanation:

9. Philadelphia Phillies

Sales of right fielder Bryce Harper’s jersey set a record for any sport for any player during the first 24 hours after his signing last year, helping to make the team’s merchandise among the league’s best-selling. But Phillies fans are a notoriously tough crowd. After witnessing a 6-5 win at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates in late September, Phillies fans booed Harper and the team for not winning by more, prompting former utility player Sean Rodriguez, whose home run won the game, to call them "entitled" in the press. Because of the backlash he received from fans, he apologized the next day for the use of the word—proving the fans are always right.

You'll be happy to know the Phillies finish atop the NL East, just one spot ahead of the Atlanta Braves. That's enjoyable.

I won't take issue with the Red Sox, Cubs, Cardinals, Yankees, and Dodgers representing the Top 5. Those are basically immovable. But after that, things get a bit more interesting.

The Brewers, Giants, and Indians all have loyal fanbases, but I don't know if I'd argue they're any more loyal than Phillies fans. Every fanbase ebbs and flows with its team's success, especially teams that aren't traditional powerhouses. When the Phils are on top of their game, South Philly is a borderline Top 5 place to watch a ball game.

I could see the Phils landing anywhere between No. 6 and No. 9 on this list. Personally, I'd put them above the Indians and Brewers - but, again, this is all imperfect science.

Earlier this year, Forbes released a ranking of the 10 most passionate sports fanbases in the country, and the Eagles finished No. 5 overall, behind four other NFL teams. Not a bad year for the area's fan reputation.

The 2020 Major League Baseball season is scheduled to begin July 23.

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Bobby Bonilla will be paid more in 2020 than a dozen notable Phillies

Bobby Bonilla will be paid more in 2020 than a dozen notable Phillies

Even in one of the strangest years in human history, Bobby Bonilla gets his money.

It's July 1, Bobby Bonilla Day, the date he gets his annual payment of just under $1.2 million from the Mets. The Mets will pay Bonilla that amount each year until 2035, at which point they'll have paid him about $30 million. The Mets came up with this deal in 2000 to avoid paying Bonilla a $5.9 million buyout in one lump sum.

Turned out to be an awful deal for the Mets, whose owners, The Wilpons, would go on to lose a ton of money in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. The Wilpons, two decades later, are trying to sell the team. The Mets have reportedly lost more than $60 million in each of the last two seasons and have hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. This was not the financial position the franchise foresaw when it deferred all that money to Bonilla.

The highest-paid player overall this season could also turn out to be a player who hasn't played in years: Prince Fielder. Fielder is owed $24 million in the final year of his contract with the Rangers, four years after he suffered a career-ending neck injury.

Big-leaguers in 2020 are set to make 37% of their salaries since only 37% of the regular season (at most) will be played. For Bryce Harper, it means about $9.4 million instead of $25.4 million. The biggest salary in the majors in 2020 belongs to Mike Trout at $36 million, of which he'll make about $13.3 million.

Any major-leaguer who was set to earn less than $3.2 million this season will, in fact, make less from their contract than Bonilla in 2020. 

Here are some of the Phillies players who will earn less in 2020 salary than Bonilla:

Rhys Hoskins
Zach Eflin
Nick Pivetta
Adam Haseley
Roman Quinn
Adam Morgan
Tommy Hunter
Jose Alvarez
Andrew Knapp
Seranthony Dominguez
Ranger Suarez
Nick Williams

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