Phillies

Former Phillies reliever Jared Hughes jokes about the famous J.T. Realmuto head-shake meme

Former Phillies reliever Jared Hughes jokes about the famous J.T. Realmuto head-shake meme

You've all seen the clip. It was pretty much the Crying Jordan meme of the 2019 Phillies season. Reliever Jared Hughes sprinting to the mound from the bullpen in the eighth inning, just after the Mets had gone ahead on an Amed Rosario two-run single. 

Booking it to the mound is Hughes' thing. In this instance, catcher J.T. Realmuto was upset with the previous at-bat and was seen shaking his head while standing on the mound awaiting Hughes. To almost everyone, it looked like Realmuto was upset that Hughes would risk winding himself in an important spot.

Hughes, who has been running from the bullpen to the mound for years and had 2.41 ERA in 345 appearances from 2014-18, then allowed a home run to the first batter he faced.

"Now I can laugh about it because I'm far enough away from the home run that it's like OK, I learned from it, I'm able to get by it," Hughes said last week in a video for the Taylor Hooton Foundation, a non-profit organization which educates youth and their adult influencers about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs.

"But at the same time, I can appreciate the humor in it. I could a little bit then but not as much as I can now. I watched it immediately and I was like, "Oh gosh, this is so hard to watch.' But then I watched it a week later and it was hilarious. 

"Of course, the next day, Realmuto came up to me and was like, 'Dude, I totally didn't mean to do that, I'm so sorry, it was about the previous pitch, it wasn't about you, it looked terrible.'"

Hughes had a rough time in Philly. In just 23 innings with the Phillies, he allowed seven home runs, more than his full-season totals in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 or 2018. Some of that obviously had to do with the juiced ball. But his sinker didn't sink as consistently as it did in Cincinnati or Pittsburgh. The Phillies took a late-season flier on him and it didn't bear a ton of fruit. 

Hughes signed with the Astros in mid-February.

"[Realmuto] felt terrible about it, I thought it was hilarious," Hughes said. "Any time you can be part of a meme — well, maybe I'll take that back. At the time it wasn't hilarious because I did give up a home run to the very first hitter and then Jomboy broke it all down and there was a really rough video that came after that. But at the same time, I do understand it. I appreciate that baseball entertainment can be done in a lot of different ways. At that time it was done at my expense, but I'm just happy I could go out there and even have an opportunity to be broken down. 

"Unfortunate timing, but now it's a very famous and popular meme and I'm very honored to be a part of it."

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Phillies’ season resumes tonight with major challenge against Gerrit Cole at Yankee Stadium

Phillies’ season resumes tonight with major challenge against Gerrit Cole at Yankee Stadium

The only pitcher last offseason who joined a new team on a contract richer than Zack Wheeler’s was Gerrit Cole, the ace the Phillies face tonight at Yankee Stadium. 

Cole, who's won his first two starts this season, is a major challenge on any night but particularly when his 98 mph fastball and filthy breaking ball are being thrown to hitters who haven’t seen live pitching in eight days like the Phillies. The Phils’ bats likely need to shake off some rust. Good luck with that tonight. 

Cole signed a nine-year, $324 million contract in December just days after the Phillies signed Wheeler for $118 million over five years. The other big-name pitcher on the market was Stephen Strasburg, who followed a historic postseason by re-upping with the Nationals for $245 million over seven years. Cole’s AAV is $36 million, Strasburg’s is $35 million and Wheeler’s is $23.6 million. It will be interesting to see which starting pitcher gives his team the best bang for its buck over these next five years.

While Cole’s deal is for $11 million less than Bryce Harper’s in total, his AAV is much higher than Harper’s $25.4 million. Given that a position player plays five times more games in a normal season than a starting pitcher, Harper could end up providing his team more value during the life of his contract than Cole ... but let’s talk again in a decade.

If Cole indeed helps the Yankees win their first World Series since 2009 and second this millennium, nobody will question whether he was worth the money. Think back to that offseason before ‘09 when the Yankees committed $423.5 million to free agents CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett. 

Teixeira hit just .248 with the Yankees with an .822 OPS, far below expectations. But he also was the AL MVP runner-up in 2009 and the Yankees won it all his first season. 

Burnett had a 4.79 ERA in 98 career starts with the Yankees. But he also dominated the Phillies in Game 2 of the 2009 World Series to prevent his team from falling behind, at home, 2-0.

Big picture, both were worth it simply for the result of that season. The Yankees’ expectation with Cole is to win more than once, but even one title would probably make the deal worthwhile. 

The Phillies, with Harper, are a lot farther away, both because they haven’t acquired and/or developed young talents like Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres, but also because the Yankees have probably the best bullpen in baseball and the Phillies might have the worst. Pay close attention to that in the four games this week. The Yankees have elite lefties Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton, devastating righty Adam Ottavino and flamethrowing Tommy Kahnle. All four would be, by far, the best pitcher in a Phillies bullpen that has only one somewhat proven late-inning reliever: Hector Neris.

The Yankees have been ahead of the curve over the last handful of years building deep and uber-talented bullpens. And while it’s been more than a decade since they won it all, their GM Brian Cashman has done a remarkable job of building a major-market powerhouse that develops as well as it spends.

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Have any Phillies considered opting out of MLB season after Yoenis Cespedes, Lorenzo Cain, Francisco Liriano?

Have any Phillies considered opting out of MLB season after Yoenis Cespedes, Lorenzo Cain, Francisco Liriano?

Left-handed pitcher Francisco Liriano, a surprise cut by the Phillies days before the regular season began on July 24, has opted out of the 2020 MLB season, according to Robert Murray.

The 36-year-old Liriano looked poised to win an important spot in the Phillies' thin bullpen but was granted his release on July 18. The Phillies cited a desire to look at younger arms, though there also appeared to be financial matters at play regarding guaranteed money in this altered 60-game season.

Even at 36, Liriano could still have been a capable left-handed specialist in someone's bullpen this season. According to Murray, Liriano had multiple guaranteed offers but decided not to play.

The timing of his opt-out comes the same weekend that Brewers centerfielder Lorenzo Cain opted out of the 2020 season. The Brewers-Cardinals series has been postponed all weekend as numerous Cardinals have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.

The Mets’ Yoenis Cespedes also opted out Sunday after no-showing his team’s game against the Braves. He went 5 for 31 with two homers the first week of the season. The Phillies and Mets are set to meet 10 times, the first series coming in mid-August at Citizens Bank Park with the other seven games in September.

The Phillies had all seven of their games postponed this week. They're set to make up all four against the Yankees this Monday through Thursday, and they could make up the Blue Jays series later in the season with doubleheaders when the teams meet Sept. 18-20.

Asked over the weekend if he knew of any Phillies players considering opting out, manager Joe Girardi said this:

"No, that has not happened in our clubhouse. The chatter I hear is guys saying, 'Let's go, we're ready to go, let's go.' That's the chatter I've heard so far. And again, if a player chooses to opt out, I fully support him because playing this game is hard enough and if your mind has concerns in other places, it's really gonna be hard."

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