Phillies

Mike Trout extension makes Bryce Harper deal look even better — and not because of the $

Mike Trout extension makes Bryce Harper deal look even better — and not because of the $

Just within the last month, the baseball world has seen Manny Machado sign a 10-year deal, Nolan Arenado sign an eight-year extension, Bryce Harper sign a 13-year deal and Mike Trout re-up for 12 total years.

Tuesday's stunner with Trout gave Phillies fans yet another reason to love the Harper deal. Not necessarily because it's for $100 million less — Trout is the superior player and has been much more consistent year to year, so it stands to reason he'd make so much more than Harper. But because it's yet another potential superstar free agent who's already off the board. 

If the Phillies didn't sign Harper when they did, it would have become increasingly difficult for them to land that game-breaking superstar over the next few years, when their window to win is so wide open. It was crucial to get this superstar now, while guys like J.T. Realmuto ($5.9 million), Rhys Hoskins (less than $1 million) and Aaron Nola ($4.5M) are as inexpensive as they currently are.

Next winter's class

The top-end group of free agents after the 2019 season potentially includes Xander Bogaerts (27), Paul Goldschmidt (32), Anthony Rendon (30), Jose Abreu (33), maybe Matt Carpenter (34), maybe J.D. Martinez (32), Nicholas Castellanos (28) and Yasiel Puig (29).

As in, not the same caliber of players, not as young as Harper and Machado this offseason, or both. The Nationals are expected to re-sign Rendon. The Cardinals probably won't let Goldschmidt walk away after trading two good young pieces for him in December. The Red Sox are unlikely to let Martinez walk if he opts out of his deal. 

The other guys — Castellanos, Puig, Abreu, Carpenter — are not stars. They don't have the talent and certainly aren't the draws that Harper is.

Guys keep re-upping

With Arenado and Trout staying put, the next superstar position player free agent will be Mookie Betts after the 2020 season ... if he doesn't extend first. It would make zero sense for a team as rich and successful as the Red Sox to let Betts, their best player, walk. You may see Boston lose Bogaerts this offseason if the price tag rises to a number that would make it harder to keep Betts. 

George Springer? He's also set for free agency after 2020, but again, very good player, just not a superstar. 

Jacob deGrom and Trevor Bauer, two of the best seven starting pitchers in baseball, are also set for free agency after 2020. It's unclear whether the Mets will be able to keep deGrom, and the Indians sure don't look like they'll be breaking the bank for Bauer, a notorious headache. Both are clear difference-makers, just not everyday contributors. DeGrom will be 32.5 years old if/when he hits free agency.

Three years out

The 2021-22 free-agent class looks impressive now, but again, some guys might not reach that point. Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa and Corey Seager all could be out there. Same with Noah Syndergaard and a few stud veteran pitchers like Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber and Zack Greinke.

A team in the Phillies' position wasn't going to kick the can down the road for three more seasons but they may have been forced to if they didn't land Harper. The other option would have been trading away a lot of young talent for a good player on a bad team, but that would have further thinned the farm system and made it harder for the Phillies to extend their window beyond, say, five years.

Instead, the Phillies are well-positioned to win now and win in the future, and they could use that 2021-22 free-agent class to supplement their core rather than define it.

While the Trout fantasy ended on Tuesday, it at least gives the city even more of a reason to focus on the guys who are already here. This team, if things break right over the next handful of years, could find itself in position to win it all, even though the prodigal son never came "home."

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Joe Girardi and John Kruk relive their painful introduction

Joe Girardi and John Kruk relive their painful introduction

One of the first things Joe Girardi brought up during his introductory press conference as Phillies manager back in October was a bittersweet memory about John Kruk. 

Kruk, a three-time All-Star with the Phils, bowled Girardi over during a collision at home plate in the summer of 1991. Girardi held on for the out but his nose was broken. 

It’s the kind of violent play you’d never see again. Home-plate collisions have been outlawed in MLB since 2014. Colloquially, it’s referred to as the Buster Posey rule. Posey’s left leg was broken in 2011 when the Marlins’ Scott Cousins collided with him at home plate.

That play in 1991 didn’t lead to any kind of beef between Girardi, then a catcher for the Cubs, and Kruk. In fact, Kruk was one of the first people to contact Girardi while Girardi was in the hospital. 

"The bill of his helmet hit my nose, so that was my introduction to John Kruk,” Girardi told the Phils’ announcers during the Phillies-Pirates game Sunday on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

"If I'm not mistaken, being the sweetheart of a guy he was, you either called me when I was in the hospital or you came and saw me when they were examining my nose. I think I got a couple of stitches."

Kruk remembers it well.

"I didn't like many people, Joe., but you were actually one of them I did like,” Kruk said. “That's why I called you. If it was ... well I'm not going to name any names, some other catchers, I wouldn't have called them. I just enjoyed competing against you."

It’s all love, but they won’t be reenacting that experience any time soon.

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Watch Phillies fans' hilarious live reaction to seeing the 'new' Phanatic for first time

Watch Phillies fans' hilarious live reaction to seeing the 'new' Phanatic for first time

The Phillie Phanatic and his "new look" took flight for the first time on Sunday and, well, let's just say he didn't reach great heights.

Fans across the Philadelphia area were understandably shook by the changes to the Phanatic's look. I think it's safe to say most fans did not react positively to the changes. Just take a look at the responses to the above tweet for a sampling.

The Phanatic did have a few defenders, however, like his furry pal from across Pattison Avenue and current It Boy, Gritty.

Pretty much everyone had a strong reaction to the scales, the eyebrows, and most definitely the newly-accented tail.

But not everyone went the to great lengths like comedian and Phillies fans Paul F. Tompkins and Christine Nangle who did a 10-minute breakdown in their most natural Philly accents that included their reactions to seeing the new look for the first time.

It's a wide-ranging reaction, complete with tears at at least one point.

"They said it was going to be, like, an evolution but this seems like more than an evolution, you know," Tompkins said.

"Like he's in there, I can see him, but if I met him and had not said to me that's his cousin, I'd be like..." Nangle added.

The duo attempted to put their feelings into terms we can all understand.

"It's like you're walking down South Street," Tompkins said. "You know what, I haven't been to Jim's in a while, I'm gonna go in there, and then you order a whiz wit and then what you get is, like, what everybody else thinks a cheesesteak is where it's, like, provolone and green peppers on it. You know what I mean? That's what this feels like to me."

"That makes a hundred percent sense. That's a beautiful way to say it," Nangle responded.

They both come to a similar conclusion to what feels like the consensus in Philly right now.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

For more on the Phanatic's new look, check out our piece from yesterday.