Phillies

Phillies release statement regarding their confirmed coronavirus cases

Phillies release statement regarding their confirmed coronavirus cases

The Phillies released a statement Friday afternoon in response to Jim Salisbury's report that five players and three staff members in Clearwater had tested positive for COVID-19.

Their spring training complex in Clearwater has been closed for the time being.

"In response to published reports and the questions that those reports have raised, the Phillies are confirming that 5 players and 3 staff members working at the club’s Clearwater facility have tested positive for Covid-19.

"The first confirmed case occurred this past Tuesday, June 16. In addition, 8 staff members have tested negative for the virus, while 12 staff members and 20 players (both major league and minor league players) living in the Clearwater area are in the process of being tested and are awaiting the results of those tests.”

Managing partner John Middleton wrote the following:

"The Phillies are committed to the health and welfare of our players, coaches and staff as our highest priority, and as a result of these confirmed tests, all facilities in Clearwater have been closed indefinitely to all players, coaches and staff and will remain closed until medical authorities are confident that the virus is under control and our facilities are disinfected."

The Phillies have declined comment on the implications of the outbreak, saying it's too early to know.

The Toronto Blue Jays reportedly shut down their spring training facility in Dunedin on Thursday. The Blue Jays' facility is six miles away from the Phillies'. 

Pending a financial agreement with the players' association, MLB had sought to restart spring training at some point next week, between June 26-28. That date doesn't look as realistic now.

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Phillies' lineup for their return at Yankee Stadium after a week off

Phillies' lineup for their return at Yankee Stadium after a week off

For the first time in eight days, the Phillies are playing a game. Here is their lineup for tonight's 7:05 p.m. game at Yankee Stadium:

1. Andrew McCutchen LF
2. Rhys Hoskins 1B
3. Bryce Harper RF
4. J.T. Realmuto C
5. Didi Gregorius SS
6. Jean Segura 3B
7. Jay Bruce DH
8. Scott Kingery 2B
9. Adam Haseley CF

Some notes:

• McCutchen went 0 for 9 in the first two games of the season and sat the third. He impressed in the field with a sliding grab.

• Hoskins walked seven times in the opening series. Despite the Phillies being off a full week, he trails only Mike Yastrzemski (11) and Freddie Freeman (9) in the NL in walks.

• Harper and Realmuto each hit three-run homers in the Phillies' lone series of 2020.

• Gregorius returns to the Bronx, where he played the last five seasons and had three years of 20-plus home runs. He's hit two solo shots in the early going.

• Segura is 2 for 12 so far. He chased several pitches out of the zone against the Marlins.

• Haseley went 4 for 6 with two doubles in his lone start last Sunday, setting himself up for more work out of the leadoff spot when McCutchen rests.

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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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