CLEARWATER, Fla. – Phillies president Andy MacPhail held his annual spring training press briefing on Friday.
Here are five takeaways:
Committed to Kapler
Manager Gabe Kapler recently found himself in the middle of controversy when a Washington Post story questioned his handling of an assault that took place during his time as director of player development for the Dodgers in 2015.
Kapler defended himself in a 1,300-word post on Kaplifestyle.com.
MacPhail admitted that he didn’t think everything Kapler did “was a great idea,” but overall he supported his skipper.
“In my career, I've been in a position of hiring people since November of 1986 — general managers, managers, scouting directors, farm directors," MacPhail said. "In my entire history, there's never been a hire that was as fully vetted as this one. And all the stuff that was regurgitated again this winter, there was nothing in there that made me think that the vetting was anything but very thorough, very impartial and very fair. We were satisfied then when we hired him; we're satisfied today.
“So, I’m on him.”
(That’s scouting lingo for MacPhail approves of Kapler.)
Phillies content to wait it out on the big guys
The Phillies are comfortable with the pitches they’ve made to free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper and they are willing to wait for their decisions.
“We’re just half the equation,” MacPhail said. “We’re just half the equation.”
Phillies weighing the whole package
Harper and Machado are both great talents. Harper might have more box office appeal. Machado might be the more complete player. The Phils are weighing everything that each player brings.
“There has been no shortage of brain power devoted to trying to size up players that are available to us and what they bring,” MacPhail said. “Just generally speaking, we are uniquely poised right now. There are some great talents out there and any one of those talents could go to any club and make a significant difference. You can make the case they bring different things, but I think they are both beneficial to your club.”
Regardless of what happens, Phillies are better
MacPhail mentioned the Phillies’ improved personnel and defense. He made particular mention of the bullpen and how he believes it is better equipped to handle lefty hitters in the division this season. Right-hander David Robertson has excellent reverse splits and the additions of lefty relievers James Pazos and Jose Alvarez should help.
Despite the team’s improved personnel, fans are still lukewarm.
The Phils ranked 18th in the majors in attendance at just over 2.15 million (average 26,444) last season. According to MacPhail, game ticket sales are 150,000 ahead of where they were at this point last year.
“The way it has been explained to me is that we’re good, but not great,” MacPhail said.
Signing Harper or Machado will bring a bump.
But nothing will fill the seats more than winning.
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