Rhys Hoskins achieves Phillies history and Gabe Kapler sends message to fans

Rhys Hoskins achieves Phillies history and Gabe Kapler sends message to fans

The Phillies needed a couple of big performances to stop the powerful New York Yankees on Wednesday night.

Zach Eflin provided one (see story).

Rhys Hoskins provided the other.

Hoskins’ three-run homer to the opposite field against Luis Cessa with two outs in the second inning accounted for all the scoring.

It was a rather typical home run for Hoskins. In other words, it had great meaning. He has 12 homers on the season and 11 of them have given the Phillies a lead.

This one also had some franchise significance. It was the 30th homer of Hoskins’ career and it came in his 119th game. No Phillie has gotten to 30 long balls faster. Hall of Famer Chuck Klein reached 30 homers in his 132nd game. MVP Ryan Howard did it in his 134th game.

“My first thought was, ‘Wow,’” Hoskins said. “Anytime you get mentioned in a sentence with either of those guys or anyone of their caliber, it’s pretty humbling. So it’s definitely a cool thing.”

Hoskins actually spent some time with Howard at a function in Center City on Tuesday.

The Big Piece offered the Big Rhys some advice.

“Just be yourself,” Hoskins said. “He said just be yourself and you’ll be just fine, in a game, after the game, and especially in the city.

“Obviously, a great dude. He knows his stuff.”

Hoskins has been on fire since returning to the lineup after suffering a broken jaw. He is 20 for 66 (.303) with six homers and 18 RBIs in 17 games since coming off the disabled list. The Phillies are 10-7 in those games.

Hoskins’ home run Wednesday night helped the Phillies snap a three-game losing streak and salvage one game from the Yankees. The Yanks had won the first two games by a combined score of 10-2 and their fans had taken over Citizens Bank Park. Wednesday night’s crowd was just under a sellout at 42,048. Eflin and Hoskins made sure the Yankees fans didn’t have a lot to hoot about.

“Rhys had a huge home run for us,” manager Gabe Kapler said.

“And our fans … I don't think it's unreasonable to say that when some of the Yankees chants started, they were drowned out by Phillies fans. The Phillies fans were electric tonight. They came out in big numbers and they supported us in a major way. We felt that support in the dugout. I think there are some thank yous that are deserving there.”

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Phillies free-agent targets: Josh Donaldson

Phillies free-agent targets: Josh Donaldson

Leading up to baseball’s winter meetings, we will take a daily look at some of the game’s top free agents and how they could potentially impact the Phillies.

Today, we check in on slugging third baseman Josh Donaldson.

The vitals

Donaldson has been one of the game’s premier sluggers the last half-dozen seasons. He’s an above-average defender at third base and an outstanding competitor. He has belted at least 33 homers in four of the last five seasons and led the American League with 123 RBIs in 2015, the year he won the AL MVP for Toronto. He battled injury in 2017 and 2018, signed a one-year, $23 million contract with Atlanta a year ago and went on to prove himself healthy by finishing 11th in the National League MVP voting in 2019. He played 155 games for the Braves and hit .259 with 37 homers, 94 RBIs and a .900 OPS.

Why he fits

At a position loaded with sluggers, Donaldson is still one of the best and the Phillies have a big need. Phillies third basemen ranked 24th in OPS (.725) and batting average (.243) and 22nd in homers (23) among big-league clubs in 2019. Donaldson’s fiery style of play would quickly win him fans in Philadelphia.

Why he doesn’t fit

The injury history, coupled with his age — he turns 34 in December — would be a concern on the long-term deal he is seeking, especially when the Phillies have a young third base prospect, Alec Bohm, scheduled to play at Triple A in 2020. Donaldson is one of three big third basemen on the free-agent market with Anthony Rendon and Mike Moustakas. The Phillies have already shown an interest in Moustakas, whose price tag could still allow the team to pump significant resources into pitching.

The price tag

Donaldson jumped quickly at a one-year deal last year. That won’t happen this year. He is said to be looking for at least three years and you have to figure the average annual value will be in the neighborhood of $25 million. If Donaldson keeps producing like he did in 2019, he’d be worth it.

Scout’s take

“He loves to play. And when he’s healthy, he’s a major difference maker. There’s value in that power. The concern for me would be that it’s a long season and he could fit more in the American League because of the DH.”

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Bobby Abreu, Cliff Lee, Scott Rolen headline polarizing list of ex-Phillies on Hall of Fame ballot

Bobby Abreu, Cliff Lee, Scott Rolen headline polarizing list of ex-Phillies on Hall of Fame ballot

MLB's 2020 Hall of Fame ballot was released Monday and it included six former Phillies of varying degrees of popularity. In fact, it's hard to even say which of the six is the most beloved in Philly. 

Bobby Abreu
Raul Ibanez
Cliff Lee
Scott Rolen
Curt Schilling
Billy Wagner

• At first glance, you might say Lee. He had great moments with the Phillies, memorable playoff games, and that low-key swag that drew fans to him. But things ended in a clunky way when he came back the second time. An elbow injury caused Lee to miss the final 1½ years of his contract and he was pretty much invisible during that time. He was also noticeably absent when the 2009 NL Championship team got together at Citizens Bank Park this past summer. The answer is still probably Lee, but it was a sour end for plenty of folks.

• Abreu is very well-respected around the game for being an ahead-of-his-time player with gaudy, well-rounded stats, but he was and still is polarizing around here. A portion of the fan base will always look at Abreu as an overrated compiler who was scared of walls. The other portion — it may be an even 50-50 split these days — appreciates the player Abreu was and realizes he'd be worth $200 million today.

• Phillies fans haven't forgotten Rolen's elite defense. Rolen was truly one of the best defensive third basemen of all time. But he orchestrated his way out of here and that is remembered equally, if not more so. 

• Schilling ... not delving into that one beyond an acknowledgment that his playoff performances were legendary, he had four excellent seasons and his post-playing career has been very strange.

• Ibañez was well-liked here and everywhere else he played. He may manage in the majors some day soon. He had an incredible first half in 2009, his first year with the Phillies, then was just slightly above average the rest of his three-year career with them.

• Phillies fans don't feel especially attached to Wagner, who was great here but lasted only two seasons. Unlike the other five on the list, Wagner should be in the Hall of Fame, in my opinion. Wagner was a more dominant reliever than Trevor Hoffman or Lee Smith. He had six seasons with an ERA under 2.00. He saved 422 games. He could have hung around for three more seasons to hit the arbitrary number of 500, which would have made him a Hall of Famer. Instead, Wagner retired on his terms after posting a 1.43 ERA for the Braves in 2010.

It will be interesting to see whether Abreu, a first-time candidate, gets the groundswell of support we've seen in recent years with players like Tim Raines.

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