Phillies

Rule change might affect Phillies' ability to trade, but other rule could help

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Rule change might affect Phillies' ability to trade, but other rule could help

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies could be buyers at the trade deadline this summer in a more impactful way than they were last year, when they added Wilson Ramos, Justin Bour, Jose Bautista, Asdrubal Cabrera and Luis Avilan.

The difference this summer is that, according to The Athletic, teams won't be able to trade in August as they have for decades.

The change to one hard trade deadline of July 31 will go into effect this season, per Ken Rosenthal.

In past seasons, teams could still wheel and deal in the month of August using the waiver process. A team would place a player on trade waivers and if he passed through unclaimed, his team was free to trade him anywhere. If the player was claimed, his team had a window to swing a deal with the claiming team.

No more, it appears.

The Phillies have made trades in August frequently over the last two decades. Jamie Moyer was an August acquisition in 2006. So were Matt Stairs and Scott Eyre in 2008. They acquired Mike Sweeney in August 2010. They traded away Chase Utley in August 2015 and Carlos Ruiz in August 2016.

Last year, the Phillies acquired Bour, Bautista and Avilan in August in an effort to fill a few holes and try to stay in the race.

There have been some high-profile trades around the league in August. Justin Verlander was dealt from the Tigers to the Astros in August 2017 and helped swing that year's World Series. 

Last August, Andrew McCutchen, Gio Gonzalez, Ryan Madson, David Freese, Curtis Granderson, Mike Fiers and Josh Donaldson were traded — players ranging from useful to good.

The new rule is designed to keep more teams competitive over the season's final two months rather than dumping the salaries of solid veterans. You can see the logic in it, though it could make things difficult for a team that suffers a bad injury on, say, Aug. 3 and no longer has the recourse to fill that hole externally.

More on the four-man outfield

There is no rule currently on the table to prevent teams from shifting their defenses any way they want, but it would not be surprising if a rule is instituted within the next two years.

We could see an increase or even an explosion of four-man outfields this season. The Blue Jays experimented with it this past weekend against Bryce Harper. It was the first time he ever faced that alignment and he hopes to not see it again.

Interestingly, though, Rhys Hoskins may be an even more logical candidate than Harper for the four-outfielder treatment. 

According to Sports Info Solutions, Hoskins had the sixth-lowest rate in all of baseball last season of hitting a ground ball or short line drive to the non-pull side. Hoskins was also in the top 10 in batted balls of at least 250 feet in the air. 

Both of those metrics make Hoskins one of the prototypical players to use this defensive alignment against. The biggest candidate in the league, according to this data, is St. Louis' Matt Carpenter.

It doesn't feel like baseball, the four-outfielder alignment. But most teams these days seek every competitive advantage they can find and this sure looks like one.

If this experiment becomes more commonplace during the season and hitters cannot adjust, the result would likely be even less offense, even fewer balls in play that turn into hits. Which isn't good for a game that has seen strikeouts skyrocket and hits decline.

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Bryce Harper shares thoughts on Nationals playing in World Series without him

Bryce Harper shares thoughts on Nationals playing in World Series without him

Right around the time the Washington Nationals were clinching their World Series berth this week, a guy who left that team to come play in Philadelphia posted a cute photo to his Instagram story with his baby son. It included the caption, "cuddle time is the best time."

I made light of the juxtaposition of that photo with what Nationals players were currently doing in a tongue-in-cheek tweet, but it's hard not to think about Bryce Harper during this Nationals run.

We know exactly how Nationals fans down in DC feel about their former favorite slugger who departed DC for big time bucks. They won't stop telling us.

But what was Harper feeling? Thanks to a one-on-one interview Harper did with Jayson Stark of the Athletic, we now have a glimpse into Harper's mind during this unique time.

Stark says Harper was effusive in his praise of the city of Philadelphia during their chat. And the majority of Harper's answers are very savvy in a public relations sense. Harper is good at saying what you think he's supposed to say. But it doesn't come off as disingenuous.

Stark asked Harper if he was feeling any jealousy watching his old pals spray champagne in the locker room and his answer comes off as pretty honest. From the Athletic ($):

“No,” he said again, without a millisecond’s hesitation, “because like I said, I made my decision, and that was my decision. And it was the final decision that I made. You know, jealousy isn’t good. For me, it’s about having the gratitude to go out and do what I do each day and not having an attitude towards anybody else.

“I think it’s about being able to be the person that I am,” he went on, “and not saying to myself, `Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m not a National.’ Or, `Oh my gosh, those guys are doing what they’re doing. I can’t believe it. I’m so jealous.’ No. I’m so happy for them. You know how hard it is to get into the postseason and win games. For them to be able to put it together this year the way they have, it’s an amazing thing.”

There's plenty more to the piece worth diving into. Stark also spoke with former National/Phillie Jayson Werth, who knows a thing or two about both cities/clubs and also what it's like to play alongside Harper.

The Nationals' opponent in the World Series is yet to be set, but whether it's the Nationals, New York Yankees or Houston Astros who are spraying champagne at the end of it, you won't see Harper doing that. Unless he and his little baby pop up in his Instagram stories getting wacky.

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Phillies manager update: Dusty Baker has second interview, Buck Showalter on tap Friday, Joe Girardi still to come

Phillies manager update: Dusty Baker has second interview, Buck Showalter on tap Friday, Joe Girardi still to come

Interviews continued Thursday for the Phillies’ vacant manager’s job.

According to multiple sources, Dusty Baker spent a second straight day in Philadelphia meeting with club officials. Baker went through a first round of interviews on Wednesday.

Buck Showater and Joe Girardi met with Phillies officials on Monday in the New York metropolitan area, according to multiple sources.

Showalter has been working as an analyst for the YES Network in New York during the postseason. Sources say he pulled out of his scheduled assignments for Thursday and Friday nights because he will be in Philadelphia for a second round of interviews on Friday.

Girardi is expected to have a second round of interviews early next week.

Though it’s possible more candidates could emerge, the Phillies are currently focused on just these three candidates.

“They want major-league experience,” a person with knowledge of the Phillies’ thinking said earlier this week.

Baker, Showalter and Girardi have a combined 53 years of big-league managing experience and they have won a combined seven manager of the year awards and 13 division titles. Girardi led the New York Yankees to the World Series title in 2009. His club beat the Phillies in six games.

Girardi may very well be the Phillies’ preferred candidate because of his experience working with a front office that values the use of analytics in building a roster and running a game. The Yankees are one of baseball’s analytic powerhouses. Girardi, however, is a former catcher who also relies on instinct and feel in running a game. That balance would be attractive to the Phillies.

Girardi is also being pursued by the New York Mets and they have geography going for them as Girardi lives outside the city.

With the second round of interviews underway, it's possible the Phils could name a manager as early as next Thursday, between Games 2 and 3 of the World Series.



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