Phillies

Sign Craig Kimbrel? Phillies GM Matt Klentak seems confident in what he already has

Sign Craig Kimbrel? Phillies GM Matt Klentak seems confident in what he already has

Matt Klentak spent the winter making high-profile additions to the Phillies’ roster.

It does not sound as if he’s planning another one any time soon — specifically in the bullpen. Despite its role in a couple of difficult, late losses to the Washington Nationals in the first two weeks of the season, Klentak remains confident in the unit.

“I feel really good about the construction of our bullpen,” the Phillies general manager said before Wednesday night’s series finale against Washington.

“And I’m not blind. I know some of our key guys have had some tough outings so far in the first 10 days. I’ve watched it. I know it. But I like the depth that we have. I’m encouraged by Seranthony Dominguez’ and David Robertson’s last two outings. Pat Neshek and Adam Morgan look like the best versions of themselves this year.

“I trust in the track record of our group. In the best of times, they’re not going to be perfect every night and certainly when you’re facing lineups like the Nationals have. There are good hitters over there. Sometimes they’re going to get our guys, and sometimes our guys will get them.”

On Tuesday night, manager Gabe Kapler rested three key relievers because they’d so far carried a significant load and he’s committed to keeping them healthy all season. Pressed into late, high-leverage duty, Edubray Ramos allowed a two-out homer to Victor Robles in failing to protect a one-run lead in the ninth and Jose Alvarez gave up a three-run homer in the 10th.

In the wake of that 10-6 loss, a clamor arose for the Phillies to sign free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel.

The Phillies have monitored the market for Kimbrel for months, but, at the moment, do not appear ready to strike.

Klentak would not talk specifically about Kimbrel nor would he say if he has had recent conversations with David Meter, the pitcher’s agent.

Klentak said he would not take a “football fan mentality” and over-scrutinize one bad game, especially with the way things have gone so far this season.

“We’re 7-3 with the best winning percentage in the National league and we’ve not been clicking on all cylinders,” he said. “So the optimistic view of that is, there may still be better days ahead and that’s saying something when you’re 7-3.”

He went on to praise the fans who have backed the Phillies out of the gate.

“Our fans have been incredible,” he said. “It’s really cool to come to the ballpark and play in front of these crowds in that environment. We’ve had a lot of our stars doing star-level things. It’s been very entertaining.”

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

Most of the baseball world agrees that the Phillies are improved with the additions of No. 2 starter Zack Wheeler, shortstop Didi Gregorius, and the new contingent of manager Joe Girardi, pitching coach Bryan Price and hitting coach Joe Dillon.

The question is how much improved?

The Phils won 81 games last season, a year after winning 80. Both years, they totally collapsed in September. Both years, a good number of players were simply playing out the string, though the effort level was more questionable in 2018 than in 2019.

Even though the Phillies were quiet this offseason after their two big signings, and even though the NL East is still a beast, they should still exceed 81 wins. If they don't, there's a serious problem. If they don't, the GM probably won't be here to try to rectify things next offseason.

The over/under win totals are out and the Phillies' number is 85.5 at FanDuel and 84.5 at DraftKings.

I'd go over at 84.5. Think about how many injuries the Phillies suffered last season. Think about the talent gap between Wheeler and every Phillies starting pitcher behind Aaron Nola last season. The impact of Girardi, Price and Dillon won't be all that quantifiable, but it is realistic that this revamped coaching staff can conjure a few more wins out of the 2020 Phillies, whether it's in-game decision-making or better instructions given to young players who underperformed last season.

At DraftKings, the Mets' over/under is a game better than the Phillies' at 85.5. The Braves are at 90.5 and the Nationals 88.5. The Marlins are at 64.5, higher than only one team, the Tigers.

Much more surprising are the Phillies' World Series odds. They have the sixth-shortest odds to win it all. Seriously. They're +1800. Here is the Top 10:

Yankees: 3.5/1
Dodgers: 5/1
Astros: 6/1
Braves: 11/1
Nationals: 14/1
Phillies: 18/1
Mets: 20/1
Twins: 20/1
Red Sox: 22/1
Cubs: 22/1

Apparently, the expectation is that the NL Central will be bringing up the rear in 2020. Really, the only NL Central team that improved was the Reds. The Cardinals lost Marcell Ozuna, the Brewers lost Yasmani Grandal and the Cubs didn't spend money on a single major-league free agent.

Four of the top seven teams being NL East teams just shows you how much of a battle these next seven months will be for the Phils.

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Phillies prospects Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm make Baseball America's Top 100 list

Phillies prospects Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm make Baseball America's Top 100 list

Baseball America’s always interesting Top 100 Prospects list landed this week and the Phillies are represented with two players in the top half.

Starting pitcher Spencer Howard ranks 27th on the list and third baseman Alec Bohm 28th. Both players are projected to open the coming season at Triple A and get to the majors at some point in 2020. Both have been invited to major-league spring training camp, which begins in less than three weeks in Clearwater. See the complete list of Phillies’ in-house non-roster invites here.

Howard, a 23-year-old right-hander, was the Phillies’ second-round draft pick in 2017. We profiled him here.

In its story on the Top 100 prospects, Baseball America offered this take on Howard: Triple-digit fastball, swing-and-miss curveball and the ability to work the edges of the strike zone, Howard flashes front-end potential.

Bohm, 23, was the third overall pick in the 2018 draft. He hit .305 with 21 homers, 80 RBIs and a .896 OPS at three levels, including Double A in 2019. We profiled him here.

Baseball America offered this take on Bohm: Even with questions about whether he’ll have to move to first base, Bohm has the feel to hit and plus power to hit in the middle of the Phillies’ order, and soon.

Shortstop Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays was ranked No. 1 on Baseball America’s list for the second year in a row. The Rays placed eight players on the list. Because of a loaded farm system, the Rays were unable to protect left-hander Cristopher Sanchez on their 40-man roster and the Phillies traded for him in November. Read about Sanchez here.

The Los Angeles Dodgers placed seven players on the list and the Minnesota Twins and San Diego Padres had six each.

The Miami Marlins led National League East teams with five players in the Top 100, including former Phillies pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, who was traded for J.T. Realmuto a year ago. Sanchez ranks 16th on the list and is projected to arrive in the majors sometime in 2020.

The Atlanta Braves placed four players on the list and the Washington Nationals and New York Mets joined the Phillies with two players.

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