Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Important off-season dates for the Phillies and Major League Baseball

Rob Manfred leads MLB into a big off-season
It has finally arrived, one of the most anticipated Major League Baseball off-season periods in years. Fans of the Philadelphia Phillies have been led to believe that the team will be a major player in the free agent market during this ‘Hot Stove’ season.
As of 9:00 a.m. EDT on Monday morning the contracts expired for dozens of players. They are now free to negotiate for deals covering 2019 and beyond. Their former team has exclusive negotiating rights for the first five days. After that, it’s on to the open market.
The list of available names at this point includes Bryce HarperManny MachadoJosh DonaldsonCraig KimbrelMichael BrantleyPatrick CorbinAndrew McCutchenDallas Keuchel, and World Series MVP Steve Pearce among dozens of others.
The list of big names could increase by midnight on Halloween, as star pitchers Clayton Kershaw and David Price have until that point to decide whether or not to exercise player options on their contracts. If either or both turns down the option, they would also join the free agent ranks.
A number of players who appeared with the Phillies during the last few years are also available as free agents. That list includes Freddy GalvisWilson RamosAsdrubal CabreraClay BuchholzCharlie Morton, and Jake Diekman.
Other names available on the market and very familiar to Phillies fans from their time with the team include outfielder Hunter Pence, starting pitcher J.A. Happ, and reliever Ryan Madson. The latter two own World Series rings from the Phillies 2008 championship team.
Here is an exhaustive list of the important dates to look for as we move through the MLB off-season and into the start of the 2019 season:
OCTOBER 31: Halloween. Okay, okay. Besides candy, the majority of contract options must be exercised by teams or players for the following season. Already picked up were team options on players such as Madison Bumgarner and Carlos Carrasco. Shortstop Elvis Andrus exercised his player option. The big name here is Clayton Kershaw with the Dodgers. He has until the clock strikes midnight after the trick-or-treaters are tucked in bed to make his decision.
NOVEMBER 2: This is the deadline by which MLB teams must tender a qualifying offer (click link for detailed explanation) to eligible free agents. The one-year offer this season would be for $17.9 million. For example, the Nationals could make a qualifying offer to Harper. He could accept and play with them next year on a contract worth $17.9, or decline and become a free agent. If a qualifying offer is made, players have 10 days maximum to make their decision. However, players acquired in mid-season deals cannot have such an offer made. Therefor, the Dodgers cannot make a qualifying offer to Machado. He is automatically headed to free agency.
Phillies are expected to be major players in the bidding for free agent Harper.
NOVEMBER 3: The date on which the full and open free agency period will begin. This would, for instance, be the earliest that the Phillies could formally negotiate with Harper or Machado. It is also the earliest that free agents can sign with a new team, though you won’t see that happen in most instances since the player would need to negotiate a contract first. That would likely happen after entertaining multiple offers.
NOVEMBER 4: Rawlings and Major League Baseball will announce the winners of the 2018 Gold Glove Awards.
NOVEMBER 5: Finalists will be announced by MLB for each of the major awards, including the Most Valuable Player in each league, the Cy Young Award, the Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year. Also, the MLB Executive of the Year will be announced on this date.
NOVEMBER 6-8: GM meetings held in Carlsbad, California. Big deals don’t usually happen here, but the groundwork is often laid for those consummated later, including at the later Winter Meetings.

Monday, October 29, 2018

MLB Japan Series roster will include two members of the Philadelphia Phillies

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Hoskins will likely play the outfield and first base in Japan

The roster for the team representing Major League Baseball in the 2018 Japan All-Star Series against stars from Nippon Professional Baseball was announced today.
Two Phillies players, Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana, were named as members of the MLB squad. They will take part in a series of seven games to be played between the MLB and NPB stars from November 8-15 at various ball parks across Japan.
Santana was named as an infielder, with Hoskins listed as an outfielder. Other infielders named to the MLB roster were Whit MerrifieldChris TaylorEugenio Suarez, and Amed Rosario. With none of those as natural first basemen, you could see both Santana and Hoskins man the position in a platoon.
Others listed as outfielders on the roster were Mitch HanigerKevin PillarEnrique Hernandez, and a pair of exciting young players from Phillies division rivals, Ronald Acuna of the Braves and Juan Soto of the Nationals. The catchers for the MLB squad will be Yadier MolinaRobinson Chirinos, and J.T. Realmuto.
The MLB pitching staff will feature two members of the World Series-champion Boston Red Sox, left-hander Brian Johnson and righty Hector Velazquez.
The only southpaws on the MLB staff will be Daniel Norris and Vidal Nuno.
Also on the MLB staff will be right-hander Kenta Maeda of the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers. Maeda hails from Senboku-gun, Japan, which is in the northern part of the main island, about 350 miles north of Tokyo.

MLB will be sending an experienced coaching staff under manager Don Mattingly. The staff will include former playing greats Edgar Martinez and Hideki Matsui, the latter of whom was the 2009 World Series MVP in the New York Yankees six-game victory over the Phillies.
This will be the 37th time that MLB stars have toured Japan dating back to 1908. MLB Network will provide live coverage of most of the games and many events. The games will take place in the Tokyo Dome, at Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium in Hiroshima, and at the Nagoya Dome in Nagoya.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as "Two Phillies named to MLB Japan All-Star Series roster"

Phillies favored by Vegas odds-makers to land free agent outfielder A.J. Pollock

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Pollock joins dozens of players as MLB free agents

This morning at 9:00am Eastern Daylight Time, dozens of Major League Baseball players officially became free agents. Those players are now free to negotiate and sign with any team they like.
In the coming days their ranks will swell as a few more players and teams decide whether or not to exercise contract options for 2019 and beyond. The biggest name making such a decision is Los Angeles Dodgers lefty ace Clayton Kershaw, who has until the clock strikes midnight on Halloween night to make his decision.
Much of the speculation regarding the Philadelphia Phillies has centered around two players, shortstop Manny Machado and outfielder Bryce Harper. The Phillies have been widely regarded for months, if not years now, to be among the leading contenders to land one or both of those in-their-prime superstars.
However, the odds that the Phillies will actually land both players would be long. Each is expected to command a massive contract. And judging by social media response, Machado has seriously damaged his reputation among Phillies fans with his comments and antics during this postseason.
If the Phillies decide that Machado is indeed not for them, they could turn their attention to upgrading the starting pitching rotation. I wrote previously here at Phillies Nation about 29-year-old left-hander Patrick Corbin, who seems like a perfect fit for their needs.
What happens if the Phillies are out on Machado, and then lose out in the bidding on Harper? Does that mean there is no way to upgrade the lineup for the 2019 season and beyond? Not necessarily.
Bovada released its odds this morning of certain big-name MLB free agents signing with a particular organization. The Phillies were indeed listed as the favorites to sign both Harper and Machado.
That doesn’t mean the odds-makers in Vegas feel that the Phillies are favorites to sign both players. It just means that, individually, the Phillies are favorites. If John Middleton and Matt Klentak were to actually get either player’s signature on a contract, the odds against the Phillies then signing the other free agent would likely rise substantially.
Bovada also listed the Phillies in regard to a few others. They are listed at the third-best odds to land closer Craig Kimbrel, tied for the fourth-best odds to land starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel, and tied for second on the odds to land third baseman Josh Donaldson. While they list odds on six teams for Corbin, the Phillies are not one of those.
Interestingly, Bovada has listed the Phillies as the co-favorites to land outfielder A.J. Pollock as well. Should the Phillies fail in their efforts to land Harper, the soon-to-be 31-year old Pollock could be a backup plan.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

A look at the 10 dramatic Philadelphia Phillies postseason extra-innings games

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Maddox was in the middle of the action during  the decisive1980 NLCS Game Five

The Los Angeles Dodgers season was on the brink as Game 3 of the 2018 World Series staggered into the bottom of the 18th inning at Dodgers Stadium. The Boston Red Sox had a 2-0 lead and would take a nearly insurmountable 3-0 stranglehold on the series with a victory.
The Dodgers were rescued when Max Muncy lofted a lead-off, walk-off, opposite-field home run to give Los Angeles a 3-2 win, pulling them back from the precipice and cutting Boston’s lead in the Fall Classic to a 2-1 margin.
In the 136-year history of the Philadelphia Phillies franchise the club has reached postseason play on 13 occasions. They have been involved in 103 games across 22 different series during those playoff appearances.
Just ten of those games reached extra-innings. The Phillies have an even 5-5 split result. While none lasted nearly as long as last night’s marathon, each held its own drama and importance, and revealed its own heroes and scapegoats.
Let’s take a quick look back at each of those five Philadelphia Phillies extra-inning postseason victories and defeats.


The Phillies were swept by the powerful New York Yankees in four straight games in this Fall Classic. But the young ‘Whiz Kids’ didn’t go down without a fight. They battled the Bronx Bombers evenly during the first three games, losing each by a single run.
After the Yankees had taken the opener by a 1-0 score, Game 2 of the 1950 World Series would again be held at what was still in those days known as Shibe Park. The Yanks went up early when Gene Woodling‘s ground single off Robin Roberts scored Jerry Coleman in the top of the second inning.
Mike Goliat left off the home 5th with a single off Yankees pitcher Allie Reynolds. He rolled around to third base on a one-out base hit by Eddie Waitkus, and then raced home with the tying run on a sac fly to left from Richie Ashburn.
Roberts and Reynolds would battle into the 10th inning, both pitchers going the distance in what is a complete antithesis to today’s game. In the top of the 10th, Joe DiMaggio crushed a lead-off home run out deep to left field for what would prove to be the game-winner.


The Phillies had tied the franchise record by winning 101 regular season games for a second straight season. And for a second straight year they would meet the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.
The Dodgers had taken the series the previous year by breaking the hearts of Phillies fans on what has become known as ‘Black Friday’ in team lore. Now a year later, LA appeared on the verge of doing it again, taking the first two games.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Remembering Eric Bruntlett, unsung hero of the 2008 World Series champion Phillies

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Bruntlett dashes home as the winning run in Game 3 of the 1980 World Series

It seems somewhat hard to believe, but it has been a full decade now since the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in five games to capture the 2008 World Series championship.
There were many popular, homegrown heroes on that Phillies ball club. The names and faces jump immediately to mind for every fan who was around to enjoy that incredible team: Jimmy RollinsRyan HowardChase UtleyCole HamelsBrett MyersRyan MadsonCarlos Ruiz.
But even with all of those great players, the Phillies don’t win the World Series that year without the contributions of those brought in from the outside. Many of those acquired from other organizations became extremely popular and are easily recalled by fans as well: Jamie MoyerJayson WerthShane Victorino, and Brad Lidge would quickly come to mind.
But there were lesser contributors, players who didn’t get on the field or up to bat as often but who played a pivotal role in much of the drama that unfolded during that season and in that Fall Classic. One such contributor was utility player Eric Bruntlett.

Born and raised in Lafayette, Indiana, Bruntlett played shortstop at Stanford University. He was chosen in the ninth round of the 2000 MLB Amateur Draft by the Houston Astros as the 277th player taken overall that year.
He rose quickly through Houston’s minor league system, reaching Triple-A by the following summer. In late June of 2003, Bruntlett was called up for the first time and would spend most of the season with the Astros from that point as a pinch-hitter and infield backup.
That would prove to be Bruntlett’s primary big-league role over the entirety of what became a five-year stint with Houston. In each of his first four seasons, the Astros finished in second place in the National League Central Division.
He was part of the close-but-no-cigar Houston teams that tried to win the first world championship in Astros franchise history during that run. The team lost a heart-breaking NLCS in seven games to the Saint Louis Cardinals in 2004, and then were swept by the Chicago White Sox in the 2005 World Series.
On November 7, 2007 newly hired Astros GM Ed Wade, the former Phillies general manager, packaged Bruntlett with Lidge in a trade, sending both to the Phillies. In exchange, Houston received relief pitcher Geoff Geary and a pair of prospects, infielder Mike Costanzo and outfielder Michael Bourn.
It would prove to be a coup for Pat Gillick, who had been hired as the Phillies GM to succeed Wade almost exactly two years to the day earlier. In fact, it would end up as one of the most important deals in Phillies history.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Josh Bonifay will reportedly become the new Phillies farm director

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Bonifay spent two seasons on the Texas Rangers coaching staff in 2016-17

Sources have reportedly told Matt Gelb of The Athletic that the Philadelphia Phillies will name Josh Bonifay as their new farm director.
The likelihood is that a formal announcement will not come until after the World Series has ended. That could come by Sunday but will definitely happen by sometime next week at the latest.
The 40-year-old Bonifay was born in Macon, Georgia, but attended high school and college in North Carolina. He was drafted twice by the Pittsburgh Pirates, first out of high school in 1996 and finally out of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in the 24th round of the 1999 MLB Draft.
Bonifay played for seven seasons in the Bucs minor league system, rising as far as the Double-A level. He then moved on to the Houston Astros organization for one final season as a player with Double-A Corpus Cristi in the 2006 season.
After his retirement as an active player, Bonifay returned to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where he worked towards and received his business degree.
In 2011, Bonifay re-joined the Astros organization, this time as their minor league rookie-level hitting coach in Greenville. He then filled the same role the following season with Houston’s High-A level affiliates at Lexington.
For the 2013 campaign, Bonifay went back to Greenville in order to gain his first managerial challenge. Not only did he gain valuable experience, he took the club to the championship round and was named as the Appalachian League Manager of the Year.
After two years at the helm in Greenville, Bonifay was moved to Low-A Quad Cities to become the manager there. Bonifay then left the Houston organization to take his first big-league opportunity, serving on the Texas Rangers staff during the 2016-17 seasons.
This past season, Bonifay returned to Houston as the Astros minor league field coordinator. Per Gelb, Bonifay comes with a tremendous baseball pedigree:
“Bonifay, 40, comes from a baseball family. His father, Cam Bonifay, was Pittsburgh’s general manager for almost a decade and later the director of player development in Tampa Bay. His grandfather, brother, nephew and cousin were players, scouts or executives in baseball.”

Phillies prepare to enter 2018-19 MLB free agency period in strong financial shape

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As MLB free agency looms, Harper will make all the bubble gum he could ever blow

With last night’s Game One 8-4 victory by the host Boston Red Sox over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the 2018 World Series is officially underway.
In addition to the inherent drama of the Fall Classic, late October baseball also means something else. Something far more important to fans of the Philadelphia Phillies.
With each day that passes, we draw closer to the start of free agency in Major League Baseball. In fact, it is possible that the free agency signing period could begin as soon as this coming weekend.
Players whose contracts are expiring will become free agents and are free to both negotiate and sign with any team beginning at 9:00AM on the morning following the final game of the World Series.
Should the Red Sox sweep, that off-season signing period would begin this coming Sunday morning. Should the World Series extend all the way out through seven full games, that dramatic Game 7 would take place on Halloween. This would mean that the free agency signing period will begin no later than November 1.
So we are within a week, give or take a few days, of the Phillies and each of the other 29 MLB ball clubs being able to sign free agents.


The Phillies, valued at $1.7 billion by Forbes magazine back in April of this year, appear to have tremendous financial resources at their disposal. Controlling owner John Middleton is already on record that he is ready and willing to use those resources in order to return the team to contending status.
Back in mid-July, former ESPN writer and longtime Baseball America contributor Jerry Crasnick reported that sources were telling him that Middleton was ready to go after the two biggest current free agent names, shortstop Manny Machado and outfielder Bryce Harper, this fall.
Per Cot’s Contracts at Baseball Prospectus, the Phillies have approximately $69 million in contract obligations already on the books for the 2019 season. The vast majority of that is committed to Jake Arrieta ($25) and Carlos Santana($20.3), with veteran relievers Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter combining for nearly $17 million more.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Dodgers will have 2008 Phillies World Series hero Ryan Madson in their bullpen for the Fall Classic

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Madson will be trying to win his third World Series ring with a third different team

The Los Angeles Dodgers punched their ticket to the Fall Classic with Saturday night’s 5-1 victory in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series over the host Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
The Dodgers will now open the 2018 World Series at Fenway Park in Boston on tonight against the host Red Sox.
This is a return trip for the Dodgers, who a year ago advanced to the 2017 World Series. Los Angeles was edged out in seven games by the Houston Astros last October.
This also marks something of a return to baseball’s biggest stage for two key members of the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies World Series championship team, second baseman Chase Utley and relief pitcher Ryan Madson.
While Utley and Madson are under contract with and have played with the club this season, only Madson will actually be seeing action in the Fall Classic roster that was submitted today.
Madson began this season with the Washington Nationals. He was dealt to the Dodgers on August 31, three days after his 38th birthday.
He would make nine appearances for Los Angeles in September and was particularly effective over the final two weeks of the season. Madson allowed just one run on two hits with seven strikeouts and no walks in five innings down the stretch as the Dodgers battled for a sixth straight National League West Division crown.
Madson was on the Dodgers roster and made two appearances in the NLDS win over Atlanta Braves. He was then included on the NLCS roster in the victory over the Brewers. All total, he has seven postseason appearances so far this year, allowing just one run on six hits over 6.1 innings across seven games with a 6/1 K:BB ratio.
Utley has not appeared at all in this postseason for the Dodgers, though he has been given credit by players such as Matt Kemp and Enrique ‘Kike’ Hernandez for helping them.