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Old 03-18-2019, 10:06 PM   #1
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Stupid Money: the Bryce Harper era in Philadelphia (2019-2031ish?)

As you know, the Phillies recently signed Bryce Harper to the largest contract in MLB history- $330 million over 13 years. I’ll run and follow the Phillies over the duration of that contract, trying to operate in a vaguely realistic manner, and report on the team at the beginning, middle and end of each season. MLB will expand and have various other proposed rule changes implemented over the time of the dynasty.

Please feel free to comment or ask questions along the way, and I’ll attempt to incorporate things into the triannual reports.

Hope you enjoy.
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Old 03-18-2019, 10:20 PM   #2
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2019 preview

“Stupid money.” The phrase will resonate with the Phillies franchise for years to come. Majority owner John Middleton promised the team would spend this offseason, and spend it did, forking over an incredible $330 million over 13 years to reel in outfielder Bryce Harper, perhaps the game’s most recognizable player.

Harper is still relatively young at 26 years old, but he’s spent a decade in the spotlight, having been one of the most sought-after amateur players in history. The jury is out as to whether he’s met the lofty expectations from that time. On the one hand, he produced one of the best seasons in baseball history in 2015, when he hit .330 with a .460 on-base percentage, 42 home runs, and 118 RBI, and he led the Washington Nationals to four playoff appearances in his seven seasons. On the other hand, he’s hit less than .250 the last two seasons, and the Nationals never won a playoff series in his tenure there. There are questions whether Harper is already on the downhill side of his career, and questions about whether his defense will continue to slide in the upcoming seasons.

Neither Harper nor Middleton seem overly concerned about these questions. At his introductory press conference, Harper indicated that he valued certainty and building a legacy more than other factors. “For me, I wanted to be somewhere where I could be for a long time, and not worry about going somewhere else,” Harper said. “I’m putting all of my faith and trust in this organization, and I’m very excited about it.”

Middleton made headlines in November when he said that the Phillies were “expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little stupid about it.” The phrase dogged the team for nearly the whole offseason, and many thought that the Phillies might end up signing infielder Manny Machado instead of Harper. When Machado surprisingly signed with the San Diego Padres, the pressure ratched up a notch for the Phillies to come away with Harper, which they eventually did after some complicated negotations in which even Phillies general manager Matt Klentak worried they would end up coming away empty-handed.

While there might be cause to worry about what the end of the contract might look like, there’s been nothing but excitement among the Phillies’ fan base, as ticket sales and Harper jersey sales have been through the roof. Harper is far from the only major addition to the team, as Klentak picked up four other All-Stars in catcher J.T. Realmuto, outfielder Andrew McCutchen, shortstop Jean Segura and reliever David Robertson. In the case of Realmuto, the cost was steep, including the club’s top prospect in pitcher Sixto Sanchez.

Expectations are higher in Philadelphia than they’ve been since 2011, the last edition of the club that finished over .500. However, the NL East looks to be a tight race, with the Nationals, Braves and Mets all feeling like this could be their season as well.
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Old 03-18-2019, 11:02 PM   #3
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2019 midseason

Do you think Bryce Harper might be rethinking the decision to call Philadelphia his home for the next 13 years?

Harper's first season in the City of Brotherly Love couldn't have started much worse. The team staggered out to an improbable 10-game losing streak to start the season, and things really haven't gotten much better since. The team won just 6 of its first 27 games, and managed to lose 21 games in June as well, with a record of 27-58 heading into the second half of the season.

"That's worse than the Marlins, man," said a disgruntled Andrew McCutchen, one of several Phillies' veterans who are rumored to have demanded a trade during the season. "The Marlins!"

While McCutchen was quick to point fingers, he was far from blameless himself in the awful start, hitting just .227. Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto, Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco have also been disappointments for what was expected to be one of the league's top offenses.

Harper himself has been as advertised, hitting .272 with 17 home runs and 51 RBI. He's been remarkably patient with the team thus far. "I've been around the league for a little while," Harper said. "I know that sometimes things don't come together quite the way you hope. If this isn't the year, there are plenty more years ahead, and I believe in the core of the team."

To add injury to insult, just today the Phillies learned that All-Star shortstop Jean Segura will be lost for the season to a concussion. Segura was leading the team with a .313 average.

General manager Matt Klentak made only one move in the first half, trading outfielder Roman Quinn (who was out of options) to the Blue Jays for first baseman Rowdy Tellez and catcher Reese McGuire. More moves are expected as the trade deadline approaches as the team attempts to retool for 2020.
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Old 03-19-2019, 12:04 AM   #4
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2019 conclusion

"I don't know what to tell you guys," a dejected Bryce Harper said as the Phillies' miserable 2019 came to its conclusion. "I believe in this team. Nothing's changed. I expect we'll be right in it with the Mets and the Nationals and the Braves next year."

Harper had good cause to feel disappointed. While he performed admirably, hitting .282 with a .417 on-base percentage, 34 home runs, and 90 RBI, winning the NL Player of the Month in July along the way, he got very little support from his team. The Phillies ended up losing 101 games- the team's worst record in over 50 years, and that for a franchise that has had more than its share of tough seasons.

"Ultimately, I take full responsibility," said general manager Matt Klentak. "I built this team, and I expected something different than what I got." Klentak entered 2019 having widely been considered to have "won" the offseason. The season itself appeared to have different plans for the club.

Rumors of rifts in the front office percolated throughout the second half of the season. Klentak came under fire for missing out on two international amateurs who had been widely tied to the Phillies, outfielders Alfredo Vargas and Sergio Pimentel. One particularly bizarre bit of info was that owner John Middleton was upset with Klentak for not extending utility infielder Sean Rodriguez's contract; Rodriguez, for his part, hit .162 on the season.

Another notable rumor was that the Nationals offered third baseman Anthony Rendon to the Phillies in a deal to re-acquire Harper. That deal didn't come to fruition, but one wonders whether Harper would have welcomed a return to the Nationals, who won 94 games in his absence. For that matter, he might well have wished he were in New York instead, where the 95-win Mets bested the 109-win Yankees in the World Series.

The team was a disappointment on offense and defense, and the pitching was pretty terrible too. While Aaron Nola was solid at the top of the rotation, veterans Jake Arrieta (6-15, 5.10), Vince Velazquez (3-7, 5.25) and Jerad Eickhoff (3-15, 6.01) provided few chances for the Phils to win.

Klentak unloaded disgruntled veterans Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson and Juan Nicasio at the trade deadline, picking up a few minor prospects in return, including 24-year-old third baseman Michael Chavis, who supplanted Maikel Franco in the lineup. The Phillies should have some money to spend in the offseason, but given their recent track record, they may be wise to hold their wallet for a bit.

It's remarkable that manager Gabe Kapler remains at the helm, given reports that he had lost the clubhouse during this woebegone season, but it appears he'll return for 2020, as will Klentak. Just one season into the Bryce Harper era, the seat couldn't get much hotter for the Phillies' leadership.
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Old 03-19-2019, 07:23 AM   #5
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2020 preview

Was the money any smarter this offseason than it was last? That's the question Phillies management will have to answer to in 2020.

"I sure don't want to hear anything about winning the offseason, or stupid money," majority owner John Middleton said. "We don't have any illusions about what a disaster 2019 was. We may win in 2020, and we may not, but I certainly expect us to be a whole lot better than last year."

Oddly, while the front office is doing its best to lower expectations, there's a lot of optimism among the national pundits, some of whom are picking the Phillies as a contender to win the NL East after having finished 36 games out last season. Those rosy projections are likely driven by several high-profile moves in the offseason: the acquisitions of free agents Chris Sale and Xander Bogaerts.

The 30-year-old Sale is nothing short of the top pitcher in baseball, an eight-time All-Star and the reigning AL Cy Young winner after finishing 21-7 with a 2.08 ERA last season, as well as an incredible 247 strikeouts against just 16 walks. Sale inked a deal for $162 million over six years, just half of what Bryce Harper had signed for the year before.

Bogaerts, meanwhile, will shore up third base for the Phillies. He hit .302 with 19 home runs for the Red Sox last season, and will make $77 million over seven years.

Harper himself was active in the recruitment of the two free agents. "Look, I want to win, and I'm thrilled to have Chris and Xander on board with me. Those guys have had a lot of good seasons in Boston. I know we can get things turned around here."

Many fans questioned the Phillies' decision to splurge on more free agents, especially with megastar Mike Trout potentially coming on the market next offseason. But general manager Matt Klentak defended the team's approach. "You can't think too much about what might happen a year or two from now. We saw an opportunity to improve the club now, and we took it. I'd do that a hundred times out of a hundred." In addition to Sale and Bogaerts, Klentak also signed All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto to a six-year extension for $78 million.

There are quite a few question marks as the team opens up 2020. Jean Segura is finally back after his severe concussion last season, and there are questions about whether he'll still be able to handle shortstop. Rhys Hoskins had a down season in 2019, and he may lose time to Rowdy Tellez at first base. Dylan Cozens hit just .229 and struck out in forty percent of his at-bats last season, but he'll start the year in left field. Jake Arrieta, whose strikeout rate fell to just 6.6 per nine innings last season, remains in the rotation.

But Sale gives the Phillies a formidable one-two punch at the top of the rotation with Aaron Nola, and the lineup may be even deeper than last year with the addition of Bogaerts. "We'll see if this is our year," said Nola. "It'd be better to come to the party a year later than expected than not at all."
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Old 03-19-2019, 07:26 AM   #6
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brief amusing aside: note "mike trout" listed in the search bar of the two player screenshots on the previous post. Yes, I am interested...
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Old 03-19-2019, 10:13 AM   #7
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midseason 2020

"Yeah, it's been a totally different experience," a grinning Bryce Harper said as the Phillies headed into the second half with an NL-best 51-33 record. "I mean, we've won almost as many games already this year as we did all last season."

There have been quite a few factors that have contributed to the Phillies' winning ways. Perhaps the biggest has been left fielder Dylan Cozens, who won the NL Player of the Month in June after slugging 15 home runs. Seranthony Dominguez took home some hardware of his own in the first half, winning the NL Pitcher of the Month after saving 12 games and not allowing a run in April. Cesar Hernandez is hitting .336 in the leadoff spot. Meanwhile, the combination of Chris Sale and Aaron Nola has been fantastic, combining for a 17-9 record and a 2.99 ERA in over 200 innings of work. Zach Eflin actually leads the team with a 2.90 ERA, and even Jake Arrieta has been solid (7-2, 3.76) in the fifth spot of the rotation.

The team certainly still has its question marks. Jean Segura isn't the same after his head injury last season, hitting .260 with no power and lackluster defense. Xander Bogaerts hasn't lived up to expectations, with just a .291 on-base percentage; he's been dealing with a nagging shoulder injury for much of the season. And even Harper has had a bit of an off year, hitting just .238 with 12 home runs.

"Well, look, I'd rather be hitting .238 and in first place then hitting .338 and in last," Harper said, with a smile. "I feel good about where I'm at, and I know we're gonna put up some numbers in the second half."

The Phillies certainly look to be buyers this season. Relievers Craig Kimbrel and former Phillie David Robertson look like potential upgrades, and the team might take a run at shortstop Andrelton Simmons. But general manager Matt Klentak feels good about where the team is at. "You can't argue with our results so far," Klentak said. "But the real grind starts now, keeping this momentum and taking it hopefully into the postseason."
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Old 03-19-2019, 10:53 PM   #8
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2020 recap

From worst to first! The Phillies have done it, going from losing 101 games to winning 97 and taking home their first World Series since 2008.

"What did I tell you guys?" said a grinning Bryce Harper, saturated in champagne. "I believe in this team, this city... I'll tell you what, this is the first of many, guys, the first of many!"

Harper himself was good enough for the Phillies, hitting .255 with 24 home runs and 82 RBI, but he wasn't even the Phillies' best outfielder. That honor belonged to Dylan Cozens, who hit .255 himself with 41 homers and 132 RBI, and took home the World Series MVP by hitting .360 with three home runs against the Indians. "I'm really proud of my guy Dylan," said Harper. "I don't care who hits the home runs as long as they've got a Phillies uniform on."

Chris Sale proved to be well worth the investment, going 16-8 with a 2.58 ERA. Sale is the heavy favorite to win his second straight Cy Young Award. He was the stopper for a durable, consistent rotation that looked night and day different from the 2019 edition, as the top five starters made all but two starts for the club. Even stronger was the bullpen, headed by Seranthony Dominguez, who saved 38 games with a 1.99 ERA.

The team had its share of struggles. Jean Segura lost his job as the starting shortstop, and it's anyone's guess what the club will do with him for the next two years of his contract. Rhys Hoskins was more productive, but he too lost playing time, in favor of promising young first baseman Rowdy Tellez. General manager Matt Klentak did a nice job shoring up the team's weak spots, acquiring shortstop Nick Ahmed from Miami and reliever Dellin Betances from Milwaukee, giving up just a few C-grade prospects in return. Both veterans played key roles down the stretch.

Much of the team will remain together next season, but productive second baseman Cesar Hernandez is likely to depart. Hernandez was outstanding at the top of the lineup, hitting .322 with a .391 on-base percentage. Jake Arrieta, who had his strongest season as a Phillie (11-5, 3.74), will also hit free agency.

Owner John Middleton saw the victory as a validation of his team's free-spending ways. "It turns out this is what stupid money gets you!" Middleton shouted as he hoisted the championship trophy. "A stupid World Series Championship!"
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Old 03-20-2019, 07:18 PM   #9
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2021 preview

What do you if you’re the World Champions? If you’re Matt Klentak and the Philadelphia Phillies, you don’t stand pat- you try to make your club even better. “That’s the point, isn’t it?” Klentak asked. “2020 was an amazing year, but that’s behind us now. 2021 is here, and we’re ready.”

It was a much more confident note than what we heard from the front office a year ago. But then again, quite a bit has happened since then.

Fresh off a championship, the club had money to spend. This had once been projected as the winter in which the club would go “Trout fishing,” but the game’s best player ended up signing a seven-year extension with Los Angeles early last season. Instead, the Phillies took to the trade market to shore up the few deficits the team had.

The biggest prize was Carlos Correa, who came to the Phillies in exchange for five players, including Odubel Herrera and Scott Kingery. It was a clear case of quality over quantity for Klentak, who wanted to upgrade the shortstop position after Jean Segura struggled last season. The 26-year-old Correa hit .313 with 19 home runs after missing much of the first half of the season with a concussion. He’s under contract for $147 million over the next seven seasons.

That wasn’t the only infield upgrade, as Javier Baez came over for the Cubs for Rhys Hoskins. The first baseman had fallen out of favor last season and was supplanted by Rowdy Tellez. Baez, 28, provides premium defense at any infield position and will start at second base this year. He’s under contract for $57 million over the next five years.

But the most controversial move was the acquisition of starter Gerrit Cole from the Braves. Cole and reliever Corbin Clouse came over in exchange for two relievers and 2020 All-Star Dylan Cozens, who broke out in style last season, hitting 41 home runs and driving in a league-leading 132 runs, not to mention winning the World Series MVP. The decision was heavily criticized in the Philadelphia media, with rumors swirling that Bryce Harper himself had requested that Cozens be traded out of concern that Cozens was detracting from his own celebrity. Harper flatly denied the rumors, but wearied about being asked. “That’s a clown question, bro.”

But trading away Cozens certainly raked in a haul for the Phillies. Cole is coming off his third straight outstanding season, posting a 3.15 ERA in 34 starts, and gives the Phillies a third ace to go along with Chris Sale and Aaron Nola. He’s signed for $94 million over the next four seasons, though there’s a chance he could exercise an opt-out after this season. Meanwhile, the 25-year-old Clouse had a dominant season in the bullpen last season, with a 2.20 ERA, and there’s some thought he could eventually end up in the rotation too.

And that wasn’t all the changes. The club boasts two new starting outfielders in Adam Haseley, who hit .299 with a .420 on-base percentage playing part time last season, and Oscar Mercado, a defensive specialist.

All the wheeling and dealing left the Phillies an even stronger club than before. They’re projected to repeat as NL East champions, and owner John Middleton expects the team to win another World Series. “Matt’s done a great job setting us up for continued success,” Middleton said. “I’m calling it right now- this whole decade belongs to us. We’re the new Evil Empire.”
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Old 03-20-2019, 07:40 PM   #10
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Kinda took all of the suspense out of things when they won the WS in year 2, no?

Also lol on all of the Trout searches, especially considering...

Good luck, Evil Empire (2)!!
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Old 03-20-2019, 10:15 PM   #11
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2021 midseason

Are the Phillies having fun?

"Yeah," grinned outfielder Bryce Harper, the leading vote-getter for the upcoming All-Star Game. "This is why I came here."

Harper appears to be on his way to his best season yet with the Phillies, hitting .288 and leading the league with 28 home runs and 73 runs batted in. The Phillies have the best record in the National League, at 60-34, heading into the All-Star break.

Harper won't actually play in the game; he's dealing with a sore back and will take aa little time off during the break. He's not the only injured Phillie, as the club recently learned the devastating news that ace Chris Sale will miss the rest of the season with a torn rotator cuff. Thankfully, he'll likely be back at full strength by the start of next season. Top closer Seranthony Dominguez is on the shelf also with an oblique strain, but he should return soon.

"Well, you know you're rolling the dice when you're talking about pitching," general manager Matt Klentak said. "That's why it was so important to use to get Gerrit Cole in the offseason." Cole has performed well, going 9-4 with a 3.86 ERA, and Aaron Nola was selected to the All-Star team for the third time, going 8-5 with a 2.90 ERA.

And what about that trade for Gerrit Cole? It certainly isn't lost on the club that Dylan Cozens, the key piece in the trade, has struggled mightily in Atlanta, hitting just .205 with three home runs. He's only started six games this season. "I do think he'll get back on track," said Klentak. "You saw the potential he has when he was here with us last year. But we saw an opportunity to sell high, even if it wasn't popular with the fans at the time."

Klentak isn't tipping his hand as far as whether there are any moves coming as the trade deadline approaches. "We'll see what the market has for us. It think we'll be in good shape even if we stand pat."
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Old 03-20-2019, 11:36 PM   #12
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2021 recap

Bryce Harper was pretty clear how he felt about winning his second NL Most Valuable Player Award. "Look, don't get me wrong, it's an honor," he said. "But I'd give a hundred of these for another trophy. The Braves took it, and we want it back."

It was quite a season for the Braves, who managed to win their first World Series since 1995 even after essentially giving away their former ace (Gerrit Cole) to the Phillies. The Braves zipped past the Phils in the second half of the season to reach 95 wins, then beat them in the Division Series on the way to taking down the Astros for the championship.

While the Phillies managed to win 89 games, the season was a disappointment to Harper and others, who expected the team to perform better in the postseason. Certainly the loss of Chris Sale played a role, but it wasn't the only factor. Nick Pivetta and Zach Eflin were both pounded in the loss to the Braves, and the team scored only four runs in the last three games.

General manager Matt Klentak and manager Gabe Kapler unsurprisingly both received contract extensions, but they know there's work to be done in the offseason. Cole, who was 13-7 with a 3.60 ERA, opted out of the remainder of his contract and will become a free agent. Klentak's other big acquisition, Carlos Correa, hit just .239, and there are worries that his contract ($135 million over six years) will prove to be even more of an albatross than his predecessor Jean Segura, who was released at the start of the season with two years left on his deal. It turns out that perhaps the real "stupid money" was spent several years after Harper came on board.

There will be other changes in baseball that will affect the Phillies as the club heads into 2022. The designated hitter will go into effect in the National League, and there isn't an obvious candidate to fill that spot on the Phillies' roster as it stands. And the Montreal Expos and the Portland Beavers were officially announced to start play in 2024, with the Expos joining the Phillies in a four-team division at that time.

Harper had his best statistical season since 2015, hitting .277 and leading the league with a .421 on-base percentage, 44 home runs and 7.7 WAR. Thus far, the Phillies' faith in him has been rewarded. "I've only got ten more years here," Harper joked. "We gotta get some more rings!"
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Old 03-21-2019, 10:52 PM   #13
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2022 preview

Everyone knows that the NL East is a gauntlet. It's produced the last three World Series champions in the Mets, the Phillies and the Braves, and Atlanta looks just as strong as last year. Do the Phillies have what it takes to bring a title back to Philadelphia?

"I don't see why not," drawled a nonchalant Aaron Nola. "I'd take our nine against their nine any day of the week."

That's not necessarily the consensus view, as the pundits have the Braves running away with the division this season. But Nola may have a point- the Phillies match up pretty well. General manager Matt Klentak made a few more unconventional moves, starting with the trade of Carlos Correa, acquired only the season before, to the Los Angeles Angels, picking up infielders Daniel Murphy and Nonie Williams in the process. Correa was under contract for six more seasons, but it appeared that the Phillies' front office was spooked by his obvious decline last season, and they found a buyer in the Angels. Murphy was a fearsome hitter three years ago, hitting .358 with 56 doubles in 2019, but he's clearly declined since then, hitting just .259 last season. He makes $26 million this season and his contract expires after this year. Meanwhile, rookie Williams may well prove to be the most productive player in the deal over the next few seasons, and will break camp with the club.

Klentak replaced Correa in the infield with Japanese import Michiomi Nakamura, who signed for an astounding $243 million over eight seasons. Nakamura is a premiere, middle-of-the-order hitter who plays a solid second base, and the Phillies look to have him for the prime of his career. He fractured his thumb last week but should return in late April.

The most controversial move of the offseason was signing another foreign free agent, outfielder Alfredo Morales, only to trade him away before the season started for top prospect Jansiel Rivera and pitcher Justin Dunn. Morales signed for three years and $30 million, though after acquiring him, the Phillies worried that he wouldn’t make enough to contact to warrant that contract. Fortunately, the Phillies found a willing trade partner in Jerry Dipoto, who traded away last year’s #1 overall prospect (and this year’s #2) in Rivera. Interestingly, Morales himself was ranked right behind Rivera at #3 on this year’s BNN prospect rankings. Rivera will start the season at AAA Lehigh Valley, but should join the club around May once he has “worked on his defense” as the Phillies shamelessly manipulate his service time.

The rotation looks to be the biggest hole as the team enters the season. Gerrit Cole departed to the Dodgers for $222 million over six years. Dunn will join the rotation, as will rookie Clarke Schmidt. The bullpen, however, appears as strong as ever.

All in all, the Phillies look prepared for another run at a championship in 2022.
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Old 03-21-2019, 11:50 PM   #14
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2022 midseason

A slow start to the season has left the Phillies on the outside looking it at the All-Star break. The club has sputtered to a 50-43 record after spending much of the season below .500.

"I'd be lying if I didn't say I was disappointed with where we're at," said manager Gabe Kapler. "But at the same time, this is a dynamic group of players, and I think we're just now getting to full strength."

Kapler is probably onto something there. The Phillies' offense has struggled through numerous injuries in the first half of the season. Prized free agent acquisition Michiomi Nakamura took a while to recover from his broken hand and has played only 33 games. Rowdy Tellez and Adam Haseley have both spent time on the IL as well.

There have been plenty of positive developments, too. Rookie Nonie Williams won the NL Rookie of the Month in April, and he's hitting .293 with 19 home runs. And Nick Pivetta threw a no-hitter in June. "It was a real thrill for me," said Pivetta. "I didn't necessarily have my best command but I was able to get through nine with just the four walks."

Matt Klentak made yet another aggressive move just today, swapping third baseman Xander Bogaerts to the Mets for closer Edwin Diaz, who hits free agency after this season. Bogaerts had been hitting .269 with 10 home runs, and has three more years under contract. Klentak called up 23-year-old former #3 overall pick Jimmy Glowenke, who was hitting just .182 at AA Reading, and handed him the job. "I think part of Jimmy's problem, to be perfectly honest, is that he wasn't challenged enough at Reading," said Klentak. "We'll try to light a fire under him at the major league level."

Bryce Harper has tailed off a bit from his MVP numbers last season, but he and the Phillies' offense seem poised to take off in the second half. The Phils have 6 1/2 games to make up on Washington, who could be the fourth winner of the NL East in four seasons. "Not if I have anything to say about it," noted Harper.
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Old 03-22-2019, 10:33 PM   #15
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2022 review

The collapse wasn't Bryce Harper's fault. The Phillies' outspoken right fielder hit .275 with seven home runs in September while the team lost 18 games and dropped out of the playoff race.

"It doesn't matter who did what," Harper said as the season came to an end. "I've had seasons end early too many times. We've got to get back on top."

This time it was the Washington Nationals' chance to win the NL East and the World Series, making it four times in a row a new team from the division had won it all.

"You almost expect the Marlins to win it all next year," joked Bryce Harper, to boisterous laughter from the media. The Marlins, of course, are coming off a season in which they lost 107 games, and have not had a winning record in over a decade.

The Phillies finished just two games out of a playoff spot, and general manager Matt Klentak came under fire for trading regulars Xander Bogaerts and J.T. Realmuto in the midst of the playoff race, even with replacements Jimmy Glowenke and Luis Torrens performing even better than the players they supplanted in the lineup. But the biggest criticisms were mounted for Klentak's decision to trade away outfielder Alfredo Morales, who went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award, hitting 38 home runs and accruing 6.7 WAR for a Mariners team that made the postseason. "The egg's on my face for that one," Klentak said. "But looking forward, I'm certainly thrilled to have Jansiel Rivera in the lineup for the next six-plus years."

Nonie Williams won his own Rookie for the Year Award for the team, hitting .279 with 28 home runs, and midseason acquisition Edwin Diaz was the NL Reliever of the Year after saving 16 games with a 1.37 ERA for the Phillies.

Harper himself dropped off from the heights of the previous season, but still pounded 36 home runs and drove in 92. Rumors of potential trades swirled around him all season, but Klentak flatly denied any interest in dealing him. "Bryce is the core of our club," he said. "We're not interested in moving him. Period."

The Phillies remain a young team, with only Harper and Chris Sale the only projected regulars who have hit 30. It remains to be seen whether that youth will translate into another championship for Harper.
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Old 03-22-2019, 11:45 PM   #16
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The Phillies head into 2023 as division favorites, with BNN predicting the team to win 99 games. That's all well and good to Bryce Harper. "Let's just play the games and see what happens. I really like what Matt and John have built here."

Owner John Middleton has been uncharacteristically quiet over the last year. He spoke the media late in the offseason to say that the championship "drought" over the last two seasons is not acceptable. "This team, with these players, is just too good to come in second or third place," Middleton said. "We've got the best offense in baseball. We've got the best rotation in baseball. And we've got the best bullpen in baseball."

General manager Matt Klentak shored up the team primarily through the trade market, acquiring yet another ace to join Chris Sale and Aaron Nola at the top of the rotation. This time he struck to pick up Trevor Bauer from the Yankees, in exchange for a low-level minor leaguer. Bauer makes $33 million this season and $38 million next, but the Yankees will pay 15% of that. He was 12-12 with a 3.44 ERA last season, striking out 220 batters.

Klentak also traded Nick Pivetta, who threw a no-hitter for the Phillies last season, to the Braves for starter Mike Soroka. The 25-year-old was 8-6 with a 3.66 ERA last season, but he'll start the year on the shelf with elbow inflammation. He makes $11.6 million this year, then is due $59 million over the next three years unless he opts out of his contract. Also, after acquiring first baseman Logan Wyatt from the Angels, he swapped Rowdy Tellez to St. Louis for reliever Matt Barnes.

The Phillies were relatively quiet on the free agent market before striking to re-sign Edwin Diaz to a five-year, $50 million contract. Diaz was stellar in the second half for the Phillies last season and forms a potent back end of the bullpen with Barnes, Seranthony Dominguez and Keone Kela.

The Phillies certainly look poised to recapture the NL East, but Harper knows not to get too far ahead of himself. "I'm just gonna go out there, close my eyes and hit."
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Old 03-23-2019, 09:27 AM   #17
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2023 midseason

What's the Phillies problem? If you ask manager Gabe Kapler, it's just the way the games have gone this year. "If you look at our run differential, we've scored over a hundred more runs than we've given up," said Kapler. "That just hasn't translated into a lot of wins for us."

The Phillies are only 48-47 heading into the All-Star break. Nonetheless, they're only one game out of the second Wild Card spot, and they appear poised to make a run in the second half.

Much of their run differential came in an incredible doubleheader against the Rockies in June in which they won games by a score of 16-3 and 31-5 in the thin Colorado air. "That was fun," said left fielder Ross Adolph, who went 8 for 10 in the two games. "We should play there more often."

Starter Trevor Bauer has proven to be worth every bit of his $33 million salary, going 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA. While the offense hasn't had any breakout stars, it's been good enough from top to bottom and leads the National League in runs scored.

Not every move has worked out for Matt Klentak, though. Pitcher Mike Soroka was a disappointment and was sent to the Cubs with infielder Javier Baez for catcher Willson Contreras. That gets the Phils off the hook for the remainder of Soroka and Baez's contracts, but they'll have to pay the declining Contreras $11 million the next two seasons instead.

Just today, Klentak picked up pitcher Luis Castillo from the Cardinals in exchange for a minor leaguer. Castillo, in the last year of his contract, is 6-4 with a 3.43 ERA thus far.

The Phils have a bit of ground to make up. Owner John Middleton is said to be displeased with the team's performance. It's possible that some moves could be made at the top if the team can't turn things around.
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Old 03-23-2019, 10:38 AM   #18
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"This isn't the way it's supposed to go," said a dejected Bryce Harper, after the Phillies were swept at the hands of the Atlanta Braves. The 101-win Braves went on to the World Series, though they lost to the Kansas City Royals, with the NL East relinquishing the championship trophy for the first time in five seasons.

The Phillies, for their part, had a good but not great season, winning 88 games in a year when much more was expected. Harper had a fairly typical season, hitting .245 with 31 home runs and 105 RBI in the middle of the lineup. The offense scored the most runs in the National League, with big contributions from third baseman Nonie Williams and second baseman Michiomi Nakamura.

The bullpen was outstanding as usual, with Edwin Diaz, Seranthony Dominguez, Matt Barnes, Corbin Clouse and Jose Quijada all posting ERAs less than 3. Trevor Bauer and Chris Sale were outstanding but suffered from injuries down the stretch.

It appears that Matt Klentak and Gabe Kapler did enough to keep their jobs... for now. But they certainly remain on the hot seat, with the team having fallen short of expectations the last three seasons. This will be a transitional offseason, with longtime Phillie Aaron Nola reaching free agency, and the team having a new addition in the division with expansion Montreal Expos.

Are the Phillies excited about not having to face the Atlanta Braves 19 times a year, with them moving out of the division? "Well, I'm not too fond of them," said Harper. "But we've got to beat them sometime, whether it's in the regular season or the playoffs."
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Old 03-23-2019, 03:35 PM   #19
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Expectations are high in Philadelphia entering the 2024 season. But as usual, they'll have their hands full fending off the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets.

The Phillies stocked upon relief pitchers in the offseason, signing Aroldis Chapman and Matt Barnes to one-year deals with team options for the second year. The bullpen remains perhaps the biggest strength of the team, with Edwin Diaz and Seranthony Dominguez also returning, making things very difficult for teams trying to mount a comeback against the Phils.

But things aren't quite so rosy in the rotation. Trevor Bauer is back, but Aaron Nola departed for the Cubs- he'll make $175 million over the next seven years. Many pundits felt that Klentak was right in letting Nola walk rather than forking over that kind of money for a pitcher who's already 30 years old. Meanwhile, Chris Sale appears to be slipping a bit at age 35; he'll make $27 million this season, and has a player option for the same salary next year.

The lineup is more or less the same. There weren't any big free agents available to the club. Willson Contreras was scooped up by the expansion Portland Beavers. Rookie Reese Albert will start in center field.

It's been five years since Bryce Harper has come to Philadelphia. The team has a World Series championship to show for it, but the last three years have been marked by disappointment. Harper and the Phillies hope this year is different. "With this core of guys, it's a travesty we have only one ring," said Harper. "We've got something to prove this year, for sure."
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Old 03-23-2019, 04:15 PM   #20
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The Phillies head into the All-Star break with an incredible 62-27 record, nine games better than any other team in baseball. "Look, that's great, but we've got a lot more work to do," said Bryce Harper, one of the Phillies' nine All-Star selections. "I'm not interested in how many games we win in the regular season. I'm interested in winning in the postseason."

The Phillies certainly haven't gotten through the season unscathed. Chris Sale suffered the second major shoulder injury of his career, and it's anticipated that he won't be able to return to the mound as a professional again. Sale's career numbers are likely Hall of Fame worthy- a 170-102 record, a 2.97 ERA, two Cy Young Awards, and ten All-Star selections.

The bullpen has been as advertised, with three All-Stars, including setup men Aroldis Chapman and Seranthony Dominguez, who've combined for a 7-0 record and a 1.40 ERA. Trevor Bauer and the surprising Clarke Schmidt have been excellent at the top of the rotation. Then there's Zack Godley, the journeyman who won the NL Pitcher of the Month in May after going 5-0.

And we haven't even talked about the offense. The Phillies lead the NL in essentially ever major offensive category. It's been a dominating performance, even with leadoff hitter Reese Albert posting a sub-.300 on-base percentage. First baseman Logan Wyatt has been the breakout star, hitting .323 with 14 home runs.

Can the Phillies keep their momentum? "I certainly expect us to," said owner John Middleton. "I've put a lot of blood, sweat and cash into this team, and I expect results."
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