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Your Tuesday Morning Roundup

Chris Jastrzembski - July 10, 2018

The Phillies are still in first place in the National League East, but so are the Braves.

The Phils split a day-night doubleheader up in Queens against the New York Mets yesterday, which isn’t the worst thing to happen.

The scoring got started early in the first game, with the teams plating six of their seven total runs in the first three and a half innings. But a Wilmer Flores walk-off homer in the 10th sealed things up for a 4-3 loss.

Zach Eflin gave up three runs off five hits in five innings while striking out four batters. Phillies pitchers only struck out five total batters, with Seranthony Dominguez recording the non-Eflin one. Mets pitchers struck out 13 Phils batters, but allowed seven walks compared to none from the Phils.

Maikel Franco hit a solo shot in the fourth inning to tie the game at three. His improved play is coming at the perfect time.

In the night cap, Aaron Nola took over for the entire game in a 3-1 win. He struck out 10 and gave up a walk and a hit in seven innings, but he also drove in three runs in the fifth:

Both teams had two hits each in the less-than-exciting part of the doubleheader.

The teams play again tonight at 7:10 PM on NBC Sports Philadelphia, as Enyel De Los Santos will make his major league debut. The team announced who will be sent down for the meantime with a corresponding move later today (which will be De Los Santos):

While you wait, Odubel Herrera wasn’t snubbed from the All-Star game, though it would’ve been nice to have him playing in it.

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Some Thoughts on Whatever the Hell NBC Sports Philly is Doing

Kevin Kinkead - July 9, 2018

After Jess Camerato revealed on Twitter last week that she wasn’t returning to NBC Sports Philadelphia, I tried to list, off the top of my head, some of the departures and changes the network has presided over in the last two years:

  • Molly Sullivan out
  • Marshall Harris out
  • Jess Camerato out
  • Dei Lynam out
  • Neil Hartman out
  • Ron Burke out
  • Andy Schwartz out (longtime web guy)
  • production/creative services layoffs
  • new web policy restricting stories to 500 word max

I obviously missed a lot of stuff, which y’all helped remind me of:

  • Leslie Gudel out
  • Breakfast on Broad eventually cancelled, Sarah Baicker and Jillian Mele move on, Rob Ellis comes back in a different role after leaving 97.5 the Fanatic
  • Reuben Frank taken off Quick Slants
  • Tim Panaccio replaced by John Boruk
  • Mike Barkann moved to pre and post game roles
  • Brian Westbrook removed from Eagles postgame show
  • Amy Fadool and Marc Farzetta paired on Philly Sports Talk
  • new simulcast of the Mike Missanelli radio show
  • more short video clips on the website
  • didn’t renew Union broadcasting partnership (I don’t really blame them)
  • assimilated NBC 10 sports department (they no longer had separate anchors for NBC 10 sports segments, they’d just have Amy or John Clark or Danny Pommells do it remotely from HQ in South Philly, which made a ton of sense and saved $$$)

And, of course, Taryn Hatcher was hired as a multi-platform do-it-all person to cover a variety of roles at the station:

You still have regular contributors like Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman and Dave Zangaro and Barrett Brooks and Derrick Gunn on the payroll. Roob, of course, is still writing for the site even though the TV appearances are less frequent. The various experts, like Jim Lynam and Ricky Bo, still do post-game analysis. There were some smaller hires behind the scenes and I’m not totally up to speed on who does what over there now.

I worked in television for nine years, and whenever moves like these are made it’s usually due to three things specifically:

  1. saving money
  2. getting younger in the talent department
  3. trying to stay afloat in a business that has been slowly dying for a long time now

A lot of people are simply getting content from other sources via different mediums, like Twitter and Facebook through your smart phone. It is what it is.

But I feel like we can rule out that first reason, because it’s not like NBCSP is shot for money. Their Comcast overlords just built the biggest skyscraper in Philadelphia next to the now second-biggest skyscraper in Philadelphia. They sunk a bunch of money into NBC 10’s news product. They now own the Philadelphia Wings and Philadelphia Fusion in addition to the Flyers. There is definitely no shortage of cash when you go up the chain of command from Shawn Oleksiak to Michelle Murray, to whomever or whatever is above her.

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RADIO WARS: Mike Missanelli Accuses Former Producer Jon Marks of Using Fake Twitter Accounts To Criticize Him

Kevin Kinkead - July 9, 2018

97.5 the Fanatic’s annual “Fantasy Fest” is coming up next month, and if you’re wasting any of this sunny and beautiful weather on Twitter, you might have seen some rumors floating around that women aren’t allowed to go to the event.

That’s fake news according to personalities at the station. Women are more than welcome. There’s nothing on the actual ticket itself that says “no women allowed,” though children are barred from the event, which is for adults only:

Photo credit: “Travis Konecny” (@Bmer47)

Mike Missanelli addressed the rumors on Friday afternoon and then took a hard left turn, accusing 94 WIP and his former producer Jon Marks of using fake Twitter accounts to spread those “no women” rumors and criticize his show.

Here’s the audio, which includes some misinformation over the age policy before it gets into the Marks accusations around the one minute mark:

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Your Monday Morning Roundup

Chris Jastrzembski - July 9, 2018

This is beautiful to see:

The Philadelphia Phillies are tied for first place in the National League East. What a time to be alive.

It was a historic weekend for the team in multiple ways. It began Friday with the 17-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates that took four hours and 30 minutes to complete. That was tied for the longest nine-inning game in National League history, and was the longest nine-inning game in Phillies history.

Jake Arrieta looked to return to his old form on Saturday, giving up two runs on six hits and eight strikeouts. But the Phils’ offense didn’t strike until the top of the seventh, when Nick Williams, Scott Kingery, and Jorge Alfaro drove in back-to-back-to-back two out RBIs to give the team a 3-2 lead, one they would hold on to for the rest of the game. That helped give Arrieta his first win since May.

But the team did take a step back Sunday with Drew Anderson making his big league debut. He gave up four runs on eight hits with four strikeouts in five innings, while the offense was limited to only a Nick Williams solo shot in a 4-1 loss. Anderson was later optioned back to Triple-A.

The Phillies return to action today and tonight for a traditional twi-night doubleheader against the Mets. First pitch is set for 4:10 PM on NBC Sports Philadelphia. Zach Eflin will take the mound for game one, followed by newly minted All-Star Aaron Nola. At the end of the day, the Phils could either be a game behind the idle Braves in the NL East, still tied for the division lead, or a full game up on Atlanta.

With Vince Velasquez still on the DL with a return very close, look for another Triple-A guy in Enyel De Los Santos to make his debut Tuesday against the Mets. On the other hand, Jerad Eickhoff suffered another setback.

As for the trade deadline, Manny Machado might be going elsewhere for now. But the Phils are interested in utility man Whit Merrifield from the Royals.

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Your Friday Morning Roundup

Chris Jastrzembski - July 6, 2018

The Sixers’ motto for the 2018-19 season: Run it Back?

With a few personnel changes, the overall look of the Sixers remains the same from their playoff exit against the Celtics back in May. The starting five is back, which was a very strong unit. Amir Johnson, T.J. McConnell, and Richaun Holmes are also coming back.

The only free agent casualties have been Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, who have since been replaced with Wilson Chandler and now Nemanja Bjelica. If you ask me, both of them are upgrades.

There are still some questions for the team outside of the obvious one of a new general manager. How will Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet be slotted into the rotation? Will Jerryd Bayless’ contract be bought out? Could at least one of Justin Anderson, Richaun Holmes, or Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot be cut or traded? I think Anderson can give you some valuable small minutes, while Holmes can do the same but could probably be safer to move in a trade. TLC has potential, but I think he might be the one the Sixers say goodbye to.

The Summer League season begins tonight as the Sixers take on the Celtics in Las Vegas at 7:30 PM on ESPN. Here’s the schedule thus far for the team:

  • Tonight vs. Boston (7:30 PM, ESPN)
  • Saturday vs. LA Lakers (11:30 PM, ESPN)
  • Monday vs. Washington (5:30 PM, NBA TV)

If you’re up at 11:30 and watching Summer League action on a Saturday night, I salute you. I probably will at some bar.

Anyway, here’s the Summer Sixers’ roster, which includes Jonah Bolden, who aims to be on the Sixers actual roster this season:

One final note: Jessica Camerato is out at NBC Sports Philadelphia as the turnover continues for the station.

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Your Thursday Morning Roundup

Chris Jastrzembski - July 5, 2018

The Phillies brought some fireworks with them yesterday afternoon against Baltimore, despite only getting three hits.

They took both games in the two-game miniseries with a 4-1 win over the Orioles on Independence Day and are now 10 games over .500 for the first time since 2011, which was the last time the team made the postseason. They’ve also won their last four games and six of their last seven.

Like he has for the entire season, Aaron Nola was solid on the mound. The right-hander gave up just one run on seven hits with nine strikeouts and two walks for his 11th win of the season. He’s also gone 8-0 at home.

Jorge Alfaro got the Phils’ scoring started in the bottom of the fifth when first baseman Chris Davis committed an error, which scored two runs. But in the seventh, with the lead still at one, Nick Williams pretty much put the game away:

That was his 10th home run of the season, as he joins Rhys Hoskins, Carlos Santana, Odubel Herrera, and Maikel Franco in that group. The last time that happened before the All-Star break was in 2008.

Speaking of Franco, he’s been improving at the plate as of late in the eight-hole.

“I actually think hitting eighth is a good place for a power hitter and a good place for a guy who is working on seeing more pitches, for various reasons,” Kapler said. “It’s nice to have a guy who can pop a homer right in front of the pitcher, and then secondarily, if a guy is trying to see more pitches, a lot of times he [will] because the opposing pitcher is trying to pitch carefully to him.”

National League statistics back up Kapler’s claim: eighth-spot hitters have walked at a higher rate than seventh-spot hitters this season despite batting, on average, 23 points lower. Franco hasn’t experienced that effect, at least yet. Both his walks while batting eighth recently have been intentional, and his 6.6 percent walk rate this season remains well below the league average of 8.9.

The team is off today but has a weekend series in Pittsburgh that begins tomorrow night. Nick Pivetta will take the mound in that one.

Also, at the end of yesterday’s game, the team optioned Jake Thompson to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

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Your Fourth of July Morning Roundup

Chris Jastrzembski - July 4, 2018

After going 21-21 over a brutal 42-game stretch, the Phillies started a 16-game run against teams with losing records by getting a 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

Zach Eflin kept rolling on the mound, winning his sixth-straight start, becoming the first Phillie to do that since Cliff Lee back in 2011. Despite an 85 minute rain delay before the game began, Eflin went seven innings, allowing just two runs on five hits while striking out six without a walk.

A Rhys Hoskins two-out double in the bottom of the third gave the Phils a 2-1 lead, while Andrew Knapp’s triple the following inning would be the eventual game-winner.

Baltimore almost tied things up in the eighth with the bases loaded and two outs. But Maikel Franco and Carlos Santana teamed up for this amazing play:

Aaron Nola takes the mound in the final game of the two-game Fourth of July series at 4:05 PM on NBC Sports Philadelphia and nationally on ESPN.

But that’s not all for the Phils. They’re going to look to solidify themselves as a contender and will probably be buyers at the trade deadline. We’ve heard Mike Moustakas and Adrian Beltre’s names already circling around. And we’ve heard plenty about Manny Machado, who’s spending the holiday here with the O’s.

Here’s a new note from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic:

The Orioles visit the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday and Wednesday, giving Machado a chance to showcase himself to the former O’s executives now running the Phillies — and to the hungry Philadelphia ownership.

The conventional wisdom is that the Phillies do not want to trade top prospects for Machado when they can simply sign him as a free agent after the season. But the Phils, who just won three of four from the Washington Nationals, are not likely to fade anytime soon — their next 16 games are against sub-.500 clubs.

The question, for every club interested in Machado, is the acquisition cost. Would the Phillies, for example, be willing to part with shortstop J.P. Crawford, a favorite of GM Matt Klentak, without knowing whether they could sign Machado long-term?

The Orioles are thought to like Crawford. The Phils value him so highly that they traded Freddy Galvis, the major league leader in defensive runs saved, to create an opening at shortstop. But Crawford, who is on the disabled list a second time and batting just .194, continues to elicit mixed opinions within the industry.

Who knows how Crawford will pan out, but right now he’s not looking too good when he’s not hurt.

We also heard yesterday about a possible Cole Hamels reunion. But maybe it’s a bad idea with the rotation pitching so well right now.

It’s certainly lining up for a summer push to the playoffs at Citizens Bank Park, which should mean more people coming to the ballpark. We’ve certainly deserved that.

On a final note, former Phillie Shane Victorino is retiring. The Flyin’ Hawaiian will sign a one-day contract with the Phils on August 3.

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The Case Against Bringing Back Cole Hamels

BWanksCB - July 3, 2018

I have to be honest, 2008 was the best year of my life. Young 22-year-old BWanksCB finished his senior year of college that spring—and let me tell you—I soaked up every last minute of that glorious final stretch. I had just begun drawing a real adult person paycheck that fall. Those paychecks were immediately spent on Phillies playoff tickets. I saw five games that postseason, including both parts of Game 5 of the World Series. I spent what felt like every night of October that year in a beer-soaked frenzy watching that team kick ass. Watching that team win, I, quite literally, thought I had the world by the balls and that anything was possible. And there was Cole Hamels, right in the middle of it, making it happen:

So you could imagine how this tweet got me feeling when I saw it today:

My heart said: Get into the DeLorean and let’s go.

My head? Well, it said something entirely different.

In 17 starts this season, Hamels has a respectable 4.05 ERA, 9.15 K/9, and 0.4 WAR. You might look at those numbers and pair them with his big game experience to deduce that reacquiring such a pitcher who also happens to be a franchise icon makes perfect sense. Throw in the fact that he would also bring some balance to a starting rotation that’s currently without a left-handed arm, and, boom. Let’s get the fucking band back together and rock.

I’m always down to rage, but before we party like it’s 2008, I need to point out some potentially sobering red flags. In 102.1 IP this season, Hamels has already allowed 20 homers, which is two more than the 18 he allowed in 138 IP a season ago. The 20.6% home run to fly ball ratio he’s posted thus far in 2018 is by far the worst mark of his career, easily surpassing the 14% he posted two seasons ago with the Rangers. It also happens to be the worst mark among any qualified starting pitcher in baseball this season. And while that aforementioned 4.05 ERA is fine, his career-worst 5.00 FIP that also happens to be the ninth-worst number among qualified starting pitchers is a bit of a concern.

What’s more, he’s consistently allowing more hard contact than ever before. According to FanGraphs, Hamels is allowing hard contact on 44.1% of batted balls this season, which is up from his previous career-high of 36% a season ago.

Still, this isn’t meant to come across as a scathing condemnation of Hamels. He can still pitch, and if you drop him in the middle of a pennant race, I think he can be a valuable addition. It’s just that I don’t know if he provides a significant upgrade over what the Phillies currently have in their rotation. Consider this, entering Tuesday night’s action, the Phillies have four of the National League’s top-20 starting pitchers in WAR. Zach Eflin, their only starter not ranked, would be 12th, but doesn’t have enough innings pitched to qualify. Additionally, among starters with at least 50 IP this season, all five members of the rotation are in the top 30 among NL starters in FIP.

While WAR and FIP are certainly not the end all be all, they are two valuable metrics that quantify what your eyes have probably already told you this season, which is that this rotation is pretty damn good. It’s hard to say with any certainty that Hamels provides a meaningful upgrade to what the Phillies already have, particularly when some data suggests that he probably won’t.

At 45-37, the Phillies are about to embark on what should be a favorable stretch of the schedule, and there is very real reason to believe this team can make a legitimate postseason run based on their play to this point.

Undoubtedly, Matt Klentak is going to have to add prior to the July 31 trade deadline. While no general manager in the history of baseball would ever close the door on upgrading his rotation if the right deal presented itself, the Phillies have far more pressing needs to address.

Pat Neshek’s return figures to help a struggling bullpen, but it’s still an area of weakness. The team has also been connected to names like Adrian Beltre and Mike Moustakas in recent weeks— both would bring a needed upgrade at third base.

And don’t forget about right field, which has been a disaster for the Phillies this season. Aaron Altherr has had a miserable season, hitting only .174 with a .290 OBP and 13 extra base hits in 224 plate appearances. Of NL players with at least 50 plate appearances in June, he had the fifth-worst WAR (-0.5), third worst batting average (.140), and a league-worst 41.1 K%. I’ve long been a proponent of Nick Williams, but his production, too, is below replacement level despite some big moments. His .728 OPS in 215 plate appearances is functional, but doesn’t justify regular playing time. In fact, the combined -0.8 WAR the Phillies have gotten from their right fielders this season is the second-worst in the National League, and their collective -4 defensive runs saved is ninth-worst at the position.

Scott Kingery, J.P. Crawford, and Maikel Franco have drawn the most frequent and vocal criticism for their meager offensive output this season, but the lack of right field production has been flat-out debilitating to this lineup. The Phillies will likely play it somewhat conservative at the deadline by limiting the amount of assets they’re willing to part with in order to push a team with a win total currently projected somewhere in the low to mid 80s over the top and into the playoffs, and thus, I would argue that they should use those limited assets to address areas of need that will offer a more substantial improvement.

Do I love Cole Hamels? Yes. Do I think he can help this team? Probably, but while I would love to revisit 2008 in many ways, this move just doesn’t make much sense.