With the Phillies continuing their late-season free-fall, GM Matt Klentak held an interesting Q&A with reporters including Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Despite improvements, Klentak says, “significant changes are necessary.”
That conclusion surely sets the stage for a fascinating, high-stakes winter in Philly. The organization has long been expected to be a major factor in the upcoming market. Having made some notable acquisitions last winter and competed for much of the 2018 season, the stakes are raised for a productive offseason.
Of course, winning the hot stove season isn’t a goal unto itself, so Klentak and company are surely taking a hard look at just how to approach the opportunities to come. As he puts it, “we all need to fight the narrative that it’s a simple fix.”
That could be read as a plea for media and fans not to fixate on some of the biggest names available this winter. It’s also perhaps an acknowledgment that the roster comes with some challenges — some that have arisen largely by happenstance, others relating to decisions made recently by the organization. At the same time, it’s loaded with interesting talent that makes near-term competitiveness seem quite achievable.
For now, of course, Klentak isn’t getting into all of the details or expounding upon the team’s specific hopes in the roster-building department. He did note that the organization will be looking to find the change it hopes for not only through the free-agent market, but also in exploring trades and projecting internal improvements.
In that regard, it’s at least as interesting to contemplate some of Klentak’s comments regarding the season that’s now drawing to a close. As he rightly suggests, the club’s ultimate middle-of-the-road outcomes haven’t strayed far from pre-season expectations. While there was surely a missed opportunity here, given the position the club was in as of mid-August, the organization took its shot at the trade deadline and there’s still clear evidence of progress.
There are also lessons to be drawn from what Klentak calls “a good year for us to experiment.” Viewed from that angle, perhaps some refinement in approach — roster construction included — is slated for assessment and implementation. For instance, the team’s defensive alignment has produced some worrying outcomes. Making the necessary tweaks will, as noted above, not necessarily simply be a matter of acquiring high-end new players.
If that all portends a less-than-straightforward upcoming offseason, well, that seems to have been contemplated in advance. “I think in order to take this organization where it needs to go we had to have a year like this, where we pushed the envelope,” Klentak says.
Having done so, the focus now shifts: from gathering talent, and trying out new ways of deploying it, to achieving the desired bottom-line results. It’s unclear as yet how the Phils will set about re-working their roster to accomplish that, but the possibilities are abundant.
What is clear is that Klentak will continue to head up the baseball operations department for his fourth season, while Gabe Kapler will remain at the helm of the dugout. It’ll certainly be fascinating to see what direction the club takes this winter and how it translates onto the field in 2019.
Fire Kapler and then resign. That would represent significant change.
Please keep Kapler.
dimitrios in la
Braves need him pulling starters and wearing down his ‘pen.
Braves need to get swept in the first round.
Kapler has been the Braves’ 2nd half MVP
Kapler is not the problem! It’s amazing to me how many people just say fire him. The problem is the lack of talent on the roster. The way they played early in the season shows that Kap is a good manager, not that this team is talented. Besides Hoskins Nola and maybe Kingery and Odubel Herrea all of these players aren’t that great
Sure, you can say that, but good players can still be very productive when used effectively, and how they’re used. Ryan Flaherty/Preston Tucker were huge for ATL through the first 2 months of 2019. Dan Winkler/Shane Carle also stepped in big in 1st half. Acuna when put as leadoff hitter ignited the team. Hitting 2 lefties (Freeman, Markakis) goes against modern managing, but makes a lot of sense when seeing how well both hit southpaws (and w/RISP). Sure, Freeman, Acuna, Markakis definitely are talented, but they’re being used in the right way to maximize those talents, while being supported by less talented players that are still very productive (i.e. Culberson, Camargo, Swanson, Inciarte, Minter, Albies, Suzuki/Flowers, etc.).
Kapler is not the problem. He was the leading candidate for manager of the year through mid-late August. He’s done things untraditionally and people who are unwilling to accept new ideas are of course going to resist that. His ideas are not so crazy revolutionary when compared to the rest of the MLB; Philly just hasn’t seen them before. And Philly fans are just plain stupid, which doesn’t help matters. Of course, he’s made mistakes, every manager does, but he’s improved the Phillies, the team loves him. You can’t expect the phillies to win the world series the year after they had 60 something wins. Everying you (RunDMC) said about the snitker and the braves and proper usage, you could’ve said about kapler and the phils through august. Now that they’re losing people are casting about for an easy answer, someone easy to blame.
There are a lot of reasons. The fielding is the most obvious to me. The offense has been inconsistent but the pieces are there. The team has also suffered some very bad luck in the second half. Combine all that at once and you get the relative free fall of late.
“He was the leading candidate for manager of the year through mid-late August.’
That’s like saying the horse sprinted from out of the gate, then ran out of gas going into the stretch run.
It’s on the jockey and the trainer that gave him directives.
” He’s done things untraditionally and people who are unwilling to accept new ideas are of course going to resist that.”
Not this again. Been reading this nonsense on sites like this for 25 years now.
OK, so Elan Musk can not meet production goals; he’s promising profitability but every quarter for years he’s burning through tens of millions of cash but dadnabit – people keep picking on him because he’s so creative.
Kapler was a so-so journeyman player for years. Then one year – like many of his Red Sox teammates – he showed up in spring training 25 or so pounds heavier. Was powering batted balls all over the place. Became a star, and the Red Sox finally won a WS.
Sometime later – after years of resistance from the players union as well as a Congressional investigation which led to MLB testing players for steroids – Kapler showed up in spring training considerably lighter, and looking like a prune. He then bounced around until retirement as a journeyman player.
Right. Gabe’s just a brilliant, creative, untraditional guy.
Earlier in the year an unnamed player was quoted as saying (I’m paraphrasing) “We can win a lot of games if the manager would get out of our way”. That still holds true.
Dirtydan….”Besides Hoskins Nola and maybe Kingery and Odubel Herrea”…..I’ll give you Nola and to some extent Hoskins but he is very streaky. Kingery and his .229/.269/.343 does not belong in the same sentence. Herrera collapsed by June 1st slashing .224/.274/.387 the last 92 games.
Hence the maybe for kingery and Herrera. Thanks for proving my point for me. If you’re giving up on a player after one year in the majors I’m glad you’re not a scout for a team
Pray tell mister scout what exactly has Kingery shown? You were evaluating the players so what has Kingery in the maybe class so far? His contract? His slash line? His -1.2 WAR? His willingness to poorly fiels multiple positions this past year?
BTW did I mention giving up on him yet? No, I questioned your grouping of players performance this year…maybe or no maybe.
Before they throw gobs of money at free agents they need to clear out the excess. Fix the defense or they will still have the same problems as this year
When those idiots threw $20mm per for 3 years of Carlos Santana, it showed they have no clue about building a winning team.
The Indians won in spite of him, and haven’t missed a beat since he left.
Agreed Samuel. Plus that forced Hoskins to play atrocious LF. Hoskins should have been the 1B. It hurt two positions defensively. They would have been better off giving JD Martinez $25 per year to stumble around in the OF than Carlos Santana being overpaid at $20.
Good thing they didnt trade for Machado. Dont know if things would have changed. Hopefully they’ll come back next year
dimitrios in la
Machado only works at third.
I would argue that he works anywhere including manager.
His bat does, his glove doesn’t.
Yeah, manager is a tough position to field properly.
I feel like the Phillies go through “significant changes” every year..
Does one think the Gm no what he is doing along with the. Mgr. does one think the team had lost confidence in kapler there are good ball players here and what had happened in the last 45 days he has lost the team. Maybe that is why no one is attending game. Shame on them.
Last year the Phillies averaged a little over 24k per game. This year they’re averaging in excess of 27k a game. You can’t honestly make the statement “no one is attending games” when the attendance jumps over 10% in a single season.
That’s just silly.
Just making a point that the Phillies did almost the exact thing that the Brewers did last year. They didnt fire Counsell but brought in a couple of players in a retool kinda so I don’t believe firing Kapler is the answer just maybe finding 2 or 3 guys that could make a difference on and off the field.
Please start off by firing Kapler and yourself. The team is a disaster! No set positions in the field or set lineups and horrible defense.
Set positions and lineups don’t really matter. Putting the best line up in to fit the situation is a good idea. But they never could get the big hit when they needed it and you can’t put guys in positions that they really can’t play. Defensive versatility is a very good thing but only if they actually can play those positions. Look at Baez on the Cubs. He can play any where around the Diamond and he’s a stud. That’s great for the team.
Hoskins in his 1+ seasons hitting 2nd 104 gms 467 PA .226/.324/.459. Hoskins hitting 4th 84 gms 354 PA .279/.418/.604
Santana career hitting 4th 571 games 2469 PA .226/.357/.402 and hitting 5th 267 gms 1127 PA .282/.372/.497…this year followed that trend kitting out of place at 4th 82 gms 354 PA .210/.353/.364 and hitting 5th where he should be only 26 gms and 105 PA .261/.352/.543
Just like some players can “play” other positions in the field but do not flourish there some player hit better in particular spots.
Hoskins played the first 27 games of the season hitting 4th and slashed .318/.468/.553 then Gabe the genius said we need him hitting second and he sank to .154/.250/.286 for the next month. Did Gabe move him? Nope. He recovered some but not to extent he could have.
I’m not ready to go off on Klentak. While there were certainly some clear errors, his overall track record still looks solid, but this offseason is make or break for the team, and especially him.
As for Kapler, I have never been a fan.
Im the opposite. Klentak can go, keep kap
I understand that it wouldn’t make the organization look good firing Kapler, especially since the amount of changes we’ve had since Manuel’s departure BUT…Let’s face it! Kapler needs to be in an office somewhere working in a analytics department, and not managing a team. And if Middleton fails to recognize that, than he’s going to find himself losing fan base, and ticket sales after giving out not 1, but 2 of the largest contracts in the sport. From the first game of the season, it’s felt like a total disaster. I don’t think there is ONE fan out there who is happy with the Klentek/Kapler/Mcphail reign. I think they all need to be sent packing..who else agrees? Say I
If fans don’t come because a first year manager taking over the team with the 3rd worst record in baseball ultimately….met expectations? (this team was competitive for a time and finished near .500) at season’s end, then i’d say they’re not really fans at all, and they certainly won’t be missed at the ballpark. please stay home and go root for the mets/nationals.
Baltimore North….sign. machado , Adam Jones and Britton!
SHOWALTER!…,,,,,, is ya
dimitrios in la
Yep, Show could make sense but his resistance to analytics would seem to represent a challenge to the Phils. If he shifts his position he could come back to haunt the O’s (who btw might be making a mistake getting rid of him).
Phillies fans are nuts! This team was in playoff contention until about three weeks ago. It was a surprise for them to even be this good! With the rotation coming into this year having question marks on the back end, a very suspect bullpen and major holes on the field, you expected things to go better than they have? An intelligent baseball person recognizes the good even when things are going poorly, and also recognizes bad even when things are going well. This team simply ran out of gas, largely because they had to sacrifice quality defense to put better bats in the lineup so they could score, and also because the bullpen is among the worst in the league. Bad bullpen = lots of hard hit balls and/or walks + bad defense = YIKES.
Maybe you should have watch them play before you made a comment!
Exactly. Best bullpen arms just melted with a full season and that needs fixing.
Kinda still hate Santana – 1st base needs to be a position of offense and his OBP didn’t justify his utter lack of offensive firepower. Hoskins belongs there.
If they could grab another starter and put Velasquez in the bullpen, they’d shore up some issues for sure. Also, would be great if the injury bug doesn’t hit with the same timing next season.
Agreed. We should go for a guy like Corbin for the rotation and move Vinny to the bullpen. I like Eflin and Pivetta’s potential more.
Statistically, it was a flawed team throughout the entire season. The run differential always suggested regression, and when building the team, the brass completely disregarded all defense. As an example: Signs Santana over the offseason despite having Hoskins, and then proceeding to trade for Bautista and Bour.
Furthermore, I don’t think Kapler is close to a competent manager. The only player that he is getting “the most” out of is Nola, and he’s been a budding superstar for years. Everyone else has struggled or been worse than they have been in previous seasons.
I will admit Franco picked it up a bit, but I credit Santana for that more than I do Kapler, and even so, .314 is abysmal for an on base percentage.
I have faith in the team, but I think Kap needs to go
Javy Baez’s OBP isn’t much better he’s gonna be MVP or runner up!
Kap lost the season on Aug 28. Nola vs Scherzer. 7 inn 2 earned 8ks
Hunter throws a clean 8th inn
Kapler proceeds to leave hunter in for the 9th.
He walks the leadoff batter. (Should’ve never gone back in)
Proceeds to put pat Neshek (who publicly said last yr that he was not interested in being the closer) and he gives us a home run and they lose
Cant wait for the Phillies to blow it and be set back years
Finding room for Hoskins at first should be priority #1.
Doesn’t take a genius to know the Santana signing was I’ll advised.
Would you rather have Hosmer?
I don’t think a Phillie fan would want either.
I said it months ago and got pasted by the WAR geeks. Carlos Santana was the worst free agent signing of the offseason. Worse than Hosmer. Analytical Philly front office saw Santana as a big asset and neglected to focus on the team D, much like Cleveland and Oakland have done in the past. Came back to bite them. Number crunchers wanted Santana and backed up the brinks truck for him.
Girardi is the hire for manager. You get the best guy available if you think you’re ready to win next year.
Phillies upper management doesn’t have the most integrity. They’re guilty of nepotism again. David Montgomery hired family pal, Ruben Amaro, Jr. (and retained him when there was an easy chance to move on).
MacPhail hired Klentak, who he knows from Baltimore..
I don’t have much of a problem with Kapler so far. The jury is still out on him, but he didn’t have a lot to work with, as it turned out.
Sounds to me that Harper will be the Phils outfielder in 19
I think Harper stay’s with Nationals on one year deal to prove his worth.
No chance. He drove in 100 runs for 1st time in career. What’s he got to prove?
That is a ridiculous prediction. At the VERY least and I do not see this happening, he signs a big deal with them (but a lot less $ than expected) with a player opt out after year one
I would agree that the Phillies made progress this year. Thst said, the team’s absolute free fall in the past month has to be troubling to the FO. The players appear to have quit and that most certainly raises questions about the abilities of the field manager.
Where did they make progress? Only good player on the team is Nola, everyone else can be dealt.
While I would agree that the Phillies might “deal” most of their players in order to improve moving forward; there are also many players who have made progress in their development this year. Cesar Hernandez. Herrera, Hoskins, Franco, Kingery, Nick Williams, Eflin, Dominguez and Neris have all shown growth. Again, each of these players may well be dealt; but, I would argue their value (either to the Phllies or as trade pieces) is greater today that in April.
The thing as a baseball fan I like to hear is that they have already stated they made mistakes!! The Phillies tried some things that were outside the box this year…some worked and some didn’t! They have admitted this and said they will scrap some ideas and keep some of them trying to test some limits.
I think the main issue was defensive alignment/pitching to the defensive alignment! I mean the Brewers are able to use 2nd baseman at ss and 3rd baseman at 2nd base and are finding a way to make it work. It is basically the same idea the Phillies employed this year, except The Brewers outfield defense is far superior to the Phillies outfield defense.
Then the over use of the bullpen was 2nd….which every team is doing now, but the Phillies did not have the extra bullpen depth in the upper minors to sustain the usage. So players like Dominguez just got over worked early in the year.
All with an eye toward acquiring Trout in 2020 or 2021.
Trout is smart enough to know that he doesn’t want to spend the back nine of his career on a huge money deal in front of the battery throwing Santa haters.
Harper, on the other hand, will probably take the $300+ million they offer him.
Trout is a Phillie fan. He likely does not consider his fellow Phillie fans to be “battery throwing Santa haters.”
That’s how he knows. He can do the math on how they would turn on him when he enters his 2018 Miggy/Pujols days at $40 million a year.
Trout is a deep South Jersey guy & therefore a Philly guy. Didn’t you see him in the front row at all of the Super Bowl Champion Eagles playoff games? Call the Angels and tell them we are keeping Nola and Hoskins and you can have anything else you want.
That offer might have meaning if they trade for him in the last half of the 2020 season. But anything other than a rental will take more than almost any team has to offer.
A quote/story from the Millville Missile’s father, Jeff, a few years ago
“Trout’s father recalled a story from a few years back when in the middle of the night, Jeff heard Mike scream from his room.
“Dad, we got Roy Halladay!” Mike yelled. To which his Dad responded: “the Angels got Halladay?”
“No, the Phillies did!” Mike replied. “Son, you’re a member of the Angels. What’s with this we?!””
How long ago did Phillies fans throw batteries, if ever? Are you thinking of Braves fans in 2013?
Didn’t understand the Santana deal when Hoskins is a 1B. Would have made sense for 1 or 2 years.
2018 offseason: phillies sign both harper and machado to collosal 350 million dollar contracts.
2019 season: finish 3rd 12 games back of braves
2019 offseason: phillies fire klentak and kapler deciding to rebuild. Handicaped just like 2010 phillies with ryan howard, phillies have unmoveable contracts in machado and harper stuck in 3rd place in east and lose at a chance for trout. Watch this become a reality folks!
Yep, your name sure is fitting.. Thank you.
Wow. Stupidity. We will get either harper or manny,probably harper.if we get both,braves may be wild card,4 games back. Hernandez,hererra gone…vv to pen,mebbe sign a morton type or a corbin if dont sign both byrce and manny. Not a dream. We have the money,the city,the groundwork in place. In it to win it. Money talks. We have it. Neither are at age howard was so thats a non issue til 5,6 yrs diwn line,after 2,3 series wins. Dont hate cuz its the PLAN. Gabe lets players input matter. That WILL matter to both bryce and manny. Innovation is hard. People thought columbus was nuts,too. PHILLIES!!
The Phillies trade 1B Carlos Santana to the NY Yankees for OF Clint Frazier. Phillies move Hoskins back to 1B.
The Phillies trade RHSP Nick Pivetta to Cincinnati Reds for OF Scott Schebler, C Tucker Barnhart and RHRP David Hernandez.
The Phillies sign free agent RHSP Charlie Morton.
The Phillies sign free agent INF Manny Machado.
Machado wants to play for the Yankees, so forget him!
Well thpught out! Bravo! But i set our sights higher! Great job,tho.
The Phillies are a mediocre team at best who have no heart and as soon as they were out of the race they all pack it in. 0 chance Machado or Harper sign up to join that. On top of it all you have Super Sabermetrics Kapler who even the Dodgers thought was too extreme to hire as a manager. But some swear this team is the future of the NL
If saber metrics is the future of baseball, then count me out.
Said the Sixers as well.
This pretty much garantees a Franco trade. Maybe to the Twins?? Then MN can move Sano to 1B/DH and play Franco at 3B.
Well thpught out! Bravo! But i set our sights higher! Great job,tho.
As a Phillies fan I’m happy to hear the GM admit they need to change course without saying it specifically but kept it rather vague as to where the changes would come from. Kapler does things differently from most older, ridged baseball managers. Different doesn’t mean it’s good or bad but I feel he hasn’t been given the tools necessary to show whether he can fulfill the job as necessary. GM Matt Klentak on the other hand, is going into his third major offseason and his ability/inability to augment the roster properly is part of the reason why the Phillies are in the position they are. Klentak decided during the mid season trade market to supply a coach who preaches and values versatile players capable of playing multiple positions and batting anywhere in the order, a limited range SS who moonlights at 3B and between 1/4-1/3 of his offensive numbers were compiled playing against the Phillies (Cabrera), two guys who are pinch hitters at best and play positions that the Phillies have a surplus in already (Bour & Bautista), and a catcher who is a offensive upgrade over their current core but is a breakeven with the glove and is playing on two bad hamstrings (Ramos).
It’s no wonder that the Phillies lead baseball with -125 DRS before you even count the past week’s worth of statistics. The Phillies were kept afloat by stellar starting pitching and adequate bullpen production. They scored enough runs to win, but when the #2-#5 starters numbers started to normalize, the offense couldn’t increase production and the defense compounded matters when the starters labored in early innings. I’d attribute a lack of success, primarily in the shifting to the battery that the Phillies had going on. The Phillies pitchers struggle at times imo because the point of a shift is to pitch into the shift, you don’t throw middle away fastballs to Kris Bryant and expect to produce outs consistently. I’d lay a lot of fault at the feet of Alfaro/Knapp/Ramos, who are calling the games behind the plate. Not to mention the Phillies are second worse in baseball in both Pitcher fielding percentage as well as wild pitches and passed balls. Even the Phillies catchers have problems catching the ball and that’s the name of their job title.
With all that said, the Phillies in terms of all the other teams in baseball are in the catbird seat and probably have the most flexibility in the market right now. Let’s take preferences out of it because none of us really know what each pending FA wants to do and secondly, while players may have some sticking points, such as geography when picking a team, more times than not, any issue a FA has with a potential suitor goes away with enough money being involved.
Considering their current salaries, the Phillies are the only team who could realistically sign both Machado and Harper without overhauling their roster or salary numbers to make it work. The Phillies are the largest baseball market with only one team and they can spend with the top 5-6 richest teams in the league. The Dodgers and Cubs have a large amount of salary tied into their current roster as do the Angels. Outside of those three teams, the other two big market rivals for the Phillies would be the Yankees and Red Sox. Both of those teams have made recent splurges larger than the Phillies (Stanton, Chapman for the Yankees; Martinez, Price, Sale for the Red Sox), also both of these teams have a moderate-large number of pre-arb or arbitration guys that longer term deals will have to be planned for in the coming years.
The Yankees have CC and Happ coming off the books but they will need to upgrade in the rotation. Plus, there’s Tanaka’s contract will be ending soon and do they extend Gregorius long-term, then there’s a slew of young players, who if they keep up their production, will get more expensive in the coming years. Andujar, Torres, Bird, and Sanchez could all require large arbitration and/or extension numbers, plus they have some guy named Aaron Judge who I heard is pretty good and may rival or even surpass Stanton’s contract provided he stay healthy and nothing go wrong.
You can say the same for the Red Sox, who probably have to re-sign Kimbrel this winter? Plus, Sale will need a new contract in the coming years, there’s JD Martinez and David Price getting paid and this is before mentioning possible arbitration or extension figures for Bradley Jr, Benintendi, Betts, and Boegarts; then possibly Devers after that.
We don’t know what each team and player is thinking but you’re not looking at it objectively if you don’t consider the Phillies as a possible favorite for Machado and/or Harper. What the Phillies have are two cornerstone players (Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins), a bunch of assets (both positive and negative), maybe the largest chunk of available salary any team has available both short and long term, an owner who is tired of losing and wants to spend, and a GM & Manager who are both feeling their seats getting warm and need to impress this winter.
All I think is that the Phillies may be the most interesting team and wildcard to shake up the winter market. Much like AJ Preller went nuts with the Padres a few winters ago, the Phillies have enough major league pieces, interesting prospects, and pure capital to make nearly any move they want this winter if they want to pay the price.
Rather have Girardi at this point, but I’m looking forward to seeing what they do roster wise, this winter. I honestly think that Middleton will be more “involved” in terms of how his money his spent, after collapsing the way they did- if that makes sense…so it wouldn’t surprise me if they offered Machardo and Harper the moon. My concern there though, is that’s alot of payroll for 2 players..then consider santana, arrieta, resigning Hoskins and nola, and any other moves they want to make…
However, again I think Middleton will be in that mind set to drop the dollar bill, regardless. I’d like to see Patrick Corbin and Craig Kimbrel bc they need a lefty starter and they need a real closer. I have always liked the approach of multiple aces and multiple bullpen pieces…halladay, lee, hamels, etc..or the reds in 1990 with their nasty boys bullpen..
One cool thing though is they sign machardo and Harper is that it frees up the exces where they can get creative. Yea they played Santana at third alot, so not a bad idea to move him to third and play Hoskins at first, sign harper, then move nick Williams to left- sign machardo, play kingery at 2nd, then trade Hernandez – play Quinn in center and trade Herrera. Trade Franco with Santana at third now. Clearing out that little bit of payroll, Herrera, Hernandez and Franco in trades will make it easier to sign guys like Hoskins and Nola long term, while still signing both Harper and machardo and look at what can be acquired for those pieces. I know they won’t package together but I mean damn. Especially if you sign Corbin or kershaw too… then you can trade pivetta or velequez… I’d be on the phone with Tampa offering pivetta, franco, Hernandez along with 2 pitching prospects..say medina and Suarez and see if that would be enough for a guy like Blake snell..young controllable ace. Then you got harper, machardo added to a lineup with Santana and hoskins, defense is better with Herrera gone and Hoskins at first and then you have nola, arrietta, Snell plus kershaw or corbin. I don’t want Kapler but I’m excited at possibilities if they put some brain into it, in addition to the money. Too much excess to not make a big trade ontop of any big signings.
Well thpught out! Bravo! But i set our sights higher! Great job,tho.