New Decade and Era of Phillies Baseball is Among Us
It is hard to believe we are only weeks away from entering a new decade and era of Major League Baseball. 2019 celebrated the league’s 100th anniversary and with that came thrilling moments and others not too great (cheating scandals, debates about robot officiating and analytics, among other hot topics). As the league prepares to metaphorically turn the page to “chapter 2020” they as well as the Philadelphia Phillies will have their work cut-out for them.
In case you’ve missed it, the Phillies hot stove has been piping hot ever since the firing of Gabe Kapler and hiring of current manager, Joe Girardi. Since late October several additions were made from the front office, coaching staff, down to the players. Here is a run-down of those recent off-season moves:
- 10/22: Phillies sign Brian Barber as new director of amateur scouting. He spent 18 years as a member of the New York Yankees amateur scouting department. Played a key role in the team’s 2009 World Series Championship season and an integral role in drafting power-hitting superstar, Aaron Judge.
- 10/31: Cincinnati Reds ex-manager, Bryan Price, signs as the team’s new pitching coach. Prior to managing the Reds he served as a pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners from 2014-2018. Like Brian Barber, Price is highly regarded around the league.
- 11/21: Phillies complete Girardi’s coaching staff as they hire Joe Dillon as the teams new hitting coach. Dillon comes from the reigning World Series Champion and division rival Washington Nationals. He appears to be another fantastic addition to the Phillies coaching staff. According to the Nats current lead hitting coach Kevin Long, “Joe is the best assistant in baseball.”
- 12/1: According to Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Phillies lost catching coach Craig Driver to the Chicago Cubs. He is reported to take on the role of first-base coach/catching instructor. Scott is a tough loss as he played an integral role in assisting 2019 Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner J.T. Realmuto, have what was one of his best years behind the dish since entering the big leagues. The team also signed 31-year-old Josh Harrison to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. Harrison may not be the two-time all-star caliber player he was during his eight-year tenure with the Pirates; however he is ready to embrace his new role as a utility-man and compete to earn a spot on the 2020 roster.
- 12/3: Phillies sign back-up catcher Andrew Knapp to a 1-year deal worth $710,000 avoiding arbitration. Infielders Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez were not tendered contracts and are now free agents. The team has tendered contracts to the following arbitration-eligible players: Catcher, J.T. Realmuto, left-handed relievers Jose Alvarez and Adam Morgan, and right handers Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez, and Hector Neris. The Phillies also claimed 26-year-old right-handed reliever Trevor Kelley off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.
What’s Next on the Phillies Agenda?
The Phillies are entering one of the most important off-seasons in recent memory. Front-office decisions could be monumental in how much or little success they have throughout the next decade. It is no secret that the team needs to heavily address their pitching staff as well as the infield. Odubel Herrera’s future with the squad continues to remain a question mark. After serving his 85-game suspension for violating the league’s domestic violence policy last May, the outfielder currently finds himself on the team’s 40-man roster. Jim Salisbury, Phillies insider for NBC Sports Philadelphia, recently asked general manager Matt Klentak what the future holds for Herrera. Klentak stated he is unsure of what may happen between now and February but made clear Odubel will have to work twice as hard to earn a spot due to the added competition in center field (Scott Kingery, Adam Haseley, and Roman Quinn).
As we inch closer to the start of the MLB’s Winter Meetings, it will be interesting to see just how much “stupid money” Phillies majority owner John Middelton invests in his franchise in hopes of entering a new era of successful Phillies baseball.
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