The Philadelphia Phillies 2018 season got here to an unceremonious finish on Sunday as Gabe Kapler’s first season on the helm completed with a meaningless win over the Braves to get to 80-82 on the season.
What was as soon as a promising season crammed with playoff hopes and a potential Nationwide League MVP candidate in Aaron Nola shortly went south in early August when the staff started a 17-34 slide that may ship them from 15 video games over .500 to 2 video games under that mark — a mark many thought would be an indication of ample progress after ending 16 video games beneath .500 a yr in the past.
Now, the Phillies head into an necessary offseason filled with free agent prospects with seemingly extra questions than solutions. That is the primary theme of at present’s Phillies season finale version of What They’re Saying — the place do they go from right here? And simply how a lot do they should change to that subsequent step in 2019, a playoff berth?
A few of these questions will be answered (or at the very least tried to be answered) in the subsequent two days when the Phillies brass meets with the native media to place a near this season. Within the meantime…
Will Kapler change his methods?
Bob Brookover | The Philadelphia Inquirer
Common supervisor Matt Klentak saved us all from a ton of drama by saying earlier than the season was even over that first-year supervisor Gabe Kapler would be again subsequent season. And whereas Kapler looks like the sort of man who’s open to vary and new concepts, it can be fascinating to see if he applies that outside-the-box considering to self analysis.
Do not anticipate Kapler to vary his core philosophies this season, but when he thinks there aren’t a number of areas in which he can enhance, than that is a higher drawback than any of his on-field determination making (see: Kelly, Chip).
Kapler’s Phillies did, in reality, make a 14-game enchancment over final season and solely three groups in baseball – the Braves (plus-18), Oakland (plus-22) and Boston (plus-15) – had a extra substantial leap in complete victories. In contrast to these different three groups, the Phillies will be watching this postseason simply as they’ve watched the earlier six. And in contrast to these different groups, the Phillies had an epic freefall over the course of the season’s last eight weeks, posting a 17-34 report in their final 51 video games after being 15 video games over .500 by way of Aug. 5.
In an effort to discover a Phillies workforce that performed that poorly over its ultimate 51 video games, it’s a must to return to Terry Francona’s 2000 group, which additionally went 17-34. Francona was fired on the season’s remaining day and, in fact, went on to what has been a possible Corridor of Fame managerial profession.
How issues work for Kapler and the Phillies going ahead ought to be fascinating. He swore in the ultimate days that he is aware of he must make some changes, however I get the impression he nonetheless firmly believes in most every thing he did this season. [philly.com]
The factor about first impressions…
Justin Klugh | The Good Phight
It is bizarre that the perfect factor I’ve learn immediately about Kapler’s first yr largely targeted on one thing that occurred fewer than six innings into the season. I’ve included two elements of Justin Klugh’s story from The Good Phight under, primarily as a result of I could not determine which half was higher…
This collapse occurred “because” of lots of issues, however Kapler’s reliance on analytics to make in-game selections overshadows all of them. The people who hate the “analytics” he represents need to use him as a cautionary story, chortling pompously as if baseball hasn’t modified because the invention of the curveball. An over reliance on something will get you killed in a 162-game season, as a result of nothing works each time. A whole lot of the time, it felt like Kapler was making an attempt to outsmart baseball. He misplaced.
However he by no means stopped shifting, swapping, and switching. The Phillies not often used the identical lineup twice. Later in video games, when essential moments arose, Kapler appeared to throw our bodies on the drawback, emptying his bench and his bullpen with out hesitation. He by no means did it for no purpose. However the causes weren’t all the time appreciated, understood, or right. And when he would make a recreation longer by making pitching change after pitching change or shift his protection into the bleachers, it was useful for his critics to have this fairly foolish second from the start of the season to reference together with the remainder of their complaints. …
There’s a lot to say about Kapler. He has his supporters. He has extra critics. He slows the sport down, he over-manages, he overthinks, and it’s completely affordable to say that there are a number of losses that occurred this yr due to his actions. Screwing up Milner’s entry into the sport stays a second that deserves to be laughed at in its absurdity and lack of priority.
In case you muddle a easy in-game act, flummoxing umpires and letting the baseball world snicker at you on the third day of an extended season, it colours the notion of no matter occurs subsequent. Nevertheless it’s an extended season, and Gabe Kapler’s Phillies weren’t a nasty staff for most of it. Only one that operated in methods we hadn’t seen earlier than.
No matter the way you felt about him, Kapler set the tone early: Whether or not you’re transitioning to a brand new supervisor, determining a brand new roster, or making an attempt to name in Hoby Milner from the bullpen, making a change can be troublesome.
And other people love to recollect your errors. [thegoodphight.com]
Klentak nonetheless has a lot to show
Jim Salisbury | NBC Sports activities Philadelphia
Most of the questions surrounding the Phillies this offseason should be answered by Matt Klentak. And in response to Jim Salisbury, he is not going to make any rash selections this offseason out of worry over his job safety.
Klentak is levelheaded and operates with a relaxed exterior. However he’s too sensible to not know the clock is ticking on him. He sees the reflection of these empty blue seats. He is aware of how badly proprietor John Middleton needs to win. He is aware of that his largest determination up to now as Phillies GM, the hiring of Gabe Kapler as supervisor, stays the supply of a lot skepticism regionally and all through the sport.
However Klentak stays resolute — and prepared for a most necessary offseason. He has promised changes and they’ll transcend free-agent additions, although including a Bryce Harper, a Manny Machado or a Patrick Corbin would overshadow anything.
“I’m not going to make decisions because of what they mean to me for my job security,” Klentak stated. “That’s not my job. My job is to make decisions for the good of the Philadelphia Phillies’ short- and long-term health. And that’s what we’re going to do.” [nbcsports.com]
Much more offseason questions!
Todd Zolecki | MLB.com
An important query is probably going going to be about free company, and Todd Zolecki thinks an enormous signing is likely one of the quickest (and probably solely) methods this group can change fan notion.
1. Do the Phillies make an enormous splash in free company?
They virtually should signal any person massive, do not they? The Phillies have been planning for this offseason for years. They spent common supervisor Matt Klentak’s first couple of offseasons buying gamers on one-year contracts like Charlie Morton, Clay Buchholz, David Hernandez, Pat Neshek, Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders in half as a result of they needed to keep away from multiyear offers to take care of the monetary flexibility wanted to pursue Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. Klentak stated lately that the 2019-20 and 2020-21 free-agent courses are equally gifted, however the Phillies actually need to return away with Machado or Harper, or do one thing else vital that makes followers jam the Phillies’ ticket-office telephone strains and buy field a great deal of jerseys for the vacations. There isn’t a cause why they can’t. [mlb.com]
Odd males out?
Tom Moore | Allentown Morning Name
For each motion, there’s an equal and reverse response. So if the Phillies do certainly land a big-name free agent or two this winter, what does that imply for the remainder of the blokes on the workforce?
Including outfielder Bryce Harper or infielder Manny Machado would in all probability value greater than $40 million per season, however would fill a necessity and put some followers in the empty blue seats at Residents Financial institution Park.
“I am certainly not saying that we are not flawed, by any stretch,” Kapler stated. “We are a team that needs to improve. We need to improve from every possible angle.”
Regardless if Harper lands right here, the Phillies want to maneuver on from Herrera, which suggests they’d should eat a few of the $24.5 million remaining on his contract. I’ve seen sufficient. It is time.
Requested if he thinks he’ll be sporting one other group’s uniform subsequent yr, Herrera, via an interpreter, stated: “I don’t really know. We all know baseball is a business. I’m going into the offseason thinking that I’ll be a Phillie.” [mcall.com]
What we (truly) discovered
Corey Seidman | NBC Sports activities Philadelphia
Corey Seidman — and his NBC Sports activities Philadelphia colleague Jim Salisbury — additionally each consider that Herrera could be enjoying for one other staff subsequent season. However Seidman additionally believes this could be the top for two of the longest-tenured place gamers on the roster.
Herrera, Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco could all be gone this offseason.
The Phillies primarily spelled the approaching finish of Hernandez’s tenure right here once they signed Scott Kingery to a long-term contract. It’s uncertain the Phillies enter 2019 with Kingery because the on a regular basis shortstop. His arm in all probability is not suited for third base, and second is his pure place. Can solely hold so many infielders.
As for Franco, we did see offensive enchancment this season. However that is type of the rationale it is time to transfer on. Franco’s commerce worth will be quite a bit larger this winter than it was final winter when he was coming off a .230/.281/.409 this season. Franco this season has hit .270/.314/.467. [nbcsports.com]
Comply with Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin
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