Massholes Respond to Boston Dominance

Massholes Respond to Boston Dominance

This morning I emailed one of my most beloved friends from my Boston College days to get his take on last night's near dethroning of America's Team.  The following is the response I received from Jimmy "The Bucket" who is originally from Brockton.  Or maybe it's Dorchester?  It really doesn't matter where as long as you know it's one of those places where every person in town sounds like they should be working on the Andrea Gale.

Rikki, [editors note: I think that's me, although I'm not sure.]

Tape THIS! Was there ever
a glimmer of optimism in Philly last night? Did The 700Level ever seriously
consider that “There’s Something About A.J.” Feeley would
overwhelm Lancelot and the knights of the Patriot table? Seriously, Rikki.

I will say that 23.5
(hitting 24.5 by game time) was a gross spread. This is the NFL, albeit the
NFC. And Philly found a way to penetrate the secretively soft underbelly of The
Juggernaut: Its linebackers are an aggregate age 183 when they play 3, 232 when
they play 4. I loved how Madden kept yammering about Junior Seau and his
octogenarian pass coverage, while Feeley is living over the middle, bang bang
bang. And why is it that Belichick and Pioli can’t put together a fully sound
defensive backfield? Maybe I’m asking too much. This team is the
equivalent of that all-star swimsuit edition cover that SI put out a couple
years back. You can nip and tuck where you like, but overall the package is
pretty damned breath-taking. You try to stop Elle Macpherson, Marissa Miller
hits you on an out-pattern for 15 yards and the first.

Whatever. Great fight by
the Eagles. Coach Reid deserves to celebrate after a heroic effort like that.
(Psssssst, Andy, try the second drawer down in the boys’ bathroom. Take
two with a few draws on the Rubinoff, call us on Wednesday.)

Fondly,

Boston Steve

P.S. Rikki, I also wanted to add a little line about what a
feeling it is to be a World Series champion. What a feeling it is to be a World
Series champion. You go six months with a team and it rewards you with a warm
championship embrace. It’s good to be the kings.

Cesar Hernandez remains a person of interest as Phillies look to improve

Cesar Hernandez remains a person of interest as Phillies look to improve

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Phillies have completed the signing of veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit to a one-year, $7.5 million contract (see story). The deal could be announced Tuesday and will require the club removing a player from the already-full 40-man roster.

Benoit is one of three additions that the Phils have made to their bullpen this offseason — the club traded for veteran right-hander Pat Neshek and picked up lefty David Rollins on waivers — and more will likely come, probably on minor-league contracts, before the team reports to spring training.

Now that the bullpen has been addressed, let’s take a look at what could be next for the Phillies this winter.

• The addition of Benoit could create enough back-end bullpen depth that GM Matt Klentak could look to trade either Jeanmar Gomez or Hector Neris. Gomez saved 37 games in 2016, but struggled down the stretch. Neris showed great promise in recording a 2.58 ERA and striking out 11.4 batters per nine innings in 79 games in 2016. The hard-throwing righty is young (27), talented and inexpensive so the Phils would have to be overwhelmed by an offer to move him. Last year, Klentak moved a young closer in Ken Giles for a significant return from Houston, so he has history in making these types of moves.

• In addition to more potential comings and goings in the bullpen, the Phils will look to add a backup infielder and maybe a backup catcher in the coming weeks. Andres Blanco could return as that extra infielder. A.J. Ellis could return as the catcher. But nothing is firm. In fact, Klentak hinted Monday that he’d be comfortable bringing Andrew Knapp up from Triple A to be the backup catcher next season.

“I don’t think we need a veteran backup catcher,” Klentak said. “If it works out, we’re open-minded to that. But Andrew Knapp just finished his age 25 season in Triple A. He has a full year of at-bats in Triple A. At some point for both he and (Jorge) Alfaro, we’re going to have to find out what those guys can do at the big-league level. During the 2017 season, we’ll have to find out — not just about those two guys — but others.”

• One of the biggest remaining issues facing Phillies management this winter centers around the outfield and the offense. Basically, Klentak and his advisers are weighing the merits of adding another veteran hitter — the club already traded for Howie Kendrick — to improve the offense or giving a significant playing opportunity to a promising youngster and potential future core piece such as Roman Quinn in what currently projects to be one opening in the outfield.

“That topic is the one that we have spent the most time discussing, not just here but this offseason, about striking the right balance between adding a veteran bat or veteran free agent to this team to make our team better, but again, not taking playing time away from players that need the playing time.

“That’s part of the dynamic that we have to consider there. Roman Quinn came up at the end of the year and, at times, looked like a legitimate major-league contributor. But we also have to be mindful of the fact that he hasn’t logged a single at-bat at Triple A yet.

“This doesn’t have an obvious answer. We are continuing to talk about trade acquisitions and talk to agents for free agents to see if the right opportunity exists to blend all those factors together. But what we do not want to do is bring in so many veterans that we are denying opportunities to our young players.”

This brings us to a situation that could potentially satisfy the team’s desire to improve the offense without taking away a playing opportunity from Quinn.

J.D. Martinez of the Detroit Tigers is an outfield bat that the Phillies like. They like his production and the fact that he’s signed for just 2017. In other words, he wouldn’t block a young prospect’s pathway to the majors, at least for long.

Martinez, owed $11.75 million, which is very affordable for the Phillies, is a serious trade candidate for the cost-cutting Tigers and the Phillies have spoken to Tigers officials, dating to the early part of the offseason.

According to sources, the Phillies and Tigers could be a trade fit if the Tigers were to deal second baseman Ian Kinsler. If the Tigers move Kinsler, they could look to move Martinez to the Phillies for second baseman Cesar Hernandez. Phillies officials have said they are in no hurry to deal Hernandez, but the team does have depth at second with a pair of prospects (Scott Kingery and Jesmuel Valentin) on the way and a ready-made stopgap in Kendrick at the position. 

So keep an eye on Kinsler. If he moves, the Phillies could pursue the veteran bat that would make their offense better. And it would not cost Quinn an opportunity as he could play left field with Kendrick moving to second.