Prior to taking the hill tonight for the Phillies, Roy Halladay was recognized as Jayson Stark's NL Cy Young of the Half-Year. Hard to argue with this assessment, and Stark points out that he gave the edge to Doc over the Braves' Jair Jurrjens partly because Halladay is the more feared pitcher.
"Here's the way I'd put it," one longtime NL scout advised Half-Year in
Review. "You've got 1 and 1-A, and Halladay is 1. And the reason
Halladay is 1 is that he's more feared." Another scout told me basically
the same thing, saying: "Halladay is a guy you can match up with the
toughest teams and anybody's No. 1. Jurrjens is on a hell of a roll, but
it's not the same level of dominance."
Starks didn't stop there though, he also went into those advanced stats that tell us what we already know: Roy is a beast.
Phillies fans, not content with having the top tog of the first half, should be excited to know the rest of Stark's picks for NL pitching supremacy, "My ballot: 1) Halladay, 1-A) Jurrjens, 2) Cole Hamels, 3) Cliff Lee, 4) Clayton Kershaw, 5) Tommy Hanson."
Yes, three of the top four pitch for the Fightins' this weekend. So spoiled.
>>Time for baseball's midseason awards [ESPN]
ATLANTA – The day after Phillies manager Pete Mackanin talked about the need to add a hitter to his lineup this offseason, general manager Matt Klentak agreed with his skipper.
“I think Pete is right,” Klentak said Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Mackanin mentioned the impact that Yoenis Cespedes had on the New York Mets after he joined that eventual World Series participant last season. Mackanin said he planned to offer Cespedes as an example of what one difference-making hitter can do for a lineup when he and the coaching staff meet with the front office Friday. Cespedes can opt out of his contract at the end of the season and become a free agent. But a big-ticket free agent like that does not appear to be in this team’s plans. Not this winter, at least.
“We need to work at improving our offense however we can,” Klentak said. “Whether that comes in the form of a free agent or in a trade or promotions of younger players or the continued development of the players that are here – all of those are ways for us to improve our offensive production. Those are all things we're going to focus on.”
The Phillies remain committed to rebuilding through their farm system and with young players. That creates a balancing act for the front office as it looks to add talent.
“Every decision that we make will be measured against the short-term implications and the long-term implications,” Klentak said. “We want to do everything we can to field the most competitive team on the field that we possibly can. We also want to make sure we continue to provide opportunities to our young players to develop. That's the fine line that we'll have to tiptoe all offseason.
“The goal remains to continue to provide meaningful opportunities to our young players, but also to supplement that group with players from the outside that give us the best chance to win.”
Though the Phillies rank last in the majors in runs, Klentak said it remains committed to building with starting pitching. Adding a veteran stabilizer to the starting rotation seems to be as big a priority for Klentak as adding a bat.
“I don't think we will ever have the luxury of ignoring starting pitching,” Klentak said. “Starting pitching is the name of the game. We saw it for the first month or two of the year. Every night we were pitching. Our starters were performing. The back of our bullpen was performing. We were competitive almost every night. At times, throughout the rest of the season, we've sputtered along. We've had our good stretches and we've had some not-so-good stretches. But if you can dictate the pace of the game on the mound, you always have a chance to win. We're never going to ignore that.”
Jeremy Hellickson was a solid veteran stabilizer this season, but he will become a free agent and is likely to sign elsewhere. The Phillies would like to capitalize on Hellickson’s signing elsewhere and get a compensatory pick between the first and second round of next year’s draft. They must make Hellickson a one-year offer of about $17 million for 2017 and the pitcher must reject it for that to happen.
The Phils will also look to add bullpen help this winter.
But don’t look for a free-agent spending spree until the club has built more of a core.
“Free agency is an important market for us and every team to improve,” Klentak said. “Just how strongly we invest in it is going to depend, No. 1, on the types of players that are available and, No. 2., on where the organization is at that moment.”
The organization is still in a rebuild.
Draw your own conclusion.
GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.
As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.
“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”
Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.
“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”
The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.
“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”