Pat Neshek

Former Phillies reliever Pat Neshek angry with Zack Greinke over autograph fiasco

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Former Phillies reliever Pat Neshek angry with Zack Greinke over autograph fiasco

Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Greinke will sign an autograph for me, but not former Phillies reliever Pat Neshek.

Years ago, when Greinke played for the Kansas City Royals, he autographed a baseball for me before a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Neshek, however, was not as lucky.

In addition to pitching for the Rockies, Neshek is an avid baseball memorabilia collector. He has written about it in the past on his website, and apparently is a frequent poster on the Sportscollectors.net message board.

Hat tip to Deadspin here: Neshek recently posted on the message board under the username "heat17" about a dispute with Greinke at a game against the Diamondbacks a few weeks ago, ripping the starting pitcher for refusing to sign an autograph for him.

Neshek wrote ...

"I asked him at the all star game if he would sign for me and he said he would... so a couple weeks ago we played them and I sent over the cards I needed signed... basically 3 league leaders cards with Kershaw and Wainwright already done and 2 from 2015 to complete the set. He said no... I waited around for him during batting practice and went up to him and he totally denied having the conversation at the all star game... I then asked why this was a problem and he said it's because "I wear him out." Hard to wear someone out when he has never signed for me. This is the only a-hole in major league baseball that has been a turd to me."

Neshek later compared Greinke's behavior to a few other MLB players he has dealt with in the past, but said he has "never seen anything like Greinke."

"So going back to the conversation I said can you just get these done it will take 5 seconds... just draw a little z on them for me... He said no I will never sign for you... I walked away... a couple minutes later I confronted him in the outfield while he was jogging and told him what I thought of him... he just kept on running then said I wouldn't even sign for your kid if he asked.... I wanted to laugh knowing he had probably thought of that line for a long time and that was the best he could come up with... I then let him know what I thought of him again and being the socially awkward guy he is ran back to the dugout and went inside. Soooo I'm done with this guy. I'm basically gonna have to trade with someone on here to 50/50 them down the road."

When his message board posts recieved attention, he poked fun at the issue on Twitter.

After a few hours of attention, it seems like Neshek has moved past the dispute.

Rockies' Pat Neshek encouraged by Phillies' Cameron Rupp, Andrew Knapp to throw slider more

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Rockies' Pat Neshek encouraged by Phillies' Cameron Rupp, Andrew Knapp to throw slider more

DENVER — Pat Neshek left the Phillies with more than good memories. 

He departed throwing a far more effective slider to left-handed hitters, thanks to the urging of catchers Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp.

“I'm throwing it a little bit harder than I do to righties, but it's got just downward movement,” said Neshek, whom the Phillies traded to the Rockies on July 26 for three minor league prospects. “Before for me, it was just fastballs and changeups. Now I got something I can run in on them, and a lot of them just look outside and try to slap (the ball) to left. It's been a very effective pitch for me.”

The well-traveled Neshek, whose unconventional sidearm delivery is unique, said he toyed with the harder slider to lefties last year in his second season with the Astros but never really had confidence in it. Early this season, however, that changed because of Rupp and Knapp.

“I didn't really know them, they didn't know me, but they were adamant it was a great pitch, so I just trusted them,” Neshek said. “Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp with the Phillies kind of just kept calling it, and I think it gave me confidence.”

Neshek said when he was with the Cardinals in 2014, catcher Yadier Molina called a lot of changeups, and Neshek “felt like that was my pitch to left-handers.” But thanks to Rupp and Knapp, Neshek said he began attacking lefties with an 82-85 mph slider, up from 81-83 mph last year.

“With the right-handers, he starts it off the plate and throws it off that same fastball plane and keeps it riding out of the zone,” Rupp said. “Whereas with a lefty, you can’t do that or you’re going to hit him. It’s got more depth, and it’s shorter. When you see that, his fastball at 91-92 (mph) plays harder. And then when you throw the movement in with that slider, it’s a pitch you got to be ready to hit.

“He kind of places it instead of letting the ball ride out of the zone and be a chase pitch. It’s not a big chase pitch for him to lefties. He gets a lot of swings. The ball’s in the zone. He gets a lot of weak contact.”

Entering this season, left-handed hitters were batting .237 (117 for 494) against Neshek. They are 13 for 62 (.210) against him this year.

The trade to the Rockies means Neshek has left cozy Citizens Bank Park but will make repeated appearances at mile-high altitude in spacious Coors Field.

“Offensively the ball's flying a lot more in Philly, but more runs are probably going to be scored here,” Neshek said. “It's a bigger ballpark here. So you want to control the running game, limit the base hits and the balls that go in the gaps. But as far as balls flying out, Philly wasn't fun. I mean it was in your head all the time. Same with places like Cincinnati and Atlanta; they're tiny ballparks. For me, I'm losing one tiny ballpark and going to an offensive ballpark. Houston was the same way. Down the left field line was a joke.”

In 43 games with the Phillies, Neshek went 3-2 with a 1.12 ERA with five walks and 45 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings. While that performance piqued the Rockies’ interest, it also eased any concerns Neshek might have had about pitching regularly at Coors Field.

“Philly, when I got traded there, I was like, 'Oh my God,' ” Neshek said. “And to have a good year there, it kind of just tones that down a little bit.”

Trade deadline review: Klentak talks prospects, buyer's market, August deals

Trade deadline review: Klentak talks prospects, buyer's market, August deals

The trade of Joaquin Benoit to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday completed Phillies general manager Matt Klentak's flurry of activity during deadline week.

In totality, Klentak traded four rental veterans in Pat Neshek, Howie Kendrick, Jeremy Hellickson and Benoit and got back three right-handed pitching prospects, two left-handed pitching prospects, a major-league outfielder in Hyun Soo Kim and a Single A shortstop. They also received about $1 million in international bonus pool money, which places them in pretty exclusive company league-wide (see story).

The highest-upside player the Phillies acquired in the four trades was lefty McKenzie Mills, who came over from Washington in the Kendrick deal. Mills was 12-2 with a 3.01 ERA, 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings and 1.9 walks in 18 starts with the Nationals' Class A affiliate.

The other players may end up just being organizational depth. It's too difficult to project whether another team's prospect(s) will eventually impact your big-league club until he shows what he's got at Double A or Triple A.

If one or two of the players in their early-20s the Phillies acquired this week pan out, it will have been a job well done by Klentak, who lacked leverage with all four veterans. Neshek, Kendrick, Hellickson and Benoit are all free agents after the season, and there were question marks about three of them. Hellickson and Benoit have underwhelmed this season, and Kendrick missed 61 of the first 100 games with injuries.

The Phillies' getting anything at all in return for Hellickson and Benoit was basically a win.

"If a player's hurt or he's not performing well, it's hard to move him," Klentak said Monday. "I talked about this with Neshek and Howie and Jeremy and I'll say it with Joaquin as well: These guys delivered. We brought them in here to play a role for this team, they did it, and now they all find themselves in playoff races for the next two months."

(They "delivered" in different ways. Neshek and Kendrick were obviously much more productive when on the field than Hellickson and Benoit.)

It's been an interesting month of July across baseball. Big names like Yu Darvish, Jose Quintana, Sonny Gray and J.D. Martinez were traded. Rentals were moved. A lot of relievers were acquired by their old teams — David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Joe Smith, David Hernandez, Jeremy Jeffress.

The Phillies didn't have a big fish capable of bringing back a strong return, and it looked a lot like a buyer's market anyway.

"Every market is a little bit different," Klentak said after the deadline passed. "The activity and the phone calls were pretty heavy, really from that first Monday coming out of the All-Star Break. It was pretty consistent. I never felt like we were at a disadvantage. I do think that teams, especially early, were targeting players with multiple years of control, not the rentals. But as you've seen over the last 24-48 hours, obviously the rentals were moved as well."

The Phillies can still make trades in August but the process is more difficult. To be traded, a player must first be placed on waivers. If he is claimed by another team, the Phillies would be able to negotiate a trade with only that one team. If the player goes unclaimed, the Phillies would be able to trade him anywhere.

The thing is, young and inexpensive players like Tommy Joseph, Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis and Cameron Rupp would surely be claimed because there would be no risk for the claiming team. The real risk of claiming a player in August is if he's expensive and the original team just says, "You take his contract." But with players like Joseph, Hernandez, Galvis and Rupp, their salaries are so low (relatively speaking, obviously) that a team would be fine with assuming one of their contracts.

For those reasons, it seems like the only potential August trade candidate the Phillies have is Daniel Nava, who's currently on the 10-day DL with a hamstring strain.

"I think these were probably the four biggest salaried players that we had to trade," Klentak said of the four players he dealt this week. "And sometimes it's the guys who make money that become August trade targets. That doesn't mean we won't be active, but I think it's possible. We'll see."