Making its first appearance of the new year, the weekly notebook series is back to recap and discuss all things Phillies in 2019. In the midst of the franchise’s most active and highly-anticipated offseason in recent memory, there is plenty of news, rumors, and offseason buzz to sort through, so without any further adieu, let’s jump right in:
After turning in a rather forgettable campaign last season, the Phils bullpen received a much-needed boost with the addition of longtime relief pitcher David Robertson. Robertson, recently inked to a 2-year pact worth $23M, has dominated over the course of his lengthy career- routinely finishing with a sub-4.00 ERA. In fact, Robertson is one of only three big league relievers to average a sub-3.00 ERA over the last decade:
The more I look at David Robertson's career, the more underrated I think he's been.
Last 10 seasons, relievers with a sub-3.00 ERA & 12+ K/9 IP (min. 500 IP):
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) January 4, 2019
The veteran right-hander hasn’t just been excelling against lesser threats at the bottom of the lineup, either, performing admirably against the heart of the lineup:
Another incredible David Robertson stat:
No. 3-4 hitters vs. him last year:
4-for-54 (.074) – 22 strikeouts/4 hits!
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) January 3, 2019
Allowing four hits in 54 at-bats against any part of the lineup would be impressive, but Robertson’s track record against opposing #3-4 hitters last was simply insane. Perhaps the only thing more impressive about his 2018 season was his effectiveness against lefties. Despite being a right-handed reliever, Robertson held lefty-batters to an astonishingly low .179 batting average. His production against lefties last season hardly comes as a surprise, however, as lefties have batted .207 or better against the Alabama native just twice in eleven seasons. Although the former all-star is unlikely to earn the role of closer in the City of Brotherly Love, his presence solidifies what is suddenly a very formidable bullpen for the Phils without overcommitting financially to the aging vet. Solid, solid move by the Phillies.
Taking a Gamble Sin City
Somewhat surprisingly, 2015 MVP and 6x All-Star Bryce Harper still finds himself without a home nearly two months into free agency. Things could change quickly though, as the Phillies front office has a meeting with the superstar slugger this Saturday in his hometown Las Vegas. Longtime suitors for the 26-year old outfielder, Klentak and Co. plan on gauging Harper’s interest in playing in Philadelphia and perhaps make another contract offer depending on his response.
Frankly, I think the Phillies should make a 10-year offer somewhere in the $330-340M range this weekend. The Yankees, whom Harper openly desires to play for, are said to be out on the talented outfielder- leaving just the Dodgers and White Sox as the only remaining suitors. Though the aforementioned clubs have quite a bit of cash to throw Harper’s direction, neither are as deep-pocketed as Philly, so being outbid for his services simply shouldn’t be an option for the Phils. Stupid money, old money, new money- it really doesn’t matter what type they spend- Klentak and Co. need to do everything in their power to make Harper a Phillie.
Down, but not Out
Similarly to Harper, it’s become fairly obvious that Philly isn’t the top choice for prized free-agent 3B Manny Machado. Still, on the open market nearly two weeks after his meeting with the Phils, Machado is expected to sign soon after declaring his decision would come after the new year. While the Phils appear to be fading as favorites, they aren’t completely out of the race and plan on making the 4x All-Star a second offer soon, according to Jim Salisbury of NBCS Philly.
I’ve been on the ‘Machado > Harper’ train for a while as far as potential fits in Philly is concerned, but Machado undying preference to join the Yankees makes a potential deal unlikely. Still, it’s good to see the team being aggressive and sticking to their offseason plan by their continued interest in the talented gold glover.
I think that just about covers the first week of 2019 for the Phillies. Tune in for next week’s installment when there is (hopefully) more good news than bad.