Before I begin, I never thought that after hearing an interview from a baseball player that I would be ready to run through a brick wall. Normally that would be saved for a Brian Dawkins or Rocky style speech. However, after hearing Bryce Harper talk about why he choose Philadelphia and wanting to recruit Mike Trout and then doubling down and being unapologetic for it, bring on the brick wall.
It’s easy to be happy with Matt Klentak’s offseason now that we landed Bryce. However lets take a look at the outstanding job Klentak did prior to Harper signing.
Klentak upgraded the offense by first trading for the best catcher in baseball. I can’t wait to see how J.T. Realmuto handles this pitching staff, but so far I am excited about his hitting. He is also tearing the cover off the ball in spring training, batting over .400. I saw three of his at-bats so far, and he’s only 3 for 3 with a triple and homer. A catcher hitting triples, awesome!
Last year the 27 year old All-star catcher batted .270 with a .340 on-base percentage (OBP). He also hit 21 home runs and drove in 74 RBI which was the most on a team that finished last place in the NL East. Realmuto’s production was better than the three catchers the Phillies used last year (.265/.337 OBP, 15 HR 69 RBI), Realmuto had those numbers while playing on a pretty bad team. It will be awesome to see what he can do in this lineup.
Klentak made a mistake last season by signing Carlos Santana, and lucky for us he made up for it. The signing of Santana had me scratching my head, especially with the emergence of first baseman Rhys Hoskins in 2017. Well the experiment didn’t work and Klentak made amends by trading Santana and J.P Crawford for two time all-star Jean Segura.
The Phillies got better immediately. Segura hit .304/ .341 OBP, knocking in 91 RBI and hitting 10 homers. Not bad for the 29 year old shortstop from Domincan Republic. He will replace utility man Scott Kingery, who played shortstop the most last year due to injury. Kingery had a tough year, batting .226/ .267 OBP with 8 homers and 35 RBI.
Now trading away Santana and his contract is addition by subtraction. Now Rhys Hoskins moves back to his natural position. Santana batted .229/ .352 OBP with 24 HRs and 86 RBI. Hoskins will improve that position’s stats as he hit .246/.354 OBP with 34 HR and 96 RBI.
Now lets add the elder statesman to the group. The signing of Andrew McCutchen to play left field and with that signing The Phillies overall hitting has improved. McCutchen will essentially replace Santana’s stats. Last year McCutchen batted .255/.68 OBP with 20 HR and 65 RBI. Quite the improvement offensively, however the defensive upside is also something to look at. Hoskins was an OK left fielder as it wasn’t his natural position. McCutchen is a former MVP/ All-star center fielder and although he is 32 years old, it’s a win for the Phillies and Klentak.
The Phillies offense has improved significantly without Harper. Those added above hit a combined average of .278/.349 OBP with 17 HR and 76 RBI. Compare that to those who started last year who averaged .240/.318 OBP with 15 HR and 63 RBI. Certainly this benefits the pitching staff.
Speaking of pitching we also have to look at the addition of Dave Robertson, who will be a solid set up/ closer for an already good bullpen. He went 8-3 with a 3.23 ERA and a WHIP of 1.033. This is a very good addition, especially with the injury to Tommy Hunter.
Klentak may have orchestrated the greatest off season in Phillies history.
The question to ask is if Klentak is done or is there one more piece to add? Maybe a certain left handed pitcher or closer? Stay tuned…