Pete Mackanin Named Phillies Interim Manager for Remainder of Season

June 30, 2015 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies have announced on their Twitter that Pete Mackanin will remain the club’s interim manager for the rest of the 2015 season. 

Mackanin, formerly the team’s third base coach, was appointed interim manager after Ryne Sandberg resigned on Friday, June 26, with the Phillies starting the season 26-48. Sandberg was 119-159 from 2013-2015 in Philadelphia.  

A former infielder for the Texas Rangers, Phillies, Montreal Expos and Minnesota Twins, Mackanin played nine seasons in the major leagues. According to Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press (via ABC News), he managed parts of two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2005 and the Cincinnati Reds in 2007. He is 53-53 in those stints. 

Entering Tuesday night, the Phillies are 27-51, 16.0 games behind the National League East-leading Washington Nationals. They have three more games at home against the Milwaukee Brewers before embarking on a 10-game road trip before the All-Star break.    

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Rookie Phenom Maikel Franco Gives Phillies the Next Franchise Centerpiece

June 29, 2015 by  
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The Philadelphia Phillies are such a mess that when their manager quit last week, their players barely seemed to care. They’re such a mess that they recently went out in search of someone to fix the situation (hello, Andy MacPhail).

There’s going to be a new manager in place of Ryne Sandberg, and you’ve got to believe there’s going to be a new general manager, too. They’re going to need a whole bunch of new players.

It’s going to take time, but it’s far from an impossible task. The Phillies should add some real talent when they finally trade Cole Hamels.

And they already have a guy who should be the star of the future. Maybe the star of the present, too.

Maikel Franco is breaking in with a Phillies team that is awful, but so did Mike Schmidt (who debuted with a 97-loss club in 1972). So did Jimmy Rollins (who debuted with a 97-loss squad in 2000).

Franco actually debuted last September, with a club that was on the way to 89 losses. He’s getting plenty familiar with losing this year, but at 22, he’s young enough to become part of the next Phillies winner.

Plenty good enough, too.

He’s “a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat,” said one rival scout who has followed Franco’s career since 2013, when he homered 16 times in just 65 games at Single-A Clearwater. “He has great bat speed, and great power to all fields. The first at-bat I ever saw him take, he hit it over the Tiki Bar in left field [in Clearwater]. The next at-bat, he hit it off the right field wall.”

The National League is starting to see the same thing. And the American League, too, because when he homered three times and drove in 10 runs in back-to-back games last week, it was at Yankee Stadium.

He was the first Phillie to drive in five runs in consecutive games, the first Yankee opponent to drive in five runs in consecutive games and one of only five active players with two straight five-RBI games anywhere. The other four: Alex Rodriguez, Bryce Harper, Robinson Cano and Carlos Beltran.

Franco spent the first five weeks of the season in the minor leagues, but he’s still driven in more runs than any Phillie but Ryan Howard. Franco had been in the big leagues less than a month this season when Sandberg moved him to the third spot in the lineup. When Sandberg resigned last Friday, interim manager Pete Mackanin kept Franco in the same spot.

The Phillies seem to know what they have. Jim Salisbury of related a conversation between Phillies bench coach Larry Bowa and Reds first base coach Billy Hatcher.

“We’ve got a stud at third!” Bowa told Hatcher.

There have been times when the Phillies and others wondered if Franco would stay at third. For all his talent, Franco is not fast, and Salisbury writes that the Phillies had thoughts of making him a catcher. Others thought he might end up at first base (where he played twice last week).

The scout who has followed Franco’s career insists he’ll be fine at third because of his great hands, quick feet and a “cannon” arm.

No matter what, it seems certain that Franco will be a fixture in the Phillies lineup as it evolves over the next few years. The Phillies aren’t loaded with big prospects, but with Franco and shortstop J.P. Crawford (currently at Double-A Reading), they should have the left side of the infield covered.

Teams can turn around quickly in this baseball era, especially clubs with the financial resources the Phillies have. The Tigers went from 119 losses to the World Series in just three years, and they didn’t have anyone on the 2003 team who was as promising as Franco is now.

They didn’t have anyone with Hamels’ trade value, either.

Look at the Phillies now, and it’s hard to imagine they could be a World Series team in three years, or even twice that. But look at Maikel Franco now, and it’s easy to imagine that he’ll be a big part of the next Phillies team that wins.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Danny on Twitter and talk baseball. 

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Ryne Sandberg Resigns as Phillies Manager: Latest Details and Reaction

June 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Fan News

Ryne Sandberg resigned from his role as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday with the team holding the worst record in baseball at 26-48. The Phillies announced that Pete Mackanin will take over as manager on an interim basis.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports confirmed the Baseball Hall of Famer’s departure. Although the Phillies clearly lacked the necessary talent to contend for a postseason berth this season, Rosenthal provided some thoughts from behind the scenes on why the club may have wanted to go in a different direction:

Sandberg compiled a 119-159 record across parts of three seasons with the Phillies. The organization is currently caught in the middle, with a necessary rebuild at hand but several veteran players like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels still on the roster.

Fox Sports MLB passed along Sandberg’s comments about his decision to resign:

His future status with the club was also in question, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, so his decision to leave now avoids any possible conflict:

Simply put, it’s hard to imagine any top candidates wanting the Phillies job right now. They are a team in transition, and it’s going to take some time to sort things out. The rebuild may also require some big trades at the deadline, so Mackanin could hold the position until season’s end.

The outlook for Philadelphia should become more clear after the trade deadline, as the team will likely deal its aging players while bringing in replacements to build around. At that point, it should become easier to sell the managerial job to prospective candidates, who will be able to help craft and mold the roster their way for the future.

With Sandberg apparently feeling change on the horizon, he decided to step away on his terms. And with the team struggling, it’s hard to blame him.  


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Cole Hamels’ Phillies Life as a Never-Ending Trade Rumor Should End Soon

June 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Fan News

Much like Cole Hamels, I could think of something really funny to say, but I’d rather just be truthful.

And the truth is that, as the long-running Hamels trade saga winds toward an end, it actually looks like it will end up working out well for almost everyone. A team will get a 31-year-old left-hander who can still be a difference-maker, Hamels will be liberated from the mess the Phillies have become and the Phillies will take a significant step toward fixing that mess.

Perhaps general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. will even get a touch of redemption, but that’s doubtful. Even if the Phillies end up making a great trade when they finally deal Hamels—to the Dodgers, Rangers, Yankees or some surprise entrant—the credit will probably go to Pat Gillick or even to Andy MacPhail, who appears close to succeeding Gillick as the most important baseball chief at Citizens Bank Park, as reported by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Amaro had his chance last year, last winter or even in July 2012, when the Phillies signed Hamels to a $144 million, six-year contract extension instead of trading him.

At the time, it seemed like a reasonable decision by a franchise that had won the National League East five straight years. It looks different now, with the Phillies headed for a third straight losing season and quite possibly their first 100-loss season since 1961.

No one should blame Hamels for wanting to stay in 2012, and no one should blame him for wanting out now.

No one should blame him for trying hard not to say that he wants out. (He declined to speak to reporters Monday, and even after saying he’d be truthful rather than funny, he insisted he doesn’t think much about getting traded.) Now that the Phillies finally seem determined to move him, why would he want to risk saying anything that could hamper those efforts?

“It’s just kind of normal, going on 12 months,” he said, when someone asked about pitching while scouts watch and writers speculate. “I could think of something really funny to say,” Hamels said, “but I’d rather just be truthful with you. No, I don’t [think about it].”

He insists it doesn’t bother him, and maybe it shouldn’t. Hamels has some control over the process (his contract says he can be traded without his permission to only nine teams of his choosing), and when it’s over, it’s almost certain that he’ll be in a better place.

“I’ve got to pitch every five days,” he said. “I’ve just got to stay healthy.”

He said this after his first start in 10 days, after he was skipped once because of what he and the Phillies called a minor hamstring issue. It’s believable now that it really was minor, because it’s not in the Phillies’ interest to take any chances with the one asset that could jump-start the rebuilding process and because Hamels looked healthy in his start at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.

The Phils took two big chances already by not trading Hamels last July or last winter. Pitchers’ arms are fragile, perhaps now more than ever. Performance can fade quickly too, depressing interest. But Hamels has avoided any big health issues and is pitching as well as he ever has.

His fastball velocity is actually higher now than it was in his three All-Star seasons (he hit 95 mph and averaged 93.5 on Wednesday, according to, and his other numbers are right around his career averages. The fact that the Phillies are 35-43 in Hamels’ 78 starts since his extension kicked in says more about the team than it does about him.

Even on a trade market that could include Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and others (the Boston Globe reported Thursday that some teams are hoping the Red Sox trade Clay Buchholz), Hamels will likely be the top prize.

The Dodgers sent one of their top scouts to watch him Wednesday, which was not surprising, considering they need pitching now and will need more if Zack Greinke does the expected and opts out of his contract after this season.

The Rangers were mentioned this week by Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi, and on the same day, columnist Kevin Kernan wrote in the New York Post that the Yankees need to get Hamels at any cost.

The talks will continue, and Hamels will wait, although he did try to bring in a little levity when he playfully cleaned out his locker one day during the Phillies’ last homestand.

The Phillies can market Hamels as a guy who might get you to the World Series this year, knows what to do once he’s there (his seven postseason wins are tied for second among active pitchers, behind CC Sabathia’s nine) and is signed to a reasonable contract that still has three seasons to run after this one.

When the Phillies signed Hamels, the idea was that he was young enough to survive whatever necessary rebuilding they needed and still contribute to their next winning team. They could still make that argument now, except the Phillies are such a mess that it’s hard to see that next winning team coming within the next two or three years.

MacPhail’s pending arrival could mean the end for both Amaro and manager Ryne Sandberg, who was handed a difficult situation but seems to be confirming the opinion of others that he wouldn’t be very good at the job. The Phillies have some top young talent, both in the big leagues (Maikel Franco) and in the minors (Double-A shortstop J.P. Crawford), but they don’t have nearly enough of it.

They have other trade chips too, in closer Jonathan Papelbon and perhaps even first baseman Ryan Howard. But both of them come with big contracts and big questions, and neither could bring the kind of return the Phillies really need.

Hamels can, and he probably will. And he’s going to do it with his strong left arm, not with any funny comments coming out of his mouth.

Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Danny on Twitter and talk baseball.

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Franco Becomes 3rd Rookie in MLB History with Consecutive 5-RBI Games

June 24, 2015 by  
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Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco had another huge night against the New York Yankees on Tuesday, becoming just the third rookie in MLB history to record five RBI in consecutive games, as well as the first player ever to have five RBI in back-to-back games against the Yankees, per the Elias Sports Bureau (via ESPN Stats & Info).

On the heels of a four-hit, two-homer, five-RBI performance in Monday’s 11-8 win over the Bronx Bombers, Franco collected two hits in three at-bats during Tuesday’s 11-6 victory, also drawing a walk and getting hit by a pitch.

His night started off innocently enough, with a groundout in his first at-bat, followed by a walk in his second.

Franco then got the best of Yankees starter CC Sabathia in his third plate appearance, hitting a three-run homer in the fourth inning to give the Phillies a 6-3 lead.

After getting hit by a pitch in the seventh inning, Franco smacked a two-run double off of near-unhittable Yankees reliever Dellin Betances in the top of the ninth, turning a 6-6 tie into an 8-6 lead.

The Phillies extended the lead to 11-6 by the end of the inning, and they’ve now shockingly scored 31 runs over the last three games, having previously beaten the St. Louis Cardinals by a score of 9-2 on Sunday.

Although the three-game winning streak is meaningless in the context of a lost season, Franco’s emergence has been the highlight of the year for a rebuilding franchise.

After struggling mightily during a brief stint (56 at-bats) in the majors last year, the rookie owns a .319/.368/.604 batting line through 37 games this season, with 10 home runs, 20 extra-base hits, 29 RBI, 23 runs and a stolen base in 144 at-bats.

He has made six errors at the hot corner, but even so, he’s already been worth 1.7 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), according to FanGraphs.

That figure puts him 10th among all third basemen this season, and only 10 players at any position have accumulated more WAR than Franco (1.5) over the last 30 days.

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Phillies’ Freddy Galvis Drops Perfect Bunt Against Yankees

June 23, 2015 by  
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Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis laid down a masterful bunt in the fourth inning of Monday’s 11-8 win over the New York Yankees.

And we mean masterful.

The ball stopped right on the edge of the third-base line.

Galvis got a single out of it before eventually scoring on a double by second baseman Cesar Hernandez, whose line drive to right field lifted the Phillies to a 6-2 lead with one out.


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Cole Hamels Injury: Updates on Phillies Star’s Hamstring and Return

June 18, 2015 by  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels is dealing with a mild hamstring strain suffered on June 18, but he is planning to make his next scheduled start on June 23.

Continue for updates.

Hamels on Track to Start Wednesday vs. Yankees

Sunday, June 21

Hamels just threw a bullpen session. He gave a thumps up afterward. He’s expecting to start Wednesday in New York,” according to Todd Zolecki of

On Friday, Hamels said he doesn’t expect to need a stint on the disabled list with his injury and that he plans to make his next scheduled start next week, per Zolecki.

Any type of serious ailment would obviously be a major setback for the Phillies’ rotation.

The 31-year-old left-hander has remained durable throughout his career. He’s made at least 30 starts in every season since 2008. That’s obviously added to his value given the high number of pitchers around the league who have dealt with arm or shoulder trouble.

Hamels is the anchor of a Phillies staff that needs him in it. With a severe dearth of quality arms to replace him, the sooner he can get back the better.


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