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Phillies: Addressing 2020’s Frequent Conclusions


By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Forming an opinion on the Philadelphia Phillies doesn’t even require a minute’s thought for many, and firing a general manager and/or his boss is a go-to position. The faithful have little patience for not meeting their expectations, real or perceived. So, silence wasn’t an option!  


Researched Views:

On the surface, Phillies fans either praise or give a pass to their favorites but criticize struggling players including reserves like Andrew Knapp. Basically, they must point out the Fightins’ shortcomings despite all teams having warts. More information, though, can easily challenge their beliefs.


“People mistakenly assume that their thinking is done by their head; it is actually done by the heart which first dictates the conclusion, then commands the head to provide the reasoning that will defend it.” - Anthony de Mello

In this article, many locals drew these conclusions, but I can’t remember who reached each one because they continuously blend together over the months. So, I’m not referring to anyone in particular.        

Playing time is probably the most important factor in being a productive hitter in the major leagues, and any backup for JT Realmuto is going to have difficulty. Realistically, a batter must begin his swing as the hurler is releasing the ball if he has a 95-mph fastball: It looks different at field level.               

Pinch-hitting without occasionally getting four at-bats in some contests is a task only a few can achieve like a Matt Stairs. And, usually, the secondary receiver is a capable defender, and any offense is an unexpected plus.   

Financially, reserve backstops make roughly $1 million per 162. And if they receive an opportunity to start elsewhere, no one can blame them for accepting frequent playing time and a chance to earn more if they can provide average offense.     



Some believe a franchise spending over $200 million should be among the best; by that logic, though, four clubs have exceeded the Fightins’ expenditures. Dollar-wise, the New York Yankees at roughly $55 million more in commitments than the Phillies should breeze to the World Series.                 

If big-market organizations are virtually unstoppable, the Yankees should dispatch the Tampa Bay Rays in three contests. Unfortunately, the Rays are the Yanks’ kryptonite by winning eight of their 10 games this summer. And New York (AL) in away contests had only one victory to three defeats against them.

In finishing order, the Phils have out-placed and outspent the New York Mets by $16 million and the Washington Nationals by $13 million. But expenditures don’t determine the standings and postseason results. No, a full 162 with normal injuries, disappointments, surprises, and deadline deals produces those outcomes.                                           

Based on past accomplishments, stars receive contracts for produced offense with the thinking  they’ll be healthy and effective. But franchises vying for playoff triumphs have no guarantees of success from their regulars, rotation and relief corps especially during a truncated campaign without spectators.   


Figures according to FanGraphs:




$208 Million Luxury Tax*




Over 3rd Penalty of $248 million




Over 2nd Penalty of $228 million




Over 1st Penalty of $208 million




Over 1st Penalty of $208 million




Over 1st Penalty of $208 million


White Sox























* Payroll amounts are AAV (average annual value).

To some Fightins faithful, signing Realmuto or other top-tier performers should happen quickly regardless of the surrounding circumstances and time frame. Why? My only conclusion is fans’ comfort is the driver behind their unrealistic expectations because high-profile negotiations are long by nature.       

To illustrate, if former general manager Matt Klentak had guaranteed to re-up Realmuto, fans and his agent would have been ecstatic. Yes, but why would the agent then settle for only $23-25 million per year when he could demand $30 million annually despite the Phillies $100 million loss for ‘20?       

President Andy MacPhail would have terminated Klentak for putting the red pinstripes in such a weak negotiating position. Normally, MacPhail postures in these situations and prefers to take the faithful’s heat, so Klentak’s comments were no surprise and had nothing to do with his job security.

Many national reports compare negotiating to high-stakes poker: Who will blink first? Yet, some locals may have forgotten the long process to sign Bryce Harper. So why would re-upping Realmuto be any different even without the added virus-changing events?       

Whenever the end is, fans won’t mention all the unnecessary complaining if the Phillies have their All-Star catcher in the fold. Yes, the faithful will immediately move on to other Fightins’ shortcomings like supporters of other teams. And doubting Thomases won’t have any shortage of roster suggestions ahead.     

Due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, long-term commitments will have limits monetarily and lengthwise. And until national, state, and local governments improve the present circumstances, major sports organizations including baseball will carefully proceed with their personnel decisions.    



The best example for superstars like Realmuto is Mookie Betts re-upping with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Remember, he was definitely going to test free agency. In the end, though, Betts accepted $365 million for 12 seasons with $115 million deferred or 31.5 percent, and managing partner John Middleton likes this approach.        

When the recent top free agent inked for $250 million plus deferred money over 12 summers, what can Realmuto expect during the offseason? Well, one reported Phils’ possibility was $23 million per 162 for 5-6 years: $115-138 million. At $25 million annually, however, it would be $125-150 million: doable with deferred money, no?                         

Competitors’ situations can reveal if they will be or won’t be chasing Realmuto. For instance, the Yanks and Dodgers could be possibilities, but they both made large commitments to Gerrit Cole and Betts respectively. Division-wise, the Mets have the most interest, while the Atlanta Braves have Travis d’Arnaud and spending limits.   

Some locals probably consider that Realmuto will not return in 2021 because he hasn’t re-upped. So, they bemoan losing Jorge Alfaro and Sixto Sanchez as if the Fightins only received two summers of Realmuto without re-signing him. But no execs foresaw COVID-19’s disruption leading to less than a full 162.     

Behind the plate, Alfaro is an offense-oriented receiver with defensive shortcomings. Last season, he averaged .226 with three homers and 16 RBIs in 31 games and  100 plate appearances: He basically played one month.                     

As for Sanchez, a numerical review shows a young flamethrower who’s struggled when he’s faced an opponent for a second time, and he also has control problems. Unfortunately, he’ll face National League East rivals more than once, plus he’ll have growing pains in 2021.   

Sanchez, 22: 

  • Vs. Braves: 6 Inn., 0 ER, 6 SO, 1 BB and 1-0.
  • 2nd Game: 3 Inn., 4 ER, 2 SO, 4 BB and 0-0.
  • Total: 9 Inn., 4 ER, 8 SO, 5 BB and 1-0 with a 4.00 ERA.


  • Vs. Nationals: 5 Inn., 3 ER, 4 SO, 0 BB and 1-0.
  • 2nd Game: 4 Inn., 5 ER, 2 SO, 2 BB and 0-1.
  • Total: 9 Inn., 8 ER, 6 SO, 2 BB and 1-1 with an 8.00 ERA.

Summing up 2020 includes 60 games --not 162-- COVID-19 protocols, an unusually high injury count, a trade deadline after 5-6 weeks and a fired GM. But the Phillies will have Middleton negotiating with Realmuto. Ergo, if you are unhappy with the 2020-21 offseason, demand what the Mets faithful do. Sell the team!     



2020’s Right or Wrong Expectations




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Jeff Linnell

You can’t decimate your farm system to sign Realmuto, then let him walk. Period.

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