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Missanelli Out at 97.5 The Fanatic

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By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Editor

A complete shocker returning from Memorial Day Weekend 2022, Mike Missanelli is out as the host of The Mike Missanelli Show on 97.5 The Fanatic.  Missanelli made the announcement on the air just moments ago.  

Missanelli, a fixture on Philadelphia sports radio since the 1990’s, has been the lynchpin of The Fantatic’s programming since for most of its existence.  It was a major coup for WPEN to bring in a “WIP guy” in Missanelli which obviously opened the door for other hosts to jump the dial.  As he mentions, his contract expires in a few weeks and the parent company, Beasley, decided to go in another direction. 

Wow! 

How shocking is this? Shocking considering this move even caught “Radio Wars' ' veteran Kevin Kinkead of Crossing Broad by surprise.  Crossing Broad has been at the forefront of sports radio drama for the past decade or so and they knew nothing concrete of this decision.  As Kinkead points out, Missanelli was on the final leg of his contract which he agreed to extend in Fall 2021.  

As Missanelli noted, a new show is already signed, sealed, and will reportedly be delivered by 97.5 The Fanatic in a few weeks.  

Let the speculation begin on that one.  Has anyone tracked Josh Innes lately?  

 

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Let's Talk About Joe Girardi

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Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons/Fair Use

With May about to end, the Phillies are over 11 games back from first in the NL East and might be on a downward spiral. Since the west coast road trip to Seattle and Los Angeles the Phillies are 4-10 and in a few games have looked lifeless. Even players parents are questioning how much fun they are having, remember that at the end of the day they are playing a game and games should be fun. 

The Phillies look like a mess from Odúbel Herrera letting a ball go under his glove that was thrown by the catcher, to Roman Quinn and Nick Castellanos failing to properly communicate on a fly ball.  

Every night there is something new, Corey Knebel blew saves in back-to-back games against the Mets and Giants, the offense is failing to live up to expectations, and many questionable decisions were made by the manager. 

Let's talk about that manager for a moment, while managers in the grand scheme of the season probably don't matter too much, Joe Girardi has still been an issue. Would the Phillies be completely different if Girardi was no longer the manager? Probably not but there are certain decisions that just don't make a lot of sense. 

A couple of great examples are in the Braves series, on May 25, the same game where Herrera let the ball go under his glove, Girardi sent José Alvarado in a critical game-deciding situation against Austin Riley with Dansby Swanson on first. While everyone remembers the ball going under Herrera's glove it wouldn't matter because Alvarado allowed a solo home run to Riley, making it a six-four game. If the defensive blunder never happens the score is still the same. 

The Phillies would go on to lose eight to four and fall to 20-24 on the season. Can Girardi magically make the offense score more runs? No. Can He magically make the bullpen elite? Also no, but what he can do is work with what he has and put guys into better positions to succeed. 

Right-handed hitters have a .866 OPS against Alvarado and Riley has a 1.077 OPS against left-handed pitching so going with your worst lefty in a major spot against Riley was probably never-ending well. 

The game before is full of blunders too. In the bottom of the sixth of a tie game, Girardi decides James Norwood is the best option. Norwood allowed a home run to Matt Olson and proceeded to allow two hits plus a walk to load up the bases, Norwood failed to even record an out before being pulled.

Norwood isn't some high leverage reliever, even in the Phillies bullpen. He came into that game with a 7.11 ERA and an average leverage index of .48, meaning he was never really used in big spots. 

He is essentially a mop-up arm when the game is supposed to be out of reach so why would Girardi willingly put him in a tie game against a division rival? 

Later in that game, Nick Nelson pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and Harper the following half-inning would hit a towering two-run home run off of Kenley Jansen to give the Phillies the lead. Girardi would have Nick Nelson, who is mainly their long reliever, try a wrap-around to close out the ninth in Atlanta. Of course, he would go on to fail and the Phillies lost six to five. 

Where is the game plan with these decisions? Girardi would say Nick Nelson was throwing the ball well in the eighth but that doesn't really sound like much of a plan. It's also very questionable why Corey Knebel, Seranthony Domínguez, and Jeurys Familia were all unavailable for the same game. 

However, even if you are going into a game like that, why did you use Brad Hand in the seventh down a run? If you are that short, maybe save the only other guy you can trust to close a game. None of it really made any sense at the time and it hurt their chances to win significantly. Girardi has very strict bullpen rules but fails to adjust how he manages. These are his own rules he can't adjust to. 

Would it help if Dave Dombrowski put together a better bullpen? Absolutely but Girardi is still making poor decisions with what he has and it's costing them games. 

Girardi isn't the only problem with the Phillies, they spent nearly 180 million dollars on two bats this off-season and rank only 15th in wRC+. That is not good enough, the bullpen pieces are not good enough, and the defense has lately started to cost this team run after run. Girardi can't do those things for them. 

But there are also decisions Girardi is making that hurt them, the bullpen decisions that were mentioned earlier. Alec Bohm made 23 starts in the two-hole and recorded a .626 OPS before Girardi finally made a change. These decisions add up over the course of a season and don't fully maximize the roster they have. 

They aren't 21-28 solely because of Girardi but he should be held accountable when he makes poor decisions and hurts the team's chances to win. While it is very hard to talk about someone's job like this it is an easy decision to make. He should no longer be this Phillies manager. 


Former Philadelphia Phillies Pitcher J.A. Happ Retires

JA HappPhoto: Darrin/Wikimedia Commins/Common Use


By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher J.A. Happ has decided to call it a career after 15-seasons in the Big Leagues.  Happ, 39, discussed the decision with Jessica Lindberg on the Heart Strong Podcast.

“It got to the point where it was Opening Day, and I turned the first game on, and I talked to my wife, Morgan, and I said ’What are you feeling?’ She just kind of looked at me and said, ’A little anxiety.’ I wanted to turn it on to see what I felt, too, and I didn’t maybe feel what I needed to feel in order to think I wanted to keep doing this. I felt like that was a sign, like ’OK, it’s time to go.’ Even though I had put the work in to be ready if the right situation came, I felt like it was time to move on and be a dad and dive into the kids. … It was emotional — something I didn’t expect. I called my agent that day, right after we turned that game on, and said, ’I think this is it.’ I told the people I feel like I needed to tell. I think I’m still processing it, but I do wake up feeling good about it, and I’m happy to start the process of being a full-time dad, for the time being, at the very least.”  - J.A. Happ via Heart Strong Podcast (h/t MLB Trade Rumors)

Happ was selected 92nd overall by the Phillies in the 2004 MLB June Amateur Draft after three standout seasons with Northwestern.  He quickly rose through the Phillies farm system, Happ jumped from High-A Clearwater to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre during the 2006 season.  

Happ made his Major League debut on June 30, 2007 for the Phillies against the rival New York Mets, allowing 5 ER in 4 IP.  He would return to Triple-A for the remainder of the 2007 season and the beginning of the 2008 season.  Happ bounced around the Phillies system in 2008, going from Triple-A to the Majors multiple times but he ultimately landed a spot on the postseason roster.  

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Phillies: Baseball Men Like 2022’s Rotation

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

The Philadelphia Phillies faithful are negative and positive, but the negative ones have the loudest voices, highest expectations and longest lasting disappointments. Moreover, they embrace the worst-case scenario for players and the organization. Guaranteed unhappiness, no?                      

 

Microanalysis:

The Phillies five-man staff wasn’t the only one off to a “bad” start because only a few hurlers were past the spring-training phase of ‘22. Translation: Pitch-count limits covered only up to five frames under most circumstances. To illustrate, Zack Wheeler’s first three outings totaled 12 ⅔ innings but 38 ⅔ for his last six performances.                                            

Put Another Way:

“People who write about spring training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball.” - Sandy Koufax

Some critics have doubted every hurler on the Fightins. Please, don’t confuse domination with consistency, which is four acceptable –bend, don’t break– outings out of every five: 80 percent but 75 percent for a full 162. And a six-frame average overall is what management expects.   

Maybe, locals’ memories of the old days include the four aces’ career highlights. To them, bad games probably didn’t exist, and they are against pitch counts and innings limits. Well, pitching through pain –until a moundsman couldn’t lift his arm– was the longtime norm: the forgotten part.                   

Flamethrower Jim Wright was the Phillies top rotation prospect, but he never threw 150 pitches in an MLB start. With streaming tears, his arm felt on fire, and Wright chucked his last 1979 bullet because his bone snapped in half and protruded through his skin. Yeah, I remember hearing the bad news.

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Phillies Activate Moniak, Who Will Start Today in Center Field

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Center field has been one of the weak positions for the Phillies in 2022.  Batting just .218 from the position, the Phillies really could use a boost.  That may come to the Phillies in the form of former first round pick Mickey Moniak.

The Phillies announced on Monday that Moniak has been activated from the 10-day injured list.  Shortly thereafter, Moniak was in the posted Phillies lineup, playing center field, batting seventh.  The Phillies open a new homestand Monday at 4:05 p.m., hosting the San Francisco Giants.

To make room on the roster, the Phillies optioned pitcher Bailey Falter to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.  Falter made a start for the Phillies on Thursday in New York in order to rest the five members of the Phillies starting rotation. Falter remained on the roster the two days that followed, with no clear plan for him going forward.

The plan for Moniak, meanwhile, appears to be to see if the Phillies can get the kind of production out of Moniak that he showed in Grapefruit League action this Spring.  Moniak batted .378 with six home runs and four doubles in 37 Spring at bats.

Moniak broke his hand after being hit by a pitch during the final Spring contest against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Moniak's numbers in the major leagues to this point were nothing like his Spring numbers.  In 47 big league at bats between 2020 and 2021, Moniak is batting just .128 in the major leagues.

However, this will arguably be Moniak's first real chance to show he belongs in the major leagues.  The Phillies hope he is more 2022 Spring Training at the plate.  We'll find out finally beginning today against the Giants.


YWT: The Philadelphia Flyers Podcast - YWT #151 - Out Of This World

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The guys are back with the latest on the Flyers coaching search. The team has started to interview candidates and there are several others the team is reportedly interested in.

The guys also take a look at the Stanley Cup Playoffs and where things are as the conference finals are about to begin. Join Kyle Collington and Kevin Durso as they break it all down.

You can listen to this episode of the podcast below and be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Amazon Podcasts and Podbean

You can also watch the episode and subscribe to watch all episodes of the YWT Podcast on YouTube.

As always, we want you to follow the podcast on Twitter @YWTpodcast and follow Kevin Durso on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.


The Top of the Lineup is an Issue Again

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All-Pro Reels/Wikipedia/Fair Use

When the 2021-22 off-season rolled around President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski said at his end of the season press conference that they needed a leadoff hitter. It made perfect sense as the Phillies ranked 28th in wRC+ from the leadoff position in 2021. 

He gave a four-year contract to Kyle Schwarber, who had the highest wRC+ from the leadoff spot with over 100 plate appearances. Even if Schwarber is a known slow starter, he has just a 20 wRC+ from the leadoff position heading into Sunday night. 

Even if Schwarber hasn't been as disastrous of a signing as people will say, the goal was he would be a great leadoff option for them, and he hasn't come close. Outside of Schwarber, the Phillies have tried Jean Segura, JT Realmuto, and Rhys Hoskins for the majority of leadoff spot appearances, with a sprinkle of Odúbel Herrera and Alec Bohm. 

Nothing has worked for them as they have been as bad as possible from the leadoff spot with a 45 wRC+, last in baseball. 

It's been so bad that Hoskins's .664 OPS has been enough to hit him there 13 straight games heading into Saturday night and none of us are complaining.  

They might not have any better options, Segura has a .462 OPS from that spot, Realmuto at .308, and Herrera was one of the worst leadoff hitters in the sport last year. 

Maybe they could try Bohm there but he has a .644 OPS in the month of May so that doesn't work either. It's also hard to imagine they would try Bryce Harper there since he hasn't been working the count this year and he's their best hitter, so they just don't have options. 

Batting second has been an issue for them lately too, while they do rank 16th in wRC+ at 118, that hasn't shown up lately. 

Alec Bohm in the month of May has been mostly their everyday number two-hitter and has that bad OPS mentioned earlier. Segura has been one of the best hitters on the Phillies this year so it's not impossible they go back to him. 

Last year he put up a .804 OPS when batting second so he is certainly not a bad option as well. 

In totality, the Phillies rank 26th in wRC+ from hitters batting first and second in the lineup this year, which is making Harper's job really difficult once again. 

While we all will and should continue to harp on the manager and the bullpen, the offense hasn't been good enough consistently for them to consistently win games. While they do rank very high in most offensive categories, numbers are down across the entire league and they have 11 games scoring one run or less. 

Part of that has to do with the terrible hitting at the top of the lineup. 


Should The Phillies Pay Zach Eflin?

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Ian D'Andrea/Wikipedia/Fair Use

Sunday's game will be one to remember, even if Zach Eflin's 12 strikeout performance may not be the main reason. Eflin for the most part carried a pathetic offense for seven innings, allowing only two solo home runs against the best team in baseball. He allowed only four hits and had 12 whiffs on his curveball. 

Eflin is another polarizing player to Phillies fans, but he's been molding himself into a solid starter over the last three seasons. Since 2020, Eflin has about an average ERA of 4.02 but a drastically lower FIP at 3.46. He is striking out about a batter per inning and has done a good job at limiting walks with only 1.7 walks per nine. 

Even though his 2021 was cut short due to injuries, he's been a pretty reliable arm. In 35 starts over this span, he's pitched over 200 innings, which is pretty difficult to ask of most starters in today's game. 

While we can mention this period, his jump this season feels significant given the circumstances. Eflin is on a contract year with the team and should be demanding a payday so taking this leap is important. 

Diving deeper into the numbers, a smart team will want to pay Eflin some cash. While his strikeout rate hasn't jumped as it did in 2020, he has taken other significant leaps to produce high-quality pitching. 

Eflin is doing a great job at limiting hard contact with an average exit velocity of 83.2 miles per hour, which is in the top one percent of pitchers. His hard-hit rate is only 27.5 percent, nearly 12 percent better than 2021, and he's only allowed five barrels on 109 batted balls. 

Any analyst would tell you that any pitcher's ability to limit hard contact will lead to success but Eflin has been one of the best in the entire sport. 

The one off-the-page leap has been the development of his curveball with a whiff percentage of 47.2 percent and a .148 opponent batting average making it the best secondary in his arsenal. Eflin trusts his curveball much more this year and is throwing it over 18 percent of the time, the most of any secondary pitch.  

Back to the original question of this article, should the Phillies pay him? That answer might have to be yes. 

The Phillies rotation could look a lot thinner in a couple of seasons with both Eflin and Kyle Gibson set to be free agents this year and Aaron Nola the following season.

While yes they do have three high potential prospects in the system in Andrew Painter, Mick Abel, and Griff McGarry, none of them will likely see the show in the next two seasons and it would be nearly a miracle if all of them hit their ceilings. 

Eflin also is only 28 and might be hitting the prime of his career with this leap so it would be quite dangerous to let him walk. 

There's a chance Eflin may not reach his full potential in Philadelphia, with Alec Bohm having a solid offensive season and Rhys Hoskins still around, it is not the best roster for a ground ball pitcher. There are two sides to negotiations and Eflin should probably want better defense around him. 

Is it a slam dunk that they must bring back Eflin? I would wait until the end of the season to find that out but he is making a very strong case right now. The Phillies did agree to a 15 million dollar mutual option extension with him for next season but those usually don't exercise. If the Phillies want to keep Eflin around, it will require a real payday. 


Joel Embiid Named to 2021-22 All-NBA Second Team

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

Joel Embiid has been selected to the All-NBA Second Team, totaling 414 points, including 57 total votes for First Team. Accompanying him on the Second Team will be Ja Morant, Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Durant.

Embiid finished with more total points than Jayson Tatum, who made the All-NBA First Team, but was held back from making the First Team due to the NBA's rule about "players who received votes at multiple positions were slotted at the position at which they received the most voting points."

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