2022 Phillies, MLB: Humidor-delayed Hittin’ Season

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While Philadelphia Phillies and other baseball supporters dwell on offensive deficiencies, this designed situation could come from the lords of Major League Baseball. And it means the campaign may be broken into three pieces but two parts. Ergo, it bases a fifty-fifty split on the weather: cold ends and hot middle.    

 

Uncharted Territory:

If you see just one month of standings and sluggers’ power stats, you’re missing the old-fashioned element in April and September influencing the entire 162. My best guess: Players cannot swing for the fences until June and must play small ball to win in April, May and September. Habit-forming, no?             

Put Another Way:

“Don't look at the hole in the doughnut. Look at the whole doughnut.” - Branch Rickey

In Arizona and Colorado, those organizations had installed humidors, and it slowed the homer barrage for those National League West clubs. Now, the MLB has humidors in every big league stadium. And –surprise!-- bombs are down and many are noticing.  

While veteran outfielders are going to the wall judging by the swing and the sound, stars have disbelieving faces when the ball just dies well shy of the fence. And, sometimes, the outfielder must move quickly forward to the grass for the catch. Yes, outfielders and hitters are misjudging flies in 2022 they didn’t during 2021.   

Translation: Balls going to the warning track now will land in the stands in June, July and August. And teams wanting to win now must play good old-fashioned baseball, or they’ll lose. So, will they resort to only the long ball during the hot three months or score both ways into October? 

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Phillies, NL East: 2022’s National Predictions

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

The Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves and New York Mets have overhauled their rosters mostly via free agency. Realistically, it’s a three-team race even if all three franchises are healthy. But if you’re expecting a uniform foretelling, what’s in store for you? The annual surprise!  

 

Contention Forecast:

Around every corner, today, something unexpected is happening, and swallow-your-words comments don’t age well for Phillies fans. However, armchair GMs will make snap decisions the boss behind the front-office door won’t: It’s mostly rules, common sense, and 40 percent luck according to Charlie Manuel regarding baseball.   

Put Another Way:

“Prediction is difficult –particularly when it involves the future.” — Mark Twain

In Philly, many are overly enthusiastic about the lineup: Expecting massive run production daily isn’t healthy, but the average per game is. Meanwhile, Mets fans believe dollars equal triumphs, and the Braves supporters are anticipating another World Series parade. But it doesn’t stop many from more to-do suggestions.           

For April, remember every club is finishing an abbreviated spring training. Ergo, starters working five innings or fewer in their first couple outings are going to be on a pitch count. And some are behind due to visa issues like Ranger Suarez or Zack Wheeler experiencing some discomfort after 2021’s workload.                               

Keep in mind, many organizations will make unusual decisions because additional injury concerns are foremost: These first two weeks are basically the final days of camp. Most are still ramping up for a full 162. And if you believe you’re going to get mid-season results, don’t. 

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2022 Phillies, NL East: 3-Way Spending War

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

The Philadelphia Phillies faithful can no longer bemoan that managing partner John S. Middleton will never exceed the Luxury Tax, even though the new CBA (collective bargaining agreement) raised the $210 million AAV to $230 million AAV (average annual value). Yes, they committed $236.6 million before 2022’s first pitch.   

 

Keeping up with Cohen:

The Phillies weren’t the only divisional organization signing top talent; the Atlanta Braves also made expensive expenditures. But while the New York Mets can reach $300 million AAV, the Fightins and Bravos have acquired major pieces for ‘22 also. So, it’s a three-club race!

Put Another Way:

“They talked about each others' houses, and characters, and families just as the Joneses do about the Smiths. - William Makepeace Thackeray

At 2021’s trading deadline, two divisions had a winner and two possible wild-card teams: the National League West and the American League East. Translation: Top organizational prospects went to the Washington Nationals and the Chicago Cubs. Now, three NL East franchises have spent heavily.    

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2022 Phillies: Spending Middleton’s Money

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

With the Philadelphia Phillies offseason completed, some faithful supporters have forgotten they had complained about stars not signed, players not wanted, and a team not built for victory. But while most like the recent acquisitions, some may only see every wart as a competitional flaw this club can’t overcome. 

 

Dollars and Sense:

There’s a difference between Dave Dombrowski, Phillies PBO (president of baseball operations), and an armchair GM. Unfortunately, the PBO doesn’t have unlimited spending, has competition for the best talent, and has limitations on filing shortcomings. Knowledgeable fans don’t! 

Put Another Way:

“Building a baseball team is like building a house. You look for the best architects, the best builders - and then you let them do their jobs.” - Pat Gillick

To determine the Fightins’ moves, using Dombrowski as the source is the best starting point. In October’s 40-minute presser, he named a closer, leadoff hitter, center fielder, and a right-handed bat with power as his objectives. And he mentioned Hector Neris and Odubel Herrera as re-upping candidates.    

While it’s easy to imagine a slugger in the order’s heart to protect Bryce Harper, the PBO worked within financial parameters of only exceeding the CBT (competitive-balance threshold) by roughly $5 million AAV (average annual value). And $236.5 million AAV allows the franchise to seriously compete in the National League East.  

 

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Phillies: Harper and Machado 3 Years on

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

The Philadelphia Phillies and the San Diego Padres are looking for a 2022 playoff berth, but now Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have accumulated statistics for three seasons. Basically, these fan bases had their hopes raised and dashed last summer. Difference-makers? 

 

More than Stats:

Many remember the 1980 Phillies, but their World Series path began in 1975: five campaigns prior. In 2008, though, it was the Fightins’ second postseason, but their Fall Classic route had started with the 2003 squad: five 162s prior. Here, the 2022 red pinstripes journey began in 2018: four unacceptable years, why? 

Put Another Way:

“Time moves in one direction, memory in another.” - William Gibson

Before the 2019 season, the Phils brass pursued Machado and Harper. And even though Machado had been their preference, they signed Harper for $330 million over 13 summers. And the Padres inked Machado for $300 million over 10 campaigns. Fortunately, the Fightins’ second choice was the right one.              

After ‘18, the red pinstripes reached their rebuilding’s completion, but the faithful had expected a bigger return for aging stars: well beyond their prime. And third sacker Machado was atop the team’s wishlist offensively and defensively. Eventually, though, Machado’s shortstop preference only led to 22 percent of his 2019 games.     

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Phillies, MLB: 2022’s Toxic Brew’s Imminent End

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While the Philadelphia Phillies faithful waited impatiently, many didn’t realize the players must live with these decisions for five years. And, now, both sides have reached the deadline of Feb. 28 with March 1 as the new threshold for the official CBA (collective bargaining agreement). A surprise, no?  

 

One versus All:

Although instant gratification is mostly today’s norm, the speed of any union negotiations has not changed. And, yes, the CBA for Major League Baseball was moving slowly until the final days before any cancellation of April games. However, the Phillies and the MLB could make up some contests.  

IN OTHER WORDS:

“Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous impatience.” - Hyman Rickover

For clarity, the owners locked out the players: It wasn’t a strike. But both sides met daily through Monday or the final eight consecutive days.   

In many organizations, a sole proprietor has the final say on major expenditures. Therefore, he isn’t in favor of the players having more financially because of the uncertainty: 2020’s 60 games and 28 franchises losing money in 2021.     

Concerning the spenders’ commitments to top-tier stars, the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers had low payroll AAVs (average annual value) from ‘21 at their rebuilding’s completion. Meanwhile, the New York Mets ran their tally up to roughly $272 million AAV.  

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The “What Is A Phillie?” Answer

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

If you’ve ever wondered about the local franchise's nickname and its origin, this article provides more than just an explanation of the byname for the Philadelphia Phillies and some other baseball organizations. Yeah, a writer’s Wild West.   

 

Monikers:

Many handles existed –some for only a few weeks-- because scribes created team nicknames instead of, for instance, awkwardly writing The Philadelphia National League Base Ball Club. So, they became the Phillies –or Quakers to some– in 1883. But their long-lasting byname didn’t appear on their jerseys until 1933.     

IN OTHER WORDS:    

“Baseball has always been slow to accept change. Only through dire pressure can any radical change be accomplished." - Ford Frick.

In those days, players wore knickerbockers: short pants gathered at the knee. And they had long stockings up to their knees. Instead, though, of their official name, writers went with the Red Caps, Blues, White Stockings, Browns, Red Sox, Dark Blues, Reds, and Cardinals (cardinal red).    

Baseball monikers came from geography, local animals, a skipper's name or nickname, local disasters and an Easterner's fascination with the Wild West. So, pirates and Indians equated respectively to rough, burly, rowdy men and primitive savages in their view.

Before the first NL season in 1876, wealthy men invested heavily, formed eight franchises, and charged admission like other leagues had done since 1862. And these owners hired players, purchased equipment and uniforms, and secured ballparks.       

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Phillies: 2022’s Frenzied Market Ahead

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While many Philadelphia Phillies and Major League Baseball supporters are unhappy with the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) negotiations, many conclude the delay as billionaires versus millionaires. But the alternative to a later start for spring training and/or the season can affect your club for five summers.

 

Two Moves:

If waiting a month to acquire a star is worth it, then immediately picking up this player is preferable. But unnecessarily holding him back for a month could negatively affect some outcomes in more than one way if the Phillies best result is breaking even, not winning more.    

IN OTHER WORDS:

“To be prepared is half the victory.” - Miguel de Cervantes

Both the MLB and the MLBPA (player’s association) want the universal DH, but the owners’ position is they are giving the union 15 jobs. However, management will avoid pitchers having injuries in the batter’s box or on the bases, so the MLBPA disagrees with this one-sided MLB thinking. Trust issues?                                        

Owners want a 14-team postseason for dramatically increased profits. But while the players are open to increased playoff competition, they favor a 12-club format, so 14 franchises isn’t likely. Moreover, losing revenue with canceled games is more important than additional October dollars.                    

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Realmuto’s Trade Jury 3 Years After

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

For the Philadelphia Phillies faithful, when will there be a determination of the swap of Sixto Sanchez and Jorge Alfaro for JT Realmuto? Well, after Realmuto had played for the Fightins, and Alfaro had donned a Miami Marlins uniform, Sanchez toed the slab beginning in 2020 for the Fish. Two more summers required?   

 

Deliberations to Date:

If it takes five campaigns of review before baseball experts can determine a winner, three –or 60 percent– of those is enough to draw basic conclusions. But some Phillies fans, though, will express disappointment with Realmuto’s offense and bemoan the loss of a potential ace for under $1 million this 162.     

IN OTHER WORDS:

“Trial by jury is the palladium of our liberties. I do not know what a palladium is, but I am sure it is a good thing!” - Mark Twain

Before the 2019 season, many franchises had been reluctant to meet the Marlins’ asking price for Realmuto, but the red pinstripes made an acceptable proposal with Sanchez and Alfaro. Yes, a 20-year-old fireballer and a top catching prospect with some MLB offensive success had realistic potential.                    

Sanchez was the centerpiece for Miami to part with their star receiver, but the hurler had yet to succeed at Double-A: a yardstick for big league ability if his mind could handle it. For Single-A Advanced, however, he had recorded a 4-3 mark with a 2.51 ERA, but for the Marlins’ Double-A affiliate he went 8-4 with a 2.53 ERA in ‘19.   

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Phillies: World Series Ifs for 2022

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While some Philadelphia Phillies fans focused on part of the 2021 Fall Classic, they either ignored or didn't consider the obstacles a hot team overcomes to win it all. In doing so, negative emotions blinded some locals to those unmentioned factors. An open wound, no?

 

Selective Logic:

If you only view half a picture, would the other 50 percent give you the opportunity to rethink your belief? Well, it depends on how open-minded you are because being wrong can sting. Me: I’d rather have the insight coming from information unclouded by the emotional crutch of instant assumption.  

IN OTHER WORDS:

“When I would go to the barrio, people saw me as a rich person, but when I'm around rich people, they see me as someone from the ghetto. It's all perceptions.” - J Balvin

For the Phillies faithful, September hasn’t been a pleasant month, and last October was even worse because of their rival’s unforeseen celebration. Yes, the more impossible the outcome is; the harder the mind can make sense of it. But time and a fresh start can rehabilitate the Philadelphia fan base.   

If a dominant rotation was the biggest requirement for the World Series trophy, the 2011 Phillies with four aces plus a dynamic offense qualified and had the franchise record of 102 triumphs. But the St. Louis Cardinals were the hot club beginning with the National League Wild Card, and they won the championship.

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Phillies, NL East: 2022’s Rotation Roulette

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While some Philadelphia Phillies fans finger their worry beads and pray for a starter by trade or signing, they believe their National League East rivals have superior pitching. And some think picking up a hurler or two is a requirement for winning the World Series. First, make the playoffs!  

 

A Healthy Comparison:

Entering each season, MLB supporters –not just the Phillies faithful– have an unfounded fear of their divisional foes. Despite all the victory guarantees, though, from fans of the defending Fall Classic champions and an overspending club from Queens, health, COVID-19 and luck will also be factors for serious October baseball. 

IN OTHER WORDS:

“Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” - Vaclav Havel

The best team in franchise history with 102 triumphs didn’t win the World Series. In 2008, though, Adam Eaton started 19 games for the five-man staff after 2007’s 10-10 mark with a 6.29 ERA. Ergo, the top club isn’t always victorious: The hot team usually is. And that’s why the owners added the obstacle of wild-card games.       

For ‘22, the Washington Nationals are a shell of the 2019 champions. To illustrate, Stephen Strasburg has only worked 26 ⅔ innings in the last two campaigns and has yet to prove he’s healthy. Moreover, Patrick Corbin was 9-16 with a 5.82 ERA: his second consecutive poor summer.     

The Miami Marlins are a young group still going through growing pains. Yes, they have Sandy Alcantara and Trevor Rogers atop the rotation, but the league will adjust to Rogers: Some regression is reasonable. But the Fish with youthful exuberance combined with some experience will now be a more challenging foe.                  

Except for the Atlanta Braves, National League East contenders have their starters already in place. And the defending champs, the offseason spending winners, and the second place 2021 Fightins are this article’s order. However, this is not an indication of how these organizations will fare in 2022’s divisional standings.   

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