I will never say that Phillies fans don’t support their team. They obviously do, and with great fervor and zeal. To the extent I take issue with them over their level of support is when Phillies fans lay claim to some sort of Phillies Fan Exceptionalism in which they not only support their team to a higher degree, but that they do so in some qualitatively different way. When they claim not just that they have more fans who show up in greater numbers, but that they are better fans in some way, immune to the hot-and-cold running fandom of other teams.
I take issue with this because, any time you look at the numbers, you realize that it’s not the case. Phillies fans, like everyone else, like a winner and get rather “meh” about things when their team loses. From the Philly Inquirer:
The sale of licensed Major League Baseball merchandise was a $5 billion business in 2011, and the 102-win Phillies, according to figures provided by SportsOneSource, accounted for an astonishingly large share, 16.2 percent … But in this 2012 season, when the club’s run of on-field success has come to a sudden, screeching halt, the falloff in those sales has mirrored the deterioration of its won-loss record.
According to SportsOneSource, a Maine firm that monitors the sale of sports-related merchandise at outlets other than ballparks, the purchase of Phillies-related products has declined by 60 percent.
They’re still second to the Yankees in gross sales, but market share has dipped to 8.9 percent.
Still great, obviously, but evidence that, as a fan base, they haven’t broken old paradigms and that people get more excited about them when they win than when they lose. Like just about everyone else.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.