Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets

The Phillies achieved a rare but ignominious feat on Saturday

8 Comments

The Phillies are old, but at least they have been mostly healthy for the majority of the 2014 season. Perhaps no stat better illustrates that than this one from the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb:

The Phillies, on Saturday, became just the second team since 1901 to have four 34-or-older players each accumulate 550 plate appearances. (The 2008 Yankees – Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, and Derek Jeter – also did it.) No major-league team has ever had four such players reach 600 plate appearances, a realistic milestone for these Phillies.

Those to reach the 550 plate appearance echelon include the three Phillies mainstays — Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard — as well as Marlon Byrd. Byrd also hit a home run on Saturday at Citi Field, setting a career-high with 25 on the season. It just so happened to be his 37th birthday as well.

According to Baseball Reference, the Phillies’ position players are 31 years old on average, nearly two full years ahead of the next-oldest team, the Dodgers at 29.4. As for pitchers, the Phillies’ 30.2 average is second behind the Giants at 31.8.

All four are under contract for at least the 2015 season. Byrd will earn $8 million and has a club option for $8 million 2016 that can become guaranteed by hitting a plate appearance threshold. Rollins guaranteed his $11 million option for 2015 in late July when he took his 1,100th plate appearance combined between 2013-14. Utley will earn $10 million next season before going year-to-year with $15 million vesting options between 2016-18. Howard will earn $25 million in 2015 and in ’16, and has a $23 million club option for ’17 that comes with a $10 million buyout.

Terry Francona isn’t sure how long his health will allow him to manage

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 19:  Terry Francona #17 of the Cleveland Indians reacts during batting practice before a game with the Boston Red Sox on August 19, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Getty Images
6 Comments

Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.

He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:

“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.

“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”

Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.

With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.

David Ortiz could be in the Red Sox TV booth this season

2 Comments

A month or so ago it was reported that David Ortiz was going to meet with the Red Sox and NESN to discuss, maybe, spending some time in the broadcast booth in 2017. He’s retired now, of course. Gotta keep busy.

Today we read that, yes, Big Papi may take the mic. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said that Ortiz may be in the booth on a limited basis, and that Ortiz has talked about wanting to “dip a toe in that water.”

I’m quickly becoming a fan of ex-players who want to, as Kennedy puts it, “dip a toe” in broadcasting as opposed to those who want to make it a full-time job. Former players who become full-time broadcasters tend to start out OK, but eventually burn all of their good anecdotes from their playing days and just become sort of reactionary “back in my day” dudes. There are some exceptions to that of course — guys like John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley have kept it fresh and Tim McCarver never rested on his playing laurels as he forged a long career in the booth — but for any of those guys there are just as many Rick Mannings Bill Schroeders.

The part time guys who dip in and dip out — I’m thinking Pedro Martinez, Alex Rodriguez and even Pete Rose, who did a good job this past fall after a rocky 2015 postseason — tend to be more fresh and irreverent. They really don’t give a crap on some level because it’s not their full time job, and that not giving a crap allows them to say whatever they want. It makes for good TV.

If Papi can hold off on the F-bombs, I imagine he’d be a pretty good commentator. If he can’t, well, at least he’ll be a super entertaining one for the one or two games he gets before getting fired.