Getty Images

Pete Mackanin’s contract extension is still up in the air

3 Comments

Phillies’ GM Matt Klentak hasn’t committed to exercising manager Pete Mackanin’s 2018 option yet, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Last spring, the 65-year-old skipper was signed to a two-year contract that covered the 2016 and 2017 seasons and included an option for 2018.

There’s little cause for concern just yet, says Salisbury, in part because of Mackanin’s success with the club during their 2016 run. The Phillies didn’t show any spectacular improvement when Mackanin arrived on the scene in 2015, taking fifth place in the National League East with a 63-99 record, but gained an extra eight wins in 2016 and bumped up their position to fourth in the division.

Similar improvements could be on the horizon for the club in 2017. While a championship title is still out of reach, Mackanin told Michael McGarry of The Press of Atlantic City that he has his sights set on more modest achievements. “We might not go from A to Z and get to the World Series,” Mackanin said, “but I think we can go from A to F or A to G. We have to start making our move.”

The team has focused on acquiring depth over the offseason, anchoring their pitching staff with right-handers Clay Buchholz, Pat Neshek and Joaquin Benoit, adding backup catchers Bryan Holaday and Ryan Hanigan and picking up a couple of corner outfielders in Michael Saunders and Howie Kendrick. They’re not the flashiest of moves, but moving the needle even a little bit further in the Phillies’ favor could help secure Mackanin’s future with the club beyond his 2017 campaign.

Until then, it’s unlikely that Klentak will have much to comment on. Per Salisbury:

At the winter meetings, general manager Matt Klentak deftly sidestepped questions on the matter by citing NBCSports.com writer Craig Calcaterra’s annual (and hilarious) ranking of baseball’s most handsome managers. Mackanin ranked a very respectable eighth on the list, which each year draws more and more cackles from the baseball establishment.

“If Pete had ranked in the top five …” Klentak said with a shrug and a laugh.

The Red Sox start is ridiculous

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The red-hot Red Sox completed a sweep of the previously red-hot Angels last night, outscoring them 27-3 in their three-game series. Last night’s game was, relatively speaking, a close one, with the Sox winning “only” by six runs. They did manage to strike out Shohei Ohtani three times, though, so some style points help make up for the “squeaker.” Also worth noting that they held Mike Trout of all people to a 3-for-11 line in their three-game series. He did not score a single time and drove in no runs.

That series win puts the Sox at 16-2 on the year. They dropped their Opening Day game to the Rays, but then won their next six games against Tampa Bay, which I’d say makes up for it. In between those two series they swept a two-game series from the Marlins and afterwards they took two of three from the Yankees and three in a row from the Orioles. The only thing that even threatened to slow this juggernaut down is the weather, resulting in a postponement of Monday morning’s Patriot’s Day game. Somewhere in here we should notice that they’re doing this with their starting shortstop and starting second baseman on the disabled list.

As we’ve noted many times, their 16-2 record is the best start in the Red Sox’ 118-year history. It’s also the best start for any team since the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers began 17-1 (let us just forget, for the time being, that those Brewers lost 18 of 20 in May of that year). They are the fourth team since 1961 to win 16 of its first 18 games.

The Sox aren’t simply getting lucky here. They’ve scored 116 runs and have allowed only 50, which is a Pythagorean record of 15-3. They lead all of baseball in offense, scoring 6.44 runs a game, leading individually in average, on-base percentage and slugging. They are only three one hundredths of a run behind the Astros from leading all of baseball in pitching, allowing only 2.78 runs a game. They’re winning all of these games because, in the early going, they’ve simply been that dang much better than everyone they’ve played.

No, the Sox are not going to go 144-18, as they are currently on pace to do. Yes, they are going to find a lot more trouble in their schedule once they play the Orioles, Rays and Marlins less, play a healthier Yankees team more and face off against the Astros, the Blue Jays, the Indians, the Twins and some tougher interleague opponents. This is baseball, obviously, and no one makes it through a season without rough patches, long, short and numerous.

Still: this has been one whale of a start for Boston. Those wins are in the bank. It’s been quite the thing to see.