Give Bobby Valentine points for honesty, but ask yourself: if you were hiring a guy for a high profile position and he said these things after the interview, would you be all that eager to give him the gig?
On rebuilding: “I don’t know that’s exactly the thing I want to do right now, either . . . I’m not sure that’s what I want to do, but, again, I haven’t been offered a job so I don’t have to decide whether or not I definitely want to do this.”
On the state of the Indians: “I don’t know as much about Cleveland as someone interviewing for their manager’s job should. I could have crammed for the last six days and read every article and called every friend and got every little bit of information, just in case one of you guys asked me who the starting third baseman should be next year and I didn’t do it.”
On the American League: “I can tell you I don’t know about the American League. I don’t know about the Central and I don’t know about the Indians, but I sure as heck am willing to learn and spend about 28 hours a day, if necessary, to know everything I could possibly know.”
Again, in most things in life it’s better to be honest than to offer baloney, so kudos to Valentine. But interviewing for a job ain’t most things in life. No employer wants to feel like a candidate isn’t eager for the job, and if an interviewee gave the equivalent kind of answers — “I don’t know enough about Acme Corp. as someone interviewing for the regional sales manager’s position should . . .” — they’d never get the gig.
Baseball owners are even less enamored with such brutal honesty, and I’m guessing that when the Dolans read those comments, it will sour them on Valentine.
The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.
In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.
On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.
Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.