UPDATE: Martin Frank of the News Journal has some quotes from the Phillies’ skipper:
“I shouldn’t have said a word, but I didn’t say anything about
Colorado or anything about them crying,” Manuel said. “If I did
something, I’ll definitely talk to [Tracy]. I didn’t say anything about
that particular game.
“Usually, I say we’ll take care of that by beating them. I’ll let
Louisville [the Phillies’ bats] talk to them.”
8:15 PM: Before Friday’s game against the Brewers, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told reporters that he shouldn’t have said anything about this week’s sign-stealing allegations by the Rockies.
As you recall, earlier in the week Manuel told the teams who have accused the Phillies of such shenanigans to “keep crying,” something that offended Rockies manager Jim Tracy.
Well, now Manuel says that comment wasn’t directed specifically at the Rockies. He even said he would be willing to talk to Tracy directly about the incident. Good man.
Manuel’s harshest words were left for the Mets the other day — all but accusing them of stealing signs at Citi Field in the process — so I’m going to assume he was simply directing his frustration towards his favorite division rival. Oh well. Anything to keep this rivalry fun.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.