General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said yesterday that he has no plans to pick up a big bat before the July 31 trade deadline, telling Jim Salisbury of CSN Philadelphia: “You will not see a major move this year.”
Philadelphia has MLB’s best record at 37-25, putting the Phillies on pace for 97 wins, but the lineup ranks just eighth among NL teams in runs and Ryan Howard (.803) and Shane Victorino (.812) are the only regulars to top a .750 OPS.
Charlie Manuel has hinted that he’d like to see the Phillies bring in some offensive help, saying: “I think there has to be a cutoff somewhere.” However, so far at least Amaro is showing a lot more patience:
Would I love to see this team perform at a higher level? Yes. And I still believe they will. Because they can hit. They can do things. You will not see a major move this year. I don’t think we need it. Right now, I’m happy with the guys we’ve got and I’m hoping they get us to the dance. This is a good team that is not playing as good as it is.
Of course, as Salisbury notes Amaro’s confidence in veteran hitters turning things around isn’t the only factor at play, as the Phillies’ current $175 million payroll is the second-highest in baseball and just short of the luxury tax threshold. Or as Amaro put it: “For $170 million-plus, we should be good enough to be a World Series contender.”
I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.
Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.
The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.
Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.
Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.
The rest of the voting: