Bobby Parnell will close for Mets if Frank Francisco is out

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Frank Francisco’s odds of being ready for Opening Day seem slim after the Mets reliever told reporters yesterday that his inflamed elbow is “at zero” percent and manager Terry Collins wasted no time lining up a replacement closer.

Marc Carig of New York Newsday reports that Collins called Bobby Parnell last night to tell him he’d get the ninth-inning nod if Francisco isn’t ready to begin the season and “then followed up with both Parnell and Francisco this morning.”

Recent signing Brandon Lyon has more closing experience, but Parnell saved seven games filling in for Francisco last season and has pitched very well in a setup role for three seasons now. During that time Parnell has thrown 163 total innings with a 2.98 ERA and 158 strikeouts, so Francisco’s injury may actually lead to the Mets handing the closer job to their most deserving reliever.

The Phillies plan to spend money and “maybe even be a little bit stupid about it”

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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.

How novel.