And now the HBT staff’s 2014 predictions

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We’re usually way wrong with this stuff. Waaaay wrong. All of us picked the Phillies to win the NL East in 2012. We all picked the Nationals last year. Not picking the Braves is probably always madness, I have no idea. But we’re all likely going to all whiff on one or 24 of these picks this year, too. Bank on it. But we make our picks anyway because that’s what professional baseball writers do. And, unlike some folks out there, we own our wrongness. Those other analysts merely adopt the wrong. But we’re born in it, molded by it.

Which is to say: we don’t take this exercise entirely seriously. No battle plan survives engagement with the enemy and such. If these predictions make you angry or resentful or convinces you that someone harbors bias or a vendetta against all that you love, well, you probably need to see a therapist.

Whatever the case, it’s fun to try to predict the future, darn it, so here we are. Wild card picks have an asterisk next to them.

CRAIG

AL East: Red Sox, *Rays, Yankees, Orioles, Jays
AL Central: Tigers, Royals, Indians, White Sox, Twins
AL West: Rangers, *Athletics, Angles, Mariners, Astros
NL East: Nationals, *Braves, Mets, Marlins, Phillies
NL Central: Cardinals, *Reds, Pirates, Brewers, Cubs
NL West: Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Diamondbacks, Rockies
World Series: Cardinals vs. Rangers — Cardinals win.

AARON

AL East: Red Sox, *Rays, Yankees, Blue Jays, Orioles
AL Central: Tigers, Indians, Royals, Twins, White Sox
AL West: Rangers, *Angels, A’s, Mariners, Astros
NL East: Nationals, Braves, Phillies, Mets, Marlins
NL Central: Cardinals, *Pirates, Reds, Brewers, Cubs
NL West: Dodgers, *Giants, Diamondbacks, Padres, Rockies
World Series: Dodgers vs. Red Sox — Dodgers win

MATTHEW

AL East: Rays, *Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles, Blue Jays
AL Central: Tigers, *Royals, Indians, White Sox, Twins
AL West: Athletics, Angels, Rangers, Mariners, Astros
NL East: Nationals, Braves, Marlins, Mets, Phillies
NL Central: Cardinals, *Reds, Pirates, Brewers, Cubs
NL West: Dodgers, *Giants, Diamondbacks, Padres, Rockies
World Series: Cardinals over Rays

D.J.

AL East: Rays, *Red Sox, *Yankees, Orioles, Blue Jays
AL Central: Tigers, Indians, Royals, White Sox, Twins
AL West: Rangers, Athletics, Angels, Mariners, Astros
NL East: Nationals, *Braves, Mets, Phillies, Marlins
NL Central: Cardinals, Reds, Pirates, Brewers, Cubs
NL West: Dodgers, *Giants, Padres, Diamondbacks, Rockies
World Series: Cardinals vs. Rays – Rays win

DREW

AL East: Red Sox, *Rays, Yankees, Orioles, Jays
AL Central: Royals, *Tigers, Indians, White Sox, Twins
AL West: Rangers, Angels, Athletics, Mariners, Astros
NL East: Nationals, *Braves, Phillies, Mets, Marlins
NL Central: Cardinals, *Reds, Pirates, Brewers, Cubs
NL West: Dodgers, Giants, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Padres
World Series: Nationals vs. Rays — Nationals win.

BILL

AL East: Red Sox, *Rays, Yankees, Orioles, Blue Jays
AL Central: Royals, Tigers, Indians, White Sox, Twins
AL West: Rangers, *Athletics, Angels, Mariners Astros
NL East: Nationals, *Braves, Mets, Phillies, Marlins
NL Central: Cardinals, *Reds, Pirates, Brewers, Cubs
NL West: Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks, Giants, Rockies
World Series: Red Sox vs. Dodgers — Dodgers win in 6

There was another miscommunication between the Phillies and Pat Neshek

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Back in June 2017, then-manager of the Phillies Pete Mackanin and reliever Pat Neshek had some miscommunication. In a series against the Cardinals, Neshek worked a five-pitch eighth inning and it was believed he would come back out for the ninth inning, but he never did. Mackanin said Neshek said he didn’t want to pitch another inning. Neshek said he was never asked. There was also some miscommunication the game prior. Neshek thought he had the day off; Mackanin said Neshek said he wasn’t available to pitch.

Mackanin is no longer the Phillies’ manager, but the miscommunication between Neshek and the team apparently persist. Neshek was notably absent during the Phillies’ hard-fought 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday night. The game featured a struggling Seranthony Domínguez pitching two innings, yielding three crucial runs in his second inning of work.

Manager Gabe Kapler called the bullpen and instructed Neshek to begin warming up to prepare to face Albert Almora, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Kapler rang the bullpen after Domínguez walked Jason Heyward, who batted ahead of Almora. Neshek wasn’t warmed up yet. Domínguez was able to retire Almora on a sacrifice bunt, which was reviewed and gave Neshek some extra time to get ready. He was ready for the next batter, Daniel Descalso, but at this point Kapler no longer wanted to bring Neshek into the game. Descalso lined a triple to left-center field, scoring two runs and came home himself when shortstop Jean Segura‘s throw caromed off of his foot out of play.

Recounting the situation, Neshek said, “I got on the mound and threw two pitches. [Kapler] said, ‘Is he ready?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m not ready yet. I’ve thrown two pitches.” Neshek was asked how long it takes him to get ready. The veteran said, “A minute. Not 20 seconds. I’m, like, the best in the league at getting ready. My whole career has been coming in like that.”

The Phillies were able to eke out a 5-4 win. Had they lost the game, Kapler and Neshek would likely have been under the microscope for the awkward situation leading to a crushing defeat. Kapler drew plenty of criticism over his bullpen management last year in his rookie managerial season. That included bringing in lefty reliever Hoby Milner into a game in which he hadn’t yet warmed up.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the manager who struggled with bullpen management last year nearly mucked up a win last night, and maybe it’s just a coincidence that a reliever who’s had prior issues with communication had another communication mix-up. Maybe it’s not. It’s worth noting that the Phillies needed three innings from the bullpen to protect a 2-1 lead over the Cubs on Tuesday. Kapler called on rookie Edgar Garcia for two outs, lefty José Álvarez for four, and then brought in Juan Nicasio to close things out in the ninth. No Neshek, even as Nicasio got into trouble. Nicasio would surrender the tying and go-ahead runs, resulting in a deflating 3-2 loss.