Jake Arrieta upset with Phillies’ defensive shifts, calls weekend series “horse s—“


Phillies starter Jake Arrieta hit a home run on Sunday, but he was not a happy camper after his team suffered a sweep at the hands of the Giants in their weekend series in San Francisco. His home run broke the team’s scoreless streak after having been shut out in back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday. It was the only run the Phillies scored on Sunday, falling 6-1.

Arrieta didn’t have a great afternoon, yielding five runs on eight hits with no walks and four strikeouts. The big blow came when Arrieta surrendered an opposite-field three-run home run to Andrew McCutchen in the sixth inning, pushing the Giants’ lead to 5-1.

Per Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, Arrieta was furious after the game, describing the series as “horse s—.” Arrieta also took aim at the Phillies’ defensive shifts, saying, “We need to change that. Copy the best. That’s not my job.” He added that the club needs accountability “top to bottom.”

According to Sports Info Solutions, the Phillies indeed are dead last in runs saved from the shift at -11. The only other team that is in the negatives is the Dodgers.

Baseball Savant ranks the Phillies third in baseball in defensive shift usage at 28 percent, behind the Astros (43.2 percent) and Royals (36.4 percent). The Phillies shift around that same rate while Arrieta is on the mound (29 percent). The league average shift percentage is 17.3 percent.

While Arrieta may be right that the Phillies’ defensive shifting hasn’t paid off, he should also be concerned about his strikeout rate. After Sunday’s start, his 2018 strikeout rate sits at 17.2 percent, which would be the lowest rate of his career since his rookie season in 2010 (11.6 percent). Arrieta’s strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.32 is below the league average of 2.65, ranking 63rd out of 88 qualified pitchers. He has a 2.66 ERA but it’s almost certainly not sustainable if he’s not able to miss bats the way he had been from 2014-17. That’s going to be true whether or not the Phillies are shifting properly.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.