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Phillies’ Klentak, MacPhail get three-year extensions

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Matt Gelb of The Athletic reports that Phillies general manager Matt Klentak and team president Andy MacPhail received three-year contract extensions that were never publicly announced. Klentak, Gelb reports, got a new deal this past spring that takes him through the 2022 season. MacPhail reportedly got a three year extension in late 2017 hat takes him through the 2021 season.

On a basic level is this relevant and interesting news for Phillies fans. It suggest that ownership has confidence in the executive team that has authored a rebuild which has since moved on to the competitive stage. That said, it’s an executive team that, while successful in transforming the Phillies from a losing team to a contending one — and one which made a huge splash this past offseason by acquiring multiple high-profile players, capped by signing Bryce Harper — still presides over a flawed team that is struggling relative to expectations. How that cuts is open to multiple interpretations, of course. It can show an admirable devotion to the long game. It could also cause some fans to question whether there’s an urgency there to patch the holes that have the Phillies currently looking up at the Nationals and Braves.

I find the lack of team comment about it all the most interesting. Gelb details multiple statements from management and ownership over the years in which they refused to talk about the contract status of team executives, saying it’s no one’s business. Do you think that’s the case? Personally, I think it’s relevant to the public and the fan base, inasmuch as they have a right to know if successful executives are being rewarded for success or if unsuccessful executives are being held accountable. It’s the sort of thing that, in turn, lets fans assess how much confidence they want to place in the team. The Phillies, though, don’t think that’s important, it seems.

Thankfully Gleb’s sources do. And as a result, today we know something about the Phillies front office we didn’t know yesterday.

Astros block Detroit Free Press from clubhouse at Justin Verlander’s request

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Last night a BBWAA-credentialed reporter from the Detroit Free Press was barred from the Houston Astros’ clubhouse by team security following the Tigers win over the Astros. The reporter — who was almost certainly Anthony Fenech, who covers the Tigers — was kept out at the request of Astros starter Justin Verlander. Here’s the scene as described by the Free Press. The article contains a photo, taken by Fenech, of the three Astros officials who blocked the door to prevent him access:

At 9:35 p.m., the Astros opened their clubhouse to credentialed media in coordination with MLB rules. As other media members entered the clubhouse, the Free Press reporter with a valid BBWAA-issued credential was blocked from entering by three Astros security officials . . . The reporter contacted Mike Teevan, MLB vice president of communications, who said he would immediately reach out to Dias regarding the issue. Dias eventually gave the reporter access to the clubhouse at 9:41 p.m., after Verlander’s media session had ended . . . Once inside, the reporter approached Verlander, who said: “I’m not answering your questions.” When asked to comment on Wednesday’s loss, Verlander walked away.

That after-the-fact access for the reporter came only after he called Major League Baseball who, in turn, called Astros officials, presumably, to tell them that they cannot bar credentialed media.

It’s unclear at the moment what the beef is between Verlander and either the Free Press or the reporter. For what it’s worth, I follow Fenech and, while he’s a bit more witty and, occasionally, cutting than your average beat reporter, he’s self-effacing and doesn’t do cheap shots. Though he talks often about former Tigers and has made a point to highlight Verlander’s post-Tigers career whenever relevant, to my knowledge he hasn’t said or done anything specific to tweak Verlander in the past.

I will note, though, that last night, about eight minutes before Fenech was barred access, the Free Press Twitter account sent this tongue-in-cheek tweet out. It’s unclear if he or someone else at the paper wrote it:

Maybe that pissed off Verlander, who is known to be active on social media and is usually pretty aware of what’s being said about him. Hard to say.

What’s easy to say, though, is that no matter what has hurt Verlander’s fragile ego, the Astros barring the reporter from the clubhouse is in blatant violation of the agreement between Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of America, which ensures access for credentialed reporters. Verlander doesn’t have to talk to the guy — he doesn’t have to talk to anyone he doesn’t want to talk to — but the team honoring Verlander’s wishes to bar access is totally unacceptable and, frankly, about as low-rent as it gets from a media relations perspective.

We’ll probably hear more about this later today.