Open Discussion: Week of April 20th

I hope everyone is well and continuing to practice social distancing.  I am in the 6th week of self-quarantine.  I ventured out to Winn Dixie last week for some groceries.  I got sick that night.  Nothing too serious, it passed overnight, but I won’t be going out again any time soon.  One of the side benefits is that while sitting on the couch, eating meals, snacking, and watching Netflix I’ve managed to lose over ten pounds.  Go figure.

My program viewing  has grown to include the Office, Parks and Rec, Community, original Star Trek, and various movies.  The only current show I must watch is Better Call Saul.  I watch several shows with my wife – Survivor, Property Brothers, Love It or List It, and well pretty much anything on HGTV.  I steer clear of her favorite “reality” shows on TLC.

I’ve tried to keep abreast of any real Covid-19 news that may affect the start or cancellation of baseball.  I found Dr. Fauci’s comments in an interview interesting.  However, I wouldn’t allow him to be among a group deciding on the start of baseball.  As a Nationals’ fan, he already expressed his desire to watch his team defend their championship this year, and therefore brought his objectivity into question.

I have to admit that I am okay with the MLB season being cancelled.  It is great to hear all  these plans to start the baseball season, and I agree that many plans need to be considered and their logistics worked out, just in case.  But, I don’t want to see any plan that will siphon off testing and medical supplies (etc) just to put baseball on television.  I would rather see agriculture at the head of the list.  In a few months, we’re likely to see the cost of bread, vegetables, fruit, and other perishables go up since current crops are rotting in the field.  In fact, I’d rather see most people returning to work before the millionaires start working to line the pockets of the billionaires.

This isn’t 1942 when Roosevelt decided that playing baseball was necessary as the national past time during WWII.  With the internet, there are so many other entertainment options for us as we quarantine.

One last heresy from a baseball reporter, I’m not even sure that baseball is the national past time anymore.  I think football and basketball have a larger and firmer grasp on the national sports audience.  (Before publishing this, I checked.  I’m right.  Football crushes every sport in TV ratings, TV audience, TV revenue, and average game attendance.  Basket ball is higher than baseball in TV ratings, TV audience, TV revenue.  Baseball is second behind football in average attendance.)

On a different note, whether or not we have major league baseball, maybe we get some relief from the minors.  Not the minor leagues as we are familiar with them, but maybe something else.

It has occurred to me that every September, we have Instructs at the Complex in Clearwater.  Players practice in the morning and play games in the afternoon.  Four days during the week, they play against the teams from other organizations and twice they play intrasquad games.  The term of this session has grown smaller recently, lasting only 3-4 weeks last year.

I don’t know the actual date when the agreement between MLB and MiLB terminates and how that would affect the Phillies’ use of their contracted minor league players.  But, some of the organizations with spring training facilities in Florida could hold an Instructional League.  It could even be similar to a stateside Winter League.  (The current PBA expires on September 30, 2020.  I don’t know if this expiration has any effect on an organization’s dealings with its minor league players.  I should think not.  They are all under contract at the lower levels.)

In the recent past, teams were available in Bradenton, Disney, Lakeland, Tampa, Dunedin, Clearwater (2017); Bradenton, Disney, Tampa, Dunedin, Sarasota, Clearwater (2018); Dunedin, Lakeland, Clearwater (2019).

Such a league would allow younger prospects to get the development repetitions that they missed during their cancelled regular season (assuming it is cancelled).  The Phillies invited 68 players in 2017, 70 in 2018, and around 77 last year.

There are a couple of ways to do this.  They could follow their previous Instructs’ model and bring in 60-70 young prospects.  Maybe fewer if international travel bans don’t allow foreign players back into the country.  Or, they could bring in all stateside players on minor league contracts, and run a minor league spring training type of camp.

Both could have work outs in the morning with games in the afternoon.  In the spring training camp, they could divide the players into groups similar to spring training.  Without the foreign players, they might only be able to field three teams, and a lot of AAA players might no longer be on contracts.  But, they could schedule games against the closer organizations – Tampa, Dunedin, and Lakeland (the Phillies normal spring partners).

I don’t know if any of the above is feasible or even being considered.  But, some sort of gathering might be possible by October.  Games at this time of the year don’t draw fans.  Maybe a dozen scouts, me, and a couple other guys.

(Okay, before I hit publish, it occurred to me that social distancing would be difficult in the locker room.  If still a “thing”, then fewer players might be necessary.  I’ve been in the Complex locker area.  It reminded me of the locker I had in high school (HGP).  They were close quartered.  Very difficult to even remove an overcoat if the guys next to and across from you were doing the same thing.)  

This is the Phuture Phillies Open Discussion for Phillies and other baseball topics.

Key Dates:

  • March 17, 2020 – Start date for minor league spring training games
  • March 2020 – Americas Qualifier in Arizona (2020 Olympics qualifier)
  • March 23, 2020 – Final spring training home game v. Rays
  • March 26, 2020 – Phillies’ opening day at Miami, active roster reduced to 26 players
  • March/April 2020 – At-Large Qualifier in Taiwan (2020 Olympics qualifier)
  • April 2, 2020 – Phillies’ home opener v. Milwaukee
  • TBD, 2020 – Tentative restart of spring training
  • TBD, 2020 – Tentative opening of 2020 MLB season
  • TBD, 2020 – Tentative opening of MiLB season
  • June 10-12, 2021 – Amateur draft in Omaha, NE
  • June 15, 2020 – International amateur signing period closes
  • July 2, 2020 – International amateur signing period opens
  • July 10, 2020 – Deadline for drafted players to sign, except for players who have exhausted college eligibility
  • July 14,2020  – All-Star Game at Los Angeles
  • July 31, 2020 – Last day during the season to trade a player
  • August 31, 2020 – Last day to be contracted to an organization and be eligible for postseason roster
  • September 1, 2020 — Active rosters expand to 28 players

The rosters and lists are up to date as of April 20th … 382 players in the org

Transactions (newest transactions are in bold print)
No activity since April 2nd.

58 thoughts on “Open Discussion: Week of April 20th

  1. The other problem with practicing social distancing, while playing “fall ball”, would be the travel of teams to other stadiums. You’d need a bunch of buses to move players. My wife works at a hospital and her greatest fear was riding the shuttle from her assigned parking space to the hospital. A 15 person van with 8 people on it, isn’t practicing social distancing. I told her to park in the hospital parking garage and we’ll absorb the cost. The hospital listened to my wife’s concerns and opened the parking garage to all employees. Almost no one else is allowed in the hospital. Sick people, employees and maybe a baby daddy or two are allowed in.

  2. A good rule to follow for sports, business of life is to follow the money. The MLB is losing conservatively $200+ million dollars a month. The Arizona Plan or the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues present challenges but none are insurmountable when those level of losses are occurring. I personally don’t see medical resources used to get baseball going as a diversion from other Americans especially since it seems all I hear people say is how much they want to get back to some sort of normalcy and baseball provides that in abundance. Btw, tip of the cap to Middleton on being at that forefront of paying employees through May 31st. He also thinks we play baseball in 2020. So it’s my strong feeling as many here know that MLB baseball will return in 2020; just different than we remember but at it’s core still the same.

    As for MiLB; in 2020 it’s a goner. An agent with CAA thinks teams will gather their highest level prospects (40-50) and have they train at the teams prospective ST sites. They’ll be used for MLB injury replacement, trades and continued development. Makes some sense.

    1. I tend to agree, Hawkeye. There are lots of hurdles to clear for MLB, but it’s amazing what can transpire globally in 6 weeks time. We’ve already been at this for 5 weeks now. There’s pressure on all fronts to find solutions. And yes, money is a cold hard reality which won’t be overlooked. A poor economy will contribute to even poorer health conditions when all is said and done.

      1. From what I hear there is traction on the Arizona plan. Several SP’s are in Clearwater throwing bullpens (including my source and yes they are taking precautions). Whether baseball is played this year or not is still a complete unknown.

    2. I would think the DR will allow academies to also continue some form of training for all the Latin kids assigned to MLB teams…Phillies share their Boca Chica facility with the Twins…so they may alternate training sessions or days..who knows how that will work…..prospects from both teams live and train at the academy, and they participate in education and cultural development programs. The place is on 45 acres and has 85K square footage….so social distancing should be easily done if the two teams split their sessions. Definitely have to split the chow hall arrangements…they share the same one.

      1. On the DR Academies…..currently all 30 Clubs have academies in the DRc, many with state-of-the-art facilities. The academies feature all the amenities the young players will need.
        Below is information for all 30 academies with photographs of what many of the facilities offer. While many of the clubs have erected new academies in the last several years, Phillies being one, almost all of the clubs have operated academy programs that date back as early as the 1980s.
        Older Views of Some Academies…Phillies/Twins Academy Was Not Opened Until January 2017 There are about 5/6 teams in Boca Chica.
        http://www.mlb.com/photos/gallery.jsp?content_id=33560344&c_id=mlb

          1. Korean baseball league is set to begin play in early May. You can bet all eyes will be on how that goes.

            1. There’s a big difference here. South Korea has really flattened the curve because they test like crazy and they have contact tracing already in place. The US is likely months away from that amount of testing and because of privacy regulations, contact tracing will likely NOT be possible in any meaningful scale. If South Korea is playing ball in May, then when are we playing ball? July? Maybe?

            2. Plus South Korea, physically, is about the size of the state of Indiana….with 50M people clustered basically in a few larger cities like Seoul, Daegu, Busan and Incheon, .so it could be easier for them to manage their situation than it would be here.
              I think the reason MLB wants just Arizona or both AZ and FL as the states to start play in.

          1. Jim….did not know that….I guess that is a good thing for aspiring youngsters there who face difficult times.
            Even before this global pandemic, they were on the continued verge of revolution and along with extreme poverty..
            I remember Freddy, along with Cesar and Odubel, talking about their concerns.

  3. I’m not sure what MLB is going to end up doing, but I’m with Jim … I’ll miss the sport, but I’m also going to be ok if the season is cancelled. It’s mind blowing to me that this pandemic has become so political. Just do the right thing: listen to the scientists, and practice self distancing until enough testing can (finally) be done to accurately determine whether or not it’s safe enough to return to normal living. Sorry to get that off my chest.

    In other news … I’m looking forward to watching the virtual NFL draft later this week. It will be a break from Netflix (we knocked out three seasons worth of Ozark over the last two weeks). Has anyone checked out Night On Earth? That’s probably next on my list.

    1. Hinkie, I understand your point but there are 3 planes to this whole thing – health, economic, and political. All real. All unavoidable. And while the simplest thing might be to listen to the scientists, someone is inevitably in their ears all the while.

      1. I respect everyone’s opinion on the subject… Fanless baseball games? Who would have thunk it! I just know millions and millions of people need something positive right now and although daunting both the Arizona or Cactus/Grapefruit plans are certainly doable. Although sports isn’t critical to feeding us, clothing us or putting a roof over our heads… It does feed the soul…

        1. I think some sports come back, but not baseball. If MLB came back that would involve 30 teams with likely 40 players each (need extras for potential injuries, call ups, etc). That’s 1200 players, not counting staff. Compare that to the NBA- if they go back and start with the playoffs, that is 16 teams, 15 players each- only 240 players. Much easier to handle, and for a shorter time. I also think golf could come back-150 players per tournament and they already social distance!

          I also believe the NFL will come back, but they have the luxury of time- they could wait three months to start their training camps. Baseball can’t.

  4. Pennsylvania governor announced some restrictions will be lifted May 8, when construction will resume and some other businesses will re-open. That doesn’t mean a whole lot in and of itself, but could be a hopeful indicator.

  5. I think one of the saddest parts of this pandemic crisis is that we haven’t united as a nation and world to collectively fight this together medically, scientifically, economically, and socially. The point of my comment is about that fact and our current state and has nothing to do with who is responsible for that or who contributed. This may well be the worst crisis we fight in our lifetime. We are all surrounded by heroes all over the world who are volunteering, donating, sacrificing, contributing, and consoling every single day yet I hear more negative about what certain people aren’t doing as opposed to celebrating the heroes that are doing great things.

    I certainly hope that each of you are safe and healthy, as well as your loved ones. I hope none of us are directly impacted by this as it relates to health. While all of us have been inconvenienced by this and impacted on some level financially, we each only get one life on earth and I pray that all of us are ok. I dream that someday our world or at least our country can get past political differences at times like this and focus more on our similarities and less on our differences. Until then, as a show of solidarity, let’s wish good things for Eagles fans and Cowboys fans, for Flyers fans and Penguins fans, for 76ers fans and for Celtics fans, and for Phillies fans and for Mets fans.

    1. Well said. Can I still wish bad things for Giants’ fans, Redskins’ fans, Patriots’ fans, Capitals’ fans, Lakers’ fans, Red Sox fans, Braves’ fans, Nationals’ fans, the Marlins, Tide fans, Bulldog fans, Gator fans, Tigers’ fans, Blue Devil fans …? Not personally, but just that their teams suck? 🙂

    2. Buddy, we all wish everyone thought the way we do, and shared one ideology. We are the world, right? But what’s wrong doesn’t always rear its ugly mug and say ‘here I am!’

  6. Watched the Bartman episode on one of the sports channels Monday night. I would have been quite content if the Cubs didn’t win the world series during the lifetime of any fan who threw stuff or abused Bartman that night or during the days following. Oh well, maybe they can go another 100+ years until their next one.

  7. Hope you fellas are all well and healthy. I work for a media and advertising firm that is now global. Our owner sold out a few years ago to a holding company that is funded by a billionaire. I slowly watched the culture of our company change over the past 4 years.

    Not for the better and not for the worse just different. We moved our corporate HQ into One World Trade in Jan18. Its a beautiful facility.

    They closed my office in 2017 and sent me and my staff to work from home. I visit the HQ roughly 4-6X a year. Obviously I haven’t been up there yet this year. Most of what we do is easily done from home minus having client and prospective clients into the office for presentations.

    Our new CEO is a Brit. Our company went from being only in the US to a Global company in several countries including offices in Hong Kong, London, the United Emirates India and a few others.

    We had a corporate update last week and while things appear to be dire on the surface the under current is positive. Maybe that changes with this week’s call IDK but my point is Billionaires and CEO’s tend to know things us average Joe’s don’t.

    We have some clients that have been severely impacted by this virus and others who have managed to increase their sales as much as 327%. The narrative is this: the fundamentals of what was a strong economy are still there. MLB aside as long as there is quantitative easing of opening the country we will see normal again.

    In the FWIW category.

    1. To DMAR, and others who have posted on the same lines. Soapbox time. I’ll say this, I’ve worked in healthcare a good 15+ years in multiple job areas. I smell a rat. I wont come to a final conclusion yet, but something definitely stinks about this compared to past responses. I’ll judge once we are through this, but I hope it shows the weakness the US has put itself in, in terms of being service oriented country vs a manufacturing country. The US is not in a position to protect itself & it’s people. I hope it sees that. The response for Covid is much larger than for swine flu, to me That’s telling, but ill leave that off here. For those making this political, pretty tough to stomach for me and my friends still working out there. Covid doesn’t care who is on voter card, who you actually voted for, or who is currently president. Passing judgement on that is pretty ridiculous to me, and a totally selfish narrative. I’ve lost a lot of faith in our media l, and the last few months have cemented it. For sports, can’t wait to see the Mets blowing 9th inning leads vs the Phillies. Really really Can’t wait for daycares to reopen as pulling double duty isn’t working too well. I hope you’re all well. Remember, Health and family over govt, do what’s right for you.

  8. Looks like it will be the end for Williamsport (NY-Penn and its 14 teams) and Northwest League and their 8 teams……not sure about the GCL ansd AZL…I think thugh they will stay since MLB team have their training sites there.
    I think the Appalachian League rookie ball is gone (10 teams ) along with the Pioneer rookie league (8 teams)
    That will be 40 teams and cities…..there are two more somewhere else.

    https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/sources-milb-ready-to-agree-to-significant-reduction-in-teams/

    1. The 120 teams allows for one AAA, AA, A+, and A affiliate for each organization (4 x 30). Additionally, each organization is limited to one Complex level team (GCL/AZL), so the Phillies will lose Williamsport (low A) and one of their GCL teams. The agreement makes no provision regarding overseas teams, so maybe the Phillies can expand their DSL teams from 2 to 100. Take THAT you cheap organizations!

      Seriously, I wonder if some organizations won’t try to expand their Dominican operations to accommodate more players.

      1. That could be the case….but the academy can only hold so many kids.
        I think the max is 80…not sure they ever got to that point…but who knows …they could max out.
        They may be able to have another team besides the Red and White….but going to 4 or 5 teams could be difficult. Do they still interchange guys between teams when guys get hurt?.

  9. Hypothetical situation – 2020 season is cancelled, JTR hits free agency, and a team offers him 5 years, $140M. Do you a) match the deal? Or b) let him walk? If b, who is your starting catcher and how would you allocate that money that was set aside for JTR?

    1. I would match…but if the Phillies chose not to, then try to sign either Mike Zunino or Jimmy McCann to catch….and the extra money go after either Ray, Paxton, Minor or even RHPs Stroman, or Bauer.
      That would be my plan of attack.

      1. I wouldn’t blame the Phillies for not matching a 5 year/140 million dollar contract for JTR. IMO … Realmuto (and the rest of the upcoming FA class) are going to be negatively affected by the shortened (or lack of a) season. Clubs will more than likely be working under stricter budgets because of the loss of revenue in 2020.
        That said … I still believe Middleton/Klentak and JTR will eventually come to contract agreement that will be fair to both sides.

        … and hope you all remain healthy.

        1. I agree that the FA markets are going to be depressed – perhaps seriously – as a result of the dip in revenue for this year and perhaps next year. I also agree that JT and the Phillies will likely get something done. They like him, he likes them, he wants money, they have money – most of the ingredients are there.

            1. Philies situation with JTR, is not much different than the Dodger’s with Betts……so they could lose Betts and Verdugo.
              I just do not see MLB letting anything like that happening…..if a season does not come about at all this year.
              MLBPA will resist….but they really have no bullets in their gun with a CBA coming up next year for negotiation.

            2. I really don’t see this as being quite the same as the Betts situation, although I guess it could turn into that. I think both sides here want to do business with each other and will try to do that before he hits the open market. Betts is just putting himself in an auction as far as I can tell.

            3. I think the Betts JT situation is very much the same only we at least got one year out of JT where the Dodgers may have got nothing.

              I guess the difference was Betts approach was different on the surface. He always made it clear he wanted to hit the open market. Now I’m sure had the Red Sox offered to make him the highest paid player in the MLB he would have taken it.

              I think JT was a bit more coy with his public statements. I think in private he had the same intention. He wants to be the highest paid catcher if not I’m sure he is willing to hit the open market and go to the highest bidder.

    2. That is tough. I’m leaning toward accepting since it’s only a 5 year deal but a contract like that for a catcher is really dicey.

      1. Realmuto would have less wear and tear in a shortened 2020 season, helping to keep him fresher for his early 30’s.

      2. With what has happened in the world and his age going into next season, I doubt he could possibly get more than 5 years and $125m – but it’s probably going to be in that general vicinity. We keep building him up as the greatest catcher ever. He’s not. He’s very good, but he’s not great and he’s going to be 30 when that contract starts and all teams are aware of the short productivity curves for catchers, so, yeah, I wouldn’t be handing him a 5 year/$140 million contract but I doubt anyone else will either.

        1. JTR is the best catcher in baseball now…and the market will dictate what he will get paid. There only needs to be one team that will go overboard and offer an outlandish salary to him
          My guess, any contender with deep pockets and poor catching resources will be the buyers.
          Dodgers lose Betts, then they may actually offer JTR.
          Friedman rarely offers more than 4 years and rarely goes into big money…AJ Pollock may or may not qualify I would think
          But he could make an exception for a catcher.
          If Betts stays and they are able to resign him….then JTR probably will not be made an offer from the Dodgers.

          1. Of course the market will dictate what he gets and of course it only takes one team. My point is that I don’t see any team giving him 5 years/$140 million next year. If he gets that, best of luck to him. Move on and use the money elsewhere – it’s not like they are loaded at every position but catcher – there’s a ton of stuff you can do with that cash.

            1. That said, I think he wants to get the highest AAV for a catcher and be signed long term and the team is ready to be more than fair with him so I still they they’ll get this done internally before he hits the market. It’s not a Betts relationship – he wants to be here if at all possible.

        2. I agree 100% but he holds all the cards now.

          I’d like to play some poker with MK. He seems like the kind of guy who will raise you with a pocket pair of 2’s.

          JT was sitting with Ace/King and just saw a King and a pair of Aces on the flop.

          1. Correct….JTR holds all the cards.
            MK…..is really in a pickle .
            He can’t afford to lose him…a one year gain, is negating if he walks as a FA..
            Then there are the Sixto and Alf’s potential losses he forfeited for JTR.
            he is forced to match or make the highest offer conceivable for JTR….unless JTR himself gives a bit on a home town discount.

  10. Live sports tomorrow…sort of…NFL Draft.
    That will help….even if from Roger Goodell’s basement.

    1. Loving some live sports action tonight … even if it’s not on the field. Howie Roseman gave a peek into how he is set up at home to run the Eagles “virtual” draft. Pretty cool.

      BTW … I’m predicting the Eagles draft Arizona State WR Brandon Aiyuk tonight.

      1. They could have had Aiyuk or Jefferson. What do I know but I think Aiyuk looked better on tape than Reagor.

        This franchise hasn’t had much luck drafting WR’s in recent memory at least not in Rnd 1.

        1. DMAR….TCU was pretty bad last year, under .500 team…Duggan was a freshmen QB that produced like one (53%..15 TDs…10 Int.)….Reagor numbers suffered….his soph year he was tremendous….if they had any experienced QB in 2019 Reagor would be listed higher than he was on the NFL scouting books.
          I like the fact his father was a NFL player so he knows the ropes and what he needs to do to be ready come camp.
          It was a somewhat risky move with Jefferson still there, but he could be a real surprise…I liken him to Hines Ward type wideout with a little more explosiveness.

          1. I loved the virtual draft last night. We got to see dens, living rooms, and kitchens of GM’s and head coaches throughout the league. We also saw the first player in the history of the NFL get selected while wearing a bath robe. And one guy was even caught going to the bathroom/sitting on a toilet at Mike Vrabel’s house while the Titans were making their pick.

            Agree with you, DMAR. Brandon Aiyuk looks like a TD waiting to happen every time he touches the ball. Reagor didn’t play with a good QB at TCU, but he also dropped a lot of passes that did find him.
            Who knows how the pick will turn out. Howie will ultimately be judged on Reagor vs Jefferson vs not trading up for Cee Dee Lamb (stinkin’ Cowboys). Remember … the Eagles wanted to draft Perry Tuttle in the first round in 1982 until the Bills jumped up one spot ahead of the Birds and selected the Clemson WR. Dick Vermeil, instead, settled for their second choice at WR: NC State’s Mike Quick. Tuttle was a bust. Quick is one of the top three receivers in Eagles’ history.

            … and how about a LB (Logan Wilson), a CB (Christian Fulton or Jaylon Johnson), a S (Antoine Winfield Jr [love him] or Jeremy Chinn), or even another WR (Tee Higgins, Laviska Shenault, or Chase Claypool) in the second round tonight?!

        2. Howie’s stock has been overvalued since the Super Bowl season. The man apparently suffers from a lack of personnel people around him, who can evaluate talent. When he doesn’t have the chips to deal aggressively with, he’s highly ineffective. Decent at managing cap space, but that’s about it. He’s just not a football guy. His history screams it. He’s made a few good picks in his tenure. Blind squirrels do that. Nothing special.

          1. He’s far from perfect, but you’re really selling Howie Roseman short in a way that, personally, I don’t think is very fair. He was responsible for so many good moves in the Super Bowl year and before. He manufactured the move to get Wentz, which led to the championship and re-acquired Nick Foles below the radar. Unlike the Phillies, often when you look at Roseman’s moves mid-stream, you wonder what the heck he is doing (like when they trade for the 8th pick in the 2016 draft), but when it’s done, you think “ah, I see where this going – this makes some sense.” Personally, I was not too happy with the Reagor pick and am not sure if the Jalen Hurts move will work, but, man, he probably had as good of a third day in the draft as I can recall. They might get 3 starters long-term from the third day of the draft and other valuable role players and that’s pretty darned good. And, by the way, unlike the Phillies, the Eagles have picked off guys from the scrap heap who became really solid players, like Boston Scott. This organization, from top to bottom, is so much better than the Phillies. Even in their off years, they make the playoffs and make some noise. The Phillies should be so “lucky.”

  11. FWIW, the University of Arizona president doubts that there will be fall football played or that the season will be delayed. Their first game is Aug. 29. Something to think about if MLB is considering Arizona to lay the majority of the games.

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