I went to the Complex Saturday to watch an Instructional League game between the Phillies and Blue Jays. I was one of five people in attendance – my friend Steve Potter and his wife and daughter, my friend and former photo contributor Mark Wylie, and me.
The game was held on Roberts Field. If you are familiar with the Complex, you’ll have noticed that a walking and bike path runs down Old Coachman Road, crosses the road at the north end of the Complex parking lot (where the pedestrian light is installed), and continues between the Complex and Clearwater’s regional trash collection point. The path skirts the outfields on Carlton (CF and RF) and Roberts (LF and CF) Fields.
The path rises a couple of feet and then crosses under Route 19 on its way to Safety Harbor. It crosses McMullen Booth Road and a huge bike path. The official name of this path is the Ream Wilson Trail.
Our vantage point was not particularly good. We started out in a thin stream of shade behind the left field fence. As the game started, we ventured into the sun, its still blazing hot even in October, behind center field. The short elevation of the road allowed us to see the mound and home plate without having to peer through the canvas draped fence, but added about 40 feet to our distance from the action.
Later, I moved up to the fence and watched through a gap between the fence and the batter’s eye. I noticed that that Phillies and Jays had secured cameras to the fence above to capture their pitchers delivery from behind. The viewing screen was angled so that I could watch pitches in clear technicolor. However, my neck got sore staring up for any extended period of time and I found that when a ball was put in play, I tended to wait for the camera to follow the ball and missed the rest of the play. Duh.
Back to the game. The Phillies fielded the following line up –
- 8, Simon Muzziotti
- 9, Jhailyn Ortiz
- 3, Edgar Made
- 2, Rodolfo Duran
- 6, Jamari Baylor
- 4, Jonathan Guzman
- 5, Jose Tortolero
- DH, Wilfredo Flores
- 7, Marcus Lee Sang (who for some reason did not bat)
- 1, Erik Miller
Miller looked real good, but I think we would expect that against Instructs batters. He retired the first Jay on a first pitch fly ball to Lee Sang. He struck out the next batter swinging, and completed the first inning with a ground out to Guzman.
The Phillies opened their half of the first with a Muzziotti walk. Ortiz grounded a single through the shift into left field and Made (ma’ – day) drew a bases loading walk. Duran followed with an RBI ground single to left. Baylor struck out looking on a curve ball and the Jays rolled the inning.
Miller continued his dominance over the Jays’ batters in the second with a strike out looking. He walked the next batter but then induced a chopper to second that was not going to be a double play. It looked like Baylor hurried the exchange in an attempt to get the runner at first and missed the catch at second. It might also have been a timing thing as Guzman appeared slightly off balance, flipping the ball side arm on is heels. Didn’t matter, Miller responded by striking out the next two batters swinging to end the threat.
The game quieted down as pitching seemed to dominate. Tortolero drew a one-out walk in the second and stole second base but the other three batters were retired on ground balls.
Christian Hernandez pitched the third and survived a two-out bloop single and errant pick off throw to keep the Jays off the board.
Ortiz opened the home third with a walk but was stranded by two fly outs and a come backer to the pitcher to end the inning.
James McArthur pitched two scoreless innings, stranding a two-out double in the fourth and a one-out double in the fifth.
Meanwhile, the Phillies collected a single to center by Muzziotti and 5 Ks in the fourth and fifth innings.
Around this time, I got distracted by one of our between innings chats and spent the next few innings looking for the post that established my position on whom the Phillies should sign to catch next season. More on that later.
During that period, the Phillies made several changes –
- Andrik Nava took over behind the plate
- Matt Vierling played first base
- Jonathan Guzman remained at second base
- Guarner Dipre to third
- Luis Garcia to shortstop
- Wilfredo Flores from DH to left field
- Johan Rojas to center field
- Jose Cedeno to right field
Also during this period, the Jays tied the game on a sac fly off Manuel Silva and went ahead on a HR off Victor Vargas. Joel Cesar pitched a one-hit ninth inning and struck out two batters.
The Phillies batters rallied in the ninth. Luis Garcia drew a lead off walk in a long at bat. Wilfredo Flores singled to put runners on first and second. Guarner Dipre tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but the pitcher decided to advance the runners with a wild pitch. Dipre then lifted a sac fly to left AND Guzman who had come in to run for Flores moved up to third. Flores (yes, he batted again, it’s Instructs!) followed with a ground out that scored Guzman (who was running for Flores) with the walk off, I mean go ahead run. The Jays completed the inning striking out the next batter for the third out before the post game celebration could begin.
Best recollection is that the Phillies collected 6 hits, all singles, by Ortiz, Duran, Muzziotti, Cedeno, Tortolero, and Flores. Pitchers allowed 2 runs on 5 hits and 4 walks while striking out 10 batters. Three of the hits were for extra bases though – 2 doubles and a HR.
Here are a couple of Mark Wylie’s photos
In other news, Bryan Price retired with two years remaining on his contract. My first thought was to wonder if this is an indication that MLB is considering employing similar “quarantining” rules during ST and next season. That would entail a longer period of time than just a 60-game season.
If the Phillies go externally to fill Price’s position, I have always thought John Smoltz would be a good choice having success as both a starter and reliever. I know he doesn’t have coaching experience, but it’s always been an idea of mine. In fact, I like a lot of the MLB guys from their shows. I think Ron Darling, Pedro Martinez, and Al Leiter would all make interesting pitching coaches. I’m sure they would get the attention of the players.
That’s it for my outside the box thinking today.
I would temper any hopes on the Phillies luring Erik Neander (nee-ANN-der) from Tampa to fill their GM position. He already has the title and responsibilities of Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager. That would encompass Andy MacPhail’s current role and that of interim Ned Rice in the Phillies organization.
I’m not saying that money won’t get a deal done. But, it’s going to take a lot. That’s the only thing that the Phillies can offer. Neander is friends with owner Stuart Sternberg, got his start in baseball with the Rays at the age of 22, and worked his way up from intern to his current position. Aside from friendship there is also loyalty. Plus, he’s the top baseball operations guy with no interference from above. Luring him away from Tampa, if that’s even possible, will have a large price tag.
So, don’t get upset if the Phillies can’t land this particular white whale. The TB front office page has bios of most of their execs. Here’s Neander’s. Take a look at some of the others.
Oh, and finally, the conversation that distracted me from more closely following the middle innings of Saturday’s game. My take was essentially “Why not Knapp?“. He could be the starter. He has proven to be more effective handling pitchers than earlier in his career. It’s why he beat out Grullon and others as the back up the past few years. His bat has improved, too. All his numbers compare favorably to Realmuto except for passed balls.
The Phillies could go out and sign a defensive back up to pair with him until the younger guys are ready. Guys like: Sandy Leon (32 years old) not much of a hitter but a quality defender with great caught-stealing numbers; Josh Phegley (33 years old) career caught-stealing numbers approaching 33%; Bryan Holaday (33 years old) career 30% caught-stealing rate; and maybe even Drew Butera (37 years old) who has a good reputation for his receiving skills.
Eric Kratz (41 years old) might also be a good fall back option as a catcher in Allentown.
This is the Phuture Phillies Open Discussion for Phillies and other baseball topics.
- September 30, 2020 – Expiration of the Professional Baseball Agreement between MLB and MiLB
- October 15, 2020, 5:00 PM EDT – Close of the 2019 international signing period
- October 25-29, 2020 – Trading resumes, day after the World Series ends
- October 30 – November 3, 2020, five days after the conclusion of the World Series – Deadline for teams to make qualifying offers to their eligible former players who became free agents
- November 8-13, 2020, fifteen days after the conclusion of the World Series – Deadline for free agents to accept qualifying offers
- November TBA – GM Meetings (Nov. 11-14, Scottsdale, AZ in 2019)
- November TBA – Owners meetings (Nov. 19-21, Arlington, TX in 2019)
- November 20, 2020 – Rosters set for Rule 5 Draft
- November TBA – MLBPA executive board meeting (Nov. 26-29 in Irving, TX in 2018)
- December 2, 2019 – Last day for teams to offer 2021 contracts to unsigned players on their 40-man rosters
- December 6-10, 2020 – Winter Meetings in Dallas, Texas, at the Omni Dallas Hotel and Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas, held in conjunction with the Baseball Trade Show and PBEO Job Fair.
- December 10, 2020 – Rule 5 Draft
- January TBA – Rookie Career Development Program
- January 15, 2021, 9:00 AM EST – Start of the 2020 international signing period
The rosters and lists are up to date as of October 19th … 333 players in the org
10/15/2020 – 2B Ronald Torreyes elected free agency
10/14/2020 – RHP Deolis Guerra elected free agency
10/06/2020 – DSL Phillies Red released RHP Jhostyn Marin
10/01/2020 – 3B Luke Williams assigned to Lehigh Valley from Alternate Training Site
10/01/2020 – 2B Ronald Torreyes assigned to Lehigh Valley from Alternate Training Site
10/01/2020 – LHP Jeff Singer assigned to Lehigh Valley from Alternate Training Site
10/01/2020 – RHP Reggie McClain assigned to Lehigh Valley from Alternate Training Site
10/01/2020 – RHP JD Hammer assigned to Lehigh Valley from Alternate Training Site
10/01/2020 – RHP Deolis Guerra assigned to Lehigh Valley from Alternate Training Site
10/01/2020 – RHP Enyel De Los Santos assigned to Lehigh Valley from Training Site
10/01/2020 – CF Mikie Mahtook assigned to Lehigh Valley from Alternate Training Site
10/01/2020 – LF Nick Martini assigned to Lehigh Valley from Alternate Training Site
10/01/2020 – C Jonathan Lucroy assigned to Lehigh Valley from Alternate Training Site
10/01/2020 – SS Nick Maton assigned to Reading from Alternate Training Site
10/01/2020 – RHP Joel Cesar assigned to Reading
10/01/2020 – LHP Damon Jones assigned to Reading from Alternate Training Site
10/01/2020 – C Henri Lartigue assigned to Reading from Alternate Training Site
10/01/2020 – 1B Austin Listi assigned to Reading from Alternate Training Site
10/01/2020 – SS Bryson Stott assigned to Clearwater from Alternate Training Site
10/01/2020 – C Logan O’Hoppe assigned to Lakewood from Alternate Training Site
10/01/2020 – SS Raibently Mercalina assigned to DSL Red