The Unique Free Agent Opportunity

In Miami last week, Andy MacPhail dropped hints as to how the MacPhail Era of Phillies baseball will begin. First with the announcement of his decision to retain manager Pete Mackanin and then with public comments on the team’s offseason plans which Jake Kaplan of The Inquirer laid out earlier this week. Here’s an excerpt of the key MacPhail quote on signing free agents:

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Adam Loewen Wins, Time Is A Flat Circle

In the 5th inning of last night’s Phillies game, a chain of events set the stage for an event not seen in Major League Baseball since The Sopranos was appointment Sunday night viewing. A lineout sandwiched between two singles followed by an impressive strikeout of Yoenis Cespedes on three pitches brought the left-handed batter Lucas Duda to the plate with men on 1st and 2nd and two out to face the righty David Buchanan. With the Phillies clinging to a 3-1 lead, Pete Mackanin faced a decision and, in a case of either overmanaging or shrewd usage of overflowing September bullpens depending on your perspective, he opted to signal to the bullpen for a lefty. Enter Adam Loewen.

Prior to last night, Loewen had thrown 17 innings for the Phillies this season with terrible results save for a good K-rate: 20 H, 15 ER, 23.8 K%, 17.9 BB%, 2.06 WHIP, 7.94 ERA. This extreme proclivity for allowing baserunners made Mackanin’s decision a move that would be immediately second guessed if it didn’t work out, but as fate would have it Loewen struck out Duda to end the inning (video clip). He then remained in the game to bat for himself in the bottom of the 5th in what was likely a nice gesture to the pitcher turned position player turned pitcher. Sometimes nice gestures pay off and Loewen rewarded the Phillies with his first major league hit since 9/26/2011. But that would be neither the only nor the most notable “first major league X since XX/XX/XXXX” of Loewen’s evening.

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The Ethics of Tanking

During last night’s series opener against the New York Mets, a brief debate emerged on Twitter about the ethics of tanking. It’s no secret that the Phillies had no designs of being a winning team in 2015, and though no one involved with the team will openly admit it, every loss has been good for the Phillies as it has nudged them closer and closer to the first overall pick in the 2016 draft.

Someone tweeted a complaint at Kevin Cooney, the Phillies’ beat writer for the Bucks County Courier Times, because the Phillies appeared to be playing with an intent to win Tuesday’s game. Kevin responded:

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Jonathan Papelbon Tried to Choke Bryce Harper

The Phillies scored eight runs in the ninth inning, including five against closer Jonathan Papelbon, to break a 4-4 tie in Sunday’s win against the Washington Nationals. That wasn’t the big story during and after the game, however.

Outfielder Bryce Harper flied out to start the bottom of the eighth inning and he didn’t run it out with a lot of effort. On his walk back to the dugout, Papelbon was seen barking at Harper and continued to jaw at him as the NL MVP candidate made his way down the steps. Harper returned serve, which prompted Papelbon to lunge at Harper, wrapping a hand around his throat. The two were quickly separated.

Here’s video of the incident:

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Aaron Altherr Hit An Inside-the-Park Grand Slam

Aaron Altherr gave the Phillies a 4-1 lead last night when he hit what turned out to be an inside-the-park grand slam against Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann. The outfielder hit a sinking liner in front of center fielder Michael Taylor, who made an ill-fated dive. He never touched the ball, which skipped past him towards the fence. The three runners on base scored easily and Altherr scampered home without a throw.

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The Phillies Should Explore Trading Cody Asche

Third baseman Cody Asche hit a pair of solo home runs in Tuesday night’s 6-2 win against the Miami Marlins. It’s the first multi-homer game of his three-year career. Surprisingly, it was also his first multi-hit game since August 14.

Asche currently holds a subpar .303 weighted on-base average. The National League average for third basemen is .323 and the average for left fielders is .320. He would rank ahead of only Pablo Sandoval (.288) among qualified third basemen and ahead of only Michael Taylor (.280) and Ichiro Suzuki (.259) among left fielders with 400-plus plate appearances.

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