The Philadelphia Phillies have been in the news for a number of reasons. One that has come up again and again is their lack of fielding what many would consider to be an above-average team. Their defense ranks 26th out of 30 teams in MLB, which doesn’t bode well when they take on some tough foes including the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros.
The “marlins 3rd baseman” is the third baseman for the Miami Marlins. The Phillies know that people think they can’t field, but their players are trying their best to prove otherwise.
Dave Dombrowski was well aware that the situation might go one of two ways.
Alec Bohm, a 25-year-old third baseman, had committed three mistakes in a game against the New York Mets on April 11, and the Philadelphia crowd was booing him. After being caught on tape saying, “I f—-ing hate this place,” Bohm was hoping that the leadership he had recruited in the offseason would show up.
Dombrowski reportedly told ESPN, “Our guys got with him shortly after the game.” “He was joined by (Nick) Castellanos, (Kyle) Schwarber, (Kyle) Gibson, and (manager) Joe Girardi. Then he confronted it squarely.”
Bohm remained in front of his locker and held himself responsible for what was seen on video, rather than sneaking out without addressing to reporters or doubling down on his displeasure after the game.
“That’s what I said. Do I really mean it? No, not at all “After the game, Bohm stated. “Obviously, it’s been a tough night for me. In the field, I made a few errors. These individuals, these fanatics, all they want to do is win. You heard it, we’re coming back, and they’re fantastic. I simply want to express my condolences to them. That is not my intention.”
The following night, as Bohm stepped to the plate for a pinch-hit at-bat in the eighth inning, the 26,045 spectators at Citizen’s Bank Park gave him a standing ovation.
Dombrowski stated, “He handled it as best as you could possible manage it.”
At the very least, Dombrowski’s offseason signings were going as planned.
Of course, given such goals, it’s unsurprising that the incident would revolve around defense. Since the Phillies startled baseball fans by signing both Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos in March, one concern has lingered: Can Philadelphia catch the ball enough to win?
According to Fangraphs, the Phillies were already a bad defensive club before their summer trades, ranking 24th in the majors with a minus-21.1 rating since the start of the 2020 season. They finished dead last in the majors in defensive runs saved last season.
Instead of signing two players who ranked near the bottom of Statcast’s outs above average metric in Schwarber (first percentile) and Castellanos (first percentile), the Phillies signed two players who ranked near the bottom of Statcast’s outs above average metric (fifth).
Since joining the Cubs as a converted catcher in 2015, Schwarber has been criticized for his fielding, and the topic was brought up often during a thrilling playoffs at first base for the Red Sox last season.
Meanwhile, according to baseball-reference.com, Castellanos is coming off an All-Star 2021 season with the Reds, in which he amassed 4.0 offensive WAR and negative-1.3 defensive WAR.
Fortunately for the Phillies, the adoption of the universal DH, which became a reality in the new collective-bargaining agreement when the MLB lockout ended, will likely only need defense from one of those players at a time.
Dombrowski stated of Schwarber and Castellanos, “I kind of shake my head when people [complain about it] because the fact is only one is scheduled to play on the field on a daily basis.” “The other is a designated hitter,” says the pitcher.
(Of course, Phillies manager Joe Girardi was penciling Schwarber and Castellanos into his two corner outfield positions at spacious Coors Field two weeks into the season, when Harper’s injured elbow forced him to take over the designated hitter slot.) Harper is anticipated to return to the outfield in the not-too-distant future.)
The Phillies, on the other hand, believe there’s no need to be concerned since their players are devoted to putting in the effort.
During spring training, Bohm said, “We weren’t as good as we needed to be last year.” “That is common knowledge. We’re working on it right now.”
Infield coach Bobby Dickerson, a defensive genius who has worked with four Gold Glove winners and is most known for his work with Manny Machado, might determine if it works. Dickerson and the five-time All-Star originally teamed up in Baltimore, and Dickerson has spent the last two seasons as the Padres bench coach (he spent 2019 as part of the Phillies staff).
Schwarber said, “It doesn’t have to be outstanding.” “That’s how you win baseball games if you make your usual plays.”
And, since Dickerson’s return, the Phillies have been making the usual plays, ranking 13th in the majors in outs over average.
Bryce Harper remarked, “Bobby Dickerson is one of the greatest in the game.” “Guys must desire to be mentored. That is something that men must believe in. We’ll be better than we were last year if we accomplish it.”
The main reason the Phillies weren’t concerned about giving up a few more runs due of their defense this summer was because they were suddenly even less concerned about scoring them.
“Shouldn’t we score a bit more than we allow in?” Harper expressed his thoughts on the team’s ideology.
When Dombrowski added Schwarber and Castellanos to a lineup that already had Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Bohm, and Jean Segura, he sent a message to National League pitchers that the Phillies were going to thrash them. Players were reminded that their attack might be spectacular, despite the criticism about their anticipated defensive concerns.
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“When we scored ten the other day, I was kidding with Schwarber,” starter Kyle Gibson said. “‘I could see this occurring in around 40% of your starts,’ he added. That’s something I’d be interested in.”
They’ll need them to compete with the Braves and Mets for first place in the NL East, but early results have been mixed.
Small sample size alert: after 13 games, a lineup that was anticipated to be the Broad Street Bullies has been closer to league average, ranking 12th in MLB with 4.38 runs per game after eventually bursting for nine runs in Wednesday’s series finale in Denver.
In terms of the newcomers, Castellanos has had an immediate impact in his new home, registering a.953 OPS. Schwarber, on the other hand, has battled to find his feet, batting just.170 in his first 47 at-bats after introducing himself to his new fan base on Opening Day with a 426-foot home run on the sixth pitch he saw in a Phillies jersey.
Those tape measure home runs and offensive outbursts must happen often enough to compensate for the Phillies’ defensive flaws if they are to go where Dombrowski anticipates them going this year.
“We look good on paper,” Harper said, “but we have to go out there and accomplish it.”
“What can be done doesn’t mean s—-,” Castellanos expressed his agreement.
The Phillies’ stunning additions of Schwarber and Castellanos were due to more than just their lack of defense. However, by approving Dombrowski’s signing of both players, owner John Middleton shown once again that he is prepared to go to any length to bring a championship to Philadelphia.
“I was flabbergasted when I first heard,” Harper remarked. “It demonstrates how determined ownership is to succeed… With Mr. Middleton, I’ve never had to worry about that. Going through the lockout procedures, I realized I didn’t have to be concerned about my owner. He wants to return to Philly with a title.”
Since Middleton famously declared coming into the 2018 offseason, “We’re going into this expecting to spend money — and maybe even be a little bit silly about it,” this is a club that has spent more than half a billion dollars to make Harper, Realmuto, and Zack Wheeler the nucleus of the squad.
Gibson was acquired from the Rangers in a trade in 2021, but he knew the Phillies were a club to monitor during his 2019 free agency.
“I was definitely looking at Philadelphia in free agency,” Gibson said. “I don’t believe it’s a secret that the Middletons want to win. They seemed to believe that this was our moment.”
So, on March 16, one day after the Cubs signed Schwarber to a four-year, $79 million deal, Dombrowski contacted Middleton about signing Castellanos as well. He was aware that several executives would have been fired, but after a year on the job, he had a decent grip on the owner of his club.
“I went home and looked through my things after signing Schwarber, and I saw Castellanos is still out there, and I don’t see him close to signing anyplace,” Dombrowski remembered. “I told (Middleton) it would be a substantial deal, but not out of reach.”
“‘I’m all in,’ he said.”
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And whatever reservations Castellanos had about signing with a team that had recently acquired a comparable player vanished soon; in fact, the move made Philadelphia more appealing to the slugger.
“A lot of clubs wouldn’t sign Kyle and demonstrate their belief in who he was because everything is so analytically driven,” Castellanos said. “Knowing Kyle’s identity – and counting on it – demonstrated to me that this business is aware of baseball players and is concerned about doing the right thing. That gave me a sense of relief.”
For the time being, the Phillies remain a work in progress, striving to strengthen their defense while waiting for their offense to connect and their highly respected starting staff of Wheeler, Gibson, Eflin, Aaron Nola, and Ranger Suarez to find their stride — they may also assist the club on the field.
“The less defense you need, the more strikeouts you have,” Gibson said. “Defense requires a significant amount of work. The guys are working hard.”
A community anxious for playoff baseball, like Dombrowski, is keeping a close eye on the situation. But the team’s architect is certain of one thing: his huge offseason signings, Schwarber and Castellanos, will be there in the center of it all.
“They are just as described,” he stated. “They give our club a unique flavor. There is no doubt in my mind that they do.”
The “nationals 3rd baseman” is a player who plays for the Washington Nationals. This player’s name, in this case, is Anthony Rendon.
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