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What are the Phillies thinking?
by Scott Butler 12/31/18

Machado visits Phillies

There are only a few hours left in 2018 and we stiiiiiilllllll have no idea when or if Machado or Harper will play 81 games in South Philly next season. While we continue to play the waiting game there, it gives me a chance to reflect on a couple odd things that occurred in recent days with the Phillies.

That whole Machado visit was...awkward.

Who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to put Machado's arrival on display to everybody? Cameras were there as Machado pulled up in front of Citizens Bank Park, met an opinionated construction worker, walked up the stairs to the Phillies' corporate offices, and had to wait a second as Matt Klentak greeted him at the door.

Awkward.

It felt like bringing your fiancee to your childhood home to meet your parents or dressing up in a Batman costume and shouting "Trick or Treat!" to Matt and Gabe.

Was the confrontation awkward on its own? Not really. What made it uncomfortable was the millions of eyes watching the whole thing go down. Whether it was a terrible oversight or a poorly conceived PR decision, it wasn't a good look.

How did the Phillies let Andrew Miller get away?

Corey Seidman wrote the following after Andrew Miller signed with the Cardinals:

The Miller non-signing was confusing. The Phillies heavily pursued him and it seemed like a deal was close to being done, only for Miller to sign a two-year, $25 million contract with the Cardinals.

...

The Phillies must not have felt totally comfortable with Miller’s health. He spent much of 2018 on the DL with three different injuries and was not his typical dominant self. The previous four years, Miller was perhaps the best reliever in all of baseball. 

He would have made a ton of sense for the Phillies and for Gabe Kapler, who likes using his best relievers in the highest-leverage situation, regardless of inning.

If his injury history scared them away, keep in mind the Phillies were in serious pursuit of the lefty reliever with full knowledge of his health situation. They weren't willing to offer a sixth year to Patrick Corbin, a third year to J.A. Happ, and now couldn't outbid the Cardinals' very reasonable offer.

If the Phillies aren't able to land Machado or Harper, they are running out of places to spend "stupid" money. If the Phillies want to upgrade their bullpen, the best free agents left are now just Zach Britton and Craig Kimbrel.

Unless Kimbrel's asking price drops significantly, he seems like nearly as big a waste of money as Jonathan Papelbon. Britton would be a nice addition and he's a guy the Phillies have liked for a long time, but his asking price is probably even higher with Miller out of the picture now.

Maybe there were bigger injury concerns than we thought or Miller simply preferred St. Louis, but it does seem peculiar that the Phillies couldn't or wouldn't land him.

Either way, the Phillies have to be getting concerned that this offseason is slipping away from them. Still plenty of offseason left though...

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