Chris Cummings makes his BFN debut to talk about his dislike at the idea of signing Bryce Harper for his home team – The Phillies.
Bryce Harper is a once in a generation talent. Or so we’re told. And the fact that he seems set for a $300million+ contract is now pretty much a given.
As a Phillies fan, then, you might be thinking that I’m pretty ecstatic that owner John Middleton has come out saying that he’s prepared to spend the big bucks this winter. And according to Bob Nightengale, you can “bank on” the fact that the former Nats outfielder will be frequenting a certain right-field patch in the City of Brotherly Love when the regular season slog begins in earnest again in April. So what’s not to like, right?
Bryce Harper is not worth >$300million for a team that, when push comes to shove, was a long way off in 2018. You can talk about the stellar first-half that the pitching staff had behind Aaron Nola’s career numbers, or the offensive purple patch of ‘El Torrito’ Odubel Herrera in May. But if you’re going to start just missing out days, weeks and months from stats lines to make a point then, well, let’s have it.
Why don’t we talk about one of the most spectacular capitulations I’ve ever seen in September from a team who were 15 (fifteen!) games over .500 with two months to play, and finished 80-82.
Or we could talk about the weak numbers from Scott Kingery, one of only a handful of players signed beyond the end of the season. Hector Neris was pretty woeful, too, if you ignore his resurgence once he was recalled from AAA Lehigh Valley late on. Carlos Santana, whose criticism I believe is exceptionally harsh, nevertheless couldn’t buy a hit in the first two months of a year.
For every stat you can find spinning the 2018 Phils into a positive light, there’s one that has the exact reverse effect.
My point is that the team got hot at certain points – and boy did we look good when we were – but it takes more than flashes of brilliance to mount a genuine World Series threat. There are too many gaps in this team where, sure there’s promise, but more is required going forward.
Eg. I like Jorge Alfaro at catcher. He has a cannon, and has had a BABIP over .400 for the last two seasons in the bigs. He needs to be smarter in his ABs though, and needs to be more secure defensively behind the dish.
Seranthony Dominguez came up in May and was unhittable – he throws absolute fire. But control issues hampered him in the second half.
Rhys Hoskins again had a very solid offensive year, and came up with some huge go-ahead Home Runs in big spots. But he was historically bad in left-field.
Sure, we could spend hundreds of millions of beans to get a new face of our franchise. And yeah, we’re probably definitely gonna win more games with him in the side. But is that worth a 10-12 year contract that would see him playing here when he’s 36+? The general feeling is that you get so much in the first 4 or 5 years that it’s worth taking on a few, what I like to call, ‘Albert Pujols years’ at the back end. But even with him here, we’re not going to be an instant contender. We’re 10 wins away from that, and Harper doesn’t add 10 WAR next year. Or any year. Which effectively negates one year of his supposed franchise-changing production.
And what if adding Harper means we miss on Patrick Corbin, who is a sorely needed (and Left-handed) piece to add to what is a potentially vulnerable rotation? Or Yasmani Grandal, who is a major upgrade at catcher and who allows time for Alfaro to naturally develop as opposed to being forced into roles for which he’s not ready?. What about Michael Brantley in left field (who’s 2018 WAR was the same as Harper’s, by the way), or Jeurys Familia out of the ‘pen to provide some much needed support for Seranthony?
And what about next year? What if this winter means we can’t get Nolan Arenado next winter? Or Sale? Anthony Rendon will be a free agent to, when we’re much closer (hopefully) to being genuinely competitive, and when one piece might be all it takes (to paraphrase Jess Glynn).
My fear is that the management, and some of the fanbase, are so set on Harper that all of our NL East eggs seem to be going into one $300million+ sized, Bryce Harper-shaped basket. And one player cannot and will not make a franchise successful. Just ask the Angels.
Let’s learn from the Sixers over the road. This is a process, and as much potential as there is in this team, you don’t win a World Series with Hector Neris as your closer and Vincent Velazquez as your Number 3 starter. With or without Bryce Harper.