Phillies Mailbag: Early Success, Harper and Machado, Road Tripping
We are back once again with a 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. Each week we take your questions and answer them on the air. Submit your question anytime to our text board or to @FrankKlose on Twitter.
What do you think is the reason for the Phillies' early success?
The Phillies are off to a tremendous start and the only team with more wins than the Phillies are the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are set to begin a three-game series in Philadelphia tonight. The 9-1 homestand to begin the season made Phillies history. So far, it is not the hitting that is the reason for success, but the pitching.
The Phillies rank second to the Diamondbacks in both earned run average (3.01) and WHIP (1.14). Phillies starters have allowed three or fewer runs now 12 starts in a row, something they have not done since the four aces led the way in 2011. And to top that off, the Phillies are getting tremendous pitching performances from Victor Arano, who has allowed just one base runner so far and Yacksel Rios, who has allowed just one earned run so far.
One thing being talked about is that the Phillies have used analytical trends to help their pitchers. While batters have been focusing on increasing their launch angle (a result of analytics), Phillies pitchers are working at minimizing that and opponents are not hitting balls hard.
Adding Jake Arrieta to the mix certainly did not hurt matters.
The Phillies bats have not been that strong just yet, which has the likes of J.P. Crawford, Carlos Santana, and Aaron Altherr still hitting below the Mendoza line. Past performance should show that the Phillies have little to worry about going forward.
Who do you see as the odd man out on the current roster if the Phillies target Machado or Harper this offseason?
This is a good question. Of the two, I tend to think that Manny Machado is the better fit than Bryce Harper. And I think the place for Machado to play is at third base, making Maikel Franco the odd man out.
Machado returned to shortstop this season to try to make himself more marketable. But the Phillies, who have J.P. Crawford profiling better at shortstop, probably would be a better team with Crawford up the middle and Machado at third base.
I think Machado is the better fit since he will have some familiarity with many of the Phillies players and staff who came from the Baltimore Orioles. If it is a matter of money, there is nothing that will keep the Phillies from being able to put forth the best offer financially.
The Phillies will likely be engaged with agent Scott Boras over Bryce Harper, too. But my gut says that the Phillies have a better shot to land Machado.
As for Franco, hopefully he can show himself as marketable for this coming offseason. Having assets to trade is not a bad thing.
I am looking to take my son on a road trip this season. Where do you recommend we go?
Phillies fans travel really well. Each season when the schedule comes out I try to see what makes for a really good road trip. While I have made it to 24 major league ballparks and have not seen them all, I have a few favorites that are not too difficult to get to.
Wrigley Field, Chicago: June 5, 6, 7
If your son is still in school, this could be a problem. But Wrigley Field in Chicago and Chicago itself is always a favorite place to visit. There are a few reasons that it is so fun.
First, the public transit system in Chicago is tremendous. The Red Line (and all the other lines) all come together at "The Loop" in downtown Chicago. That means you can get almost anywhere easily.
I usually try to stay in the stretch known as the "Magnificent Mile", which is a prime stretch of Michigan Avenue within walking distance to many attractions, including Navy Pier. There are plenty of restaurants shops, and attractions all right there, including the Water Tower.
PNC Park, Pittsburgh: July 6, 7, 8
Pittsburgh is an easy drive down the turnpike. I know, we are off a tough loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins and we might not like the idea. But I find PNC Park one of my favorite places to visit from the new stadiums.
"The Strip" as it is known is walkable to PNC Park if you're willing to get a little exercise. There are some neat museums and restaurants there. Rivertowne Brewery has some local beer and good food within walking distance to the ballpark. I also really enjoy a Primanti Bros. sandwich. My choice is the cajun chicken.
There is a newer Hyatt Place right by the stadium that has parking (for a fee) and a really nice breakfast. There is also a newer Holiday Inn nearby as well as two other Marriott hotels that went up right around the time the ballpark opened.
Fenway Park, Boston: July 30, 31
Another historic park in an area with much to do. Much of Boston is very walkable with public transportation also pretty available. This is not much of a hard sell.
There are so many historic sites to see and so many options for places to stay that I don't think that you'll have to worry about either.
Arizona and San Diego are back-to back August 6 -12, with a day off in between to stop in Las Vegas if you rent a car. I have yet to be to either stadium, but I hope to someday when my daughter is old enough to take a trip.