Philadelphia Phillies: A look at Matt Klentak’s comments

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Appearing on MLB Network’s “MLB Now”, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Matt Klentak didn’t offer anything new for fans to chew on.

Matt Klentak failed to drop any bombshells about the Philadelphia Phillies when he appeared on MLB Network on Friday, but it’s worth taking a deeper dive into some of his comments.

“We could have added multiple guys toward the back end of the rotation…”

Who were these guys? Yes, the Zack Wheeler signing is nice, and the cost of it basically precluded spending any more money on the rotation this offseason. But here Klentak is saying that the Phillies looked into the possibility of adding multiple pitchers. That would have meant no rotation slots for both Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta.

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By saying that the Phillies considered at least two upgrades to the bottom of the rotation, Klentak affirms that the team doesn’t have full confidence in Vinny or Nick, even as he says just seconds later that the team has a “nice young stable of guys that can pitch, at a minimum, at the back of the rotation, but hopefully better than that.” Make up your mind. At least Zach Eflin still looks like he can be a legitimate #4.

“It doesn’t happen every year that you have four teams going for it, to the degree that these four teams are going for it, in the same division.”

This speaks more about general managers across sports than about Klentak specifically. GMs really love it when multiple teams in their division are pushovers, but their job gets hard when everyone is actually trying to win.

Klentak also took this moment to speak about the rotation, and you have to be scared when he says things about their reliance on “hopefully getting Jake Arrieta back and healthy this year.” It is promising, however, that he brought Spencer Howard into the conversation. This kid is going to get a long look this year. But, speaking of Arrieta…

“He really did as good a job as we could have hoped, really pushing it as far as he could push it…”

It was so obvious from the get-go that Arrieta should not have been pitching last season with the bone spur in his elbow, and that it was only a matter of time before he’d have to be shut down. We don’t need to give the guy any credit for gutting something out when it had zero chance of succeeding.

“The first thing you always hear about Didi (Gregorius) is just what kind of a teammate he is, what kind of a leader he is…”

Matt might actually have a point on this one. Gregorius seems like an impressive guy, and Phillies fans should be excited about what he can bring to the club this year, both on and off the field. Klentak also went on to call Didi a “great bounceback candidate this year”, which is a correct assessment.

Still getting back to 100% after a 2018 elbow surgery, Gregorius can hopefully improve on the low batting average that he showed in half a season with the Yankees last year. His power could be very real this year, and his career high of 27 bombs should be within reach.

“As long as this team is contending, I would expect that those investments would continue…”

Speaking about John Middleton and the rest of the team’s ownership group, Klentak may have the cause-and-effect relationship skewed a little here. Really, whether or not the Phillies “contend”, whatever that might mean to Klentak and Andy MacPhail, Middleton and company have to keep pace with the spending. That’s just the way that baseball is now.

Additionally, the Phils should take note that producing cheap, young, controllable talent is an excellent way to offset costs so that you don’t have to spend top-dollar to bring in stars/hired guns to bulk up the MLB roster. So here’s hoping that Phillies ownership will continue to not only make sizable financial investments, but act more intelligently on a foundational level that will keep this organization in the hunt for years to come.

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Klentak’s remarks on Friday were essentially a rehearsed repetition of his philosophy and the organization’s current outlook. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there wasn’t anything to get too excited about either, as the Phillies face an uphill battle in a very tough NL East this year. Klentak himself knows how important 2020 will be to his own future with the Phillies.