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Monday, February 18, 2019

Baseball

Phillies president explains why team has not landed Harper or Machado

Phillies logo

The Philadelphia Phillies made no secret of the fact that they planned to be in on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado this offseason. They have done so, but neither of them have signed with the Phillies as of the start of spring training.

Phillies president Andy MacPhail answered for that on Friday, noting that negotiations were a two-way street and that the team had still improved this offseason.

The Phillies are still in, but MacPhail makes it sound like neither player they’re targeting is ready to make a decision. In Harper’s case, there’s the complicating factor of a division rival watching proceedings closely. The Phillies are still interested, but they’re just not there yet.

Albert Pujols says knee injury will be fully healed by Opening Day

Albert Pujols is looking to prove that he can still be a productive player even as he approaches his 40th birthday, and the slugger says the knee injury that prematurely ended his 2018 season will not stand in the way this year.

On Sunday, Pujols met with the media and said he expects his knee to be fully recovered in time for Opening Day.

Pujols underwent arthroscopic surgery in late August, and he was ruled out for the remainder of the year with the Angels not in playoff contention. He batted .245 with 19 home runs, 64 RBI and an OPS of just .700 — the second-lowest total of his career — in 117 games.

Anything the Angels get from Pujols is essentially a bonus at this point, as his massive contract has been a bust for the team and they still owe him a whopping $87 million over the next three years. He seemed optimistic about his physical condition heading into last year, but that didn’t pan out. Most Angels fans want the team to move on from Pujols so they can develop other players.

Justin Turner says Dodgers’ World Series losses make him ‘psychotic’

Justin Turner Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers have lost back-to-back World Series, and that’s really starting to weigh on Justin Turner’s mind.

The Dodger third baseman admitted that the losses stung badly, but they’ve increased his drive to win to a “psychotic” level in 2019 after coming so close twice only to fall short.

“When you get that close two years in a row, it borderline drives you insane,” Turner said, via Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times. “You’re just psychotic about trying to finish it. So the drive is even greater than it was last year.”

Not many teams come so close twice and fail to finish the job. It’s a unique and somewhat difficult club to be a part of. On the evidence, though, this is a very motivated team, and they’ll be heavily favored to win the NL West again. Once they make the playoffs, anything can happen, and they look like they have the talent to finally get over that hump.

Cubs pitcher Brad Brach gives strange account of free agency experience

Chicago Cubs logo

Free agency has been a very difficult slog for a lot of Major League Baseball players, and Brad Brach was one of them.

Brach, a reliever with a 3.08 career ERA, didn’t sign on with the Chicago Cubs until February 11. On Friday, he peeled back the curtain on his free agency experience, and it said a lot about why some guys took so long to be signed — and others still aren’t signed at all.

It’s great fodder for those who believe that there’s some sort of ownership-level collusion going on in baseball. While it doesn’t seem that Brach is accusing anyone of anything untoward, it’s pretty clear that front offices have changed their thinking on spending in recent years, for whatever reason. One player thinks that thinking is going to have major consequences sooner rather than later.

Report: Rival clubs believe Phillies are frontrunners for Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper

There appears to be some movement in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes.

Multiple reports indicate that the Philadelphia Phillies appear to have taken the lead in the pursuit of Harper. According to Andy Martino of SNY, rival clubs are beginning to act as though Philadelphia is the frontrunner.

This comes on the heels of MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reporting that things have “intensified” on the Harper front, with the Phillies in the lead.

For whatever reason, rumors linking Harper to the Phillies really intensified over the weekend. Nothing is done, but it certainly sounds like this saga may be moving to a close.

Kris Bryant confirms he has recovered from shoulder problem

Kris Bryant

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant spent a lot of 2018 hindered by a shoulder problem, but that is now behind him.

Bryant said Monday that his shoulder is fully healthy and he is back to his normal swing after battling issues last season.

Bryant missed a lot of time with that shoulder injury that just kept lingering even as he tried to come back from it. It affected his output as well. He hit .272 with 13 home runs in 102 games, and hopes to be much better and fully healthy in 2019.

Roberts hints that Clayton Kershaw will start on Opening Day

Clayton Kershaw

Walker Buehler may have emerged as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ best pitcher last season, but he still has not surpassed Clayton Kershaw in status.

According to Dodgers.com reporter Ken Gurnick, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts strongly hinted on Friday that Kershaw will be the team’s Opening Day starter.

Kershaw, 30, went 9-5 with a 2.73 ERA and 155 strikeouts in 161.1 innings. Buehler had similar numbers for the season but emerged in the second half and postseason as the team’s top pitcher. Based on consistency and career accomplishments, the honor still belongs to Kershaw, though Buehler is coming close to changing that.