Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Lauded GM Open To Talking About Everyone
Open To Anything – Everybody knows that Phillies general manager Matt Klentak has a lengthy to-do list. It starts with improving the pitching staff. It won't be easy, so Klentak has to be open to any means of improvement, which includes trading some of the club's young talent, possibly even closer Ken Giles. "The biggest thing is we need to add innings to our rotation to help protect our kids," Klentak told reporters on Tuesday at the General Managers Meetings in Boca Raton, Fla. "That's going to be important. We'll be opportunistic in terms of how many and who they are. I don't want to put a number on it. But you know what we ended the season with and who was in our rotation, and who walked away." Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams, Chad Billingsley and Cliff Lee are free agents. None are expected to return. Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff are heavy favorites for two 2016 rotation jobs. Adam Morgan, David Buchanan and Alec Asher will be competing for spots, too. Philadelphia could pursue free-agent starters like Doug Fister, J.A. Happ and Bartolo Colon this offseason, and it could try to trade for pitching, too. Giles could help the Phillies acquire more young talent for the rotation, bullpen or elsewhere. The Phils already have received calls from teams about Giles. "It's not a goal," Klentak said about trading their closer. "We're trying as much as possible to collect as many good young controllable quality players as we can. But as I said last week and probably the week before that, we're trying to be opportunistic at every turn and trying not to operate in absolutes. I think Ken is terrific. He's great in his role. We want to hold the leads we can hold, but I don't want to categorically say we will or we won't do anything. "I think we do need to be conscious, regardless of how many games we win next year, of making sure from a morale perspective we are winning the games that we are in a position to win, and I think having a good bullpen in general is critical to that. And I will also say, when you ask, 'Is it a luxury?', I think it's a little different when you're talking about a guy with one year of service time. If you were talking about a pending free agent, then, yeah, that might be a slightly different situation. But Ken Giles, if he's here, can very easily be a part of our future, so I think we have to account for that in our thinking." The Phillies also need to find some outfield depth. Jeff Francoeur is a free agent. He performed well in a part-time role, but performed even better as a leader in the clubhouse. "We've been talking to him," Klentak said. "The guys that are our own players, we've had the luxury to talk with them longer, so yeah we're not ruling anybody out. "We have room on our 40-man [roster] to add. Some of that will come through Rule 5 [Draft] protections, and some will come through waiver claims or free-agent signings or trades. There's a lot of room for growth on our roster in general, and I have no doubt that at least one of those spots will go to an outfielder."
GM Praised By Former Boss – Jerry Dipoto knows Matt Klentak's strengths and weaknesses as well as anybody. Dipoto hired Klentak as assistant general manager with the Angels before the 2012 season. They worked together through July, when Dipoto resigned as the Angels' GM. Dipoto, who is now the Mariners' GM, spoke on Tuesday at the General Managers Meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., about Klentak landing the Phillies' GM job. "Matt is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get guy," Dipoto said. "He is a wonderfully nice guy. He's extremely intelligent. Good family guy. He knows the baseball rules inside and out. I think one thing you'll not see, he's a ferocious negotiator. He's very good in that milieu. "He has a good feel for players. I guess most importantly, Matt is a listener. He listens to the people around him. So what is being said, he will absorb. He'll do a great job." Dipoto confirmed what others have said about Klentak before and since Phillies president Andy MacPhail hired the GM: Klentak is a well-balanced decision maker. He might not have a scouting and player development background, but Klentak listens and gets along well with those people. "Matt was always a part of what we were discussing in scouting and player development," Klentak said. "So when we were laying out player plans for guys at the lowest levels in the Minor Leagues, he sees how that develops. He didn't spend much time out in the field, but his last two years, we did get him out and he started scouting and watching players. He would sit in the Draft room every year, go through the Draft and see how we stacked players up. Why we would choose this player here and that player there. "He was probably our go-to guy in understanding how to best balance the Draft pool money, which is a more complex thing than maybe your average cross-checker was able to designate. Matt was pivotal, he was our spearhead, in salary arbitration. He was a go-to guy for me. We would split up contract negotiations almost 50-50. He would take this half and I would take the other." Dipoto said Klentak Also was heavily involved in every free-agent contract the Angels signed from 2012-15. "I don't know if I would have survived the four years without him," Dipoto said. "I would ask his opinion on anything. A lot of times, I would not do things because he would be anti that move. I'd bounce things off him. Our offices were very close to one another, so I'd just walk in with a baseball bat, start taking swings, and sometimes he'd tell me I was crazy and sometimes he'd tell me that was something he thought we should try. … I think Matt understands where the Phillies are in their progression right now, where they need to go, and he'll make good, balanced decisions that incorporate the people around him."
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.