I hate to say we told you so.
Breaking late Wednesday out of New York City (well, OK, the New York Post) is word that (SHOCKER), Manny Machado and Bryce Harper don’t really, you know, dig Philly.
December 4, Ballantini on Bryce:
Philadelphia Phillies (11% chance of landing Harper)
Just not sure it makes sense. I know, money rules. And the Seattle Mariners deal (where the Phillies sent Carlos Santana west) has the effect of welcoming Harper and perhaps closing the door on Machado. But still, Philadelphia, and the nastiest fans on the planet? Sure, these odds are too low, I suppose, but really, Bryce? Philadelphia?
December 17, Ballantini on Manny:
Philadelphia Phillies (31% chance of landing Manny)
All the meathead fan pressure of New York City, and none of the glamor? Hey, Manny, meet Philadelphia!
The Phillies are the most dangerous factor in the Manny sweepstakes, because they have suitcases full of dumb money to spend, and dwindling places to spend it (speculation is that Philly has cooled on Bryce Harper after signing Andrew McCutchen, increasing pressure on them to go crazy for Machado).
Playing in the National League would have less appeal to a guy who, Johnny Hustle or no, might like the occasional run at DH for a “fielding day off.” Point, Chisox.
That leaves one team left, apparently willing to spend “stupid money” on these two young, incandescent talents.
As Yahoo points out, Joel Sherman buried the lede (our lede, at least) in a long-winded Bryce-Manny “update”:
Word is neither player particularly likes Philadelphia
Sherman ties himself up in knots a bit, rehashing many of the points already made about the “mysterious” White Sox bid/interest, in the process solidifying the notion:
The White Sox have not been as publicly bold with their plans. But they are in on Harper and Machado, and executives and agents reveal that they have been aggressive in trade and free-agent discussions. Some within the game expect White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf to rein in any outsized bids for Harper or Machado. But Reinsdorf turns 83 in February and wants to win again in his lifetime. He knows he is fighting the dominant Cubs for interest in Chicago. And this is the guy who, despite being a labor hawk who was leading the charge to curtail salaries on players, signed Albert Belle to a record five-year, $55 million deal after the 1996 season. Reinsdorf said he wanted to win fans back. White Sox average attendance had fallen to 20,703 in 1996, the lowest in seven years. In 2018, White Sox average attendance fell under 20,000 for the first time since 1999.
Bless the national press, but Yahoo’s Mark Townsend makes, well, the exact sort of marshmallow fluffy point you’d expect him to make when confronted with this twist:
Perhaps all of this means the Chicago White Sox have real reason for hope now, though it’s difficult to say if their offer can be enticing enough.
Translation: This just doesn’t make sense ... I didn’t even remember there was a second team in Chicago ... the White Sox? ... how do I somehow obscure the inevitable truth that the “white sox” are going to get one or both of these guys ... got it!
... [typing furiously] ...
“it’s difficult to say if their offer can be enticing enough.”
From a guy who just read Sherman’s points about Reinsdorf’s Belle dalliance, and who surely well knows the White Sox have roughly 800 millions to spend on Harper/Machado this offseason, this is a bit weak, Townsend.
But Sherman is guilty of subverting his own theses, as well, as he desperately tries to convince himself that the duo will seek out some special “intangibles” about coastal teams, with Bryce heading to Los Angeles, Manny joining up in New York.
(Funny that when an L.A. or New York team has the most cash to offer, it’s all about the money. When another team, like the White Sox, enters the fray, the Post writer suddenly senses that the players will have to “face a decision about money,” because, you know, there’s more to life. Meanwhile Yahoo is off in the corner, all like, well, uh, these guys are gonna want that four-year opt out! Sun! A movie trailer! A bigger, better jumbotron!)
Keep stammering, fellas.