Former Major League third baseman Trevor Plouffe spent the bulk of his nine-year career with the Minnesota Twins, but did play in seven games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2018.
It was a relatively forgettable stint, but Plouffe did hit a walk-off home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 24, when Dave Roberts had essentially conceded the game by putting in Kiké Hernandez to pitch in the 16th inning:
Given that the only other markets he played for were Minnesota, Oakland and Tampa Bay, it’s not a stretch to think that Plouffe may have concluded during a very brief tenure that Philadelphia had a different type of intensity than he had experienced before.
However, in his latest appearance on Jomboy Media‘s “Baseball Today,” Plouffe seemed to take things a step or two further in suggesting why he didn’t think that the Phillies were an ideal landing spot for Japanese star Seiya Suzuki:
Chris Rose: What’s the most fun landing spot for him?
Plouffe: I think somewhere like the Yankees might be the most fun. My first answer to this was the Phillies.
Rose: That’s what mine was.
Plouffe: I think that it kinda works, but I don’t want that for him. I don’t want him to go and play in Philadelphia.
Rose: Why, because of the pressure cooker?
Plouffe: Kind of. I feel badly talking crap about the Phillies like this. I actually think they are a pretty good organization. I think that Philadelphia would be tough to come over to. That’s like your first taste of being in America … playing in the states … doing that … and you’re playing in Philadelphia. And if you have a bad first couple of weeks, they’re gonna turn on you right away. That’s tough.
Rose: Hold on, you just said the Yankees. How is that any different?
Plouffe: Because you really know that’s going to happen in New York. First, I actually think that New York fans are not as brutal as Philadelphia fans. I think New York, if he comes over, they’d give him a couple weeks to a month before they really started getting on him. Where as Philly, I think that happens, like, first series.
Rose: Remember, Giancarlo Stanton had that five-strikeout game very early in his New York tenure. I think those were boos.
Plouffe: New York just needs to see one homer. They just need to see [a little of] whatever you promised and they can ride with you a little bit. I think Philly is more brutal than New York.
It is true that if Suzuki comes to Philadelphia after signing a lucrative contract — MLB Trade Rumors projected a five-year/$55 million with a $10.125 million posting fee — there will be expectations for him to produce immediately. And if he doesn’t, there’s a chance he will hear some boos.
Of course, the same thing would be true if he signed with the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox, two teams that reportedly have been among the most aggressive suitors for the 27-year-old. Northeastern baseball fans are tough, and not everyone can handle the pressure of playing in this region of the country.
Then again, Hideki Matsui, Masahiro Tanaka and Daisuke Matsuzaka all found pretty immediate success playing in pressure-cooker environments in the Northeast. To suggest that the same couldn’t happen in Philadelphia is pretty silly.
Really, this comes down to the individual. Some players do better in front of a laid-back fanbase. Others — like reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper — enjoy playing in front of a fanbase that holds them to a high standard. Figuring out what category Suzuki fits into is an important task for Dave Dombrowski and any baseball operations leader whose team is in a die-hard sports city.
That assumes that the Phillies have interest in Suzuki, who homered 38 times and drove in 88 runs for the Hiroshima Carp this past season. In theory, the Phillies should. As Rose said, Suzuki’s bat could play well at Citizens Bank Park, and the Phillies need a starting left fielder. For a team that finished dead last in the league with -54 defensive runs saved last year, adding a three-time NPB Gold Glove Award winner with a cannon arm seems like it would make a lot of sense:
To this point, the Phillies haven’t been publicly connected to Suzuki beyond speculation. The Yankees, Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners have. Once the MLB lockout concludes, interested teams will have 20 remaining days to negotiate with Suzuki.
And after that, Plouffe, he’ll be gone.
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