Phillies Beat with Destiny Lugardo

Mailbag Pt. 2: Seiya Suzuki and contending in the NL East


Part two of Phillies Nation‘s holiday mailbag discusses the possibility of the Phillies signing outfielder Seiya Suzuki, the path to contention in the NL East and the ethics of consuming team content during the lockout.

If you missed it, here is part one of the mailbag.

Is there any chance the Phillies make a run at Seiya Suzuki? – Robert B. via Facebook

According to multiple reports, it sounds like the Phillies were very close to signing Kyle Schwarber before the lockout. If they lose out on him, it would be wise to turn their attention to Suzuki. He’s been a .300/.400/.500 player in each of his last four seasons with Hiroshima Carp and is a solid defender with a plus arm in right field.

Since the Phillies badly need a corner outfielder, you can assume the Phillies have shown some level of interest in Suzuki. The problem is that a handful of teams have been more heavily connected to him. The Giants, Mariners, Dodgers, Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays have all reportedly shown interest in Suzuki. Would the Phillies be both willing to pay up for the 27-year-old Suzuki and be able to convince Suzuki that Philadelphia is a more desirable place to play than all of the options above?

Suzuki could be exactly what the Phillies need, but it’s hard to imagine the Phillies beating out the other interested teams for his services. There’s reportedly a lot of mutual interest between Schwarber and the Phillies and a lot of that has to do with Kevin Long’s presence in Philadelphia, so I think it’s likely the Phillies pass on Suzuki in favor of Schwarber.

What is the path to contention? Braves and Mets are clearly better as things stand right now. – @Bredram02 via Twitter

It’s hard to know just how large the gap will be between the Braves and Mets and every other team in the division once the offseason is over. The Braves, who should be the favorites to win the NL East, have a talented roster and a winning culture. The Mets have two superstars at the top of the rotation in Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom and an owner who is willing to spend his way to the top. It’s too early to count out the Phillies when it comes to competing for a division, but it’s not going to be easy. You can’t count on the NL East being the dumpster fire that it was last season.

Even if they fail to re-sign Freddie Freeman, the Braves should still be the favorites to win the NL East in 2022. (All-Pro Reels)

It sounds like expanded playoffs could be on the way as early as next season. We can debate whether it’s good for the game or not, but no matter what, it should benefit the Phillies. The players association proposed an expanded playoff format with six teams in each league and divisional realignment. The league wants a seven-team playoff format with four wild card teams. The Phillies would have been the NL’s last playoff team in 2021 with the owners’ playoff format. If they can get in, anything could happen.

If the existing playoff structure is in place next season, the Phillies just have to play better. It’s that simple. At the end of last season, Ryan Howard spoke about his team’s mentality heading into 2007. At the time, the Phillies hadn’t been to the playoffs in 13 years.

“It’s just gotta be one of those things where it’s gotta be a bad taste in your mouth,” Howard said in September. “Ultimately, you just get to the point of saying, ‘I’m tired of not making it’and just decide that you’re going to make it. … you can have a group to where, again, it’s like you don’t make it. You look out and you say next year or in the offseason or as you get to spring training, ‘Like yo, we’re not letting what happened last year happen again this year.”

The Phillies have to adopt a similar mindset heading into next season.

What are the ethics of consuming team-sponsored content (say anything Phanatic related) during this owner-imposed lockout? – @ThomasMRobson via Twitter

I don’t think fans are crossing a picket line when they interact with a team account. Boycotting something like the Phanatic Yule Log is probably not the most effective way to voice your dissatisfaction with the owners’ actions if you share that opinion. Yes, you can cancel your season tickets or stop buying merchandise, but that hurts the players’ bottom line as well. If the lockout drives you to lose interest or withhold your money, I don’t blame you for feeling that way.

Since so much MLB content is league sponsored, it’s probably better to focus on the way you interact with that content as opposed to boycotting it all together. MLB Network and MLB.com are obviously owned by the league, so it’s not a good idea to rely on those two entities to give you a fair rundown on what’s going on in the current labor battle. Being aware of that is probably the best thing an informed baseball fan could do.

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