As we watched Christian Yelich put together an MVP-type season for the Milwaukee Brewers and then hit a two-run home run in the first game of his team's National League division series against Colorado on Thursday, it's impossible not to wonder if the Phillies could have had him.
The cash-strapped Miami Marlins traded Yelich to the Brewers for center fielder Lewis Brinson, 24; pitcher Jordan Yamamoto, 22; center fielder Monte Harrison, 23; and infielder Isan Diaz, 22. Of the four, only Brinson played in the big leagues this season after entering the year as Baseball America's No. 18 prospect. He was the only rookie with extended playing time who had a worse OPS than the Phillies' Scott Kingery.
Diaz and Harrison both struggled in the minors while Yamamoto posted a 1.83 ERA in 13 starts at three minor-league levels for the Marlins.
Could Phillies general manager Matt Klentak have offered a better package for Yelich? Probably. It might have cost him Kingery, J.P. Crawford, Adonis Medina, Franklyn Kilome and another minor leaguer to get the deal done. As we now know, it would have been worth it, but general managers never have the benefit of hindsight.
Yelich, a 26-year-old outfielder, will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2022 season.
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For the first time in baseball history, three teams from the same league won 100 games in the same season as the Boston Red Sox (108), Houston Astros (103) and New York Yankees (100) all reached triple-digit victory totals this year. Now, we have two incredible best-of-five ALDS series that start Friday with the Cleveland Indians, who led the American League with 102 wins last season, as the fourth team. We also have the renewal of baseball's most storied rivalry with the Red Sox taking on the Yankees.
Here's a quick look at the two series:
Yankees vs. Red Sox
This is the fifth time the teams have met in the postseason, and there have been plenty of classic confrontations, starting with Bucky Dent's 1978 home run in what was actually game No. 163 of the regular season. Regardless, it triggered a Yankees march to a second straight World Series title.
Current Yankees manager Aaron Boone's walkoff home run won Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS for New York, but Boston rebounded to become the first team to overcome a 3-0 postseason deficit to win the 2004 ALCS before sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals and ending their 86-year title drought.
The Red Sox won the regular-season series, 10-9, and the teams combined to score an average of 11.5 runs. Look for a lot more runs and long games in this series. I think the Yankees will pull the upset in five.
Indians vs. Astros
This is the first postseason meeting between the teams. The Astros won the season series, 4-3, and their 3.11 ERA was the lowest by an American League team in 37 years. The 1981 Yankees (2.90) were the last AL team to post a lower team ERA. I like the Astros in four games.
Columnist Mike Sielski took a closer look at Wednesday's exchange between Phillies manager Gabe Kapler and morning-show host Angelo Cataldi on WIP 94.1 FM radio. Sielski did an analysis piece, so I think Kapler is going to like it.
In case you missed it earlier in the week, Matt Breen did a terrific story on Rhys Hoskins' first full season and how he became the team leader.
With the Phillies season over, we're a little light in the rundown section, so this seems like a good time to offer you a link to the potential free agents who will be available shortly after the World Series. As you know, it's a good one and it includes a lot more than Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
Today: Baseball fans love this day. All four division series games are on the schedule.
Tomorrow: ALDS games with NYY at Boston at 8:15 p.m.
Sunday: NLDS games with Dodgers vs. Braves at 8:07 p.m.
Oct. 23: Game 1 of World Series.
On this date 10 years ago, the Phillies advanced to the National League championship series for the first time in 15 years by beating the Milwaukee Brewers, 6-2, at Miller Park in Game 4 of their NL division series. Joe Blanton allowed just one run on five hits and struck out seven to earn the victory. Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a home run off Jeff Suppan, and Pat Burrell homered twice.
In terms of free agents, did the Phillies try to sign JD Martinez? His price tag for this year and next seems to be less than the Phillies paid for Santana. Thank you.
Richard F., via email
Answer: I don't know if the Phillies tried to sign Martinez, but it's likely they at least kicked the tires. Martinez, 31, has obviously turned into one of baseball's premier power hitters and would have looked a lot better in the cleanup spot than Santana. That said, I don't know how much interest he would have had in the Phillies given that they were coming off a 66-win season. It's the same problem they could face with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado this offseason. Are the Phillies really an attractive team to an elite free agent? Or will they have to overpay to get one of the two best players?