CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies leadership has been consistently upbeat about the team's chances to surprise in 2018.Manager Gabe Kapler said Tuesday he thinks the Phillies can "shock people." General manager Matt Klentak said Thursday that the Phillies taking an unexpected jump into postseason contention is "no longer a pipe dream."
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies leadership has been consistently upbeat about the team's chances to surprise in 2018.
Manager Gabe Kapler said Tuesday he thinks the Phillies can "shock people." General manager Matt Klentak said Thursday that the Phillies taking an unexpected jump into postseason contention is "no longer a pipe dream." Team president Andy MacPhail's statements weren't as rose-colored on Friday morning at Spectrum Field, but he said he is "excited" about his team and "satisfied" with where the organization is headed.
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But don't the Phillies need a starting pitcher?
Hey, Jacob Arrieta is available.
"It's our job to stay on top of that and see what makes sense," MacPhail said. "That's really the critical element, isn't it? When and where. I don't think anybody questions or should question the commitment ownership has shown with the payrolls it has had. … The mistake people make is that this isn't the only chance you'll have to improve your team. There are opportunities that are always evolving."
In other words, if the Phillies play well enough, they can always acquire a starter in July.
MacPhail discussed numerous topics in a 25-minute session with reporters. He made a point to mention that while the Phillies have not invested millions into their 25-man roster payroll, they have invested millions in other areas.
The Phillies have 16 people working in their analytics department, including interns. They hired 17 full-time international scouts, giving them a presence in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Mexico and Australia. They also added four professional and amateur scouts in the United States.
"It's not just getting on the cutting edge of analytics, it's also about doing the traditional things well," MacPhail said.
The Phillies also hired 24 people in player development.
"There is nobody in baseball that has more Minor League affiliations than we do," MacPhail said.
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MacPhail said Phillies ownership is investing $110 million over the next two years to renovate and upgrade Citizens Bank Park. Fans might have noticed large cranes installing LED lights a couple months ago, but there will also be upgraded security features and a new public-address system. In terms of the fan experience, Philly has made no announcements, but it has filed permits with the city for a new kids' activity area, which is expected to include a Wiffle ball field, new concessions and a relocated Wall of Fame.
The Phillies will have a state-of-the-art meeting room for hitters and pitchers in the home clubhouse. Players and coaches previously held pregame meetings in the weight room.
"It always used to annoy me to no end when a team would come in, and we would have to go over their starting pitchers and we'd have to adjourn to the weight room with a piece of paper," MacPhail said. "That's not the way it should be done today."
Considerable renovations also are planned for Spectrum Field and Carpenter Complex, the Phillies' Spring Training facilities.
But in the end, everybody knows that the product on the field at Citizens Bank Park is most important. If the team wins, the ballpark is filled -- season-ticket sales are expected to be the same (9,700) or slightly better than 2017 -- and everybody is happy.
MacPhail said again that when the front office decides it's time to make a bold move, ownership will give the green light.
"I've only been here 2 1/2 years, but I can't imagine a scenario where they don't say, 'Go for it,'" MacPhail said.
But not now. Not yet.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.