Angelo Cataldi knows nothing about the Phillies, don’t let him fool you

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 22: Members of the Philadelphia Phillies line up for the national anthem before the start of game two of a doubleheader against the San Diego Padres at Citizens Bank Park on July 22, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 22: Members of the Philadelphia Phillies line up for the national anthem before the start of game two of a doubleheader against the San Diego Padres at Citizens Bank Park on July 22, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

With his latest Philly Voice article, Philadelphia sports radio host Angelo Cataldi has proven he knows nothing about the Phillies.

If you live in Philadelphia, you know of Angelo Cataldi. His morning radio show on 94 WIP is extremely popular. I’ll often find myself listening to it on my morning drive to work every day. He is the epitome of Philadelphia sports fan stereotypes: loud, outspoken, reactionary, and for better or worse, “passionate”, whatever that means. However, his recent comments about the Phillies have gone beyond reactionary to simply irrational.

Cataldi published an article on Philly Voice Monday that echoes many of the things he has said on his morning show. In it, he criticizes the team, especially general manager Matt Klentak, for failing to acquire Manny Machado at the deadline, saying they simply weren’t aggressive enough.

What Cataldi says in this post sounds exactly like someone who has only paid attention to the team this season. Oh wait, he has. Up until this year, they were on the backburner for Cataldi – and Philly sports radio in general – as they were not winning many games. Now that they are, he is back on the bandwagon and ready to complain.

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Cataldi blames Philadelphia’s inability to acquire Machado on the fact that they wouldn’t deal top prospect, Sixto Sanchez. This is his in-depth evaluation of Sanchez:

"Turning 20 later this week, Sanchez is the prize of the Phillies farm system, a kid who can touch 100 miles per hour on the radar gun – and isn’t that all that matters in the analytics-obsessed Phillies organization these days?Sanchez is still in A-ball, at least three years away from earning a promotion to Philadelphia. Do you want to know how many kids like Sanchez never make it all the way to the big leagues? I’ll end the suspense right now. Almost all of them. The fact that Sanchez is striking out less than one batter an inning in A ball, despite his stuff, is the first warning sign."

I just want to break this down point by point. Yes, Sanchez can throw 100 mph. So can plenty of other minor-leaguers. What separates him from the rest of the pack is the fact that he can command his fastball at that speed and has tremendous secondary stuff to go along with it. The front office doesn’t like him only because he throws hard – it’s because he has the upside of a top-end starter, has drawn comparisons to Jose Fernandez and Pedro Martinez, and ranks among the best of the best prospects in all of baseball. You don’t have to be an analytics nut to realize what kind of potential this is.

Cataldi also says Sanchez is such a risk because he is still in High-A. If he was a few years into his 20s, I would buy this argument. But Sanchez still has not turned 20 – which Cataldi mentions – and is playing against players who are on average four years older than him. If Sanchez was on Clearwater’s opening day roster – he was held out as a precaution – he would have been the fourth-youngest player in the Florida State League. If it weren’t for elbow inflammation holding him out since June, Sanchez would almost certainly be in Double-A Reading by now. Any player who is this high on the minor-league ladder usually is a pretty darn good one.

Cataldi then cites Sanchez’s strikeout rate, saying that he can’t strike out more than one batter an inning – he has struck out 8.68 per nine, to be exact – means he’s bound to be a bust. Let’s not mention the fact that Sanchez is walking just 5.9 percent of opposing hitters. Or his 2.51 ERA. Or his 2.64 fielding-independent pitching. You get the idea.

Going a step further, Cataldi says the Phillies are horrible at evaluating prospect talent because he has already labeled Mickey Moniak, who turned 20 in May, an utter failure. Cataldi also blames Moniak, who was 18 when he was drafted two years ago, for only being in High-A, playing against guys almost two and a half years older than him. He was the fourth-youngest player in the FSL to start the season. The fact that a kid drafted out of high school two years ago isn’t knocking on the door of the major leagues must imply he is a bust right?

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Philadelphia Phillies /

Philadelphia Phillies

Cataldi cites Moniak’s season batting average of .248 and on-base percentage of .280 as a further indictment of his abilities. All he had to do was click on the Fangraphs or game log and he could see how much better Moniak has been as of late. Since May 25, Moniak has a .285/.333/.460 line with four home runs, 25 runs batted in, and a weighted runs created plus of (wRC+) 125. Considering how pitcher-friendly the FSL is, these numbers are quite strong.

I will admit Moniak’s performance so far in the minors has been less than an ideal. But to label him a bust at just 20 years old, especially considering his recent turnaround, is just trying to be a hot take artist for the heck of it.

While Cataldi recognizes the team’s recent success, he states that the main pieces were already here by the time Klentak joined the team. He was hired in 2015 after the team posted the league-worst record. His first draft was in 2016, and his first meaningful offseason was last year. It’s not Klentak’s fault that baseball players don’t rise to the majors and become impact players in two year’s time. It is simply too early to say that the core won’t contain any pieces acquired during Klentak’s tenure.

Cataldi roped in president Andy MacPhail with Klentak in the criticism that everyone on the team was here before their regime took over. Does he not remember that MacPhail was hired as president in June of 2015, before that year’s trade deadline? That year, the team made two trades that brought players who are now on the roster into the organization: Cole Hamels to the Rangers for Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro, Jerad Eickhoff, and Jake Thompson, and Jonathan Papelbon to the Nationals for Nick Pivetta. While Ruben Amaro, Jr. was still general manager, MacPhail was still in the fold helping to make these deals.

To round out his article, Cataldi compares the Phillies to the Dodgers and Yankees, saying they did/would go all-out to acquire Machado. Looking at the Dodgers first, their World Series window is now, and Machado helps them now. They are missing an elite talent in Corey Seager and needed to replace his production with an equal-level talent, i.e. Machado. They are easy favorites to win the National League with Machado on board, while the Phillies still wouldn’t be even if they acquired him. If the Dodgers win the World Series, no one will care which top prospect they gave up.

Even if the Phillies managed to make the World Series, with or without Machado, they would likely have to face one of three juggernauts in the American League: the reigning champion Astros, the 71-31 Red Sox, or the star-studded Yankees. The ALCS this year will likely be the real World Series. Then, losing Sanchez will sting even more, especially if Machado walked in free agency.

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Moving onto the Yankees comparison, Cataldi says that Klentak is “no Brian Cashman” and that he would be ripped by George Steinbrenner for not offering up all of his top prospects for a star like Machado. Except that’s exactly what Cashman did. Virtually of the Yankees’ best prospects were untouchable in a potential Machado deal, leaving them out of the race early. They didn’t have to give up top prospects in their blockbuster acquisitions of Giancarlo Stanton and Aroldis Chapman either, with the Marlins selling for pennies on the dollar and the Reds looking to shed the PR disaster of Chapman during the 2015-16 offseason.

When the Phillies were in the doldrums of the early 2000s, did they trade away their young core players like Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins to improve the team in the short-term? No, they didn’t, and we all know what happened from there.

Cataldi’s ramblings are indicative of a fan who has not followed the team closely since the end of the Rollins-Utley-Ryan Howard era and wants them to win games now, long-term success be damned. The front office has a plan in place to sustain success for 2019, 2020, and beyond, even if it means not going for it all at the first hint of the playoffs. You would think the most popular sports radio personality in the city would understand this, but we are talking about the man who wanted to punch Charlie Manuel in the face.

Next: Phillies trade rumors: Latest rumblings leading up to the deadline

With the other success of Philadelphia teams, it’s understandable to want to see the Phillies win it all too. But that success took years of building, and that building still needs to happen on the baseball field this year. Failure to recognize that need is a clear indicator that Cataldi simply knows nothing about this baseball team.