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June 19, 2023

What they're saying: Harper and Stott aren't fans of the A's inevitable move to Vegas

The Athletics' forced moved out of Oakland and to Las Vegas isn't going to work, just ask Vegas natives Bryce Harper and Bryson Stott.

The calendar turned to June and the Phillies – and of course Kyle Schwarber – have been rolling ever since. 

They're 13-4 through the month so far, pulled off series wins against the NL West-stalwart Dodgers and first-place Diamondbacks, then completed a sweep of the lowly A's this past weekend to cap off a West Coast road trip. 

But in the middle of it was the realization that the Phillies more than likely played their last-ever set of games in Oakland. 

The Athletics' ownership, cutting costs at every single corner imaginable, is in the midst of an ugly divorce with the city and its fans and is all but certain to be moving the team to Las Vegas soon. 

It's a self-inflicted disaster on the part of the organization and A's owner John Fisher, and one that has been met with scorn by just about everyone in baseball, including the Phillie who is a Las Vegas native and one of the biggest stars in the game. 

Here's what they're saying...

Not this way

Bob Nightengale | USA Today Sports

Bryce Harper and Bryson Stott are both Vegas natives and neither of them are fans of the Athletics' pending move to their hometown. 

The A's are Oakland's team. Their history is there, their fans are there, and Harper and Stott just don't see how the A's could be readily accepted in Sin City, especially when the team is outright terrible, both now and for the foreseeable future. 

Said Harper (via USA Today baseball columnist Bob Nightengale):

“I feel sorry for the fans in Oakland. It’s just not right. They have so much history in Oakland. You’re taking a team out of a city. I’m pretty sad because of all of the history and all of the greatness they’ve seen there.

“I see the A’s as Oakland.

“I don’t see them as Vegas.’’ [USA Today]

And Stott:

“We would rather see an expansion team than a relocated team. That’s why fans are so crazy about the [the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights]. It’s Vegas’ first team. It’s ours. It was kind of easy for people to gravitate towards that. Vegas wasn’t a big hockey town. It is now.

“But baseball, you have people in town liking the Dodgers, and the Angels, and the Padres, and the Diamondbacks. It will take a few generations before they have a real fandom in baseball. I’m sure they’ll sell tickets for visiting fans, which is probably all they care about.’’ [USA Today]

'Bryce is right'

Scott Lauber | The Philadelphia Inquirer

Harper's words caught on with A's fans – who have been fighting tooth and nail in what's becoming one last act of defiance – soon after and was surprised to find them in support of him when he emerged from the dugout for the remainder of the series. 

That doesn't happen often on the road, or at all in his case, and probably won't ever again since the next time the Phillies face the A's, it won't be in Oakland.

Wrote Scott Lauber of the scene:

Bryce Harper gets booed on the road as much as any player in baseball. It isn’t only in Washington or New York, either. Some of the worst invective comes in San Francisco. After a decade of jeers, he has come to expect it.

Imagine Harper’s surprise, then, to find a fan club in Oakland.

“They had a sign out there in right field that said, ‘Bryce is right,’” he said, laughing Sunday before the Phillies wrapped up a three-game series against the Athletics. “I thought that was funny.”


When the Phillies next play the A’s on the road in 2025, the games will almost certainly be in Vegas.

“It’s crazy to think this will be the last time when we come back to Oakland and play,” said Harper, out of the lineup Sunday because the Phillies wanted to give him back-to-back days off before the Braves and Mets visit Citizens Bank Park this week. “But what are you going to do?” [The Inquirer]

Is the fifth that big a deal?

Destiny Lugardo | Phillies Nation

The Phillies have a fifth-starter problem in that they don't have one. Every fifth day has been sketchy and problems with the rest of the rotation only made it all look worse (though 1-4 do seem to be turning a serious corner now). 

We covered here already what the Phillies' options could be if they choose to eventually go shopping, but Destiny Lugardo has a counterpoint: Maybe the Phillies don't have to do anything about this at all:

Consider this. The Phillies are fifth in baseball with 35 starts of at least six innings or more from their rotation. They are in the bottom three of the sport when it comes to the number of relief outings of at least an inning and a third at 41. The top six, the Rockies, A’s, Reds, Tigers, Yankees and Cardinals, are all pitching-starved teams. That tells you that the Phillies aren’t scrambling to get through nine innings every night the way other clubs are.


The Phillies are giving Cristopher Sánchez a chance to lock down a rotation spot. His four innings of shutout ball against the A’s was a promising beginning. In reality, all the Phillies need is for Sánchez to be a reliable “bulk boy.” If Sánchez can give the Phillies three or four really good innings every fifth day and turn it over to one of the best bullpens in the majors, he can stick. If not, the Phillies have other potential bulk boys on the 40-man roster. Nick Nelson, who has already dealt with two injuries this year, is probably next in line for an opportunity if Sánchez falters.

This is just a long way of saying that the Phillies have a perfectly fine plan to get through day five in the rotation right now and concerns surrounding the No. 5 spot are way overblown. Fifth starter is far from the Phillies’ biggest need at the trade deadline and I can even go as far to say that the Phillies may be better off with not even bothering to trade for a back-end starter. [Phillies Nation]

Trust the process

Matt Gelb | The Athletic ($)

And there's probably trust throughout the organization that things we'll sort themselves out, not just with the fifth-starter spot, but at any position that's struggling. 

There's belief in how good this team is, and if the past couple of weeks have proved anything, they just need time. 

Look no further than Seranthony Domínguez, who hasn't been as dominant out of the bullpen so far compared to last season and struggled Wednesday against Arizona, yet was right back in there the next day, still fully trusted to preserve a lead.

Wrote Matt Gelb:

Domínguez is a symbol of the Phillies in their current form. He’s had success this season, but it hasn’t felt the same. He has not been at his most dominant. But, inside the Phillies clubhouse, everyone has maintained that with time things should start to look as expected.

No, Domínguez hasn’t looked the same as he did in 2022. But, give him another chance, like Thomson did Thursday, and he’ll earn the trust back. The Phillies, as a whole, are chipping away.

“We’re too good of a baseball team to stay below .500 for too long,” catcher J.T. Realmuto said. “We’re playing really good baseball right now. But we still have our best baseball ahead of us.” [The Athletic, $]

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