Phils hitting coach Long hints at hard-hitting FA target


The Phillies' new hitting coach Kevin Long joined MLB Network's Hot Stove on Thursday, and he played right into the hands of a fanbase eager for free agency buzz.

Long hopped on the show to talk about a bunch of things, including Thursday night's MVP race, his spat last season with Joe Girardi, and more. The whole chat was great, especially him breaking down Juan Soto and Bryce Harper, two guys he's personally worked with.

But when the prospect of the Phillies pursuing a certain left fielder in free agency arose, Long hammed it up a bit for the cameras, and hinted at least a bit at one of the team's potential targets (h/t Phillies Nation's Destiny Lugardo for the catch):

Ha. Very subtle, Kevin!

And here's the full exchange, including Long giving Schwarber his full endorsement as a member of the Phillies organization:

"HEYMAN: I've kind of suggested Schwarber maybe for the Phillies, you have a clear opening in left field now and want another middle-of-the-order bat -

"LONG: *shushes the camera and laughs*

"HEYMAN: First of all, what did you do with Schwarber that got him to improve that much, and also do you think he might fit the Phillies?

"LONG: I do think he'd fit the Phillies. I'm a Kyle Schwarber fan, I think the world of this guy."

I appreciate the honesty here! No "Ah, I don't know, we'll see" or "We're just looking for the right guys", just straight-up admitting he likes the guy and thinks he'd be a good fit with the Phils. Wish more people with teams shot that straight.

This of course isn't some huge surprise, considering Long's history with Schwarber and the Phils' current roster construction, but it's still exciting to consider Schwarber taking over for Andrew McCutchen in left field. With the departure of McCutchen and center fielder Odubel Herrera, the makeover in the outfield alongside Harper is much-needed.

Earlier this week NBC Sports Philadelphia's Corey Seidman put together a list of potential outfield targets in free agency, and he made sure to include Schwarber:

"Schwarber had a career year ahead of free agency, establishing new highs in batting average, OBP and slugging percentage. He had that dominant run in June with 16 homers in 18 games for the Nationals, then reached base in 39 of his first 84 plate appearances with the Red Sox after a deadline deal.

"At 29, this is his chance for a big payday. There will be concerns about his ability to hold up defensively, though again, the market should be slightly larger than usual if the DH is in both leagues. 

"Schwarber would enjoy the confines of Citizens Bank Park. He isn't the overall hitter Castellanos is, and he doesn't possess the athleticism of Marte or Bryant, but he'd fit the Phillies from a slugging and plate selection standpoint."

While a guy like Nick Castellanos is at the top of my wish-list for this offseason, Schwarber would certainly be one heck of a consolation prize. Imagine trying to pitch around a lineup that has the power bats of Harper, Schwarber, and Hoskins littered throughout. After Hoskins' season-ending injury this year, and as J.T. Realmuto floundered at the plate down the stretch, opposing pitchers too often took advantage of a power-less Phillies lineup and simply pitched around Harper; over his last 25 games, Harper was walked 26 times in 106 plate appearances. Can't do that if you're afraid of the guys around him.

Schwarber would be a great fit with the current roster, he won't be the priciest outfielder available, and he's got connections to guys already in the clubhouse. Sounds like a good plan to me.

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