Monday, July 23, 2012

7/24 Brief: Hamels, July

Sign Hamels or trade him I'd say. He'll give us a fair shot but I don't think he'll sign with us in free agency. Draft picks are not enough for this old team.

Polly: unless he has a .272/.294/.430 line, buy out his contract. Younger is better... despite few solutions in the minors or on the market. Galvis??? Overbeck???

July: needed to avoid loosing streaks. This month post-ASG was still slightly better than June. NOT ENOUGH TO BUY.

Injuries: Schneider to rehab with Class A Clearwater, Nix Acitvated, Polly's back flared up.

Tyson Gillies: put him on waivers, take him off the 40-man.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Trade Deadline Thoughts - 7/19/12

Shane Victorino. Yes, he had a good road trip. More importantly, he has been much too worried about his contract all year. He'll command about nine to twelve million per year instead of 12-18 million because of his down year. My call: I'm leaning toward trading once Nix returns (COMING SOON!) and we see if Mayberry and Pridie can platoon in center. However, he's worth keeping on an arbitration-only deal as we develop players, including Brown. Next year, Manuel might try a platoon of Brown and Mayberry in center and left field along with Nix who signed a two-year deal last offseason. Speaking of Nix, he is close to returning.

Hunter Pence. Easy call: you keep him. Why? We got rid of FOUR good prospects to get him and he is under arbitration for another year. He had a stellar road trip: two clutch, two-run singles with the bases loaded. That's what he failed to do in the first half of the season, especially before Utley came back. You cannot trade a guy that quickly and he's a great piece to have in the five & six spot the rest of the year.

Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick. Joe's owed $3.6MM the rest of the year. KK's owed about $4MM this year and next. I'd say give a spot start or two to Cloyd (HE IS READY!), and if he passes, trade one of these guys for a prospect. You can add Victorino to the mix and get three prospects. This trade would function to make the team younger and it might free-up about $3MM in salary cap space. Heck, the plan is to say bye to Joe this winter, so why not get prospects and give Cloyd a shot?

Cliff Lee. Here's a challenge. Send him back to Texas? No way, but if you can get Mike Olt as part of a major package, the least the Phils should do is listen. Ultimately, Im against it, but I consider (1) the age - Lee is 34 and Hamels is 28 - and (2) that Halladay is 35 and just finished a seven-week stint on the DL. Hamels would be 34 or 35 when his deal is up. I wouldn't be too happy, but if you are able to sign Hamels right now and get Olt, then the Phillies should consider it.

Cole Hamels. Catch-22: Are you able to resign him in the off-season? Predict the future and make the right call, Ruben and you'd be a hero. This is touchy. My call: keep and resign is more likely but I'd like to get some more out of it than two extra picks in the first two days. If you extend him, it;s over. If not, begin negotiating for a large package and get the deal done by 7/27. A large package is probable.

Forgot Rollins and Polly. Not sure there.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Derby Recap

Congrats to Prince Fielder for winning the competition; he becomes the first player to win for both leagues but is the second player (Griffey Jr) to win it multiple times. I also congratulate the fans for their uninspiring display of hometown loyalty... you took it way too far. Cano deserved better. Classless of KC - just because Butler wasn't invited despite Cano's promise to include a Royal. The players he chose were the top three hitters in the competition. We all remember Prince Fielder getting booed last year for not including hometown Diamondback Justin Upton, but the fans were more friendly in Phoenix than here in KC.

Poll Question: should there now be a forced hometown participant?

Game Recap

The National League shut-out the American League 8-0 thanks to contributions from the San Fransisco Giants' All-Stars. The MVP is Melkey Cabrera, responsible for the first run & a homer later on. Pablo Sandoval broke open the scoring early with a first-inning bases-clearing triple. Both players are Giants. The Phillies All-Stars - Carlos Ruiz, Cole Hamels, and J. Papelbon - participated in the second half of the game. Chooch and Dickey came in as defensive replacements in the 6th inning; Hamels threw a 1-2-3 seventh; and Papelbon recorded the final out, stranding a runner at third in the process.

Next Year: Citi Field - New York Mets' home.

All-Star Voting Proposal

Because the fans voted for Buster Posey instead of Carlos Ruiz, Matt Cain started the All-Star game and R.A. Dickey had to come into the game in the sixth inning along with Chooch. At third base, despite a big hit by Pablo Sandoval, I still think that Mets 3B David Wright deserved the nod. Yes, the Giants came through, but I still feel that many were short-changed. Some changes are necessary to the fan vote… a panel of experts (now referred to as the “selection committee”) should select players and decide whether the fans’ selection deserves to start. Other changes are necessary as well, so let’s dive into my proposed changes to the game.

The fan vote now includes pitchers. The committee must have a 60% majority 27 votes) to change the fans’ selection of hitters from “starter” to “bench player.” The starting catcher will be decided by the manager. The final roster spot doesn’t change but hitters and pitchers are among the choices.

The player vote and managerial selections do not change but all divisions must be represented in the manager’s choices. The selection committee picks alternates and the NL DH. The battery and batting order are decided by the manager. All teams should be represented but one team can be left off the selection show roster. That team must be represented next year if their player is not on the final roster.

Due to the committee needing time to make the roster, the voting would end one week earlier.

Phillies Mid-season Report:

First-Half Grades:

  • Offense: After mid-April, they scored over four RPG on average, despite having year-round problems with bringing home RISP. Most of the players have been either hot year-round (Chooch, Fontenot, & Pierre) or on a recent surge (Mayberry, Rollins, Pence, Polanco, etc.). Victorino is quite a notable exception and is likely to be traded. The return of Utley and Howard had no effect due to quicksand but they can now "start anew." Nix is set to return by this weekend. Perhaps Rube can address the age of these guys on the trade market. GRADE: B-
  • Defense: It was shaky at times, especially after Galvis went down. Pence, Pierre, and Wigginton noticeably struggled. During their recent dominance in the NL East, the defense has been a strong suit. Not so much this year, but it has improved over the past two months. Due to the aforementioned standard they set and that some of the errors led to a few losses, I have to be harsh despite improvements. GRADE: C+
  • Rotation: A sub-par 3.32 ERA through May 27, when Halladay went down and a 4.72 ERA since. Lee had no wins in April, May or June despite pitching well in the first trimester. Blanton started strong but fell victim to the long ball. Kendrick struggled - he excelled in the spot-start/ long-man role last year and got a contract extension because of it. Lee and Worley also missed significant time. They blew leads. The rotation was supposed to be our crutch, helping us to stay at .500 until Howard and Utley got back. I guess the pressure got to them. At least Hamels stepped-up but he may not be here for much longer - more below.  I consider an inevitable regression (102 wins non-repeatable) but still, this is bad. Maybe it's time to call up Tyler Cloyd? GRADE: C-
  • Bullpen: The players had their good days, but bad days dominated: personnel changed numerous times but the bullpen blew 30+ leads or ties. Deikman, Papelbon, and Schwimmer were the most consistent bright spots. The righties (Herndon, De Fratus  & Contreras) were injured. Qualls did well in his first few appearances, derailed, and rarely had a good outing. Yes, after Halladay went down, the bullpen had more work, but they failed even when they pitched the fewest innings. Now for the grade: I take Charlie's poor decision-making, the inevitable regression, and injuries into account but the 'pen is the biggest reason why we've lost so many.... Now, it is up to Rube to find a reliable veteran to stabilize the relief core. GRADE: D
  • Overall Grade: Injuries can only go so far in explaining the first half. They were capable of having a winning record. Nothing clicked. After May 27th when Halladay went down, they certainly "f[ou]nd ways to loose." Perhaps a coaching staff change and calling up some prospects will make a difference? GRADE: D-/F+

Second-Half Outlook:

They are capable of a comeback. Under Manuel, the Phillies have had excellent second-half records. Don't set your sights too high: they are 14 back in their division and ten games behind Atlanta for the 2nd Wild Card spot. They need to win every series from here on to even contend for a playoff berth. Yes - just last year, the Cardinals and Rays came back to win the wild card. And Philadelphia fans cannot forget the 2007 and 2010 Phillies teams. Keep in mind that those four teams had winning records in August and also that historic collapses are rare. There is, however, plenty of time. I am more confident of 79-83 wins this year than 86-92 wins.

As for trading, we need a hitter and reliever. We have trade bait other than Hamels: Victorino, Blanton and Pence are names; heck, Rollins recently surfaced. We should begin to let some prospects loose. Tyler Cloyd (12-1, 6.1 IP/ start, 1.93 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 6.32 K/9, and a .210 BAA in 19 starts (four with Reading) should be granted his first career start. Brown had a recent surge when discovering center field and the knee injury didn't stop his bat or glove: he had an outfield assist and reached base twice in four PA's yesterday. Nix's return within the week should help and De Fratus is less than a month from returning to game action.

Things can only get better from here.


He'll receive an offer worth about $120MM over six years. If he doesn't sign the extension, he'll give every team (including the Phils) a fair shake in free agency this winter even if he's traded. I'd offer him a five-year, $120-130MM, middle-loaded deal with a $24MM vesting option for 2018. If unable to sign, I'd say trade him for a decent package, but you have a better chance of resigning him if he's here all year: CATCH-22.

Rockies Series: 8:40 PM in Colorado. Lee is pitching. Hamels and Worley will pitch in games two & three.

Injury Report:

Halladay (right lat. dorsi strain) & Nix (calf injury) played in Clearwater today. Halladay went three innings (3 H, 4 K, 1 R (unearned)) and Nix went 1-3 with a walk as the DH. For details on the rehab of De Fratus (elbow), Brown (knee) and Gillies (concussion), see this article. Schneider (ankle sprain) will play soon.

Out for Season: Stutes (shoulder surgery), Herndon (Tommy John surgery), and Contreras (TJ surgery & flexor tendon tear).

I am done updating this entry (11:42 PM 17 July). My next entry will be early next week - perhaps they went 4-2 or 5-1 on the road trip and swept the Giants, which will be a good start. Enjoy the games!

Monday, July 2, 2012

All-Star News, Trades & Rumors, Injury Report - 7/2/12

I thought I'd update you on Phillies news since there's a lot to cover. We'll discuss the All-Star game, trades and rumors, and an injury update key players. The Phillies are off today and have six games to play before the All-Star Game: three at NY Mets and three against the Braves. They have a 36-45 record (nine games under .500) - in last place in the NL East (11.0 games behind the Nats) - and have six teams ahead of them in the race for the second wild card spot. AND Cliff Lee is still win-less - mostly due to his recent struggles.

I suggest reading this article by's David Schoenfield for an analysis of the Phillies' current situation.

All-Star Roster:
  • Catcher Carlos Ruiz, who leads the NL and majors with a batting average above .350, will be the back-up to starting catcher Buster Posey. This is his first selection. #VOTE4CHOOCH didn't work, but at least he's on the roster.
  • Cole Hamels' ten wins (one of only a few to have double-digit wins) earns him his third selection. He made the roster last year but could not participate due to starting the Sunday before the dance. He has a 10-4 record in 16 starts, throwing 111.0 innings; his ERA is just above 3.00, He has a 1.10 WHIP and strikes out 8.5 batters per 9.0 innings pitched.
  • Jonathan Papelbon only blew one save in 30 games (29.2 innings). He is 2-2 with 18 saves, an ERA & WHIP similar to Hamels, along with a 1.25 strikeout per inning rate. Most of his struggles have been during non-save situations. This is his fifth career selection, but his first representing an NL-team.

All-Star Final Vote

  • The Phillies have sent PH-DH Jim Thome to Baltimore for two single-A prospects. They also traded RHR Chad Qualls to the Yankees for a prospect or cash considerations.
  • According to ESPN, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. is calling teams about trading Cole Hamels for a package of prospects. While the Phillies are not sellers yet, they are exploring all their options. Hamels will become a free-agent after this season, possibly earning $120 million over five years or $135-140 million over six years, not including an option year and bonuses.

Injury Updates:
  • Second-baseman Chase Utley (knee issues) has returned in epic fashion, hitting a homer in his first at-bat and going 3 for 5 overall in his season debut. It will take him until the end of July to be able to play everyday. He will need regular rest during the season. Freddy Galvis (pars fracture of lower back, suspension) will likely play third base during his rehab to prepare him for the utility role currently occupied by Mike Fontenot.
  • Ironpigs OF Domonic Brown (knee sprain) will return to action sometime this week. He is playing mostly in left field but has recently played a few games in center. The renewed confidence in his newly-found fielding depth has transposed well to his bat, as I posted before. Note: Shane Victorino is a free agent following the season, which could pave the way for a Mayberry-Brown-Pence outfield in 2013.
  • First-baseman Ryan Howard (Achilles surgery/ infection) is rehabbing in the minors, starting with Lakewood, where his 29 jersey is retired. He has until the off day on July 19th to return.
  • RHS Roy Halladay (shoulder/ upper back strain) is interchanging bullpen sessions with throwing off a mound. He eyes a return within ten days of the All-Star break. A rehab start is likely.

We can only hope the current situation gets better. There is good news: our key players are starting to return. At this point, the Phillies need to win every series during the second half to even have a chance at a playoff berth. But it could be done: the Mets collapse in 2007 and last year's simultaneous collapse of the Red Sox & Braves are proof that anything can happen over the course of a 162-game schedule. There is still a chance. Thanks to David Schoenfield for the use of his article on some of the points I made today.