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.

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