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Off-season league notes: Astudillo, Herrera staying hot

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, December 22, 2014 07:30 AM Comments: 1

Baseball goes year-round.  All over the globe, Phillies players are in action and we’ve got the rundown on how they are performing.  Read ahead for all the details.

Venezuelan Winter League-

Willians Astudillo, image- Jay Floyd

Willians Astudillo, a corner infielder and backstop who has been playing a lot of outfield of late, is batting .314 with a homer and four RBI in nine games for Anzoategui. The 23-year-old was the catalyst for the Class A Lakewood team this year, where he finished second in the South Atlantic League with a .333 average.

Odubel Herrera, who was selected by the Phillies in this month’s Rule 5 draft, leads the Venezuelan Winter League in average with a .373 mark.  He has also mashed five homers, driven in 25 runs and stolen seven bases in 52 games for La Guaira.  The 22-year-old played second base primarily in the regular season at Double-A Frisco, but has been playing center field in the VWL.

Infielder/outfielder Cesar Hernandez is batting .307 with seven doubles, 15 RBI and six stolen bases in 34 games with Lara. In 66 games with the big league Phillies this year, the 24-year-old switch-hitter batted .237 with a homer, four RBI and a steal.

Catcher Gabriel Lino is batting .227 with six doubles and seven RBI for Lara. The 21-year-old righty batter, who was acquired from Baltimore in the 2012 Jim Thome trade, played in 90 combined games with Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater this year, posting a combined .215 average with five home runs and 34 RBI. Continue reading Off-season league notes: Astudillo, Herrera staying hot

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Rumor: Padres Have Explored Trade for Hamels

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Sun, December 21, 2014 05:29 PM Comments: 10

I apologize for this Hot Stove item in advance as it doesn’t seem there are a whole lot of legs to it right now. Or does it? If the reporter is good (he is), I’ll bite.

Ryan Lawrence of Philly.com is reporting that the San Diego Padres have had discussions about trading for Cole Hamels “according to a baseball source” with newly acquired outfielder Wil Myers as the centerpiece of the deal. What is unclear is whether the discussions were internal or included the Phillies and what members of the Padres’ organization had them. Lawrence notes that the Padres are a team that Hamels can be traded to without his consent and that one week ago, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported that the Padres were one of the teams interested in acquiring Hamels.

The pieces do fit together to make a trade work, on the surface. The Padres, who have swung deals for a starting catcher, third basemen, and have at least six Major League starting outfielders after acquiring Matt Kemp, Myers, and Justin Upton within last week. Myers fits the bill with what the Phillies are looking for: he is under team control through 2019 and was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2013 but is recovering from a wrist injury. And despite swinging so many trades in the last seven to ten days, the Padres still have a number of prospects available to compliment a deal for Hamels. Hamels has become more appealing in recent days in large part due to the rising price tags of Max Scherzer and James Shields, the latter who requested a five year deal in the $110 million range, not coincidentally the identical amount Hamels has remaining on his contract if his options vest.

We will continue to keep an eye on this one.

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Phillies Top 10 Free Agent Signings: #9 Del Unser

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Sun, December 21, 2014 12:01 PM Comments: 1

Photo: OOTP Developments

Photo: OOTP Developments

The 1968 NL Rookie of the Year voting was dead heat between two very deserving candidates. Catcher Johnny Bench would hit .275 and slug 15 homers en route to securing 10.5 first place votes to edge out Mets’ southpaw, and future Phillie, Jerry Koosman who went 19-12 with a 2.08 ERA for the prestigious award. Bench, of course, would be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame while Koosman would become the answer to a trivia question (who does Nolan Ryan share his rookie card with?) despite being a multiple-time All-Star and winner of 222 Major League games.

The American League race for Rookie of the Year in 1968 was, well, not as exhilarating. Yankees’ hurler Stan Bahnsen ran away with ROY voting in a pretty weak class. Reggie Jackson, who by today’s rules would have still been an eligible rookie, hit 29 homers with 14 steals but was not eligible for the award. Second place fell to center fielder Del Unser of the Washington Senators who hit .230 with one homer and 11 steals.

Unser was drafted three times before signing with Washington in June 1966 and reached the Majors by Opening Day 1968. Unser would patrol center field for the Sens before being traded in a massive, eight player deal in December 1971 to Cleveland. Unser would be dealt to Philadelphia in November 1972 in a deal that  involved Oscar Gamble going to Cleveland in return. Unser was a solid player during his first stint in Philadelphia, hitting .276/.345/.413 with 22 homers in from 1973 to 1974, grading out as the seventh-most valuable center fielder in the National League per fWAR. Before returning to Philadelphia in March 1979, Unser would be dealt twice more, first to the New York Mets as part of the Tug McGraw trade and then to Montreal in a deal that netted the Mets some of the best sideburns in baseball history on the face of Pepe Mangual. Continue reading Phillies Top 10 Free Agent Signings: #9 Del Unser

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Report: Phillies Frontrunners for Korean SS Kang

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Sun, December 21, 2014 01:47 AM Comments: 11

Kang

If you were to believe the rumor mill, the Phillies did an awful lot of due diligence looking at different players to fill their wide open whole at short. Deep into the night, the rumor mill continues to churn and it continues to involve filling the shortstop position.

This rumor is out of left field and has a bit more sizzle than rumors linking the Phillies to Rafael Furcal. Chris Cotillo of SB Nation is reporting that the Phillies are considered frontrunners for Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang. While that part is speculation, although there is interesting headcount we will get to later, there is a bit of substance to go along with the report: Kang’s team, the Nexen Heroes, have accepted a $5 million posting fee from a MYSTERY TEAM (emphasis mine) for the rights to negotiate with him. If Kang goes unsigned, he returns to Korea and the posting fee is returned to the winning team.

Cotillo notes that his sources indicate the Phillies and Nationals are the two frontrunners for Kang while other sources have indicated that 11 teams (Mets, Orioles, Padres, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Yankees, Braves, Giants, A’s, Twins, and Rays) either did not bid or have dropped out of bidding. Kang, 27, hit 40 homers last year with a 1.198 OPS in the KBO, a noted hitter’s league, however Jeff Todd and Brad Johnson of MLB Trade Rumors indicate that those numbers still compare very favorably against league average.

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Phillies Linked to Cabrera, Furcal at Short

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Sat, December 20, 2014 04:13 PM Comments: 7

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN is reporting that the Phillies could become a player for shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera if they are able to clear payroll. Cabrera was an All-Star in 2011 and 2012 with Cleveland where he played from 2007 through mid-2014 when he was dealt to Washington. Cabrera, 29, is a career .268/.330/.409 hitter who has hit .242 and .241 in 2013 and 2014 respectively after appearing to be one of the most promising shortstops in baseball.

Late last night, Crasnick reported that the Phillies may be interested in Rafael Furcal. Furcal, an All Star in 2003, 2010, and 2012, will enter his age 37 season in 2015 and played in just nine games with the Marlins in 2014 after missing the entire 2013 campaign.

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Phillies Top 10 Free Agent Signings: #10 Jay Johnstone

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Sat, December 20, 2014 02:25 PM Comments: 0

With free agent movement hot and heavy throughout MLB, and the Phillies seemingly nowhere to be found, we present the Top 10 Free Agent Signings in Phillies History.

Jay Johnstone made his Major League debut at age 20 with the California Angles on July 30, 1966, singling off of All-Star Gary Bell and scoring the game’s tying run. Johnstone would finish the year as a starting outfielder for the squad, mostly in right and then left, before finally becoming a full-time starter in 1969. Trades to the White Sox in 1971 and then the A’s in 1973 proved detrimental to the rising star and by age 27, Johnstone was seemingly almost out of the Majors despite hitting .347/.424/.562 for the Triple-A Tuscon Toros.

After the A’s won World Series ring with the A’s in 1973, Johnstone was purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals in January 1974 before being released in late March of the same year before camp broke. Johnstone signed with the Phillies on April 3 and became one of the squad’s most dangerous hitters. Whether it was off the bench or in the starting line-up, johnstone made an impact. Johnstone would hit .303/.368/.455 for the Phillies from 1974 through 1978 and .778/.800/1.111 against the Reds in the 1976 NLCS, one of the few standout offensive players in that series. Johnstone was traded to the Yankees on June 14, 1978 for reliever Rawly Eastwick. Johnstone was not on the A’s roster for their World Series win in 1973 but would win two World Series of his own, one in 1978 with the Yankees and another in 1981 with the Dodgers, before retiring after the 1985 season, his twentieth.

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Amaro Told Howard Org. Would Be Better Without Him

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Sat, December 20, 2014 02:06 PM Comments: 15

In refreshing, but cold-blooded, honesty, Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. reportedly told Ryan Howard that the organization would be better off  in 2015 without the first baseman. Amaro’s exact quote comes courtesy of 97.5 the Fanatic’s Matt Lombardo in a piece written for NJ.com:

I told [Howard] that in our situation it would probably bode better for the organization not with him but without himWith that said, if he’s with us, then we’ll work around him. We’ll hope he puts up the kind of numbers that we hope he can and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

Howard still has two years and $25 million per year left on his deal plus a minimum of $10 million in buyout money for the 2017 season, putting the minimum remaining cost for his services around $60 million for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Among the 31 first baseman who received 400 or more plate appearances in 2014, Howard ranked 25th in batting average, 25th in on-base percentage, and 25th in slugging. Howard’s 2014 was, believe it or not, an improvement from recent seasons, who ranks 31st in batting average, 33rd in on-base percentage, and 28th in slugging among the 37 first baseman to reach at least 1,000 plate appearances from 2012 through 2014.

Amaro stressed the team would not release Howard and is seeking a trade. The issue, as it has been since 2012, is no longer Howard’s gargantuan salary; the issue is now that Howard would not be an upgrade to almost any team’s first base or DH situation, even in the short term with most of his contract covered by the Phillies.

 

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Off-season check in: 2B Andrew Pullin

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sat, December 20, 2014 08:00 AM Comments: 0

Andrew Pullin

Andrew Pullin, image- Jay Floyd

Andrew Pullin put himself on the radar last season with a solid year at Class A Lakewood.  The 21-year-old posted a .270 average with nine home runs and 61 RBI in 129 games for the BlueClaws.

A converted outfielder, the Phils’ 5th round draft choice from 2012 focused on learning the ways of the infield, in the past couple seasons, and he has become a steady second baseman, impressing the organization’s coaches and scouts alike.

I caught up with the six-foot 185-pounder this week.  The Washington state native provided details on his fall/winter workout routine, how he’s keeping busy this off-season and more.

-What is your current workout routine like and is it mandated by the Phillies?

Yeah.  I mostly do the Phillies routine but I also like to swim for a workout and I do speed training drills.

-Is there a goal you have in mind with what you are working on?  Anything you’re looking to do like add muscle or stamina this off-season?

I am working on increasing my range of motion, strength and speed. Continue reading Off-season check in: 2B Andrew Pullin

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Rollins to Dodgers Done Deal

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, December 19, 2014 07:43 AM Comments: 11

Update, 1Pm: Jimmy Rollins has been deal to the Dodgers, the club announced this afternoon.

In what has been the longest, most drawn-out goodbye of all time, Jimmy Rollins still appears to be heading to the Los Angeles Dodgers. A baseball source told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, the “I’s are being dotted and the T’s crossed.”

Now that the Matt Kemp-to-San Diego deal is going through, the Phillies will receive pitcher Zach Eflin who was traded from the Padres to the Dodgers. The Phillies will also reportedly get pitcher Tom Windle.

Sources told Salisbury that the deal still would have been consummated even if the Kemp deal fell apart. Of course, teams don’t just make trades without contingency plans (for the most part) and apparently there was one for this deal, as well.

Stay tuned, we should be hearing the news soon.

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UPDATE: Rollins Deal in Danger?

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Thu, December 18, 2014 12:23 PM Comments: 26

(AP)

(AP)

UPDATE, December 18, 2014, 12:23 PM – Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Matt Kemp trade is being held up by a physical that revealed Kemp has arthritis in both hips. It is unknown if the Padres are still interested in proceding with the Kemp deal which, at the very least, would change the Rollins deal.

——

December 17, 2014, 9:20 PM

Things haven’t broken down yet but they have certainly gotten more interesting in the potential deal that would send Jimmy Rollins to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

First, despite being announced a few days ago, the trade is not yet official. The hold up is a deal that would send Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres. One of the pieces headed from San Diego to LA is pitching prospect Zach Eflin, who would immediately head to Philadelphia as one half of the return for Rollins. Seems simple enough, right?

Well, the Kemp deal is not yet official either and has a reported deadline of Thursday. The Padres, as you may have heard, acquired 2013 AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers today in a three team deal. Still following me? Ken Rosenthal speculates that there may be posturing by either San Diego or LA to sweeten either side now that the Padres have an extra outfielder while others have speculated that the Padres may be looking for a way out now that they have acquired a younger, cheaper outfield option.

What does this mean for the Rollins trade? At worst, Rollins will still likely be traded to LA but the Phillies may see a different prospect in return. While Eflin is an enticing prospect, the Dodgers have comparable talent they could ship to Philly instead. In its clearest path, both San Diego and LA take themselves to their deadline tomorrow, agree to continue with the trades as constituted, and Rollins heads to LA.

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