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Archive for December, 2005

Braves Sign Pratt

Posted by Brian Michael, Fri, December 09, 2005 06:29 PM Comments: 0

Todd Pratt agreed to terms on a one year contract today with the Braves.  Atlanta traded former Phil Johnny Estrata to Arizona earlier this week and expects Pratt to backup and mentor starting catcher Brian McCann.  Pratt said of joining Atlanta after two stints in Philadelphia and one for the Mets, "There was never a hatred or anything like that toward the Braves.  You just looked at it as a challenge every year to beat them."  Oh come on Todd, you didn’t hate them just a little?

Tank was the best thing the Phillies had in terms of a clubhouse leader in recent years.  With him gone and a roster full of new players, it will be interesting to see who steps up and takes over this team — most likely, no one as usual.  Not since Dutch Daulton has the Phillies clubhouse had some one who could command the attention of the team and trust of the manager.  There’s not a single player on the current roster I see fulfilling this role.

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Phillies Add 4 Players

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, December 08, 2005 12:58 PM Comments: 0

Well Pat Gillick is still averaging four new players per week, but the latest additions came with the help of the Rule 5 draft.  Here are the 3 acquired in the draft:

Round 1, AAA – Peter Ramos (Padres), a 23 year old single A infielder
Round 2, AAA – John Vanden Berg (Brewers), a 25 year old AA catcher
Round 1, AA – Brian Burgamy (Padres), 24 year old outfielder (sounds like a stud according to the linked article)

The fourth player, right-handed reliever Chris Booker, was acquired from Detroit for cash, after the Tigers drafted him in the MLB round of the draft from the Nationals.  While Booker tore it up in AAA ball, his MLB debut with the Reds was tainted by 8 runs in 2 innings over the course of 3 games against the Brewers this past September.  Wow, that sucks. 

By the way if you need a refresher in the Rule 5 draft, check out this post from August 12th of last year.

While none of this raises the level of excitement for the 2006 season considerably, it does bolster the farm system with some quality players.  As for Chris Booker, he might be used in a middle relief role if he makes the team.  In terms of a setup man, apparently Pat Gillick has expressed interest in the crappy former Mets closer, Braden Looper.  (Also included in that comprehensive phillies.com article is information on failed Phillies trades, Madson in the rotation, and players not offered arbitration.)  On Looper, I cannot underestimate the negative implications of picking up New York’s trash after they stole our closer.  I think this signing would not be received well by the fans, at least not this one. 

It appears Gillick’s momentum for acquiring positive impact players has slowed significantly.  I might suggest you start getting comfortable with the current squad.

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List of Free Agent Pitchers

Posted by Brian Michael, Wed, December 07, 2005 02:18 PM Comments: 0

It’s become less likely that the Phillies are going to part with Bobby Abreu, so don’t believe the rumors.  Gillick said yesterday that the offensive hit the team would take by dealing Abreu could only warrant a top of the line starter.  "If you do a deal involving him, you’ve got to get a lot back.  There are clubs that just don’t have that much to give back."

So like I said before, the Phils are going to have to settle for a free agent.  Using MLB.com’s nifty Free Agent Tracker, I’ve compiled a list of all the free agent pitchers out there:  

Brian Anderson Tony Armas
Pedro Astacio Kevin Brown
Roger Clemens Darren Dreifort
Scott Elarton Shawn Estes
Jason Johnson Byung-Hyun Kim
Al Leiter Jose Lima
Joe Mays Kevin Millwood
Brian Moehler Matt Morris
Jamie Moyer Kenny Rogers
Kirk Rueter Brett Tomko
Ismael Valdez Jarrod Washburn
Jeff Weaver Jamey Wright

This is the complete list, but I think we can make a few edits.  Let’s just go ahead and remove Kevin Millwood and Roger Clemens for starters.  A few others most likely will be resigned, so Matt Morris seems like the best option.  The 41 year old, Kenny Rogers might also be an option if the Rangers choose not to offer him arbitration. 

By the way, in case you haven’t heard, Juan Pierre was traded to the Cubs and Trevor Hoffman will most likely sign with Cleveland.  

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Interested in Barry Zito?

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, December 06, 2005 05:39 PM Comments: 0

Thanks to our friend Matt over at the overspending Metsblog.com we have a better idea of what it will take to land LHP Barry Zito:  a top-tier, young, starting pitcher and two young position players, including a bat for the outfield.  Well, let’s see, Gavin Floyd is a young starting pitcher… 

It seems the A’s could really use help anywhere in the lineup and with the recent addition of Estaban Loaiza, pitching may not be as much a priority.  So in comes Bobby Abreu – a bountiful addition to any offense.  Dany Perry of Fox Sports thinks, "Abreu would obviously be ideal, but it’s not certain the Phillies would part with him, even for Zito."  I agree completely.

Abreu’s owed $28 million over the next two years plus an option for another $16 mil or a $2 mil buyout in 2008.  Zito’s due to pull in $8.5 mil next season at which point his contract would expire.  I still don’t want to see Abreu go, but with this in mind I would demand the A’s would have to take Abreu’s full contract (not exactly the Moneyball way) and maybe throw in a prospect (not the Moneyball way either).  All these signs I’m afraid to say point to no deal with the A’s. 

Rumor has it, the Phils delegation in Dallas is frustrated with the trade prospects and may be turning their eyes to the free agent market – specifically Matt Morris.

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A Black Day for Whitey

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, December 06, 2005 03:11 PM Comments: 0

For those of you that have been waiting anxiously to hear Richie Asburn’s fate in the the Ford C. Frick award, I have bad news for you.  Whitey did not garner enough votes to make the final ballot.  Three men from the fan’s ballot made it, with the lower threshold being 15,002 votes out of the total 105,000 cast.  Oh Philadelphia, we have failed our hero. 

The final 10 include:

Tom Cheek Bill King
Ken Coleman Tony Kubek
Dizzy Dean Denny Mathews
Jacques Doucet Graham McNamee
Gene Elston Dave Niehaus

Harry Kalas, as a former recipient, gets to cast a vote on who he thinks best fits the following criteria: longevity; continuity with a club; honors, including national assignments such as the World Series and All-Star Games; and popularity with fans.

If you still care, the results will be announced on February 21 with the awardee to be honored during 2006 Hall of Fame Weekend which, as always, is the last weekend in July.

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A Break from Trade Rumors

Posted by Brian Michael, Mon, December 05, 2005 06:46 PM Comments: 0

I gotta tell you with this being a World Cup year and me living in Europe, it’s hard to not get pretty psyched.  All the footballers are putting in extra effort to impress their national team coaches and the buzz is increasing with the group draw coming Friday.  Even if you’re not a soccer fan, there’s something about the World Cup and its World War-like intensity that brings out the nationalist fan in all of us. 

Then there is the cheap baseball knock-off.  With baseball being kicked out of the Olympics (surprisingly not for doping), Bud Selig sought to offset the loss by spearheading the World Baseball Classic which will be played in early March.  The second WBC is scheduled for 2009, then every 4 years thereafter.  I agree the WBC should not go head-to-head with the World Cup; even though they’re 3 months apart, World Cup hysteria starts a year prior to kickoff.  I’m just not sure why Bud was in such a hurry to launch it this year. 

Maybe it’s so we could see "Everyone Hates" Barry Bonds play before he deflates completely.  He will be playing for the hometown favorites USA.  Andruw Jones will be the Netherlands’ big hope, and Ichiro will be in the clubhouse of the rising sun.  In a serious diss to Norristown, Mike Piazza will be playing for Italy while former Phillie minor league prospect, Nick Italiano was somehow left of the squad.  Here are the Phillies that have agreed to participate and the draw:

Chase Utley, United States
Jimmy Rollins, United States
Bobby Abreu, Venezuela
Tomas Perez, Venezuela
Eude Brito, Dominican Republic
Robinson Tejeda, Dominican Republic
Rheal Cormier, Canada
Carlos Ruiz, Panama

Pool A (Japan) – China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea
Pool B (Arizona) – Canada, Mexico, South Africa, United States
Pool C (Puerto Rico) – Puerto Rico, Cuba, Panama, Netherlands
Pool D (Orlando) – Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Australia, Italy

I would like to think it will be a walk for the U.S. squad but Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic teams are pretty loaded.  In the end, if the American pitching staff can hold up, they should be the difference.  Finally America will have a chance to prove that all those losses to Cuba in the Olympics were a fluke.  Though I’m not entirely enthralled with the Classic yet, I think the best part will be seeing Little League players grow up and continuing their rivalries – as long as they eventually learn there’s no crying in baseball.

P.S. If you’re hear looking for trade rumors coming out of Dallas:  A.J. Burnett is likely going to St. Louis or Toronto…Boston is shopping Matt Clement…Oakland is shopping Zito but are asking too much…Cubs are shopping Kerry Wood, but his arm looks like a big question mark…Mets signed Paul LoDuca which means Ramon Hernandez and Benjie Molina are still available.  All talk now, deals come later this week.

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Starting Pitching

Posted by Brian Michael, Sun, December 04, 2005 08:27 PM Comments: 0

The Bobby Abreu rumors continue to fly and the possible scenarios seem endless.  However the consistent theme in all of them favor plugging the biggest hole on the team: a starting pitching or rather an true staff ace.  Jason Schmidt, Barry Zito, and even the unwilling Javier Vazquez all remain possibilities while Manny has been bandied about as a bargaining chip.  Personally, I would like to see him stay with the team, I just think he’s too valuable.  Baseball Musings helps to make the case but still recognizes the chance he will be gone by Opening Day.  All I have to say is that we better get a damn good pitcher if he is shopped.  In Gillick we trust.

But let’s just say Abreu is still around and the Phils are stuck with a staff of #2 and #3 starters (though that might be a bit generous).  The funny thing is that the current roster has 10 possible starters, including Randy Wolf who is expected back around July.  Here’s a list of them with their current contracts, as best as I could surmise based on piecemeal data:

  1. Brett Myers – 1 year, $445,00
  2. Jon Lieber – 2 years, $14.75 mil
  3. Cory Lidle – 1 year, $3.3 mil
  4. Vicente Padilla – 1 year, $3.2 mil
  5. Randy Wolf – 1 year, $9 mil
  6. Ryan Madson – 1 year, $335,000 
  7. Gavin Floyd – $316,000
  8. Cole Hamels - approx. $300,000 
  9. Eude Brito – approx. $300,000
  10. Robinson Tejeda – approx. $300,000

Unfortunately under no mathematical formula can 10 equal 1.  So save a 10 man rotation (which sounds intriguing) the Phillies brass have a few decisions to make, as in who to keep, who to trade, and who to move to the bullpen.  I have a hunch Gavin Floyd will be traded, in one of those change of scenery deals.  Cole Hamels probably won’t be called up just yet, maybe in September though.  Brito and Tejeda did well to fill the 5th starter spot last year, but they might be needed to fill the depleted bullpen.  That leaves Ryan Madson who’s certainly no ace but has some good stuff.  He was a starter while in the minors and did have that one horrible start in ’04 but would probably need to develop another pitch to complement his nasty curveball.  Another big con is his stamina which seems to taper off towards the end of the season.  I’m not sure if increasing his IP by 250% while resting him 4 out of 5 days would make it any easier.  I know Gillick said he doesn’t like closers by committee, but what about a 5th starter by committee?  In other words, can the Phils survive with their current roster?

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Closer Controversy

Posted by Brian Michael, Fri, December 02, 2005 04:34 PM Comments: 0

Within a day of adding Danys Baez to the Closer Poll, he has already forged ahead of both Tom Gordon and Trevor Hoffman.  Also, many have explicitly suggested they prefer Baez as the closer.  But be careful what you wish for, most signs point to a clear statistical advantage for Tom Gordon.  Below is a comparison of the two in terms of strikeout-walk ratio courtesy of FanGraphs.com (the blue line is the MLB average): 

KK/B Comparison

The site’s various charts all show Tom Gordon having better numbers than Baez.  But the clear counterpoint is that while Baez’s lines start in 2001, Flash’s numbers go aaaaall the way back to 1988.  From what we’ve heard, a closer role was most definitely part of the contract and I don’t think he would be happy with anything less.  Now perhaps in 2007 or 2008 it could be used as leverage to get rid of the old timer or even demote him to the minors, but for 2006 count on him being the closer.  

Seeing that he’s had a four year hiatus from closing, the big question on my mind is: what music will he come out to?  Closing in Wrigley only gave him a selection from Gary Pressy’s organ, in Philly he will have his choice.

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Gillick Closes the Closer Deal

Posted by Brian Michael, Fri, December 02, 2005 08:40 AM Comments: 0

Pat Gillick’s signing streak moves into day 4!  Today the Phillies announced a "preliminary agreement" with free agent reliever Tom Gordon to the tune of 3 years, $18 million.  The physical is scheduled for Saturday so hopefully it will be finalized by then.  Although Phillies.com states he will be Billy Wagner’s replacement, I wonder if Gillick isn’t still looking to land Hoffman or Baez.  He still has some room under the cap for another decent 3 year deal and the Phils need all the relief they can get.  Until this question is answered, we’ll leave the closer poll up so you can express your feelings on the deal.

Almost as important as landing an actual closer, is the feeling that Gillick is bring to this city’s ballclub.  In previous off seasons, "Standing Pat" Ed Wade would already be hibernating up in Scranton.  This flurry of activity is certainly showing the Phils are committed to building a championship-caliber team.  They’re not there yet, of course, but the momentum is certainly positive.  Could this translate into more season tickets?  Perhaps, but that’s up to you.

Briefly, yesterday’s signing involved career backup catcher Sal Fasano.  The 35-year-old (not much younger than the beloved Todd Pratt) received a 1 year, $425,000 contract.  Last season with Baltimore he hit .250 with a career-high 11 homers and 20 RBIs in 64 games and 160 at-bats.

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For Your Information

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, December 01, 2005 11:32 AM Comments: 0

Hey, real quick some Phillies Nation housekeeping.  As many of you are finding out, submitting a comment sometimes throws you to a big fat error page.  Don’t worry, your comment is nonetheless submitted, so don’t refresh the error page or feel you need to post the comment again.  Unless someone ridicules you publicly for repeating a comment, we’ll try to delete it before any harm is done.  We’re working on fixing the error in general though – our apologies.

Second, just in time for the holiday shopping season, we’ve added a new Phillies Nation store.  It’s chock full of Phillies goodies for you and yours – so get buying.

Finally, as it’s our duty to spread gossip as soon as it becomes available here are the rumors de jour:

Abreu for Manny Ramirez:  The NY Post has heard of some serious talks between Philly and Boston.  According to the toilet paper, the Phillies believe a Ramirez deal could get done if they want.  Apparently, the stumbling block is the disparity in salaries. Ramirez will earn $19 million next season and $57 million over the next three. Abreu will earn $13 million in 2006 and $15 million in 2007.  That’s a big freakin’ stumbling block I’d say.  Manny is definitely leaving Boston though; despite the recently launched KeepManny.com, the slugger officially put his luxury Boston apartment up for sale.  Will it be for a deluxe apartment in Rittenhouse?  Unlikely I say, besides having to live near partying Pat Burrell, the Phils would rather spend the money saved on Wagner and Thome on pitching.

Speaking of which, the Bucks County Courier Times is reporting that the Phils are in trade talks with the Devil Rays for right-hander Danys Baez, possibly for Gavin Floyd.  This would still allow the Phils to sign Tom Gordon and he could be used in his recently familiar role as a setup man.  The article actually provides a really good synopsis of the entire Phillies closer rumor mill, though it does stop short of assigning any of the pitchers to one of its All-Golden Teams (an honor which both Jim and I hold).

Yes, I have heard the one about Abreu for Jason Schmidt, apparently started by Howard Eskin.  You can take that as you will, but might I suggest a heavy helping of salt on top.

Last but not least, it appears Kyle Farnsworth is going to the Yankees which means we will remove him from the poll and add Danys Bayez.  Sorry to all those who voted for Kyle – you lose.

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