Archive for November, 2008

The 20 Most-Important Phillies

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sat, November 29, 2008 03:42 PM Comments: 40

I stole this idea from Peter Abraham, who is unequivocally the best Yankees beat writer (and, ironically, once worked at the newspaper I’m currently at). He wrote about the 20 most important Yankees at this very moment, including any person on the payroll (including scouts, coaches, front office personnel, etc.). I’ll do the same for the Phillies. Here are my 20 most important people in the Phillies organization today:

1. Ruben Amaro Jr.

He was handed a golden ticket when Pat Gillick resigned as general manager: The franchise’s second world title, a solid core of major leaguers, a slowly improving farm system. Are the Phillies a first-division team like the Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs? Or are they just another flame-out champion like the White Sox, Cardinals and Marlins? Amaro will decide that by how he works the budget.

2. Ryan Howard

He might not be a Phillie in three years, but right now he’s crucial. The all-universe slugger is baseball’s biggest bat, but he demands the biggest money. Does he deserve it all? Still, if he improves his contact hitting and defense, he’s the best player in the game. And he leads this team to another championship.

3. David Montgomery

The shrewd president (at least we think he’s shrewd) is the face of the unknown ownership, and he’s the one who first held the world championship trophy. It’s his pen that may give Cole Hamels a new contract, and it’s his pen that may give the Phils a new philosophy on adding and subtracting players. Who knows if the Phils won in spite of his style, but he remains integral to the team’s long-term success.

4. Cole Hamels

The ace lifted himself into the top shelf of major league pitchers with his postseason performance, one for the ages. Now the 2008 World Series MVP will try and remain a top starter for the next 12-16 years. He can. Hopefully it’s as a Phillie.

5. Charlie Manuel

Say what you want, but Uncle Chollie held down the fort throughout 2008. When Jimmy Rollins seemed lax; when the team grabbed headlines for the wrong reasons; when things seemed sour in the summer — all these times Manuel kept composure and remained optimistic. It paid off. To me, another good season or two solidifies his place as the franchise’s all-time skipper.

6. Chase Utley

The franchise underwent hip surgery, and now must rehab as the title-defense season nears. The long-term question is how Utley will perform for the next few years, as his hip and other body parts endure his 100-percent effort. A move to first base or left field may be in the near future.

7. Brett Myers

Why is Myers so important? Try a free agency year. Myers, 28, is entering the prime of his career and must produce numbers close to his second-half output to secure a big deal in 2010. His performance in 2009 will dictate how the Phils approach the 2010 offseason. And it also will dictate how the Phils perform from the mound in ’09.

8. Pat Burrell

Like Myers, Burrell remains key because of his contract status. If the Phillies choose to re-sign the 32-year-old slugger, it’ll take off a chunk of money in the offseason budget. If they don’t, it leaves a giant hole in left field.

9. Chuck LaMar

The new assistant general manager is in charge of scouting, and must continue to fill a farm system that was once — debatably — the worst in baseball. Now the system is improving, but still in the lower tier. If LaMar can work magic, like he did in Tampa Bay, the Phils will be set for the next 15 years.

10. Ryan Madson

Madson is the only reliever besides Brad Lidge who is capable of being totally dominant, and now coming into a free agency year, Mad Dog can potentially secure himself a closer-worthy contract if he stands out in 2009. A sterling performance as Lidge’s No. 1 protector would go a long way in defending the title.

11. Carlos Carrasco

The 6’3″ 21-year-old right-hander will be watched like a hawk in 2009. It’s likely Carrasco will see Citizens Bank Park by the All-Star break, and it’s also likely he finishes the season as one of the five men in the rotation. With Hamels, the Venezuelan with the moving fastball and deadly changeup is the future of Phillies pitching.

12. Brad Lidge

Going 48-for-48 in 2008 was a once-in-a-lifetime feat. Being the man on the mound when the Phils won the world championship was, as well. But if anyone can duplicate those feats, it’s Lidge, who found new life in 2008. While you can’t expect another perfect season, his health and performance remains key to success.

13. Jimmy Rollins

The Phillies proved they could win without their captain, but it was he who provided the ice-breaking swings in the NLDS and NLCS. He may run his mouth and show up late, but Rollins is undoubtedly the face of the franchise, and maybe, the city’s most twistedly revered sports figure.

14. Benny Looper

The new assistant GM takes Amaro’s old job, and he’ll work closely with him to ensure they field the team strongly. As Amaro’s first large appointment, he’ll be one of the first indicators of the Amaro era.

15. Shane Victorino

Throughout 2008, it seemed where Shane went, so did the Phillies. His electric play with his bat, glove and legs made him a burgeoning star, and his postseason play made him a marquee name. If he remains healthy and contributes solid play, he hands the Phils 15 wins or so.

16. Lou Marson

The 22-year-old catcher seems poised to take over as everyday receiver in either 2009 or 2010. His power should come around, but for now he projects as a .290 hitter with slightly above-average catching and throwing abilities. Hard to find those qualities in a catcher.

17. Anthony Hewitt

The first-round draft pick is crucial to the future. Undeniably raw, he has everything but a bat. But if that appears, he’s a future all-star infielder. He could be a third baseman, taking over in three years or so, or he could be Rollins’ replacement. His failure means another reassessment of the franchise’s draft strategy.

18. Steve Noworyta

The Phillies had just one overachieving affiliate in 2008, and that was the very lowest affiliate (the Gulf Coast League Phillies). Both the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and Reading Phillies fared miserably, with Reading overhauling its staff after a disappointing season. The system is improving, but it’s Nowortya who ultimately could get the system onto the better half of the list.

19. Carlos Ruiz

The catching issue is a good one to have, but it’s still an issue. Ruiz’s magnificent World Series gave us all new faith in the 29-year-old, and showed us just how crucial he is to the pitching staff. He’ll go a long way in keeping the staff among the majors’ best in 2009.

20. Kyle Drabek

Lost in the flurry of percolating prospects, Drabek came out of Tommy John surgery and performed strong in an abbreviated 2008 and in the Hawaiian Winter League. His 2009 might mean a quick ascention to Philadelphia.

Others considered: Jamie Moyer, Michael Taylor, Jason Donald, Rich Dubee, Jayson Werth, Joe Blanton

What’s your list?


Fan Friday – Luke

Posted by Brian Michael, Fri, November 28, 2008 01:12 PM Comments: 1

Every Friday from now until Spring Training, we will be posting some of the better contestant stories from our I’m the Biggest Phillies Fan contest. If you think you have what it takes to be featured, but did not get a submission in, you can still share your story by filling out this form.

The Ultimate Fan and the Ultimate Phan

It has been said that the biggest Phillies fans in the world are made from the same stuff of legend as the players themselves. From tailgating in the parking lot, to gobbling crab fries in the stands, from bathing in red and white, to tattooing an indelible “P” right above their hearts, the ultimate fan steps outside of the universe, grabs, and forever cherishes a special part of history reserved just for them.

But there is another breed of the ultimate fan, one who bears the weight of the world on his shoulders every time Ryan boots a ball, a Phillie strikes out with the tying run on third, or when Flash watches his pitch soar 400 feet farther than he threw it. Surprisingly, this fan does not dread that burden, but rather embraces it. For it is not the onerous load of mutinous rage or the result of fickle responses loved by frontrunners, that charges the ultimate fan’s pain. Rather, it is the weight and care that comes when a family member is in need or when a best friend is on their last legs. This fan understands that the players are not flippantly making errors and giving up home run balls just to spite the millions of Philly Phanatics in existence and so offers enthusiastic support.

In some ways, the ultimate fan sits in the dugout, the bullpen, and the stands even in sleep. Their closeness to the team comes not from outward displays, such as tattoos and body paint, twenty wardrobes of Phillies apparel, or wallpaper made of newspaper clippings, but rather from cherishing the heat of competition, the game of baseball, the beauty of the Bank, every breath taken by every Fightin’ Phillie, and every last drop of energy provided by the city itself and all of its amazing Phans.

I am that ultimate fan and the ultimate Phan. I do not have the tattoos, have never body-painted, and have never even had the opportunity to tailgate. But I do live and breathe with every pitch, every swing, and every shout or scream that comes with the only team that plays with more heart in one inning that any other team can claim in 162 games. Feeding off of the “Spirit of ‘76” expressed in a way that only Philly can, I live to defend my Philadelphia Phillies, version 20.08, with rhetoric, revolutionary action, and extreme devotion from any naysayers and doubters who would slander this great city and team.

In closing, I have only four words, four digits, and a ton of exclamation marks:


My Holiday Wish List

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, November 28, 2008 11:50 AM Comments: 11

In honor of Black Friday, here’s what I’m asking friends and family for this Christmas:

2008 World Champions sweatshirt

I don’t have a hooded sweatshirt, so this will nicely fill that hole. Originally I was going for the 2008 Playoffs sweatshirt (which is really nice), but come on, you have to pimp the trophy.

Phillies alternate jersey

The gorgeous third-jersey needs to be in my closet. Any player will do — even So Taguchi. I don’t mind.

World Series DVD box set

From A&E video, get each full World Series game right here in this eight-disc set. Key postseason games also featured. Unedited. All games in entirety. This’ll hold me until the 2008 season DVD, “Perfect Season” is released.

World Champions pilsner glass

If you know me, you know my love of beer. These two go together like oil and pastrami.

Phillies desk clock

For the office. A nice addition.

Golf balls and towel

I’m a golfer, so it’s nice honoring my favorite team on the links.

Phillies mug set

For my evening teas. This is essential.

Highland Mint commemorative coin

You kind of need the commemorative coin. It just screams “official.”

SI Commemorative Book

Finally, of course, the Sports Illustrated special commemorative edition. Growing up, I always wanted to see my team featured in the “Congratulations!” commercials. Now I have it. And now I want this.


Local RHP Koplove Signs With Phillies

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, November 28, 2008 10:44 AM Comments: 9

The Phillies have signed right-handed pitcher Mike Koplove.

The Philadelphia-born Koplove, 32, spent all of 2008 in AAA Las Vegas. He went 2-1 wiht a 3.46 ERA in 41 appearances. Prior to that, he spent much of 2006 and ’07 in minor league systems. His most notable season was 2002, when he finished 6-1 with a 3.36 ERA in 55 games for Arizona.

Koplove will be invited to Spring Training, but will likely be assigned to AAA Lehigh Valley.


Source: Kendrick On Short Leash In 2009

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, November 27, 2008 03:00 PM Comments: 46

A source close to Kyle Kendrick has informed me that Kendrick said he has until June to prove himself, or else he’ll be traded.

Obviously, Kendrick isn’t an automatic for the 25-man roster out of Spring Training. Word is he’ll compete with JA Happ and Carlos Carrasco for the fifth-starter spot. Kendrick, 24, struggled in 2008, going 11-9 with a 5.49 ERA.

The source also informed me that Kendrick had a slew of mental hiccups during the 2008 season, which may have veered him off the focus of his job. The source cited a volatile situation, during a road trip in San Diego, where Kendrick seemed emotionally lost. In San Diego, in a start, Kendrick lasted only 3.2 innings, giving up six runs in a 10-7 loss.

Take this all for what it’s worth, but I trust this source, and the idea of Kendrick being on the block by June seems obvious enough.


What I’m Thankful For

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, November 27, 2008 07:00 AM Comments: 12

Cole Hamels’ gorgeous changeup.
How Cole always keeps his cool.
The bubbling gut of the fiery Brett Myers.
The 12-6 curveball.
The second half resurgence.
Acquiring Joe Blanton.
Swatting a no-doubter home run in game four of the World Series.
Veteran leadership.
Grizzled pitching — a slow fastball, a slower changeup.
The diving grab and soft toss in game three.
Young heat.
Placing a perfect changeup.
Sticking with the team for 162 games as the final pitcher on roster.
The name Clay.
The name Rudy.
Black belts.
Dim the Lights.
A first half of untouchable proportions.
The left-handed specialist.
Outspoken heat against Bud Selig.
The Savior.
The Savior’s fire.
Chooch. Mother-freakin’ Chooch.
The squib hit.
Catching a gorgeous game.
Blast. Off.
A September to remember.
Another MVP season.
And another MVP season.
And another MVP season.
The best second baseman alive.
Playing on a broken hip.
The throw to home.
Petey Happy.
Running your mouth.
100 wins.
The Brunt.
The Bat.
One final double off the wall.
The breakout of the Flyin’ Hawaiian.
A tying home run.
Matt Stairs!
The resurgence of Jayson Werth.
Long legs.
The architect, Wade.
The finisher, Gillick.
Trust the gut.
June Manuel.
Mad Dog, a postseason warrior.
The 96 mph fastball.
Lights Out.
See ya.
Three to one.
Four to one.
Being World Champions of Baseball.

That’s what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving.



Phils Skating Around Lowe, Burnett, Moyer

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, November 26, 2008 01:40 PM Comments: 63

A few notes from Todd Zolecki today:

The Phillies have contacted Derek Lowe and AJ Burnett, according to a source. The Phils have long been rumored to be in touch with Burnett, so these names are no surprise. Both would command multi-year deals woth at least $8M-$10M per year.

No movement yet on the Jamie Moyer front. He does, however, appear to want more than one year.

I’m not high on Burnett considering his injury history and troublesome demeanor — for that price. Lowe is older and doesn’t rub me too wonderfully, despite his potential to be a shutdown No. 2 for the Phils. But compared to Moyer, they’re more attractive options. I’m betting Moyer wants two years and $7M per year, at the least. Why not add a year and a few million to grab Lowe instead?

Still, these aren’t truly attractive options.


Reports Squash Dye Discussion

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, November 26, 2008 10:12 AM Comments: 25

Yesterday it was reported by several sources that the Phillies aren’t interested in trading for Chicago outfielder Jermaine Dye, considering the bounty White Sox GM Ken Williams wants in return. Rumors yesterday said the Sox wanted a young starting pitcher and other pieces.

The Phils don’t seem to have what the Sox are asking for, nor is it really the right price for Dye.

Meanwhile, it was reported that teams in the northeast are among the seven teams Dye has listed in his no-trade clause. To my count there are four northeast teams: the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets and Phillies.

It really baffles me why players elect to stay out of the northeast. Sure there’s inherit stress with playing in Boston, New York and Philadelphia, but arguably, the four teams in this region are the most successful franchises in baseball. In the last 10 years, the Sox, Yanks, Mets and Phils have won five World Series, and have participated in the series eight times.

One statistic I love pulling out is only three teams have had winning records every season since 2003: the Sox, Yanks and Phils. Clearly these are good teams devoted to winning. Sure, you may get booed a little louder than in, say, Chicago, but you’re likely going to win. It shows Dye and some of these players with no-northeast trade clauses really aren’t out for the championships. And those are players I don’t want on my team.


Get Well Soon Chase

Posted by Brian Michael, Wed, November 26, 2008 08:20 AM Comments: 20

On Monday, Chase Utley had successful surgery on his right hip.  He is expected to be out until April.

Use the form below to send him a personalized Get Well Soon message – you can even upload a photo.  We will deliver all the messages to him before the end of the year.


RJ Swindle Signs With Brewers

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, November 25, 2008 08:16 PM Comments: 11

Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the Brewers have signed former Phillie left-hander RJ Swindle to a minor league contract.

The sidearmed Swindle posted a 7.71 ERA with the Phils last season, but was dominant in the minors, going 3-1 with a 1.53 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 53 innings between AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley.

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