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Archive for January, 2010

Odds and Ends: Taylor, Lowry, Wang

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, January 29, 2010 10:18 AM Comments: 137

-While scanning the Top 100 MLB Prospects, as ranked by ESPN’s Keith Law, an uneasy feeling came over me when I found #24.  The kid is built like a statue, going 6’6″and 250 pounds, and is now a member of the Oakland A’s.  Michael Taylor is his name, and I have a funny feeling he will come back to haunt us as one of those Ryne Sandberg-types.

Guys that are 6’6″ with great instincts, a power bat, defensive skill, and a Stanford background don’t grow on trees.  Maybe I’m at my own party on this one, but I almost wanted to see him stay more than Domonic Brown.  Taylor was interviewed at a Phillies game during the summer and just impressed me with his camera presence and demeanor.  Sometimes upside is overvalued, not that I don’t think Brown will be a stud, because he clearly will, as Amanda Orr pointed out. However, I think the Oakland A’s are in for a treat of a player with Michael Taylor.  Now, playing in their ballpark is another story.

-The Phillies will watch former San Francisco Giant Noah Lowry pitch on Tuesday as he continues his comeback from a rare nerve disorder. He’s now 29-years-old and has missed the past two seasons, but I like the idea here.  Again, the Phillies are searching for low-risk, high-reward types and Lowry certainly fits that bill.

Before his lengthy setback, Lowry had two above-average seasons with a below-average tossed in.  In 2007, he made 26 starts, going 14-6 with an ERA of 3.92.  He won’t strike guys out (87/87, BB/K) but that could have been because of the arm trouble.  He struck out 172 in 2005. The only problem is the park factor.  His .226 BAA on fly balls would likely make a jump due to the fact that he played in spacious AT&T Park for his entire career.  If he still has it, and can be ready by opening day, I would take a chance on a guy like Lowry.

-Chien Ming Wang I’m not so sure about. Six teams are reportedly interested in the former Yankee, and Scott Lauber said earlier in the week that while the Phillies were interested, they weren’t sure how interested because of his injury.  He won’t be back at the start of the season, which renders him semi-useless as Jamie Moyer is in the same position.  They need someone who can step in right away.

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Phillies Prospects Make Several “Top 50″ Lists

Posted by Amanda Orr, Wed, January 27, 2010 10:18 PM Comments: 84

With spring training around the corner, it’s time for prospect rankings to be released.  Late last summer, Phillies Nation’s Ben Seal ranked the Phillies top 25 prospects.  Since the list, a few trades have been made, but that didn’t stop the Phillies from having multiple top prospects on MLB.com’s and AOL Fan House’slists.

ESPN’s Keith Law ranked the Phillies farm system 24th in baseball.  That’s a huge jump from last year, when the Phillies system was in the top 10.  As we all know by now, many prospects were traded.  However, the following list proves that the Phillies still have top talent in their farm system.

Domonic Brown (OF): Ranked 14th on MLB.com, 19th on Fan House

Brown is currently the best prospect in the Phillies organization.  With Jayson Werth’s future in jeopardy, Brown could be an every day major-leaguer as early as 2011.  He hit .313 last year and has five-tool potential.

Phillipe Aumont (P): Ranked 47th on MLB.com, 29th on Fan House

Aumont has had some injuries issues, but with his hard fastball and great slider, he can be nasty on the mound.  The Mariners converted him to a reliever due to injuries, but the Phillies will try to convert him back to a starter.

Anthony Gose (OF): Ranked 46th on Fan House

Many scouting reports are saying that he is still “raw,” but he has blazing speed.  He can be scary on the base-paths.

Tyson Gillies (OF): Ranked 50th on Fan House

Although known for his speed and defense, Gillies hit .341 last year.  His offense continues to progress, and like Gose, can be scary on the base-paths, as he stole 44 bases last year.

Former Phillies prospects: Kyle Drabek ranked 17th on MLB.com and 15th on Fan House.  Michael Taylor ranked 35th on MLB.com and 38th on Fan House.

MLB’s and AOL’s lists are fairly different, but they have something in common: they both notice the potential in these young Phillies prospects.  The Phillies also have several players, like Sebastian Valle and Trevor May, who did not make the list, but still have loads of potential.

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12 Spring Training Games will be Televised

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, January 27, 2010 04:58 PM Comments: 5

Thank God. Spring Training is nearly here, and you’ll all be able to see 12 games on the tube.  Here is the press release straight from the Philles:

Fans will be able to access 26 of the 32 Phillies spring training games via TV, radio and/or internet. The 2010 schedule features 9 televised games at Bright House Field in Clearwater, two broadcasts from the road in Florida and one at Citizens Bank Park.  Phillies spring training will also air on 1210 WPHT for 14 games and phillies.com will stream six games live.

Comcast SportsNet will carry three games including the New York Yankees match-up on March 4.

The Phillies will air on myPHL17 three times including the final spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 3 as part of the On-Deck Series held at Citizens Bank Park.

The Comcast Network will broadcast four games against American League teams in Clearwater including a St. Patrick’s Day telecast against the Yankees. ESPN has picked up a game at home against the New York Yankees on March 22 as well as on the road opposite the Atlanta Braves on March 24.

This means the season is fast approaching, and although Spring Training games are often tough to watch all the way through, it is a breath of fresh air knowing that actual games are around the corner.  Some of the Phillies Nation crew (including myself) will be at the St. Patty’s Day game against the Yankees, and we hope to see you there for a major tailgate before the game.

Spring Training: 22 Days away.

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The Total WAR Project, Part IV: St. Louis Cardinals

Posted by Michael Baumann, Wed, January 27, 2010 07:00 AM Comments: 79

One sentence introducing you to this format. While at The Phrontiersman, I identified the ten teams that pose the greatest threat to the Phillies’ World Series run in 2010 and decided to see how they’re doing in relation to each other this offseason; the rules are here, and we’ve already covered the Braves, Mets, and Rockies. If something seems odd, or if you have questions about the methodology, odds are you’ll find it in one of those posts.

This isn’t really a war story, but I find it interesting. English singer-songwriter James Blunt was actually a Royal Army captain before making it big as a musician. While serving in an armored reconnaissance unit during the NATO peacekeeping mission in 1999, Blunt kept his guitar strapped to the outside of his tank and played in his free time. It was there that he began writing his album Back to Bedlam, which, of course, contained his international No. 1 hit, “You’re Beautiful.” But I hate that song, so I’m not going to link it here.

Interesting fact about the Cardinals: they’re not named after the bird. Nope—according to Bill James, St. Louis had three professional baseball teams in the late 19th century. The Cardinals were actually founded in 1882 as the Brown Stockings (later the Browns). In 1885, the St. Louis Maroons joined the National League from the Union Association before moving to Indianapolis. Finally, in 1900, the Browns, after a year as the St. Louis Perfectos (I’m sure whoever thought of that moniker lost his job immediately), the team decided to continue the city’s baseball tradition of adopting progressively lighter shades for its team names—cardinal refers to the color (much like Stanford University), not the bird.

Incidentally, in 1902, the American League set up shop in St. Louis with another team called the Browns. In 1954 they moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles. Don’t worry. They are named after the bird.

Total WAR continues after the jump. With some Madcon, for your listening pleasure.

Continue reading The Total WAR Project, Part IV: St. Louis Cardinals

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Odds & Ends: Former Phillies Watch

Posted by Amanda Orr, Tue, January 26, 2010 06:10 PM Comments: 103

Originally published on January 25, 2010 at 9:59 PM.

Some players from the 2009 Phillies roster made the latest baseball headlines:

The deal has a major league invitation to spring training.  With a weak hitting Padres club, Stairs has a good chance to make the big league roster as a left-handed bat off the bench.

Walker, 33, pitched well in 35.1 innings with the Phillies in 2009.  In July, I was surprised a team like the Nationals, who had a weak bullpen, didn’t take a chance on him when he was designated for assignment by the Phillies.  Instead, he stayed in the Phillies system and pitched well down the stretch.

Park was a huge factor in the Phillies bullpen last season, and it’s a shame the Phillies can’t bring him back.  Park mentioned that he wants to start again, but he was more effective in the bullpen last season.

***

UPDATES: Other former Phillies made Tuesday’s headlines:

(4:30 PM): The New York Yankees acquired former Phillies prospect Greg Golson

Golson was designated for assignment by the Texas Rangers last week.  After being designated for assignment, a team has a certain amount of days to trade the player.  The Rangers are trading Golson to the Yankees for Mitch Hilligoss and cash considerations.

(6:10 PM):  The Minnesota Twins and Jim Thome agree to terms.

No terms were announced, but the deal is one-year, with incentives.

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Carlos Ruiz Signs

Posted by Paul Boye, Tue, January 26, 2010 03:14 PM Comments: 65

Originally posted Jan. 23 at 12:44 p.m.

According to a source close to Phillies Nation, the Phillies and catcher Carlos Ruiz have agreed on a contract. Ruiz, who turned 31 yesterday, enjoyed a breakout season in 2009, posting career highs in on-base percentage (.355), slugging percentage (.425) and OPS (.780).

Some advanced metrics also favor Ruiz defensively, as he is among the top 10 catchers in runs saved over the past three seasons. Had he and the Phils gone to arbitration, Ruiz was seeking $2.5 million, while the team offered $1.7 million. While it is currently unknown whether the deal is for one year or multiple years, it is widely believed that Ruiz was the one arbitration-eligible player most in need of a multi-year deal, given the lack of advanced catching prospects following the trading of Lou Marson and Travis d’Arnaud.

UPDATE, 3:15 pm: The Carlos Ruiz signing has become official according to a press release from the Phillies.  It is indeed 3-years, $8.85 million, however, the yearly breakdown has not been announced.  The fourth year of the deal is an option for $5 million with a $500K buyout.

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Darren Daulton Celebrity Dart Tournament at McFadden’s

Posted by Brian Michael, Mon, January 25, 2010 03:57 PM Comments: 14

This Thursday Darren Daulton will host a Celebrity Dart Night with former Phillies Gary Maddox, John Kruk, Larry Anderson and many other VIP guests at McFadden’s Ballpark. The festivities begin at 7pm with an open bar package and buffet dinner. Michael Barkann from Comcast Sportsnet will serve as the emcee. At 8pm the Dart Tournament will begin, each participant who enters the Tournament will have the opportunity to throw darts with each of the celebrity guests (including our own Pat Gallen!).

Phillies Nation readers have exclusive access to discounted tickets, so if you’re looking to scratch that baseball itch, reserve your spot today.

$40 Event Supporter ($10 off the normal price) includes all-you-can-eat buffet and an open bar.

$100 Player Entry ($25 off the normal price) includes one spot in the tournament, all-you-can-eat buffet, open bar, plus a piece of autographed memorabilia

Darren Daulton will host a Celebrity Dart Night at McFadden's Ballpark

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Top Moment No. 1: J-Roll’s NLCS Walk-off

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, January 25, 2010 10:46 AM Comments: 33

Top Moment #1: Rollins Wins Game 4 with Improbable Walkoff

JRoll wins it.After eight innings, it appeared to be just out of reach.  The Phillies started strong, putting up two quick runs in the opening inning, then sputtered and received little offense until late – very late.  The Dodgers, on the other hand, made Joe Blanton work through his six frames, and led the game 4-3 going into the ninth inning.

Jonathan Broxton would take the ball with that one run lead, something he had done countless times in 2009. His fastball was as potent as ever, hitting at least 98 with every push of his right arm.  The Phils, however, seemed to realize the urgency at exactly the right moment.  For the past few seasons, this core group of guys have given us plenty of pulse-pumping moments late in games.  NLCS Game 4 would be no different.

As I sat in Section 330, fortunate enough to score a ticket just prior to game time, the faithful became increasingly ornery as the game passed and the Phillies looked as chilly as the October air. We witnessed countless at-bats go by with nary an opportunity, which added insult to injury as our section became a wind tunnel, sending us into a bone-chilled coma for the middle innings.  But that’s how legends – and legendary games – work.  A savior comes out of nowhere to lift up the followers who are seemingly down and out, puts them on his back and magically transforms “what could have been” into “what was.”

This happened to be Jimmy Rollins’ night. His trials and tribulations at the dish have been well documented during the last two seasons.  He just hasn’t been the same guy who took home the 2007 MVP Award.  Didn’t matter, because during Game 4, he had one more improbable, heart-stopping moment left in him.

http://www.pe.com/imagesdaily/2009/10-20/blog_nlcsdodgers20tlpr.jpgWith runners on first and second (Eric Bruntlett running for Matt Stairs, who walked, and Carlos Ruiz who was hit by a pitch), J-Roll stepped into the box as confident as ever, even if his batting average read .212 before the first pitch of the contest was thrown. During this at-bat against Broxton, as he attempted to save the Phillies from a tied series, he fouled off the first offering, then took the second pitch, a 99 m.p.h fastball, for a ball. The fans were starting to get amped, but with cautious optimism. “This would be too outrageous,” many of us asked each other.  With a 1-1 count, Jimmy Rollins would send the 46,000-plus into a frenzy.

Rollins nailed a fastball right down the heart of the plate into the right-center field gap, plating both Bruntlett and Ruiz, and in the process nearly causing a structure failure as CBP exploded from every angle.  Fans embraced, people screamed and cheered, and Jimmy Rollins, who’d been long-forgotten as a clutch hitter, saved the Phillies. After his rocket shot allowed both men to touch home plate, he became responsible for one of the greatest games in Philadelphia Phillies history.

Phillies 5, Dodgers 4

-That concludes our Top 25 Moments of the 2009 season.  Although it didn’t end quite the way Phillies fans had hoped, it still goes down as one of the best in franchise history. Ninety-three wins, another World Series appearance, and some great games along the way all made for a spectacular 2009.

To view the entire list, click here and enjoy all 25 moments.

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Phils, Ruiz Agree to Three-Year Deal

Posted by Corey Seidman, Sun, January 24, 2010 08:47 PM Comments: 36

The Phillies and Carlos Ruiz have agreed to a three-year extension worth $8.85M, as reported by Todd Zolecki. The deal also contains a fourth-year option worth $5M.

Extending Ruiz through at least 2012 is a good move for the Phillies, a team that has traded away catching prospects Jason Jaramillo, Lou Marson, and Travis d’Arnaud over the course of two years. The farm system is thin with potential replacements for Ruiz, making such a move necessary in order to ensure safety and stability to the catching position for years to come.

The financial aspect of this contract is difficult to judge immediately because it remains to be seen which Carlos Ruiz will show up in 2010. Will it be the consistent, bottom-of-the-order threat we’ve seen in October of 2008 and 2009, or the man with a .246/.337/.379 slash-line over four seasons in Philadelphia?

Based on Ruiz’ much improved 2009 season and subsequent playoff dominance, he will more than likely sustain, if not improve upon, the .255/.355/.425 season he produced last year. Those numbers, while not exceedingly impressive, are more than adequate for today’s major league catcher.

When you factor in Ruiz’ elite defense behind the plate, $9-14 million is fair. He is the best in the business at blocking balls and his three errors last season were tied for the fewest among all catchers. His career caught stealing percentage of 27% is also above the major league average, which is roughly 25% annually.

With Ruiz locked up, Ruben Amaro has now completed his offseason work. He successfully avoided arbitration with Ruiz, Joe Blanton, Shane Victorino, and Chad Durbin, extending three of the four through the 2012 season.

The only Phillies with expiring contracts after the 2010 season are (obviously) Jayson Werth and Chad Durbin. J.C. Romero has a club option for $4.5M. This will likely be Durbin’s last year since 2011 will be his first official year of free agency and the decision on Romero’s option will surely be determined by his ability to make a comeback from a 2009 to forget.

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The Dip: Two Men Enter. One Man Leaves.

Posted by The Dipsy, Sun, January 24, 2010 11:29 AM Comments: 80

This is The Dip, a column penned by our regular commenter, The Dipsy.

As the Phillies resign their players at rapid pace the inexorable march towards the inevitable begins. Everybody worth resigning is signed except for two: Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth. I’m sure the Phillies front office wants to keep them both – we all do. But it looks like this season both players – friends – will be pitted against each other in the public view. In the eyes of many fans they will be playing against each other for the opportunity to stay with the Phillies for the next 4 or 5 years; while the other is jettisoned because he is unaffordable. Welcome to the Salarydome – two men enter, one man leaves. Here is the case for both.

Jayson Werth, at 31, is seemingly entering the prime of his career and last year he emerged as a bona fide power hitter. He is fast. He is a good defender with a nice arm. He can seemingly do everything well. He fits into this lineup like a hand in a glove and by all accounts he’s a great teammate and he is definitely a gamer. Some consider him injury prone, but a player can’t avoid getting hit in the wrist with a pitched ball, even if it did take him the better part of a couple seasons to recover. Financially speaking, Jayson is a bit of an anomaly. He is just starting to become a premier player at a relatively late stage in his career. When his current contract is over he will be 32 and without a big payday in his pocket. I would imagine that someone in his position would consider this his one and only shot to get the big years and big money. A five year contract would take him to 37 and I imagine, if he has a year like he did last year, that he’ll be asking for about $15m a year. God bless him, he deserves it.

Ryan Howard, on the other hand, is one of the greatest sluggers of all-time. When he is hot he can carry a team for weeks. His stats are eye-popping. We have run out of superlatives to describe his power. Yet, he is still a below average fielder (despite an improvement last season), his plate discipline stinks and he can’t hit lefties. Since he stopped taking walks and picking pitches, sometime in 2007 or so, he has become a one dimensional player. Unlike Werth, Ryan has already made a lot of money. One would think that he doesn’t feel the need to extract every ounce of his perceived worth out of the Phillies come contract time – that is, if he wants to stay here. If he wants maximum value, “no problem”, I say. Get it while you can. The problem with signing Ryan to a 5-year deal is that it would take him into his mid-thirties and at huge money. If that bat slows down in Year 3 or so, that’s a lot of money for the Phillies to live with given the production they’d be getting.

Taking everything into consideration who should Ruben sign? Ryan Howard.

Werth is a fabulous all around player who has played great for a season and a half. His right handed bat is the lightning to Ryan’s thunder. And he’s cheaper. Ryan Howard IS one dimensional, but what a dimension it is. The mere fact that he can hit a 500-foot home run at any time makes pitchers pitch differently and fielder’s play out of position. His mere presence in the four hole adds 20 points to Utley’s batting average and 10 to Werth’s. He is a game changer and the franchise along with it. He once uttered the words “just get me to the plate, fellas” in a huge spot and then knocked in the game-winning hit. To me, it’s hard to put a price tag on that kinda player. While we would spend more money, we will be a much better team than without him because, truth be told, there are more than a few Jason Werths in major league baseball. There is only one Ryan Howard.

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