Archive for January, 2010

Phillies Looking at Eric Gagne

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, January 20, 2010 10:01 AM Comments: 30

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Eric Gagne has a tryout with the Phillies this afternoon out in Arizona as the team continues to look for pieces to add to its depleted bullpen.  The 2003 Cy Young Winner has been out of baseball since 2008, and pitched in the Can-Am League last season as a starter.

This is proof that if you are a warm body and can relieve, teams will look at you, including the former National League Champs. The Phillies have very little to spend as they draw closer to their $140 million cap, however, it’s moves like this that can be of the most importance.  You can’t sign every Type-A free agent, and Ruben Amaro knows that, which is why he’s hoping Gagne can rekindle some of that magic from earlier in the decade. At this point, it seems fairly unlikely, but that’s what low-risk, high-reward is all about.


If I Were a Las Vegas Sportsbook

Posted by Michael Baumann, Tue, January 19, 2010 08:45 PM Comments: 13

Greetings. You probably don’t know who I am, so let me take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Michael Baumann, and I’m one of the two new bloggers who have decided to sell out and go mainstream. My buddy Paul and I will be providing you with analysis (most of it sabermetric, but don’t tune out just yet), whimsy, projections, speculation, and other odds and ends in the coming months. I hope you enjoy having us almost as much as I hope I don’t screw the pooch on this one. I’m just happy to be here and I hope I can help out the ballclub.

But on to business. It’s now late January, and that means that the Super Bowl is bearing down on us. For some, that means wings, commercials, and debate over which one of Andy Reid or Donovan McNabb (or both) is to blame for the Eagles not being there. Not me. For me, it means prop bets. Now, sports betting isn’t legal in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, and even if it were, I’m not really much of a gambler. I find point spreads and money lines sort of boring, but during Super Bowl Week, you can bet the over/under for the number of the player who scores the first touchdown, or the set list in Bruce Springsteen’s halftime show. I love these wagers.

So it got me thinking, since there is no baseball going on right now, and the Phillies appear to be putting the finishing touches on their team for next year, what prop bets would I offer on the Phillies for 2010 if I were a Las Vegas sportsbook?

Continue reading If I Were a Las Vegas Sportsbook


Phillies Swap Arbitration Figures

Posted by Paul Boye, Tue, January 19, 2010 05:06 PM Comments: 128

The report has come in from CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury, and the three remaining arbitration-eligible Phillies have let their demands be known. The team has also submitted its proposed figures for each player.

There is still plenty of time for one-year or even multi-year deals to be worked out before hearings begin in February, something Salisbury says the Phils are looking to accomplish with Victorino above all others.

Here are the reported figures exchanged:

Joe Blanton, SP: $10.25 million. Team offers $7.5 million.

Carlos Ruiz, C: $2.5 million. Team offers $1.7 million.

Shane Victorino, CF: $5.8 million. Team offers $4.75 million.

What do you think? Is Blanton asking too much? Is now the time to work on multi-year deals for Ruiz and Victorino, or even Blanton?

UPDATE (Wednesday, 8:00 PM): MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that contract talks have begun for all three of the remaining arbitration-eligible players. Both one-year and multi-year deals are reportedly in the works, but details are unclear as to what length each player is discussing.


Top Moment No. 4: World Series Game 1 Victory

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, January 19, 2010 01:18 PM Comments: 9

Top Moment #4: Lee Shuts Down Yankees in WS Opener

http://assets.nydailynews.com/img/2009/10/29/alg_lee_ruiz.jpgBefore the start of the 2009 World Series, Phillies fans were peering through rose-colored glasses. There was a certain sense of entitlement that this team, this city, belonged on this grand stage.  The Phils were the defending champions, after all.  Who did these punks from the Bronx think they were?

With optimism at an all-time high prior to the start of the Fall Classic, the Phillies seemed to use their relatively easy road to the World Series, along with the fabled left arm of Cliff Lee, to take Game 1 over the New York Yankees, 6-1. It was a monumental matchup, a Clash of the Titans, if you will, with Lee going up against the $160 million man, CC Sabathia.  For the first seven frames, it lived up to it’s billing.

Lee settled into the new Yankee Stadium instantly by striking out Derek Jeter on three pitches, inducing a ground out by Johnny Damon, and then fanning Mark Teixeira.  Cliff tossed just 10 pitches in the first inning, and never looked back.  His location was precise from the first pitch, something we’d seen throughout his five playoff starts.

The offense finally got involved in the third inning as Chase Utley blasted one of his two homers on the day, en route to a series-record-tying five, as he joined Mr. October, Reggie Jackson at the top of the sacred list.  Utley gave the Phils a 1-0 lead, then struck again in the sixth with another solo shot to right-center field, which doubled as the game winner.  The Phils would tack on two in the eighth and two more in the ninth off of five different Yankee relievers to lock it up.  Don’t read much into the lopsided score, however, because this was an old-fashioned pitchers duel for the first seven.

Lee and Sabathia went toe to toe, with Chase Utley taking full advantage of the only two mistakes CC made.  Cliff would win the battle with a stat line that had never been witnessed before in a World Series. His complete-game, zero earned run performance, to go with 10 strikeouts and no walks, was the first of its kind.  Koufax never did it. Gibson never did. Maddux didn’t either.  Cliff Lee holds one of the most dominating performances in the history of MLB’s postseason.  Unfortunately for the Phillies, it did not translate into another title, but for Game 1, the Phillies were still kings.


Durbin Avoids Arbitration

Posted by Amanda Orr, Mon, January 18, 2010 10:31 PM Comments: 48

Todd Zolecki reports (via Twitter) that Chad Durbin avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a $2.125 million contract.

Durbin signed with the Phillies as a free agent in 2007.  He pitched very well in 2008 which earned him $1.635 million in 2009.  In 2010, Durbin gets a significant raise despite pitching almost 20 innings less and having an ERA almost two points higher in 2009, compared to 2008.  Durbin went 2-2 with a 4.39 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in 69.2 innings last year.

Carlos Ruiz, Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton remain arbitration eligible.


Top Moment No. 5: Utley, Lee Keep Phils Alive

Posted by Amanda Orr, Mon, January 18, 2010 02:47 PM Comments: 4

Top Moment #5: On Brink of Elimination, Chase Utley and Cliff Lee Keep World Series Hopes Alive

It wasn’t a situation that the Phillies wanted to be in.  After a heartbreaking loss, the Phillies found themselves trailing 3-1 in the World Series.  However, the Phillies had their ace on the mound and a star second baseman that would tell the New York Yankees whose house they were in.

After a slight postseason slump, Chase Utley turned around his struggles in the World Series.  He already hit three home runs, but he was far from done.  A.J Burnett was Utley’s next victim, greeting him with a three-run bomb.  Burnett was unable to recuperate as the Phillies tacked him for six runs in two innings.

Utley still had more in the tank.  In the seventh inning, Utley’s short, quick swing sent another baseball into the outfield seats.  This home run made history.  Utley’s five World Series home runs tied Reggie Jackson’s 1977 record.  Utley’s homers and a later Raul Ibanez’s solo shot were big reasons why the Phillies led 7-2 after seven.

In the mean time, Cliff Lee was cruising.  Lee gave up five runs in seven innings, but he pitched better than his line indicated.  The Yankees put up a fight, scoring three runs in the eighth inning, cutting the Phillies lead in half.  But it wouldn’t be enough.

Chan Ho Park and Ryan Madson finished the game, securing the 8-6 win.  Under the circumstances, it was the biggest win of the year, sending the series back to the Bronx and giving the Phillies high hopes.


Phillies Nation on Twitter

Posted by Brian Michael, Mon, January 18, 2010 10:29 AM Comments: 0

In case you’ve been living in a pre-WFC time, when people didn’t rock Twitter for up-to-the-second news (and other assorted crap), now is your chance to get up to speed. First, jump on the 4,400-strong bandwagon and follow us on Twitter @philliesnation.

Then if you’re so inclined, take advantage of our two lists. One features the personal Twitter accounts of Phillies Nation writers and the other let’s you know what’s on tap with our favorite drinking buddies.


Mathieson May Be Called Upon in Absence of Lidge

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sun, January 17, 2010 03:45 PM Comments: 30

Thirty-one days remain until pitchers and catchers enter the gates on Old Coachman Road, with actual nine inning games starting just 13 days after that. The calendar says we’re 2 1/2 months away from the beginning of the regular season, but who cares; it’s never too early to prognosticate.

As the winter slowly moves forward, there are a few things we know are certain.  Brad Lidge will miss part of Spring Training due to knee surgery, the bullpen is a shell of its former self, and a few youngsters will be called upon to solidify a unit that was mediocre a year ago.

With all of that said, power right handed reliever Scott Mathieson could prove to be an integral part of the pen in ’10.  If you’ve followed him, you know about the 96 mph fastball, but you’ve also heard about the two Tommy John surgeries.  His elbow has apparently healed quite nicely, which is easy to detect once you skim his stats from last season.

http://www.mlb.com/images/2009/11/30/NY7oxChy.jpgMathieson appeared in 22 games last year through three levels of the minor leagues, but hardly missed a beat.  He finished 4-0 between the Gulf Coast League, Clearwater, and Reading, allowing just three earned runs over 32 1/3 innings.  At 25-years-old, and after two major setbacks, the time could very well be now for the flamethrower.

Currently, there are three empty slots in the Phillies 2010 bullpen, plus with Lidge’s newest knee clean out, there may be a fourth when the season opens in D.C. No more Condrey, Myers, Park, or Eyre.  It’s shaping up to be a completely different crew, but one that can still be potent if all goes well.  Mathieson may be inserted into one of the vacancies, and rightfully so.  The Phillies have little money left to spend with arbitration cases looming, so the team must take a good, hard look at the youth in the pipeline.  Along with Matheison, Antonio Bastardo, Sergio Escalona, and several others have a shot at a spot.  To me, Mathieson provides the most intrigue.

If he can harness his power, come up with solid secondary pitches to compliment his velocity, and prove he belongs when spring begins, we may have the makings of a capable middle reliever.  Hard throwers that can mix and match their fastball with other pitches are rare.  According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Mathieson has added a changeup this winter, a great eye-altering alternative to his high-90′s heater.  The kid must be chomping at the bit as well, having missed two full seasons due to injury.

Mathieson’s control is an obstacle that bears watching once March 3 rolls around.  He walked 12 batters in his 32 1/3 innings, yet still completed his season with a 0.88 WHIP .  Batters managed just 17 total hits during his 22 games, a .149 average.  That tells you when he is hitting his spots, hitters can’t touch him.  However, he’s clearly allowing too many free passes, which is often the case when a pitcher has that kind of arm speed.

By all accounts, Mathieson is a hard-working, likable person, which makes you want to root for the guy even more. It would certainly be a boon for the bullpen should he land in one of the remaining positions. The Phillies need to build trust in their young arms, and with Mathieson and the others on the cusp, and with the bullpen in shambles, there is no better time than now.

Here’s to his long and winding road to back to full health, and hopefully, the major leagues.  Just 44 days until we see what Scott Mathieson really has in that cannon arm.


Top Moment No. 6: The Day That Harry Died

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sun, January 17, 2010 07:30 AM Comments: 18

Top Moment #6: Harry Kalas Passes Away in the Broadcast Booth in Washington

http://popcultured.files.wordpress.com/2007/07/harry-kalas.jpgThis isn’t a top moment because of a particular play in the field or a tremendous home run hit, but because of the passing of a legendary figure.  If we voted on Worst Moments in Phillies History, this would certainly be at, or near, the top.  It makes this list because of the magnitude of such a loss; one that had a lasting impact on the 2009 season.  It isn’t a particularly joyous occasion, but it deserves its spot here as this list tries to tell the story of the past year.

Harry Norbert Kalas was born a broadcaster.  His soothing delivery became epic upon excitement; it was something you waited for and when it happened, it made the play that much more special.  Whether it was a “long drive, deep center field” or a “great diving stop”, or even the occasional “6-4-3 twin-killing”, Harry Kalas allowed for the game of baseball to be thoroughly enjoyed. It mattered not that you were five or 95 years of age; he connected generations with that smooth baritone voice.  There isn’t a Phils fan on Earth that hasn’t shared a drink with Harry Kalas, either through the transistor, or more recently, the flat screen. There isn’t a Phillies fan on Earth that didn’t shed a tear on that somber spring afternoon.

On April 13, 2009, as HK prepared for another day at the park, his big heart gave way, and he was called up to the stadium in the sky.  The Phillies would still play that day against the Nationals, pulling out a 9-8 victory with heavy hearts.  But the game meant very little other than a win for the standings. It meant nothing it all because the voice of the team for nearly four decades would no longer raise his voice in celebration as the Fightin’ Phils scraped and clawed their way to victory.

This is certainly a day no Phillies fan will ever forget.  Still, it’s good to know we can all take joy in the fact that HK finally got to call a World Series clincher.  He also died in the place where he’d made so many memories – the booth, getting ready to call another game.  I’m sure he’s busy right now hanging with Whitey, smoking stogies, taking pleasure in yet another baseball game.


Victorino, Three Others File for Arb

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sat, January 16, 2010 01:07 PM Comments: 95

-Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Chad Durbin, and Carlos Ruiz are the four Phillies who have filed for salary arbitration, which formally took place yesterday.  Each will certainly get a nice raise, though Victorino looks to get the largest since his All-Star berth makes him a valued commodity.  Here is a look at what they made last year along with their age at the start of the 2010 season.

Shane Victorino, 29: $3.125 MM

Joe Blanton, 29: $5.475 MM

Carlos Ruiz, 31: $475 K

Chad Durbin, 32: $1.635 MM

It’s appears a foregone conclusion that Victorino will get in the $6 million range, unless the Phillies decide to lock him up longer. I believe they will try to sign him to a two or three year pact, but that is merely a guess due to the uncertainty with Jayson Werth, who will seek big dollars soon.  Blanton will likely not get an extension past next season as his number gradually pushes higher.  This is likely the last season Big Joe will be in red pinstripes.  Ruiz could double his figure from 2009 after a solid campaign and Durbin should also command a slight raise, perhaps a shade over $2 million.

Some other notable players field for arbitration on Friday as well. Tim Linecum of the Giants will get the biggest raise of all, coming off of his second Cy Young Award in 2009.  He’ll definitely get eight figures, no doubt about it.  Some others who will get nice deals: Edwin Jackson, Jonathan Papelbon, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, Jonathan Broxton, Zach Duke, and Josh Hamilton,

-In some other Phillies news, Brandon Duckworth is back after agreeing to a minor league deal according to Randy Miller of the Bucks County Courier Times. Duckworth spent three seasons with the Phillies before moving on to Houston, and then, Kansas City.  The Duck Pond may be back if he does make the big squad, however, he was not invited to Spring Training.  Duckworth, now 33, has a career ERA 5.28.  This is clearly a depth-driven move for the minors.

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