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Archive for November, 2010

Trade Option: Colby Rasmus

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, November 26, 2010 11:48 AM Comments: 19

Recently, the Cardinals made it clear that they were not trading Colby Rasmus, their 24-year old centerfielder oozing with star potential. With good reason, St. Louis wanted to keep the young, cheap player after he hit 23 home runs and drove in 66 runs a year ago. As of yesterday, his name is back out on the rumor mill.

A contentious relationship with manager Tony LaRussa led to Rasmus becoming part of the rumors around the trade deadline this past summer, however, nothing came of it. Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweeted yesterday that three contending clubs could be angling to make a play for the talented outfielder. Could the Phillies be one of those teams with the impending loss of Jayson Werth?

Rasmus made just $418,000 in 2010 and has another season ahead of him before he even hits arbitration. For his caliber of play, he’s as cheap as they come. On the flip side, he’ll cost a pretty penny on prospects and it would have to be worth the Cardinals while to replace him.

There doesn’t seem to be a concrete reason that the Cardinals would want to push such a talented player out the door, but it seems as though the front office in St. Louis could be ready to choose the manager over the kid. If a little tiff with Tony LaRussa is the reason, then the Cards loss is another teams gain.

Now to the numbers: Rasmus followed up an up and down rookie campaign in 2009 with an exceptional step forward in 2010. In ’10, he played three more games and his average jumped from .251 to .276, his homers went from 16 to 23, and his OPS made a considerable leap from .714 to .859. That .859 OPS mirrors Ryan Howard’s OPS for the 2010 season and was 27 points better than Chase Utley’s. Not bad for a 24-year old.

His defense has fluctuated during his two seasons according to FanGraphs. In his rookie year of ‘09, his UZR was an exceptional 10.2. Last year that figure dropped to a -6.5. If you look at the in-between, a 3.2 UZR is slightly better than average. The question would be; what do you do with him in Philadelphia?

With Shane Victorino entrenched in centerfield, Rasmus would have to play out of his normal position in right. However, the speed of the Phillies outfield would be fantastic. Again, he’s another left-handed bat that would add to an overloaded lefty lineup. Rasmus falls in line with Grady Sizemore as a less-than-perfect fit.

Rasmus is a career .217 hitter against left-handed pitching meaning as a five-hole hitter, the Phillies would be in trouble in late-inning situations.

CHANCES: 2/10 – Again, another lefty who struggles against left-handed pitching and would add to that already too-lefty lineup the Phils trot out there everyday. Rasmus is a fine young player, but the chances of him coming here aren’t great unless a counter move is made to make the lineup lefty-friendly.

  • 19 Comments
 

Happy Thanksgiving from Phillies Nation

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, November 25, 2010 09:50 AM Comments: 21

Happy Thanksgiving Phillies Fans

Happy Turkey day from the entire Phillies Nation crew! Hope you enjoy spending time with loved ones while chatting about the Phillies offseason and beyond (plus watching some football, or course). And make sure you get in a little extra stuffing while you can, we’re just 81 days from Spring Training.

Hey Nation, what are you thankful for?

  • 21 Comments
 

Offseason Icebreakers, Vol. 1: The Thanksgiving Turkey

Posted by Michael Baumann, Wed, November 24, 2010 12:00 PM Comments: 27

The worst thing about the offseason is not being able to watch baseball. The next-worst thing about the offseason is having to come up with excuses to talk about baseball. With the winter meetings and free agency, it’s not too much of a stretch, but let’s face it, it’s easier to talk about baseball when there’s a game on.

In order to alleviate the boredom of the offseason–the NFL and regular season ice hockey being inadequate as diversions–I’ll be posting icebreaker questions periodically. They’ll always be at least tangentially related to the Phillies, and, as always, feel free to leave your own answers in the comment section.

This fist icebreaker is a simple question. I’ve always said that inside every fat kid is a skinny kid who didn’t run fast enough. Today, let’s indulge our inner fat kids.

With one of the few uniquely American holidays coming up later this week, imagine the 2010 Phillies as a Thanksgiving meal. Which players correspond to which foods? My answer is after the jump. Leave yours in the comments.

Continue reading Offseason Icebreakers, Vol. 1: The Thanksgiving Turkey

  • 27 Comments
 

Trade Option: Matt Thornton

Posted by Paul Boye, Wed, November 24, 2010 10:00 AM Comments: 16

After taking a look at some free agent relievers, we present another reliever who may be a viable option, this time via trade. Matt Thornton, a late-blooming, flamethrowing lefty from the White Sox, would be a solid addition to the relief corps, especially if they deem the price on the better free agents to be too high.

Thornton, who debuted with the Mariners in 2004 at age 27, was a nearly anonymous figure for the first four years of his career. Spending two years in Seattle before being traded to the White Sox for super-bust Joe Borchard, Thornton pitched 200 innings on the nose through 2007. He racked up 191 strikeouts in those 200 innings, but also walked 114, limiting his effectiveness.

In the last three seasons, though, something seems to have clicked with Thornton. Pitching 200.1 innings since the start of ’08, Thornton has elevated his impressive strikeout numbers – 245 of them, in fact – while drastically improving his control and walking just 59 batters. Let’s reiterate that in a cleaner fashion:

2004-07: 200 IP, 191 K, 114 BB, 1.515 WHIP
2008-10: 200.1 IP, 245 K, 59 BB, 1.028 WHIP

That’s a tremendous difference, and it makes Thornton a valuable commodity under contract for just $3M in 2011. Among pitchers who made at least 80 percent of their appearances in relief and logged 150-plus innings since 2008, Thornton ranks highly among some impressive company.

  • 4th in K/9 (11.01)
  • 18th in BB/9 (2.65)
  • 4th in K/BB (4.15)
  • 14th in HR/9 (0.58)
  • 3rd in WAR (7.2)

The long and short of it is this: sometime around the 2008 season, Thornton flipped the switch and turned into an elite reliever. He’s affordable, potentially a Type B (or better) free agent after the season, and left-handed. It’s worth noting that Thornton not only held lefty batters to a measly .175/.221/.278 line in 2010, he also stifled righties to the tune of .203/.296/.288, so Thornton’s clearly no situational lefty reliever.

As for the likelihood of a deal, well, that’s another thing. There were whispers in July about the Phillies being linked to Thornton, but no real movement on that front thus far this winter. It’s entirely possible that the White Sox will hold on to Thornton as they look to contend in the perennially up-for-grabs A.L. Central, only listening to him if they fall out of contention this summer.

Whatever the case, Thornton is unlikely to cost premium talent (like Dom Brown, in spite of Thornton’s impressive numbers), and his presence would be a major boost to the Philly ‘pen; that much doesn’t seem to be in contention. The possibility of Thornton’s availability and Amaro’s interest in acquiring him, on the other hand, definitely appear to be in doubt. The fit is there, and the Phillies have what it would take to acquire Thornton, but this is a match that appears far, far away. Let’s give this a 3/10 on the Amaro Head Scale.

  • 16 Comments
 

Why Do We Celebrate At Frankford And Cottman?

Posted by R.C. Cowie, Tue, November 23, 2010 04:00 PM Comments: 9

I was standing in a crowd of at least 10,000 people with my closest friends during the early morning of October 30th. Hours earlier, the Phillies won their first World Series in 28 years. Instinctively my friends and I rushed to the intersection of Frankford and Cottman Avenues to join in the jubilant celebration with my fellow denizens of Mayfair. Around 3:30 AM the masses showed no signs of slowing down their ‘Let’s Go Phillies’ chants and non-discriminate high fives to perfect strangers.

On any other day the intersection of Frankford and Cottman Avenues is just like any other cross-streets in the city – ordinary. It features a mix of small businesses and national chain stores, a post office and about a half dozen Irish sports bars.

As I was standing on the southwest corner of Cottman Avenue on this magical day, brushing off a police officer’s plea to go home, that intersection was the most magical place on Earth. I thought to myself, “Why do we do this?” “Why do we come to this intersection, in this neighborhood, to celebrate an extraordinary occasion?”

According to Mayfair historian Dr. Harry Silcox, newly elected President George Washington passed through the area and residents gathered to greet him. Silcox adds in the late 1930′s, the Mayfair Movie Theater was built and became the central entertainment location for the neighborhood. The area around the main intersection of Frankford and Cottman avenues was occupied by banks, appliance stores, large food stores, real-estate offices, stationery stores, record shops and television-repair shops. Everything a shopper needed was nearby. A bustling business and entertainment district, Frankford and Cottman naturally became the place to go for everything a person would need.

The promotional film It Happened In Mayfair highlights the attractiveness of the area and the neighborhood as a whole during the late 1930′s.

Silcox states that citizens gathered there after the announcement of the Allies victory in World War II. Whether it was defeating fascism or sporting foes, Frankford and Cottman provided a central location for the residents of Mayfair and the surround neighborhoods to rejoice in their triumphant jubilance.

We continue to go there now because it’s the only place we’ve ever went. Being a resident of Mayfair, it is not only a tradition but it’s also a part of our heritage. I was there in 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2009. In those most perfect of times it becomes the most perfect place to share in a moment that means so much to so many people.

As I’m waiting on yet another season to begin, I yearn for a chance for this penultimate celebration once more before our final victory dance down Broad Street..

  • 9 Comments
 

Phillies Promote Two Minor League Managers

Posted by Jay Floyd, Tue, November 23, 2010 11:45 AM Comments: 3

Four of the Phillies’ six minor league clubs will officially have new managers in 2011 after the Phillies announced on Monday that they have given promotions to Mark Parent and Chris Truby.

Parent, a former Major League catcher who played with the Phillies, among other clubs, will move up to Double A Reading. Parent, 49, managed the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws to a second consecutive South Atlantic League title in 2010 and then spent time as hitting coach with the Arizona Fall League’s Mesa Solar Sox. The Autumn assignment could be more than busy work for Parent, who seems to be a likely candidate for the role of hitting coach at the Major League level in the coming years.

Speaking in an exclusive interview following Lakewood’s title clincher in September, Parent seemed to be considerably focused on acquiring a big league spot. Replying to an inquiry about the potential realignment among the Phillies’ minor league management positions, Parent stated, “The higher you get (in baseball), there’s more on the line. I’m a Major League guy. I like the big leagues, (but) I’ll do what (Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.) asks me to do.”

Parent now has a mildly revised outlook toward the near future, as evidenced by what he told me Monday evening.

“I’m happy doing whatever the Phillies want me to do this season. You have a group of instructors (and) teachers of the game here that will do their very best job for the benefit of the organization,” Parent said. “Last year in Lakewood couldn’t have went much better in terms of growth in the young players, largely because of their commitment. I’m looking forward to going to Reading. Reading has long been the stop of many major league players, even a Hall of Famer or two. Hopefully, I can do my part in helping more players become contributing Phillies in the Major Leagues. The bottom line, though, is to develop players that want to win and know what it takes compete.”

Truby, a 37-year-old, who played in the Majors with four teams, will follow Parent as the skipper in Lakewood. Truby spent the last two seasons managing the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters, and many of the players he led there should follow Truby upward in the system this coming year.

“I’m obviously very excited,” Truby said, via a press release from the BlueClaws. “Lakewood is a place that everyone has rave reviews about and it’s a step up for me, a progression in my career.

“You want to get to the point where you move up into a full season league. Going to Lakewood, where they’ve won two championships in a row and get the fan support that they do is exciting.”

Last week, the Phillies hired Mickey Morandini to manage the Williamsport club. The 44-year-old Morandini, who has been coaching high school ball in recent years, has spent time as a guest instructor at spring training with the Phillies in the past. Morandini played 965 games as a member of the Phillies over parts of 9 seasons during his playing career.

Another addition to the Phillies’ minor league rankings was Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, who also was once a part of the Phillies organization, as a player. Sandberg was of course traded to the Cubs after debuting with the Phillies as a 21-year-old in 1981. Sandberg will manage the Triple A level Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

High-A level manager Dusty Wathan will remain in place with the Clearwater Threshers, while Roly deArmas will return to manage the Rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2011.

____________________________________________

Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league contributor. You can read more from Jay by visiting his site, PhoulBallz.com.

  • 3 Comments
 

The Candidates for Righty Relief

Posted by Paul Boye, Tue, November 23, 2010 10:00 AM Comments: 7

On Sunday, we took a look at four southpaws who represent the cream of the free agent lefty relief club, so it’s only fair that we pay some attention to their counterparts.

Right-handed relief appears to be a less pressing than lefty relief – or, depending on your faith in Antonio Bastardo, perhaps more pressing – with Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson topping the current roster, and recently re-signed Jose Contreras providing support. Bullpen depth is never a bad thing, though, and filling out the roster with effective pitchers could go a long way toward eating innings and providing solid injury replacements.

The Phils could be looking for up to three right-handed replacements for 2011. Chad Durbin is a free agent and rumored to be getting interest as a starter; David Herndon, whose Rule 5 status has expired, will likely start the year in Triple-A, possibly to be stretched out for starting; Danys Baez is Danys Baez.

Who’s out there on the free agent market that could be a fit? Let’s take a look at some players who, while not all elite or big names, could provide stability to the Philly ‘pen. Again, these are four free agents. For trade possibilities, stay tuned to our Trade Option series.

Continue reading The Candidates for Righty Relief

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Year In Review: Danys Baez

Posted by Amanda Orr, Mon, November 22, 2010 06:00 PM Comments: 11

When the Phillies signed Danys Baez to a two-year, $5.25 million contract, I thought that this was a decent deal.  He had a few good years; a few not-so-good.  He’d be taking over Chan Ho Park’s role, how bad could it be?  About a year later, I’m regretting those thoughts.

Before the season started, Baez was believed to be a reliable late-inning reliever.  Especially with certain injuries to the bullpen, Baez was visioned as a seventh or eighth inning guy.

Baez struggled from the get-go.  Unfortunately, Charlie Manuel kept him in the same role.  Appearing in 51 games, Baez received many chances but he still failed to reach any sort of expectation.  It wasn’t until later in the season when Manuel decided that Baez pitched his way out of his job.

Every time Baez entered the game, I joked that the Phillies should just hand the opponents five runs.  Sadly, that’s basically what happened;  Baez had an earned run average of 5.48 in 47.2 innings.  The poor statistics do not end there.  He averaged 1.64 walks and hits per innings pitched.  He also allowed 10.4 hits and 4.3 walks per nine innings.

The only time Baez did not hurt the team was when he was sent to the disabled list with back-spasms in August.  Even when he returned, he continued to struggle.  Due to his unsatisfactory performance, Baez was left off the playoff roster.

It’s tough to talk positively about the 2010 performance of Danys Baez.  However, there were a few games in which he did get the job done, and he deserves credit for that.  Also, I’d rather have Baez’s contract rather than Brandon Lyons or Fernando Rodney’s, who were other options last off season.

The Phillies hope that Baez will rebound next season.  Don’t expect him to strike a ton of people out, but he’s a ground ball pitcher who has had some success in the past, being an All Star in 2005.  He has one year left on his contract, so he’ll get another chance.  But if he continues to fail, those Philadelphia boos are not disappearing.

AMANDA’S GRADE: 1.5/10

  • 11 Comments
 

Votto Wins NL MVP as Three Phillies Finish in Top 10

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, November 22, 2010 04:11 PM Comments: 26

Joey Votto was named the National League Most Valuable Player today in a landslide vote, with Albert Pujols finishing second and Carlos Gonzalez third. Votto grabbed 31 of the 32 first place votes (Pujols got the other) while three Phillies finished in the Top 10.

Roy Halladay received one second place vote and three third place votes to finish sixth with 130 points. In eighth place was Jayson Werth; his highest vote was a fifth rounder. Werth had 52 points. Ryan Howard was 10th with 50 points, however, he grabbed a second place vote and a third place vote, a bit of a surprise. Catcher Carlos Ruiz even took home three votes to place 17th. Congrats to Chooch.

It’s good to see Halladay get some recognition, but you could make an argument he could have finished even higher; the next closest pitcher in the vote standings was Adam Wainwright who placed 19th. Halladay’s performance this season was MVP-worth on so many levels. He kept his team in countless games throughout the year and could have finished with more than 21 wins had his offense not let him down.

The writers got it right with Votto taking home the award, but certainly Halladay could have finished in a better spot.

  • 26 Comments
 

Trade Option: Grady Sizemore

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, November 22, 2010 08:59 AM Comments: 27

From 2005 to 2008, Grady Sizemore was one of the best young hitters in the game. Over that four season stretch he put up impressive numbers, topping out with a .290 average and a league-leading 53 doubles in 2006, 101 walks in 2007, and 33 homers and 38 steals in 2008. In his rookie year of 2005, the outfielder put up a .289/22/81 stat line. All very exciting numbers.

In 2009, Sizemore’s decline became apparent as injuries began to take their toll. Late in the season – after struggling through much of it – he elected to have surgery on his nagging left elbow which had sapped his power and ruined his year. A week after his elbow was repaired, Sizemore had another surgery to fix a hernia which was brought on by a groin injury, which also killed his season.

The worst had yet to come for the Indians centerfielder at that point as in 2010 he’d play in just 33 games, cutting his year short after undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee.

It appears that Cleveland is now trying to gauge interest on the face of their tattered franchise, one that has won fewer than 70 games in back-to-back seasons. However, would it make sense for the Indians to deal their star while his trade value is at it’s lowest point? There are two layers to that.

On one hand, they may want to recoup some younger players if they believe Sizemore’s best days are in the past.

On the other hand, it might make more sense to wait it out and see what he can offer them for the 2011 season and either keep him around for the future or look for a better deal at the trade deadline.

If they decide to pursue the trade, would – or should – the Phillies show interest for another left-handed bat?

Sizemore is owed $7.5 million in 2011 and has a 2012 club option for $8.5 million that becomes a player option should he be traded. The contract is very friendly, but that really isn’t the issue here. It’s clearly the health of his surgically-repaired knee.

According to Anthony Castrovince, the Indians MLB.com beat writer, Sizemore is progressing well and is on schedule to return to lineup for opening day. As we all know, setbacks can occur, especially with such a delicate surgery.  It’s still positive news considering he had the procedure less than six months ago.

As for his left-handedness, it’s a long-shot that the Phillies would want to add yet another to their order. His .230 career split against lefty pitching is surely a problem, but with a drought of righty hitters available for the position the Phillies would need to fill, perhaps adding a proven lefty hitter that was once at the top of position would work out just the same. Again, it’s not likely, but Sizemore has the talent to make up for the deficiency against the lefty-lefty matchup.

If Ruben Amaro doesn’t mind yet another lefty, a Sizemore addition could enable a Jimmy Rollins move to fifth or sixth in the order. Sizemore is a proven leadoff guy, evident in his 3,181 plate appearances at the top of the lineup and his 134 career stolen bases. If Rollins bats in an RBI-producing position, would that make up for the right-handed inadequacies this team would have without Jayson Werth? Absolutely not. But it would be a start.

It’s nearly impossible to say what the Phillies would have to part with to acquire Sizemore. You would have to believe that if he were truly available Ruben Amaro and his boys would be doing their homework on the three-time all star.

CHANCES: Sizemore’s availability is in question because there of the aforementioned injuries, etc. The Phillies will question whether or not another left-handed batter is the right move. If the Indians are listening, Ruben Amaro should at the very least give a call. The Phillies have done well with the Indians before and perhaps they can steal another franchise staple.

I give this two Ruben Heads out of 10 on the trade possibility scale.

Ruben's floating head Ruben's floating head

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