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Archive for January, 2011

ProspectNation 2011: #18 Michael Schwimer- RHP

Posted by Jay Floyd, Wed, January 19, 2011 04:20 PM Comments: 4

Phillies right-handed pitching prospect Michael Schwimer had a tremendous season at two levels of the system in 2010 and is on the list of talented young relievers that the Phillies have at the higher levels of their farm system.

After making his pro debut with short season Williamsport and posting a 1.96 ERA in 22 relief outings in 2008, Schwimer skipped Class A Lakewood and began his 2009 season at High-A Clearwater, where he went 2-1 with 20 saves and a 2.85 ERA in 48 games. He earned a promotion to Reading of the Double A Eastern League by season’s end.

The Virginia native began the 2010 season back with Reading where he posted a 5-3 record with 11 saves and a 3.60 ERA in 32 games. As a member of the R-Phils, Schwimer recorded 58 strike outs and 14 walks in 40 innings. After a July promotion to Triple A Lehigh Valley, Schwimer continued posting remarkable numbers, going 2-2 with a 1.35 ERA while striking out 18 batters and walking 7 in 20 innings.

The 24-year-old Schwimer has a bit of a reputation as a whiff artist, racking up loads of strikeouts all throughout his minor league career. In three professional seasons, Schwimer has struck out 227 batters in 166 innings.

A 14th round draft selection in 2008 out of the University of Virginia, Schwimer throws a fastball that ranges in the low 90′s, a very deceiving change up and what is regarded as a plus slider.

Schwimer, who stands 6’8″, focused heavily on improving his consistency this past season after being told by the Phillies organization that it was where he’d need to progress if he wished to become a Major League pitcher. In 48 relief outings in 2010, he held opponents scoreless 36 times and allowed multiple runs in an appearance just three times. That sounds about as consistent as it gets for a minor league reliever.

With virtually nothing left to prove in the minors, it will be up to the 2010 Eastern League mid-season All-star, Schwimer, to capitalize on his shot in Major League camp this spring. He’ll turn 25 years old before the Phillies play their first Grapefruit League game this year.

Projection-wise, you can look for Schwimer to be a bullpen contributor at the Major League level. His physical size and downward throwing angle are to his advantage, even if his velocity is not overly impressive.

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

  • 4 Comments
 

Phillies Announce New HD Scoreboard at CBP

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, January 19, 2011 02:00 PM Comments: 12

The Phillies have partnered with Sony Electronics’ System Solutions Group and Daktronics to dramatically enhance the fans viewing experience at Citizens Bank Park. The $10 million upgrade includes the installation of a massive, new Daktronics HD-15 video display and the latest in Sony HD production technology.

When completed, the new Phillies HD display will be the largest in the National League and among the largest in the world – measuring 76 feet high and 97 feet wide, and totaling 7,372 square feet of digital space.

The new HD display will be located under the iconic Phillies sign in left field and will almost triple the size of the formerly existing video display originally installed at Citizens Bank Park. During game time, millions of individual LEDs will illuminate the screen, creating superb image clarity with improved contrast and incredible wide-angle viewing of the action on the playing field. The additional size and resolution of the display will provide even more game-related action and statistical information.

“We’re truly excited to bring the HD experience to our fans,” said Mark DiNardo, Director, Broadcasting and Video Services. “The new technology and dramatically larger image will bring our fans closer to the action than ever. Our unique partnership with Sony and Daktronics gives us the opportunity to transition the in-house broadcast, production and entertainment systems to high-definition in one step.”

Other locations in Citizens Bank Park that will be part of the upgrade to HD include PhanaVision (Phillies vido replay and control room) and video production/video coaching production areas, as well as the facility’s cable TV system.

Construction has already begun with the removal of the original Phillies videoboard, which has recently been relocated to the team’s spring training facility at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla.

Additionally, the Phillies will be installing a dedicated closed captioning display to assist hearing impaired fans, and all 800 televisions in the suites and public areas will also be upgraded to HD.

The first opportunity for fans to see the new videoboard in action will be during the On-Deck Series, when the Phillies take on the Pittsburgh Pirates, March 29-30.

New Phillies HD VIDEOboard DETAILS & FUN Facts

  • The display could feature 49 life-size Phillie Phanatics standing next to and on top of each other
  • Overall size: 76 feet high and 97 feet wide. Offers more than 2.5 times more video area than previous video display (7,372 square feet of digital space vs. 2,691 square feet)
  • Weight: approximately 84,420 lbs. (42.2 tons)
  • Resolution: The HD-15 display exceeds 1080p HD standard with 1512 lines of resolution (six times the resolution of the previous display)
  • Super-wide viewing angles offer improved visibility for more fans; Viewing angles: exceed 160 degrees horizontal (greater than 80 degrees on each side off center)
  • Takes approximately 1,380 flat-panel televisions (at 42” each) to fill the area of the new display
  • If it were a consumer television, the Phillies display would be considered a 1,478” screen
  • Uses state of the art LED technology providing superior brightness in direct sun light, with the capability to show up to 144 quadrillion shades of color
  • Approximately 32,363 feet (6.1 miles) of wiring will deliver power and data to the new display

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Purchase “The Vet” T-Shirt Now!

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, January 18, 2011 07:45 PM Comments: 4

Ain’t she a beaut!? Check out our newest addition to the Phillies Nation store from our resident t-shirt dude, Tom Robinson. It’s “The Vet” t-shirt. Commemorate the 1980 team and the place they called home with this kick-ass tee for just $17, or, get the value tee for only $13!

If you’ll notice, we’ve outlined the 700 Level for you, showing the old yellow seats we all sat in a time or two. Or a hundred. Get them before the season starts, or better yet, before Spring Training!

Click here to purchase “The Vet” t-shirt!

  • 4 Comments
 

Kendrick Avoids Arbitration, Inks for $2.45 Million; Blanton Staying?

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, January 18, 2011 04:07 PM Comments: 15

Kyle Kendrick and the Phillies traded arbitration numbers today, but it never got that far. The two sides agreed on a one-year, $2.45 million pact for the 2011 season.

Jon Heyman broke the news via Twitter.

The 26-year old Kendrick pitched in 180 2/3 innings last season, putting up a 4.73 ERA and 1.37 WHIP while going 11-10. It was his fourth season with the Phillies and during his time in Philadelphia, Kendrick has accumulated a 35-24 record with a 4.69 ERA and 1.425 WHIP.

As of this time, Kendrick is out of the rotation with Joe Blanton has the fifth starter.

Adding KK’s contract to the pot, that puts the Phillies payroll at $164.83 million for 2011. (Hat tip to Matt Gelb for doing the math).

UPDATE, 5:59 pm: Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com spoke with Phillies GM Ruben Amaro today who said that he does not feel comfortable moving Joe Blanton this season and will keep him “probably for the entire season.”

If the Phillies want to play it safe in the arms race, then keeping Blanton is a no-brainer. This also suggests that they aren’t getting bites on the Blanton bait right now, so this could be a motivator for Big Joe.

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Phillies Smart to Stay Away from Expensive Relievers

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, January 18, 2011 01:37 PM Comments: 14

Joaquin Benoit had a great year for the Rays in 2010. Through 63 appearances, he posted a miniscule 0.68 WHIP while striking out 75 and walking 11. Solid numbers. The previous season, his ERA was 5.00. He turned that into $16.5 million over three years.

Matt Guerrier pitched for the Twins last season and did a fine job, as well. He was a type-A free agent who has posted solid numbers during his career. But not only did he cost the Dodgers a top draft pick, he also made them open their wallet up for $12 million over three seasons.

Some others:

  • JJ Putz: 2/$10MM, Arizona
  • Bobby Jenks: 2/$12MM, Boston
  • Jesse Crain: 3/$13MM, Chicago White Sox

A lot of money was tossed around to relief pitchers this offseason. Hell, even 41-year-old Arthur Rhodes got $4.1 million guaranteed from the Rangers.

The moral of the story is that Ruben Amaro did good, kid, did real good. None of those teams was able to wrangle in the top starting pitcher on the market; a guy who makes the bullpen less of a necessity through expensive means like free agency. Amaro was assuredly being pulled in by the powers of pitching – there is always room for more, they say. Wisely, he stepped back, re-upped his lefty reliever from a year ago at a bargain bin price, and went on his merry way.

In doing so, he’ll give his stable of young relievers within the farm system the ability to mature. There is likely a spot or two open in the bullpen this year which could very well be filled by a name like De Fratus, Matheison, Herndon, or Zagurski. And that’s perfect.

Many were hoping to see another splash made for the back-end, however, with Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt, and Lee (in no particular order), was/is there any need?

Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, JC Romero, Jose Contreras are all locked in to their spots in the late innings. Antonio Bastardo is awfully close to being penciled in as another lefty specialist. Then comes the fun part.

Spring Training will allow the organization to hand pick their final relief pitcher out of that group. Included will likely be Vance Worley or Kyle Kendrick, depending on how arbitration goes for the latter. Either one can be the long man capable of starting, especially with Joe Blanton currently the fifth starter.

Saving the money now will allow Amaro to lock Ryan Madson into a long-term deal once his contract expires at the end of 2011. By that point, we’ll know which minor league prospect has the cojones for relieving. We’ll also likely be saying bye-bye to Brad Lidge, which will open up even more room for the Phillies to maneuver in the future.

Good job Rube, you did good, kid.

(photo: blueclaws.com)

  • 14 Comments
 

Moose Tracks, Vol. 2

Posted by Jay Floyd, Tue, January 18, 2011 07:30 AM Comments: 1

Phillies minor league third baseman Moose Mattair checked in once again on Monday night to submit another diary entry, detailing his road trip from Washington State to Clearwater, Florida.  Moose is returning to baseball after taking a year off to dabble in Division I college basketball.

On the road with Moose is his cousin Eric, who shared time behind the wheel and is helping with the move, as well as serving as a boisterous companion. 

Check out what Moose had to say below and check back for more, in the coming days.

We stayed in Dallas, Texas on Saturday night. We went out, there, and had a good time. It was an experience. We got to meet some southern belles and just had a good time there in Texas. We watched the Seahawks/Bears game and took some taxis around to see the town. Even though the Seahawks lost it was still a good time.

Then after watching football we drove from Dallas to Baton Rouge, Louisianna yesterday. We dealt with heavy rain the entire way. We drove for about 9 hours and it just absolutely downpoured the whole time. We got caught up in some traffic, but made it in last night kind of late. We got up this morning primed and ready to finish the cross country trip. We got at about 9:30 to (Anthony) Gose’s house and got our stuff unloaded and went to Olive Garden and had a good dinner to celebrate the drive and now we’re just tired as we could ever be. That’s for sure.

We were doing the math and we drove just under 3,200 miles, and it took us 53 hours of driving, we went through 12 states and spent about $230 in gas.

Upon my arrival, Anthony Gose and Travis d’Arnaud are actually out in Arizona. Gose’s wife was here and she gave us a key, then she took off for Orlando. Those guys get back here on the 29th and I pretty much have free run of it till they get here at the end of the month. It’s a beautiful house that’s actually in Holiday, Florida. It’s a gorgeous house and I wouldn’t expect anything less from Anthony Gose, who is a top notch dude, for sure.

I haven’t seen any of the Phillies guys yet. I am actually going in to work out at the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater (on Tuesday). I talked to Sean, our strength and conditioning guy and he said there are some pitchers down here for a mini camp, I don’t know exactly what it is. I can’t wait, something I look forward to the most is walking in, seeing my teammates after the long off-season and getting those big hugs.

I plan to work out there on Wednesday as well.

After that, we are going to take our trip to Miami. The Heat are playing the Raptors on Saturday and we’re going to try to get to that game. My cousin and I are also going to each get a tattoo while we’re down there, but the information about that can not be disclosed at this time. We will just check out Miami and the southern part of Florida, while we have the opportunity (this coming weekend).

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Click here to read Moose Tracks, Vol. 1.

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

  • 1 Comments
 

ProspectNation 2011: #19 Aaron Altherr- OF

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, January 17, 2011 09:00 PM Comments: 8

After splitting his second season of professional baseball with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and the Williamsport Crosscutters, outfielder Aaron Altherr is already turning heads and moving up the Phillies prospect rankings at a fast pace. A 9th round selection in the 2009 draft, the 20-year-old Altherr is known to be a contact hitter.

The righty hitting Altherr debuted with the Gulf Coast League Phillies after signing his first professional contract in 2009 and batted .214 with 1 HR, 11 RBI and 6 steals in 28 games. In 1 less game played in the GCL this past season, Altherr showed improvement and posted a .304 batting average with 1 HR, 15 RBI and 10 steals. He was promoted to Williamsport on July 22nd.

With the short season Class A Crosscutters of the New York-Penn League, Altherr continued a strong season with a .287 average, 7 doubles, 3 triples, 10 RBI and 2 steals in 28 games. Altherr made such a strong impression that he was named one of the NYPL’s top 20 prospects by Baseball America. Additionally, Baseball America listed him among the top 10 prospects in the Gulf Coast League following his near even split for the season between the two leagues. Altherr began his year in extended spring training.

As a young hitter, Altherr struggled with pitch recognition and focused greatly, in 2010, on his need to hit opposing pitchers’ change ups. His improvements were clear in his statistics, as the season went on. In the GCL, Altherr struck out 22 times and reached via walk only 3 times. After his promotion, Altherr struck out just 13 times and increased his walks to 8.

At 6’5″, 180 pounds, Altherr is regarded as one of several raw, but extremely athletic, outfielders that the Phillies have collected in the annual amateur draft over the past few years. A key to Altherr’s game, much like the other unseasoned talent, is that he has athleticism that can not be taught.

Altherr, who was born in Germany, played shortstop and was a premiere pitcher at Agua Fria High School in Arizona, but was moved to the outfield once he began his career in the Phillies organization.

Expect to see the man with the projected high ceiling, Altherr, suit up for A Level Lakewood in the coming season, as he will attempt to help the BlueClaws chase a third straight South Atlantic League championship.

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

  • 8 Comments
 

The Greatest Phillie: 2000-2010

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, January 17, 2011 06:55 PM Comments: 42

Let’s discuss. It’s the slow time of year, so we want to get the baseball juices flowing. What would be better than to talk about the greatest Phillies players of 2000-2010? It’s a conversation piece with no right or wrong answer – only solid arguments backed by fact and opinion.

So tell us: who was the best Phillies player between 2000 – 2010? Yes, that’s 11 years (no, I was not a math major) but who cares. Have fun with it.

The best argument for the greatest Phillie of the decade gets a free t-shirt from Phillies Nation!

  1. Scott Rolen: Was here just 2 1/2 years, but was amazing defensively and put up solid numbers. Rubbed people the wrong way and left on bad terms.
  2. Bobby Abreu: Great offensive player, but played RF like it was little league. One of the best lefty hitters in team history was here until 2006.
  3. Pat Burrell: Pat the Bat always seemed to underachieve but in several season put up some monster numbers. Always a fan favorite, both on the field and at the pub.
  4. Jim Thome: Only spent 2 1/2 incredible seasons in Philly. Beloved by all, one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. Also helped usher in a new way of free-agent spending for a once frugal franchise. He was the one who helped open up the wallets in 2003.
  5. Chase Utley: One of the best second basemen in league history, offensively and defensively. One of the hardest workers we’ve ever seen in this town. Can basically do no wrong and has put up great numbers since joining the team full-time in 2005. Chase, you are the man.
  6. Ryan Howard: A power hitter through and through, Howard has put the Phillies on his back late in the season on more than one occasion. Perhaps the greatest masher in team history. An MVP and ROY.
  7. Jimmy Rollins: The heart and soul of this franchise for a decade; has seen his play decline on the wrong side of 30. Still, as he goes, so does this team. Also an MVP.
  8. Cole Hamels: Nearly single-handedly won the Phillies their first title in 28 years. One of the greatest playoffs we’ve seen by a pitcher in a long time. Had bad year in between four very good ones. Becoming an elite lefty in the game.

Who was the greatest Phillie of the past decade?

View Results

  • 42 Comments
 

Week in Review: 1/10 – 1/16

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Sun, January 16, 2011 11:36 AM Comments: 0

Lots of posts this week from the Nation. I hope you were able to keep up. If not, that’s ok too. That’s what Sundays are for.
-Former Phillies GM Ed Wade did yet another switcheroo with a pitcher who the Phillies recently DFA’d. Wade acquired Sergio Escalona for minor league infielder Albert Cartwright.
-Phillies prospect Phillippe Aumont will once again be heading back to the bullpen, a year after the organization tried him in a starters role for Double A Reading and High A Clearwater. PN’s Minor League contributor Jay Floyd breaks it down for you.
-The Phillies signed former first overall pick Matt Anderson to a minor league contract. Anderson was originally drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 1997.
-Finally a right fielder signed? Well yes, sort of. The Phillies agreed to a one year deal, and avoided arbitration, with Ben Francisco.
-Lakewood BlueClaws Travis Mattair gives us a peak at the journey back after taking a year off from baseball in Vol 1 of Moose Tracks.
-Phillies pitching prospect Jake Borup stopped by and explained how he feels So Close, Yet So Far Away.
-Also check out Phillies Nation’s newest “The Vet” shirt and don’t forget you can still purchase tickets for the PSWA awards dinner.

Questions to Ponder:
Pat asked Do the Phillies really need Durbin?
Michael wants to know your favorite non-Phillies player in Offseason Icebreakers, Vol. 3 and Why do Phillies fans like Wilson Valdez so much?
Could Lastings Milledge play a roll for the Phillies next season?
Poll of the Day
Paul debates the MLB’s most elite second baseman: Chase Utley or Robinson Cano

Top Moments:
#21 Oswalt Ignores Stop Sign, Runs to Win
#20 Halladay Out Groins Timmy, Phillies Stay Alive
#19 Phillies Keep Pushing Braves Back
Check out all the Top Moments up to this point here.

Prospect Nation:
#22 Mike Zagurski
#21 Jonathan Pettibone
#20 Mike Stutes
Check out all the prospects.

Around the division:
It has been pretty light in the news department for the rest of the NL East. The Nationals are looking for a utility-type player to back up Danny Espinoza. The Mets and Marlins are signing guys to minor league contracts. New York will be discussing arbitration numbers for Angel Pagan and R.A. Dickey this week. It seems the Braves briefly discussed, internally, about bringing back Andruw Jones. Like I said, not much going on for the teams who didn’t sign Cliff Lee.

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Phillies, Francisco Agree to Deal, Avoid Arbitration

Posted by Paul Boye, Sat, January 15, 2011 04:21 PM Comments: 16

The Phillies and outfielder Ben Francisco have agreed to a $1.175 million contract for the 2011 season, avoiding an arbitration hearing in the process.

Francisco hit .268/.327/.441 in 197 PA in 2010, and has a .272/.323/.471 line in 301 Philly PA since coming over with Cliff Lee from the Indians in July 2009. He is arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2011, and his signing leaves Kyle Kendrick as the lone unsigned arb-eligible player. Francisco figures to see a bump in playing time this season, being a right-handed complement to both Raul Ibanez and top prospect Domonic Brown in left and right field, respectively.

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