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Archive for February, 2011

Could Durbin Come Back?

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, February 22, 2011 08:47 PM Comments: 21

Dave Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News is reporting that Chad Durbin is weighing an option to come back to Philadelphia on a minor league deal. Murphy also says that Durbin has an offer on the table as a starting pitcher from the Boston Red Sox.

Durbin spent three seasons with the Phillies, but became a free agent and was looking for a raise from the $2.125 million he made in 2010.

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Help Support Philly PAL at the Sixers Game Tonight!

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, February 22, 2011 06:53 PM Comments: 1

During halftime of the Sixers/Wizards game on tonight, I’ll be taking part in the Celebrity/Media game to help support the 2th Annual “PAL Night at the Sixers.” Over 200 Police Athletic League youngsters will be in attendance, courtesy of the Sixers.

This year’s game will once again put Television personalities vs. Radio/Print personalities and each team will be joined by All-Star PAL Girls hoopsters. Some of the local personalities will be Mike Gill from 97.3 ESPN FM in South Jersey, Marshall Harris from Comcast Sportsnet, Marisa Magnatta from 93.3 WMMR, Walter Perez from 6ABC, Tim Furlong and Harry Hairston from NBC10, Kharisma McIlwaine from CW Philly, and Gervase Peterson, formerly from “Survivor.”

It’ll be a great night, hopefully you can make it out if you’re in the Philly area. Tickets are still available for great prices. Please come and support the Police Athletic League!

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ProspectNation 2011: #3 Brody Colvin- RHP

Posted by Jay Floyd, Tue, February 22, 2011 01:45 PM Comments: 0

A 7th round draft selection in 2009 out of St. Thomas More High School, in Louisiana, Brody Colvin was originally committed to attend Louisiana State University, but signed with the Phillies at the deadline.

The right-handed Colvin made his professional debut late in 2009, throwing 2 innings in a game for the Gulf Coast League Phillies. He then followed up his brief stint in the GCL by pitching at instructional ball for a month following the season.

In 2010, Colvin spent the year as a member of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws’ starting rotation. Colvin began the season poorly in the South Atlantic League, as he sported 2-5 record with an 8.40 ERA after a start against at Greenville on May 12th, in which he failed to go 2 full innings. After that rough start, however, Colvin proceeded to rattle off an amazing string of 13 starts in which he posted a 3-1 record, a 1.38 ERA and 68 strike outs in 78 innings.

Colvin’s overall regular season ERA of 3.39 in 27 starts was very strong, especially considering he struggled early in the season and had an 11.15 ERA through his 4 April starts.

His 6-8 regular season record with the BlueClaws doesn’t quite show it, but Colvin proved to be one of the premiere pitchers in the SAL once he straightened himself out. He allowed 0 or 1 runs in 11 different starts in which he did not earn a win during the 2010 season, so it’s clear that Colvin wasn’t blessed with much offensive support at times.

By mid-season, the Phillies had placed an inning limit of 5 per outing on Colvin, in order to keep his innings total for the season down. This preventive measure was perhaps sparked by injuries to Colvin’s staff mates, Jarred Cosart and Nick Hernandez.

Throughout the second half of the season, Colvin worked on his mechanics with Lakewood pitching coach Steve Schrenk. Adjustments made to Colvin’s delivery reduced his tendencies to throw across his body and enabled him to add some velocity to his fastball. Colvin’s performances in 2010 showed an improved efficiency as he worked hard to develop his pitches and his delivery.

Continue reading ProspectNation 2011: #3 Brody Colvin- RHP

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Playing Devil’s Advocate: The Cliff Lee Deal

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, February 22, 2011 09:58 AM Comments: 85

I’d been sitting on this topic for quite a while, wondering internally since the deal was made if it was a great move made by the Phillies. I’m talking about the Cliff Lee signing, which we all know was a very good, very prudent move by the organization.

We’ve had it scanned into our brains that you can never have enough pitching, and if you look around the league you’ll understand why that is. However, not many teams have high priced pitching like the Phillies do.

When Lee inked his deal to return to Philadelphia, people were beyond excited. I don’t remember even one person questioning the deal at the time. He came back after leaving against his own will, which made it even more impressive, so not much negative light was shed on it.

With his minor (very minor) injury surfacing recently – which was probably nothing more than Lee sleeping wrong on his throwing arm – plus a mammoth contract to boot, Lee will be looked over with a fine toothed comb every time he sneezes too loudly. It’s the way it is. Did this topic seep back into my subconscious after hearing about the small setback? Probably a little, I’ll admit some guilt there.

Looking past the latest bit of injury news, is anyone the least bit worried about a five-year deal to a pitcher?

Continue reading Playing Devil’s Advocate: The Cliff Lee Deal

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ProspectNation 2011: #4 Sebastian Valle- Catcher

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, February 21, 2011 05:05 PM Comments: 4

Mexico native Sebastian Valle has emerged as a premiere prospect in the Phillies organization. Valle is a promising young catcher who was signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent in 2006 at the age of 16.

The right-handed hitting Valle began playing professional ball in the Dominican Summer League in 2007. While there, he batted .284 with an OPS of .802 in 54 games.

In 2008, Valle played for the Gulf Coast League Phillies, where he batted .281, hit 2 homers and drove in 18 runs in 48 games. There, he helped guide the GCL Phils’ pitching staff to a league championship.

The following year, Valle, who stands 6-feet-1-inches tall and weighs around 175 pounds, split time between Class A Lakewood and Low A short season Williamsport. In 50 games for the Williamsport Crosscutters, Valle shined, posting a .307 average with 6 homeruns and 40 RBI. Valle’s .866 OPS with the Cutters was impressive as well. The production wasn’t quite the same with the Lakewood BlueClaws, however, as Valle struggled for playing time behind eventual Roy Halladay trade chip Travis d’Arnaud. In 45 games for the eventual SAL champion BlueClaws, Valle batted .223 with 1 HR, 15 RBI and a .644 OPS.

The 2010 season presented a chance to play more for Lakewood and Valle, who entered the season at 19 years of age, produced very solid numbers, as one of the leaders of the team’s offense. Valle began the year a bit slow, notching just a single homerun in his first 40 games. Once he heated up, though, Valle hit 8 homers over the next 18 games and kept it going for the remainder of the year. In 117 regular season games, Valle posted a .255 batting average, mashed a team leading 16 homers and knocked in 74 runs to help his club lock down a second consecutive South Atlantic League title.

Valle spent his off-season playing for his hometown Los Mochis Caneros in the Mexican Winter League. In order to save his knees for his more important gig in the Phillies system, Valle spent some time playing the outfield. Coming up as a youth player, Valle also played third base and pitched.

The now 20-year-old Valle saw a dip in batting average this past year, as he worked closely with his hitting coach Greg Legg on hitting pitches the other way. Despite his generally fluid swing, Valle adjusted his approach at times. He saw his best success when he kept things simple by keeping his front shoulder down and his head on the ball. As the season went on and Valle ironed out the things he was working to improve, along with Legg and his manager Mark Parent, his production became more reliable.

With a low walk rate of 5.6% in 2010, Valle will need to focus on being less aggressive at the plate and taking more pitches in order to become a more complete offensive threat.

Defensively, Valle is developing at a steady rate and was a clear leader for the strong BlueClaws pitching staff that impressed so many scouts, media members and executives last season. Lakewood pitchers repeatedly credited Valle, during the 2010 season, with helping them excel. His terrific rapport with his hurlers and knowledge of each pitchers’ strengths enabled him to direct the outstanding group of young fireballers toward a championship.

Look for Valle to climb the minor league ladder aside his army of well regarded hurlers that include Trevor May, Jarred Cosart, Brody Colvin and Jonathan Pettibone. Each of those men are expected to begin the 2011 season in High A Level Clearwater, where they’ll very likely take the Florida State League by storm and contend for another postseason crown.

In the long term, Valle projects to be a Major League catcher and has the power potential to become a highly sought after prospect in the meantime.

_______________________________________________________

Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league contributor.  To read more from Jay, check out his site, PhoulBallz.com.

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The 25th Man

Posted by Corey Seidman, Mon, February 21, 2011 02:46 PM Comments: 8

There is not much mystery about the composition of the 2011 Phillies. Seven of eight positions are locked in, as are four bench spots. The entire starting rotation is set.

There are three bullpen locks (Lidge, Madson, Contreras), three more “almost certains” (Romero, Kendrick, Bastardo), and one final spot that will go to whoever looks better in the Spring: Danys Baez or David Herndon. The fact that Baez is due $2.75MM and Herndon can be optioned to the minor leagues at no penalty sways the odds in Baez’ favor.

(If you recall, Herndon was a Rule 5 pick last year, and, had the Phillies not kept him on the active roster for all of 2010, the Angels could have taken him back at half price. That is no longer the case this year. The Twins did this with Johan Santana once upon a time – kept him for all of his Rule 5 season, then sent him down to the minors for more seasoning.)

Despite the constant reminders of Charlie Manuel and Ruben Amaro that “Domonic Brown needs to earn his spot,” the top prospect will probably find his way on the team. The only hindrance would be a pitiful, mistake-prone Spring. He may not be fully groomed yet, but necessity and newly available semi-regular playing time will thrust him into the majors.

The only “free-for-all” exists at the final roster spot – the 25th man. In years past, this spot has been filled by the likes of Greg Dobbs, Eric Bruntlett, and So Taguchi. Dobbs, like some of the candidates mentioned below, was once a Non-Roster Invitee who performed well enough to earn himself the final spot.

Let’s take a look at the five men with the best chance to go North:

John Mayberry

  • Strengths: Power, pedigree, athleticism, organizational experience
  • Weaknesses: Inability to hit offspeed pitches, poor plate discipline, career stagnation

Mayberry is the most physically gifted of the five candidates you’ll see mentioned here. He is a former 1st-round pick from a baseball family that the Phillies sought out through trade several years ago.

He has traveled up-and-down between the majors and Triple-A (mostly Triple-A), simply because he has never performed well enough to stick in The Show. He is widely regarded as a 4-A player because of his one-track swing and 27:3 major league K/BB ratio.

Mayberry may have the most upside of these contenders, but what hurts his chances is that unless he has a miraculous Spring or Ben Francisco gets hurt, Mayberry won’t instill enough confidence in management that he can be called upon in pinch-hitting situations. As in years past, Mayberry will probably serve as organizational depth, getting regular at-bats in Triple-A in hopes that his Werthian physique may one day translate to Werthian production.

Michael Martinez

  • Strengths: Glove, versatility, speed
  • Weaknesses: Can’t do anything else

Little is known about the middle infielder the Phillies Rule Fived from the Nationals. Martinez, at 27, has never played a game in the majors. He is a utility infielder (and outfielder) with good speed. He has no power, and, aside from brief stints in Low-A and Triple-A (at the end of 2010), Martinez has never hit for average, either.

It is hard to see him making this team unless the Phillies decide the 25th spot would be best occupied by a pinch-runner/versatile defensive replacement. Even still, Wilson Valdez makes Martinez redundant in the field, and if Domonic Brown is sitting against a lefty starter, Brown would be the ideal pinch runner.

Expect Martinez to be offered back to the Nationals at half price.

Delwyn Young

  • Strengths: Experience, defensive versatility, switch-hitter
  • Weaknesses: Was terrible in five of six months last season

The former Pirate invited to Spring Training is my pick for the 25th man. His 2009 and 2010 numbers won’t set the world on fire, but he has experience starting and pinch-hitting, and he has major league experience at second base, third base, and both corner outfield spots.

Young is also a switch-hitter, which adds late-inning value. He is practically identical as a right-handed hitter (.710 OPS) and left-handed hitter (.708 OPS).

He is not guaranteed a roster spot, but he”ll receive plenty of playing time in Spring Training to prove himself. On paper, he is the most useful of this bunch.

Brandon Moss, Robb Quinlan

If you recognize Moss’ name, it’s due to his inclusion in the Manny Ramirez-Jason Bay trade. Or maybe you remember his pathetic few seasons with the Pirates. Either way, Moss will have to outperform Mayberry, Young, and the guy I’ll mention next in order to make the team.

If you recognize Quinlan’s name, it’s from his eight mediocre seasons with the Angels, in which he usually received 150-180 plate appearances. He has numbers similar to Delwyn Young, and can also play many of the same positions. There was a cute story in the Inquirer this morning about Quinlan’s locker, which sits in between Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt.

It all comes down to Spring production, but as of now, I’d give Delwyn Young the leg up on this list of players. He gives you plenty of versatility both offensively and defensively. Isn’t that what you want from a 25th man?

My rankings (in terms of value added), would be:

  1. Delwyn Young
  2. John Mayberry
  3. Robb Quinlan
  4. Michael Martinez
  5. Brandon Moss

What would yours be?

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Odds and Ends: Lee, Hamels, Halladay, Gillick, Rotation

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, February 21, 2011 11:08 AM Comments: 12

Cliff Lee is fine after suffering a mild side sprain before camp. (Photo: Yong Kim/Philadelphia Daily News)

-Certainly, you caught wind of the news last night that Cliff Lee had been diagnosed with a mild strain on his left side (Bob Brookover of the Inky nailed it) before spring training. That has since healed, prompting Ruben Amaro Jr. to call Lee “100 percent.” Cliff himself made the proclamation that he is “perfectly fine,” so there is nothing really to report here.

The Phillies nipped it in the bud by holding him back somewhat through the first week of ST, and it appears he has not been hampered by it. It’s not really enough to be serious, but you probably read the headline and held your breath a little, didn’t you?

-Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay are scheduled to face live hitting for the first time today.

What that means is they’ll throw some pitches to a bunch of guys who are standing at the plate, not really looking to swing. Following the few batters they’ll face – Hamels and Halladay will throw 40 pitches each – the coaches will rave about how both men looked to be in midseason form. Anyway, Rich Dubee called this the natural progression of baseball – building the arm strength, getting it prepared for the long haul. For us, it’s sort of a tease.

-Pat Gillick sort of jumped right into J-Roll’s shoes, saying the Phillies can win 116 games, tying the record of the 2001 Mariners, the team he was the GM for.

Gillick didn’t come right out and say they’ll match that incredible record, but he did mention he believes this team has more talent. While the Phillies pitching staff is head and shoulders above that Mariners team, the offense is what will have to equal it’s production. The 2001 Mariners scored 927 runs while allowing only 627 runs. Amazingly, they won 116 and still only won the west by 14 games. That’s because the Oakland A’s won 102.

I’ve gone on record to say the Phillies will win 96 games this year and I’ll stand by that. Too much has to go right for them to even top 100. Factor in injuries, slumps, etc., and I’ll stay at a safe 96 wins. Hey if I’m wrong and they win more, I’ll feel good about it.

UPDATE, 2:00 pm: The early rotation has been sent for the first few Spring Training games. Here it is from our buddy Dave Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News (Lawrence, Zolecki, Salisbury, Hale, Housenick, etc., since they all tweeted it):

Thursday vs. Florida State
RHP Drew Naylor
LHP Juan Perez
RHP Mike Stutes
RHP Mike Schwimer
RHP Justin DeFratus
RHP Scott Mathieson

Saturday at Yankees
LHP Cole Hamels
RHP Vance Worley
LHP Ryan Feierabend
RHP Brian Schlitter
LHP Mike Zagurski

Sunday vs. Yankees
RHP Joe Blanton
RHP Justin DeFratus
RHP Michael Schwimer
RHP Ryan Madson
LHP J.C. Romero
RHP Brad Lidge

Monday at Blue Jays
RHP Roy Halladay
RHP J.C. Ramirez
RHP Mike Stutes
LHP Juan Perez
RHP Scott Mathieson

Tuesday vs. Tigers
LHP Cliff Lee
RHP Kyle Kendrick
RHP Eddie Bonine
LHP Dan Meyer
RHP Danys Baez
LHP Mike Zagurski

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Week in Review: 2/14 – 2/20

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Sun, February 20, 2011 08:43 AM Comments: 16

Could you feel love this week Nation?

The Phab Phive (yes I include Joe Blanton) sat down in Clearwater to spread the love about this upcoming season. At times it seemed the press forgot about lonely Joe when asking questions. Col Hamels was asked how it felt being the only pitcher on the staff with a World Series ring. He replied, “I’m not the only one, Joe has one too.”

Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Hamels and Blanton are set to embark on what could be the greatest pitching season in baseball history. Between the five, they are Cy Youngs, multiple All Star appearances, a World Series MVP and even a World Series homerun. What else could they possibly need or want?

“I wish I threw left-handed,” Halladay joked when asked if he envied the other pitchers. “Yeah, it’s fun to watch all of them. Everybody does something different, different ways of pitching.”

This week it wasn’t only the starting rotation catching headlines.

Continue reading Week in Review: 2/14 – 2/20

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ProspectNation 2011: #5 Justin De Fratus- RHP

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sat, February 19, 2011 02:00 PM Comments: 4

Right-handed pitcher Justin De Fratus, a California native, who was drafted in the 11th round in the 2007 amateur draft, has shown steady progression since signing his first professional contract with the Phillies.

In 2007, as a member of the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies, De Fratus posted a 2-3 record with a 4.30 ERA and a .273 batting average against in 10 games, 8 of which were starts.

The following season, De Fratus pitched with the short season Low A Williamsport Crosscutters. In 14 games as a starter, the man known to his brothers and friends as J-Bone went 6-5 with a 3.67 ERA and a .260 batting average against.

In 2009, De Fratus was a key piece of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws pitching staff, taking on both starting and relief duties. In 36 games (12 starts) that season, De Fratus went 5-6 with 3 saves, a 3.19 ERA and a .258 batting average against.

After beginning the 2010 regular season with High-A level Clearwater and posting a 2-0 record with 15 saves and a 1.79 ERA in 29 games, De Fratus was promoted to Double A Reading in early July. Over the last two months of the season, as a member of the R-Phils, he went 1-0 with 6 saves and a 2.19 ERA in 20 games. Combined at the two levels and pitching exclusively out of the bullpen, opponents batted .208 against De Fratus.

De Fratus stayed hot throughout the off-season, pitching for Team USA in the Pan-American qualifiers held in Puerto Rico, helping the Americans finish with a 9-1 record. He also posted exceptional statistics for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League Continue reading ProspectNation 2011: #5 Justin De Fratus- RHP

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Ticket Madness Leaves Us Longing For Days of Old

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sat, February 19, 2011 11:00 AM Comments: 17

It wasn’t all that long ago you could go to the store, buy a can of baked beans and a hearty side of potato salad, add in the buns and a pack of Phillies Franks, and get a free ticket to the game. Not only were you engaging in a hell of a meal, you were on your way to Veterans Stadium thanks to a ticket nestled in links of beef and whatever that juice is when you cut open the packaging.

Think about that for a second. If Phillies Franks still existed, your local Genuardi’s or Wegmans would have had people camping out like Bonnaroo yesterday, waiting for the store clerk to unload the next box of hot dogs in aisle four. Sadly, those dog days are over.

Now, Dave Montgomery and his cohorts sell them for $4 a pop at Citizens Bank Park. And yesterday, you were waiting in line for hours, or gave yourself carpel tunnel attempting to score tickets on the Phillies website. What a difference a decade makes.

Continue reading Ticket Madness Leaves Us Longing For Days of Old

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