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Archive for December, 2011

Utley’s Subpar 2011 Raises Questions About Future

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sun, December 11, 2011 09:43 AM Comments: 52

Utley's season started off on a bad leg.

We continue on with the final player review for 2011. Today, Chase Utley.

From the moment I stepped foot into Bright House Field in Clearwater back in early March, it became all about Chase Utley. His every move would be scrutinized, his every step analyzed to see if the end was drawing near for the perennial All Star second baseman. A serious knee injury is just about the only thing that could put a damper on the Spring Training festivities mixed with the low-80′s temperatures.

The 2011 season was supposed to begin in sunny Florida with hope, promise, and eternal optimism – after all, the Phillies were the odds on favorite to win the World Series, having added Cliff Lee in the offseason. Instead, it was about Utley and his balky knee.

After a 2010 that limited Utley to just 115 games with injuries, the ’11 season all started with a lengthy stay on the DL as well. It was a guessing game as information on Utley’s knee injury was widely unavailable. The Phillies and Utley only spoke when necessary or when a certain plateau had been reached. As you’re well aware, Utley communicates very little and shows no emotion when doing so, so there was never a way to figure out how his knee was progressing at any point during his rehabilitation.

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Polanco’s Promising April And His Subsequent Decline

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Sat, December 10, 2011 10:42 AM Comments: 64

We continue on with our 2011 Player Reviews with Placido Polanco.

Placido Polanco started off the 2011 season in a  great way. He was the best Phillies hitter in the month of April, even earning the MVP for that first month by many bloggers and reporters. He hit .398/.447/.524 in his first 26 games, and drove in 19 runs while striking out just five times.

But we all know what happened next. It was as though he simply fell off a cliff with no warning, as he quickly became one of the Phillies worst hitters in the month of May. He hit .248/.289/.294 in 28 May games, and struck out more (11) than he had RBIs (10).

He was bound to bounce back, right? Wrong. Things didn’t get any better for Polanco for the rest of the year, as from June to September, he posted a .241/.310/.284 slash line, again having more strikeouts (28) than RBIs (21).

He was even demoted in the batting order at times, as he recorded 93 plate appearances in the bottom of the order by the time the season was over.

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Agents Look Out For Lesser Phils, Too

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Fri, December 09, 2011 08:53 PM Comments: 0

Brian Schneider would make $100 K with an NL MVP win. (Photo: AP)

With the Hot Stove in full burn, often times it seems like only the top players are beneficiaries of agents working tirelessly to secure them the top deals. Players like Dave Bush, Steven Lerud, and David Purcey, all signed today to Minor League contracts with Spring Training invites by the Phillies, may not make the big bucks, but they probably have some surprising incentives in deals scored by their agents. Todd Zolecki posted full contract details for a few of the Phils most recent signings, including Jonathan Papelbon, and some of the details were quite surprising.

Some of the highlights:

Papelbon’s deal is structured as such – $11,000,058 mil (2012), $13 mil (2013), $13 mil (2014), and $13 mil (2015). The fifth year option vests with either 55 games finished in 2015 or 100 games finished over 2014-2015.

Brian Schneider has no less than nine incentives in his contract including triggers that go off at 65, 75, 85, and 95 games. He also would be in line for $50 K if he makes the All-Star team and $100 K if he is either the NL or World Series MVP.

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Under The Radar: The Story Of 2011 For Carlos Ruiz

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Fri, December 09, 2011 04:00 PM Comments: 12

Quick, outside of Hunter Pence–only appeared in 54 games for the Phillies–, who had the highest batting average on the Phillies in 2011? Sure, it would be absurd if it was anyone other than the player that this review is about, but it is still surprising. If you did not read the title, its none other than Carlos Ruiz, who also had the highest on base percentage outside of Pence and Dane Sardinha–both who combined for 268 plate appearances, a little over half (56.7%) of Ruiz’ total. Somehow, Ruiz went under the radar, which is mind-boggling considering it was his 2nd best year in his career.

He started off the year with a below average month of April, where he hit .226/.310/.371. He picked it up in May, where he was the Phillies 4th-best hitter in terms of OPS, and 2nd to only Dane Sardinha–who had half as many plate appearance– in on base percentage. He knocked in just one run the entire month, but overall was far more productive than April. And that was even after spending time on the DL.

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Dr. Strangeglove: Leonid Brezhnev, GM

Posted by Michael Baumann, Fri, December 09, 2011 12:26 PM Comments: 24

Because it’s finals week at universities across North America, I’d like to encourage everyone to do the following: if there’s a college professor who impacted your life for the better whom you never thanked, go back and do that. For me, it would be Dr. Gordon Smith, Director of the Walker Institute of International and Area Studies at the University of South Carolina and one of American academia’s foremost experts on Russian politics. My junior year of undergrad, I took his Russian foreign policy class because 1) I needed an international relations elective and 2) my girlfriend, a Russian major, was taking it.

That class was the first impetus for my choosing to attend graduate school for political science–international relations in particular–and Dr. Smith was a fabulous teacher. I wasn’t one of the star students, and I figured that if Dr. Smith remembered me at all, it would be as the sleepy-looking bearded guy who sat next to KTLSF in the back row–she was one of the star students–and thought it was funny to characterize the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko as “in Soviet Russia, tea drinks you!” But more than a year after our last class meeting, he spotted me on the street, called me by name, and we talked for several minutes about life, the universe, and everything.

This post was made possible because of one word–gerontocracy–to which Dr. Smith introduced me that semester. I’d like to dedicate this post to Dr. Gordon Smith, who, I’m sure would be proud to know that one of his students got just enough out of his class to spot the parallels between Ruben Amaro Jr., general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, and Leonid Brezhnev, leader of the Soviet Union.

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Phillies Wrap-up Winter Meetings in Dallas

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, December 09, 2011 07:19 AM Comments: 17

Aramis is the Phillies backup plan. PHOTO AP

What a whirlwind that was. They say everything is bigger in Texas and the Winter Meetings lived up to that standard this past week in Dallas. Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes, Gio Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, C.J. Wilson; the list goes on and on of players signing with new teams and hearing their name in countless trade rumors. In the offseason, especially when we retreat to our homes as the weather turns colder, this is what we live for; the rumor mill.

The Phillies poked their head into a few different things this past week, most notably the Aramis Ramirez rumors. It’s widely believed that Ramirez is looked at as a backup plan ONLY if the Phillies are unable to strike a deal with Jimmy Rollins. According to many on the scene in Dallas, Rollins is likely to become a Phillie when all is said and done. However, the Cardinals lost Albert Pujols, so they’ll be desperate to make a splash. Milwaukee has also come calling, although sources say they’ve dropped out. Things will remain very interesting after the dust settles from this gathering.

In case you missed any of our coverage on the happenings in from Big D this past week, here is a bullet-point look at some of the rumors that have surfaced regarding the Phillies.

Jimmy Rollins is tops on the Phillies to-do list. However, the could have some company. Now that the Cardinals have lost all-time-great Albert Pujols, they could get into the running for J-Roll. They certainly do need a shortstop. We’ll see if this happens, but I’d keep a close eye on everything happening in STL.

–Troy Renck of the Denver Post said the Rockies were interested in the services of Phillies 3B Placido Polanco. That rumor then fell through roughly 24 hours later.

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Revisiting the Shortstop Carousel

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Thu, December 08, 2011 07:14 PM Comments: 40

Gonzalez goes to the Brew Crew. PHOTO MLB

Take Alex Gonzalez off of the big board.

Gonzalez signed with the Milwaukee Brewers today for one year with a vesting option, as reported by Ken Rosenthal, narrowing the teams with shortstop vacancies down to a Tim-Dierkes-estimated seven teams: Astros, Braves, Cardinals, Giants, Mets, Phillies, and Rays. Dierkes postulates that each of these teams all have clear internal candidates if they did not choose to pursue a free agent shortstop. This is great news for the Phillies and bad news for Jimmy Rollins.

This news comes in a week of bad news for Rollins. Jose Reyes signed with Miami on Monday for an approximate $17 million a year annually, lower than most preseason and midseason predictions pegged the batting champ at. Reyes comes off a career year, battling back from an injury filled 2009 and a good but not great 2010, posting 6.2 fWAR at SS, winning the batting title, stealing 39 bases, and scoring 101 runs on a low scoring Mets team. Using WAR, the differences between Jimmy and Jose aren’t as pronounced as the public perception between the two is but it was almost always a given Reyes would get the much larger and longer contract than Rollins.

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Phillies Minor Leaguers Selected in Rule 5 Draft

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, December 08, 2011 05:17 PM Comments: 3

Jiwan James stays put.

The 2011 Baseball Winter Meetings are underway in Dallas and while the greatest amount of buzz has surrounded some major free agents like Albert Pujols and Jimmy Rollins, there’s a minor portion of the annual event that has drawn some interest as well. The Rule 5 draft took place on Thursday and resulted in relocation for a group of selected prospects.

Players are eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft when they are not on their major league organization’s 40 man roster and 1) were signed to a contract at age 19 or older and have been in that organization for 4 yrs, OR 2) were signed at age 18 or younger and have been in that organization for 5 years.

Rumors out of the meetings on Wednesday night had Phillies minor league outfielder Jiwan James (pictured) on multiple teams’ lists of talented young players who fit that bill.

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Pujols Signs with LAA; Could STL Shoot for Rollins?

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, December 08, 2011 08:50 AM Comments: 161

UPDATE, Thursday 10:20 am: Albert Pujols has inked one of the richest contracts in MLB history with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. It goes 10 years, $250-260 million with a full no-trade clause. The Angels slipped in late and got themselves one of the best hitters in the history of the game. What does this mean for the Phillies?

Well, this could mean potentially more dollars in a contract for Jimmy Rollins. With money to spend and a need at shortstop, the Cardinals could now be a player for Rollins – that is, once they wipe the tears of losing one of the best players we’ve ever seen. That has to hurt.

But will this ultimately hurt the Phillies chances of retaining Rollins? Or at least, make it more difficult. This could drive the price of a Rollins-to-the-Phillies contract higher with a new team possibly entering the fray.

This is definitley something to keep an eye on…

UPDATE, Thursday 8:50 am: While nothing has been finished as of yet, and may not be before the end of the Winter Meetings, all signs point to a deal between the two sides soon. Jon Heyman, now of CBSSports.com, says that the Phillies aren’t saying one way or another, but he doesn’t see another outcome.

Last night, the Brewers cancelled a meeting with Rollins’ agent, Dan Lozano. Milwaukee was thought to be a possible suitor for Jimmy, but that no longer seems to be the case.

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Mystery Team Enters Pujols Derby

Posted by Michael Baumann, Thu, December 08, 2011 04:52 AM Comments: 50

On Wednesday night, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that the Marlins, as expected, had withdrawn from the running to sign Albert Pujols, the best baseball player of the past decade and the man who will, if he continues on a normal career path, will retire as the greatest right-handed hitter of all time. The interesting thing about all this is that he also reported that two new teams–along with St. Louis–had entered the running to sign Pujols: the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, whom ESPN’s Jayson Stark later said had offered the top first baseman on the market a deal worth somewhere north of $210 million over 10 years, and an unidentified third team.

Whatever. That’s interesting, but not really worth sharing with you guys on a Phillies blog. But then I noticed, at a quarter to three in the morning, right before I was going to go to bed, that Stark tweeted this:

And now I can’t sleep.

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