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Archive for January, 2012

Phillies, Hunter Pence Ink One-Year Deal

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, January 27, 2012 03:19 PM Comments: 21

Hunter Pence is back. (AP)

According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Phillies and Hunter Pence have avoided arbitration by coming to terms on a one-year, $10.4 million contract. Heyman was the first to tweet the news just after 3 p.m.

Pence had originally asked for $11.8 million, the Phillies countered with $9 million, and the two sides have split the difference.

Now comes some interesting days ahead for the Phillies. Not only is Cole Hamels a free agent after 2012, but Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence will be as well. Who do you keep if it comes down to it? Clearly Cole is the priority, but the Phillies just gave up a boatload to get Pence, you’d think he’d be the second priority. He will obviously command top dollar next offseason. Ruben Amaro Jr. will have his hands full, for sure.

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Phillies Sign Juan Pierre to Minor League Deal

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, January 27, 2012 12:02 PM Comments: 25

Juan Pierre. (MLB)

The Phillies have inked speedy outfielder Juan Pierre to a minor-league contract.

Last season, Pierre, 34, was still a serviceable player with the Chicago White Sox, although we know he is completely one-dimensional. He will give you slap hits and speed and not much else. Over 158 games, Pierre hit .279 in 711 plate appearances, however, his steals fell from 68 in 2010 to just 27 in 2011.

Among active players, Pierre has the most career stolen bases (554) and ranks 26th on the all-time list. And according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, he ranks No. 1 among active players in K/PA ratio (1 every 17.8 at-bats). Not much swinging and missing going on there.

That being said, I would rather the Phillies have inked Pierre and gone with him over signing Laynce Nix to a two-year deal. I feel as though this contract makes much more sense. Pierre will provide no power, but with your final outfield spot up in the air, plus the addition of mashers like Jim Thome and Ty Wigginton, it’s hardly a necessity.

All-in-all a low-risk, high-reward move by the Phillies that could pay dividends should one of the starting outfielders go out for an extended period of time. Pierre is clearly declining as a player, but for the price, it’s worth it to take a shot that he’s got something left in the tank as a backup. That said, the Phils still need to address the middle infielder spot that sits empty after the trade of WIlson Valdez. At this point, Michael Martinez is the only legit option.

Pierre’s numbers the last three seasons:

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Blog Battle: Wilson Valdez Trade

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Fri, January 27, 2012 09:40 AM Comments: 12

To discuss the Wilson Valdez trade to the Reds, we brought back an avid supporter of “Exxon,” former Phillies Nation contributor, Mike Baumann. He engaged in an email exchange with our own Ian Riccaboni, and this is what we have – a Blog Battle.

Do yourself a favor and check out Crashburn Alley, Mike Baumann’s new landing spot. Our old friend Paul Boye is also a writer there.

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Ian Riccaboni, Phillies Nation: Wednesday, the Phils shipped super-utility infielder Wilson Valdez to the Reds for lefty reliever Jeremy Horst. Valdez, cited after the 2010 season as Charlie Manuel’s choice for team MVP, became a cult hero for retiring the heart of the Reds line-up in the 19th inning on Wednesday May 25/Thursday May 26, 2011. I am joined by Crashburn Alley‘s Michael Baumann to discuss what this means for the team and its effects on the fan base, as we swap emails back and forth.

Mike, as you may or may not know, last Friday, I inferred Valdez avoiding arbitration with the Phils for $930K signaled the end of Michael Martinez, as Valdez’s presence on the team made Mini-Mart redundant. I speculated that because Valdez was kept on the roster, Martinez no longer had a place and was squeezed out in a number’s crunch by the signings of Laynce Nix and Jim Thome and the trade for Ty Wigginton. This trade changes everything, however. It’s worth noting that while Martinez provides less value with the bat, it is a marginal difference in a small sample (0 fWAR v. -0.4) and Martinez out-fielded Valdez at every position over the course of last season according to UZR/150. Warm and gooey feelings for Valdez aside, this appears to be a cost-effective move that you stated in your Tuesday piece you wished to see the Phillies do more of, as the move saves the Phils around $1 mil as they inch closer to the luxury tax.
I ask you this: With the seemingly fragile health of the aging Phillies infield, is the value of the saving ~$1 million worth the difference between the relative consistency Valdez has provided and the more unknown entity that is Martinez?

Mike Baumann, Crashburn Alley: I don’t think Mini-Mart is the answer. He’s an even worse offensive player than Val dez, and while UZR favors him this year, I don’t know that one season of part-time duty is enough to say conclusively that he’s a better defender than Valdez. Utility infielder is perhaps a more important position on the Phillies than on most teams, because the Phillies, in Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Placido Polanco, have three good two-way players to start, but all three will need to be spelled for significant periods of time to prevent injury as they get older.

I’m kind of happy to be rid of the cult hero aspect of Valdez, but if the Phillies’ utility infielder is going to make, for the sake of argument, 50 starts in 2012 (20 each for Utley and Polanco, and 10 for Rollins), he’s going to have to be better offensively than Martinez’s career 48 OPS+ or Valdez’s 20 double plays in 2010. Out of the names Pat suggested, I would probably like Ryan Theriot the best. He’s a better hitter than either Valdez or Martinez, and while he leaves something to be desired both on the bases and in the field, he can be a C- at second, third, or short on an interim basis. Or they could just bring up Freddy Galvis for the major league minimum and accept that he’s going to field but can’t really hit that well. So what do you think: Theriot, Galvis, some other option? Or will we wish the Phillies had just stayed the course?

IR: The availability of Ryan Theriot stuns me. He’s got a career triple-slash of .283/.344/.353, plays a good-enough middle infield, and has above-average base-running skills. He has very little power, but his competent glove and ability to get base hits outweighs that for me. For the amount of teams that entered this year looking for budget solutions at short, it knocks me out that he is still available this late in the off-season and likely will have to settle for a one year deal. I think Theriot is the kind of utility player that adds value to the team on a multi-year deal instead of an outfielder like Nix. If he’s cheap enough, I would have his agent on the phone immediately and figure out how to get him to Clearwater.

Continue reading Blog Battle: Wilson Valdez Trade

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Fare Thee Well, Brad Lidge

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, January 26, 2012 07:16 PM Comments: 42

Brad Lidge moves on to the Washington Nationals on a one-year, $1 million deal. He spent four seasons in Philadelphia and was integral in the 2008 World Championship as he went 48-for-48 in save opportunities that season, which is something the fans in this town will never forget.

Injuries have wrecked his career as of late, but Washington decided to take a flier on him to help guide a young bullpen down in D.C. Lidge is one of the nicest people, baseball or not, and is filled with the wisdom of nearly a decade in the majors.

Lidge reportedly received a low-ball offer from the Phillies to stay in town, so he decided to take the better financial deal rather than try to make the team on a minor-league contract.

We wish Brad well in Washington, except for when he faces the Phillies. Can anyone else feel the remnants of 2008 slowly slipping away? Kinda depressing if you think about it…

If you’d like, please share your thoughts on Brad Lidge in this space.

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Pat Gallen on CSNPhilly.com’s Lunch Break

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, January 26, 2012 01:05 PM Comments: 8

Today, Rhea Hughes and I discuss Andy Reid and Juan Castillo, plus the Wilson Valdez trade as we get you ready for Spring Training.

And if you stick around, at about the 9 minute mark, there are some pretty cool/funny/awesome viral videos. Enjoy!

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Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. Interview

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, January 26, 2012 07:00 AM Comments: 1

This week, the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws hosted their annual Phillies banquet at the Woodlake Country Club in Lakewood, NJ. Prior to the event that raised money for BlueClaws charities, I had the opportunity to sit down with Philadelphia general manager to discuss various organizational subjects. Ruben spoke about the Wilson Valdez for Jeremy Horst trade, highly regarded pitching prospect Jesse Biddle, Domonic Brown’s future, last year’s draft class and plenty more.

Check out the media player below to listen to the full one-on-one interview with Ruben Amaro Jr.

To check out my previous interviews with Ruben, click HERE and HERE.

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Phillies Trade Wilson Valdez to Reds

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, January 25, 2012 04:25 PM Comments: 66

So long, Wilson. (AP)

According to the Cincinnati Reds twitter profile, they’ve struck a deal to acquire Wilson Valdez from the Phillies for lefty Jeremy Horst.

Here is the statement from the team:

Horst, 26, made 12 relief appearances for the Reds last year and went 0-0 with a 2.93 ERA.  He spent most of the season with triple-A Louisville, where he posted a 1-4 record and had a 2.81 ERA in 36 games, while holding opposing hitters to a .219 batting average.  On six occasions for Louisville, Horst pitched at least 3.0 innings and had a 0.83 ERA (2 ER, 21.2 IP) in those games.

Originally selected by the Reds in the 21st round of the 2007 draft, Horst will be a non-roster invitee to major league spring training for the Phillies.

Valdez spent the last two years with the Phillies, hitting .249 this past season with one home run and 30 RBI in 99 games.  The 33-year-old played second base, shortstop and third base for the Phillies and went 1-0 in one pitching appearance on May 25 against the Reds.

The Phillies are now at 38 players on their 40-man roster.

This certainly opens things up for the Phillies when it comes to the roster. They can go out and sign another utility guy or scour the minor league level for someone of that ilk. Some middle infielder names still available are Aaron Miles, Bill Hall, Jeff Keppinger, Ryan Theriot, Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada, and Felipe Lopez, among others.

So long, Wilson. We’ll always have that 19-inning game.

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Prospect Nation 2012: #20 RHP J.C. Ramirez

Posted by Jay Floyd, Wed, January 25, 2012 12:00 PM Comments: 2

For more than two years, righty hurler J.C. Ramirez has been primed to become an impact prospect in the Phillies system, but inconsistency seems to be preventing the Nicaragua native from truly proving himself as a dependable talent.

Last season, Ramirez spent the entire season in the Double-A Reading Phillies’ starting rotation, where he got off to a scorching hot start in April, going 4-0 with a 1.03 ERA and a .187 batting average against in 4 starts, but his output fizzled quite a bit after that. Ramirez posted an overall record of 11-13, an ERA of 4.50 and .258 batting average against in 26 starts for the R-Phils. After the All-Star break, Ramirez struggled considerably, tallying a 5.92 ERA and a .305 BAA in 10 outings. Continue reading Prospect Nation 2012: #20 RHP J.C. Ramirez

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Hypothetical: What If Joe Blanton Isn’t Ready?

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Wed, January 25, 2012 09:20 AM Comments: 20

The Phillies have three aces at the top of the rotation, and a guy who is coming off a great first year in the bigs in Vance Worley as the 4th, or maybe 5th, starter. Joe Blanton is expected to be the final player in the rotation, but what if isn’t ready?

Blanton is coming off an elbow injury that kept him out of almost all of 2011. His health is a huge question mark at this point, which means his pitching skill and his spot in the rotation are as well – and it’s the reason for this post.

In his shortened 2011 season, Blanton posted the highest ERA of his career, the 2nd highest WHIP of his career, and the most hits-per-nine innings of his career. Conversely, he posted the highest strikeout-per-nine and strikeout-to-walk ratio of his career. What this tells me is that his pitches were around the plate, but were not good enough to get guys out consistently. Maybe he had a flat fastball or his curves weren’t breaking the way they used to. Regardless, if his elbow is the cause of these numbers, and this downward trend continues, he will not last very long in the rotation.

Continue reading Hypothetical: What If Joe Blanton Isn’t Ready?

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Top Moments #6: Welcome Back Cliff Lee

Posted by Amanda Orr, Tue, January 24, 2012 10:40 AM Comments: 34

It came as a surprise when it was revealed that the Phillies were the "mystery team."

This top moment technically happened in 2010, but since it occurred during the offseason and was not part of our 2010 Top Moment series, we will include it in the 2011 edition.

I remember December 14 and 15 clearly.  I was up late reviewing for finals, and because I am so “studious,” I somehow missed all the rumors of a mystery team landing Cliff Lee.

At 6:45 a.m the next morning, I woke up angrily to the sound of my phone ringing.  Who could be calling at this hour, and is it really that important?  Oh, it was important alright.  My rage quickly turned into excitement when the person on the other line screamed: “THE PHILLIES GOT CLIFF LEE!”

Continue reading Top Moments #6: Welcome Back Cliff Lee

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