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What did we learn from Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez’s Phillies debut?

Posted by Corey Seidman, Sat, March 01, 2014 07:08 PM Comments: 15

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez exists, people. He finally took a mound to face (some) major-league hitters Saturday afternoon in Tampa against the Yankees.

Gonzalez struck out the first two batters he faced, but ended up walking four over 1 2/3 innings. It took him 51 pitches to record five outs before being pulled for Rule 5 reliever Kevin Munson.

Gonzalez showed a fastball that ranged from 89-93 mph, a splitter and a curveball. Gonzalez hit 93 in the first inning but was mostly 89-90 in the second.

After the game, he told reporters that he was happy with his first performance and believes he can throw harder. Ryne Sandberg told reporters that the first inning was the best the Phils had seen Gonzalez throw all spring.

Here’s where we are with MAG: The Phillies are paying him $4 million in 2014, but hold three options on him and can send him to the minors to open the season if they deem it necessary. Ruben Amaro Jr. said earlier this week that the Phillies will not have Gonzalez on the 25-man roster unless they think he can help.

David Buchanan’s start

David Buchanan made 79 starts at five different minor-league levels for the Phillies after being taken in the seventh round in 2010, but he was unprotected in the Rule 5 draft. After he went unclaimed, the Phillies extended him a late invite to spring training.

On Saturday, he made the most of it.

Buchanan looked sharp, striking out three Yankees (including Derek Jeter) over two scoreless innings. He’s a Kyle Kendrick-type, and I’ll bet he makes at least one start for the Phillies this season. He’s already jumped ahead of Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin on the organizational depth chart for the time being, since both pitchers have dealt with shoulder pain in Clearwater.

A.J. Burnett’s next

Burnett makes his Phillies spring debut Sunday at 1:05 p.m. against his former Pirates. The game will be televised live on Comcast SportsNet.

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Report: Phillies hire Bob McClure as pitching coach

Posted by Corey Seidman, Thu, November 21, 2013 12:07 PM Comments: 14

The Phillies plan to hire Bob McClure as their next pitching coach, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.

The 61-year-old was the Royals’ pitching coach from 2006-11 and held the same role for the 2012 Red Sox.

McClure pitched in the majors for 19 years, mostly as a lefty reliever.

The Phillies had long been in search of a pitching coach to replace Rich Dubee, whose contract was not renewed after the 2013 season. They were spurned several times, by Bryan Price, who was named the Reds’ manager, and Roger McDowell, who chose instead to stay with the Braves.

The Phils still have one opening on their coaching staff — assistant hitting coach Wally Joyner departed for Detroit.

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Phillies Offseason Plans: Corey’s Version

Posted by Corey Seidman, Thu, November 14, 2013 10:40 AM Comments: 18

It’s time to roll out the offseason plans, where a few members of the PN writing team build their ideal 2014 Phillies Roster, taking into account team needs as well as payroll and luxury tax ramifications.

The Marlon Byrd signing foiled my initial plan for the Phillies to trade Jesse Biddle, Cody Asche, Jonathan Pettibone and Cesar Hernandez to the Angels for Mark Trumbo and Chris Iannetta.

That would have been a hefty price, but you’d fill your catcher vacancy for a set cost — Iannetta is due just over $10 million in total the next two years — and also acquire a building block for the future in Trumbo who could have also helped the Phils win now. He’s 28, not overly expensive yet and would have 40-home run power at Citizens Bank Park.

Alas, the Phils chose to hang onto their prospects and sign the 36-year-old Byrd for $8 million a year. Oh well. That would have been a hefty package to part with anyway.

Here’s the rest of my plan:

1) Sign relievers Joaquin Benoit and Scott Downs

One elite righty in Benoit, one elite lefty in Downs. The Phils have been connected this offseason to the underrated Benoit, who from 2010-13 had a 2.53 ERA, 10.2 K/9 and just 2.5 BB/9 in 268 appearances. He has experience closing and setting up, and could be a Ryan Madson-like swingman in the Phillies’ pen.

He’s going to be in line for at least a two-year deal worth $12 million, with probably a third-year vesting or player option.

Downs quietly dominates every year. He has a 2.33 ERA in 447 appearances dating back to 2007, and over the last three years has limited lefties to a .209/.272/.261 batting line. He’s 37, so he’s probably going to find only a two-year deal. Maybe two years, $10 million for Downs.

Boom, boom, bullpen solved for $11 million this year. Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth, Benoit in the eighth, Downs as the lefty specialist, which allows Antonio Bastardo to ease back in after his suspension. If Mike Adams is healthy, that’s an old, but top-notch bullpen. That’s what this team had from 2008-11, and what it needs again.

2) Sign Matt Garza

I’d prefer Garza over Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez. Santana and Jimenez would force the Phillies to forfeit their second-round pick, but Garza would not. He wasn’t extended a qualifying offer because he was traded from the Cubs to the Rangers midseason, and under the new CBA players dealt midseason can’t be extended QOs.

Garza hasn’t been a picture of health the last few years, but he still has a mid-90s fastball and biting offspeed pitches. He’s a low-end No. 2 starter with upside. He may cost as much as four years, $64 million.

The Phillies have liked Garza for years. In Jayson Werth’s walk year they tried to trade him to Tampa for him, but the deal fell through.

Continue reading Phillies Offseason Plans: Corey’s Version

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Schierholtz/Nix Fiasco Yet Another Miscalculation

Posted by Corey Seidman, Fri, April 19, 2013 11:40 AM Comments: 26

The Phillies are getting absolutely nothing out of their outfield. In 183 at-bats, Phillies outfielders are batting .219 with five home runs.

Ben Revere hasn’t gotten off the ground, Laynce Nix and John Mayberry are doing pretty much what you’d expect in one outfield corner and Domonic Brown remains the wildly inconsistent, baseball version of Evan Turner.

The Phillies’ outfield is as unsettled as it was months ago when the offseason was just underway. Of these four players, Revere has the longest track record as a starter and that was one full season in Minnesota. So it is odd today — as it was months ago — that the Phillies so easily gave up on Nate Schierholtz.

Schierholtz is hitting .350 with eight extra-base hits for the Cubs, who are paying him a measly $2.25 million. The Phillies had a chance to offer him arbitration but instead non-tendered him at the end of November.

It was a curious move at the time. The Phils had no regular outfielders, had to know a platoon would be utilized in one corner, and yet still parted ways and got nothing for Schierholtz. This despite his well above-average defense, his .287 batting average vs. righties since 2011 and his overall superiority to Nix.

The Phils’ reasoning? Nix was under contract already for $1.35MM in 2013. High-priced outfielders were still on the market, and they were still “players” for guys like Angel Pagan, Cody Ross, etc.

But it’s not as if the Phils have never eaten the final year of a bad, unnecessary contract. They did it in Danys Baez’s second year. They did it in Adam Eaton’s third year. If you didn’t want both players on the 25-man roster, Nix could have been moved or cut. To keep him over Schierholtz just because Nix had a small guarantee … well, that’s the kind of move that has gotten the Phillies to this place. It’s poor talent evaluation. Had Schierholtz not gotten hurt after being traded to the Phils, they probably would have kept him. But instead his track record was dismissed, and Ruben Amaro chose to go with Nix, the guy who has some power but never walks, plays worse defense than Schierholtz and doesn’t put the ball in play as much.

It just made no sense, and it continues to make no sense as the Phillies’ outfield gives them nothing. This is a poorly assembled team. Schierholtz isn’t some sort of savior, but he has 2.5-WAR potential as a platoon outfielder getting 70% of at-bats in a given season.

This 6-10 record, this pathetic offense, these situational struggles, they just feel like the culmination of years of myopic moves and strict adherence to an organizational philosophy that doesn’t mesh with winning in this day and age. Schierholtz is yet another example.

Amaro expressed shock on Monday that the Phillies had gone three (now four) games without a walk.

Why is he shocked? This is the only organization in baseball that doesn’t employ an advanced stats department, and he’s the one who built the team.

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Phillies & Reds Suspended in the 9th Inning

Posted by Corey Seidman, Tue, April 16, 2013 11:50 PM Comments: 47

It was a historic outing for Kyle Kendrick. It was an even more historic outing for Homer Bailey.

And they’ll both have to wait until Wednesday afternoon to see if it means anything for their team.

The Phillies and Reds will resume Tuesday’s game at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, prior to the series finale. The game is scoreless and will begin in the bottom of the ninth with Zack Cozart, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips due up.

The teams had two hits apiece in a game that started 90 minutes late and had rain throughout.

For the first time in his career, Kendrick allowed no runs and two or fewer hits over at least seven innings. His final line was: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K. He induced 13 groundouts — two in every inning except the sixth. KK held Votto, Phillips and Jay Bruce hitless in seven at-bats, with four groundouts and three strikeouts.

Bailey was even better. He became the fifth pitcher in the history of baseball to strike out 10 batters and allow two or fewer hits in under 90 pitches. The last pitcher to do it was David Cone, in his perfect game in 1999. Jim Bunning did it, as well, in his 1964 perfecto.

The offense

Ben Revere continues to struggle mightily at the plate. He was 0-for-4 with his 10th strikeout of the season, putting him on pace for 115. Revere has 10 Ks in 63 plate appearances. His 10th strikeout last year came in his 174th plate appearance.

Revere just isn’t getting it done at the top of the order. He’s batting .207/.258/.207. His on-base percentage is 97 points lower than the National League average for leadoff batters.

Domonic Brown and Ryan Howard each came within feet of home runs on flyouts to the warning track.

The Phillies have scored in seven of their last 53 innings.

The offense has been absolutely pitiful after the third inning of games. In innings 4-9, the Phils are hitting .184/.241/.297. I don’t even know how that’s possible.

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Inciarte, Aumont, Quintero make 25-man roster

Posted by Corey Seidman, Sat, March 30, 2013 11:55 AM Comments: 18

The Phillies announced their 25-man roster Saturday morning and it includes Rule 5  pick Ender Inciarte as the fifth outfielder, Phillippe Aumont as the final reliever and Humberto Quintero as the backup catcher.

Inciarte’s roster spot is tenuous, as the Phillies could choose to snag a more productive, proven fifth outfielder cut by another team before Sunday’s deadline to submit Opening Day rosters. Ryan Sweeney is one name to watch. He probably isn’t in the Red Sox’s plans. Casper Wells of Seattle is another.

Aumont makes the team over Mike Stutes, who did very little this spring and will go back to the minors to regain his form following shoulder surgery last season.

Quintero gets the backup catcher nod over Steven Lerud, who was reassigned to the minors along with Pete Orr and pitcher Zach Miner.

Delmon Young was placed on the DL retroactive to March 22. He likely won’t be ready until the end of April.

Here is a look at the full 25-man roster …

Starters: Revere, Rollins, Utley, Howard, M. Young, Brown, Mayberry, Kratz

Pitchers: Hamels, Lee, Halladay, Kendrick, Lannan, Papelbon, Adams, Bastardo, Durbin, Aumont, Horst, Valdes

Bench: Nix, Galvis, Frandsen, Quintero, Inciarte

 

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Lunch Break: Darin Ruf playing himself off the Phils

Posted by Corey Seidman, Wed, March 06, 2013 03:15 PM Comments: 20

Darin Ruf is hitting .130 this spring and seemingly every time he comes to the plate, he faces an 0-2 or 1-2 count. The man we had such high expectations for has fallen out of favor because of his inability to hit through 10 games, but more so because of his poor defense in left field. Ruben Amaro admitted Wednesday that Ruf will need to improve to make the team.

I joined Rhea Hughes this morning on CSNPhilly.com’s “Lunch Break” to discuss Ruf’s diminishing chances of making the team. We also looked at the most optimal Phillies lineups (Chase Utley batting second) and argued that the Phillies shouldn’t have let Ryan Howard play in the WBC even if he was selected.

Oh, and we delved into the Phillies National Female Co-host Search, as well.

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Phillies invite Juan Cruz to spring training

Posted by Corey Seidman, Wed, January 16, 2013 12:22 AM Comments: 3

The Phillies added some depth to their spring roster by signing veteran right-handed reliever Juan Cruz to a minor-league contract, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Championship.

Cruz, 34, had a 2.78 ERA last year but was wild and when he refused to accept a demotion to Triple-A, the Pirates released him.

He’s pitched for seven teams in 12 years. He has a 4.05 career ERA, a 1.41 WHIP, and has struck out four more batters than innings pitched. He has a mid-90s fastball, and also uses a cutter, slider and changeup.

Cruz’s best year was 2008 with the Diamondbacks, when he pitched to a 2.61 ERA in 51.2 innings, with 71 strikeouts.

He’s also made 10 postseason appearances and finished two games. When the Phillies were swept in the 2007 NLDS by the Rockies, Cruz — pitching for Arizona — held Colorado hitless with eight strikeouts in four appearances in the next round.

The only other notable thing to add is that Cruz was part of the package the Athletics sent to the Braves in December 2004 for Tim Hudson. It was Cruz, reliever Dan Meyer and outfield Charles Thomas for Hudson. Thomas had upside but never realized it.

Really points out how long Hudson has been with the Braves. Can you believe he’s made 50 more appearances for Atlanta than Oakland?

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Adams’ Option Can Void Based on Health

Posted by Corey Seidman, Fri, January 11, 2013 01:16 PM Comments: 2

Mike Adams’ third-year option with the Phillies can be voided if he suffers an elbow or shoulder injury in 2014 that prevents him from starting the 2015 season, according to the Inquirer.

Adams is set to earn $12 million over two seasons from the Phillies. If he makes 65 appearances in 2014 — as he’s done just twice in eight seasons — his $6 million option for 2015 vests. If Adams combines for 120 appearances over 2013 and 2014, the 2015 salary increases to $6.5 million. It means that Adams’ deal can be worth up to $18.5 million over three years.

John Lannan, signed to a one-year, $2.5-million deal, can earn up to $5 million through incentives. Raises of $200,000 a pop kick in at 150, 160, 170, 180 and 190 innings. If Lannan eclipses 200 or 210 innings, he earns separate bonuses of $250,000. He also would earn a quarter of a million dollars for each start from 31-34. If Lannan makes 34 starts and pitches 210 innings, he’d reach the full value of his contract and earn $5 million. His career-highs in starts is 33 (reached twice) and innings is 206 1/3.

Luxury tax calculations aren’t made until the end of the season, once player bonuses are taken into account, and Lannan’s effectiveness will impact the Phils’ payroll. Though if he reaches the full value of his deal, it will mean that he averaged more than six innings per start and didn’t miss any time with injury, in which case the Phillies will be glad to pay out the extra $2.5 million.

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Revere the First Step to a Successful Offseason?

Posted by Corey Seidman, Thu, December 06, 2012 03:23 PM Comments: 109

Raise your hand if you thought Ruben Amaro‘s first big move of the offseason would be trading for Ben Revere.

Over at CSNPhilly.com, Jim Salisbury and I did a 20-man series on Phillies offseason targets and he wasn’t on the list. ‘Tis the beauty of the winter meetings.

Let’s break this Revere trade down bit-by-bit, because there are so many components to it.

Did the Phillies give up too much? Did they get enough? Where does Revere hit? How do they replace Vance Worley? What is the next move? Does this open the door for a Josh Hamilton signing? (Yes, and I’ll explain why…)

But before getting to those questions…

Ben Revere hit .294 with 40 steals last season for the Twins.

Who is Ben Revere?

He’s a 24-year-old outfielder who spent most of last season in right field for the Twins, but is unquestionably fast enough to handle everyday CF duty. He’s played over 1,100 innings in center and is regarded as a very good defender with an incredibly weak, Juan Pierre-like arm.

He hit .294/.333/.342 last season with 40 steals in 49 attempts. He has no home runs in 1,064 plate appearances at the major-league level, and he barely hits any doubles.

Last season, 66.9% of Revere’s balls in play were ground balls. Not only did that lead the majors easily, it was the highest groundball rate any qualifying player has posted since 2002, when the data first became available. This is a good thing … speedsters should be putting the ball on the ground and trying to leg out singles. Revere led the AL in 2012 with 32 infield hits and finished third in baseball with nine bunt singles.

At 24, he probably hasn’t yet hit his ceiling, so it is pretty silly to see some outlets analyzing the trade from the standpoint of “this is who Revere is, and he will never be better.” The Phillies are hoping Revere turns into the next Michael Bourn. Revere over the next handful of years will probably cost less than Bourn does in 2013 alone. Continue reading Revere the First Step to a Successful Offseason?

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