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Report: Phillies Close to Acquiring Michael Young?

Posted by Corey Seidman, Thu, December 06, 2012 02:23 AM Comments: 37

Michael Young hit .277/.312/.370 last season for the Rangers.

Apparently so, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.

A trio of sources tell Grant that the teams are in “advanced talks” on a deal that would send a young, major-league reliever and a low-level prospect to Texas for the 36-year-old Young.

Grant reports that Texas would likely pick up “more than half” of Young’s $16 million salary for 2013 in the deal. They better pick up more than “more than half” … Young was 125th out of 143 qualifying players last year with a measly .682 OPS.

This would “solve” the third base problem, but who knows how much Young actually has left. He played 2012 in an extreme hitter’s park surrounded by offensive talent and didn’t produce a lick. The Rangers batted him everywhere — 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th — and nothing. He had 27 doubles and 26 GIDPs. He had a .291 OBP against righties.

Then again, if all the Phillies would be giving up is a non-prospect and an expendable reliever, it’s probably worth it to see if Young can recapture a morsel of what he had in 2011, when he hit .338/.380/.474. Or even what he had the eight prior seasons, when he hit .308 with a .814 OPS.

Young has complete no-trade rights because he’s a 10-year veteran who has spent at least the last five seasons with one team. But that shouldn’t be an issue … his playing time is sure to decrease in Texas as Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt get closer to everyday duty.

Stay tuned, we’ll have more in the morning…

  • 37 Comments
 

Phillies Close to Acquiring Astros RP Lopez

Posted by Corey Seidman, Wed, November 28, 2012 11:22 AM Comments: 39

Wilton LopezThe Phillies are in serious talks with the Houston Astros and may be on the verge of trading for 29-year-old righthanded reliever Wilton Lopez, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.

If the Phils pull this off, it would be a great, under-the-radar trade. Many baseball fans haven’t heard of Lopez because he’s been trapped under the weight of the 100-loss Astros, but he’s actually been one of the game’s more reliable late relievers in recent seasons.

Since 2010, Lopez has a 2.64 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. He’s walked just 31 batters in 204.1 innings, and his strikeout rate has increased in each of the last three seasons. He’s in his prime at 29, and would come very cheap. He made just $515,000 last season and figures to make between $1-1.5 million in 2013.

This news comes a day after Ryan Madson agreed to a deal with the Angels and Jonathan Broxton re-upped with the Reds for three years and more than $20 million. For a team so close to the luxury tax, it makes sense for the Phillies to pursue a trade for a reliever than pay $8 million per year for one.

It will be interesting to see what the Phillies give up if they acquire Lopez. Last year at this time, the Astros fleeced the Red Sox by selling high on reliever Mark Melancon to acquire shortstop Jed Lowrie and pitcher Kyle Weiland.

UPDATE: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the deal is agreed upon. But there is no word that Lopez, who is reportedly in Philadelphia, has passed his physical. Stay tuned.

UPDATE (3:30 p.m.): Salisbury reports that the two sides are exchanging physicals and that the Phillies will trade “two players who have played in the upper levels of the minors if the deal is finalized.”

(More coming…)

  • 39 Comments
 

Phillies Offseason Plan: Corey’s Version

Posted by Corey Seidman, Thu, November 15, 2012 07:00 AM Comments: 35

My offseason plan looks different than Pat’s and Eric’s. They each outlined under-the-radar solutions to the Phillies’ problems, moves that could make the team younger and not put the Phils over the luxury tax.

Despite his deficiencies, B.J. Upton is worth a five-year deal for the Phillies.

I took a different approach. The Phillies need to improve, and I’m more concerned with upgrading the offense and bullpen than I am with getting the most bang for the buck. I see Eric’s points about what Peter Bourjos adds, but I don’t think he’s a big enough offensive upgrade. I agree that Ryan Theriot is a serviceable platoon option at third base, but he’s not much more than that and he’s very similar to Kevin Frandsen.

Here is my offseason wishlist:

B.J. Upton – five years, $78 million
Even if the elder Upton doesn’t realize his potential and has five more seasons like his previous five, he’ll be worth this type of contract. It may seem like a ton, but it’s what you pay in today’s world for a power-hitting, defensively sound everyday centerfielder.

I know about Upton’s deficiencies, his .298 OBP last season, his average of 162 strikeouts per season since 2009. But I care more about the 28 home runs he hit last season at a park that suppresses homers, the 40 steals he’s averaged over the last five years. Continue reading Phillies Offseason Plan: Corey’s Version

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Phillies Player Review: Chase Utley

Posted by Corey Seidman, Wed, November 07, 2012 10:30 AM Comments: 28

Chase Utley's 2012 on-base percentage was 89 points higher than his replacements.

How does Chase Utley do it?

For the second straight year in 2012, chronic knee pain kept him out for much of the first half of the season. But just like 2011, once Utley returned, he was good to go every day.

Utley returned in the Phillies 77th game, homered in his very first at-bat and proceeded to play 83 of the remaining 86 games, including 71 of the final 72.

He played at a high level, too. Utley hit .256, his lowest batting average since his rookie season, but had as many walks (43) as strikeouts. The result was a .365 on-base percentage. More impressive was the return of his power. Utley hit 11 homers to equal his 2011 total, but he did it in 92 fewer plate appearances.

Utley was obviously a huge upgrade over his first-half replacements. Freddy Galvis, Michael Martinez, Mike Fontenot and Pete Orr combined for a .670 OPS. Utley was at .793. Utley’s OBP was 89 points higher.

Among second basemen with at least 350 plate appearances, Utley led the NL in OBP. The only 2B in the league with a higher slugging percentage was Aaron Hill.

Defensively, Utley saved eight runs in 720.1 innings. Only second basemen Darwin Barney, Robinson Cano and Jamey Carroll saved runs at a higher rate.

On the basepaths, Utley was 11-for-12 in stolen base attempts to boost his career success rate to 89.6 percent, the highest in major-league history.

Utley is fielding grounders regularly this offseason and will try different methods to be better prepared for the start of next season. Based on how effective he was in the second half last year, there is a semblance of hope that he can re-capture the offensive magic he had from 2005-09

And even if he can’t, Utley has proven that the watered-down, 33-year-old version of himself is still one of the top second basemen in all of baseball.

GRADE: A-

  • 28 Comments
 

Phillies Player Review: Josh Lindblom

Posted by Corey Seidman, Tue, October 30, 2012 02:07 PM Comments: 18

Josh Lindblom has limited righties to a .191 batting average in two seasons.

The Phillies’ bullpen was a disaster in 2012, placing 21st in ERA (3.94) and 29th in eighth-inning ERA (4.89). The ‘pen blew 19 saves — 11 more than their 2011 total. And it lost 27 games after losing just 18 in 2011.

So it made sense that when the Phillies were set to unload Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence at the trade deadline, they would look for at least one young reliever who could come in to help a beleaguered unit. Victorino was dealt to the Dodgers for 25-year-old right-hander Josh Lindblom and 23-year-old starting pitching prospect Ethan Martin.

While Martin flourished at Reading, going 5-0 with a 3.18 ERA in seven starts, Lindblom didn’t have much success in a Phillies uniform. He had a 4.63 ERA for the Phillies, and while he struck out 27 batters in 23.1 innings, he also walked 17.

Lindblom has heat — his fastball ranges from 92-96 mph, but he has trouble keeping the ball in the park. He allowed 13 home runs in 71 innings this season, nine of which came on the first or second pitch of an at-bat. It’s a trend that makes you nervous going forward at Citizens Bank Park.

The 6-foot-4 Lindblom does have potential, though, and he’ll be cheap for a few more years since he has less than two years of major-league service time.

The Phils should use him as a righty specialist in 2013. Right-handed hitters are batting .191 with a .576 OPS off Lindblom in a career sample of 248 plate appearances. Lefties, though, are hitting .282/.396/.500.

Lindblom can still be a quality bullpen piece for the next two or three years if the home run trend changes, but he should not be the eighth-inning answer in 2013, whether it’s just him or a combination of he, Antonio Bastardo and possibly Phillippe Aumont. Lindblom’s propensity to hit the sweet spot of the bat and the control problems of Bastardo and Aumont would set the Phils up for another season of late meltdowns.

If the Phillies sign a veteran reliever with a track record of setup success — a Mike Adams, Ryan Madson or Brandon League — Lindblom can move into the complementary role he is better suited for at this point.

  • 18 Comments
 

Phillies Player Review: Cliff Lee

Posted by Corey Seidman, Wed, October 24, 2012 07:00 AM Comments: 40

PHOTO: AP

Cliff Lee had perhaps the strangest season of any Phillie in 2012. He had a 3.16 ERA but went 6-9. He averaged 7.0 innings per starts but had no complete games. He had 7.39 times as many strikeouts as walks but wasn’t as dominant as he could have been because he allowed 26 home runs, nine more than his season average the previous three years.

Lee’s season really hammered down the absurdity of pitcher wins as an evaluative metric. He had fewer wins than relievers James Russell and Santiago Casilla.

Why? Well, because the Phillies gave him just 3.20 runs of support per game, fourth-lowest in all of baseball. Lee allowed 79 runs this season and the Phillies scored 75 runs with him in the game … meaning that as good as he was, the Phillies made the other pitcher look better.

Gio Gonzalez, who won 21 games, was given 148 runs of support, almost twice as many as Lee.

Phillies fans turned their back on Lee midway through the season. Most knew he was doing his job and keeping the Phils in games, but the fact that the team won just three of his first 13 games became frustrating.

It’s really all about timing. Lee’s worst stretch of the season came when the Phillies needed him most: at the end of May through the end of June, when Roy Halladay was on the DL.

In eight starts from May 20-June 29, Lee had a 5.68 ERA and the opposition hit .308 off him. The Phillies went 2-6.

But it was mostly smooth sailing for Lee in the second half. He had 88 strikeouts to just four walks over his final 12 starts, for a K/BB of 22-to-1 that I don’t think any of us have ever seen. His ERA over his last eight starts was 1.44.

One can’t even say “Lee figures to rebound in 2013,” because he already did rebound. His 2012 wasn’t as good as his 2011 (2.40 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, .229 opp. BA), but he should be worth his salary next season.

If there’s something Lee needs to work on, it’s the quality of his first pitches. He led all of baseball in strike percentage and first-pitch strike percentage, but when batters did make contact on his initial offering, they hit .376.

All in all, though? An excellent 2012 season that looked like less than it was because of a glaring lack of run support and a poorly timed cold spell.

Grade: A-

Read the rest of the 2012 Phillies Player Reviews here.

  • 40 Comments
 

Granderson-for-Ruf is a Pipe Dream

Posted by Corey Seidman, Mon, October 22, 2012 02:40 PM Comments: 31

Another day, another odd Phillies-Yankees trade proposition.

In a Yankees offseason outlook for the New York Daily News, John Harper suggested that the Yanks trade Curtis Granderson to the Phillies for … Darin Ruf.

“Granderson makes a lot of sense for the Phillies, who desperately need power, as well as a center fielder, and they’re still very much in a win-now mode, trying to cash in before their high-priced starting rotation gets too old,” Harper writes.

As for Ruf? Harper had this to say:

“His bat could be valuable to the Yankees in a part-time role in 2013, if he proves ready, and eventually he could become a mainstay in the lineup.”

Let’s break it down… Continue reading Granderson-for-Ruf is a Pipe Dream

  • 31 Comments
 

Phillies Player Review: Ty Wigginton

Posted by Corey Seidman, Mon, October 15, 2012 07:00 AM Comments: 17

The Phillies expected a little more out of

Our 2012 player reviews continue today with our first bench player: Ty Wigginton.

Wigginton was traded to the Phillies from the Rockies on Nov. 20, 2011 for a player to be named later or cash. Colorado needed to shed some salary, and they eventually signed Michael Cuddyer to be a rich man’s Wigginton.

In Wigginton, the Phils acquired a righthanded bench bat who could play first base, third base and left field. He was due $4 million in 2012, but the Rockies paid half.

On the surface it was a shrewd move. Platoon Wigginton with a lefthanded hitting first baseman and you might get decent enough production to offset some of the loss of Ryan Howard for the first half of the season.

Things didn’t work out. And, at 35, Wigginton’s career may be a year or so away from completion.

He started 44 games for the Phillies at first base and 13 at third base. The 11-year vet didn’t give them as much offense as either side would have wanted — he hit .235/.314/.375 with 11 HR and 43 RBI.

Much of that offense came in four games against the Mets, in which Wigginton had four homers and 13 RBI.

He was a butcher at third base. Not that errors always tell the story, but Wigginton had eight in 48 innings at the hot corner. According to Fangraphs, he cost the Phillies 11.2 runs on defense. That was the primary determinant of a -0.7 WAR.

When Howard returned, Wigginton did little as a pinch-hitter. He was 9-for-44 with two extra-base hits and 13 strikeouts off the bench.

His hits weren’t too timely. With runners in scoring position, Wigginton hit .192.

Wigginton finished with a .689 OPS. Just a bit higher than 2007 Wes Helms (.665).

The move can’t really be criticized because the Phillies only paid $2 million for Wigginton’s services. Ruben Amaro Jr. could have further fortified his bench, but when he essentially purchased Wigginton, he didn’t know Chase Utley would miss 76 games to start the season. Had Amaro known that he’d be without his No. 3 and No.4 hitters , maybe he would have gone after a better backup corner infielder.

Ty Wigginton’s 2012 grade: D+

  • 17 Comments
 

Phillies Player Review: Carlos Ruiz

Posted by Corey Seidman, Wed, October 10, 2012 07:00 AM Comments: 74

Carlos Ruiz set career-highs in 2012 in eight offensive categories.

Beginning today, we will examine the 2012 season of one Phillies player per day. First up is starting catcher Carlos Ruiz.

The Phillies’ 2012 season was filled with disappointment and unexpectedly poor production from key players. But despite a team-wide lack of consistency, Carlos Ruiz remained steady from April to September, hitting well no matter the situation or lineup context.

A foot injury limited Ruiz to just 114 games, but he hit .325/.394/.540 with 16 home runs and 68 RBI. Every one of those numbers was a career-high, as were his 56 runs scored, 32 doubles and 16 hit by pitches.

Many kept waiting for Ruiz to slow down and, while he did in the second half, he was still among the game’s most productive catchers. He hit .313 in April, .418 in May, .337 in June, .288 in July and .271 in September after missing most of August. His lowest monthly OPS was .808.

Most impressive was Ruiz’s production with runners in scoring position — he hit .368 with a .600 slugging percentage.

Among major-league catchers with at least 400 plate appearance, Ruiz was second in batting average and slugging percentage only to NL MVP front-runner Buster Posey. He was third in OBP, behind Posey and former batting champ Joe Mauer.

To top it all off, he was extremely valuable behind the plate. Phillies pitchers are always quick to praise Chooch after a strong start — whether it’s Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee — but he also provided defensive value when it came to stolen bases. Ruiz nailed 33 of 97 would-be base stealers for a caught stealing rate of 34 percent. Only four major-league catchers played as many innings as Chooch and had better success throwing out runners: Matt Wieters, Miguel Montero, Yadier Molina and Ryan Hanigan.

For years, I personally always thought Ruiz’s balance at the plate and batting stance made it look like he was going to launch any ball he connected with. In 2012, so many of those swings actually connected, leading to plenty of doubles in the left-centerfield gap or homers to a similar location.

Ruiz’s progression into a dominant offensive player has been one of the more positive, heartwarming developments of the last few Phillies seasons. This is a guy who went from undrafted international free agent infielder, to organizational catcher, to backup backstop, to solid defensive starting catcher, to big-time playoff performer, to well above-average offensive catcher.

Ruiz, who has a $5 million team option for 2013 that Ruben Amaro Jr. has already said the Phillies will pick up, was once just another catcher. I remember four years ago — when Ruiz was dwindling in the .240-.250 range after hitting .219 in 2008 — having a conversation with Eric about how Ruiz hadn’t grabbed the job by the throat. That Chris Coste was capable of providing just as much offense. That the Phillies needed to seriously look for external catching help. That all seems absurd these days.

Now, Chooch has cemented a legacy as one of the most storied players in franchise history, the type of guy fans will give a massive ovation to every time he makes an appearance at Citizens Bank Park for alumni day when his playing days are over. He might be the most likable player of this era of Phillies baseball.

He was certainly their best offensive performer in 2012.

GRADE: A+ … he was the best Phillie offensively and had a great year behind the plate. How could you go with any other grade?

  • 74 Comments
 

Phillies lose, but Ruf homers twice

Posted by Corey Seidman, Tue, October 02, 2012 10:02 PM Comments: 28

The Phillies will have to wait about 15 more hours if they want their 10th straight winning season.

The Phils fell to the Nationals 4-2 in Game 161 of the 2012 season. Darin Ruf accounted for both runs with a pair of solo homers. He’s been a bright spot over the last week, hitting in eight straight games and slugging .774 with two doubles, a triple and two homers in his 11-game major-league career. Of the 7 runs the Phillies have scored in the past three games against the Nationals, Ruf has driven in all 7.

B.J. Rosenberg started for the Phillies and allowed just one run over four solid innings. Josh Lindblom was roughed up in the sixth, he allowed two runs on a solo homer, two other hits, a walk and a hit-by-pitch. The rest of the bullpen filled in the gaps with Antonio Bastardo giving up a Nats insurance run in the eighth.

Kevin Frandsen hit two doubles to raise his batting average to .337 from the lead-off spot tonight. For all of the warranted talk of Frandsen not being an everyday third baseman, he never slowed down over the final two months with the Phillies.

The season ends tomorrow afternoon as Cliff Lee (6-8, 3.12) takes on Edwin Jackson (9-11, 4.13) at 1:05 p.m.

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