2010-11 Free Agency

Werth Says Deal Not Close

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sun, November 28, 2010 06:03 PM Comments: 28

Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com says that he and Jayson Werth spoke through text message and that Werth has not yet made a decision.

A report came out yesterday from 97.5 the Phanatic in Philadelphia that the Phillies had offered a three-year deal to Werth that he was considering, however, there was little credibility to the story. Salisbury says that Werth told him “It’s very early. I will make an informed decision in due time.”

The three-year offer was believed to be worth $55 million with a fourth-year option. Werth’s comments shoot down that rumor to an extent, although the possibility still exists that Werth could remain with the Phillies.


Trade Option: Colby Rasmus

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, November 26, 2010 11:48 AM Comments: 19

Recently, the Cardinals made it clear that they were not trading Colby Rasmus, their 24-year old centerfielder oozing with star potential. With good reason, St. Louis wanted to keep the young, cheap player after he hit 23 home runs and drove in 66 runs a year ago. As of yesterday, his name is back out on the rumor mill.

A contentious relationship with manager Tony LaRussa led to Rasmus becoming part of the rumors around the trade deadline this past summer, however, nothing came of it. Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweeted yesterday that three contending clubs could be angling to make a play for the talented outfielder. Could the Phillies be one of those teams with the impending loss of Jayson Werth?

Rasmus made just $418,000 in 2010 and has another season ahead of him before he even hits arbitration. For his caliber of play, he’s as cheap as they come. On the flip side, he’ll cost a pretty penny on prospects and it would have to be worth the Cardinals while to replace him.

There doesn’t seem to be a concrete reason that the Cardinals would want to push such a talented player out the door, but it seems as though the front office in St. Louis could be ready to choose the manager over the kid. If a little tiff with Tony LaRussa is the reason, then the Cards loss is another teams gain.

Now to the numbers: Rasmus followed up an up and down rookie campaign in 2009 with an exceptional step forward in 2010. In ’10, he played three more games and his average jumped from .251 to .276, his homers went from 16 to 23, and his OPS made a considerable leap from .714 to .859. That .859 OPS mirrors Ryan Howard’s OPS for the 2010 season and was 27 points better than Chase Utley’s. Not bad for a 24-year old.

His defense has fluctuated during his two seasons according to FanGraphs. In his rookie year of ‘09, his UZR was an exceptional 10.2. Last year that figure dropped to a -6.5. If you look at the in-between, a 3.2 UZR is slightly better than average. The question would be; what do you do with him in Philadelphia?

With Shane Victorino entrenched in centerfield, Rasmus would have to play out of his normal position in right. However, the speed of the Phillies outfield would be fantastic. Again, he’s another left-handed bat that would add to an overloaded lefty lineup. Rasmus falls in line with Grady Sizemore as a less-than-perfect fit.

Rasmus is a career .217 hitter against left-handed pitching meaning as a five-hole hitter, the Phillies would be in trouble in late-inning situations.

CHANCES: 2/10 – Again, another lefty who struggles against left-handed pitching and would add to that already too-lefty lineup the Phils trot out there everyday. Rasmus is a fine young player, but the chances of him coming here aren’t great unless a counter move is made to make the lineup lefty-friendly.


Trade Option: Grady Sizemore

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, November 22, 2010 08:59 AM Comments: 27

From 2005 to 2008, Grady Sizemore was one of the best young hitters in the game. Over that four season stretch he put up impressive numbers, topping out with a .290 average and a league-leading 53 doubles in 2006, 101 walks in 2007, and 33 homers and 38 steals in 2008. In his rookie year of 2005, the outfielder put up a .289/22/81 stat line. All very exciting numbers.

In 2009, Sizemore’s decline became apparent as injuries began to take their toll. Late in the season – after struggling through much of it – he elected to have surgery on his nagging left elbow which had sapped his power and ruined his year. A week after his elbow was repaired, Sizemore had another surgery to fix a hernia which was brought on by a groin injury, which also killed his season.

The worst had yet to come for the Indians centerfielder at that point as in 2010 he’d play in just 33 games, cutting his year short after undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee.

It appears that Cleveland is now trying to gauge interest on the face of their tattered franchise, one that has won fewer than 70 games in back-to-back seasons. However, would it make sense for the Indians to deal their star while his trade value is at it’s lowest point? There are two layers to that.

On one hand, they may want to recoup some younger players if they believe Sizemore’s best days are in the past.

On the other hand, it might make more sense to wait it out and see what he can offer them for the 2011 season and either keep him around for the future or look for a better deal at the trade deadline.

If they decide to pursue the trade, would – or should – the Phillies show interest for another left-handed bat?

Sizemore is owed $7.5 million in 2011 and has a 2012 club option for $8.5 million that becomes a player option should he be traded. The contract is very friendly, but that really isn’t the issue here. It’s clearly the health of his surgically-repaired knee.

According to Anthony Castrovince, the Indians MLB.com beat writer, Sizemore is progressing well and is on schedule to return to lineup for opening day. As we all know, setbacks can occur, especially with such a delicate surgery.  It’s still positive news considering he had the procedure less than six months ago.

As for his left-handedness, it’s a long-shot that the Phillies would want to add yet another to their order. His .230 career split against lefty pitching is surely a problem, but with a drought of righty hitters available for the position the Phillies would need to fill, perhaps adding a proven lefty hitter that was once at the top of position would work out just the same. Again, it’s not likely, but Sizemore has the talent to make up for the deficiency against the lefty-lefty matchup.

If Ruben Amaro doesn’t mind yet another lefty, a Sizemore addition could enable a Jimmy Rollins move to fifth or sixth in the order. Sizemore is a proven leadoff guy, evident in his 3,181 plate appearances at the top of the lineup and his 134 career stolen bases. If Rollins bats in an RBI-producing position, would that make up for the right-handed inadequacies this team would have without Jayson Werth? Absolutely not. But it would be a start.

It’s nearly impossible to say what the Phillies would have to part with to acquire Sizemore. You would have to believe that if he were truly available Ruben Amaro and his boys would be doing their homework on the three-time all star.

CHANCES: Sizemore’s availability is in question because there of the aforementioned injuries, etc. The Phillies will question whether or not another left-handed batter is the right move. If the Indians are listening, Ruben Amaro should at the very least give a call. The Phillies have done well with the Indians before and perhaps they can steal another franchise staple.

I give this two Ruben Heads out of 10 on the trade possibility scale.

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Trade Option: Carlos Quentin

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sat, November 20, 2010 01:56 PM Comments: 30

Over in Chi-town, he was once known as “TCQ” and “Q-uperman.” After a trade brought him to the White Sox from the Diamondbacks, Carlos Quentin took the south side by storm in 2008. Since then, it’s been a rash of injuries and disappointment for the once-budding star.

TCQ stands for “The Carlos Quentin,” which is quite a nickname for a guy who hadn’t lived up to expectations but for one season. During that 2008 campaign, Quentin destroyed American League pitching to the tune of .288/36/100 with an OPS of .965. He did that damage in just 130 games, as he missed the final month due to a fractured wrist he suffered after slamming his bat in frustration.

After sub-par seasons in ’09 and ’10, Quentin is now on the market to be traded, according to sources. How would he fit in Philly?

While scouring the Twitter deck and the Facebook machine, I’ve come to find varying opinions on Carlos Quentin. One subject no one talked about was the facial hair. The dude has a pretty mean scruff and might rival Jayson Werth in that department if he felt so inclined…but anyway.

On one hand, many like his power and his bit of upside at 28-years old – after all, he’s just now heading into his prime. The upside would be a reformation to his ’08 days when he was an MVP candidate (he finished fifth) and an All-Star. During that  breakout, Quentin killed right-handed pitching (.303 average) and was fantastic with runners in scoring position (.311 avg/.984 OPS).

As his numbers have diminished, the injuries have mounted and his luck has turned. In 2009, his BABIP was an extremely low .221. Quentin hit, it just seems he hit it right at people. In 2010, that stayed at a fairly-low .245.

On the other hand, the knock on him has always been his ability to hit left-handed pitching. Quentin’s career average against lefties is just .212. How would that fit into the Phillies order already filled with lefty batters?

That, of course, is the issue. Can the Phillies make a play for a guy who can’t hit lefties when the guy he would likely be hitting behind, Ryan Howard, can’t hit lefties either? The power Quentin can provide would more than make up for the loss of a guy like Jayson Werth should the Phils be unable to resign him. Still, what does it matter if he’s right handed if he can’t hit southpaws in this already-too-lefty order?

TCQ’s defense is also ugly. His UZR over the past few seasons in Chicago has been downright awful. You can blame some of that on the fact that he’s dealt with foot ailments over the past two seasons. But you can also blame it on the fact that he’s not a very good fielder. Carlos Quentin is in the lineup, first and foremost, for his bat.

CHANCES: Quentin seems to be very much available and although he wouldn’t be a superb fit in the Phillies outfield because of his defensive deficiencies and left-handed woes, he would be a decent #5 hitter in this order. He’s a Stanford guy too (like Ruben Amaro) which might benefit him. I’ll give this one six Ruben Head’s. There’s a decent chance they make a play for TCQ.

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Trade Option: Justin Upton

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, November 18, 2010 05:45 PM Comments: 23

During the early stages of the winter, we’ll take a look at some of the options possibly available on the trade market that might intrigue the Phillies. With the Jayson Werth situation looming large, some of these players may or may not be a good fit for the Phils.

Playing in the desert has kept him from becoming a household name, but Justin Upton is nearly there. Could a trade change that?

The Arizona Diamondbacks are reportedly gauging interest on their 23-year old outfielder, one of the premier youngsters in baseball. Would the Phillies have interest? Absolutely. Would they have what it takes to get pry him from the D’Backs? Highly unlikely.

Multiple reports have the Diamondbacks asking for four or five players in any trade for their burgeoning superstar, including up to three which would be major league ready. Jon Heyman of SI.com says an American League executive called the asking price “ridiculous.” As of now, there have been no reports linking the Phils to the D’Backs rightfielder, but that doesn’t mean the Phillies haven’t at least asked about him.

Upton would be a best-case scenario replacement should Jayson Werth leave town. The 2010 season was a bit of a down year for B.J.’s younger bro, as he hit just .273 with 17 home runs and 69 RBI. Upton had a breakout in 2009 with a .300 average to go with 26 homers and 86 RBI. It was a bit of a step backward however, he’s a guy many are willing to take a shot on. If the price is right.

Upton is dealing with an injury that could scare some teams away – he has a torn labrum in his shoulder that is not in need of surgery. His contract is rather friendly – he signed for six-years and $51 million before last season – but the haul Arizona will seek has some wondering if anyone but the Red Sox or Yankees will be able to afford it. Beyond the prospects, would it be worth it for the Phillies, or many other teams for that matter, to pay for two seasons of Upton. In 2016, Upton will be a free agent and could seek near $20 million per season.

The Phillies could use a youthful infusion with a guy like Upton adding to the impending breakthrough of Dominic Brown. The only problem is, Upton would cost the Phillies Brown and then some. Pillaging the farm system yet again doesn’t seem to be the brightest idea, although some argue Upton would be worth it. If the price drops some, look for Ruben to put his nose in the race, although it’s still a long-shot. At the very least, a trade to Boston would send Jayson Werth’s price down a bit.

CHANCES: Very, very low. Upton is a fine, young talent, but it’s unlikely the Phillies have what it takes to snag him from the lowly Diamondbacks. I give it one Ruben head out of 10 that Upton becomes a Phillie.


Phillies Reportedly Sign Former Tigers RP Bonine

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, November 12, 2010 03:32 PM Comments: 47

According to FoxSports.com and a tweet from Jon Paul Morosi, the Phillies have signed former Detroit Tigers reliever Eddie Bonine. Not many details are available at this time, but when more becomes available we’ll bring it to you.

Bonine is a 29-year old that had a fairly down year with the Tigers last season, sporting an ERA in the mid-four’s and a WHIP of 1.56. He did so in 47 appearances. According to ESPN.com, they see him as a possible starter to join the fight for the fifth spot in Spring Training with Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley.

Bonine has been known to incorporate a knuckleball into his repertoire.

UPDATE: 4:40 pm: Fox Sports is also announcing the Phillies have signed catcher Erik Kratz to a minor-league contract. He spend last season with the Pirates playing in nine games and hitting .118 in the bigs.

Also, Bonine’s contract is in fact a minor-league deal.


Free Agency Thread: Werth, Contreras, Bullpen

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, November 11, 2010 09:09 AM Comments: 56

In Jayson Stark’s Rumblings column on ESPN.com, a baseball source tells him that there is a “zero” percent chance of Jayson Werth returning to the team in 2011. That’s a fairly low number, no? Stark opines that it might not even be the money in this situation that severs the ties between the Phillies and Werth – it could be the years he wants in the deal.

Let’s think about it. Many of us want Werth back in Philadelphia, but at what price? Is it worth it to hamstring the team even more with a five year, $90 million contract to a guy who turns 32 next season? Sure, it’s a young 32 because he missed several seasons in his 20′s with injuries, but it’s 32 nonetheless. Count me in with the school of thought that the Phillies must get younger, as much as we don’t want to see them break up this pseudo-dynasty. Spending $90 million on one man, albeit a strength of their club, shouldn’t be the way to go here. Use that $90 million wisely in other parts such as the rotation, the bullpen, and finding ways to bolster an offense that was anemic in 2010. Come on Rube, you can do it!

–Also according to Stark, the Phillies have moved aggressively toward signing free-agent reliever Jose Contreras. “Big Truck” made $1.5 million in 2010, meaning a raise is likely. Contreras was outstanding in his first full season out of the bullpen and may have carved a niche for himself as a seventh or eighth inning guy. In 67 appearances, Contreras was 6-4 with a 3.34 ERA over 56 2/3 innings. Not bad for a “38-year old.”

My early estimate is a two-year deal similar to that of good friend Danys Baez. No way Baez should be making more than Contreras who was a savior of sorts for the Phillies in the bullpen last season. When guys like Lidge, Madson, Romero, and Durbin were out, Contreras was the rock that helped keep the relief corps in order. I’d say he’s looking at a two-year, $5.5 million deal to stick around with the Phillies if he wants it. His relationship with fellow Cuban Baez could help in bringing back the Biggest Truck.

–As for the rest of the bullpen, Amaro says the Phillies have touched base with 40 free agents, many of them relief pitchers. Who are some of the best out there?

Hisanori Takahashi is a name that has been linked to the Phillies early in the offseason. He’s a soft-tossing lefty that would team up wonderfully with hard-throwing Antonio Bastardo. He’s also 35 and in lefty years, he’s got about 35 more to go.

Jon Rauch is a back-end type reliever who played for the Twins a year ago. The 6’11″, 290-pound 32-year old has been one of the better setup men in baseball the past few seasons. Rauch made over $2 million last season.

Grant Balfour is the kind of high-energy arm Phillies fans would adore. The Australian – formerly with the Rays – is also 32 and is coming off his best season as a professional, meaning he’ll cost quite a bit more than the $2.05 million he received in ’10. In 57 appearances, he had a 2.28 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. A multi-year deal at more than $3 million will be likely.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of spending a ton of money on multi-year contracts on bullpen arms. Year-to-year – hell, day-to-day – you just don’t know what you’ll get from the guys out there. As I’ve stated before, the Phillies should look internally first with the youngsters they have, then try to steal someone out of the bargain bin after the new year. As we all know, however, Ruben Amaro likes to move swiftly and if he can find someone he likes at the price he loves, he’ll do just that.

–One name who keeps popping up on the Phils radar is Pedro Feliciano, formerly of the Mets. This one worries me. Feliciano has been a stalwart out of the Mets ‘pen, but that might not be a good thing. The 34-year old has appeared in 334 games in the last four seasons. Let that sink in for a second. He has thrown in more than half of the Mets games in the last four seasons, an incredible figure. That could also mean wear and tear down the road. Last season, Feliciano’s 92 appearances were by far the most in baseball – only five other guys even reached 80 games as a reliever. My thought: stay away.

UPDATE, 10:30 AM: Jim Bowden says the Phillies are going hard after former Ranger Joaquin Benoit. He made $3.75 million last year and posted fantastic numbers: 66 games, 60 1/3 innings, 1.33 ERA, 0.68 WHIP.

UPDATE, 4:15 pm: Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com says that former White Sox rightfielder/DH Jermaine Dye wants to play again and has been contacted by the Phillies, among other teams. The 36-year old Dye (37 in January) would replace Jayson Werth in right field and last was seen in 2009 hitting 27 home runs and knocking in 81 runs.


Odds and Ends: Samuel, Sandberg, Lee

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, November 10, 2010 09:44 AM Comments: 28

-It is now official: the Phillies have spoken with Juan Samuel’s agent about filling the first base coaching vacancy left by Davy Lopes. Samuel was the Orioles interm manager this season before the team hired Buck Showalter. He’s also on the Phillies Wall of Fame, meaning the transition should be a smooth one from the likable Lopes.

The numbers speak for themselves when you talk about Lopes and what he did for the running game during his tenure. Obviously, whoever gets the job has big shoes to fill.

-According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Mickey Morandini (don’t tell me you can look at that name and not have Harry Kalas say those words in you’re head) wants to jump back into coaching and the Phillies could bring him in. Salisbury says the two parties have spoken and he could be in line for a job in the farm system in 2011.


-Also believed to be in consideration is Ryne Sandberg, whom is also being looked as a possibility for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley managerial position. Bringing back Sandberg, who was traded from the Phillies in 1981 to the Cubs, would also help ease the blow of losing such a top-notch first base coach, should they want to put him on the big club.

Yesterday, Jay Floyd touched on Sandberg possibly rejoining the organization in some capacity.

-Cliff Lee is officially being courted by the Yankees. In a recruiting-style trip, Yankees GM Brian Cashman is headed to Arkansas to meet with Lee and his family in an attempt to fill his house with hundred dollar bills. OK, maybe he’s not going that far, but odds are the Yankees will offer him a considerable amount of money to join. Only the Rangers seem to be as hot on Lee as the Yankees are, although as many as eight teams, including the Phillies, have shown some level of interest in the left-hander.

My personal hope is that he resigns with the Rangers. They have a fine young core and he would be the ace they need going forward. Again, any good player can go to the Yankees and win. Rather, I’d like to see a guy like Lee stick with a team that doesn’t throw money around like Halloween candy to anyone and everyone. Let’s hope that if the Phillies can’t nail him down in Philly again, that the Rangers keep him.


PN Writer's Roundtable: Phillies Biggest Need

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, November 09, 2010 03:32 PM Comments: 27

Question: What should be the Phillies main focus heading into free agency – bullpen, offense, or more starting pitching?

Amanda Orr: The Bullpen. The Phillies have Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge — that’s it. Danys Baez will return, but I’d rather keep the ball as far away from him as possible. Chad Durbin, Jose Contreras, and J.C Romero are all free agents. Durbin’s average. Bringing him back at a decent price would be solid, but losing him isn’t going to be the end of the world. Contreras had a good year, but he’s old. J.C Romero is too erratic and probably will demand a lot of money.

After Madson and Lidge, there is nobody. Antonio Bastardo? He hasn’t done a thing in the big leagues. Scott Matheison could be a possible option, but he’s had trouble getting out big league hitters, and even if he does well he is not going to solve the bullpen issues.

Michael Baumann: Amazing that I get less succinct the hazier my opinions are.

I honestly have no idea. The Phillies seem set on starting pitching, and the offense, even with the probable loss of Jayson Werth, ought not to be too bad. The only thing I’m sure of is that it would be a mistake to spend any money whatsoever on the bullpen. Reliever performance is so volatile that spending any money on bullpen arms (not named Rivera or Nathan) is a crapshoot. Case in point: the Phillies paid Danys Baez $2.5 million this year to post a 1.64 WHIP in 51 appearances and not make the postseason roster, while the Blue Jays, between 2009 and 2010, got a 6.53 ERA and a 1.89 WHIP in 20 2/3 IP out of B.J. Ryan (who was a “proven closer” when they signed him) at the cost of $22 million. Meanwhile, the 2010 Padres put together one of the best bullpens in major league history for about 2/3 of what the Phillies paid Brad Lidge alone.

I’d like three things out of the Phillies this offseason: 1) Don’t give a reliever multiple years or multiple millions of dollars. Reading and Lehigh Valley are teeming with cheap live young arms–let’s give them a shot. 2) Get younger. The Phillies, in 2010, were the oldest team in the NL by a huge margin. If they’re going to contend going forward, bringing in Dom Brown and Vance Worley full-time is a start, but it’s not enough. 3) Somehow convince people to stop talking about Jayson Werth and Cliff Lee as potential free-agent targets. The Phillies have tied up their resources elsewhere, and I’m pretty sure we’re only days away from Dash Treyhorn over at The Fightins leaving a Jon Favreau-in-Swingers message on Werth’s voicemail. They’re gone, folks. Let’s move on.

Nick “The Beerman” Staskin: In my opinion, the main focus should be on filling the need for a right-handed bat. Whether that is by resigning Jayson Werth or looking outside the organization, the overhaul of lefties has been exposed by this year’s letdown. When Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt comprise the majority of your rotation, the need for middle relief is not as great.

Pat Gallen: In this order, the Phillies need to work their magic in free agency: 1. Offense, 2. Starting Pitching.

For them to make steps forward offensively, it would have to include keeping Jayson Werth, which seems like a long shot at this point. He’s attracting a lot of attention meaning he won’t be an easy keep. Ruben Amaro has surprised us before so perhaps he’ll surprise us again by coming out of left field with a trade. No matter, the Phillies have to find someone to fill in for Werth should he leave. I also do not think anyone is safe right now. Amaro will be looking to move Victorino, Ibanez, and others if he has the opportunity. And his main focus should be getting this team back to it where was offensively in 2009.

If that proves to be too difficult, then they have to go out try to make a splash by trading for or signing a top notch starting pitcher. Cliff Lee is on the market, but again, trades and pop up at any time. If he’s able to move the contract of Joe Blanton, then so be it. He was a fine acquisition and might be a fine fourth starter; however, if you’re not able to get a big bat to rebuild the lineup, then they have to load up on pitching to beat other teams.

Relief arms are too feeble to be a main target through free agency, although they will need to likely go out and sign one fairly big arm to fill the void left by Romero, Durbin, or Contreras – that is if none of them come back. We’ve seen too many big contracts handed out to bullpen arms only to watch them fail miserably. Leave that until later in the winter and see if you can get bargain basement deals.


Free Agency: Day 2

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, November 08, 2010 03:19 PM Comments: 45

-Guess you can’t say you didn’t see this coming, but according to ESPNBoston.com, Jayson Werth is being courted by the Boston Red Sox. The Sawx are dying for offense this year after struggling for much of the 2010 season and Werth is a tools player who fits the bill. Monetarily, the Red Sox are unafraid to add big contracts and will likely have to do so to bring in Werth. We’ll keep up with this situation, but obviously Werth will let this one play out until he has several offers on the table in front of him to choose from.

-Dave Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News talked about adding bullpen help on Friday and included names like Scott Downs and Jason Frasor of Toronto, Matt Guerrier and Jon Rauch of Minnesota, and several others. Yesterday, I brought up the bullpen situation with Contreras and Durbin hitting free agency. Would you like to see them try and sign a big name or should they go with youngsters and hope they strike gold? As we found out with Danys Baez, going for a name isn’t always the way.

-Over the weekend, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com had an idea. And it’s not as crazy as you might think. He mentions a name some of you may know well – Andrew McCutchen from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s a 24-year old outfielder who will soon be in line for a major raise. It’s seems unlikely the cheap-as-dirt Pirates will be able to keep him. Would he be a fit in Philly? Salisbury points to a trade of Dom Brown for McCutchen, a guy who has already tasted success as a big leaguer on a daily basis. Verrrry interesting thought.

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