Hamels to St. Louis? Cards Have the Right Prospects

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Fri, January 09, 2015 01:32 PM Comments: 46

MLB.com columnist, Richard Justice, wrote a piece yesterday discussing the possibility of Cole Hamels being traded to the Cardinals.

“They’re one of the few clubs with enough coveted prospects to get Phillies senior vice president and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. to pull the trigger on this trade,” Justice wrote.

He’s right, in fact. The Cardinals have the talented prospects that the Phillies would be seeking in a deal involving their best player.

Two prospects in particular that the Phillies could acquire are right-fielder Stephen Piscotty, and LHP Marco Gonzales.

Stephen Piscotty

Stephen Piscotty

Last year, Piscotty batted .288, with nine HRs and 69 RBIs while also posting an OBP of .355. In his minor-league career, Piscotty has hit for an average of .292 with 28 HRs, and 155 RBIs in 303 games and 1137 at-bats.

With the Phillies’ outfield loaded with question marks, a prospect like Piscotty would be welcomed into the farm system with open arms, and could be the future answer to a position the Phillies have struggled to find a long-term option for since the departure of Jayson Werth.

Gonzales made his major-league debut with the Cardinals in June of last season, and he struggled initially. However, he showed improvement down the stretch for the Cardinals, as he became a useful lefty out of the bullpen with left-handed batters hitting only .143 against him. He finished the 2014 season with a 4.15 ERA in 34.2 innings pitched. Gonzales also went 2-1 in the playoffs for the Cardinals, pitching 5.1 shutout innings before giving up three runs to the Giants in the NLCS.

Marco Gonzales

Marco Gonzales 

The Phillies have already made moves for young pitchers this offseason, so a guy like Gonzales would continue the trend of stocking up on young arms. However, the Phillies need some young bats as well. The young hitters they currently have on their roster, such as Dominic Brown, Cody Asche, and Cesar Hernandez, are all unknowns in regards to what they will become. This is what makes a player like Piscotty so valuable. Add players like Maikel Franco and the looming J.P. Crawford into the equation, and there’s reason to be optimistic about the future.

This season will be a make-or-break season for Dominic Brown. By now, the Phillies were hoping that he would be a stud corner outfielder. That hasn’t been the case so far. It’s imperative that he gets on the right track offensively this season. If he can do that, and the Phillies acquire Piscotty, then you could be looking at two long-term corner outfielders.

If the Phillies decide to deal Hamels, the Cardinals look like the perfect fit. The acquisition of Hamels would make the Cards early World Series favorites, and the Phillies could get back the talent they desperately need in return.

Everybody wins.


John Mayberry Jr. Traded to Blue Jays

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Sun, August 31, 2014 09:09 PM Comments: 17

Outfielder John Mayberry Jr. was traded late Sunday night to the Blue Jays for third baseman Gustavo Pierre.

Mayberry had just arrived in New York earlier today and was set to be activated from the DL. He hasn’t played a game since July 20.

He hit .242/.304/.429 in 500 career games for the Phillies. He’s 30 years old now, and had no real future with the Phils, outside of being a bench player.

One thing he was good at was being a pinch-hitter. In 113 plate appearances as a PH, Mayberry hit .295/.345/.505 with six home runs and 20 RBIs.

Still, the fact that the Phillies were able to get anything at all in return for Mayberry is a surprise, although I’m not so sure that Pierre is the type of return that was worth it. The move will likely open up a spot for an extra September call-up.

Mayberry was drafted by the Rangers in 2005 and traded to the Phillies following the 2008 season for Greg Golson in Ruben Amaro Jr.’s first move as GM. Here’s a write up from Baseball America on the trade at the time.

His father, John Mayberry Sr., also played for the Blue Jays from 1978-1982.


Phillies Nation TV – Trade Deadline Special

Posted by Brian Michael, Sat, August 02, 2014 01:04 PM Comments: 49

On this special Trade Deadline edition of Phillies Nation, Pat and Corey discuss why the Phillies ended up making zero moves. They breakdown trades around the league and analyze how they led to the Phillies standing pat. They also discuss the prospects for making trades after the deadline and explain how the waiver process works.

Matt Stairs (of all people) gives us a lesson on bunting. Kevin Wilson talks about his relationship with Charlie Manuel. And Tommy Greene gives his opinions on players fraternizing with the opposition.


Three Years Later: Revisiting the Hunter Pence Deal

Posted by Pat Egan, Tue, July 29, 2014 01:34 PM Comments: 47

July 29, 2011 will go down as a day that will live in infamy for Phillies fans. July 29, 2011 was the day the Phillies mortgaged the future for a false messiah. It wasn’t Hunter Pence‘s fault. Pence did not force Ruben Amaro to trade Jared Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid, and eventually Domingo Santana for him. When it became clear that Pence was not the savior the Phillies had been hoping for, Pence did not force Amaro to trade him for a sub par return. Hunter Pence was the golden calf from the Bible. And we are going to be paying for it for a long, long, long time.

2011 was a good year to be a Phillies fan. It was not a question of “if” the Phillies would get to the World Series, but who would they play. Ticket prices on the secondary market were going for as much as $40 for a random Tuesday night game. Philadelphia had “Phillies fever”. But what the Phillies did not have was a solid right fielder. All season long the Phillies had gone with a platoon of Ben Francisco, John Mayberry Jr, and a call-up named Domonic Brown. The team needed more consistency from the position, and a player who preferably could bat from the right side to protect Ryan Howard. Enter the Houston Astros.

The Astros were beginning a rebuilding period in 2011, and had former Phillies GM Ed Wade at the helm. The Astros hottest commodity was a 28-year old right fielder named Hunter Pence, and he was everything the Phillies needed. Pence batted from the right side, was under team control through 2013, and was one hell of a player. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro could almost taste that World Series championship, and was willing to do anything to get the one missing piece. We didnt know it then, but three years later it is clear. The Phillies trade for Hunter Pence was the baseball version of the Herschel Walker trade.

If you trade for four prospects, you are happy if two of them reach the majors. Ed Wade’s parting gift to Houston (before he was fired) can certainly be deemed a win for the Astros as all of the players the Astros received have reached the majors. Jonathan Singleton became the first player in major league history to sign a long term extension before seeing a pitch in the majors. Jared Cosart is the Astros number three starter. Zeid is pitching out of the bullpen, and Santana made his major league debut earlier this month. When Ruben Amaro traded for Hunter Pence it was thought that he was setting up the Phillies to be a dynasty, but in reality he was setting up the Astros to be just that.

The anticipation for Pence’s first game was high. Ticket prices reached $75 for the cheapest ticket on the secondary market, and the actual game against the Pittsburgh Pirates was an after thought. The 28-year old two time All Star played as advertised in his 2011 season with the Phillies. In 54 regular season games Pence had a slash line of .324/.394/.560. The former second round pick hit 11 home runs, and drove in 35 RBI while primarily batting fifth in the order. It was looking as if the price the Phillies had paid for Pence was worth it, and then it happened.

October 7, 2011 the window closed. Hollywood could not have scripted a more fitting ending to a storied run. Phillies slugger Ryan Howard ruptured his Achilles to end the game, the season, and the good times. The Phillies had lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the divisional series. Ace pitcher Roy Halladay pitched a gem, but ended up taking the 1-0 loss. It would be the last time Roy Halladay was dominant. The window had closed, but no one wanted to believe it.

Howard would start the season on the disabled list, leaving a lot of pressure on the savior Hunter Pence. Pence played ok, but the right fielder could not pick up the slack that was left in the absence of Ryan Howard. In 101 games for the Phillies in 2012 Pence had a slash line of .271/.336/.447. He managed to smash 17 home runs, and drove in a respectable 59 RBI, but he just wasn’t enough. Facing a 45-57 record Phillies GM Ruben Amaro decided to sell. The player he bought so high on a year earlier, was sold low.

Rather than pay Pence a projected $13 million in 2013, and then be forced with the decision on weather to sign him to a long term contract, the Phillies decided to move the former All Star right fielder. The Phillies traded Pence to the San Francisco Giants for Nate Schierholtz, Seth Rosin, and Tommy Joseph. I wouldn’t take any of those players over Cosart, Santana, or Singleton. It was a bad deal then, and it is a bad deal now.

The center piece in the trade was Tommy Joseph. A right handed hitting catcher who scouts said would be a good hitter at the Major League level. During his tenure with the Phillies Joseph has dealt with injuries. The former second round pick has dealt with concussion problems that could force him from behind the plate. When he’s not injured, he’s playing just ok. He’s had just 78 at-bats this year for AA Reading, and is currently on a rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Phillies. He has yet to reach the majors, but is only 23.

Tommy  Joseph was the center piece of the Hunter  Pence trade to the Giants

Tommy Joseph was the center piece of the Hunter Pence trade to the Giants

Could Tommy Joseph amount to a productive Major Leaguer? Of course! But the Phillies traded away three of the their top 10 prospects to acquire Pence in 2011, and when it came time to trade him away they received one decent prospect, a fledgling right fielder in Schierholtz, and a minor league reliever in Rosin. What hurts even worse is when you look at the Phillies problems this season.

It is no secret that the Phillies would love to get rid of former MVP Ryan Howard, and his hefty contract. It sure would be nice to have Jonathan Singleton there to replace him. When Cliff Lee went down with an elbow strain injury the Phillies replaced him with David Buchanan. The Phillies thought so highly of Buchanan that they left him unprotected for the Rule-5 Draft. He went undrafted. It sure would have been nice to have Jarred Cosart there to fill in for Lee. Instead of signing Grady Sizemore, who was released by the Red Sox, it would have been nice to be able to call up 22-year old Domingo Santana. This season at AAA Oklahoma City Santana has a slash line of .283/.365/.459. He has 13 home runs, and 55 RBI. He figures into the Astros plans for next season.

Ruben Amaro has proven one thing in his time as the Phillies GM. He can trade prospects for proven talent, but he has trouble when it comes time to trading proven talent for prospects. It started with the Cliff Lee deal when the Phillies received Tyson Gillies, JC Ramirez, and Phillippe Aumont. Next was the Pence deal, and then Amaro traded former All Star Shane Victorino for Ethan Martin, Josh Lindblom, and Stefan Jarrin.

Amaro is now in the same spot Ed Wade was in three years ago. The Phillies are in last place in the NL East with a 46-50 record and are ready to start their own rebuilding period. Just like in Houston, the Phillies have a very tradeable commodity in Cole Hamels. Hamels is 30-years old and is having a phenomenal season. The Phillies will not be good for a long time. Long after Cole Hamels is out of his prime. It would make logical sense to sell Hamels high, and replenish a farm system that has been decimated recently thanks to poor drafts, and poor trades. If the Phillies trade Hamels, they need to get receive a package similar to what they gave up for Pence. They need to make the fan base forget about the Hunter Pence trade of 2011.


Phillies Trade Notes: Hamels and Byrd

Posted by Pat Egan, Fri, July 25, 2014 08:30 AM Comments: 34

Could Cole  Hamels be shipping up to Boston?

Could Cole Hamels be shipping up to Boston?

Put this into the “where there is smoke, there is fire” category of sports. The Phillies continue to say that they are not trading starter Cole Hamels, but the Phillies scouts picked an interesting game to attend Thursday night. Jayson Stark of ESPN is reporting that the Phillies sent scouts to the  Boston Red Sox AA (Portland Sea Dogs) game Thursday night after the Red Sox inquired about Cole Hamels. Maybe its all a coincidence? Maybe the Phillies scouts just happened to be in the area? Well that would be one hell of a coincidence considering who was pitching for Portland.

Pitching for the Sea Dogs Thursday night was the Red Sox number one prospect Henry Owens. The 22-year old California native was the starting pitcher for Team USA in the 2014 MLB Futures Game this year. Owens didn’t have his best stuff on Thursday surrendering five earned runs, on five hits, in just four innings of work. The big lanky lefty did manage to fan six batters though. Owens has a 13-4 record for Portland this season with an impressive 2.56 ERA. Opposing hitters are batting just .197 off of him this year, and he is striking out over a batter an inning (123 K in 116 IP).

The only other player for Portland Thursday night, who is also a top 10 prospect for the Red Sox, was catcher/DH Blake Swihart. The switch hitter, and former first round pick in 2011, went 2-4 at the plate while scoring the Sea Dogs only run. Swihart posses a slash line of .298/.353/.489 in his first season at AA. The 22 year old has 11 home runs with 53 runs batted in. With Tommy Joseph‘s catching career in question Swihart would be a nice piece to have.

While the Phillies have said that they are not going to trade their 30 year old ace, you have to assume that there is something to these rumors. The Red Sox current ace Jon Lester has tabled contract talks to the offseason after both sides were unable to come to an extension. The Red Sox could fear that Lester wont be back, and look to add Hamels as a comparable replacement. If Thursday night was Cole Hamels last start in Philadelphia he certainly went out strong. The lefty went eight innings, giving up just one earned run while striking out 10. He even managed to ramp up his fast ball to 96 MPH.

While any trade for Cole Hamels would be sure to yield a great return for the Phillies, a trade for outfielder Marlon Byrd probably would not. On Thursday the Seattle Mariners, who were said to be interested in Byrd, decided to bring back Kendrys Morales. Morales, who has a little over two months left on his contract, brought the Twins back a 25-year old AAA relief pitcher named Stephen Pryor. Pryor was not in MLB.Com’s top 25 prospects for the Seattle Mariners, and he likely wont be in the Twins top 25 next season. The right handed reliever posted a 4.65 ERA in 31 innings of work.

Marlon Byrd is obviously having a stronger season than Kendrys Morales, but Morales is five years younger than Byrd, and isn’t signed for next season. Byrd also has a…. wait for it….. vesting option for 2016 when he will be 38-years old. If the Phillies end up finding a buyer for Marlon Byrd then you are probably looking at a Jeremy Horst type player in return.


Pittsburgh Emerging as Front Runners for Burnett

Posted by Pat Egan, Tue, July 22, 2014 02:00 PM Comments: 85

It is looking as though the Pittsburgh Pirates are emerging as a favorite to land Phillies starter A.J. Burnett. Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.Com tweeted Tuesday that Burnett would prefer to return to Pittsburgh. Burnett, in his first year with the Phillies, pitched for the Pirates during the 2012, and 2013 seasons. Burnett had a great year in 2013 posting a 10-11 record with a 3.30 ERA. Those numbers helped land Burnett a $15 million dollar deal with the Phillies in the offseason.

Tom Gannam Associated Press

Tom Gannam Associated Press

Burnett’s tenure in Pittsburgh ended on a sour note. When Pirates manager Clint Hurdle elected to go with Gerrit Cole instead of Burnett for the series deciding game five NLDS game Burnett was said to have felt disrespected. The game five slight was one of the main reasons why Burnett chose to leave Pittsburgh and not resign. But the bad blood between Burnett and Pittsburgh is said to have been overblown.Rosenthal also said that while Burnett wants to rejoin the Buccos the feeling seems to be mutual with Pirates players lobbying the front office for his return. One snag in the deal could be, and stop me if you’ve heard this before, Burnett’s vesting option for 2015. Burnett has made 21 starts this season for the Phillies. At 24 starts his option would cost $8.5 million. At 27 starts that number gets bumped up to $10 million. At 30 starts it would be $11.75 million and his option would max out at $12.75 million if Burnett were to make 32 starts this season.

Burnett isn’t having the year the Phillies had hoped for this season. He currently has a 6-9 record with a 4.03 ERA. In his last start the righty got rocked, to the tune of six runs in five innings of work. It should be noted that Burnett is pitching through an inguinal hernia this season.

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.Com tweeted Tuesday that Burnett has left the Pirates off his no trade list. Burnett, like fellow starter Cliff Lee, can reject a trade to 20 teams. Crasnick tweeted that the nine teams that can trade for Burnett without the righty’s permission are; Pirates, Red Sox, Orioles, Royals, Reds, Mets, Cardinals, Yankees, and Nationals. The Orioles are another team that are said to be in on Burnett.

The Pirates currently sit two and a half games out of the division lead, and two games out of a wild card spot. Pittsburgh could certainly use pitching help as their starters have a 3.92 staff ERA which ranks 16th in Major League Baseball. Burnett isn’t going to fetch a top prospect so if a deal does get done don’t expect to hear names like Josh Bell, Austin Meadows, or Reese McGuire.


Phillies Open the International Signing Period by Inking 3

Posted by Pat Egan, Wed, July 02, 2014 08:47 PM Comments: 2

Screen-Shot-2014-07-02-at-12.24.44-PMThe Phillies opened the international signing period this year by inking three players, one of whom is ranked as the 8th best free agent according to Baseball America, and the 15th best free agent according to MLB.com. Arquimedes Gamboa headlines the list of players for the Phils  who signed for $900,000. The switch hitting Venezuelan is a versatile player who can play all over the infield.

Just in case Gamboa doesn’t work out the Phillies signed shortstop Daniel Brito for $650,000. They then rounded out their day by signing left hander Jhon Nunez, a Panamanian who signed for $100,000. The Phillies still have a little over $1.5 million left from their allotted $3,221,800 to sign more players.

The Phillies, seeing a depleted farm system, have been very active the past few years on the international market. Last year they signed the #4 ranked player on Baseball America’s list (Luis Encarnacion) and also signed Cuban defector Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to what was originally going to be a $48 million dollar contract, but ended up as a $12 million dollar deal.

Even if guys like Gamboa, Encarnacion, and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez never pan out, the fact that the Phillies are willing to spend big on the international market is a great sign. The Phillies farm system has been decimated by such trades as the Hunter Pence one, and the only way to restock it is though trades, the draft, and signing international free agents. Good news for Phillies fans, GM Ruben Amaro isn’t planning on packing it in. He’s stated he plans on spending the rest of the $1.5 million on other signings.


Phillies Return Munson to Diamondbacks

Posted by Pat Egan, Tue, March 18, 2014 08:15 PM Comments: 0




Jim Salisbury of Comcast Sportsnet is reporting that the Phillies are returning RHP Kevin Munson back to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Munson, who was originally a 4th round pick in the 2010 draft out of James Madison University, was taken by the Phillies in the Rule 5 draft back in December.

Munson was a closer in college, and the Phillies thought they would be able to get a live arm that could bolster the bullpen. In 5 games this spring (7 IP) Munson posted a 1.29 ERA, but walked 8 batters. With Munson being returned to Arizona it  leaves the Phillies’ current big league roster at 31 players.


Phillies Ink RHP Manship

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Thu, December 05, 2013 03:48 PM Comments: 0

http://cdn.csgazette.biz/cache/r620-f17edfd20ff291f2248d2db8695bfb80.jpgAccording to our Corey Seidman, the Phillies have signed 28-year old reliever Jeff Manship to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Manship had spent parts of four seasons from 2009 through 2012 with the Twins and 2013 with the Colorado Rockies, compiling a 6.42 Major League ERA in 116.1 IP across 52 appearances, which included 10 starts.

Manship relies on a fastball, curveball, and change-up combination, with a below-average fastball that sits near 90 MPH according to FanGraphs.


Tender Frustration and Finding Upside

Posted by Eric Seidman, Wed, December 04, 2013 08:56 AM Comments: 33

The deadline for tendering contracts has passed and the Phillies have elected to bring back John Mayberry, Kevin Frandsen and Kyle Kendrick. Both Mayberry and Frandsen were solid bets to get non-tendered. Their salaries were likely to outweigh their contributions and there were better uses for Frandsen’s $900K and Mayberry’s $1-$1.5 million.

The Phillies should have non-tendered Mayberry.

That adds up to $2-$2.5 million for two 30+ year old reserves who hit something like .230/.285/.370 last season. Amaro defended his decision by citing their versatility and said there was never any thought to non-tendering either player. There should have been plenty of thought to that effect as Frandsen defined the replacement level while Mayberry fell below.

Mayberry was serviceable when he made the league minimum and showed flashes of being able to hold down a semi-regular role. Those days are gone. He has no upside. He is not going to break out a la Jayson Werth.

Frandsen had a terrific 2012 season driven by a .366 BABIP and he was worth bringing back last year to see if he really had improved. He ended up posting very similar walk, strikeout and isolated power rates but his BABIP fell closer to his career average. His offensive production predictably plummeted. He has no upside. His 2012 campaign was a fluke.

While both players may be versatile, there was absolutely no reason for the Phillies to bring them back. For a team with so much money concentrated in select spots, finding value players with upside is integral to short- and long-term success.

For this Phillies team, two of the spots to use on value players with upside are the ones that Mayberry and Frandsen will once again occupy.

Some have questioned the Marlon Byrd and Carlos Ruiz deals but this is the headscratching decision of the Phillies’ offseason so far.

By bringing back Mayberry and Frandsen the Phillies are exhibiting zero creativity and further illustrating their faulty means of evaluating talent. Whether to retain Kendrick is more complicated but committing to Mayberry and Frandsen is problematic.

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