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Offseason

Hamels Conveys Love and Commitment to Philly

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Sat, February 21, 2015 08:28 PM Comments: 2

Everyone with an ounce of baseball knowledge knows that the Phillies will likely not compete for a shot at the postseason in 2015. Cole Hamels knows this as well, and expressed his desire to win in an interview with USA TODAY last Wednesday.

However, Hamels took a different approach earlier today and expressed his love for the “City of Brotherly Love.”

“I’ve made my home in Philadelphia since the beginning,” said Hamels. “This is where I’m fully committed.”

Hamels also knows what his job is as long as he’s in a Phillies uniform.

DAVID SWANSON — AP

DAVID SWANSON — AP

“My job is to be accountable for what the expectations that are put on me,” said Hamels. “I only have one direction and one position, and that’s to be able to go pitch and go win ballgames. That’s all I can really do.”

Hamels has certainly done that over the course of his nine-year career. In 274 starts, Hamels is 108-83, with a 3.27 ERA and 1,707 strikeouts in 1,801.1 innings pitched.

Those numbers have made Hamels one of the best left-handed pitchers in MLB, and has been the center of trade talks the entire offseason. By now, Hamels should have been traded, but Ruben Amaro Jr. has not found a deal to his liking. Some may argue that the Phillies’ price tag for the former World Series MVP is too high, but the Phillies need to make sure they get the right pieces in return for a deal involving Hamels.

In short, Amaro and the Phillies cannot afford to screw this up.

As long as he’s here, Hamels is fully committed to the Phillies.

“I think you guys have seen how I play, the type of character that I have when I step out onto the field,” said Hamels. “Go out there and be the best that you can, because at some point it’s all going to end. So you at least want to know that you left everything out on the field.”

With his comments from last Wednesday surely fresh in his mind, Hamels said what every athlete would say in his position; he needs to do his job, no matter the team he’s playing for.

“At this given moment, I’m a Phillie,” Hamels said. “All I can do is get ready for the season. No matter the name on my chest, I have a job to do and I have to be accountable for it.”

Hamels is well aware of the Phillies’ plans to rebuild the team in order to become a contender again. He also realizes that there is nothing he can do, but go out there every fifth day and pitch.

“An organization, they have a bigger picture that they have to worry about,” said Hamels. “As a player, we really have to take the straight-and-narrow approach. We have a job to do, people are counting on us. I’m just one piece of the puzzle, and as long as I can go out and do what they expect, then I’m fulfilling my end of the bargain.”

As things stand right now, Hamels is the Phillies’ opening day starter. Until then, he plans to approach this spring training like any other, even though the Phillies are not expected to make a run at the postseason.

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Who Will be the Phillies’ Offensive Team Leader in….

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Wed, February 18, 2015 12:49 PM Comments: 6

With Spring Training officially getting underway this week, let’s have some fun and predict who will be the Phillies’ team leaders in some offensive categories.

Batting Average? 

Ben Revere: Revere has been the Phillies’ team leader in batting average the last two seasons with a .305 average in 2013, and a .306 average in 2014. The assumption is that Revere will once again be the team leader in batting average, especially considering the fact that the Phillies’ roster consists of players that don’t hit for a high average. The only player who could really challenge Revere is Maikel Franco, who could benefit from pitchers’ unfamiliarity once he makes it to the Majors.

Prediction: .308 batting average.

Home Runs?

Dominic Brown: This may surprise most people, but I believe Brown will have a bounce-back season, and show more of the 2013 Brown, who hit 27 homers, than the disappointing 2014 Brown who hit only 10. Why am I choosing Brown over Ryan Howard? Well, I believe that Howard will not finish the season in a Phillies uniform. Howard will produce enough to attract a team desperate for a DH by the trade deadline, leaving Brown as the next best power option for the Phillies. Darin Ruf could also be a candidate, but I’m not confident he will get the playing time he needs to be the team leader in homers by season’s end.

Prediction: 24 home runs.

Runs Batted In? 

Dominic Brown: If you’re going to be the team leader in home runs, then chances are you’ll also be the team leader in RBIs. This prediction is not made solely on the fact that Brown will lead the team in home runs, but also because Brown has a career .280 batting average with runners in scoring position. If Brown is able to hit home runs with men on base, and get hits with RISP, then he should have no problem racking up the RBI numbers.

Prediction: 90 RBIs.

Stolen Bases? 

Ben Revere: With Jimmy Rollins gone, Revere is the only real threat on the base-paths for the Phillies. Last season, Revere established a career high of 49, and ranked fourth in MLB in stolen bases. Over the last four seasons, Revere has swiped 145 total bags, averaging about 36 per season. Also note that Revere stole 22 bases before missing significant time due to injury in 2013. This is a lock, barring another significant injury.

Prediction: 54 stolen bases. 

Average with RISP? 

Chase Utley: While Utley’s career is, sadly, on the decline, the 36-year-old is still one of the best second basemen in MLB. What makes Utley so dangerous at the plate is his ability to hit when it matters most; with runners in scoring position. For his career, Utley has posted a .293 batting average with RISP, and last season, hit .294. Hopefully there will be plenty of chances for him to drive in runs this season.

Prediction: .291 average with RISP.

On-Base Percentage?

Chase Utley: Utley is great in terms of OBP because he hits, takes his share of walks, and gets hit by pitches due to his “crowding” of the plate. In his career, Utley has a .370 OBP, and although his OBP has diminished the last two seasons (.348, .339), the Phillies don’t have many players that work the count, or have great plate discipline like Utley.

Prediction: .345 OBP

These are my predictions. Now, what are yours? Share in the comments!

  • 6 Comments
 

Twitter Not A Strong Point For The Phillies

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Wed, February 18, 2015 09:30 AM Comments: 5

In today’s world, use of social media is essential for any organization. In sports, social media just as important. Even if a team isn’t performing well on the field/court/ice, social media can keep fans interested and entertained. Let’s take the Sixers for example. They are one of the NBA’s worst teams in terms of wins and losses over the last couple years. But their Twitter account has been one of the best I’ve seen. They’ve mastered the ability to keep a fun and ultimately positive vibe in the midst of losing so many games.

The same cannot be said of the Phillies. A couple days ago, Sean Dolinar over at Fangraphs wrote about the offseason Twitter usage amongst MLB teams.

The Phillies ranked near the bottom in in Tweets per day, Tweets with media, and overall interactions.

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Now, the Phillies aren’t the worst team, but their current situation puts them in a position where social media popularity could really benefit them. Fans are starting to lose interest.

It’s time to step your game up, Phillies.

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Rosenthal: Injuries Will Create Market for Hamels

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Fri, February 13, 2015 11:50 AM Comments: 6

Earlier this week, FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal talked about the “parade of awkward news conferences” that could be ahead for the Phillies in relation to the their inability to move players like Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, Jonathan Papelbon, and Cole Hamels.

Today, Rosenthal wrote a piece recognizing the reality and likelihood of injuries that could make Cole Hamels even more of a commodity.  cole-hamels

“Heck, injuries already are occurring, and most teams are a week or more away from starting formal workouts in Florida and Arizona,” wrote Rosenthal on his blog titled, Just a bit Outside.

He’s very right, in fact. Some key players that have suffered injuries since Jan. 1 include Jayson Werth, Josh Hamilton, Jonathan Lucroy, and Victor Martinez.

The fact of the matter is that injuries, no matter the sport, are common and can happen at any time. To see players getting hurt before spring training even begins is definitely an eye opener, and all it takes is one ace on a contending team (Wainwright, Buchholz) to feel a tweak in his throwing arm, or push-off leg to have their team rushing to the phone and aggressively inquiring about Hamels.

A situation like this will give the Phillies the leverage they need, and will make their chances of getting exactly what they want in return for their all-star left-hander even greater.

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Ken Rosenthal, Awkward Press Conferences, and Why The Phillies Are Stuck In Neutral

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, February 12, 2015 10:30 AM Comments: 82

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“Stuck in neutral”

Yesterday, Ken Rosenthal wrote about the Phillies in his column over at Fox Sports.

He started out with four hypothetical “awkward” press conferences–Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Cliff Lee, and Ryan Howard–asking the players about potential trades when Spring Training rolls around. These are all guys that the Phillies probably should’ve parted ways with by now. They know it, reporters know it, most fans know it. Heck, even the Phillies might know it. Here’s a quote from Rosenthal following the intro:

We’re talking awkward — painfully awkward. And unless things change before the Phillies’ first workout a week from Thursday, their offseason will look like a major fail.

Now, I think I disagree that the offseason will be a major fail if they don’t move any of those four guys before Spring Training. They did manage to make deals to part ways with Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd, which was noted by Rosenthal. Those weren’t exactly blockbuster deals, but they were something.

But I agree that a failure exists with the Phillies front office. The failure, in my opinion, does not lie in the 2015 offseason. It has already happened. They should’ve moved Cliff Lee a long time ago. Ryan Howard, in my opinion, should’ve been simply released during the season last year. Jonathan Papelbon should’ve been traded for something, either at the deadline last season, or any time during this offseason. Only Cole Hamels was worth hanging on to going into 2015. The David Price trade at the deadline last year hurt Hamels’ value, and the free agent moves this offseason (Jon Lester to the Cubs, James Shields to the Padres, to be precise) didn’t help either. I think they’ll get some better offers leading up to the deadline, as contending teams realize that they need a starter.

But Rosenthal is right. Maybe the Phillies are being too stubborn, and maybe it’s doing more harm than good. Here’s what he had to say about it:

The front office’s stubbornness, though, appears to go even deeper, whether it’s Amaro or Gillick who is actually calling the shots. The Phillies refuse to accept that they might not get exactly what they want.

Can the Phillies fix their mistakes? Sure. But, as Rosenthal states, it would require the Phillies to loosen up and entertain some offers that might not be up to their standards. Unless something changes soon, things will only get worse. Here’s how he put it:

And good luck to the Phillies persuading their fans to buy tickets for a team that remains stuck in neutral.

Stuck in neutral. I like it. The car that is the Phillies is on a downward path, stuck in neutral, and Ruben Amaro Jr. is at the wheel. He still has time to turn that baby around, but time is running out. Tick, tick, tick.

  • 82 Comments
 

Update: Amaro Says Phillies are Interested in Moncada

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Fri, February 06, 2015 09:59 AM Comments: 64

It appears that the Phillies are in fact interested in 19-year-old Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, according to Ruben Amaro Jr.

Phillies beat writer Todd Zolecki reported yesterday that the Phillies “know [Moncada] well.”

“He’s a very good prospect. He has a chance to be a very good player. He checks off a lot of the boxes, but we’re not the only team that would be interested in Yoan Moncada. But that’s all I can say,” said Amaro.

Moncada is highly regarded in the eyes of scouts, and would be a perfect addition for a team like the Phillies who are trying to rebuild. Acquiring a player like Moncada could potentially put the Phillies back in a position to contend by 2016, which would put them a year ahead of Pat Gillick’s original notion of not contending until at least 2017.

ELNUEVODIARIO.COM.NI

ELNUEVODIARIO.COM.NI

However, pursuing a player of Moncada’s talent will not be cheap. If the Phillies were to sign Moncada, they would exceed their cap for the 2014-2015 international signing period, which would result in a dollar-for-dollar penalty. If Moncada were to sign for a $40 million deal, the Phillies would essentially be paying him $80 million.

Also, the possibility of signing a future international player, as talented or perhaps even more talented than Moncada, over the next two signing periods would be affected if the Phillies exceed their international budget by 15 percent, which would absolutely happen with Moncada. That would mean that the Phillies would not able to make a deal with another international player until July 2, 2017.

“It is clear that those penalties are significant,” Amaro said. “That is part of the process.”

Despite the expensive price tag, a potential Alex Rodriguez-type of player doesn’t come along very often, and if Moncada is as good as scouts say he is, then the worry of an even better player coming along in the next two years shouldn’t even be a concern.

“You can’t miss on a guy that may be that significant a risk,” Amaro said.

While Amaro is correct in recognizing the risk involved, the Phillies don’t have much to lose at this point. With young players such as Maikel Franco and J.P. Crawford on the horizon, at least pursuing Moncada is a must if this team is serious about rebuilding.

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Phillies Should Pursue Yoan Moncada

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Thu, February 05, 2015 09:55 AM Comments: 17

After failing to finalize a deal for Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas, the Phillies are now presented with another opportunity to snag a young Cuban star, after it was announced Yoan Moncada is now officially an MLB free agent.

While the Phillies aren’t listed as one of the top suitors for Moncada, the Arizona Diamondbacks weren’t considered a top suitor for Tomas until they swept in and signed him to 6-year, $68.5 million contract.

Could the Phillies be a “dark horse” in the Moncada sweepstakes? They should be.

Why should the Phillies pursue this guy? Well, for one thing he is young. At 19-years-old, Moncada could become one of the great young stars in MLB, and according to Ben Badler of Baseball America, he has skills comparable to the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig when he was the same age.

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One American League team’s talent evaluator was reported to have said that Moncada is an “exceptional talent,” and that he is adept in all five tools; power, contact, speed, fielding, and arm strength. His 6-foot, 210 pound frame and switch-hitting ability was also noted by another talent evaluator. This morning, former Phillies spanish broadcaster Rickie Ricardo was on 94.1 WIP, and discussed Moncada, comparing him to a young Alex Rodriguez.

However, the biggest reason the Phillies should pursue Moncanda is the fact that he is an infielder, primarily a second baseman. With Chase Utley’s career nearing the end, Moncanda would be the perfect successor at second base. Imagine an everyday lineup featuring an infield with Maikel Franco at third, J.P. Crawford at shortstop, and Moncada at second. That could become a reality by 2016.

Despite being 19-years-old, Moncada will not need too much time to develop in the minors, and should be able to make a contribution at the Major-League level sooner rather than later, according to experts.

Does that mean he could make a Major-League contribution some point this upcoming season?

If so, the perfect scenario for the Phillies would be for Ryan Howard to be dealt by the trade deadline, which would call for a platoon at first base that would be shared by Utley, Cody Asche, and Darin Ruf. Once promoted to the majors, Moncada could play second when Utley is at first, and could play shortstop when Asche or Ruf are at first.

Also, Ryne Sandberg will likely want to give Utley plenty of rest for his knees, which would give Moncada even more playing time at second base.

Why wouldn’t the Phillies pursue Moncada? Well, the money.

Since Moncada is under 23-years-old, and has not played in Cuba’s professional league for at least five seasons, he is subject to a dollar-for-dollar penalty for any team that goes over its international pool allotment when signing him. For a player as talented as Moncada, that is a certainty, and the 19-year-old could command a deal worth upwards of $75 million.

Acquiring a player like Moncada would be well worth the money for the Phillies. He would absolutely cut down on the rebuilding process the Phillies have begun, and could make their infield one of the best and youngest in MLB in the future.

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Phillies sign RHP Billingsley

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, January 29, 2015 07:19 PM Comments: 27

According to reports, the Phillies have signed righty starter Chad Billingsley to a one-year $1.5 million contract.

Out with an elbow injury last season, the 30-year-old did not pitch in 2014.  He last pitched in 2013 when he appeared in two games for the Dodgers.

A former 1st round draft pick of Los Angeles in 2003 (24th overall), Billingsley, who stands six-foot-one and weighs 240 pounds, sports an 81-61 record along with a 3.65 ERA and a 7.94 K/9 mark in 219 career games.  Billingsley was named an All-Star in 2009 and appeared in six postseason games for the Dodgers in his career, sporting a 1-2 record with a 6.33 ERA in those outings.

Performance bonuses are said to take the deal to the $8 million mark. Continue reading Phillies sign RHP Billingsley

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Werth to Serve Five Days in Jail

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Thu, January 29, 2015 02:43 PM Comments: 3

Former Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth will serve five days in jail after pleading guilty to a reckless driving charge that occurred last July.

iWerth admitted to prosecutors that he was driving his Porsche over 100 mph on an on-ramp to I-495 from Route 193 in Fairfax County, Virginia. The speed limit for that stretch is 55 mph.

Along with the jail sentence, Werth’s Virginia driver’s license will be suspended 30 days.

Werth plans to serve his five-day  sentence on weekends so that he can continue to rehabilitate his surgically repaired shoulder, and prepare for the upcoming 2015 season.

The Nationals released the following statement regarding their right-fielder:

“We are aware of the agreement reached today. It is clear that Jayson has taken this matter seriously and with great personal reflection. We do not condone reckless behavior, and we expect all members of the Washington Nationals organization to act in a responsible manner. We support Jayson, who is an integral part of the community and of the Washington Nationals family.”

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Blue Jays Join Brewers as Potential Suitors for Papelbon

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Wed, January 28, 2015 01:09 PM Comments: 0

While trade talks involving Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon and the Milwaukee Brewers have hit a snag, the Blue Jays are now emerging as another potential candidate to make a deal for the 34-year-old.

According to reporter Todd Zolecki, talks regarding Papelbon are “still alive, although the seriousness of those discussions is unclear.”

PHOTO: (AP/Laurence Kesterson)

PHOTO: (AP/Laurence Kesterson)

The Blue Jays, like the Brewers, could use an accomplished closer like Papelbon to help solidify the back-end of their bullpen. Last season, the Jays ranked 25th in MLB with a bullpen ERA of 4.09. The leader in saves for the Jays was right-hander Casey Janssen, who recorded 25 saves with a 3.94 ERA.

For this upcoming season, the Jays have reliever Brett Cecil, who has only six career saves, penciled in as their closer.

Acquiring Papelbon would be an upgrade for their bullpen, and help keep Cecil in a more familiar role. However, the Phillies would need to eat some of Papelbon’s salary in order to make a deal happen.

Papelbon is coming off a stellar year in which he converted 39 of 43 saves, and posted a 2.04 ERA. Although his velocity could be an issue, a closer as experienced as Papelbon would be a welcomed addition for a Blue Jays team trying to contend for a division title in the AL East.

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