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Offseason

Off-season League Updates: Murphy Released by VZ Club, AFL Wraps Up

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, November 18, 2013 08:00 AM Comments: 0

Throughout the autumn and winter months, we’ll have a weekly rundowns of how Phillies players are performing in the various leagues around the globe.  Read ahead for he latest on many familiar names, some top prospects and plenty more including notes on the Arizona Fall League which wrapped up its schedule last week.

Venezuelan Winter League- 

Jim Murphy, image- Jay Floyd

In news that I first mentioned on Twitter over the weekend, minor league slugger Jim Murphy was released by the Aragua Tigres last Thursday.  Through 20 games, the first baseman batted .274 with three doubles, two homers and 10 RBI.  The release came as a surprise to the 28-year-old, who was planning to play through the full season, into late December, but will now be home in time for Thanksgiving Day.   Murphy remains signed with the Phillies.

Second baseman Cesar Hernandez- The 23-year-old switch hitter has gone 5-for-32 (.156 avg) in his last eight games.  Overall in 26 games for Margarita, Hernandez, who has also been playing center field, has posted a .242 average with two home runs and 13 RBI.  Hernandez batted .289 with five doubles and 10 RBI in 34 games with the Phillies and was honored as a Triple-A All-Star this past season.

Infielder Edgar Duran- The switch hitting 22-year-old, who is 3-for-9 (.333 avg) with a triple and two RBI in three games, has been rehabbing an undisclosed injury. Duran hasn’t played in a game since October 12th.  In 117 games with Reading this year, Duran posted a .225 average with four homers and 33 RBI.

Shortstop Freddy Galvis- The 23-year-old is batting .359 in his last 10 games for Zulia.  Galvis has posted a .305 average with seven doubles, one triple, two homers and 10 RBI in 21 overall games.    Galvis sported a .234 average with six home runs and 19 RBI in 70 big league games this year. Continue reading Off-season League Updates: Murphy Released by VZ Club, AFL Wraps Up

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Phillies extend four spring invites

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, November 15, 2013 11:57 AM Comments: 0

SpringTraining2014The Phillies have begun planning for spring as news dropped today that they’ve requested the presence of four non-roster invitees,  two of which are new additions, at camp in February.

Outfielder Leandro Castro and lefty hurler Cesar Jimenez are two talents who spent this past season in the organization that will be with the big league club when spring training begins next year.  Additionally, newly signed veterans  Shawn Camp, a righty pitcher, and outfielder Clete Thomas will be included in the Phillies’ early plans in Clearwater as well.

Castro, a right-handed hitter who was signed as an amateur free agent in 2007, has steadily been criticized for his focus and cockiness during his time in the Phillies’ organization.  This year in the regular season, the 24-year-old posted a .256 batting average with eight homers and 55 RBI in 117 games at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Jimenez, 29, has a 2-3 record with a 4.96 ERA and a 6.47 K/9 mark in 62 big league games.  The Venezuela native was originally signed by the Phillies last December as a minor league free agent and appeared in 19 games with the team in 2013. Continue reading Phillies extend four spring invites

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Phillies Offseason Plans: Pat’s Version

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, November 15, 2013 08:03 AM Comments: 49

Is KK part of the plan? (PHOTO: AP)

Is KK part of the plan? (PHOTO: AP)

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

-Sign Dioner Navarro (2 years, $8 million with third option), let Carlos Ruiz walk

This is a hard move, but one that has to be made. Chooch struggled initially upon his return in 2013 following the 25-game suspension, but hit his stride toward the end of the year. Certainly, there are many issues working against him, the worst of them being age and money.

Ruiz will be 35 this season and could command a two-year contract with some sort of third year option. The Phillies cannot continue to take major risks on aging players, no matter who they are. At some point, the loyalty issue needs to be set aside and it may have to start with one of the biggest fan faves.

Enter Dioner Navarro. He had a resurgent season in 2013 with the Cubs, hitting 13 homers and finishing with a .300 average. His .365 OBP was a career best. Perhaps he’s peaking just in time for free agency, however, at roughly five years younger than Ruiz, I’ll take the risk. Cameron Rupp can platoon with something like a 92/70 game split.

I’m not thrilled with going four or five years for Jarrod Saltalamachia, who was routinely a league average player (total WAR 5.1 over just seasons) before his breakout in Boston. Brian McCann should remain out of the Phillies thoughts as he’s hitting 30 and will command a massive contract.

The infield would consist of Navarro, Rupp, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Asche, Galvis. I have Cesar Hernandez on the roster, as well, but as a fifth outfielder that can also play infield.

(Note: Asche is likely to be the everyday third baseman; I feel as thought he’s earned that. A wrench could be thrown into that plan should Maikel Franco tear the cover off the ball in Clearwater. If so, Ashce could work his way to the outfield.)

-Sign Masahiro Tanaka 6 years, $80 million ($85 million post doesn’t not count against luxury tax)

Hell, it’s not my money. The posting fee just to talk to the 25-year old will be something in the range of $75 million. Bid $85 million of those dollars you’ll be getting from the new TV deal, Phillies, and don’t look back.

Tanaka will give the Phillies a long-term solution for when Cliff Lee moves on in a few years. He went undefeated over a full season in Japan and is said to be on the same playing field as Yu Darvish. Sign me up.

-Sign Jose Veras (2 years, $9 million) and Matt Thornton (1 year, $1 million)

The Phillies, plain and simple, need bullpen arms. They need to take risks and hope they pan out. Thornton is just that, a risk. But it shouldn’t cost more than a one-year deal and he’s left-handed. Thornton’s swing-and-miss rates have gone down, but if he can be a situational guy, perhaps that can be forgotten. There’s no telling what the Phillies will receive from Anotnio Bastardo this year after his late-season suspension. Jake Diekman looks to finally be the real deal, so having three semi-reliable lefties can be a boon.

Veras had 19 saves and a 2.93 ERA in 42 games with Houston before being dealt to the contending Tigers. He wasn’t as dominant with Detroit, but pitched well down the stretch of the regular season. In six postseason games, he struck out nine batters. The Phillies need arms. Here are two.

-Sign Joaquin Benoit (2 years, $18 million)

Not sure of the odds of this happening, but the Phillies need a plan in place in case Jonathan Papelbon continues to head south. Benoit is one of the finest pitchers on the market and can be the best 8th inning option in baseball. However, would he want to be paid like a closer? And is that his ultimate goal?

$18 million is a lot money at a guy who won’t be the close, but I also would not object to trading away Papelbon this offseason and making Benoit the guy in the ninth. If Papelbon stays, and pitches up to his contract, then Benoit is a great 8th inning presence and would push the Phillies bullpen to new heights. Here’s what it would look like: Papelbon, Benoit, Veras, Diekman, Thornton, Bastardo, De Fratus, Martin. Add Mike Adams into the mix if he ever returns.

-Sign Chris Young (OF, Contract: 2 years, $10 million)

(Note: this was written before the signing of Marlon Byrd. And I stand by this being the right move over giving Byrd $16 million over two seasons. Young brings more upside, is cheaper, still hits for power, and is much younger. Below is what I had written literally 24 hours before the Byrd signing).

I really like the right-handed power Young brings, plus his ability to play all three outfield spots with ease. Without a dearth of right-handed power on the free agent market, Young would certainly provide the Phillies a spark in the department, plus allow the Phillies to move on from the John Mayberry experience. It was just two years ago Young was a 5 WAR player so this is a risk worth taking.

The unknown part is whether or not Young will get offers to be a full-time player. It seems unlikely after he hit just .200 last season in Oakland. But I’m willing to put down $10 million and hope for Young to a wild card; a guy who reverts to previous levels and that won’t break the bank.

I’m also not asking him to be an everyday guy. He can swing through all outfield positions with Brown, Revere and Ruf, especially when Ruf plays first base for Ryan Howard. Cesar Hernandez would be the fifth OF in 2014.

-Non-Tender Kyle Kendrick, John Mayberry Jr.

Ruben Amaro stated publicly, and adamantaly I might add, that Kendrick would be back. Why? There are pitchers hanging from the pitcher tree that all do the same thing as Kendrick that would cost much, much less. It seems likely Kendrick will be back, but this is my plan and he’s not part of it. That’s not to say Kendrick would not be able to help the team; however if it’s going to cost $7-8 million, then it’s just not cost-effective. There is little-to-no upside left with K.K.

My rotation without Kendrick would look like this: Lee, Hamels, Tanaka, M.A. Gonzalez, Pettibone. If Pettibone is better suited in the minors, then the fifth starter position can be filled with a cheap free agent on a one-year deal.

Mayberry’s shtick has become old. He’s now 30 and hasn’t gotten any better. He’s reliable in the field, and at all positions, but it’s not going to get any better. I’d rather there be a guy like Young in the fold who at least has upside and has proven the ability to hit for power with regularity. I once fought tooth and nail for Mayberry to be a starter and he did me wrong. Not again.

The Roster:

Infield: Navarro, Rupp, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Asche, Galvis
Outfield: Brown, Revere, Ruf, Chris Young, C. Hernandez
Starters: Lee, Hamels, Tanaka, M.A. Gonzalez, Pettibone
Relievers: Papelbon, Benoit, Veras, Diekman, Thornton, Bastardo, De Fratus, Martin

Notes:

After winning the battle of the Phillies Nation writers last year with my still-less-than-productive offseason plan, I’m mostly taking the same approach. The Phillies cannot tie themselves into long-term deals with players over 30. They need to go deeper into the pocket for smaller-term deals and I think I’ve achieved that with my pla. I’ve also managed to stay below the $189 million luxury tax threshold, which is key.

The plan for the Phillies should be to build through the system and hope that some of the players signed this offseason will help them turn it around enough to squeeze out a playoff spot. There is no true quick fix here. Money can’t be thrown at the issue as it was in previous seasons. They’ll need to stay true to the idea that four, five, and six year deals for 30-and-older players is bad.

My total payroll is at $162 million, lower than Ian, Corey, and Eric. It’s also far removed from the luxury tax. There aren’t many free agents that fit this team that I’m in love with which the Phillies should throw wild contracts at. While I am a fan of Jacoby Ellsbury, locking him into a six-year pact worth over $100 million isn’t a prudent move for a team with too many 30-somethings already. There’s no quick fix here anyway, so save the money, find some new free agents in a year. Don’t spend just to spend.

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Phillies Offseason Plans: Corey’s Version

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the rest of my plan:

1) Sign relievers Joaquin Benoit and Scott Downs

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

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

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

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

2) Sign Matt Garza

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

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

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

Continue reading Phillies Offseason Plans: Corey’s Version

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Hot Stove Updates: Brown, Camp, Pierzynski, Ruiz

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Wed, November 13, 2013 05:05 PM Comments: 21

http://l3.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/bQA10nMJY46C5YCYs4l3pw--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NTt3PTYwMA--/http://media.zenfs.com/en/person/Ysports/domonic-brown-baseball-headshot-photo.jpg

Amaro says that young talent is not available. Meanwhile, Jerry Crasnick says the Phillies are willing to listen on young talent Brown. Which is correct?

From around the league:

- Jerry Crasnick says that the Phillies are willing to listen on outfielder Domonic Brown but “a Bautista-Brown trade isn’t happening.”

- Meanwhile, Ruben Amaro tells Matt Gelb that the club is not inclined to trade any young talent, stating “Everybody is looking for the same thing, and that’s young controllable players. There is no reason for us to be moving any of them.”  Those two sentiments clash a bit, no?

- The Phillies signed 38-year old reliever Shawn Camp today to a minor league deal according to Jon Heyman. Camp led the NL in appearances in 2012 before posting a 7.04 ERA in just 26 games in 2013 with Chicago with a 1.870 WHIP.

- There is some buzz building about the Phillies being interested in left-handed hitting catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Pierzynski hit .272/.295/.427 with 17 home runs last season and will be 37 on Opening Day 2014.

- Finally, the Rockies have announced they are moving on from catcher Carlos Ruiz according to Ken Rosenthal. Ruiz apparently balked at a two year, $15 million offer from Colorado.

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Report: Phillies “Deep in Serious Talks” for Bautista

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Tue, November 12, 2013 11:30 PM Comments: 39

Update, 8:25 am: Shi Davidi from Sportsnet Canada tweeted this:

—————–

Continue reading Report: Phillies “Deep in Serious Talks” for Bautista

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Off-season League Updates: Franco Back at First Base, Bastardo Returns to Action

Posted by Jay Floyd, Tue, November 12, 2013 08:00 PM Comments: 2

Throughout the autumn and winter months, we’ll have a weekly review of how Phillies players are performing in the various leagues around the globe.  Read ahead for he latest on many familiar names, some top prospects and plenty more.

Dominican Winter League…

Maikel Franco, photo- Jay Floyd

3B Maikel Franco-  The trial of Franco at first base continued as the slugger played his fourth straight game there on Monday.  Franco played eight games at first in the closing weeks of the 2013 regular season with Double-A Reading.  The 21-year-old sports a .328 average with four doubles and seven RBI in 17 games with the Gigantes.  The righty batting Franco had a bust-out 2013, slamming 31 homers and droving in 103 runs in 134 games with Clearwater and Reading this year.

LHP Antonio Bastardo- In two appearances, the 28-year-old has pitched two scoreless innings, striking out four and walking one without surrendering a hit.  In 48 big league games this year, before missing time due to a banned substance suspension, Bastardo had a 3-2 record with two saves and a 2.32 ERA.

Catcher Tommy Joseph- The 22-year-old righty hitter made his season debut with the Estrellas over the weekend, going 1-for-3 with and RBI and a run scored.  Joseph, who was acquired from San Francisco in the Hunter Pence trade last year, missed considerable time with concussion related issues this year and batted .179 in 36 minor league games.

OF Leandro Castro- The 24-year-old is batting .245 with four doubles and six RBI in 16 games with the Estrellas.  In 117 games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley this year, the righty batting Castro tallied a .256 average with eight home runs and 55 RBI. Continue reading Off-season League Updates: Franco Back at First Base, Bastardo Returns to Action

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Phillies Offseason Plans: Eric’s Version

Posted by Eric Seidman, Tue, November 12, 2013 08:00 AM Comments: 18

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

None of us put together solid offseason plans last year. Through a combination of the financial restraints the team faced, and several targeted players producing poorly, not one of our plans beat the Phillies’ plan. It went to show how tough it was for the Phillies to build a winner. I was financially conservative and my moves followed a pattern: cheap productivity.

The story is different this year. The Phillies are in a tough spot as a franchise. They have enough talent to succeed if everything breaks right, but very little has broken right over the last two seasons. There are several youngsters deserving of extended looks, regardless of team success, but there’s also a strong desire to win now. There are question marks at numerous spots. Injuries are always a concern these days. To avoid that dead zone of 77-84 wins, the Phils will need to spend some money this winter.

My plan involves five free-agent signings that could put the team in a better spot to succeed.

Move #1: Sign Ubaldo Jimenez (4 yrs, $50 million)
Let’s play everyone’s favorite game — Guess That Player! From 2011-13, here are three different pitching lines.

Player A: 95 GS, 547 IP … 8.5 K/9 … 4.1 BB/9 … 43.1% GB … 4.10 SIERA
Player B: 93 GS, 564 IP … 7.2 K/9 … 2.9 BB/9 … 47.4% GB … 3.94 SIERA
Player C: 91 GS, 546 IP … 8.3 K/9 … 3.5 BB/9 … 42.8% GB … 3.93 SIERA

All three pitchers have very similar lines. Player B is Edwin Jackson, who signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the Cubs last season based almost entirely on his age, durability and potential. Player C is Ryan Dempster, who signed a two-year, $26.5 million contract last season, despite being in his mid-30s. Both pitchers signed for an average annual value (AAV) of roughly $13 million. Jimenez falls somewhere in between.

Jimenez had a poor 2012 season but tallied 3.3 WAR in 2011 and 3.2 WAR last year. His 2013 campaign was very encouraging as he fixed issues with his mechanics and was a clear-cut ace from May 1-on. Seriously, he finished April with a 7.12 ERA, but from May 1 until his final start on September 29, he put up a 2.72 ERA and 2.6 K/BB over 160 innings. Contrary to popular belief, his success was for far more than just half of a season.

He has also proven himself a lock for 32 starts and 185+ innings. His numbers should improve even more moving back to the senior circuit. Matt Garza may be the prized starter of this year’s crop, but this is a wiser investment. Continue reading Phillies Offseason Plans: Eric’s Version

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Free Agent Pass or Play: Edward Mujica

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, November 11, 2013 07:29 PM Comments: 0

Was Mujica’s 2013 campaign truly All-Star worthy or a mirage with an assist from a top-flight catcher?

It’s time – we are now beyond the start of Free Agency at 12:01 AM November 5. We at Phillies Nation will take a look at a players, namely outfielders, catchers, starting pitchers, and relievers, who the Phillies may target this offseason. We will explore potential performance, fit, cost, and feasibility. We continue today with right-handed reliever Edward Mujica. And a reminder: you can check out all the “Pass or Play” posts by clicking on the category hyperlink.

Performance

Mujica, 29 for Opening Day 2014, emerged as the Cardinals closer in 2013 before being replaced late in the season. Mujica first gained notoriety in 2012, posting a 1.03 ERA with a 0.873 WHIP in 29 games after arriving in a trade from Miami. An All-Star in 2013, Mujica limited to teams to a 0.7 BB/9 IP and a 1.005 WHIP.

Continue reading Free Agent Pass or Play: Edward Mujica

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Phillies Offseason Plans: Ian’s Version

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, November 11, 2013 08:00 AM Comments: 34

Ian's ultimate team, in pictures.

Ian’s ultimate team, in pictures.

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

As the undisputed loser of last season’s offseason plans, the guys let me go first this year. Like last year, I have chosen to go in quite a different direction than most of my colleagues and I tried to stick to realistic moves to help keep the Phils within the luxury tax.

Move #1: Create the ultimate catching situation – sign Dioner Navarro (two years, $6 million) AND Jarrod Saltalamacchia (four years, $40 million).

Crazy to sign two catchers? Maybe. Look, I’m not sold on Tommy Joseph being the long term answer at the catcher position and Cameron Rupp and Erik Kratz are fine back-ups but not the solution long-term.

What this move does is adds a really solid, young catcher (more opinion on Saltalamacchia here) who hits with power from the left side and a solid back-up from the right side (more opinion on Navarro here) who also has youth and experience on his side. $13 million to fill a catching spot is a lot but it is certainly a more sound investment than a Brian McCann-type signing (who I have some thoughts about here).

Continue reading Phillies Offseason Plans: Ian’s Version

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