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Phillies Make Front Office Changes

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, January 28, 2015 03:15 PM Comments: 16

According to the Philadelphia Phillies, David Montgomery will return to the team, but in a different role. The longtime Phillies president will now become the Chairman of the team, with Bill Giles moving to Chairman Emeritus.

Pat Gillick, who assumed the role of President when Montgomery fell ill with jaw cancer, will continue with that role.

Montgomery, who has been with the team since 1971, said:  “I am fortunate to be healthy enough now to resume some of my previous responsibilities.  I am very appreciative that Pat Gillick is willing and available to remain as the club’s President.  Pat and I have become very close since he joined us in the fall of 2005.  I look forward to returning to work as Phillies Chairman.”

Gillick has served as a Senior Advisor to the President and General Manager for the Phillies since 2009, when handed of General Manager duties to Ruben Amaro Jr.

 

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Phillies Target Moncada Waiting to Sign With a Team

Posted by Pat Egan, Tue, January 27, 2015 02:21 PM Comments: 13

Yoan MoncadaPhillies target Yoan Moncada defected from Cuba in November, its now January and he is still looking to begin his professional baseball career. Its not for lack of interest, as just about every team has been linked to Moncada including the Phillies. A recent story from Baseball America’s Ben Badler states that Moncada’s problem isn’t the government allowing him to sign, but Major League Baseball.

Usually the process for Cuban defectors is a simple one. You defect, take up citizenship in another country (usually the Dominican republic or Mexico) prove residency and then you are a free to sign. But that all changed apparently after the Yasiel Puig signing and now Major League Baseball is requiring that players get a specific license from the Office of Foreign Assets and Control. The process to get this specific license could take up to six months.

Moncada is the latest Cuban “phenom” that will demand big dollars once he is allowed to sign. The switch hitting 19-year old infielder would be a very attractive signing for the Phillies who have been looking for get more involved in the Cuban market. The Phillies were linked to players like Jorge Solar, Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo, Yasmany Tomas, and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez who they signed. The international market would be a fast, albeit risky way to turn around a depleted farm system and an old team

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What Will the Phillies’ Opening Day Lineup Look Like?

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Wed, January 21, 2015 02:28 PM Comments: 20

The Phillies will go into the 2015 season without Jimmy Rollins for the first time in 14 years, so how will this affect the starting lineup on opening day against the Red Sox? Here’s what I think the Phillies’ opening day lineup will look like.

050113_ben-revere_6001. Let’s start at the top, where there’s no question that Ben Revere will again be the everyday leadoff hitter in 2015. Since joining the Phillies in 2013, Revere has played 165 games in the leadoff position, and has a career .288 batting average with a .321 on-base percentage batting leadoff. Last season, Revere finished with a .306 batting average, and was in contention for the NL batting title in September, but eventually fell to fifth. What makes Revere such a valuable leadoff hitter is his ability to hit both left-handed and right-handed pitching. Revere finished with a .291 batting average against righties, and an even better .341 against lefties. His speed is also a valuable asset to have at the top of the lineup, but if Revere can work on anything it’s his plate discipline. Revere finished the 2014 season with only 13 walks, putting him towards the bottom amongst leadoff hitters. To put that number into perspective, Jimmy Rollins worked 11 walks in 74 at-bats, while Revere only worked 13 in 547.

041312-freddy-galvis-4002. This is one of the biggest question marks going into the 2015 season; who will bat second? Ryne Sandberg will likely experiment with several different players in this spot in the lineup, but for opening day, I believe Freddy Galvis will get the nod. With Jimmy Rollins now a Dodger, Galvis will likely be the major beneficiary, and get most of the starts at shortstop this season. In his career batting second, Galvis has a .216 batting average in 51 at bats. What makes him an attractive option in the two-hole, however, is the fact that he is a pull hitter from the left side of the plate. In his career, Galvis has a .342 batting average when pulling the ball as a LHB. If Revere is able to make it to first in front of him, there will be a huge gap open on the right side for Galvis, and if that’s the case, the Phillies could see plenty of first and third, no out situations.

092812_utley-throwing_4003. As still the best overall hitter on the Phillies, I expect Chase Utley to return to his usual spot in the lineup on opening day. Utley has played 980 total games batting third, and has a career .283 batting average, a .372 on-base percentage, and has 602 total RBIs. Last season, Utley played 146 games from the three-hole, and finished with a .274 batting average while driving in 77 RBIs. This is a no brainer for Sandberg since the three spot in the lineup is reserved for a team’s best hitter. Utley is still the team’s best overall hitter, so he belongs there, no questions asked. Continue reading What Will the Phillies’ Opening Day Lineup Look Like?

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Number of Walks Key for Phillies’ Bullpen in 2015

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Wed, January 14, 2015 05:52 PM Comments: 1

The Phillies had very few bright spots during the 2014 season. However, the biggest bright spot was the bullpen, which finished ninth in MLB with a 4.3 WAR among bullpens.

The Phillies’ bullpen was pretty average in terms of ERA, ranking 18th in MLB with an overall ERA of 3.64, but ranked 9th in opponent batting average at .233, and 10th in strikeouts with 480.

The biggest issue for the Phillies’ bullpen in 2014 was the number of walks they allowed. They ranked 12th in MLB with 189 walks in 2014, and the biggest contributors were Jake Diekman, who walked 35 batters in 71 innings-pitched, Mario Hollands, who walked 21 batters in 47 innings-pitched, and ex-Phillie Antonio Bastardo, who walked 34 batters in 64 innings-pitched.

Getting strikeouts from the bullpen is something that every team wants, and the Philies have the arms to get the job done.

Diekman, who was the biggest contributor to the number of walks for the Phillies’ bullpen, was also the run-away leader in strikeouts with 100.

This trend is what defined the Phillies’ bullpen in 2014; they were able to pile up the strikeouts, but they also gave up a lot of free-passes. While strikeouts can make a bullpen great, walks can become an achilles heal.

Here’s a statistic that tells the whole story: In 2014, the bullpen ranked third in MLB with a 24.8 strikeout percentage, but they also ranked fifth with a 9.8 walk percentage. Continue reading Number of Walks Key for Phillies’ Bullpen in 2015

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Phillies Finding It Hard To Deal Howard

Posted by Pat Egan, Mon, January 12, 2015 03:55 PM Comments: 30

The Phillies have seemingly reached a new low on their mission to trade first baseman Ryan Howard.

Teams in touch w #Phillies say they’re talking up what a great person Ryan Howard is. That’s true. But still sounds like they have no takers

— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) January 12, 2015

 

Yes you read that correctly. The Phillies are basically pulling the sports version of “she’s got a great personality.” We are about a month away from Spring Training, and there are seemingly no takers for the 2006 NL MVP. Ken Rosenthal wrote an article on Sunday proclaiming that finding a suitor for Howard should not be as difficult as it has been.

But the Phillies are in a tough spot. Everyone in Major League Baseball is aware of the Phillies desire to part ways with their slugging first baseman, and there are only so many teams that make sense for Howard. Because of this, many believe that the Phillies could just release Howard, which I think is highly unlikely. At this point, it might be best to just play the season and look to deal Howard at the deadline.

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So Far, Phillies Making Right Moves

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Wed, January 07, 2015 10:41 PM Comments: 48

Pat Gillick stated that the Phillies will not become contenders again until the 2017 or 2018 season. While that may be true, the rebuilding process could be sped up if the Phillies make the right moves, and acquire the right talent. So far this offseason, they have been making the right moves.

The first step to the Phillies’ rebuilding process was to part with some of their seasoned veterans. Jimmy Rollins was

Tom Windle

Tom Windle

the first to go, as the best shortstop, and one of the best players in Phillies’ history was dealt to the Dodgers in exchange for two young pitchers, right-hander Zach Efflin (10-7 3.80 ERA in 24 starts in single A) and left-hander Tom Windle (12-8 4.26 ERA in 25 starts in single A). Both of these pitchers are young; Efflin is 20 years old, and Windle is 22 years old.

Another veteran the Phillies parted with was Marlon Byrd. Byrd, who is coming off back-to-back solid offensive seasons, was traded to the Reds in exchange for 22-year-old right-hander Ben Lively. Lively went 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA in 26 starts in the minors last season.

In addition, Antonio Bastardo was dealt to the Pirates in exchange for left-handed pitcher Joely Rodriguez. Rodriguez has been Jeckyll and Hyde while in the Pirates’ minor league system. He was great in 2013, posting a 2.72 ERA in 26 starts. However, he struggled last season, posting a 4.84 ERA in 30 games (21 starts).

Starting to see a trend?

The Phillies have put an emphasis on acquiring young pitching talent so far this offseason. While it’s way too early to judge these players, none of them project to be top-of-the-line starters in the Majors. However, the Phillies need all the young talent they can get. Aaron Nola is currently the Phillies’ top pitching prospect. Nola was solid in 12 games in

Aaron Nola

Aaron Nola

the minors last season, posting a 2.93 ERA. He, along with Jesse Biddle and these newly acquired arms could very well shape the Phillies’ starting rotation in a couple of years.

In the mean time, the Phillies have some young position players that will hopefully develop into reliable every-day starters. Fans hope that prospects such as Maikel Franco and J.P. Crawford will develop into stars, but players currently on the MLB roster such as Cody Asche, Dominic Brown, and and Cesar Hernandez will need to step up and produce consistently in order to prove that they will play into the Phillies’ future plans.

As for this season, the Phillies have made moves for starting pitchers Aaron Harang and Wandy Rodriguez. Obviously, these guys aren’t playing into the Phillies future plans and are just placeholders, but they could help the club’s rebuilding process if they pitch well. Rodriguez was signed to a minor league deal, but he will compete for a spot at the bottom of the Phillies’ rotation come spring training. If he earns a spot, and both him and Harang pitch well, they could be dealt to a contender for even more young talent in return.

The biggest key for the Phillies is obviously Cole Hamels. He is without a doubt the best player on the Phillies, and one of the best left-handed pitchers in MLB. He will absolutely have teams begging him to come pitch for them if he is pitching well by the trade deadline. If anything can speed up the Phillies’ rebuilding process, it’s getting the right players for Hamels. If the Phillies don’t get the right pieces back, the rebuilding process could be pushed back even further. Along with Hamels, Cliff Lee could prove to be very desirable for a contending team in need of a solid veteran pitcher with playoff experience. If Lee is pitching well, expect the Phillies to be looking to move the crafty lefty for the right return.

What are the chances that Ryan Howard returns to his 2006-2011 form? Not very great. However, baseball is a funny rhowardgame. Perhaps Howard’s body and mind are healing at just the right time. Perhaps he can recapture just a fraction of what he used to be. If that happens to be the case, the Phillies would be in a great spot to trade him to a contending team in desperate need of a power bat in exchange for, you guessed it, even more young pieces.

Of course, we would all love the Phillies to be a contending team in 2015, but that is just not the case. If 2017 is the next time we can be optimistic about the Phillies’ playoff chances, then moves like these will have to be made in order to make that prediction a reality. So far, the Phillies are making the right moves to give the fans some hope for the future.

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Pedro Martinez Among Four Voted to Baseball Hall of Fame

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, January 06, 2015 03:04 PM Comments: 19

(AP)

(AP)

Former Phillies pitcher Pedro Martinez is headed to the Hall of Fame – although my guess is he’ll be donning a Boston Red Sox cap on his plaque.

Martinez, along with Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio, are headed to the Baseball Hall of Fame as the class of 2014.

Pedro spent part of one season with the Phillies, 2009, his last, and helped them in the postseason. During that year he made nine regular season starts and three in the playoffs. He received 91.1 percent of the vote from the BBWAA.

Johnson is probably the best left-hander of all time (apologies to Steve Carlton, but it’s not close). He spent most of his time in the AL, but during his stint in the NL, he still managed to dominate the Phillies (and everyone else). In 20 career starts against Philadelphia, he was 11-3 with a 2.76 ERA and struck out 152 in 133 innings.

Smoltz also gets in on the first ballot. He’s one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time – if not THE best – and was so dominant he also crushed it as a closer for an extended period.

Against the Phillies, Smoltz was just 13-13 with a 3.67 ERA. He also added 35 saves against the Phils. During the postseason, he went 15-4 with a 2.67 ERA.

Biggio gets into Cooperstown after falling just shy last time around. He hit .283 against the Phillies in his career, but will be best remembered for destroying their playoff chances in 2005.

Biggio hit a three-run homer off Billy Wagner with two outs in the ninth inning on September 7, 2005, and the Houston Astros completed a three-game sweep over the Phillies to push them out of contention for the Wild Card that year.

—–

What bothers me about this whole thing is that Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez were not unanimously selected. How is that possible? I get how it happens – voters keep other players on the ballot in hopes that they get in down the line, therefore surrendering a vote for a guy they know will get in this year (like these two). That doesn’t make it right. In fact, it’s downright ridiculous.

Both guys were the most dominant pitchers of their generation and deserve 100 percent of the vote. How Pedro only got 91.1 boggles the mind.

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Report: Marlon Byrd Traded to Reds

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, December 31, 2014 01:54 PM Comments: 67

(AP)

(AP)

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports via Twitter (where else), Marlon Byrd to the Cincinnati Reds is a done deal.

Byrd, 37, hit .264 in 2014 with 28 doubles, 25 home runs, 85 RBIs and a .445 slugging percentage. He is the oldest everyday outfielder in the NL, but also one of the most productive.

Rosenthal says Ben Lively is headed to Philadelphia in the deal. The 22-year-old Lively (turns 23 in March) topped out at Double-A last season with the Reds organization. He made 26 starts – 13 at A-Ball, 13 at AA-Ball – posting a 13-7 record with a 3.06 ERA. In 151 innings, he fanned 171 and walked just 52. The Phillies are attempting to load up on young starting pitchers as they move on from their veterans, which is a positive sign.

Although 2015 might be a wash for the franchise, they’re at least taking the necessary steps to move forward in hopes that their rebuild can happen faster.

 

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Galvis Must Find Offensive Consistency

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Mon, December 22, 2014 04:56 PM Comments: 11

With Jimmy Rollins officially being traded to the Dodgers, the Phillies will have to find a new shortstop. The early favorite to land the job? Freddy Galvis.

By now, Phillies fans are quite familiar with the 25-year-old utility man. Most fans would agree that while Galvis has shown that he is great with the glove, his inconsistent bat is what has kept him out of the Phillies’ starting lineup on a consistent basis.

Since making his major league debut in 2012, Galvis has seen playing time at third base, shortstop, second base, and even the outfield. His career fielding percentage in 163 game appearances sits at .992, and he has committed a total of five errors while recording 216 PO.

His skills with the glove are what make Galvis such a valuable utility man, but for him to be a successful starter in MLB, he’ll need to find consistency with the bat.freddy-galvis

Since 2012, Galvis is batting .218 with a .259 on-base percentage, and has hit 13 home runs with 55 RBIs.

Last season was a dreadful one offensively for Galvis, as he finished with .176 batting average, and a .227 on-base percentage. His struggles led to a demotion to the minors in early May, and he didn’t re join the club until late August. He showed improvements in his return by raising his batting average from .45 to .176 by season’s end.

If Galvis wants to be the Phillies’ long-term option at shortstop, then he will need to do more with the bat. He can certainly play defense with the best shortstops in the league, but he’ll need to be a more of an offensive force to stay in the lineup on an every-day basis.

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The Sad End of an Era

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Mon, December 15, 2014 03:11 PM Comments: 3

Hearing the news of Jimmy Rollins being traded to the Dodgers wasn’t shocking, but it was quite saddening. As the first piece of this core group of players to be dealt, the J-Roll deal signals the end of a very memorable era of Phillies baseball.

When I look back on this core group of players, I’ll instantly think about those five straight NL East championships, the AP Photo/ David J. Phillip potent offense, the incredible starting pitching, the 102-win 2011 season, and of course, the 2008 World Series Championship.

The day after the Rollins deal was an emotional one for any Phillies fan listening to sports radio, as memories were shared about the shortstop’s 14-year Phillies career, and the Phillies’ run as one of the best teams in MLB from 2007-2011.

Goosebumps covered the arms, and possibly some tears filled the eyes of anybody listening, and reflecting back on the good times.

Sure, we’ve watched the core players, and the team deteriorate the past two seasons, and it had been hard to watch, but the success that these players brought to Philadelphia and its fans should be the first thought that comes to mind when looking back on this core group of players.

Looking to the future, hopefully this organization makes the right moves and acquires the right talent when dealing their veterans to make this team fun to watch again, and in the process, create some new, lasting memories along the way.

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