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Phillies Offseason Plan: Pat’s Version

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, November 14, 2012 10:51 AM Comments: 30

Span would be a nice fit in Philly. (NBC Sports)

Yesterday, Eric Seidman unveiled his offseason plan for the Phillies, which included Nick Swisher, Peter Bourjos and others. Today, it’s my turn. Tomorrow, Corey will let us know what moves he wants the Phillies to make.

Here is my offseason plan.

Outfield: Trade for Denard Span

-I would love for the Phillies to grab this guy. He quietly contributes in Minnesota and would be a nice leadoff hitter here. Span got on base at a .342 clip last year, will steal 20 bases, and doesn’t strikeout much. Perhaps the Phillies throw some pitching prospects and one of their highly rated catchers at the Twins to get a deal done. Span is well worth it.

Span’s contract is friendly, as it pays him $4.75 million in 2013, $6.5 million in 2014, and he has a $9 million in a club option for 2015. It’s the type of contract that doesn’t tie you to a guy on the wrong side of 30, but gives you the option to re-up him, should he be deserving.

The 28-year old centerfielder is also one of the best defensive players at his position. Among CF’s with at least 2,000 innings since 2010, Span ranks fourth in UZR according to Fangraphs, just behind Bourjos, Chris Young, and Michael Bourn. Pretty good company.

Outfield: Sign Cody Ross (3 years, $23 million)

This signing has more to do with the fact that I do not want the Phillies to spend $80 million-plus on B.J. Upton or Bourn, which is what seems to be the asking price. Instead, go for a cheaper corner outfielder in Ross, who can provide power in the middle of the order. It might take a three-year deal, but Ross is only 32, so it’s not as if he’s ready to fall apart.

Ross hits lefties very well. His numbers against southpaws over the last three years: .352 OBP, .530 slugging percentage in 401 plate appearance with a wRC+ of 135 (weighted runs created).

Continue reading Phillies Offseason Plan: Pat’s Version

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The Phillies Absolutely Shouldn’t Trade Rollins

Posted by Eric Seidman, Fri, July 20, 2012 09:40 AM Comments: 52

In sports, the term ‘anchoring’ refers to when fans develop an opinion based off of a specific series of events and hold steadfastly to that opinion regardless of what subsequently transpires. Most of the time anchoring occurs at the start of a season, when a hot or cold stretch can mislead fans into under- or overvaluing certain players. When preformed opinions join anchoring at the bar, lazy narratives are often born. Jimmy Rollins is another perfect example of why anchoring to early season struggles, especially when it supposedly helps confirm a preconceived notion, is folly in the world of analysis.

Yes, Rollins started off slowly. He posted a terrible .259 wOBA in April, with a poor .283 on-base percentage that was actually higher than his even worse .271 slugging percentage. His defense remained solid, but he looked mostly lost throughout his first 85 trips to the dish. Since he hasn’t exactly been an offensive juggernaut recently, and because he is past his prime, it became very easy to assume that Rollins was done; that he was washed up; that his new contract was a joke, because the Phillies were paying $11 million per season to the shortstop formerly known as Jimmy Rollins.

Don't even think about trading him.

Though many would readily admit that, under most circumstances, 85 plate appearances is far too small a sample off of which to base definitive conclusions, the mixture of anchoring to his early struggles and the preexisting belief — or fear — that he is rapidly declining, led to unnecessary widespread panic.

But then something funny happened — Rollins started hitting again. He posted a .289 wOBA in May, which, while still very poor, was an improvement. And he followed that up with a .396 wOBA in June. It may have taken him a while to get going, but Rollins has been tearing the cover off of the ball recently, and his seasonal line is right where we would expect it, even after a very poor two months to start the season.

Even before he started proving that he still has offensive talent in the tank, it would have been foolish to consider trading Rollins. Now that he has once again proven himself capable of hitting at a relatively high level, while flashing all-sport defense at the most important infield position, the Phillies shouldn’t even think twice about trading him.

Continue reading The Phillies Absolutely Shouldn’t Trade Rollins

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Roster Ramifications of a Hamels Extension

Posted by Eric Seidman, Fri, July 13, 2012 09:00 AM Comments: 38

As Buster Olney reported yesterday, the Phillies are making one final push to negotiate an in-season extension with Cole Hamels before potentially shifting their focus towards trading the homegrown ace. Both sides have always been close on an annual salary around $24 million, but Hamels and his camp predictably wanted more guaranteed years on the deal.

Hamels is likely looking for a deal better than Matt Cain‘s, and comparable to what the Mets gave Johan Santana. While there is no formal deadline to work out the new deal, if the sides cannot reach an agreement by the weekend, expect Ruben Amaro to pick up the phone and more seriously field trade offers.

What the Phillies could potentially get back for Hamels has been a terrifically interesting subject — especially given his stated willingness to return even if traded during the season — but what hasn’t been discussed much is what happens if he does agree to an extension. After the initial celebratory phase, the front office would be left with a tricky situation to wade itself through. The Phillies would have four players making $20+ million both in actual dollars and the amount calculated for luxury tax purposes, which makes it tougher to fill out the roster with pieces necessary to legitimately compete without incurring the tax.

Signing Hamels would be wonderful, but it would also require the front office to act in a shrewd manner it hasn’t exactly shown itself capable of to date.

Continue reading Roster Ramifications of a Hamels Extension

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Report: Phillies Will Make Push For Hamels

Posted by Eric Seidman, Thu, July 12, 2012 12:34 PM Comments: 25

UPDATE, 6:13 am Friday: Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that a source says the Phillies will make a “sizable offer” to Hamels to see if they can keep him around for now and the future.

Reports have mentioned previously that the Phillies know it will cost them upwards of $24 million per season, but the sticking point is in the guaranteed years. Hamels, and agent John Boggs, is seeking six or seven years while the Phillies seem to be in the four-to-five year range.

If anything, this is good news that the Phillies understand the importance of locking up their prized left arm. But at what point does it become too long a contract for a pitcher?

(update by Pat Gallen)

——————

Buster Olney filled in as host of Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio this morning and spoke at length about the Cole Hamels situation. Olney has written about Hamels frequently this year, as he is a homegrown ace on a team built around pitching who may prove too costly for the Phillies as a result of other expensive personnel decisions.

The Phils and Hamels may be closing in on an extension.

He has championed the idea of Hamels pitching for the Dodgers next year, as Magic Johnson and the new ownership group will look to make a splash.

However, according to Olney, the Phillies are in the process of making a big push on a lucrative extension that will keep Hamels in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future.

Olney believes that the Phillies are likely preparing a final extension offer to present to Hamels and agent John Boggs. Though Hamels has mentioned a desire to test free agency, he has made it clear that the Phillies are his first choice. He has stated in recent interviews that he would give the Phillies the last shot to sign him if he does reach free agency and receive other offers, and that the same would hold true even if he were traded this season.

If the Phillies and Hamels can’t reach an agreement in the next 72 hours, Olney believes that Amaro will pick up the phone and begin to pursue trade opportunities. We’ll know more about his future over the next few days. Tomorrow, we’ll take an in-depth look at what a long-term extension with Hamels would mean for the rest of the roster over the next few seasons.

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Cliff Lee Signs $120 Million Pact with the Phillies

Posted by Jay Floyd, Tue, December 14, 2010 11:30 AM Comments: 193

Originally posted December 13, 2010 at 9:40 pm.

This afternoon Jayson Stark stated on ESPN.com that the Philadelphia Phillies were the rumored “mystery team” in the mix, along with the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees, for the services of a free agent known as Cliff Lee.

Later in the evening, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal cofirmed via Twitter that the Phillies are involved in the pursuit of Lee.  Other info via the likes of Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman (yes, the real one) and others state that the Yankees still have the edge on the monetary value of the contracts offered.  However, if location means enough, as Lee stated in the past that he loved his time in Philadelphia, the Phils are certainly a contender to be high on Lee’s list of desired destinations.

Other reports state that the Phillies have touched base with multiple teams in an effort to trade Joe Blanton, which would help to free up money in the team’s ever-rising payroll.  Blanton is owed $8.5 million ($17 million total) in each of the 2 years remaining on his contract.

If the Phillies do re-acquire Cliff Lee, plenty of Phillies fans will be overjoyed.  However, it will still stand to be mulled over by some that the Phillies gave up several top prospects for Lee, later gave Lee away for very little to Seattle and then spent more money than they’ve ever given any pitcher to bring him back.

UPDATE, 10:20 pm: The twitter comments are coming too quickly to keep posting on here from the big guns, but in summation, it seems to be getting closer and closer to become a reality. Let’s not jump ahead of ourself because NOTHING is even close to done. However, by the sounds of the tweets from Jon Heyman and others, the Phillies may have jumped into the lead.

These “sources” are saying that it is probably not going to happen tonight, but there are so many factors at work tonight. Heyman has said Lee could leave as much as $70 million on the table to sign with the Phillies. Wow. We’ll have more as it comes.  -Pat Gallen

UPDATE, 11:35: Do yourself a favor and read the twitter of Joel Sherman of the New York Post. He’s summing up everything beautifully over a series of tweets (so make sure you read them backwards, of course). – Pat Gallen

UPDATE, 11:55 pm: Jon Heyman says the Yankees have been told they are out of the Cliff Lee dealings. – PG

UPDATE, 11:58 pm: Sources tell T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com (Rangers beat writer) that Cliff Lee is coming to Philadelphia, it is a done deal. – Pat Gallen

UPDATE, 12:04 am: The deal is done! Cliff Lee is a Philadelphia Phillie according to multiple sources. Unbelievable. Welcome to the big time, folks. Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt, Lee. Have fun and Happy Holidays all! – PG

UPDATE, 12:17 am: The terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed, but word is it’s a five-year, $100 million deal. Lee reportedly leaves a seven-year deal on the table from the Yankees that would have been worth more than $150 million. -PG

UPDATE, 12:35 am: Todd Zolecki of MLB.com says the deal is for five years with a vesting sixth-year option. The deal could be worth up to $120 million. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets that the Phillies are working to trade Joe Blanton to free up some salary space. – PG

UPDATE, 1:28 am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post says Lee left a seven year, $154 million pact on the table from the Yankees to join the Phillies. – PG

UPDATE, 10:32 am: Jerry Crasnick has crunched the numbers and this is what it comes down to.

Lee’s deal includes a $27.5 million option that vests if he pitches 200 innings in 2015 or a total of 400 innings over the 2014-15 seasons. If the option doesn’t vest, the deal includes a $12.5 million buyout.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems as though the five years equal out to $107.5 million with the guaranteed buyout in 2015 pushing the grand total to $120 million. The sixth year option, should it vest, would make the deal six-years, $135 million or the same as what the Yankees and Rangers offered as their base salary before options were included.

So yes, it’s a deal. However, Lee is still making plenty of bank, bro. -PG

UPDATE, 11:00 am: Crasnick tweets that he may not be leaving much on the table after all. -PG

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An Early Look Ahead

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, October 25, 2010 08:06 AM Comments: 68

After a full day to digest the Phillies season-ending loss to the Giants in the National League Championship Series, it’s time to thoroughly assess the past, present, and future of this franchise. In the coming days we’ll look back on the season that was, all while preparing you for what should be an interesting offseason.

Preliminarily, there are several questions heading into the winter. Here are a few of them:

-Will Jayson Werth return?:

It’s unlikely in my opinion, but not out of the question. With Scott Boras now representing him, the picture got cloudier recently as we know Boras’s mantra: take as much as you can get for as long as you can get and don’t look back.

The numbers he has put up over the last three years along with the numbers Jason Bay and Matt Holliday received in free agency are the ones to look at. During Werth’s career, his 162-game average comes out to .272/25/85 with a .848 OPS. It’s the damage he’s done recently, both in the regular season and playoffs, that makes him a hot commodity. He’s now the Phillies all-time leader in home runs n the postseason, and is a very good patroller of right field. Someone will pay top dollar for him.

What exactly is top dollar? Everyone believed Matt Holliday’s seven year, $120 million contract from last offseason was a bit much. However, it was Boras that executed it with the Cardinals. Bay netted $66 million from the Mets, with a vesting fifth year option that could raise it to about $80 million. I think you’ll see Werth get something closer to Bay’s deal than Holliday’s. Four or five years at roughly $15-16 million per season is about right. Boras, however, will see to it he gets every last penny.

The Phillies have negotiating rights for the five days following the World Series, but it’s highly unlikely anything will be done in that time. Werth’s impending free agency will resemble opening a fine bottle of wine; let it breathe for a while before you jump in. Unless the Phillies max their payroll out at $170 million – and there has been no discussion of this that I’ve read, seen, or heard – then Werth is most likely on his way out.

-The Bullpen:

Three relief pitchers are headed for free agency from the Phillies bullpen. J.C. Romero has a $4.5 million team option on his contract that will not be picked up, meaning he’ll be bought out for $250,000. He likely won’t return unless it’s a minor league deal with Antonio Bastardo now the lefty out of the pen.

Chad Durbin made over $2 million a year ago and will ask for a multi-year deal this winter, but with the Phillies salary rising into uncharted territory, it’s unlikely they can provide him with such a contract. Right now, I’d say Durbin is out, too.

Perhaps the most important of the three is Jose Contreras. He really blossomed as a relief pitcher, his first attempt at it after being a starter for the first seven seasons in the majors. Big Truck made only $1 million and is sure to get a raise of about double that. I think the Phillies do their best to keep Contreras, perhaps on a one year deal similar to what Durbin made in 2010.

I think you’ll see a lot of David Herndon, Scott Matheison, and Mike Zagurski next season. They are cheap and under team control. Besides, you can’t have a team filled with multi-million dollar talent. The bullpen is the place where you might see them try to go cheap.

-Can they unload some weight?

Obviously, the regressions of Raul Ibanez and Joe Blanton (and in some cases, Shane Victorino) were detrimental to the outcome this season. Ibanez struggled mightily in the postseason – his swing was so slow you could time it with a sun dial. He still has a year left on his contract with the Phillies at $12.16 million. Unloading that sort of deal will take a Copperfield-like magic trick from Ruben Amaro. If he can get some of that money off the books – it might take something like eating 70% of the remaining money – then he’ll look into it. It’s just not all that likely, so a Raul platoon could be in order for 2011.

Another deal that might hamstring the Phillies is Joe Blanton, who is owed somewhere in the $17 to 21 million range (haven’t been able to find the correct number, I see many others using different numbers. Dave Murphy of High Cheese says $8.5 million next season while Cot’s Contracts says $10.5 million). If they can find a taker for Blanton, while paying about 20 percent of the remainder, they might be able to open their wallets up in free agency a bit to someone like Werth or even Cliff Lee. Again, it’s not likely, but it’s something this team will surely look into.

-Crazy Moves:

After last offseason, the realm of possibilities is quite large with Ruben Amaro and his team. He unloaded Cliff Lee to get Roy Halladay, which many saw as a ridiculous move. That mistake was admitted when the team acquired Roy Oswalt at the deadline.  Could another such move be on the way? And where do you think it comes from if it does occur?

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The Sins of the General Manager and the Perils of the Dead Bench

Posted by Michael Baumann, Thu, June 03, 2010 03:18 PM Comments: 75

“…I the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me…”
–Exodus 20:5

Yes, Nation, this protracted offensive shortfall has reached biblical proportions. Right now, the team is paying for the sins of its father, namely, Ruben Amaro. We all remember Eric Bruntlett, right? He was about as bad an offensive player as has ever put on a Phillies uniform, and when his contract ran out, there was great rejoicing. Well, when we were finally rid of The Beard, Ruben went out and signed another player with mediocre speed, slightly above-average glove skill, and a .270 career OBP.

Credit where credit’s due: RAJ has, along with his predecessors, assembled one of the top lineups in recent baseball history, plus a solid starting rotation and a bullpen that doesn’t make you want to kill yourself.

But this bench, while never really a strength of this team, has finally reached unacceptable levels. Out of the eight opening day starters, none has a league-adjusted on-base-plus-slugging (OPS+) below 94, or just about average. Not one of the team’s bench players is slugging higher than .370, with the highest OPS+ belonging to Exxon Wilson Valdez. That OPS+? 68. SIXTY-EIGHT! There are 29 major league teams, apart from the Phillies, and 28 of them have at least one bench player with an OPS+ better than 68.

The problems with this are obvious and serious, particularly for a National League team. When your starters are worn out or mired in a slump, or when your entire left side of the infield is hurt, the idea is to have some decent hitters to bring off the bench so you’re not replacing a former NL MVP with a guy who has played sixteen years in the big leagues without even once performing at replacement level for a full season.

The worst part is that RAJ knew the dangers of the dead bench, had a whole offseason to fix it, and signed two over-the-hill veterans for far more than they were worth. Ross Gload doesn’t have any offensive skill Greg Dobbs doesn’t have, and, as a 1B/OF guy, hasn’t hit for even league-average power since 2006. Castro and Valdez we’ve been over. Yet Gload and Castro are both signed to major-league contracts (Gload, inexplicably, for two years), when their production and more can be had for less money.

The smartest money RAJ can spend right now is not for Roy Oswalt or Jayson Werth or even Cliff Lee. It would be to somehow make the numbers work on a deal that would jettison Gload, Castro, and/or Valdez. Take the payroll hit—right now, the Phillies are throwing good money after bad by continuing to play their bench players—and find someone (anyone) to fill in.

I don’t know where this production is going to come from (a minor-leaguer like John Mayberry? A free agent like Elijah Dukes?), but it’s out there, and with every at-bat the likes of Valdez and Castro get, the more serious the punishment the team and the fans suffer for the sins of their general manager.

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You’d Best Just Shoot Me Now–Or We Can Talk Some More

Posted by Michael Baumann, Thu, February 18, 2010 04:19 PM Comments: 101

Please excuse a brief non-Phillies related anecdote to start. I promise, I’ll tie it in later.

In the 1970s, English soccer manager Brian Clough led Nottingham Forest to two consecutive European championships, a feat no English team has equaled since. Nottingham Forest is a small-market team whose history can be defined in three eras: pre-1975, when they sucked; 1975-1993, when Clough made them into one of the top teams in Europe, and 1993-present, when they sucked again.

Clough’s mantra was to know what all your players were worth at all times, and if you could get market value for them at any point, no matter how popular that player was, to trade him in for someone cheaper or younger. Clough’s approach worked. Need a more accessible example? This is what Bill Belichick does with the NFL’s Patriots, and we all know how well that’s worked out these past 10 years.

I’m acutely aware that what I’m about to write is going to be tremendously unpopular with our readership. I can barely believe I’m saying this now. Neither do I expect a single person to agree with me.

But this is what I think, so here it goes.

I think the Phillies should:

1) Trade Shane Victorino for whatever prospects they can get.

2) Move Jayson Werth to center and Raul Ibanez to right field.

3) Sign free agent outfielder Johnny Damon to a one or two-year contract and install him in left.

If you want to skip right to the end and start questioning my sexuality and calling for me to be tarred and feathered, I suppose that’s your prerogative. I don’t think this is a slam-dunk, and I’m aware that Damon will most likely sign with either Detroit or Atlanta in the coming days, but I think that a good argument can be made for replacing Victorino with Damon. This is that argument.

Continue reading You’d Best Just Shoot Me Now–Or We Can Talk Some More

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Carlos Ruiz Signs

Posted by Paul Boye, Tue, January 26, 2010 03:14 PM Comments: 65

Originally posted Jan. 23 at 12:44 p.m.

According to a source close to Phillies Nation, the Phillies and catcher Carlos Ruiz have agreed on a contract. Ruiz, who turned 31 yesterday, enjoyed a breakout season in 2009, posting career highs in on-base percentage (.355), slugging percentage (.425) and OPS (.780).

Some advanced metrics also favor Ruiz defensively, as he is among the top 10 catchers in runs saved over the past three seasons. Had he and the Phils gone to arbitration, Ruiz was seeking $2.5 million, while the team offered $1.7 million. While it is currently unknown whether the deal is for one year or multiple years, it is widely believed that Ruiz was the one arbitration-eligible player most in need of a multi-year deal, given the lack of advanced catching prospects following the trading of Lou Marson and Travis d’Arnaud.

UPDATE, 3:15 pm: The Carlos Ruiz signing has become official according to a press release from the Phillies.  It is indeed 3-years, $8.85 million, however, the yearly breakdown has not been announced.  The fourth year of the deal is an option for $5 million with a $500K buyout.

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Shane Victorino Signs Extension

Posted by Paul Boye, Thu, January 21, 2010 08:13 PM Comments: 130

Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports is reporting that a source has told him that the Phillies and center fielder Shane Victorino have agreed to a three-year, $22 million extension.

The report continues a flurry of contract news for the Phils, who just announced the extension of pitcher Joe Blanton earlier today. Victorino, 29, hit .292/.358/.445 with 10 homers in 2009. This was his second year of arbitration eligibility.

With extension talks in progress for Carlos Ruiz, the Phillies would likely have seven of eight positional starters under contract for at least 2010 and 2011.

UPDATE, 10:10 am: The Victorino press conference will be today at Noon at Citizens Bank Park.

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