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Posts Tagged ‘Winter Meetings’

Is Rich Harden a Bullpen Fit for the Phillies?

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, December 07, 2010 12:35 PM Comments: 32

Armed with all the talent in the world, Rich Harden is both a nightmare and a blessing. Signing him is the equivalent of playing black or red at the roulette table – it’s a 50/50 proposition you win. If you do come out victorious, he’ll still end up on the disabled list at some point, but in the end you’re team will have gotten more out of him than you previously imagined when signing him. If you lose, well, you seem to lose a lot with Rich Harden.

And that’s not to say Harden is a loser, he’s not. Losing really isn’t in his vocabulary at the major league level.

Through eight up and down seasons, Harden has gone 55-34 with a 3.36 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. Injuries have set him back nearly every year he’s pitched – Harden only has one season with more than 30 starts. But man, if he isn’t the ultimate high risk/high reward pitcher, then I don’t know if one exists.

Harden’s laser fastball no longer has the zip it once did. According to FanGraphs Pitch F/X, his velocity dropped from 94.1 in 2007 to 90. 8 in 2010 with that fastball. With that, the speed on the rest of his pitches has dropped as well. Also sinking like a brick were his overall numbers.

Following a magnificent 2008 campaign that saw Harden go 10-2 with an ERA a shade above two, ’09 and ’10 were true regression years as he again failed to stay on the mound. During those two years he tossed a combined 233 innings and had finished 2010 with an ERA above five. His K/9 went from 11.3 in ’08 to just 7.3 in ’10. His BB/9 went from 0.8 to 1.8 during that same time, the worst of his career.

Harden’s name is being thrown around the Winter Meetings as we speak. Guys with his pedigree – although it’s a damaged one – will always continue to resurface as long as he can throw. GM’s are enamored with that kind of talent. But how will he be used? There is talk that moving him to the bullpen would be a prudent one. Not only would it benefit his career for the long haul (hopefully cutting down on the injuries and lengthening it) but also provide the team with a decent seventh-inning threat.

Last year Harden received $7.5 million on a one-year deal – starter-money from the Texas Rangers. It’s unlikely he’ll be commanding that sort of contract this time around.

The Phillies are currently in the market for relatively cheap bullpen arms and Harden could fit the bill if he’s ready to admit that starting is no longer the path to take.

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Notes From the Winter Meetings: Monday

Posted by Paul Boye, Mon, December 06, 2010 09:15 PM Comments: 42

A good Monday evening from central Florida, where baseball’s Winter Meetings have kicked into high gear. The Swan and Dolphin resort in Lake Buena Vista, not far from Disney World, is the center of the baseball universe through Wednesday. I’m here to look for a job, but that won’t stop me from moseying around the resort, trying to take in all that I can in this short time.

The Winter Meetings double as a job fair. We all know that players, agents and club executives are all present for negotiations, but the jobs available aren’t restricted to the ones on the field. I spent this past season working for Baseball Info Solutions, a company that converts every single pitch from every single game of a full season into data and numbers that can be used to evaluate pitchers in new ways. Now, as I look to move forward in my career, I’m talking with clubs and teams and their representation at the Major/Minor League job fair. It isn’t glorious, and few posted jobs are for immediate work at the Major League level, but it’s already a rewarding experience.

Across the way, in the second half of the two-hotel resort, there’s even more activity. The MLB Network, MLB.com and ESPN have all set up shop for live, on-site broadcasting, delivering news when it happens from where it happens. Not only that, the sight of reporters, players, agents, managers and broadcasters is constant. Charlie Manuel made an appearance, as did White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, superagent Scott Boras, national and Phillies reporters like Ken Rosenthal and Todd Zolecki.

I’ve yet to see Cliff Lee, sadly.

There is a palpable sense of excitement all throughout the resort area. Maybe it was just me soaking in every aspect of the scene that I could, but there’s a feeling in the air not unlike the one you get when you go to your seat at an actual ballgame. The pace is frenetic, and the news is constant. Even better, nearly everyone is accessible. In the course of one day, I managed to shake hands with everyone from Giants manager Bruce Bochy to former Philly and current broadcaster Mitch Williams to ESPN columnist Keith Law (who, by the way, I should be having a conversation with for PN this week. More on that another time). The entire baseball world is here, and it’s awesome.

The coming days should, hopefully, yield even better things. I’ll be tweeting as I go, but I won’t be there to break news; I’ll leave that to the professionals. There may not be much Phillies news to break this year, at least in relation to recent offseasons (unless, of course, you consider Jeff Francoeur newsworthy), but there will still be plenty of exciting things to come, and I hope to share them with you all.

UPDATE, 8:48 pm (Pat Gallen): Mike DiGiovana of the LA Times is reporting the Phillies have interest in trading for Juan Rivera of the Angels. With LAA serious about Carl Crawford joining an already deep outfield, the 32-year old could be on his way out, and at a friendly price to the Phillies.

Rivera hit 15 home runs and knocked in 55 runs a year ago in only 124 games (455 plate appearances).  Two seasons ago he was a major power source for the Angels, hitting 25 home runs. He’s in the final year of a three year deal which will pay the outfielder $5.5 million. It’s expected the Angels would pick up some of that salary making him another decent platoon option.

They’ve already shown plenty of interest in Jeff Francouer (perhaps too much) and have been linked to Matt Diaz.

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Offseason Icebreakers, Vol. 1: The Thanksgiving Turkey

Posted by Michael Baumann, Wed, November 24, 2010 12:00 PM Comments: 27

The worst thing about the offseason is not being able to watch baseball. The next-worst thing about the offseason is having to come up with excuses to talk about baseball. With the winter meetings and free agency, it’s not too much of a stretch, but let’s face it, it’s easier to talk about baseball when there’s a game on.

In order to alleviate the boredom of the offseason–the NFL and regular season ice hockey being inadequate as diversions–I’ll be posting icebreaker questions periodically. They’ll always be at least tangentially related to the Phillies, and, as always, feel free to leave your own answers in the comment section.

This fist icebreaker is a simple question. I’ve always said that inside every fat kid is a skinny kid who didn’t run fast enough. Today, let’s indulge our inner fat kids.

With one of the few uniquely American holidays coming up later this week, imagine the 2010 Phillies as a Thanksgiving meal. Which players correspond to which foods? My answer is after the jump. Leave yours in the comments.

Continue reading Offseason Icebreakers, Vol. 1: The Thanksgiving Turkey

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Year in Review: Ross Gload

Posted by Brian Michael, Sat, November 06, 2010 10:00 AM Comments: 9

By: Jeff Nelson

Around this time last year one of Ruben Amaro Jr.’s main offseason priorities was to upgrade a bench that struggled mightily down the stretch and was later exposed in the World Series loss to the Yankees.  About a month later during the winter meetings, Amaro signed the reigning 2009 pinch-hit-leader Ross Gload to a two-year $2.6MM deal, which ironically was the exact amount of his option that the Marlins declined weeks earlier.

In 2010 Gload saw very limited playing time in the field, manning the outfield corners at times and platooning with Cody “give me back my son” Ransom at first when Ryan Howard missed time with a sprained ankle in early August.  With all the talent at Charlie’s disposal on a daily basis Gload’s value derives mainly from his bat off the bench, not his glove.  It also doesn’t take a disciple of the UZR gospel to realize the shortcomings of Gload’s defense.  Certainly he’s one of the last options if not the last option as a defensive replacement late in games.

There may have been a few people who expected Gload to be among the league leaders in pinch hits for a second consecutive season (here’s lookin’ at you, Rube), but I guarantee you nobody forecasted an increase in power for a 34-year old career backup.  Gload may have hit the same six homers as he did in 2009, but he did so in almost 100-less at bats.  I can’t put my finger on exactly why this happened, but put a gun to my head and my best guess was the move from the spacious Pro Player Stadium in South Beach to the hitter-friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park.  Look even further into the numbers and Gload hit five of his six HRs at home, while posting a robust .529 SLG% at home compared to .431 on the road.  In fact, Gload hasn’t hit for this much power since his White Sox days at U.S. Cellular Field.

Gload’s stats stem from a very small sample size, however he’s still a capable backup and a valuable hitter off the bench (if you don’t believe me, compare his numbers against righties to those of the $11.5MM starting left fielder).  He proved Rube’s hunch was right and was worth every penny and then some of last year’s $1MM salary.  The only downside last year was not being able to avoid a stint on the DL with a hamstring strain late in the season.

Even though Gload’s average was up a tick from the past two years, his BABIP was down from his career average.  Moving forward to next year those two stats probably cancel out and Gload should put up relatively similar numbers provided he can stay healthy.

JEFF’S GRADE: 7.6/10

NICK’S GRADE: 7.2/10 Gload gave Charlie Manuel a solid option off the bench at a reasonable price. With solid career numbers it is a reasonable assumption that he can put up the same kind of season next year.

KIERAN’S GRADE: 7.4/10 I liked Gload coming off the bench.  Even with the small sample size, I don’t think his numbers change given more opportunities.  He is a solid option for ole Charlie.

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Phillies Nation Podcast 21: John Finger

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, December 11, 2009 12:25 PM Comments: 4

Welcome to the Phillies Nation Podcast!

On today’s podcast, Pat Gallen is joined by CSNPhilly reporter John Finger.  Pat and John discuss the Winter Meetings that just wrapped up in Indianapolis.  Some of the topics they touch on: Roy Halladay and where he may end up, who ends up in the bullpen, and what John thinks of the Placido Polanco signing.

John Finger is closer to 40 than 30 and vividly remembers every Philadelphia baseball playoffs since 1976 and every 76ers’ training camp at Franklin & Marshall College since 1980. He writes mostly about baseball, but has been known to dabble in a few other sports, mainly cycling, track & field and anything that requires endurance and/or a sense of humor. Away from work John writes fiction as well as about pop culture. He also enjoys marathon running, punk rock, books and movies as well as debunking myths and goofing off.

John attended J.P. McCaskey High School in Lancaster, Pa., and a very large university (Temple) in Philadelphia. He lives in Lancaster and dotes on his wife Ellen and their two sons, Michael and Theodore.

Click here to listen Phillies Nation Podcast – Episode 21

Pat Gallen can be reached via email at Pat@Philliesnation.com

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Important Dates in the MLB Offseason

Posted by Brian Michael, Wed, November 11, 2009 12:51 PM Comments: 8

Just because the season is over, doesn’t mean there is not a lot going on in baseball.  The Phillies have made some moves with Cliff Lee and Pedro Feliz, among others, and there will be plenty more following these upcoming dates.  All the major individual awards will be announced by Thanksgiving.

Nov. 9-11, 2009
General Managers Meetings, Chicago

Nov. 10-11, 2009
AL, NL Gold Glove Award winners announced

Nov. 12, 2009
AL, NL Silver Slugger Award winners announced

Nov. 16, 2009
AL, NL Rookie of the Year Award winners announced

Nov. 17, 2009
AL Cy Young Award winner announced

Nov. 18, 2009
AL, NL Manager of the Year Award winners announced

Nov. 18-19, 2009
Owners Meetings, Chicago

Nov. 19, 2009
NL Cy Young Award winner announced

Nov. 20, 2009
Reserve lists for all Major and Minor League levels filed

Nov. 23, 2009
AL MVP Award winner announced

Nov. 24, 2009
NL MVP Award winner announced

Nov. 30, 2009
Players union executive board annual meeting, Scottsdale, Ariz

Dec. 1, 2009
Last date for former Club to offer salary arbitration to receive compensation

Dec. 7-10, 2009
Winter Meetings, Indianapolis

Dec. 10, 2009
Major League Rule 5 Draft — Winter Meetings, Indianapolis

Dec. 12, 2009
Tender deadline

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