Phillies Free Agent News: How Jered Weaver’s Extension Affects Cole Hamels

August 31, 2011 by Avery Maehrer  
Filed under Fan News

In terms of pure statistics, Cole Hamels and Jered Weaver are identical twins.

Both are in their sixth seasons in the majors, both sport similar ERAs (Hamels-3.38, Weaver-3.31), both have pitched just over 1,000 innings over their career, both are about the same age (Weaver is one year older) and both are currently among the best pitchers in their league. 

So as news broke last week that the Los Angeles Angels had struck a five-year, $85 million contract with their Cy Young-candidate ace Weaver, parallels were instantly drawn to the current predicament the Phillies find themselves in with Hamels, 

Hamels is currently in the final year of a three-year, $21.5 million contract, and has one year of arbitration remaining before he would, theoretically, become a free agent. 

The Phillies would obviously like to avoid a potential bidding-war for their 2008 World Series MVP, and this offseason (when several contracts come off the books) seems like the most logical option for doing so. 

But will the Phillies and Hamels come to agreement on a new deal? On the surface, Weaver’s contract seems like an extremely reasonable deal for both sides. But after putting together a substantial and impressive postseason resume, and becoming one of the best southpaws in the game, will he want to test the open market? 

 

As of now, a new contract isn’t even on Hamels's mind, at least according to him. He said, 

“I just want to play. That’s why I have an agent. He’ll take care of the rest. If I go out and play and I’m comfortable, good things will happen. That’s all I can affect. It’s a situation where it’s your choice and when the time comes people make choices. I think I’m more focused on trying to win a World Series right now with these guys. That’s been the only thing on my mind this year.” 

As Hamels continues to play an extremely influential role in the starting rotation, on a team that continues to grow older, that role will only become more essential. With Weaver’s deal, the line has likely been drawn in the sand. 

A contract of similar stature seems rational for the Phillies, and lucrative enough for Hamels. But, as Hamels’ win count grows larger and larger, and the ERA gets smaller and smaller, the Phillies would do themselves a favor to get it done sooner rather than later.

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Philadelphia Phillies vs. the Future: Dynasty or Has-Beens?

August 31, 2011 by Ben Nangeroni  
Filed under Fan News

One subject Philadelphia fans would rather not think about is the possibility of regression. After four years of topping the NL East, the Phillies have finally brought a sense of tranquility to their passionate fan base. Gone are the bad memories of coming up last in the division, of the 1993 World Series, and of the losing-est franchise record in MLB history.

 

So why am I even bringing this up?

 

Rany Jazayerli recently wrote an article about the historical trends of teams with high average ages-- at or around where the Phillies have been the past couple years. His outlook isn't very optimistic. Citing the few franchises that have been where the Phillies currently stand, he essentially claims the only way out of an era of despair is to do as the Yankees do-- buy their way out. A method he says the Phillies can't afford. Unfortunately, his argument is backed by history and seems fundamentally sound. 

 

My view is a bit different. 

 

 

I see promise in what's left of the Phillies farm system. Rookie pitcher Vance Worley might not be the next Halladay, but he has undoubtedly looked fantastic. Top outfield prospect Dominic Brown has yet to emerge as a major player for the team, but has shown flashes of brilliance this season. John Mayberry, Jr. has finally shown why he was a top draft pick for Texas a few years ago.

 

 

I also see a few more years before action becomes a necessity. The Phils' top pitching staff isn't through working together after this year (as long as they can settle up with Cole) and should continue to dominate the strengthening- but still mostly soft- division. 

 

The Phillies' lineup may average 31.5 years old, but isn't that statistic skewed by 39 year old Raul Ibanez (most likely out next year) and 35 year old Placido Polanco? You don't usually see people write off a player just because he turned 32 - so why would you write off a team because they collectively turned 32? I feel like they have a few years. A few years before serious decline is more than enough time for savvy GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. to bring on key additions not only to right the ship, but make it even better.

 

I see stronger competition in the future for the Philadelphia Phillies from the Braves and Nationals. I see age creeping in here and there on the offense. I see places where they could use some additional prospects. 

 

What I don't see is this Philadelphia team faltering next year, or the next, or the next...

 

Please comment and let me know what you think about the future of the Philadelphia Phillies. I hope you're all as optimistic as I am.

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3 Reasons the Philadelphia Phillies Will Win the 2011 World Series

August 31, 2011 by Garrett Baker  
Filed under Fan News

September is upon us.

While other cities are paying attention to the exciting division and wild card races around the league, fans in Philadelphia are already looking to October, and for good reason.

The Phillies are a lock for the playoffs, and should also be the clear favorites to win the World Series. Here are the three biggest reasons the Phillies will be the last team standing this season.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Breaking Down the Matchups in September

August 31, 2011 by Zak Schmoll  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies have the best record in baseball at 85-46, and they have a very difficult schedule from here on out. While they do get to play a few games against teams in the lower half of the National League, they will also be taking on some pretty stiff competition.

Let's take a look at every team the Phillies will play for the rest of the season and see how they match up.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: 4 Bold Predictions for the Phils’ 2011 Postseason

August 30, 2011 by Ben Nangeroni  
Filed under Fan News

It's been a while since the Phillies have had to worry about getting into the postseason.

Still six games ahead of Atlanta in the NL East despite recent struggles, Philadelphia is virtually a lock for continuing into October. All fans can do now is wait in anticipation for the uncertainty that is the playoffs.

As the world witnessed last year, being the widely-held favorite to return to the World Series means nothing on the diamond; much to Philadelphia fans' chagrin.

There are a couple of teams likely to earn playoff spots this year that would love to repeat the toppling of the "NL Yankees," as the San Francisco Giants did in the 2010 NLCS.

What's worse is that they believe they can. 

That being said, you never know what is going to happen when the calendar turns past September. Here are some scenarios on how it might play out.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies Trade Rumors: 5 Pipe Dream Waiver Wire Deals

August 30, 2011 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

Trade rumors? In August? You've got to be kidding me, right?

No, I'm not kidding you.

With just one full day remaining before the August 31 waiver trade deadline, teams scrambling to get last-minute outside help will surely be searching through the waiver wire to find the players they're looking for. Unfortunately for some teams, this isn't always possible, due to the process of claiming a player off of waivers: The worst teams get highest priority, and the best teams get lowest priority.

Big-name waiver acquisitions are somewhat rare for any team. Not only would the claiming team on a big-name player such as Ryan Howard or Roy Halladay have to trade a plethora of talent to get them, but they only have two days to negotiate a deal. That's why it's more common to see either average starters or backups of all sorts go to other teams via the waiver wire.

However, if a player clears waivers—meaning no team claimed him—he is available to be traded to any team as long as the deal occurs before the deadline. But with all players, it's important to know that any player claimed after August 31 is not eligible for a spot on a team's postseason roster.

A team that could be looking for some players is the Philadelphia Phillies. Because the Phillies hold the best record in baseball at 83-46, they are the last team able to claim players off waivers. While it's a good problem to have, it's a problem nonetheless. If the Phillies are to make any deals at all through waivers, it would undoubtedly be for a low-market player, such as Mike Sweeney last year, or someone lesser known.

Even though the Phillies would love to claim a player along the lines of Lance Berkman—who somehow cleared waivers—it would be practically impossible, though we can dream, can't we?

Currently, the Phillies' biggest gaps are at the left side of the infield (due to injuries of Jimmy Rollins and the ailing Placido Polanco) and a left-handed bat off the bench (due to Ross Gload's nagging torn hip labrum).

With that, here are five players who, if unrealistically acquired, could make the Phillies' waiver dreams come true. 

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Is Cole Hamels a Cy Young Contender?

August 30, 2011 by Zak Schmoll  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies finally returned to the field last night to defeat the Cincinnati Reds, 3-2. The victory was especially sweet because starting pitcher Cole Hamels returned from the DL.

Although he received a no-decision, he went six innings, allowing two hits and one run and striking out seven.

This outing only served to strengthen his bid for the Cy Young Award. He still probably remains somewhat behind teammate Roy Halladay and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw. Nevertheless, he has been having an amazing season so far, and with a very strong September, he could contend for the award.

Hamels is 13-7 this season. His ERA and WHIP have both dropped as a result of his start last night to 2.58 and 0.97, respectively. Opponents are only batting .211 against him. He is also averaging 8.19 strikeouts per nine innings.

In terms of sabermetrics, his 5.3 wins-above-replacement rating is indeed third among National League pitchers behind Halladay (6.9) and Kershaw (5.8), according to FanGraphs.

As the only homegrown ace the Phillies have in the rotation right now (although Vance Worley is making a case to join the aces), he has shown that the Phillies can develop pitchers as well as trade for them.

He has also shown that September is traditionally his best month over the past three seasons, were his ERA is 0.7 runs below his season statistic at that time.

With a strong September, perhaps he can make some noise and gain ground on Halladay and Kershaw in the Cy Young race. However, he does have quite a bit of ground to make up.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Which Closer Would Get the Ball for “All the Marbles?”

August 30, 2011 by Matt Goldberg  
Filed under Fan News

Fast-forward roughly two months from now, Phillies fans. And by roughly, Phillies fans hope that the ride to Major League Baseball’s checkered flag—a World Series title—is not a rough one.

It is an anything-but-balmy October evening at Citizens Bank Park. Roy Halladay exits, reluctantly, after his typically strong eight innings of work with the Phillies leading 3-2. Yes, just to be a little dramatic here, it’s Game 7 of the World Series, and the heart of the Yankees order is due up in the ninth. Pick your poison: Granderson, A-Rod, Teixeira, Cano.

Who do you, playing the part of Charlie Manuel, turn to?

A couple qualifiers are in order here. I’m not debating who the starting pitcher should be: Doc, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels all appear to be exceptional options. We may or may not get the Roy Oswalt of late 2010 again, and Charlie may yet have to decide between the former Houston ace and rookie phenom Vance Worley as his No. 4 starter.

We’re talking about the bullpen here, and you can’t pluck a Lee or a Hamels for this hypothetical question. No trick question; we also don’t care about righty-lefty considerations.

Allow me to re-word slightly. Who is your closer of choice in the big situations, whether Game 1 of the NLDS or Game 7 of the Fall Classic?

Let us review the candidates alphabetically. For this exercise, I’m conceding the fourth spot in the rotation to the veteran Oswalt. That makes Vance Worley part of this discussion.

 

The Candidates

Antonio Bastardo ­has certainly been one of the great revelations of the Phillies’ season. Many fans would have accepted him being a good replacement for J.C. Romero—get an occasional tough lefty out and maybe be good in long relief, if not the seventh. Obviously, the sneaky-quick lefty with the awesome slider has far exceeded that modest hope.

For the season, Bastardo is 6-0 with a 1.42 ERA and a microscopic 0.75 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched), He has saved eight out of his nine chances, has 14 holds, and in 50.2 innings he has surrendered only 19 hits and 19 walks while fanning 62 batters. He has appeared in 54 games and has only given up an earned run in seven games, and he has only yielded as many as two runs once time.

David Herndon, probably will not get many votes on the accompanying poll, but he should be praised for his current streak of 13 straight appearances and 16-plus innings without yielding an earned run.

On the year, Herndon is 1-2 with a 3.43 ERA, four holds and a WHIP of 1.21. He has no save opportunities or blown saves, for that matter.

Brad Lidge is the experienced hand of the bunch, if the least-used this year due to injuries. He has looked okay since returning to the bigs this year: 0-1, 2.00 with one save. He has three holds and a rather pedestrian (okay, poor) 1.58 WHIP. It is hard to judge him on just 12 appearances after bouncing back from injuries.

In Lidge’s favor is his 223 career regular season saves (seventh among active closers) and his postseason record—a 2.28 ERA and 18 saves. And, was that epic 2008, and even the last couple months of 2010, that long ago?

Ryan Madson has proven, if not beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt, that he can be a successful closer. He has saved 24 of 26 chances—an outstanding percentage. In 47.1 innings, he has yielded 42 hits and 14 walks while striking out 49. He is 3-2 with a 3.04 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. Take away the “Ryan Zimmerman” game of August 19—and those six earned runs in 0.2 innings—and his ERA would be just under  2.00.

Michael Stutes was one of the sensations of spring training and he has done a very good job this season. Here comes a but for the 24-year-old: but he has not pitched as well the last couple months as he did in his initial stretch from April 25 to June 24.

For 2011, Stutes is 5-1 with a 3.78 ERA. In 50 innings, he has given up 47 hits and 22 walks (with a strong 49 strikeouts) for a WHIP of 1.24. He has eight holds and no blown saves.

And last but not least, there is Vance Worley, who may end up in the bullpen for the postseason. The ever-popular Vanimal has started 16 of his 18 parent-club appearances, and has two successful holds to his credit for his (May) bullpen work.

Overall, he is 9-1 with a 2.65 ERA. In 98.1 innings, he has yielded 78 hits and 32 walks while fanning 83. Worley has been praised for his composure and fearlessness on the hill.


Conclusion

The Phillies’ bullpen has been an unexpected strength in 2011, but the team does not have that one proven stud to turn to.

It appears to be Madson’s job to lose, and Ryan has done a lot to inspire confidence from his teammates, his manager, the front office and fans.

Still, forgetting about contracts, egos and lefty-righty batters and if I were Charlie Manuel on that blustery, late October evening with everything on the line, my choice would be Antonio Bastardo. His stats have been dominant this year, and he seems to possess poise well beyond his years and experience.

Your choice?

 

Matt Goldberg, a featured columnist for the Philadelphia Phillies and all-around baseball fanatic, is also a noted humor author and speaker. For more information, please visit www.tipofthegoldberg.com

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Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Key Players for Phils Down the Stretch

August 29, 2011 by Zak Schmoll  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies play 33 games in 31 days as the season winds down.

This is too much baseball to rely on just one or two hot players. Players are going to need a day off, and other players will need to pick up the missing production. Every athlete on this team will surely get an opportunity to contribute something during the final push.

Nevertheless, some players will surely contribute more than others. Here are five key players that the Phillies will need to perform at their best throughout September.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Chase Utley Is Still an Elite Defender at Second Base

August 28, 2011 by Bobby Yost  
Filed under Fan News

The other night while listening to WIP, a caller began talking about Chase Utley and at one point commented about Chase Utley being average defensively. The host, not surprisingly, did not refute the caller's claim.

This is not an isolated incident. I've heard several hosts and fans take this same stance, commonly citing a few errors in the playoffs as enough evidence.

The last time Utley was an average defender was in his first big league season in 2003. Even with injuries mounting the last couple years, he's still fielding at an elite level. Advanced metrics agree across the board.

In Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games, Chase Utley is third in the majors, behind Howie Kendrick and Dustin Pedroia, with 20.5 runs saved. The next closest in the National League is Brandon Phillips with 14.8.

Baseball Info Solutions' defensive runs saved is not quite as high on Utley, but still has him saving three runs in his 672 innings. It still puts him third in the National League behind Mark Ellis and Brandon Phillips. However, Phillips' four runs saved has come with almost 400 more innings played.

Like UZR, Total Zone defense also considers Utley the best defender in the National League with five runs saved despite less than 700 innings played.

Even though advanced defensive metrics have their holes, they are still a better measure than worse and outdated statistics like fielding percentage and errors. More credence must also be given when the metrics universally agreed on the defensive ability like they do with Utley.

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