Philadelphia Phillies Should Consider Trading Cliff Lee

June 30, 2012 by Tim Stoeckle  
Filed under Fan News

This season has been extremely frustrating for the Phillies and their fans.  The team that has won five straight National League East titles now sits in last place in the division and continues to find new ways to lose games.  

The Phillies are 28th in the league in runners left in scoring position per game.  Not only can the team not drive in runs, but their pitching staff hasn't been as dominant as expected.  

Roy Halladay is on the DL, but even before that he was struggling.  Cliff Lee is still winless and has struggled to locate his pitches.  The man who used to go games without walking a batter now has put too many runners on base and then has allowed them to score.

The bullpen has been horrendous, ranking 25th in the league in bullpen ERA.  The team finally designated Chad Qualls for assignment, but he isn't the only problem in that pen.  

In order to put together this team, general manager, Ruben Amaro, Jr., traded away the team's future.  The team is getting older and doesn't appear to have many players in the farm system who are anywhere near ready to come up and make an impact.  

It's time to sell in Philadelphia.

Shane Victorino should be the first to go.  Victorino is a solid defensive center fielder, but he is a terrible baserunner and isn't worth keeping for his hitting.

After dealing Victorino, the Phillies need to seriously consider trading either Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay.  By getting rid of one of these guys, they will be able to re-sign Cole Hamels after this season.

Roy Halladay's injury and age could prevent teams from pursuing him, but you have to think that Cliff Lee is still a coveted player.  The only problem is, do the Phillies have the heart to trade the guy who turned down more money to play for them?

Let's say the Phillies decide to trade Lee. Where could he go?  

Well, look at potential playoff teams that need pitching.  Let's start in the American League.  The Yankees have pitching troubles as it is, but now CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte are injured.  Lee turned down the Yankees before signing with the Phillies, but he would greatly improve that team.  In return, the Phillies could receive outfield prospect, Mason Williams, and third base prospect, Dante Bichette, Jr.  

The Red Sox are another team that could use Lee's services.  The Sox have the offense to make the playoffs, but they're at least a pitcher away from being serious contenders.  In return, the Phillies could get outfield prospects, Bryce Brentz and Jackie Bradley.

The Detroit Tigers have a World Series-caliber offense as well, but a pitcher like Lee would give them a dangerous pitching staff.  Verlander and Lee would create an incredible one-two punch.  And how about third base prospect, Nick Castellanos, coming back to Philly along with another prospect?

In the National League, Cliff Lee would make the Reds the team to beat.  Cincinnati has a great offense, and if they added Lee, a rotation of Lee, Cueto and Latos in the postseason would be brutal for opposing offenses.  Pitching prospect, Robert Stephenson, and outfield prospect, Ryan LaMarre, would be great pieces for the Phillies to get in return.

It's time for the Phillies to start preparing for the future, and it starts by being able to re-sign Hamels.  If the team trades Victorino and Lee, they'll get pieces in return that will allow Philadelphia to have a playoff-caliber team sooner rather than later. 

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Philadelphia Phillies: More Thoughts on Cliff Lee

June 29, 2012 by Mark Swindell  
Filed under Fan News

In summary...I was roasted.  Readers told me I was a buffoon, ignorant, idiotic and stupid.

And I agree.  My column, "Phillies Fans Should Be Fed Up With Cliff Lee," was a little harsh and unfair.  Maybe more so to Phillies fans than Lee, but still unfair. Phillies fans have always known when they should or shouldn't be fed up with a player. 

They've booed Schmidt and Bowa, Daulton and Hollins, Howard and Hamels.  They don't need a buffoon like me to tell them they should be fed up with someone.  I imagine though, the small minority who understood what I was saying now agrees with my initial assessment and have reached the point of being fed up.  Those who blasted me are at least seeing a very microscopic truth to my points.

With that being said, the signing of Lee is not looking good.  It will look even worse if signing Lee means that Cole Hamels' future is anywhere else but Philadelphia.  One more odd twist, if Lee doesn't turn around his disastrous '12 season, the Phillies will not see the postseason, which means Hamels will more likely be dealt before the trade deadline.

For $21 million this season, the Phillies have received an 0-5 record with a 4.13 ERA from Lee.  Has he had some bad luck?  Sure!  Has he received consistent run support?  Absolutely not!  But a guy like Barry Zito has six wins with a better ERA playing for a suspect offense.  The Padres' Clayton Richard has five wins for the Padres. Both Zito and Richard have better ERAs than Lee as well.

Lee led the majors in shutouts in 2011.  Obviously with zero wins he doesn't have one this season.  However, Kyle Kendrick and the Astros' Lucas Harrell have one.  Former Phillie Kevin Millwood has one in the AL.  Even Ervin Santana, Philip Humber, Luke Hochever and Clay Buchholz have shutouts and carry ERAs over five! 

What's the point?  A pitcher being paid like Lee—and the caliber of Lee—should take the ball and shove it down the other team's throat from time to time, like he did with the Phillies in 2009, with the Rangers in 2010 and last year.  Where is that this season?

I'm sure some Lee apologists will put together some fancy videos attempting to prove it's not Lee's fault and that's fine....do what you gotta do to feel better about the guy who snubbed the Yankees and Rangers to come back to Philly.  Sabermetrics' guys let me hear you again.  I heard you the first time and accept your passion and rationale.

Me?  I'll be wearing my dunce cap, sitting in the corner and hoping Lee turns things around so the Phils can overcome this 10-game deficit.  If he doesn't and Hamels is pitching somewhere else in 2013, I personally will be fed up. Justifiably so.

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The Philadelphia Phillies’ 25-Man All-Time, All-Fan-Favorite Roster

June 29, 2012 by Greg Pinto  
Filed under Fan News

Succeeding as a player of the Philadelphia Phillies isn't all that difficult. Some people may think it is. They'll point towards the rowdy fans and incredible expectations to win every season as reasons why playing in Philly could be difficult, but it's really not.

The players know what they have to do to succeed here. They have to play the game hard night in and night out. They have to put the team before themselves. Winning always helps the cause, but as long as you prove to the fans that winning is the ultimate goal, they'll love you forever. (Okay, nothing is forever, but definitely for a long time.)

Succeeding in Philadelphia looks like a challenge, but it's not that hard. If you do all of the things listed above, you'll be a fan-favorite in no time, and I assure you, it is much easier to play in this city as a fan-favorite.

It just goes to show that winning isn't everything. The Phillies were a bad team for a long time, but they managed to field some fan favorites regardless, and they all have that unique approach to the game in common.

Earlier this week, I posted a slideshow about the Phillies' all-time, 25-man roster.It was chocked full of the franchise's all-time greats, regardless of their status with the fans.

This one will be different. In this slideshow, statistics are irrelevant. It's the opinion that matters. For each position, we'll take a look at one of the Phillies' all-time fan-favorites and see how that roster compares.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Juan Pierre’s 500th RBI Leaves Maury Wills in a Class by Himself

June 29, 2012 by Randy S. Robbins  
Filed under Fan News

On Wednesday night, the Philadelphia PhilliesJuan Pierre recorded his 500th career RBI, driving home Jimmy Rollins with a sharp single to left field.

This in itself denotes nothing remarkable, as more than a thousand players in baseball history have reached this plateau. But when one considers that Pierre notched his 500th RBI on his 2087th hit, well, one can’t help but notice how few RBI he has collected as a member of the 2000-hit club.

Sure, Pierre has spent the majority of his career as either a leadoff or No. 2 hitter, which, of course, strongly limits the amount of RBI opportunities across a career. But with more than 1000 players having amassed 500 RBI, but only 270 belonging to the 2000-hit club (including Carlos Beltran, who will reach the milestone with his next safety), more than 730 players were able to achieve 500 RBI on fewer than 2000 hits (some never even coming close to 2000).

Pierre actually had only 477 RBI when he achieved his 2000th hit last season, coming up just short of Larry Bowa, who knocked in his 480th RBI with hit No. 2000 in 1983, before cracking the 500 mark during the following season.

Such disparate totals generally belong only to slap hitters, whose role it is to get on base or who bat deep in the lineup. So it’s no surprise that the king of this category is one of the ultimate slap hitters, Maury Wills, whose 2000th hit drove in but his 421st career RBI.

Wills is the only member of the 2000-hit club not to reach 500 RBI, topping out at 458 RBI on 2134 career hits. He did play the bulk of his career in the latter-day Dead Ball era of the 1960s, but this is still an extraordinarily modest RBI total, owed in part to Wills’ phenomenal absence of power (a .331 slugging percentage, including an average of only 15 doubles a year by one of the speediest men in the game).

Other relatively punchless hitters in this class—all of whom possess slugging percentages below .400—include Richie Ashburn (2574 hits/586 RBI), Lloyd Waner (2459/598), Brett Butler (2375/578), Willie Wilson (2207/585), Tony Taylor (2007/598) and Dave Bancroft (2004/591).

Interestingly, Waner’s 2000th hit drove in his 499th RBI (his 500th RBI came three hits later).

At the time of Ashburn’s 2000th hit, in 1958, he had collected 475 RBI, which stood as the paltriest RBI total for a player with 2000 hits—until Wills seemingly put the dubious mark out of reach.

So congratulations to ever-hustling Juan Pierre for leaving behind Maury Wills and joining the ranks of the relatively meaningless 2000-500 club.

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Phillies Need More Than Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to Make Roaring Comeback

June 28, 2012 by Zachary D. Rymer  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies have been one of the National League's most disappointing teams this season, but they're getting better.

Chase Utley returned to the Phillies' lineup on Wednesday, and in style to boot. He homered in his first at-bat, and went on to collect three hits on the day. Talk about a sight for sore eyes.

Ryan Howard will also soon be back. As the Phillies announced via Twitter on Wednesday, Howard will start a rehab assignment on Thursday, meaning he could be back in the big club's lineup in a week or two. 

So yeah, the Phillies are getting better.

...Just not that much better.

Watching Utley return in style was a pretty awesome thing to see even for non-Phillies fans, but Phillies fans have to be ultra-careful with their expectations where he's concerned. Utley was not in the starting lineup for Philly's matinee contest against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, and the word from the Philadelphia Inquirer is that Charlie Manuel's plan is to give Utley every third game off for the time being.

Phillies fans have been waiting for Utley to return and be an everyday player once again. He's back, but he's not going to be an everyday player for a while longer, if at all.

Phillies fans must also have modest expectations for Howard. His return is approaching, but John Finger of CSNPhilly.com has reported that Howard will be at less than 100 percent healthy when he does return. He'll be able to hit, but he won't be able to move well. In fact, Howard has admitted that he still runs with a limp.

So what the Phillies are getting in Utley and Howard is not two superstars coming to the team's rescue. What they're getting is more like an extra pair of hands to help the salvaging effort.

If the Phillies are to raise their ship from the depths, they're going to need a lot more help.

Much of the focus this season has been on the Phillies' offensive struggles, but their pitching hasn't been very great lately, either. Per FanGraphs, Phillies starters entered Thursday's action with a record of 7-11 and an ERA of 4.78 in the month of June. They had an ERA over 4.00 in May, too.

Don't be so surprised. As much as the Phillies have missed Utley and Howard, they're missing Roy Halladay even more right now. Or at least, they're missing the version of Halladay that they came to know and love in 2010 and 2011, when he was one of baseball's best pitchers.

Halladay hasn't pitched since late May. And though Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reported on Wednesday that Halladay is making progress, his return is still a couple weeks away.

When Halladay does return, the Phillies will be banking on the notion that a few weeks of rest were just what his shoulder needed. They need him to be the ace he was in 2010 and 2011.

In the meantime, they need to worry about propping up Cliff Lee's spirits by giving him a win. He hasn't been as brilliant this season as he was last season, but he's surely been good enough to deserve at least one win this season. His 3.72 ERA ain't bad. His 3.02 FIP (fielding independent pitching) is even better.

What made the Phillies so good last year was the fact that Halladay, Lee and Cole Hamels were so good so consistently. The three of them represented the best trio of starting pitchers in baseball, and they made life much easier for an offense that struggled to score runs like it did in years prior.

Hamels has been good all season this year, but the Phillies haven't gotten nearly the same enjoyment out of the Halladay-Lee-Hamels trifecta. That's something that absolutely needs to change in the final months of the season if the Phillies are going to recover to make a run at a postseason berth.

And yes, they need bullpen help, too. Philly relievers have a 4.67 ERA this season, third-worst in baseball. In June, they have an ERA of 4.71, which is par for the course.

There's no clear answer to this problem. Veteran righty Chad Qualls was designated for assignment on Thursday, according to the Associated Press, and he is being replaced by righty Brian Sanches and lefty Jeremy Horst.

Sanches has already made three appearances for the Phillies this season, posting an ERA over 11.00. Horst has a grand total of 12 big-league appearances under his belt, and they all came last year for the Cincinnati Reds.

The Phillies better hope that Sanches and Horst beat the odds and stabilize the bullpen. Otherwise, they'll have to find relief help outside of the organization.

Good luck there. Trading for relievers is always risky business, and the Phillies are not blessed with an abundance of dealable assets.

That's a problem that will make life difficult for them not just in the pursuit of relief help, but other help in general.

The Phillies could very much use another bat, but they're going to have a hard time talking another team into giving up a good one for what the Phillies have to offer. Their minor league system is as barren as it's been in years (ranked No. 25 in ESPN's Keith Law's preseason rankings), leaving them with a shortage of young players that they can package up and trade for a veteran hitter or two.

Alas, there will be no Hunter Pence trade this year.

In all likelihood, Ruben Amaro won't be able to make a significant move of any kind before MLB's trade deadline. The Phillies are going to have to do what they can with what they've got.

The Phillies lost to the Pirates on Thursday to drop their record to 36-42 on the season. That puts them on pace to win just 75 games.

In order to win 85 games, the Phillies will have to win 49 of their final 84 games, a winning percentage of .583.

And that's just to win 85 games. It could take as many as 90 wins to secure one of the National League's two wild-card spots, and the Phillies would have to play better than .600 ball the rest of the way this season to reach that mark.

To accomplish that, they'll need everything to go right. Utley and Howard will not only have to stay healthy. They'll have to hit, too. They'll also need the bullpen to settle down, and they'll need Halladay, Lee, and Hamels to be as productive as they were last season.

Good luck, Phillies.

 

If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter.

Follow zachrymer on Twitter

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Chase Utley Returns: 1 of 7 Reasons Not to Write off the Phillies in 2012

June 27, 2012 by Bryan Powers  
Filed under Fan News

After opening the 2012 season with superstars and offensive leaders Chase Utley and Ryan Howard on the disabled list, expectations were that the Philadelphia Phillies might be in a bit of trouble this year. 

Multiple free agent acquisitions by the Miami Marlins, the return of Stephen Strasburg to the Washington Nationals and a solid Atlanta Braves team all in the same division were also reasons for great concern.

Winners of five consecutive National League titles, the Phillies were still expected to compete for yet another first-place finish.  But with practically half the season in the rear view mirror, the Phillies find themselves barely out of the cellar and hanging on for dear life. 

Despite everything that has gone against them, there is still plenty of reason to believe that this club can win the NL East again, and have a chance to compete in yet another World Series this fall.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Why Carlos Ruiz Is the Most Underrated Player in MLB

June 27, 2012 by Garrett Baker  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies' Carlos Ruiz is the best catcher in baseball. You may think it looks weird written out, or it sounds strange to hear it aloud, but it is true. Actually, it has probably been true for the past season or two. But somehow, nobody gives Chooch the acknowledgement he deserves.

Ruiz should be leading all catchers in National League All-Star voting. Instead, he is currently in third place. While All-Star voting should not carry much weight because a lot of it is about politics and marketing, it is still a disgrace that he is not in first.

He is, by far, the most underrated player in baseball.

Ruiz currently leads all of MLB in batting average. While everyone can't stop sucking up to Bryce Harper (hitting .278), gushing about Matt Wieters (.255) and swooning over Giancarlo Stanton (.274), Chooch is quietly hitting a cool .361.

As Prince Fielder (.303) and Albert Pujols (.259) sit on their contracts worth more than $210 million each, Chooch is outhitting them on a three-year, $8.85M deal. In fact, Ruiz's batting average is significantly better than Pujols' on-base percentage (.320). 

And anyone who says Chooch is only a contact hitter can sit down, too. Ruiz's 10 homers tie him for sixth among catchers, and his 41 RBI have him tied for third.

He leads all Major League catchers in hitting, slugging, on-base percentage and OPS. And this is not random luck, either. Ruiz hit .283 and .302 in the past two seasons, and is a career .275 hitter.

His clutch tendency is not to be ignored, either. I can't tell you how many times I have watched Ruiz step up late in a game and deliver a big hit to keep an inning going or knock in the tying run.

In the 2009 World Series against the New York Yankees, he batted .333 after hitting an impressive .381 against the Colorado Rockies in the NL Championship. When the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, they did so largely thanks to Ruiz's stellar play behind the plate, his .385 batting average and his ridiculous .500 OBP. 

The Phillies have dominated the NL East for the past five seasons, and Chooch is one of the few key players that has been there the whole time. In his time in Philadelphia, he has been the rock behind the plate for one of the strongest pitching staffs in the league.

And he has managed to do all this without drawing any attention to himself. But if he keeps playing like this, the attention and praise will come whether he likes it or not. So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Carlos Ruiz, the best catcher and most underrated player in all of baseball.

UPDATE: After Tuesday night's game vs. Pittsburgh, Ruiz is now batting .364, with 11 HR's, 43 RBI's and has a .430 OBP. Unbelievable.  

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How to Successfully Rebuild the Philadelphia Phillies by 2014

June 27, 2012 by Greg Pinto  
Filed under Fan News

It won't be easy, but they can be rebuilt. They have the technology. They have the capability to make the Philadelphia Phillies the world's first bionic baseball team.

Okay, maybe not. But with all of the injuries over the last couple of years, I'm sure the Phillies front office has dreamed about giving Chase Utley bionic knees, or Ryan Howard a bionic Achilles tendon.

Those are the kind of things teams think about as they're getting older. You don't have to be a genius to realize that this isn't the same team that won the World Series in 2008. Sure, some of the names are the same. In fact, I'd say the roster looks better.

But when you challenge Father Time, you lose. It's just a battle that can't be won. The Phillies are slowly but surely crossing the threshold from "experienced veterans" to "one last shot," and fast.

If this club wants another shot at the World Series with a majority of its core intact, sacrifices are going to have to be made. Some of those "experienced veterans" are going to have to be traded for younger players with that intense fire to win their first title. It's just the circle of life in baseball.

The Phillies could be better than they were before. Better. Faster. Stronger.

But it is going to take a lot more than one "$6 million man" to fix the Phillies. Of that much, I am certain.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

5 Ways Phillies Can Sell at the Deadline Without Giving Up Entirely on 2012

June 27, 2012 by Matt Boczar  
Filed under Fan News

There’s no rule that says a team must turn into either a buyer or a seller at the trade deadline.

However, if a payroll that is over $170 million belongs to a team struggling to make the playoffs, shedding some cash couldn’t hurt, right?

But there’s a difference between trading a starting pitcher who is about to enter his prime and who is the franchise’s all-time leader in postseason wins, and trading a 41-year-old fan favorite who is currently only able to pinch hit.

Trading the first player in that scenario essentially means that any success achieved this season is great, but you’re really planning for the future.

Trading the latter player means that, although it’s difficult, trading certain players can result in acquisitions that benefit the team this season.

Here are five ways the Phillies can sell at the deadline without giving up on this season.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Assembling Full 40-Man Roster of Top Homegrown Players

June 27, 2012 by Marilee Gallagher  
Filed under Fan News

From baseball's beginnings to the game that is played today, the importance of player development has not been underscored. Before there were farm systems, scouts would look at players participating in other leagues. Unaffiliated with other teams, if a major league club found a player they liked all they had to do was make an offer.

Today, the way teams develop players is a little different. Often they will acquire them from the MLB Amateur Draft or as undrafted free agents. Then the player will likely begin a long and slow process in the minors until they are deemed major league ready.

Sometimes players drafted won't make it to the bigs with the team that signed them. Sometimes draft picks won't make it at all.

With the way Major League Baseball is, you can't know which draft picks will become stars or which undrafted free agents you should take a chance on. You can guess, but until you see that player in action, you won't know.

Since the Phillies have recently stressed the importance of the farm system and since it is that farm system that has enabled them to make such blockbuster deals, I thought it would be interesting to look back at those players that weren't involved in blockbuster deals, those players that were drafted or signed by the team and that started and in some cases finished their careers in Philadelphia.

Without further ado and with an intensive look back into the franchise's history, I present the best 40-man roster the Phils can assemble using only players that are considered to be homegrown talent.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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