Philadelphia Phillies GM Amaro: There Is Not a No. 1 Priority for 2013

September 29, 2012 by Jim Bahm  
Filed under Fan News

According to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has stated that there is no No. 1 priority for next year.  With no talk of improving the outfield and an obviously shallow free-agent pool at third base next year, Phillies fans may not be so enthusiastic about jumping into the 2013 season next year. 

Phillies fans have been mired in disappointment this season after the last five.  A team that had all the makings of a dynasty was only able to secure one World Series championship in that time.

This year, the reasons were quite obvious: poor situational hitting, an inept bullpen in the first half of the season, injuries to marquee players, a weak defense and an ineffective manager who could no longer ride the train once the wheels were no longer going "round and round."

Charlie Manuel and his hitting coach, Greg Gross, have done nothing to improve the hitting issues.  Perhaps the team has aged to a point where it's not about situational hitting, but bat speed. 

The team's top players—Rollins, Utley, Howard and Victorino before he was traded—struggled to keep their averages above .250.  The bullpen was atrocious, as Chad Qualls, Antonio Bastardo and a combination of young arms proved unable to hand the ball over to closer Jonathan Papelbon. 

Injuries to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, the demise of smooth-fielding third baseman Placido Polanco and the trade of Shane Victorino weakened the offense, and the defense significantly.  

 

When this concoction of unsavory ingredients was added to the stew, the odoriferous mixture fouled the air and the manager struggled to "stir the pot."

It certainly is unfair to place the entire blame on Charlie Manuel; after all, it was Amaro who helped stock the provisions on the pantry shelf.  But both men had a hand in fostering the disappointment.

 

When Amaro said there was no No. 1 priority, I am sure he meant there were several problems all of equal weight.  

The outfield, in my opinion, should be their No. 1 priority because Brown and Mayberry are nothing better than bench players.  Ruf has to prove he can hit major league pitching and play left field.  It is obvious now that Victorino and Hunter Pence are sorely missed despite all their fan detractors.

The Phillies' front office cannot be serious that the outfield is not a top priority. A trade for a strong defensive center fielder who can hit for average is an absolute must. Signing Josh Hamilton is a pipe dream, but if you want to restore the team to a higher standing, that would certainly work.  Since that is probably not going to happen, though, signing Michael Bourn is a possible solution.

Unfortunately, the corner outfield positions would still be in flux.     

Amaro could trade for Padres third baseman Chase Headley, but that might require trading one of their young pitching prospects. And minor league youngsters Cody Asche and Maikel Franco are turning some heads at third, but both are still at least a season away. 

 

The Phillies absolutely must improve the overall defense, but how that can be done without a trade or a free-agent signing is anyone's guess. Utley and Howard hopefully will see a return to good health next year, but can they improve those mediocre averages, or is Father Time creeping up on them early?  

The Phillies brass has remained steadfast in their defense of Charlie Manuel.  With that commitment, maybe principle Phillies owner David Montgomery should promote a "prozac night" at Citizens Bank Park.  

Or should a managerial change be made now rather than later?

When the time comes and Manuel does hand over the spoon to Ryne Sandberg, let's hope the ingredients are such that he can mix up a fragrant bouquet and not be tormented by an odoriferous blend of bad ingredients.

In addition, let's hope that the keys to the train Ruben Amaro hands over to Hall of Famer Sandberg fits the ignition. Phillies fans deserve to shout "Whoo, Whoo!" when the wheels start turning.

All aboard!      

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Impact of Chase Utley Staying at 2B

September 28, 2012 by Matt Boczar  
Filed under Fan News

It appears as if the Philadelphia Phillies might not have an internal candidate to take over at third base next season after all.

According to an article by Jim Salisbury on CSNPhilly.com, general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. and the Phils have decided that second baseman Chase Utley will not play third base in the team’s final games of this season, and a move to the position next season doesn’t look likely.  Amaro said:

After further review, we think this makes sense.  He’s doing well over there.  But in retrospect, we think it would be difficult to make an assessment on watching him play six games.  We’re not good enough scouts to make an assessment on six games.

David Murphy wrote on philly.com last month of Utley’s talking to Amaro about playing third base, and the five-time All-Star had been taking ground balls at the position during the season’s final weeks.

If Utley moved over to third base, Freddy Galvis could have been a candidate to start at second base again next season, with Kevin Frandsen providing depth off the bench.

However, with Utley likely staying at second base next season, the final year of his contract, the Phillies’ 2013 infield is no longer guaranteed to feature players already on the roster.

As Salisbury’s article mentions, both Frandsen and Galvis will see time at third base during spring training, and a player may be acquired this offseason to take over at the position.

Potential free-agent third basemen include Kevin Youkilis, Brandon Inge and Maicer Izturis, while a player such as Chase Headley may be available on the trade market.

This grouping of available third basemen likely played a large role in the Phils’ decision to at least test Utley out at the position prior to games.  For a position typically held by power hitters, only five qualified National League third basemen currently have at least 20 home runs and a batting average of at least .280.

Despite missing a considerable amount of time during the first half of the season, once again due to injury, Utley has bounced back to bat .262 with 11 home runs and 41 RBI in 78 games.

Moving Utley to third base would not have come without its share of risks, such as his ability to throw runners out from across the field after spending his first nine major league seasons playing second base. 

Furthermore, the Phillies would likely have then used Galvis at second base, who batted .226 in 58 games before missing the rest of the season due to a back injury and suspension.

But where does Galvis play now?

As previously mentioned, Galvis could play third base during spring training while competing with Frandsen and any other offseason acquisitions.  But he would not bring the power that other third basemen have previously had to the position.

What if the Phillies acquire a third baseman during the offseason?  The team would then have their infield set and no starting spot open for Galvis, who started at second base this season and was seemingly in line to start at the position again next season prior to the recent news relating to Utley.

Should the team be concerned that Galvis’ back injury could turn into a recurring injury?

As for the Phillies as a whole, third base could have been scratched off the team’s offseason wish list in terms of areas in need of big improvement if Utley had made the switch.

However, third base is now once again an area that needs to be addressed, in addition to the outfield and bullpen. 

The Phils could have used any available payroll to go after one or two outfielders and another bullpen addition, stayed near the luxury tax threshold or at least under the $189 million mark for next season and avoided potentially having to offer more prospects in a deal for a third baseman.

If Utley comes to spring training healthy and plays next season the way he has since returning this year, the Phillies will once again have one of the best offensive second basemen in the NL.  Utley’s 11 home runs this season ranks seventh in the league.

Utley’s offensive production will greatly benefit the Phils next season, regardless of which position he plays.  However, the decision to keep him at second base, for the time being, firmly creates another position that needs to be addressed this offseason.

If Galvis can improve his offense and handle third base, or Frandsen is able to play better consistently on defense, the Phillies’ infield could still require little spending this offseason.

Having Utley on that infield on Opening Day is what’s most important.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

20 Players Who Only Played with the Philadelphia Phillies for the Money

September 28, 2012 by Greg Pinto  
Filed under Fan News

It's sadly becoming a way too casual aspect of baseball today—players selling out to the highest bidder. 

Of course, something like that is understandable. In today's game, millions of dollars are on the line. Players have an opportunity to set up their children's children for life. You don't leave millions of dollars on the table because you like another team more. Well, not often anyway.

But baseball is a business. That's another old cliche that we hear too frequently nowadays. The owners want to make money, the players want to make money and everyone in between wants their fair share of the pie. 

When you throw a baseball town like Philadelphia into the mix, you can pick the players that signed for the money out like a sore thumb. 

The Philadelphia Phillies implore a certain brand of baseball noted for its trademark hustle, blue collar attitude and caution to the wind style. 

When guys struggle to embrace to the top, the float to the top like drops of oil in water. Here are 20 of the most notable cases. 

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

5 Reasons Nick Swisher Could Be Great Fit for Phillies’ Lineup in 2013

September 27, 2012 by Zachary D. Rymer  
Filed under Fan News

The top outfielder on the free-agent market this offseason will be Josh Hamilton, but the outfielder who will carry the most intrigue is current New York Yankees right fielder and resident goofball Nick Swisher.

Whereas Hamilton seems to have very few options for where to play next, it feels like Swisher has an abundance of options for where to play next. He's been linked to a lot of teams, and it doesn't seem like anybody's taking his apparent desire for Jayson Werth money all that seriously as a roadblock.

This week, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News pondered aloud that Swisher might be a good fit for the Philadelphia Phillies. They opened up a spot in right field when they traded Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants at the deadline, and they might just have the funds to pursue Swisher seeing as how they only have $133 million in salaries committed for 2013 (per Cot's Baseball Contracts).

The money is going to be the iffy part either way. What isn't so iffy is seeing how Swisher could possibly fit into Philly's lineup next season, and here's a look at five reasons why he could actually be a great fit.

Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: 3 Ways the Phils Can Return to Prominence Next Season

September 27, 2012 by Joe Levitt  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies cannot wait for the conclusion of the 2012 season.

Merely saying this was a lost season would not do justice to this unfortunate campaign.

The Phils were not anywhere near prominence due to—well, most prominently to a rash of injuries. Franchise players Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay and Chase Utley missed over a combined seven months of MLB action.

Teams simply cannot overcome those types of injuries, not to mention the other factors that will be discussed later.

Also, the quality of the top teams in the NL East compounded the injury-plagued Phillies’ 2012 campaign.

The Nationals are the absolute class of the league—with or without Stephen Strasburg. And second-place Atlanta is an 89-win club that dominated the Phils in a 12-6 fashion.

If the Phillies had been operating on all cylinders, they would have been at least as good, if not better, than the Braves. Superior bats, superior pitching—simply put.

So, with a fully functioning squad next season that goes beyond injuries, let’s highlight the three reasons the Phils can return to prominence in 2013.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Free Agency: Looking at the Phillies’ Financial Situation Heading into Offseason

September 27, 2012 by Matt Boczar  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies’ late season resurgence has been a double-edged sword for both the team and fans.

Each win improved the team’s standing in the National League wild card race and gave fans the same feeling that they’ve grown accustomed to in September in recent years. However, each loss also served as a reminder of the team’s poor play during the first half of the season that put them behind in the standings in the first place.

The Phillies, like many teams, will have holes to fill following the season. But a strong finish combined with possible internal adjustments could alter the to-do list once the offseason starts.

The Phils put themselves in a position to avoid paying the luxury tax by trading Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, and Joe Blanton in August.

However, the team is also set to pay players such as Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Carlos Ruiz increased salaries next season.

Where does that put the Phillies’ payroll at as the offseason starts? Is the team willing to exceed the $178 million luxury tax threshold? Can they even address all of their needs through free agency, or will trades need to be considered?

The Phils will have options to run through once the offseason begins as they try to make next season more reminiscent of recent seasons, and push this season well into the rear-view mirror.

Before any wheeling and dealing begins, here is what the Phillies’ financial situation looks like heading into the offseason.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

The Top 5 Surprises in an Otherwise Disappointing Phillies Season

September 26, 2012 by Jason Amareld  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies' 2012 campaign has been disappointing on multiple levels, but the wound that stings the worst is that the team's consecutive NL East title streak will come to an end.

On the other side of the pillow, there have been a few bright spots in a season filled with underachievement. Players of all ages have made significant contributions in 2012 that will leave the Phillies and their fans eager to see if these players can continue their progress in 2012.

Here are the Phillies' top five biggest surprises in the 2012 MLB season. 

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Jimmy Rollins: Philadelphia Phillies Shortstop Is a Hall of Fame Candidate

September 26, 2012 by Jim Bahm  
Filed under Fan News

At only 33 years of age, Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins should have at least five years of MLB service left.  If he continues to put up numbers like this year (22 HR, 30 SB, 66 RBI) he will one day share a seat with the greatest shortstops of all time.

Beside pitching, shortstop is the arguably the most important position in the game. Catchers can put up a strong argument that their position is the most important, but a team that does not have a shortstop who can anchor the defense will lose more than its share of games.  

The top three shortstops with the best fielding percentage in the history of the game are active players. They are Troy Tulowitzki (.985), Omar Visquel (.985) and Jimmy Rollins (.983). Tulowitzki, if he can stay healthy, could one day make the hall. Vizquel's entry to the hall is up for debate, but Jimmy Rollins should be a first-vote entry.

In the 70s, we had scrappy defenders like Dave Concepcion, Larry Bowa, and Bud Harrelson.  All three have a World Series ring like Rollins but are not Hall of Famers. Later in the decade, hall member Robin Yount made his debut and put up impressive numbers on offense (251 HR, .285 BA, 1,406 RBI) in a career that also saw him play center field. His fielding percentage was .964 at shortstop.

In the 1980s, Yount was followed by the "Iron Man" 6'4" Cal Ripken.  Ripken not only hit 431 HR with 1,695 RBI, his fielding percentage was .979. Even if he didn't get to the balls that the scrappy guys did, that percentage is phenomenal for a guy his size.

In the 90s Alex Rodriguez put up outstanding numbers at short, but his steroid use will forever taint his numbers. Derek Jeter's numbers are "off the chain," and the lanky shortstop will be an instant entry into the hall. 

Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto has less than stellar numbers (38 HR, .273 BA, 563 RBI, a .968 fielding percentage), but he had seven World Series rings, and that cannot be overlooked. Ozzie Smith, the "Wizard," has an impressive .978 fielding percentage, 2,460 hits and 580 SB.  Smith made plays that others could only dream about making.  He was not only a dazzling fielder but a charming and charismatic personality.

Jimmy Rollins, besides that .983 fielding percentage, also has a charismatic personality and makes dazzling plays.  Watching him every day, he has to be the most consistent defensive shortstop ever.  He makes everything look easy.  With his .983 percentage, he has not been given enough credit for his excellent defense.

Rollins' on-base percentage is not the greatest (.328), but you can make a strong argument that he would be an even better hitter out of the fifth or sixth hole in the batting order. Charlie Manuel has been unbending in keeping him as a leadoff hitter.  

But "J-Roll" has 192 HR, 791 RBI, 403 SB, 1177 runs and a slugging percentage of .432.  He has more than 2,018 hits.  Rizzuto has 1,588 hits with a .355 slugging percentage, and Smith has 2,460 hits with a .328 slugging percentage. With his 2,018 hits, Rollins should be able to catch Smith's 2,460 hits if he stays healthy.

If you can look at the big picture, Rollins has a better fielding percentage than any Hall of Famer.  His offensive numbers are much better than Rizzuto and Smith. He has been an NL MVP and an All-Star three times. He is only 33 years old, and his numbers will only increase in the next few years. He should be an automatic for the Hall of Fame.        

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

How Charlie Manuel Can Get the Most Out of the Young Phillies

September 26, 2012 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

After losing two of three this past weekend to the Atlanta Braves, it's almost safe to say that the Philadelphia Phillies are out of the playoff picture. Despite a 6-3 victory over the division-leading Washington Nationals Tuesday night, the Phillies remain 5.5 games out of the second wild-card spot.

With only eight games left, let's just say the odds aren't in the Phillies' favor.

So it may behoove Charlie Manuel to give the team's younger players a shot to see if they can fill any of the team's many needs. With the offseason looming, the Phils figure to be in the market for a third baseman, center fielder and a veteran bullpen arm. Possibly a starting pitcher, too.

Although seemingly adamant about not doing so, Manuel finally gave Eastern League MVP Darin Ruf his first major league start Tuesday night. It was a breath of fresh air, and though it might have signified that the end of the Phils' playoff chances is near, that start created hope, both for this year but primarily for next.

Since Ruf could be fighting for a major league job next year, it's important for the front office to get a good look at him, both offensively and defensively. If they feel he's ready, the Phils won't have to shop for a left fielder. Likewise, if they don't like what they see, you can add a left fielder to the offseason shopping list.

Along with Ruf, many of the Phillies' relief pitchers are young guys who will be competing for major league jobs in spring training. The outfield has a fight brewing as well. Aside from Ruf, Domonic Brown, John Mayberry, Jr. and Nate Schierholtz will be competing for starting jobs.

To give all the players a shot, especially the younger ones, Manuel will have to mix things up a bit. Here's how he can do just that.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

25 All-Time Players Who Truly Bled Phillies Red

September 26, 2012 by Greg Pinto  
Filed under Fan News

You don't get to see an abundant amount of loyalty in the game of baseball. Players don't often finish their careers in the same place they began, and that's especially true for today's game, when players will often wind up playing for the highest bidder. 

So when you see a player spend all of—or even a majority of, nowadays—his career with a single club, it resonates with you. You associate that player with that club and often find yourself thinking, "Man. He was proud to fly that team's flag." 

The Philadelphia Phillies have had a few of those players—guys who were proud to wear that signature "P" on their cap and embrace the way the city of Philadelphia enjoyed its baseball. 

They understood what playing baseball in this city was all about: hard work and determination. The fans enjoy a "blue collar" style of baseball, but most importantly, value a player that wants to win. 

Now the question is simple: Who are they? Which players truly bled Phillies red? 

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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