Philadelphia Phillies: Who Will the Club Move and Keep This Offseason?

October 31, 2012 by Michael Pizzutillo  
Filed under Fan News

Disappointing. Grotesque. Unexpected. Just about any unpleasant adjective your brain can fabricate would accurately describe the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies owned the best record in baseball over the past two seasons and sat atop the NL East for the past five—so, naturally, expectations were higher than the Comcast Center building.

However, this elevator never reached the fourth floor.

Fans turned bitter, blaming everyone from Jesus Tiamo to Ruben Amaro Jr. for the failed season, yet expectations remain high for the upcoming season.

Third base, center field and relief pitching are the glaring weaknesses on the roster, and there are plenty of talented ballplayers available to fill the gaps.

So which players will not be wearing their Sunday whites next year?

We’ll start with third base.

This should come as no surprise. The Phillies have declined Placido Polanco’s option, making him a free agent next season. Along with Polanco, the team also decided not to retain Ty Wigginton. This leaves a vacancy at third base and at reserve first base behind Ryan Howard.

The Phillies will face arbitration with Kevin Frandsen, who filled in nicely towards the end of last season. He has the potential to be an everyday starter and should compete for the spot, but he needs improvement defensively.

Philadelphia also considered moving Chase Utley from second to third so the team could have budding star Freddy Galvis start at second, but management has since squashed this project.

The team could look outside of the organization to aging-yet-productive free-agent Kevin Youkilis. This signing would make sense, covering needs for both a third base starter and reserve first baseman. He would add power to the right-handed side of the plate—which is much needed in this lineup—and provide average defensive skills.

Youk’s style of play could fit perfectly into the city’s admiration for the blue-collar, hard-nosed athlete—even if it’s only for one season.

Signing a third baseman also greatly depends on how the organization prioritizes the outfield positions.

Currently, the team has incredible promise from within, as John Mayberry Jr., Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf should all be returning next season.

But which outfielders will not make the cut for 2013?

CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury believes the Phillies should let outfielders Juan Pierre and Laynce Nix walk, leaving a hole in center field. Nate Schierholtz, the disappointing outfielder from San Francisco, is up for arbitration and is also a non-tender candidate. According to Salisbury, Schierholtz may not be around either.

The Philadelphia Inquirer believes that center field will be the team’s main focus this offseason, with a strong list of potential candidates to man the position in Citizen’s Bank Park next season.

This list includes Michael Bourn, B.J. Upton and Josh Hamilton—all of whom would add some form of depth to the lineup. The Phils must grab one of them to be a contender next season.

Finally, a team's bullpen is often overlooked each season. They are the "special teams" of baseball—but, as we all know, special teams can decide games.

Antonio Bastardo is eligible for arbitration and will return to the Phils next season, but the same cannot be said for Jose Contreras. The team has announced that they will decline to pick up his option for next season.

Philly.com looks at several players the Phillies could look at this offseason to boost the pen—Ryan Madson could even be reunited with his old team.

It’s pretty clear who the team is willing to let go, but fans are still uncertain of the team’s direction. Will they chase a World Series title in 2013, or invest for the future sans Howard, Utley and Rollins?

There is one guarantee: The Phillies Phans will not tolerate another failing season.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

25 MLB Free Agents Who Would Be Interested in Joining the Philadelphia Phillies

October 31, 2012 by Greg Pinto  
Filed under Fan News

Free agents will still be interested in coming to play for the Philadelphia Phillies for this offseason and many more in the years to come. 

It's important that we understand that fact after the way the 2012 season went for those Phils because on the surface, this is a team in decline. They're a wily group of veterans on the wrong side of 30 with a long history of injury concerns. 

But free agents are still going to want to come here. 

That's because, and especially when this team is going well, Philadelphia is a prime town for baseball. There is a certain energy and atmosphere that the fan base creates here and players love it. Of course, having money to spend and a slew of All-Stars already on your roster won't hurt either. 

So with the offseason just about ready to get under way, let's take a look at 25 free agents who should have some level of interest in joining the Phillies this winter.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Realistic Offseason Moves

October 30, 2012 by Jason Amareld  
Filed under Fan News

With the 2012 World Series coming to an end, the offseason is now upon us. Ruben Amaro Jr. and his staff will begin the daunting task of trying to rebuild the Phillies into a championship team.

The Phillies have already cut ties with Placido Polanco, Ty Wigginton and Jose Contreras while picking up Carlos Ruiz's 2013 option.

In order to compete for a title in 2013, the Phillies will have to fill most, if not all of their holes, which includes at least two outfield spots, third base, the bullpen and maybe even a back-of-the-rotation starter.

Here are five realistic offseason moves the Phillies should seriously consider. 

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

5 Trades, Free Agents the Philadelphia Phillies Can Add to Retool for 2013

October 29, 2012 by Ian Casselberry  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies were one of MLB's biggest disappointments through most of the 2012 season.

That led general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. to become a seller for the first time at the July 31 trade deadline. Hunter Pence was traded to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants. Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton were dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers

But a late surge made them a surprise contender in the National League wild-card race. Had Amaro known that was possible, would he have made those midseason deals? Probably, as getting below the $178 million luxury tax threshold and gaining payroll flexibility were priorities for Amaro.

So what will the Phillies do with that wiggle room in their payroll? The team needs at least one outfielder, maybe two. Third base is another hole that needs to be filled. And a bullpen that cost Philadelphia far too many games needs another arm. 

Here are five signings or trades that the Phillies should pursue this offseason. Amaro won't make all of these moves, but two or three of them could put his team back into the NL East race next year.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

5 Center Fielders the Philadelphia Phillies Must Target This Offseason

October 29, 2012 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

While their needs are many, the Philadelphia Phillies must prioritize filling their hole in center field above all else this offseason.

The Phillies ranked at or below Major League Baseball averages in batting averages, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and runs scored. They certainly hope that full, healthy seasons from Ryan Howard and Chase Utley will give the slugging and runs scored numbers a boost.

Ultimately, though, this is still a pitching-first roster, with three starters scheduled to earn more than $20 million apiece in 2013. It would be senseless to spend that sort of money on starting pitching and then entrust the most important outfield position to John Mayberry Jr.

None of this is intended to suggest that signing a premium center fielder will "fix" the Phillies' problems. Third base is still a huge question mark. Unless you really believe in both Darin Ruf and Domonic Brown, the corner outfield spots look, well, spotty. They still do not have a trustworthy setup man.

But an above-average center fielder, one who can cover defensive deficiencies of his outfield counterparts and help with the bat, is a necessity for the Phillies as they are currently constructed.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Comparing the Philadelphia Phillies’ 25-Man Roster to the San Francisco Giants

October 29, 2012 by Greg Pinto  
Filed under Fan News

Ever since Ryan Howard was rung up to end the National League Championship Series in 2010 and Buster Posey celebrated, the Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants have been a pair of teams linked by their successes and failures. 

It's only natural when you have a pair of teams built on the same philosophy: Pitching. Both teams have great starting rotations and solid bullpens with lineups that take a back seat. They play solid defense and win by playing fundamentally well.

So why are the Giants playing in their second World Series in three years while the Phillies have watched all three from home? What's the difference? 

On paper, the Phillies are a better team. Coming into the 2012 season, they had the highest payroll in the National League and an All-Star at what felt like every position, yet, finished in third place. 

The Giants went in the other direction, holding off the now-payroll Goliath Los Angeles Dodgers to take the National League West. 

But again, it all comes down to the simple question of "what's the difference?" 

To try and get to the bottom of this question, we'll compare the teams' 25-man rosters side by side to see who has the advantage. We'll use each club's Baseball-Reference page to build the 25-man rosters by who played the most, unless there is an extenuating circumstance, which will be noted. 

Are the Giants really a better team than the Phillies, or did the latter just underachieve? 

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Could Another Trade with Toronto Blue Jays Be Lurking?

October 29, 2012 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. and Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos have followed two very similar career paths. Both held the position of assistant general manager with their respective teams before being promoted to their current GM roles. Both dealt together in making the Roy Halladay trade become a reality before 2010. And both of them, though with some slight variations, are nifty in their dealings—Amaro in acquiring top-tier talent, and Anthopoulos in successfully dealing with a low budget.

Okay, maybe the comparison is a stretch, but it's no secret that these two men have dealt with one another many a time in transactions.

The aforementioned Halladay trade saw Doc come to Philadelphia and Phillies prospects Kyle Drabek, Travis d'Arnaud and Michael Taylor get sent north (though Taylor was then flipped to Oakland for Brett Wallace). Even though this was indirect, when the Phillies acquired Roy Oswalt at the 2010 non-waiver trade deadline, Phillies prospect Anthony Gose was swapped for Wallace with the Houston Astros.

Since then, no trades of major significance have occurred between the Phillies and Blue Jays. Ben Francisco was sent to Toronto before the 2012 season. September call-up Tyson Brummett was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays almost two weeks ago, only to see that he would be outrighted off the 40-man roster and sent to Triple-A in favor of the Phillies' 2010 Rule 5 draft pick, David Herndon, who is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

Additionally, the Houston Astros have had a great relationship with both teams as well. Brad Lidge and Eric Bruntlett were traded to Philadelphia for a package headlined by now-free agent Michael Bourn. Oswalt came to Philadelphia in 2010 for a package centered around J.A. Happ. And now Happ is a Blue Jay and Francisco is an Astro after a 10-player trade that was among the first major trades to occur at this past year's trade deadline.

Lastly, there was of course Hunter Pence, whom the Phillies acquired at the 2011 trade deadline in exchange for four prospects, three considered to be among the Phillies' top 10 at the time. Pence has since been dealt to the now-World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

Aside from this past year, though, it was former Phillies GM Ed Wade at the helm in Houston. Since he's not there any longer, a relationship between the Phillies and Astros may not be as strong as it once was. But with both GMs in Philadelphia and Toronto still intact, maybe another trade could be in the works?

Toronto has a strong need for pitching. Their bullpen, though decent in 2012, needs some work. And after the collapse of Ricky Romero and an overwhelmingly strong injury bug, their starting rotation could use some reinforcements as well.

The Phillies, on the other hand, have some pitching to spare. Their bullpen depth, both at the major league level and in the high minors, is excellent. And if there's any prospect department the Phillies have some depth in, it's starting pitching.

That's good news.

Perhaps I'm overshooting this in light of recent minor activity, but if Toronto has been looking at Brummett and Herndon, two relatively insignificant players, who else could they be eyeing on Philadelphia's roster?

With a need for starting pitching evident, the Blue Jays could very well be taking a look at Vance Worley, Kyle Kendrick, Tyler Cloyd or even top pitching prospects Jonathan Pettibone and Trevor May. Jesse Biddle is also a hot commodity, but I have a hard time seeing him traded unless it's for a superstar.

 

 

Worley, though highly regarded as a Phillie and admired by fans, is not nearly as untouchable as he was in 2011. Coming off of an ill-fated 2012 season that saw him struggle through bone chips in his elbow, Worley was ultimately shut down at the end of August to correct the problem. The potential still exists, though, and Worley could make a nice three or four starter over the border.

Kendrick, who's under contract in 2013 for $4.5 million, will have one additional year of arbitration eligibility in 2014 before he hits the market after that season. He's been a solid option to have as a long man out of the bullpen and as an occasional fifth starter, but the issue in Philadelphia is that there's no obvious role for him between the two. Although he's slated to have the fifth starter role as of now, perhaps a Cloyd or Pettibone could spell him from it in spring training.

To avoid any complications, one of Worley or Kendrick could appeal to Toronto. In Worley's case, the Blue Jays would receive a starter who's under team control through the 2018 season, and in Kendrick's case, a versatile pitcher who's under contract for two more seasons. Neither player would be a terrible acquisition, though Worley obviously has higher value on the trade market.

So who would appeal to the Phillies on Toronto's roster? Well, they share an issue with the Phillies in that they don't have a cemented left fielder, as Rajai Davis has had his struggles in left field. Even center fielder Colby Rasmus has shown a lack of consistency. The outfield isn't a match, unless the Blue Jays want Phillies center field prospect, Canadian Tyson Gillies. No way Jose Bautista changes hands, either.

Unless third baseman Brett Lawrie becomes available, he's off the table, as are Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind. Yunel Escober has had his fair share of off the field issues, and the Phillies don't exactly have a need at shortstop, either. And then there's J.P. Arencibia, who's got the catcher's job under his belt, but again, that's not a need for the Phillies, who have Carlos Ruiz.

With no apparent major league fits, who do the Blue Jays have in the minors? Since they have an incredibly strong farm system, it would not be surprising to see Toronto possibly delve within their organization to make a deal happen. After all, the Phillies do need prospects.

Among the most desired prospects of all is former Phillies prospect, catcher Travis d'Arnaud. d'Arnaud, a former supplemental first-round pick, was traded for Roy Halladay before the 2010 season. Since then, he's emerged as one of the best catching prospects in the minors, and even won his league MVP in 2011. As for 2012, d'Arnaud started off strong, though he ended the season on the disabled list with a torn PCL.

Since Toronto has Arencibia entrenched as the starting catcher for the foreseeable future, what sense does it make for them to keep d'Arnaud in the minors? If they're not going to use him as a full-time catcher, the best option would be to deal him while his value is high, and it certainly is just that.

With d'Arnaud coveted by the Phillies and considered to be Toronto's top prospect, maybe a Worley-d'Arnaud straight-up swap  would be all that it takes.

My guess is that Worley holds slightly more value than that, however. Having said that, perhaps Christian Lopes would be a viable option to include.

Lopes, the 29th-best prospect in the Jays' system according to Baseball America's 2012 Prospect Handbook, has both second base and shortstop potential. However, with the huge trade with Houston in addition to the 2012 season having ended, MLB's Prospect Watch now has Lopes as the Jays' 17th-best prospect. He's still in the low minors, though he's got great bat speed.

If it took more than Worley to make a d'Arnaud/Lopes return possible, maybe one of the Phillies' bullpen pitchers would be attractive to Toronto.

Yes, they did just take two of them off the Phillies' hands, though neither one has as high a ceiling as a, say, Josh Lindblom, Michael Schwimer or even Michael Stutes. It would certainly free up a bullpen spot for the Phillies, and would make the inevitable spring training bullpen fight a little less challenging for management to decide. Even if it also took Tyler Cloyd, that wouldn't be the worst thing, either.

If I had to make a guess, I'd say that such a trade would involve Worley and Schwimer being sent to Toronto for d'Arnaud and Lopes. I would guess Schwimer only because of Stutes's uncertainty after coming off shoulder surgery, though Stutes probably has the higher ceiling of the two.

It's anyone's guess as to what sort of package the Phillies could receive in a Worley trade, especially with Toronto. And keeping in mind that this is also all speculation, who knows if a trade's going to occur at all?

Regardless, this offseason will be a creative one for the Phillies, one that could involve trading Vance Worley, And if the Blue Jays want to get a decent, controllable pitcher, Worley's a fantastic option for them. Though not nearly close to the blockbuster involving Halladay almost three years ago, this trade would be a nice deal for both sides, as it fills their needs. The Blue Jays get pitching, and the Phillies, though now possessing Tommy Joseph, get one of the best catching and overall prospects in the minor leagues back in their system.

What do you think? Share your thoughts, predictions and suggestions in the comments below.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Why They Need to Be Conservative This Winter

October 28, 2012 by Zak Schmoll  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies no doubt want to rebound from what was a frustrating 2012. Obviously, there are many ways to go about fixing a baseball team that was not quite functioning at full strength all season.

One possible way to fix this type of problem is going out and spending money. This approach has been used successfully by many teams, and it generally does help save a franchise for a few seasons.

However, if the Phillies are hoping to build a sustainable franchise, this winter needs to be very conservative.

Let me try to define what I mean by conservative.

The Phillies cannot afford to make any more massive signings on their current payroll.

It is no secret that the contracts of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon take up a lot of the team's financial flexibility. I'm not necessarily saying that all of these contracts are terrible, but they are significant in the sense that the Phillies are committed to paying them.

By being conservative, the Phillies would make temporary moves to fill in holes and complement these pieces they have already committed to for the long-term.

For example, we all know that the Phillies could use some help in the outfield. Exactly how much help is necessary is up for debate, but the Phillies will probably be in the market for another outfielder this winter.

A conservative approach would avoid guys like Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton, Nick Swisher or other players who will probably command a longer-term contract.

A conservative approach would recognize that the Phillies are aging, and in the near future, they will need to revamp their lineup. Consequently, they would not want to sink large amounts of money into players who are aging right along with their current nucleus.

The purpose of employing such a conservative approach would be to make strategic moves that complement the pieces already in place while not tying down the flexibility of the franchise to begin thinking about the next generation.

This generation is not over yet, and it would not be surprising whatsoever to see Philadelphia compete for the National League East championship next season, but this winter needs to be conservative. They cannot afford to continue this type of spending.

Making another big splash might help the Phillies next season, but eventually, all of these contracts will still need to be paid even if all of the players are beyond their most productive years. That can be crippling.

 

Whether you think I know everything or nothing about Major League Baseball, you should follow me on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook and keep in touch. I love hearing what you all have to say!



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Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Bargain Outfield Trade Options

October 28, 2012 by Matt Boczar  
Filed under Fan News

With the World Series winding down and free agency set to begin soon after, the Philadelphia Phillies will soon have their chance to improve a team whose offseason began far too early this year.

Unfortunately, no clear game plan exists for completing this task.

Will the Phils break the bank on a marquee free agent, or will they scan the market for under-the-radar signings that hopefully make a difference?  Should they use their depth at certain minor league positions to acquire help via trade?  Which players from this season did enough to allow the Phils to stand pat at their position?

By trading Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton mid-season, and by declining options on players such as Placido Polanco, Ty Wigginton and Jose Contreras, the Phils will have money to spend and flexibility for trade acquisitions this offseason.

But why spend money just to spend money?

General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has said that they must be creative this offseason, as an article by John Gonzalez on CSNPhilly.com mentions.  This means that Michael Bourn, B.J. Upton and Nick Swisher may not be the only outfielders that the team targets, although they will likely be the most expensive.

The trade market, on the other hand, could be where the Phils find one of their 2013 outfielders, and one who will not cause the team’s payroll to skyrocket after just one acquisition.

Here are five bargain trade options that the Phillies could explore this offseason.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Josh Hamilton: At the Top of This Philadelphia Phillies Fan’s Wish List

October 27, 2012 by Jim Bahm  
Filed under Fan News

Since the end of the regular season, Phillies fans have bantered back and forth on the blogs about what would be the best line-up come next April. That's not unusual, however; every passionate baseball fan does that. 

Sometimes we lose our minds in our quest to make our team the World Series Champions.  Perhaps I, too, have lost my mind, but I think for the Phillies to win it again with their aging nucleus of players, they have only one option: sign Josh Hamilton!

Alright already, I can hear all those brave bloggers bowing up behind their computers saying I must be crazy or I don't know anything about baseball.  But I will try to make my argument.

The Phillies have two glaring weaknesses heading into the next season.  Third base and center-field.  With the sudden demise of Placido Polanco and the departure of Shane Victorino those positions are unoccupied.

Going after a third basemen free agent would be a mistake because of the mediocrity of those available.  Kevin Youkilis is declining in production; he is not a great clubhouse guy and is injury prone.  Do you really want to invest in him for more than one year?  The Mets will have difficulty parting ways with David Wright and will probably resign him.  The rest of the free-agent pool for third basemen is not worthy of discussion. And forget a trade for A-Rod—he is a risky investment for many reasons beyond just money. Also forget the idea of playing Utley at the hot corner; he cannot handle it.

The Phillies should stick with Kevin Frandsen for a year until Cody Asche is ready.  He will give more than 100 percent and, although he may make a few errors, he also can make some big-time game savers as well. His .338 average was impressive although he only had 195 at bats.

Enter Josh Hamilton.  The multi-talented outfielder may already have made up his mind to stay in Texas but considering the way the fans treated him at the end of the year and Nolan Ryan's obvious frustration, the Rangers might just let him walk. Now I know everyone will be saying there is just no way Ruben Amaro will convince the ownership to cough up the big bucks.  And there will be the detracting element that will say ''no thank you, too much drama."  But despite the drama, he still puts up huge numbers and plays an awesome center field.  

Can you imagine how much better Utley and Howard will be with him in the middle of the lineup? For Hamilton, leaving Texas may be difficult; getting his wife Katie to commit to Philadelphia might be even harder.

In all probability the Phillies ownership will not deal with Scott Boras, so Michael Bourn might not be an issue.  Charlie Manuel's lack of tolerance for clubhouse disruptions may disqualify both of the Upton brothers. Victorino? I doubt if Amaro will give him what he wants. Forget John Mayberry—he can't hit right-handed pitching. Dom Brown, no way.  Josh Hamilton? The only choice.

The Phillies will be able to handle the contract despite everyone's disapproval of another big multi-year fiasco.  Amaro said he thought Halladay, Howard, Utley and Rollins were still capable of another championship. They will save money with Ruf in left, who will prove himself like 'The Bull" Greg Luzinski did back in the early seventies, and although it may be difficult to watch defensively, they could also go cheap with a platoon of Brown and Mayberry in right field. They have a worthy nucleus of young relievers with Horst, Aumont, DeFratus and either Stutes or Friend. They are as capable as most of those available.

In 2014, the Ryne Sandberg led Phillies will bring up Tyson Gillies and Cody AscheAsche will take over third and Gillies center. Hamilton can play right. Hernandez or Galvis could play second.  By that time there will be a changing of the guard with the starters as May, Pettibone, Martin, Morgan and maybe Biddle will be ready for their shot. With all those young stars in 2014, the money situation should not be an issue.   

So a lineup of Rollins, Utley, Hamilton, Howard, Ruf, Ruiz, Mayberry/Brown, Frandsen looks very impressive.  I may be dreaming, but I am sure I am not the only one who has detached himself from reality on this one. Now all we have to do is convince Hamilton and Amaro.  Oh yeah and all you bloggers as well.  

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