Philadelphia Phillies: The Interesting Case of John Mayberry Jr.

December 31, 2012 by Ryan Wolcott  
Filed under Fan News

I have been a fan of John Mayberry Jr. since being brought back up from the AAA Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in the summer of 2011. 

I was pushing for him to become an everyday starter for the 2012 season.  He should a great deal of promise and potential in late 2011.

From July through September of 2011, Mayberry hit .301 with 12 homeruns and 37 RBI.  If he could maintain that production over the course of a season, he may have been one of the most cost-effective producers on the team for the 2012 season.

There was speculation as to whether or not he could be an everyday starter come spring training.  During the course of spring training, he suffered dismally at the plate, but Charlie Manuel still penciled him in for left field and first base as an everyday starter.

Mayberry was in a peculiar position when the season started, because the Phillies did not have an everyday first baseman with Ryan Howard on the disabled list for an undefined period of time. 

The Phillies would use a number of different options between first base and left field, having Mayberry, Laynce Nix, Ty Wiggington and even Jim Thome trying their hands at first base.  Left field was also seeing a few players circulate it, including Mayberry, Juan Pierre, Nix, Hector Luna and even Wigginton.

With the Phillies offense suffering approaching the trade deadline, the Phillies decided to deal a few players to help prepare for the following season. This allowed some of the young players to try to prove themselves able to play every day. 

With Howard and Chase Utley back in the lineup, the offense was somewhat more stable.

The team saw many young and still undefined players try to earn their way into guaranteed starting positions. 

With Shane Victorino having been dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Mayberry became the starter in center field for the bulk of the end of the season.  Mayberry proved himself to be a better player during the summer than he was during the spring again.

That brings up the question as to whether he is a warm-weather hitter or if he is better with consistent play. 

For some time, I thought he was proving himself to be a warm weather hitter, a statement that would be supported by looking at his numbers for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

In 2011 before the all star break he hit .244 with a .326 on-base percentage, a .439 slugging and a .765 OPS.  For the same season after the all star break he hit .299 with a .354 OBP, .576 SLG and .930 OPS.

In the 2012 season before the All Star break he hit for .232 with a .269 OBP, .377 SLG and .646 OPS.  After the all star break he hit .256 with a .327 OBP, .410 SLG and .737 OPS.

During both of these seasons, the only two seasons where he has had a fair major league sampling, he has received substantially more play time after the All Star break. 

So what do these numbers prove? 

What has been answered after he spent the entire year in the majors for the first time and got several opportunities to prove himself?

We cannot be sure if he can be an everyday starter. 

He certainly has a history of performing better when he is playing every day, but he also has a history of being a very streaky hitter.  We cannot say that he is just a warm weather hitter, because he hit above average during the month of May in 2012 but was in the basement in April and June.

Judging him by his numbers, he hit .245 with 14 homeruns and 46 RBI across the entire season, which is slightly lower than the .263, 20 homerun, 57 RBI season that Scott Hairston had, a player with whom the Phillies have been linked this offseason.

Mayberry did hit better with a guarantee to play every day, there is no question about that. 

Of course, there is a correlation to this and the return of both Ryan Howard and Chase Utley to the lineup.  Perhaps the lessening of the pressure on him about playing every day and being one of the key producers helped him to feel more comfortable and perform better overall.

One thing is for sure: 2013 will be different than 2012. 

Mayberry is a solid defensive player, particularly in the corner outfield positions, and, as of right now, there are no guarantees for either corner outfield position.  Mayberry is in an interesting position because he may have a second season to try to prove himself, and maybe this time he will live up to the expectations that were once placed upon him.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: New Year’s Resolutions That Ruben Amaro Must Make in 2013

December 31, 2012 by Marilee Gallagher  
Filed under Fan News

3...2...1... HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Okay, so maybe the calendar hasn't technically turned the page from December to January, but it is never too early to think ahead. In fact, in sports, thinking ahead is how you get ahead.

Going one step further, if Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro had thought ahead and not traded so much of the future for the present, then maybe, just maybe, the 2012 offseason would have told a different story.

Not to indulge in thoughts of what could have been, because that is not what ringing in the new year is supposed to be all about. Instead, it is about looking back on the previous year, not in terms of what could have been or what should be, but rather about how to fix the mistakes, let's face it, we all inevitably make.

For Amaro, 2013 is a chance to do exactly that.

Anyone around the team—fans, players, coaches, media—they would all tell the story of the same thing. 2012 was a disappointment. It was not the way things were supposed to go. The expectations, albeit always high, just fell short.

So, it is a new year, new beginning and new chance for this team to figure out a way to get back to the ultimate baseball glory. It all starts when the clock strikes midnight on 2012. It will be a chance for Amaro to ring in the new year with a few resolutions of his own.

While a fellow writer here at Bleacher Report, has already written an excellent piece about resolutions that the players need to make, I'm going to focus on resolutions that the GM would be advised to make. Considering how things have gone in the past few years, these resolutions could be a deciding factor when it comes to next season and beyond.

 

Don't Be Afraid to Fire Charlie Manuel And Promote Ryne Sandberg if Things Go Bad

By now, most Phillies fans are probably familiar with the fact that the organization has the successor to current manager Charlie Manuel waiting in the wings. Considering that the team formerly traded said successor when he was in their minors before watching him go on to become a Hall of Fame second baseman with the Chicago Cubs, my bet is this team doesn't want to lose him again.

Sure, there is no guarantee that Ryne Sandberg will be a good major league manager, but that doesn't mean the Phils are going to let him walk away so they can learn the hard way just how good he is.

Sandberg, who in just one season led the Phils Triple-A affiliate Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs to their first ever playoff appearance, earned minor league manager of the year in 2011. Following the 2012 season he was promoted as the Phillies third base coach and infield instructor. Considering that Manuel has just one year left on his contract, it is without a doubt that Sandberg is being groomed to take over.

There is no guarantee he will still be around if the Phils wait too long. In the 2012 offseason he already interviewed for a few managerial jobs and if managers are fired during the course of the year, his name might pop up once again. For that reason, Amaro has to resolve to do what needs to be done and promote Sandberg if and when the time comes.

 

Avoid Another Fire Sale

There is nothing more disheartening to a team, especially a team just five years removed from winning the World Series, than watching an annual playoff contender become a "seller" at the trade deadline. At the time Amaro wrote it off, concluding that the team wasn't necessarily selling but rather rebuilding. The only problem with that, however, is that if this team blunders again this year, there will be no denying why the team enters the selling market.

Amaro, as well as his predecessor Pat Gillick, did well to bring this team a core of talent. Unfortunately, this core has aged and this talent has become disposable. Last year, Amaro heard offers for some of the organization's top players, including Cliff Lee, who it seems is a surprise member of the team considering the desire to trade the lefty.

Other possible trade pieces at this point include Domonic Brown, whose name is always popping up, Darin Ruf, whose breakout minor league season could make him attractive to some teams, and then of course, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Chase Utley and maybe even Ben Revere.

Although some of these guys are likely to be gone after next season anyway, the team has to avoid another deflating fire sale. Otherwise, the Phils could go back into mediocrity that might take years to climb out of.

 

Inquire About Giancarlo Stanton But Don't Be Stupid or Hasty To Make A Trade

Amaro may have started this resolution early, but if he has not the least this GM could do is find out the hypothetical ballpark number needed to land Giancarlo Stanton. The outfielder is by far the best player on the trading block.

Plain and simple, if the Miami Marlins have an interest in anything the team has to offer, Amaro should at least listen. The return has to justify what the Phils would give up and that is where the second half of this resolution comes into play.

Stanton is an incredibly attractive talent. At just 23 and in parts of just three seasons, Stanton already has 93 home runs, including a career high 37 last year. Did I mention he is just 23? Most of the Phillies top prospects are already over 23 and haven't shown even a fraction of that kind of production and potential.

So yes, Amaro should put together a package and make an offer. At the same time, Stanton is just one player. Sure he is a phenomenal one, but he can't be a catcher, pitch or play the infield. Considering the fact that the players the Phillies currently have catching, pitching and playing the infield won't be around forever, it would be wise to consider this before going all in on Stanton. 

 

Win Another World Series ... Or At Least Make the Playoffs

 Okay so maybe this is a no-brainer.

Every coach and general manager should resolve to take their team to the playoffs and to go even further, win the championship. Ultimately, this is their job and as former Philadelphia coach Andy Reid learned this year, resolving to do a "better job" and not winning the title is not good enough. If the same trends continue with the Phillies, Amaro might find himself resigned to that same fate.

Winning the World Series, however, should save his job regardless of whether he is currently in danger of losing it or not. Making the playoffs, well it would certainly bring fans, and the city, back some hope after one of the most devastating sport seasons in recent memory.

Plus, you don't resolve for mediocrity. You resolve for the pinnacle of greatness. For this reason, Amaro should be among the majority resolving to somehow, someway bring this team back to championship glory. 

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Should the Philadelphia Phillies Trade Their Starting Pitchers Before They Age?

December 31, 2012 by Ryan Wolcott  
Filed under Fan News

In an offseason where the Philadelphia Phillies have had to focus on filling several holes after a disappointing regular season, there have been many rumors and transactions proposed to the Phillies by teams seeking one of their aces. 

Before the July 31 trade deadline, Cole Hamels was one such target by teams seeking to improve their pitching staff.  The Texas Rangers were rumored to be in on a trade that would send Hamels to Arlington.  The same rumors circulated involving sending Cliff Lee back to Arlington.

After the trade deadline had passed, the Los Angeles Dodgers had claimed Lee off of waivers before the Phillies had removed him from the trade waivers.  The Phillies are largely built around their strong pitching staff.  Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. had said that trading Lee would be a bad move after having given Hamels the lucrative extension on July 25.  Amaro has built a team around having a strong pitching rotation, and dealing one of the three aces would be counterproductive.

That has not stopped teams from approaching the Phillies about a possible trade for Lee, however.  During the offseason, the Phillies have needed to fill a hole at third base, the back end of the bullpen and essentially all outfield positions, particularly center field.  The Phillies essentially could have filled all three outfield positions this offseason, which did not guarantee players for any of those positions.

The Phillies did acquire Ben Revere in early December, filling their hole at center field, but creating a hole in the pitching rotation, as the trade cost the Phillies pitcher Vance Worley.  The Phillies also traded for Michael Young, who will fill the team’s need at third base.  Shortly before Christmas, the team also signed relief pitcher Mike Adams to fill the hole in the bullpen and John Lannan to fill the hole that Worley left.

Throughout the offseason, there have been rumors of teams offering deals for Lee that would certainly fill a need for the Phillies in the outfield.  One such trade was from the Arizona Diamondbacks, who proposed a trade sending right fielder Justin Upton to Philadelphia and Lee to Arizona. 

The Phillies are lacking right-handed power hitters and a guaranteed right fielder.  The team is also lacking young players, and Upton, at 25 years old, would fill all of those needs.  The Phillies did not bite on that deal, however, even though they would love to acquire Upton, just not for Lee.

The Boston Red Sox likewise offered a deal for Lee that would send Jacoby Ellsbury to Philadelphia.  That would also fill the same needs for Philadelphia, excepting that Ellsbury is a left-handed hitter.  That deal, too, was never one the Phillies seriously considered.

In the recent years, the run-scoring ability of the Phillies has lessened.  The runs scored each season by the Phillies have gone down since the 2009 season.  In 2009, the Phillies scored 820 runs.  That total was down to 684 runs with the 2012 season.  This also happened to be the same season where the Phillies pitching had suffered. 

Usually, teams who score less can still win ball games if they can keep the other team from scoring.  The Phillies had been able to do that, as their team has gradually been built around their rotation.  However, if the rotation is failing to do its job as effectively as it once did, that poses a serious question the team needs to face: Should the Phillies trade their pitchers while they still have value enough to bring a player or players back who can provide offense?

All of the deals that have been proposed seem to focus on Cliff Lee.  That is largely due to him having less years due on his contract than Hamels and being more of a guarantee than Roy Halladay after Halladay suffered his worst season since 2007.  Halladay is coming off of an injury-plagued season, and he will soon be 36 years old.  Many fear that we are seeing his decline after having a 2012 season where he went 11-8 with a 4.49 ERA, 36 BB, 132 K and a 1.222 WHIP.

Halladay has apparently changed his offseason approach, which he claims will make the difference.  A lot of teams are probably fearful that he has started to decline or that his injuries will effect his 2013 season.  That may be why he is not the subject of much trade speculation. 

There are a few things to keep in mind about Halladay however.  He is a competitor, and he will do everything in his power to not only return to where he was in 2011, but go beyond that.  If there is anybody who believes that Roy Halladay is not on the decline, it is Halladay himself.  We should keep in mind that we are only one bad, injury-plagued season away from the best season in his career, where he went 19-6 with a 2.35 ERA, 35 BB, 220 K and a 1.04 WHIP and eight complete games.

Halladay did have a terrible 2012 season.  The injuries could be seen to have effected him even in the spring.  Some people noticed how many breaking balls he had thrown in the early season, which caused some concern for his shoulder before the injury was made apparent in late May.  Halladay at this point will not carry as much trade value as he once did, and probably still deserves, until he starts throwing in spring training. 

In 2012, we only saw one month where Halladay was pitching like the Halladay we all know and expect.  The Phillies remain optimistic about his return to his normal pitching ability, but ultimately, time will tell with that. 

Halladay did appear to be somewhat himself again in August, when he pitched to the tune of a 3.32 ERA and when hitters batted .238 against him.  One thing we should all keep in mind is that nobody works as hard as Halladay does.  He will be focused on returning to ace form this offseason.  The Phillies cannot afford for anything else with a team built pitchers, and Halladay would not allow himself to become a sub-par pitcher.

Despite coming off of the 2010 season where he threw a perfect game and a postseason no-hitter, Halladay’s 2011 season was perhaps the best of his career.  Halladay very well could have won the 2011 Cy Young award had Clayton Kershaw not had the pitching triple crown that year.  The 2011 pitching staff for the Phillies is the best pitching staff in all of baseball since 1990, but we will come back to that shortly.

Cliff Lee suffered a fate that was usually suffered by Cole Hamels, where he received no run support.  Lee was perhaps the unluckiest pitcher this year, having only had a 6-9 record with a 3.16 ERA, 28 BB, 207 K and a 1.114 WHIP.  Lee also suffered some from injuries after he took a shutout through 10 innings against the San Francisco Giants

His record this season does not do justice to how well he played.  Lee was basically lights-out through the month of September, where he posted a 1.05 ERA in six starts and allowed five earned runs and had 44 K in 43.1 innings pitched.  We should expect nothing less than that from Lee in the next season as well.

Cole Hamels was the ace of the staff in 2012 with a 17-6 record and a 3.05 ERA, 2 CG, 2 SHO, 52 BB, 216 K and a 1.124 WHIP.  This was the best season of Hamels’ career thus far.  He was also the recipient of an extension, keeping him in the peppermint pinstripes for many years to come.  Hamels was steady throughout the season, which says something, because he was perhaps the only player who was, other than Carlos Ruiz.

Overall, these three pitchers should not be going anywhere.  Amaro has built the team around these aces.  They collectively are only one year away from their 2011 season where they were the best team since 1990 in things that they can control.  This is referring to a specific statistic: FIPFIP measures things directly within the pitcher’s control, which are strikeouts, walks and home runs and removes the variables of the quality of defense and the luck of the batter. 

In the 2011 season, the Phillies had a 2.98 ERA, which is better than any other team in the time period of 1990-2011.  The closest team to them within that time period is the 1997 Atlanta Braves, who posted a 3.30 ERA in this category.

There are several factors as to why the Phillies were only 81-81 this season, and starting pitching is not the leading cause to why they finished the season this poorly.  During this season, the Phillies lost 13 games after the seventh inning, which was due to a poor and inconsistent bullpen.  The Phillies finished tied for last in the majors in that category this year. 

Even if the Phillies had been able to hold onto 10 of those 13 games, we may be talking about a different season where they ended up finishing 91-71 and making the playoffs.  The Phillies hope to have plugged that hole with Mike Adams, who has been one of the most consistent bullpen arms since 2007.

The Phillies also suffered from a lack of offense this year, with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard having missed substantial time due to injuries.  The Phillies did not have both of these players back until July, and Howard was never back to 100 percent during any point of the season.  The Phillies traded away two major offensive players this July, which allowed for the young players to step up and prove themselves.  The Phillies finished the season 36-24, which was the best in baseball.

The Phillies finished strong this year and have filled some glaring holes this offseason, particularly at third base and in the bullpen.  If the Phillies can hold onto more of their late leads and get more production out of third base and the now healthy Utley and Howard, they should have no reason to trade the players the team is built around. 

Michael Young will bring a great deal to the team, both as a leader and as a producer.  Young drove in more runs than anybody on the Phillies in 2012, except Carlos Ruiz and Jimmy Rollins.  2012 was an off year for Young, but even if he brings the same production that he did in 2012 or returns to the 106 RBI 2011 season he had, the Phillies stand in a much better position.

The Phillies do not need to trade their starting rotation pieces.  The Phillies do not have the players who are ready to step up and fill the starting pitching rotation.  The Phillies pitchers suffered a bit of a hiccup this year due to injuries and increased pressure.  The team was built around the strength of its rotation, and the rotation is still and will remain the strength of the team.  

The Phillies need their players return to their normal form, which they can do.  The Phillies need to be in a position where Jimmy Rollins does not have to be the leader in home runs and RBIs.  The pitchers need to focus on returning to their normal ability, and the core players need to focus on remaining injury free and producing runs. 

The pitchers had a lot of weight on their shoulders in 2012 while they were missing the major pieces of Utley and Howard and should be able to return to their 2011 form with the glaring holes now filled and the injuries now healed.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies’ Most Memorable Moments from 2012

December 31, 2012 by Jason Amareld  
Filed under Fan News

2012 was a season most fans will hope to forget, but through the 162 games of mediocrity and disappointment there were a few silver lining moments that should not be forgotten.  

Several Phillies players had themselves enshrined into the major league record books in 2012 while others just began their journeys as major league players.

All in all, there were a handful of memorable moments for the 2012 Phillies that should not go overlooked and some of these moments can give hope to the future of this organization.

Here are five of the most memorable moments from the Phillies' 2012 season.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

2013 Phillies: Let’s Party Like Its 1993!

December 31, 2012 by Bob Kodosky  
Filed under Fan News

Happy New Year Phillies fans!  Sure, it’s been a long winter.  Don’t wait on that groundhog, though, to end your hibernation.  Pitchers and catchers report soon. 

The time is right for high hopes.  A few New Year’s resolutions might not hurt either.  For these, the Phillies should look to the past.  Their team’s past. 

Twenty years ago the Phillies went from worst to first.  A team of loveable misfits made an improbable run that nearly rocked Veterans Stadium off of its foundation. 

Everybody knows the 1993 season did not end well.  Joe Carter saw to that.  Until then it was a helluva ride that offers the current crop of Phillies a number of potential resolutions.  Here are a few:

 

Abide the Dude 

Lenny Dykstra spent much of the summer of 1993 roaming Veteran Stadium’s cavernous centerfield.  Otherwise, he could be found on base.  As the team’s leadoff hitter, Dykstra hit .305 with an on-base percentage of .420.  He drew 129 walks and scored 143 runs.  This did little to diminish his power.  Dykstra managed to hit 19 home runs as well. 

 

Dykstra’s on-base percentage was not even the highest on the team for the Phillies in 1993. 

First baseman John Kruk, the baseball player, not the athlete, reached base at a clip of .430.  Think about that.  The leadoff hitter for the Phillies in 2012, shortstop Jimmy Rollins, had an on-base percentage of .316.  He hit four more home runs than Dykstra did in 1993 but scored 41 fewer runs.  In baseball, runs matter.  Abide the Dude.

 

Take a walk on the wild side 

The 1993 Phillies were gruff, grizzled and gnarly.  Even better, they knew a ball from a strike. 

Dykstra’s patience at the plate was shared by his teammates.  Phillies catcher Darren Daulton walked 117 times in 1993.  Kruk managed 111 free passes while third baseman Dave Hollins added another 85.

As a team, the Phillies led the National League in walks in 1993 with a staggering total of 665.  Maybe it is just a coincidence, but they also led the league in runs scored with 877.  This all stands in stark contrast to the most recent edition of the Phillies.  Last year, the Phillies finished 13th in the 16-team National League with 454 walks.  Leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins set the pace by securing 62 free passes. 

The Phillies scored 684 runs last season, eighth in the league.  Repeat:  In baseball, runs matter.

 

 

Kruk it up. 

The 1993 Phillies were a loose bunch.  It was as evident as the crack on the Liberty Bell.  They came early and stayed late.  The stories are numerous and well known.  As John Kruk recently told Philadelphia magazine, “I’ve never seen guys that could be playing grab-ass two minutes before the game and then as soon as the National Anthem is done be ready to kick some ass.”  

For anyone around town in 1993, Kruk’s statement hardly constitutes a revelation.  Fat, drunk and endearing pretty much sums it up. 

What about the current crop?  Its members are certainly endearing, but much of that derives from the championship run in 2008.  That might be the last time the principals on this team even appeared loose.  Just ask those who witnessed Chase Utley’s proclamation of the Phillies as “World &%#ing Champions” at the post parade celebration at Citizen’s Bank Ballpark.

Such “atty-tude” goes over well in Philly.  It is often useful at the plate as well.  Such calm self assuredness enables hitters to heed the advice of hall of famer Wee Willie Keeler and “hit ‘em where they ain’t.”  The 1993 Phillies understood this.  That year, even the power-hitting outfielder Pete Incaviglia hit .274, a career best for a full season.    

 

Yet somehow the infinitely more talented current Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, albeit while coming off of an injury, hit only .219 last season.  He struck out 99 times in 292 plate appearances.  Howard struggled to pull the ball into right field against pitching and defensive alignments that all but assured he could not. 

Hit it where they ain’t Ryan.  Kruk it up.  Abide the Dude and, by all means, take a walk on the wild side.  Resolve to have some fun out there.  It all just might prove contagious.  It sure did twenty years ago and Phillies fans are ready to party like its 1993 all over again.  Just don’t tell Joe Carter.

All statistics in this article are from www.baseball-reference.com

 

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies Rumors: Fact or Fiction on All the Hottest Rumors in Philadelphia

December 31, 2012 by Greg Pinto  
Filed under Fan News

Let the bargain shopping begin! 

Then again, the Philadelphia Phillies are a team that has been "bargain shopping" all offseason long; have they not?

This is a club that was expected to make a pretty big splash in the free agent market and, instead, made their biggest moves through a pair of trades, acquiring center fielder Ben Revere and third baseman Michael Young. 

The Phillies shored up their pitching staff with a few free agent signings, adding Mike Adams and John Lannan, but the big free agents passed them by with Zack Greinke, Josh Hamilton, Nick Swisher, B.J. Upton and others all finding new homes, with none of them relocating to the "City of Brotherly Love."

So what's next for the Phillies? For all intents and purposes, this is a club that would be comfortable with their roster as is moving into spring training. They have battles in the outfield and in the bullpen, but other areas are settled. 

But it is in those same areas that the Phillies could still upgrade this winter. As the calendar rolls into January and teams look for bargains on the remaining free agents, here are a few names to consider.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

5 Things the Phillies Can Do to Optimize Their Transition Plan in 2013

December 31, 2012 by Matt Boczar  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies have made a list of moves this offseason, but the chances of any of these transactions single-handedly improving the team next season are slim.

Instead, the additions of Ben Revere, Michael Young, Mike Adams and John Lannan will have the biggest impacts if players such as Chase Utley, Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard return healthy next season.

But what about after next season?

Matt Gelb on philly.com recently wrote that this offseason, with its uncharacteristic low-key moves under general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., could signal that 2013 will be a transition year for the Phillies.

Three-fifths of the starting rotation, as well as Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, Michael Young and even manager Charlie Manuel, are entering what is (or will likely be) the last or only years of their contracts.

The good news is that the Phillies have a good amount of minor league talent that could be ready just in time to step up and fill in any potential voids left by these players.

The bad news is that these prospects must still have solid 2013 seasons, and even then it is still no guarantee that their success will translate to the major league level.

Nevertheless, the Phillies will be in an interesting situation as they try to return to their 2007-2011 form next season while keeping an eye toward the future.

Here are five things the Phillies can do to optimize their transition plan in 2013.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

5 Phillies Non-Roster Invitees Who Could Get Long Looks in Spring Training

December 29, 2012 by Matt Boczar  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies took their time addressing their needs this offseason, but they have managed to acquire four players whose roles are already defined heading into next season.

Ben Revere is set to take over in center field, while third base belongs to Michael Young, as long as he can remain healthy while playing regularly in the field for the first time since 2010.  As for the pitching staff, the newly acquired John Lannan will have the inside track on the fifth spot in the rotation, while Mike Adams joins Jonathan Papelbon in giving the Phils an experienced back end to their bullpen.

But what about the rest of the roster?

Although the infield and starting rotation are either set or include few other alternatives, the rest of the roster features players who will be competing for roster spots and playing time during spring training.

And they won’t be competing simply against those players already on the 40-man roster. 

The Phillies currently have nine players who have been named as non-roster invitees to spring training.  Some of these players have played for the Phils in recent seasons, while others were signed this offseason. 

This list includes players who could receive extra attention during spring training as players with either an outside shot at winning a final roster spot or being sent to Triple-A until a call-up is needed during the regular season.  Looking at the Phils' current roster, it becomes clear that reserve infielder, bullpen and outfield spots are all up for grabs.

Here are five players who could get long looks by the Phils as non-roster invitees in spring training.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies Rumors: Latest on the Search for Hitting and More Rumblings from Philly

December 29, 2012 by Tyler Conway  
Filed under Fan News

After a frustrating 2012 campaign saw the Philadelphia Phillies finish 81-81 and 17 games out of first place in the NL East, sweeping changes were bound to come within the organization.

This is an ownership group that has spent heavily in order to add pieces and keep big-named players on the roster. With a down season in the books, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was certainly feeling the heat coming into the winter. 

Thus far, he's gotten the job done on a limited budget. The team acquired Michael Young and Ben Revere via trade, but Amaro's work is still far from done. There are still some glaring deficiencies that will need to be taken care of before pitchers and catchers report.

What are the Phillies doing to fix those problems? Here is a look at all the latest rumblings going on around Philadelphia. 

 

Phillies Among Five Teams Interested in J.P. Howell? 

Though Philadelphia's bullpen is one of a few areas where manager Charlie Manuel has some sense of comfort, the team is still in desperate need of a left-handed arm. According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson, the Phillies are among five teams that have emerged in the chase for reliever J.P. Howell:

There is still a chance the Nationals could sign Howell. But the Nats have competition for his services. From what I'm hearing, the Phillies, Cubs, Mariners and Rangers have interest in Howell. I don't expect Howell to sign a deal until after Christmas.

Considering all of those clubs also have relief help, bringing Howell to the City of Brotherly Love may take some extra financial love. The 29-year-old lefty had a strong 2012 campaign with the Tampa Bay Rays, going 1-0 with a 3.04 ERA and 7.51 strikeouts per nine innings. That proved to be Howell's bounce-back season after a 2011 season that had him getting some time in the minors after imploding for a 6.16 ERA.

Nevertheless, Howell's 2011 struggles seem to be an anomaly, and he would be a great fit in middle-relief in Manuel's bullpen.

 

Scott Hairston an Outfield Possibility?

Also on the Phillies' wish list for the offseason is another strong bat, particularly one of the outfield variety. The team had long been rumored as a possible suitor for Josh Hamilton and B.J. Upton, but both of those big-named players decided to go elsewhere.

With a seeming lack of interest in bringing Michael Bourn back to Philadelphia, the team's hands are tied in free agency. That's likely why CBS Sports' Jon Heyman is reporting that the Phillies are among the leaders for Scott Hairston's services:

The 32-year-old Hairston spent last season with the New York Mets, where he hit a career-high 20 home runs and knocked in 57 batters in 137 games. Though he's not much of a contact hitter with a career .247 average, Hairston could be a solid platoon fit while the Phillies look to make something bigger happen in a trade. 

At the very least, he's a serviceable back-order hitter who won't single-handedly submarine the team's offensive momentum. After last season, that's enough of a positive to make Hairston a worthwhile addition. 

 

Vernon Wells Also on the Team's Radar?

Though the team has been hesitant to add massive salaries to its payroll, Amaro's desire to find a middle-of-the-order bat may force his hand. 

A name that's come up multiple times in recent weeks is current Los Angeles Angels outfielder Vernon Wells.

In an article that also mentions the team's interest in Cody Ross, who recently signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman also notes the Phillies have interest in trading for Wells: 

The Phillies have free agent Cody Ross plus Vernon Wells on their shopping list now. Ross has long been connected to the Phillies, but Wells is a new name. As with any team trading with the Angels for Wells, they'd expect the Angels to pick up the vast majority of the $42 million left on Wells' contract through 2014.

If Philadelphia is willing to eat some salary, Wells could be had pretty easily in a trade. The 34-year-old outfielder hit just .230/.279/.403 last season with 11 home runs and 29 RBI. It was his second straight season hitting under the .250 mark, and Wells has descended a long way from his All-Star heights.

Nevertheless, if there's still gas in his tank, a change of scenery just might be the thing to spark it. 

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Philadelphia Phillies: Can Aging 2013 Fightin’ Phils Beat the Odds, Win It All?

December 28, 2012 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

It's the most wonderful time of the year, all right: It's the time when sports books start posting World Series odds for the coming season.

Bovada.lv did the honors recently. A quick look at the table tells you what you probably already knew. The Philadelphia Phillies are not a darling of the book entering 2013.

The good news is that, per Bovada, the Philiies at 16/1 have an equal chance to win the World Series as a division rival, the Atlanta Braves (who unlike the Phillies made the playoffs last season), and in a somewhat gasp-worthy call, the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

As an aside...what exactly do the Giants have to do to make anyone believe that they are good? Two world championships in three years and they are lumped in with the likes of the Braves and the Phillies. That is unconscionable. Along those same lines, the St. Louis Cardinals (one year removed from winning it all) are 25/1.

The bad news is that, per Bovada, there are eight teams with better odds to win the title—and three of them are in the National League.

The oddsmakers presently project the Washington Nationals as the National League East's most likely World Series winner at 9/1. Incidentally, the National League East is the only division with three teams with odds better than 20/1 to win.

Both the Los Angeles Dodgers (17/2) and Cincinnati Reds (12/1) are also preferred to the Phillies.

The 16/1 odds on the Phillies are probably very fair and might even be optimistic. The Phillies enter the season with a lame-duck manager; Charlie Manuel is in the last year of his current contract, and Ryne Sandberg looms as a ready in-season replacement.

Additionally, in the event that the team starts poorly, the Phillies have big-name veterans with playoff pedigrees on expiring contracts (Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz and Michael Young) who would likely draw interest from contending teams in midseason.

For that matter, players with expensive deals like Cliff Lee—who the Phillies placed on waivers in August—could be traded or even placed on waivers again if the Phillies look like a team in need of a full rebuild as the daylight starts fading in 2013. 

Oddsmakers are far from perfect. The Phillies were a favorite to beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 National League Division Series, and they were a heavy favorite to win Game 5 behind Roy Halladay. It did not work out that way.

Even last fall, the Detroit Tigers were "significant" favorites over the Giants to win the 2012 World Series. Hopefully you had the other side of that play.

But the 16/1 line against the Phillies winning the World Series suggests tempering expectations of a parade down Broad Street in 2013.

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