Philadelphia Phillies: Phillies Should Place Ryan Howard on Disabled List

June 29, 2013 by Matt Boczar  
Filed under Fan News

Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies and the word “injury” have been used together in the same sentence for more than a year now. 

Last season, after returning from an Achilles injury and struggling for the remainder of the season, Howard’s poor performances could have been attributed to needing more time to fully heal while the Phillies played through a disappointing season.

This season, however, is a bit different. 

With more current and former key contributors set to become free agents after the season, the trade deadline should bring even more intrigue for the Phillies.  If they continue to have trouble winning consistently, a number of players may also be mentioned in trade talks, even more so than last season.    

The Phillies have just one fewer loss this season than they did this time last year, yet general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has said that he will take his time deciding what to do at the trade deadline.

Amaro was recently quoted, after talking about sticking with the Phillies core until the trade deadline, in an article by Jim Salisbury on CSNPhilly.com as saying:

The reason I say that is because [the races] are still really dicey, he said.  No one has really stepped out and gone crazy.  The Dodgers are playing their butts off now all of a sudden.  Now they’re six games back and they’re in it.  We’re only seven back.

We had one streak where we’ve really played well.  And we’ve only had a brief period where we’ve had our whole team on the field.  We’ll find out.  I honestly think it’s going to end up going to July 20 or July 30 or somewhere around then and we’ll decide which direction we’re going to go.

If Amaro intends to let the team continue to play as is until right before the trade deadline, he must be hoping that the team can show signs of consistent improvement at the end of the first half and beginning of the second half of the season.

If that’s the case, the Phillies should place Ryan Howard on the disabled list now.

Hopefully that the rest will give his knee time to recover and lead to more of a power surge following the All-Star break.

Howard is currently batting .268 with 10 home runs and 41 RBI, which includes a .304 average against right-handed pitchers.  However, it also includes a .173 average against left-handers.

He has actually had a very solid June, batting .298 with two triples, three home runs and a .386 OBP.  However, in the power department, Howard’s 10 home runs on the season are only three more than he hit during spring training.

Howard hit seven home runs in 28 games during spring training.  It was not until game No. 53 of the regular season that he hit his seventh home run.

Word came yesterday that Howard will be given two days off, June 28 and June 29, to clear his head and continue to work on his hitting, as noted in Ryan Lawrence’s article on Philly.com

The article also says that Amaro has not ruled out placing him on the disabled list.

As a power hitter, it’s reasonable to think that Howard’s lack of home runs so far could be due to his knee.  If he cannot generate enough power from his lower body, it will be difficult for him to see any increase in home runs. That means he will stay well on pace to have the lowest home run total for a full season in his career.

Rather than trying to modify Howard’s swing to compensate for a lack of power from his lower body, the Phillies would be better off trying to let Howard heal and return with the same swing.  Even if Howard is able to adjust his swing for the rest of this season, he would likely have to return to his previous one after an offseason of rehabbing and healing.

If his knee is already too sore for him to play at 100 percent and generate power consistently, chances are it will only become more difficult as he has more innings and more games under his belt.

By placing him on the disabled list, the Phillies would likely lose offense at first base, unless the team decided to move Michael Young to first and play Kevin Frandsen at third.  However, the Phillies have consistently remained around seven to seven-and-a-half games out of first place even with Howard’s bat in the lineup.

A few weeks off could improve Howard's knee, which could lead to higher power numbers during the second half of the season.

The Phillies will still need much more than Howard’s improved offense to turn around the season, but more offense from the cleanup spot in the lineup would be a start. 

And as it currently stands, Howard playing at less than 100 percent is not helping the team win with any more consistency.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Cole Hamels Responsible for Phils’ Coming Roster Purge

June 29, 2013 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

Cole Hamels is getting a pass from Philadelphia Phillies fans—and the city's media—for his horrible pitching this season.

That stops now.

The Phillies are exactly halfway through their season after a 16-1 thrashing of the Los Angeles Dodgers. They won 39 of their first 81 games are 6.5 games out of a wild-card playoff spot.

For his part, Cole Hamels is 2-11 with an earned run average over 4.50 and a 1.30 WHIP.

Those numbers actually flatter Hamels if you take into consideration what the Phillies are paying him to throw the ball every five days, not to mention how the 2013 team's fate was placed to a large degree on his left arm.

Think about the team's outlook back in spring training.

Everyone knew Roy Halladay was, at best, a big question mark and at worst damaged goods. We know now how that turned out. Regardless, counting on Halladay to win double-digit games after the spotty 2012 season he posted was never going to work.

Other than losing Halladay, though, the "back of the baseball card" premise has largely borne out for the Phillies—with the glaring exception of Hamels. That is, most of the Phillies have done more or less what could have been expected of them.

Ben Revere, after a pretty wretched start, is now hitting .280 with 20 stolen bases. Michael Young is hitting .289 after pulling himself out of a terrible slump.

Ryan Howard has hit 10 home runs and driven in 41 while fighting through nagging injuries. Chase Utley missed almost a month, but in his 52 games played, he has hit .281 with an .844 OPS and nine home runs.

And those are just the dossiers of the Phillies who have performed about as expected. 

Some Phils have overachieved wildly.

So the Phillies are no longer the offensive juggernaut that terrorized the National League from 2007-2011. They are below average, ninth out of 15 teams in the National League. 

You know who's in 10th place in offense in the National League? The 49-30 Pittsburgh Pirates, that's who.

While the Pirates are patching a capable pitching staff together with the likes of Jason Grilli, Mark Melancon and Jeff Locke, the Phillies are paying Hamels almost $20 million to go 3-14 in games he starts.

On a few occasions, the Phillies' bats let Hamels down, but that happens to every starting pitcher.

The position players have had little to do with Hamels' nondescript June, when he went 1-2 against a punchless slate that included the New York Mets, Miami Marlins and Minnesota Twins—all below-average offenses in their own rights.

And if you reach back to May 31, you can drag in Hamels' stink bomb against the Milwaukee Brewers, when Hamels gave up 12 hits and six earned runs in five innings to fall to 1-9.

The saddest part of all of this is that many of Hamels' teammates are exceedingly likely to pay for his sins.

CBS Sports' Peter Gammons and FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal are just two of the prominent pundits suggesting that the likes of Utley, Young, Jonathan Papelbon and even ace Cliff Lee may go at or before the trade deadline as the Phillies fall further out of contention.

Hamels, of course, is going nowhere. It is hard to get a great return on a 2-11 pitcher with five years and $112.5 million left on his contract.

Think of it this way: Had Hamels just been around .500 in the first half, say, 6-7 instead of 2-11, the Phillies would be 43-38 and in serious contention for a wild-card spot.

Instead, the team appears headed for a fire sale.

Maybe it is harsh to put all the blame on Hamels for the train wreck that has been the Phillies' 2013 season.

But he's a really good place to start. 

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Finding Perfect Trade Scenarios for Every Top Philadelphia Phillies Trade Chip

June 27, 2013 by Jason Martinez  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies have been a very good team for the past decade with zero sub-.500 finishes, five division championships and a World Series title. They even cracked my "10 Most Brilliantly Run Franchises" list. So why have so many big-name Phillies players been so prominent in trade rumors this season?  

Here's why. They weren't expected to place any higher than third in the division with the Braves and Nationals popular picks for division winners and World Series hopefuls. Combine that with an aging roster that included several veterans eligible for free agency after the season and little help on the way from the upper minors. It made plenty of sense to write this team off in early April.

The loss of Roy Halladay to a partial rotator cuff tear didn't help ease the trade rumors and a team that has played uninspired baseball through 79 games (38-41) has only added fuel to the Hot Stove. 

Despite all that, they're only seven games back of a playoff spot. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. would rather add to his 25-man roster and make another possible last run with this core of players, but the reality is that he'll have no choice but to "sell" if his team falls any further back in the next month. Given the talent on the roster, it wouldn't be a surprise if things didn't get better. 

This team has to get younger in 2014 and Amaro would have a head start by shopping all free-agents-to-be on his roster and possibly even a player or two under contract for a few more seasons in order to bring back some elite prospects to a farm system sorely lacking in high-end talent.

Here are the five players that will generate the most interest and a perfect trade scenario for each.     

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Reasons for Keeping Cliff Lee Past 2013 Trade Deadline

June 27, 2013 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies probably need to sell, for real this time, as the 2013 version of the club bobs aimlessly around the .500 buoy.

But Cliff Lee should stay.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has Lee at the top of the list of trade candidates in Philadelphia.

That makes some sense. Lee is the Phillies' best pitcher by any measure, and their best player outright (with apologies to Domonic Brown.)

And for a contending team, Lee's stellar postseason numbers (7-3, 2.52 earned run average, .927 WHIP and a strikeout ratio of almost 9/1) will make him very attractive to any team that thinks it can win the World Series this season.

So there will be a market for Lee at the trade deadline.

If the Phillies are smart, though, they will resist the urge to rid themselves of all vestiges of their glory years and keep Lee in Philadelphia to start 2014.

Here come five reasons why.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies’ 2013 Trade Deadline Shopping List

June 27, 2013 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

It's been a weird season for the Philadelphia Phillies. They've had their share of highs and lows, good times and bad times—an indication of just how inconsistent they have been.

After embarking on a season-high five-game winning streak in early June, the Phillies proceeded to lose five straight and have sat a few games below .500 ever since.

Standing at 38-41 as of Thursday, June 27, the Phils are stranded in third place in a dispirited NL East and have only flirted with second place on a couple occasions.

As a result, the Phillies aren't defined buyers or sellers heading into the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. It's a good thing because it means that the team still believes it has a shot at climbing in the standings.

However, if things don't change quickly, the Phils will likely go the latter route and trade off some veterans.

If the Phillies do end up going on a hot streak to find themselves locked into a division battle, there are three main areas of concern that need to be addressed, even if only slightly. The bullpen, right field, and starting rotation are what have troubled the Phillies the most, and any acquisitions should focus on those areas.

In light of that, here's what the Phillies' shopping list at the 2013 trade deadline should look like if the Phillies are indeed poised to be buyers this season.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Why Mike Adams’ Injury Will Have Phillies Selling at Trade Deadline

June 25, 2013 by Josh Schoch  
Filed under Fan News

Mike Adams was the most recent member of the Philadelphia Phillies to hit the DL after tearing his shoulder in three places.

According to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly, Adams tore his labrum in two places and his rotator cuff in one. Adams was far from optimistic after receiving the news.

Not good. I’ve got some tears in there—rotator cuff and labrum...This season doesn't look good—highly unlikely...This year almost probably a no.

 

Adams was one of the most reliable relievers in MLB from 2009 through 2011, posting ERAs of 0.73, 1.76 and 1.47, respectively. He could always be counted on to come in and shut the opposing team down for an inning or two.

The Phillies went out and acquired Adams at the end of last season, signing him to a two-year, $12 million deal.

According to Salisbury, Adams' course of recovery has yet to be decided:

Adams said a course of remedy has not yet been established. He could have surgery or opt for a strength and rehab program that would require up to 12 weeks. Either way, he figures his season is over.

 

This injury is another tough blow to take for the Phillies. The bullpen is now without Michael Stutes, Jeremy Horst and Adams, leaving the team without much depth in the pen.

The Phillies need their bullpen to stay on top of its game, as the team isn't exactly getting the starting pitching it was hoping for.

With Roy Halladay on the 60-day DL and Cole Hamels struggling, the only effective starting pitcher on the roster is Cliff Lee. The team is going to have a tough time overcoming its eight-game deficit in the NL East, and the wild card is even further out of reach.

As the season nears the halfway mark, the Phillies need to be considering putting their star players on the trading block and trying to rebuild after reaching this point of the season five games under .500 and falling further and further behind in the playoff race.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has said that he is not interested in being a seller at the trade deadline, as he told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports: "Yes. But I'm not trading anyone." In regards to dealing Lee and Papelbon, Amaro said, "I never say never. But it's our job to win, and these are guys who are hard to replace."

Heyman proceeded to break down what the Phillies' front office might be thinking as the trade deadline approaches:

The Phillies' commitment to winning remains foremost, and even the high salaries of Lee, who has $76 million to go through 2015 (and $90 million through '16, assuming he reaches his very makeable vesting requirements), and Papelbon, who has $33 million to go through '15 (and $46 million through '16 if his deal vests) won't spur the team to deal them.

Much more likely to be dealt if the Phillies ultimately decide to trade would be veteran positional stars Chase Utley and Michael Young, who are in the last year of their long-term deals. Young has just over $8 million left on his $16 million 2013 salary, and Utley has about $8 million to go on his $15 million salary.

However, Amaro doesn't have much of a choice when it comes to the trade deadline after the injury to Adams.

As far as playoff contention, the Phillies are most definitely on the outside looking in, as the injury-plagued team is sliding down the NL standings.

While Amaro is obviously reluctant to trade his elite players, he also doesn't appear willing to make deals to replace the guys he has lost:

 

If the Phillies are unwilling to be buyers at the deadline it is unlikely that the team will be able to work its way into contention, and the front office undoubtedly knows that.

Jonah Keri of Grantland has noted that the Phillies should be looking to sell as July approaches:

GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. and his bosses are either delusional, in denial, terribly misguided, or all of the above. Sure, making drastic changes to a team that's ascended to elite revenue-generating status thanks to big crowds and a pending TV megascore carries risk. But so too does clinging to a group of fading veterans and watching them limit the Phillies to a string of 75-win seasons.

 

Despite Amaro's comments about not wanting to trade, it's obvious to just about everyone else, including the fans, that the Phillies should sell:

 

With the team boasting one of the oldest rosters in MLB and having trade chips like Lee, Papelbon, Utley, Young and more, the team has to be in rebuilding mode and has to be among the sellers at the deadline.

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Phillies Fall to Padres 4-3 in Extra Innings

June 24, 2013 by Zach Brown  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies fell to the San Diego Padres 4-3 in extra innings Monday night at Petco Park. 

Justin De Fratus gave up the game winning hit to Kyle Blanks in the bottom of the 10th inning to drop the Philies to 36-41 on the season. 

The Phillies had a commanding 3-0 lead entering the ninth inning, but Charlie Manuel made some questionable decisions that ultimately cost his team the lead. 

Cliff Lee pitched a shutout through eight innings but was clearly gassed. Still, Manuel left him in the game for the ninth inning, and it proved costly. 

Lee faced two hitters and failed to record an out before Manuel made the switch to Jonathan Papelbon. 

The Phillies closer gave up a two-run single to Kyle Blanks. 

Blanks would eventually make it to third base where he would score on a passed ball that tied the game and forced extra innings. 

The Phillies threatened in the 10th, with Jimmy Rollins reaching third base with one out. Manuel elected to leave Michael Young in to face Brad Brach instead of pinch-hitting with Ryan Howard or Laynce Nix, and Young proceeded to strike out on three pitches. Domonic Brown would then fly out to center to end the threat. 

Justin De Fratus would enter in the bottom of the 10th, and he clearly did not have it. Walking two batters and hitting another before giving up the game winning hit to Blanks. 

For a Phillies team that has struggled all season, this was a crushing defeat and one that will surely have everyone in Philadelphia talking on Tuesday morning. 

Charlie Manuel deserves a lot of the blame for the way this game ended. As he has done so many times before, Manuel left his starter go out for the ninth inning, despite looking tired.

And with Jonathan Papelbon struggling, the last thing he needed was to enter a game with the tying run coming to the plate. This was the perfect opportunity to get him a confidence-building save, and instead he was forced into another situation with no room for error. 

Tonight's game was just a microcosm of the Phillies season so far: a great starting pitching effort wasted by the manager and his shaky bullpen. 

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Is it Time for the Charlie Manuel-Philadelphia Phillies Relationship to End?

June 24, 2013 by Joe Giglio  
Filed under Fan News

From the moment Charlie Manuel stepped into the dugout as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies through the end of the 2011 National League Division Series loss at the hands of the eventual world champion St. Louis Cardinals, the franchise was relevant to an extent rarely witnessed in the history of the organization.

The former Indians manager, long-time hitting guru and down-to-earth West Virginian had a style that worked: His players played hard, worked hard, and, most importantly, won baseball games.

From 2006-2011, the Phillies were the class of the National League. Over those six seasons, Manuel guided the team to an average of 93 wins per season, five consecutive NL East crowns, three appearances in the NLCS, two trips to the World Series and a parade down Broad Street in Philadelphia after the 2008 World Series victory.

Of course, that was then.

Now, to put it bluntly, the Phillies, led by the same manager that will one day be inducted into the franchise's Wall of Fame, are an awful baseball team.

After dropping two of three games at home last weekend to the equally awful Mets, the 2013 Phillies sit at 36-40, but actually are lucky to have that record. With a run differential of minus-58, the only two teams to have been outscored by more runs this season reside in Miami and Houston.

The franchise is desperately in need of a reboot, should consider trading any and all veteran assets at the trade deadline and is teetering on fielding an unwatchable group in the second half of the season.

For all the good that Manuel presided over during the early days of his tenure, it's turned bad now. In the aftermath of another disappointing series, the manager questioned whether it can be turned around, knowing full well it probably can't.

The roster is decrepit, farm system is showing little hope of providing help and expectations are out of whack. To expect Manuel to "shake things up" to achieve results, as WIP host/reporter Howard Eskin alluded to after a loss on Friday night, is ridiculous.

Of course, it's almost as ridiculous as Manuel's reaction, threat and childish behavior.

Baseball managers are as good as the hands they are dealt. Manuel looked good when his team was crushing the baseball because he had healthy and prime-aged hitters like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth destroying opposing pitchers.

That same manager looks much, much worse when those stars are questioning his tactics, older, hurt, gone or replaced with below-average and fringe major leaguers.

It's time, whether immediately or in the aftermath of the 2013 campaign, to remove Manuel from the drivers seat in Philadelphia. Not because he can't manage talented players, but because he's 69 years old, doesn't have the patience or time to manage through a rebuilding process and can't escape the weight of expectations that surround the franchise since the days of his early success.

Ultimately, the team's play is much more of a reflection on general manager Ruben Amaro than it is on Manuel, but of the two, Amaro is seen as the one who will be around for the long haul.

At some point, the team will have to get younger and infuse cheap, dynamic talent to the everyday roster. The job of guiding that young talent should go to a manger on the upswing, with youth and communication skills playing almost as big of a role as pitching changes and batting orders.

Charlie Manuel was a good manager of an excellent baseball team. He's the same manager now, albeit with a team that has considerably less talent.

The Manuel-Philadelphia relationship is coming to an end sooner than later. Eventually, both sides will agree that it's time to turn the page.

Comment below, follow me on Twitter or "like" my Facebook page to talk all things baseball!

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Stock Up, Stock Down for Philadelphia Phillies’ Top 10 Prospects for Week 12

June 24, 2013 by Matt Boczar  
Filed under Fan News

As the Philadelphia Phillies move closer to the non-waiver trade deadline and having to make decisions regarding their major league roster, the team made at least one decision this past week involving their farm system.

Maikel Franco was promoted to Double-A after batting .299 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI in the Florida State League.  Franco’s promotion is a positive sign for one of the Phillies' top 10 prospects, but one that could also impact the futures of other top prospects.

Meanwhile, another top prospect, Jonathan Pettibone, could face either a stint on the disabled list or a demotion in favor of Carlos Zambrano this week, as Zambrano’s opt-out date draws nearer.

How did the rest of the Phillies' top 10 prospects fare last week?

Let’s take a look at whose stock is up and whose is down following Week 12.

 

*All statistics courtesy of MiLB.com unless otherwise noted.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Charlie Manuel Video: Phillies Manager Says He’d ‘Knock Out’ Reporter

June 23, 2013 by Donald Wood  
Filed under Fan News

Despite an 8-7 victory over the division-rival New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel lost his cool with local broadcaster Howard Eskin

As Manuel was walking away from the podium after his postgame press conference, Eskin asked, “When are you gonna score 10 runs?” The Phillies manager responded with, “When I knock you out, that’s when.”

Eskin is notorious for his outspoken style of journalism, and his comments on Saturday were baiting Manuel into an impassioned response. Instead of asking what the team is doing to get above .500 on the season, the reporter asked general questions about if the manager feels his team is “going to be fine.”

With such an open-ended question that provides little clarity, it’s clear that this was an example of Eskin simply trying to draw the ire of the notoriously honest and emotional Manuel. Instead of talking about a big win that could change the tide of the season, the desire to draw out a headline-worthy reaction resulted in Saturday’s blowup.

Manuel needs to understand what reporters like Eskin are trying to accomplish. The 69-year-old should know better after being manager in MLB for well over a decade. 

Clearly, that's easier said than done. 

 

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