Philadelphia Phillies Offseason Tracker: Hottest Trade Rumors, Free Agency News

October 31, 2013 by Kyle Newport  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies had a disappointing 2013 season, but they have a chance to get back to winning next year if they make some moves in the winter. 

After many wondered what would happen with second baseman Chase Utley, the Phillies gave him an extension during the season. That means the team is set at first base, second base and shortstop for the next couple of years.

There is some talent in the outfield as well. Domonic Brown and Ben Revere are good players, so this team has some pieces in place.

Philadelphia's bullpen ranked 27th in baseball this year. Jonathan Papelbon's future is unclear, but the team needs to look for help for the bullpen regardless of what it does with its closer.

Let's take a look at some of the areas that the Phillies need to address this offseason:

  • Starting pitching
  • Bullpen
  • Catcher
  • Third Base

It doesn't matter what position it's at, the Phillies need to find a right-handed bat with some pop.

Stay tuned throughout the offseason to see what kind of moves the Phillies make.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

5 Realistic Moves Philadelphia Phillies Should Consider

October 29, 2013 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

The offseason ahead will potentially be one of immense surprise for the Philadelphia Phillies, for a few reasons. First and foremost, the oft-mentioned television contract situation will near its climax, as the Phillies are expected to sign their new, multi-billion dollar TV deal within the next month, according to CBS Philly.

In addition, the Phillies are close to hiring a much-needed statistician, per MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. While that alone is unlikely to alter the dynamic of the Phillies front office, it should influence future contracts and trades, at least to some extent.

Third, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. always has some tricks up his sleeve. Just how he plans on utilizing them this offseason remains to be seen, and whether or not they make sense will depend just on how he restructures his philosophy of signing and acquiring players, if at all.

In the following slides, five realistic moves independent of one another will be presented. Again, this slideshow does not and will not suggest that all five moves be made; rather, any of the five moves could come to fruition this winter and at least should be considered.

Here are five realistic moves the Phillies should consider in the coming offseason.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

5 Ways Philadelphia Phillies Should Spend the Coming TV Contract Windfall

October 25, 2013 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

The fast-approaching end to the Philadelphia Phillies' television rights contract with Comcast is the team's best hope for a quick reversal of fortune.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports analyzed the unique position the Phillies can exploit given Comcast's desire to keep them and Fox Sports 1's perceived need to add another East Coast team since the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox are out of play.

Then just recently, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News put round numbers to the heretofore rank speculation of just what this deal might mean to the Phillies.

According to data from sportsbusinessjournal.com, the Phillies' current deal yielded them an average annual rights fee from Comcast of $35 million. It's not out of the realm of possibility that a new deal could be six times as large.

And it's highly probable that a deal would be in the neighborhood north of $150 million annually.

In the immortal words of Phil Rizzuto, "Holy cow."

That sort of money could buy the Phillies out of a lot of problems. Here is how they should spend at least some of it.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

5 Relievers Philadelphia Phillies Should Pursue This Winter

October 24, 2013 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

Man, does the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen need help.

Over the last two seasons, the Phillies have seen their once-stellar relief corps turn into a nightmare of a situation. As older veterans like Ryan Madson and Brett Myers left the team, the Phillies relied internally on replacements. While that strategy worked in the past, it has predominantly failed since.

In 2013, the Phillies' bullpen ERA was 4.23. That figure was good for second-worst in the National League only to the Colorado Rockies, and fourth-worst in all of baseball. That's not exactly the kind of news you like to hear, but is it really news anymore?

That's where things have to change this offseason, and Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. will have his hands full in determining who to sign to fill that role. Mike Adams was supposed to be that guy almost a year ago, but as his performance rapidly declined, so did the health of his shoulder.

The Phillies bullpen needs someone, almost anyone...good, that is. Here are five relievers the Phillies should pursue this year on the open market.

*All player statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and/or FanGraphs.com.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

The 10 Biggest Questions the Philadelphia Phillies Must Answer This Offseason

October 20, 2013 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

After the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies went 81-81, the 2013 season had three and only three possible outcomes.

And to borrow from Woody Hayes' infamous dismissal of the forward pass, two of those outcomes would be bad.

From .500, the 2013 Phillies could only go over .500 (good), .500 again (not so good) or under .500 (bad).

In winning only 73 games, the 2013 Phillies overachieved in the worst sense—they were a good deal worse than anyone thought possible.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. thus enters the most difficult offseason of his tenure.

How he answers the following 10 questions will probably determine whether he retains his job after the 2014 season.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Predicting Philadelphia Phillies’ Starting Lineup Next Season

October 15, 2013 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

For still-new manager Ryne Sandberg and the rest of the Philadelphia Phillies, 2014 will bring some changes but also many struggles. Coming off a 2013 season which saw the team score the third-fewest runs in the National League and tied for fourth-fewest in all of baseball, general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. will have to get extra creative this offseason in filling the holes in the lineup, namely a right-handed power bat in the likely form of a corner outfielder.

Catcher is also a priority for the Phillies, though there's a good chance that Carlos Ruiz could be re-signed somewhat easily. He'd like to return and the Phillies would like to have him back, as MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reported late last month that there's mutual interest to strike a new deal.

The starting rotation and bullpen also have their fair share of issues, but for the sake of this piece, I'll stick strictly to the everyday starting lineup. It's not exactly clear what moves will shape up this offseason and it's definitely a question as to how Sandberg will pencil in his lineup on a day-to-day basis. For now, I'll hazard a guess. Here's a prediction of the Phillies' starting lineup in 2014.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Power Ranking Philadelphia Phillies’ Biggest Needs Heading into Free Agency

October 13, 2013 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

After the Philadelphia Phillies finished 81-81 in 2012, the signs of trouble around the team were plentiful and ominous. But there were still rationalizations and wishes lingering.

It does not take all that much, so goes the dreamer's logic, to go from 81 wins to, say, 88 wins.

Phillies fans hoped that Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard could come back healthy in 2013. They crossed their fingers on the possibility that Ben Revere could steal 40 bases and score 100 runs.

While they were ruminating on those wishes, they never could have guessed that Cole Hamels would go 8-14 or that Jimmy Rollins would hit .252 and slug .348.

There will be no such dreaming about the 2014 Phillies after this past season's group lost 89 times.

Very few 73-89 teams have lacked for roster holes. The Phillies are no exception.

 

 

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: State of Franchise at the Start of the 2013-14 Offseason

October 10, 2013 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

Entering the 2013-14 offseason, the Philadelphia Phillies are a team that should be in the middle of a gut and rebuild.

Unfortunately, Phillies management looks at Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels and think that since they're all wearing the same numbers and playing the same positions that maybe it is still 2009.

For that reason, the Phillies are in the worst position the franchise has been in entering an offseason since 1996-97.

The 1996 Phillies team, like the 2013 version, boasted familiar faces doing sadly unfamiliar things.

And those fading stars, like Utley and company now, were victims of their own success.

Darren Daulton and Lenny Dykstra were the primary holdovers from the improbable 1993 National League champions. The pennant they won bought them time in Philadelphia in the form of (for the time) long, guaranteed contracts.

Daulton had actually landed his big-money deal before the pennant run, signing a four-year, $18.5 million contract extension before the 1993 season began. Certainly, the money the Phillies owed Daulton kept him in Philadelphia longer than his falling production and failing health justified.

Dykstra notoriously parlayed his 1993 playoff success into a now clearly absurd four-year contract extension that guaranteed him $24.9 million.

At the time that must have seemed like generational money for Dykstra. It wasn't.

Come 1997, Daulton was playing out the string as a miscast right fielder. That was more than Dykstra could say: He was (unbeknownst to him) never to play another Major League Baseball game.

As you no doubt recall, the Phillies did not return to the playoffs until 2007.

They did not revive the dying franchise in free agency, either. They reloaded through the draft with players like Pat Burrell, Rollins, Utley and Hamels. By the time Howard was launching home runs off stadium facades throughout Major League Baseball, the Phillies were one of the best teams in the sport.

The Golden Era of Phillies baseball (2007-2011) is now indisputably past. Unfortunately, what is likely to follow is a repeat of the lost Phillies seasons through the remainder of the 1990's that followed the fluke World Series appearance in 1993.

The Phillies, committed long-term at long dollars to too many heroes of the not-that-recent past, are going to try to fill in around their expensive burned-out supernovas with a modest signing here and a promoted-too-soon minor leaguer there.

What the Phillies should do is take several steps back as soon as possible.

That would mean parting with Hamels and Lee, the two Phillies who have the highest trade value. Even given their oversized contracts, both left-handers would fetch a good return in prospects from a team like the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who had a lot less pitching than they thought they had in 2013.

The Phillies will point to their coming television contract negotiation and their flagging attendance as reasons for their apparent plan to stay their disastrous course in the face of incontrovertible evidence that what they are doing is not working.

Unlike the Phillies of the late 1990's and early 2000's, though, the current franchise cannot build a new stadium to turn things around quickly.

Could Howard, Utley and Rollins all bounce back in 2014? Could Hamels stop losing two of every three decisions? Maybe.

Unfortunately for Phillies fans, that is the franchise's only hope for the nearand even further awayfuture.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies’ Free Agency Shopping List

October 4, 2013 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies are going to have to continue their free-spending ways of recent years if they are to have any chance to climb back into contention in the National League Eastern Division.

It is difficult to believe how a team that already has over $110 million committed to six players could have so many holes in its roster.

Actually, you can read that sentence the other way just as easilyof course a team with over $110 million committed to six players has a ton of holes in the roster.

Unless the Phillies' target payroll is over $300 million (it's not), then the unavoidable consequence of paying diminishing players like Ryan Howard, Jonathan Papelbon and, to a lesser extent, Chase Utley eight-figure contracts is the need to fill other roster spots on the cheap.

That is how you end up with Cody Asche rushed to the Majors to play third base and stuck with perpetually underachieving John Mayberry Jr. in the outfield too often. They may struggle, but they will do so without further straining an already creaky Phillies budget.

The trouble with this strategy, of course, is that when Howard misses half a season, Cole Hamels loses twice as often as he wins and Jimmy Rollins starts to decline rapidly, there is no one on the roster capable of making up for their meager production.

Quick aside: legitimate kudos to Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. for resisting the temptation to overspend on two of last winter's biggest free agent busts.

The Washington Nationals spent $13 million in 2013 to watch Dan Haren win only 10 games with an earned run average closer to five than four.

Compared to B.J. Upton, though, Haren looks like a fantastic signing.

As ESPN.com's Jayson Stark recently laid out, the Atlanta Braves have Upton for four more years at very long money. That must be terrifying for Braves fans given these facts:

A .184 batting average, the second-lowest average in the entire sport among players with at least 400 plate appearances (beating out only his own teammate, that .181-hitting Dan Uggla) … a .289 slugging percentage...0 for the entire season (0-for-28, 18 strikeouts) with runners on third base …hitting .157/.227/.222 against left-handed pitching … a mind-boggling .108 batting average (10-for-93, with 42 strikeouts) with runners in scoring position.

Can you even imagine what the calls for Amaro's head would sound like if the Phillies' current center fielder was Upton instead of Ben Revere?

The Phillies' biggest roster hole, unfortunately, is at first base. With Howard set to receive another $25 million in 2014, expect the Phillies to fake it until they make it with a platoon of Howard and inexpensive labor Darin Ruf at that power position.

The biggest name on the free-agent market is Robinson Cano. Do not count on Cano ending up in Philadelphia, as he Buster Olney reported that he's looking for a massive contract.

It probably does not matter anyway, since the Phillies re-signed Utley to hold down second base for two more seasons.

The Phillies can probably survive another season with Asche, Rollins, Utley and Howard/Ruf in the infield. They will not survive another season with Mayberry Jr. and Ruf figuring prominently in the outfield.

With Hunter Pence off the market, the right field free-agent list took a hit. But the Phillies could significantly upgrade this position with a player like Corey Hart, Michael Morse or Nelson Cruz.

All three of them have injury issues (and Cruz has that PED question hanging over him), but the Phillies might need to chance it with one of them given their abject need for an offensive boost.

In the starting rotation, the Phillies have two aces and three lesser cards.

Hamels and Cliff Lee would lead 90 percent of the rotations in Major League Baseball. As the Phillies proved in 2013, though, those two cannot do anything about what happens on the days they do not pitch.

The Phillies will have to do a lot better than what the possible end of Roy Halladay's career offered in 2013 as a third starter.

Matt Garza has been linked to the Phillies in the past, but I do not see Amaro, Jr. taking a chance on Garza missing more time with injury while banking tens of millions of the Phillies' free agent dollars.

My vote here continues to be for Ervin Santana. His performance in Kansas City this season suggests that he has rediscovered the form that made him so dominant in Anaheim a few years back.

The Phillies should also look to bring in one of the myriad former closers on the market for relatively short money on a one- or two-year deal and try to get lucky. 

If the Phillies conclude the winter with one more legitimate outfielder and one more credible starting pitcher, they should be better than they were in 2013.

Then again, it would be hard to get too much worse. 

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies