Breaking Down the Phillies’ Top 10 Prospects to Start the 2014 Season

March 31, 2014 by Zak Schmoll  
Filed under Fan News

It is no secret that the Philadelphia Phillies are aging far too quickly. That means it is all the more important for the Phillies to develop a strong farm system. But how well is that going?

That is what we are talking about today. This is going to be a crash course on the top 10 Phillies prospects right now. Obviously, many of them are spread across different levels of development, and some have more potential to help right now while others are still valued for their potential.

In either case, this team needs to get prepared for its future sooner rather than later, and these 10 players are going to be very important in doing so.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Final Predictions for Winners of Phillies’ Key Spring Position Battles

March 28, 2014 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

Spring training at long last is approaching its merciful end. With the end of meaningless exhibition games comes the onset of the regular season, when every game counts.

Fortunately for the Philadelphia Phillies, this spring set of games didn't count. Had it, the discussion would be completely different.

This spring, the Phillies would like a do-over, to say the least. They are currently 9-17-3, good for dead last in both the Grapefruit League and major leagues. While the sample size is small and many of the early games sport minor league talent, the games are nevertheless taken as an indicator of regular-season potential.

Is the Phillies' regular-season potential to wind up with the first-overall pick in the 2015 MLB draft? That remains to be seen, and predicting the Phillies this season is itself a difficult task. But predicting who will make the roster and contribute toward the Phils' successes and failures is a bit easier.

All of the team's everyday players are set. If Cole Hamels was healthy, the rotation would be, too. However, because of his injury, there is a vacancy in the back of the pitching staff. Add in some typical bullpen and bench competition and that leaves the Phillies with a few final holes to fill.

With that in mind, here are the final predictions for the winners of the Phillies' key spring position battles.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies 2014 Season Preview

March 27, 2014 by Joe Giglio  
Filed under Fan News

When the 2014 Major League Baseball season opens, the Philadelphia Phillies will attempt to change a disturbing trajectory: After five straight years (2007-2011) of ascending win totals, the Phillies have gone from 102 to 81 to 73 wins in the last three seasons.

Now, with an aging, veteran-laden roster and a general manager unwilling to invoke a complete and total rebuild, the Phillies will attempt to shock the baseball world by contending for a postseason berth this summer.

For the first time in years, fan sentiment and expectations are low, leaving the front office and the 25-man roster on an island alone in steadfast belief. Despite the accolades and past success, the idea of championship baseball in Philadelphia isn't permeating the city.

Although the franchise is reluctant to change and move past former days of glory, one notable difference will accompany the 2014 Phillies: manager Ryne Sandberg.

Technically, the Hall of Fame second baseman took over the job last August. In 42 games, Sandberg posted a 20-22 record at the helm. But with a full offseason and spring training as the head man, Sandberg now can begin to put his stamp on a roster that likely needed to hear a new voice. 

The National League postseason race could be wide open, giving the seemingly uninspiring Phillies one last chance at a meaningful run. 

Can they stay healthy, productive and cohesive enough to surprise?

Here's how the 2014 season will play out at Citizens Bank Park.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted. All contract figures courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts. Arbitration numbers and projections courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors. Roster projections courtesy of MLB Depth Charts. 


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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Predicting Phillies’ Biggest Snubs, Surprises from Final 25-Man Roster

March 26, 2014 by Zak Schmoll  
Filed under Fan News

Although I have never been in the running for a spot on a major league roster, I am sure that the final days of spring training have the potential to be the best or worst days of your life. At that point, everyone is so close to making the final roster that heartbreak or exhilaration are the two potential yet inevitable outcomes.

The Philadelphia Phillies are no different this season. Some players are excited that they are even in the running while others are going to experience the disappointment of heading back down to the farm. I want to highlight four of these guys. In my mind, two of them are going to make the roster, and two of them will not. Be sure to let me know in the comments if you have any other thoughts or players who you think should or should not be on the Phillies for Opening Day.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins One Home Run Shy of 200 for Career

March 25, 2014 by Bleacher Report Milestones  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins heads into the 2014 season needing just one home run to reach 200 for his career.

Coming off a disappointing six-homer season, the 35-year-old Philadelphia mainstay seemed to make a bad impression on Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg during spring training. The issue led to some trade rumors, which were silenced by Rollins, and it seems that Sandberg and the shortstop have settled things for the time being.

With the issue hopefully out of the way, Rollins is set to take aim at some milestones in 2014, first among them the aforementioned 200-homer mark.

Rollins has always offered plus power for a shortstop, as he hit 14 home runs during his first full season in 2001, then fell between eight and 14 homers in each of the following four years. Those numbers, while solid, fell far short of his production in other areas.

From 2001 to 2005, Rollins led the league in triples three times and averaged 33.6 stolen bases per season, while playing strong defense at a premium position and appearing in at least 154 games each year.

Known as a player who provided value with his speed, defense, durability and balanced offensive approach, Rollins rewrote the book in 2006, slugging a then-career-best 25 home runs.

Then, in 2007, he took yet another step, hitting a career-best 30 homers on his way to becoming one of the more surprising National League MVP Award winners in recent history.

Rollins wasn't able to maintain that power, however, and fell back to 11 long balls in 2008 before posting highly variable totals of (chronologically) 21, eight, 16, 23 and six.

The inconsistency would look a bit better were it not for the fact that Rollins is 35. He's well acquainted with the bounce-back season, but at this point in his career, anything more than 8-12 dingers should be considered icing on the cake.

With that in mind, we may have to wait a few weeks, or possibly even months, for No. 200.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

5 Biggest Winners and Losers of Philadelphia Phillies Spring Training

March 24, 2014 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

Spring training is nearly over for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Before they open the 2014 regular season against the formidable Texas Rangers in Arlington, the Phillies will fly back from Clearwater to play the annual On-Deck Series. "As has been a tradition since Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004," says the Phillies website.

As for the Phillies' spring training performances, they were a mixed bag. Read on for the most notable winners and losers from these exhibition games as we get ready for the important games to begin.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Most Disappointing Philadelphia Phillies Players in Spring Training So Far

March 21, 2014 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

Saying that the Philadelphia Phillies have had a disappointing spring training in 2014 would be an understatement. It's been abysmal. And there are no signs of the Florida sunshine emerging through the heavy clouds hanging over the organization.

Not only are the Phillies the worst team in the Grapefruit League at 6-14-2, they also hold the distinction of being the worst team in baseball this spring. Tack onto that a report from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that scouts referred to the Phillies as "awful" and "painful to watch," and the Phillies have nothing going their way right now.

The pitching staff has been serviceable at best, but its ace, Cole Hamels, has been absent for the entirety of the spring. The offense, on the other hand, has been nonexistent. Of the team's eight likely everyday starters, only four are batting at least .250 on the spring, and just two—outfielders Ben Revere and Marlon Byrd—are batting over .300. Normally, a .300 average would be commended, but keep in mind that we're talking about 43 and 38 at-bats for these guys, respectively. It's a small sample size.

An honorable mention would be that the collective Phillies offense has been a colossal disappointment. Even the team as a whole could be categorized as the biggest letdown of the spring. Both arguments are merited. However, certain players have been worse—much worse—than others. Here's a list of the most disappointing Phillies players this spring.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies Spring Training Report: Surprises, Busts and Injuries

March 18, 2014 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

Unfortunately and fortunately for the Phillies, lately it seems that even when they do not play they make news.

Fortunately, because when the Phillies do play they have a real knack for losing. Their .294 winning percentage is the worst in all of Major League Baseball so far this spring.

Unfortunately, because the news they make is not the kind of news any Phillies fan really wants to hear.

While there have been a few bright spots—Marlon Byrd hitting .364, Ben Revere hitting .343, Roberto Hernandez out-pitching everyone not named Cliff Lee so far—the surprises, busts and injuries from Clearwater have been making all the headlines at home.

The biggest surprise is one that, in retrospect, maybe should not have been that surprising at all.

Manager Ryne Sandberg and shortstop Jimmy Rollins continue to quietly but firmly disagree about the importance of spring training and about Rollins' putative role as a team leader.

The silently seething discord bubbled over very recently when ESPN.com's Buster Olney turned in this item, including the following:

…sources indicate that some in influential positions in the organization want Rollins to be a leader by investing himself more thoroughly in daily work and setting a strong example for others. If Rollins isn't going to do that, the sentiment of some is that the team would be better off moving him as soon as possible.

Of course, since Rollins can veto any trade, "moving him as soon as possible" depends on his cooperation.

Maybe the surprise is not that this situation devolved so nastily, but that it did so with such speed.

As indicated earlier, at least Rollins' petulant antics are taking some of the attention away from the numerous Phillies who have struggled at Clearwater thus far. If Rollins was not causing such a stir, fans might notice that:

  • Maikel Franco is hitting .206 with no extra-base hits in 35 at-bats
  • Chase Utley is hitting .188 with no extra-base hits in 32 at-bats
  • Cody Asche is hitting .138 with 11 strikeouts in 29 at-bats
  • Freddy Galvis is hitting .118 in 34 at-bats

For that matter, the Phillies faithful might take a peek at the pitching statistics and see that:

  • Opposing batters are hitting .381 against Jonathan Papelbon
  • Kyle Kendrick's earned run average through five innings pitched is 7.20
  • Jake Diekman's earned run average through six innings pitched is 7.50
  • A.J. Burnett's earned run average through nine innings pitched is an even 10

Perhaps the best thing you can say for the Phillies right now is that they are almost 100 percent healthy. It is just too bad that the one guy casting the biggest black mark on their team health is Cole Hamels, who is set to earn $22.5 million this season.

According to Chris Branch of the News Journal, Hamels "was 'thoroughly impressed' by his bullpen session Sunday. He threw a little more than 30 pitches and said his next bullpen should come Wednesday."

Regardless, it will be "at least May" per Branch for Hamels to rejoin the Phillies rotation.

Hopefully, a May return will not already be too late for a Phillies team that desperately needs a fast start to the regular season to quell the understandable doubts about them.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Jimmy Rollins Trade Scenarios That Would Make Sense for Phillies

March 18, 2014 by Joe Giglio  
Filed under Fan News

Jimmy Rollins has been a member of the Philadelphia Phillies organization since the second round of the 1996 amateur draft. If some members of the team's front office have their way, a nearly 18-year tenure could be coming to an awkward close. 

According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Phillies believe it might be time to part with the 2007 National League MVP. 

This news comes less than a week after Rollins sat on the bench for three straight Grapefruit League contests. Manager Ryne Sandberg offered "no comment" when initially asked for his reasoning, per Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.

If the Phillies truly want to move on from Rollins, it won't be easy. 

With $11 million due to the 35-year-old shortstop in 2014, it will take a team willing to add significant payroll late in spring training or Philadelphia's ownership eating a large chunk of the money still owed. Furthermore, a one-year, $11 million option for 2015 will automatically be in play if Rollins makes 434 plate appearances this season.

As a 10-and-5 rights player (10 MLB seasons, last five with the same team), Rollins can invoke a no-trade clause to veto any deal. With just 60 hits separating the veteran shortstop from the top spot in Phillies franchise history, it's unlikely to happen now. 

When broached about a possible deal by CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury, Rollins didn't seem keen on the idea.

“I don’t know,” Rollins said. “If we’re in absolutely last place with nowhere to go and change is obviously on the horizon, then at that point I’d think about it. But anything short of a complete disaster, I’m wearing red and white pinstripes.”

These situations, however, have a funny way of working themselves out.

If the Phillies can find a trade partner and Rollins agrees to leave the only team he's ever known, a move could commence.

In return, the Phillies could look for outfield depth, a veteran bullpen arm or a young starting pitcher. 

Here are Jimmy Rollins trade scenarios that would make the most sense for the Phillies.


Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted. All contract figures courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts. Roster projections courtesy of MLB Depth Charts.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

John Mayberry Jr. Quietly Having Impressive Spring for Philadelphia Phillies

March 16, 2014 by David Cattai  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies have struggled this spring. The biggest concern coming into 2014 is the same one that hindered the team the past few seasons—its offense.

Philadelphia is currently hitting .212 through its first 15 games of the spring, which is the worst in MLB.

But for every negative quality a team has, there is always a silver lining.

John Mayberry Jr. ascended through the Texas Rangers' minor league system, becoming a legitimate prospect after being drafted in the first round of the 2005 draft. He had it all—the body frame, the power and the ability to play each outfield position.

Mayberry was acquired by the Phillies during the 2008-09 offseason in exchange for speedy outfielder and failed prospect Greg Golson. Mayberry began that season in Triple-A and was later called up during interleague play as an extra bat.

Mayberry's first MLB hit, a three-run home run off Andy Pettitte to left field in Yankee Stadium in May of 2009, encompassed everything the team was hoping for in its young outfielder. Since that game, Mayberry has split time between the outfield, first base and pinch hitting.

2011 was his best major league season. Mayberry hit .273 and smacked 15 home runs while posting an .854 OPS in 104 games. The outlook for the maturing Mayberry was bright, which is why he remained with the Phillies in 2012.

Mayberry was given more at-bats (441), but his production didn't stay the same. His power numbers declined (14 HRs, 46 RBI), his average dropped (.245) and he struggled to get on base (.301 OBP). As a result, Mayberry was forced into a platoon role for the last few seasons.

Mayberry was tendered by the Phillies in December. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly in an interview that same month he finds value in the outfielder as a role player:

He’s a lot more valuable than I guess people think, ... Part of the equation is whether he’s viewed as an everyday player or not. Well, I don’t believe he’s an everyday player. I see him as fill-in-in-a-pinch guy. He’s got versatility. He can play first base and all three outfield positions. That versatility and the fact that he’s got some power are all things in our estimation that are pluses. He can be a role player on a team that can win.

Last season Mayberry showed flashes of how productive he could be off the bench. Four of his 11 home runs came in the seventh inning or later.

Mayberry is having a productive spring that will hopefully continue into the regular season. Having Mayberry on the bench could prove to be important late in games, especially if he has figured out the solution to the problems with his swing.

So far this spring, Mayberry is hitting .333 with eight hits in 24 at-bats during his 12 games of play. He has also smacked two home runs and posted a 1.027 OPS in those contests.

Opposite-field power, extra-base hits, and the ability to come off the bench and produce are the keys for the Phillies outfielder. A hot start to the spring could carry over to April.

If Mayberry can continue his production, the Phillies may have found their silver lining in a worrisome spring. Look for Mayberry to be an effective player, even in a limited role this season.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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