Latest Expert Predictions on Who Philadelphia Phillies Will Draft

May 30, 2014 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

With the 2014 MLB draft just under a week away, teams around baseball are gearing up to determine whom they will choose should the players they want fall into their laps. For the Philadelphia Phillies, this draft holds even more importance, as it will be the most crucial means to add to a thin farm system.

Although the Phillies drafted well in 2013, one year is not enough time to turn around a farm system. However, it would not be surprising to see the Phillies select a college player with a higher pick in this draft in an effort to bolster the major league roster sooner rather than later. Regardless of whom they choose, the Phillies must make it count, as they have their highest draft pick since 2000 at No. 7.

Experts throughout the baseball world have published many mock drafts indicating what they believe the Phillies—and the rest of the MLB—will do on Thursday, June 5. Here's a look at how the draft gurus see the Phillies' No. 7 pick shaking out.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins 2nd in Franchise History to Play 2,000 Games

May 29, 2014 by Bleacher Report Milestones  
Filed under Fan News

With Wednesday's appearance against the Colorado Rockies, Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins became the second player in franchise history to play in 2,000 games, per ESPN Stats & Info. Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt is the other, having played 2,404 games in a Phillies uniform.

In addition to total games played, Rollins is climbing his way up the Phillies' record books in several other categories. His 2,221 hits leave him just 13 behind Schmidt for the all-time lead, and he already has more doubles (464) than any other Philly. Rollins' 431 steals place him at second on the franchise list, falling just behind another speedy, Billy Hamilton, who swiped 508 bags during a career that lasted from 1888 to 1901.

At 35 years old, Rollins is third among active shortstops in career games played. Derek Jeter leads this list with 2,646, while Miguel Tejada—who signed a minor league deal with the Marlins earlier this month—sits at 2,171.

Rollins is now in the 15th season of a career that has included three All-Star game appearances and the 2007 National League MVP award. He continues to be a fixture in the Philadelphia lineup, having started 42 of 49 games in 2014. The switch-hitter is slashing .257/.357/.419 this season, with 27 runs, 22 RBI, six long balls and six stolen bases.

All stats courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise specified.

 

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Stock Up, Stock Down for the Phillies’ Top 10 Prospects for Week 8

May 26, 2014 by Zak Schmoll  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies are starting to get their minor league system back together. Players who were injured are starting to come back, and those who were off to slow starts are getting their acts back together. I was looking over this list, and it is quite possible that three, if not four, of them might be in the majors by the end of this year.

That is a pretty solid percentage, and it shows their organizational depth. There is talent at all levels of this minor league system.

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Philadelphia Phillies Prospects Who Never Lived Up to the Hype

May 23, 2014 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies have not been the most successful franchise. They were the first team in MLB history to reach 10,000 losses, their all-time record is below .500 and as one of the oldest teams in baseball, they only have two World Series titles to their name.

On top of that, the Phillies don't have too many homegrown All-Stars throughout their history. The recent run of success has been a large exception—in fact, of the team's five players with retired numbers (six including Jackie Robinson), two of them were acquired in trades: Jim Bunning and Steve Carlton.

Consequently, the Phillies have had plenty of prospect busts. While it would be impossible to name them all, some stick out like sore thumbs.

Here are five of the many Phillies prospects who never lived up to the hype.

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2014 Phillies Fire Sale Would Completely Change MLB Trade Market

May 23, 2014 by Joe Giglio  
Filed under Fan News

The 2014 Philadelphia Phillies are a confounding baseball team, stuck between a successful past and a bleak future. In the present, a mediocre potential contender has emerged due to the parity engulfing the National League East.

Heading into play on May 22, the Phillies sat at 20-23 through 43 games. Despite a .465 winning percentage and a fourth-place standing in the division, Philadelphia sat just three games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the loss column.

Over the next six weeks, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. must decide if one more run at relevance is wise or if a rebuilding process should commence through a July fire sale. Right now, Amaro admits to having no idea about what kind of team he possess, per Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.

"I don't have any idea yet about that," Amaro said. "Frankly, we really don't know what we have. ... There's a lot of parity and a lot of mediocrity out there -- including us. We're playing like a mediocre club. We're playing like a .500 ballclub."

If—and it's a big "if" considering the aggressive nature of Amaro—the Phillies fall out of the race and decide to become sellers over the next two months, the entire complexion of the Major League Baseball trade market would shift. Instantly, the Phillies would hold the cards to the 2014 pennant chase and potentially gain long-term payroll flexibility and a chance to rebuild a less-than-impressive farm system.

Despite its losing record and inconsistency, Philadelphia has veteran pieces that could enhance contenders around the game. From Cliff Lee to Chase Utley to Marlon Byrd to Jonathan Papelbon to A.J. Burnett, a quintet of season-changing players could become available to the highest bidders.

Let's start with Lee.

The veteran lefty is currently on the 15-day disabled list with an elbow injury, putting a halt on his value and availability at the deadline. Furthermore, losing Lee for an extended period would hurt the Phillies and potentially lead the team down the path of selling in July.

If healthy, Lee is a game-changer and instantly the top arm on the trade market. Despite $37.5 million in salary guarantees remaining after the 2014 season, no potentially available arm—from Jeff Samardzija to Mark Buehrle to Bronson Arroyo—can headline a rotation like Lee. 

Chase Utley is 35, and his days as an MVP-caliber player were supposed to be over. Thus far in 2014, that's far from the case. Heading into play on May 22, the all-time great Phillies second baseman owned an OPS of .934 and an OPS+ mark of 155. 

Over the course of baseball history, only two second basemen—Rogers Hornsby and Nap Lajoiehave posted higher adjusted OPS marks during their respective age-35 seasons, per Baseball-Reference (subscription required).  

With contenders such as Baltimore (.590 OPS) and Kansas City (.640 OPS) receiving poor production from current second base combinations, Utley's inclusion on the trade market could bring a substantial return for the Phillies and reshape a lineup in the pennant chase.

Marlon Byrd may fly under the radar, but there's no denying how good he's been since the start of the 2013 season. With an OPS+ of 135, Byrd ranks eighth among all outfielders over that span, per Baseball-Reference. Some names behind Byrd on that list: Matt Holliday, Bryce Harper, Nelson Cruz and Jay Bruce. 

Last year, Byrd was shipped from the New York Mets to the Pittsburgh Pirates in an August trade. This summer, a similar deal could commence for an impact hitter on a team-friendly two-year, $16 million contract.

Closer Jonathan Papelbon can be loud, brash and irritating to fans. While his personality is controversial and his contract—$13 million for 2015—is prohibitive for an aging reliever, the former Red Sox star is still productive. When factoring in his production (18 G, 2.08 ERA) and his battle-tested nature, a team in need of a closer could be convinced to surrender either cash or prospects for Papelbon's services this summer.

Finally, there's A.J. Burnett. As the last piece of the 2014 Phillies puzzle, Burnett arrived to camp after the start of spring training to serve as the third member of a rotation trio along with Lee and Cole Hamels. Through 10 starts, the former Marlins, Blue Jays, Yankees and Pirates starter hasn't disappointed, pitching to a 3.32 ERA across 59.2 innings.

With World Series experience and a solid FIP (fielding independent pitching) mark of 3.32 since the start of the 2012 season, Burnett would likely draw a slew of suitors in the trade market. 
 

Every year, franchise-changing moves are made during the trade season. From rebuilding teams selling off veterans to win-now franchises looking to find the final piece to a championship club, expect moves to occur over the next few months.

As the 2014 season evolves, no team holds more weight across baseball than the Phillies. If they stay in the NL East race, potential impact contributors will stay in Philadelphia with the edict of restoring glory to a franchise that owned the NL from 2007-2011. 

If the Phillies can't survive the recent loss of Lee and succumb to the perils of an aging roster and neophyte manager, one of the most interesting rosters in baseball could supply contenders with multiple stars for the stretch run.

Agree? Disagree?

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

Statistics are from Baseball-Reference.comESPN.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. All contract figures courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts. Roster breakdowns via MLBDepthCharts.com

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Ryne Sandberg Is Driving the Philadelphia Phillies Like a Rental Car to Nowhere

May 23, 2014 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

Ryne Sandberg waited a very long time to manage a Major League Baseball team. The obvious joke here is that hopefully some day, he will actually get to do so.

Jokes aside, Sandberg can be forgiven for not accepting the status quo of a Philadelphia Phillies team that struggled terribly the past two seasons largely due to the former manager's blind reliance on the formula that won him two pennants and a World Series.

Charlie Manuel hit Ryan Howard fourth as though there was never another choice. He left Jimmy Rollins in the leadoff role about two years too long. And so on.

Sandberg's extended minor league apprenticeship understandably means that he probably does not feel like accepting losses in hopes that general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies ownership group will be patient with him.

If anything, Sandberg's managerial style points to a man trying to win as many games as possible in this fallow period, right now, so that he can tell the club's brass that he can be trusted to win games if and when the team gets good again.

Sandberg is pushing buttons with his roster like you might press every button (and the gas and brake pedals) on a rental car—hard, fast and too often.

Unfortunately, Sandberg's need to win an extra game or two now is doing terrible things to the Phillies' hopes of winning dozens of games in the future.

Center fielder Ben Revere entered the season as one of the few young players carrying the potential of doing exciting things for the Phillies, particularly in the leadoff spot. Revere hit .305 in 88 games last season and stole 22 bases. Over 162 games, the projections were thrilling.

Revere has struggled with injury a bit, but right now he is fully healthy and relegated to the bench in favor of the platoon of John Mayberry Jr. and Tony Gwynn Jr.

Does Sandberg think the superior talents of the platoon juniors' fathers are going to magically appear now? Both Mayberry Jr. and Gwynn Jr. are past their 30th birthdays and hitting under .220.

So what is the point of this move? Revere is 26. If he is not the Phillies' center fielder of the future, fine. But you still have to play him to try to squeeze a hot streak out of him so he can be traded to a contender in July.

Sandberg's treatment of Revere is odd, but compared to his mishandling of Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, his deployment of Revere is totally logical.

Hamels opened the season on the disabled list. So naturally in his fourth start of the season, Sandberg had Hamels throw 133 pitches in seven innings.

The Phillies still owe Hamels, 30, $90 million over the next four seasons. Blowing his shoulder or his elbow out in this already listing season is not the preferred course of action.

Then again, at least Hamels is as of this writing still active.

Cliff Lee, 35, is on the disabled list with a strained left elbow. Hey, how did that happen? Lee is a workhorse.

Here is how it happened. Sandberg has had Lee throw over 100 pitches in eight of his 10 starts this season, including a season-high 128 pitches on April 16—Lee's fifth start of the season.

The Phillies still owe Lee $37.5 million, with $25 million of it due next season. Having Lee's ulnar collateral ligament start floating around in his left elbow not would not only disable him, it would completely destroy his trade value should the Phillies want to explore that avenue later this summer.

Point to the struggles of the Phillies bullpen all you like. Risking the health of the team's two best pitchers is not an option. The Phillies lost Hamels' 133-pitch start; they lost Lee's 128-pitch start, too.

The situations of Hamels and Lee are so dire that no one even talks about A.J. Burnett's hernia anymore.

To recap, Sandberg is overextending older players in his rotation and burying a young center fielder in favor of veteran stopgaps, all in the name of prodding this aging team to 20-24 wins through 44 games.

Unlike a rental car, though, Sandberg cannot just return this team to Amaro Jr., et al in September and get himself another one for April 2015.

So it is time for Sandberg to ease up on the throttle where the old guys are concerned and to let the young guys (including Cody Asche and Jake Diekman) succeed or fail over the course of a full season.

Because while Sandberg may think what he is doing is creating optimum results, the modest short-term gains are almost guaranteed to be followed by an extended breakdown.

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Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg Looks Like He Has the Stomach for Phillies Job

May 22, 2014 by Scott Miller  
Filed under Fan News

Early scouting report on rookie manager Ryne Sandberg: strong leader, terrific with details, excellent with fundamentals, ability to teach old dogs new tricks, weak stomach.

Good thing for the Philadelphia Phillies that the weak stomach part doesn’t extend to the dugout.

The Hall of Famer, who is embarking on the next stage of his career (“Chapter 7: The Cheesesteak Years”), so far seems absolutely fine on the bench, leaning against the railing, writing out the lineup card, pulling the managerial levers during a game and even, when the moment has called for it, staring down veterans like Jonathan Papelbon and Jimmy Rollins.

It’s just the occasional burger that ruffles him, as you might have heard during the recent Shake Shack shakeup, when he noted he had come down with food poisoning and lost six pounds in two days. BURP.

Quiet by nature, you wouldn’t exactly expect Sandberg to wind up as part of a hilarious Jon Stewart tirade, but there he was, as you can see here.

Everyone knew it was going to be a different year in Philadelphia without jolly ol’ Charlie Manuel in charge. Sandberg, who replaced Manuel last Sept. 22, wasted no time in sending that message by feeding the Phillies a steady diet of fundamentals this spring.

“It’s definitely been different,” first baseman Ryan Howard says. “His style is a lot more work-oriented.”

That point was driven home quickly in the spring when Rollins found himself on the bench for three consecutive days because Sandberg thought the veteran shortstop was too lackadaisical during spring camp.

It was underlined again earlier this month when Sandberg called out closer Jonathan Papelbon for being unwilling to pitch for a third consecutive game.

It is not easy to change the culture of an entire club, which Sandberg was hired to do. It especially is not easy for a new manager to redirect a veteran club.

The Sandberg-Rollins imbroglio this spring was reminiscent of an incident early in Bobby Valentine’s one-year disaster with the Red Sox. Early in the season, he called out Kevin Youkilis, and Dustin Pedroia responded with his Shot Heard ‘Round Kenmore Square: “That’s not the way we go about our stuff around here.”

In that case, Valentine was a veteran manager inheriting a grizzled club that had been around the track a few times. And the situation quickly reached the point of no return.

In this case, Sandberg is a new manager working to establish his authority and earn the respect of veteran players who have done things their own way for years. His personality is totally different from that of Valentine, and no two situations are the same. Yet there are similarities, and in this case, the Rollins Moment now is a blip in the past.

“We covered a lot of things in spring training,” Sandberg said when we chatted late last month. “I tried to change the mentality a little bit about stressing fundamentals and practicing at it. So when we get on the field often back at home, we practice fundamentals, we review it.

“The coaching staff I have, which I’m very pleased with, we work with the players to help them stay on top of their game, whether they’re young players or veteran players. I see some of the veteran guys tweaking their games a little bit for better production and, for this stage of the game, what I feel they need to do to be good players and help our team win games.

“And there’s been good response from that.”

Sandberg, who has Larry Bowa as his bench coach and Bob McClure as his pitching coach, is a quiet and thoughtful man. Because he does not carry himself with an aggressive demeanor, it is easy to forget how great his career was and that he’s probably forgotten more baseball than many of those whom he is now managing will ever know.

He did not exactly inherit a powerhouse club (no matter what the Phillies may think internally), so it is difficult to judge his managerial chops on a mere 43 games. This is a flawed team with a bad bullpen, aging stars and health issues, the most recent of which came this week when ace Cliff Lee went onto the disabled list with a sore elbow.

“He had to break the club back down because the club had gotten away from fundamentals,” one National League executive said. “It became a power team, but now it’s not a power team, so he had to change the way they thought of the little things like the hit-and-run, bunting and all kinds of defensive adjustments.”

Whether the Phillies are able to fully adapt given their current roster construction remains in doubt. But that’s a flaw with the roster, not with Sandberg or his expectations. Whenever the Phillies consistently win again, it probably is going to have to be with a handful of different players who can do many of the things Sandberg preaches.

For now, at least, give the Phillies themselves credit for working to adapt. The Rollins thing does not appear to have any lingering effects, and more importantly, the veteran shortstop seems to have changed some of his ways. Notoriously one of the last to arrive in the clubhouse each afternoon, Rollins has moved up his arrival time.

And it is not just Rollins. Things are more regimented, tighter, across the board.

“Ryne has implemented a little more discipline,” reliever Mike Adams said. “He’s a stickler for small things. He makes sure things are organized. He wants everybody on a schedule, to have a routine.

“That’s just his preparation style. He’s really into the small things.”

It’s hard not to admire what Sandberg stands for and what he’s trying to do. From the start of spring training, if a Phillie did a drill wrong, he did it over. There is a right way to do things. And it doesn’t happen by being lazy or sloppy.

“Sometimes in this industry, we forget how important the basics are,” the NL executive said. “If you’re as sound of a fundamental team as the Cardinals have been, it can add two, three, four wins a year. Sometimes seven, eight, 10 wins. Get the bunt down, hit the cutoff man, be in the right location.

“Those things win games. [Sandberg is] very cognizant of what it takes to win a game.”

There’s not much Sandberg misses. There wasn’t when he played in Wrigley Field, and there isn’t from the dugout at Citizens Bank Park. It’s part of what gives him every chance to succeed in this managerial gig.

Why, you might even say the only thing that stands a chance of stopping him is a bad burger. And in the end, he even overcame that.

 

Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report. He has over two decades of experience covering MLB, including 14 years as a national baseball columnist at CBSSports.com.

Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball here.

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Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins Nearing 2nd Place on Franchise Hits List

May 19, 2014 by Bleacher Report Milestones  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins has been surprisingly productive this season, and he'll soon be rewarded with a new place in franchise history. Entering Tuesday's game against the Miami Marlins, Rollins is closing in on both second and third places on the Phillies' all-time hit list, per Baseball-Reference.com.

However, while there's no doubt that Rollins has 2,213 career hits or that second-place Richie Ashburn has 2,217, the hit total of third-place Ed Delahanty is a bit contentious. Baseball-Reference.com has Delahanty one ahead of Rollins with 2,214 hits in a Phillies uniform, while FanGraphs and MLB.com have the two Philadelphia standouts tied at 2,213 apiece.

Of course, regardless of which number is used for Delahanty, the 1890s legend will soon be fourth on the franchise hits list. A Hall of Famer who played just 13 seasons and 1,557 games in a Phillies uniform, Delahanty couldn't reasonably be expected to rank any higher. Rollins, for the sake of comparison, is in his 15th season with the Phillies and has played 1,991 games for the team.

Things are oddly tight at the top of the Phillies' hit list, as Rollins (2,213) trails second-place Ashburn (2,217) by just four base knocks and is only 21 behind first-place Mike Schmidt (2,234), who is widely regarded as the finest player in franchise history.

Rollins may soon top Schmidt and Ashburn in the franchise record books, but the long-time Phillies shortstop probably won't be joining them in the Hall of Fame. As impressive as his career has been, Rollins owns a lifetime .269/.328/.426 slash line that just doesn't quite seem Hall-worthy, even for one of the better defensive shortstops of his time.

 

All statistics from Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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5 Potential Deals Ruben Amaro Jr. Should Propose at the Deadline

May 16, 2014 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

Concerning the Philadelphia Phillies, there is good and bad news. The good news is that they are only 4.5 games out of first place in the NL East. The bad news? They're dead last in the division at 17-21, have lost three straight and are 3-7 in their last 10 games. One more note: They're 6-11 at home.

In order to make one last run at the playoffs, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was supposed to improve the team over the offseason in its most-needed areas. Marlon Byrd was not the worst pickup he could have made, but there was better out there. Carlos Ruiz was overpaid. And Brad Lincoln being the most significant bullpen addition Amaro made in the offseason speaks for itself.

Amaro needs to focus on the future. The window has closed, and it's time to accept that fact. What may hinder him from doing so, though, is the amount of money tied up to the Phillies' most attractive trade pieces. Most, if not all, of the Phillies' best trade chips are due guaranteed money in 2015, if not beyond.

However, it's time that Amaro and the Phillies front office get creative and make some trades that go against their self-imposed rules. That means eating salary when necessary. And it will be necessary for many players.

While it's too early to speculate on who the Phillies would get in return in a hypothetical fire sale, here is the framework for five deals Amaro should propose come the July 31 trade deadline.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

First-Quarter Stock Up, Stock Down for the Phillies’ Top 10 Prospects

May 12, 2014 by Zak Schmoll  
Filed under Fan News

Baseball season is already about a quarter of the way through, and by and large, the Philadelphia Phillies have many reasons to be excited about the future. Overall, in terms of prospect development, the Phillies have seen many of their players have success and even be promoted already.

Obviously, we are nowhere near the time of year when rosters expand, so we won’t see most of these guys for at least a little while, but it is good to see some promise.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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