Phillies’ Chase Utley Becomes 12th Player in Franchise History with 1500 Hits

June 30, 2014 by Bleacher Report Milestones  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley recorded the 1,500th hit of his career in Sunday afternoon's contest against the Atlanta Braves, per MLB Milestones on Twitter.

With one out in the seventh inning and his Phillies down 3-2, Utley singled back up the middle into center field off Braves starter Aaron Harang for the milestone base knock. The moment didn't last long though, as Utley was unceremoniously sent back to the dugout when the next batter, Ryan Howard, hit into an inning-ending double play.

The first-place Braves would ultimately hold on to beat the Phillies 3-2, leaving Philadelphia eight games back of the division lead.

Utley, who has spent his entire 12-year career with the Phillies, is just the 12th player in franchise history to record 1,500 hits with the team. He's moving into some select company on the Phillies' all-time franchise lists, as he's already in the top 10 for both doubles and home runs, per Baseball-Reference.com

Utley has 322 two-baggers, good for seventh place on a list topped by current teammate Jimmy Rollins, who has 470 doubles of his own.

As for home runs, Utley's 223 rank sixth in Phillies franchise history. Teammate Ryan Howard is second with 325, while the great Mike Schmidt sits atop the leaderboard with 548 career home runs, all hit in a Phillies uniform.

 

 

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Stock Up, Stock Down for the Phillies’ Top 10 Prospects for Week 13

June 30, 2014 by Zak Schmoll  
Filed under Fan News

The Phillies have had an interesting week on the farm.

Several of the players in this article struggled mightily, but others have rebounded from recent slumps. There seems to be trends developing at this point of the year, though, and the signs are not encouraging for some. Prospects are seeing their stock drop every week, but we can hope that their issues will be corrected.

I'm sorry for beginning this post on a somewhat negative note, but perhaps this will be the final time I have do so. Maybe this coming week will be better for the Phillies' farm system.

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Cole Hamels’ Hot Streak Means Phillies Must Cash In on Blockbuster Trade

June 23, 2014 by Joe Giglio  
Filed under Fan News

The 2014 Philadelphia Phillies are in an unenviable spot, wedged between the faint hope of contention and the reality of long-term ramifications with an aging roster. Stuck in the middle of a confusing summer at Citizens Bank Park: homegrown left-handed ace Cole Hamels.

In a logical world, general manager Ruben Amaro would be wiser than to draw meaning from a recent five-game winning streak. Despite the charge, including a three-game sweep of the Braves in Atlanta, the Phillies reside at 34-40, in last place in the NL East and owners of a slim 10 percent chance to qualify for the postseason, per ESPN.

If Amaro and Philadelphia's front office do hold a fire sale, Hamels' name won't be at the forefront. Upon signing a long-term deal in summer 2012, the now 30-year-old was expected to bridge the gap from past to future success for the former NL East juggernauts. 

With older pieces like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Marlon Byrd, A.J. Burnett, Jonathan Papelbon, Cliff Lee and Carlos Ruiz on the 25-man roster, the Phillies could realistically hold an open auction without moving on from Hamels.

Yet, if the team truly wants to get younger, improve an unimpressive farm system and trade the faint hope of contention in 2014 for a true shot at glory in 2016 and beyond, Hamels represents the best chance for a franchise-changing haul.

While the septet of veterans could net the Phillies varying degrees of prospects and salary relief, none of those readily expendable names comes without concerns.

From age (Rollins, Byrd, Ruiz are all 35 or older) to injury concerns (Lee is currently on the DL with an elbow injury) to regional trade implications (Burnett won't play far from his Monkton, Maryland, home) to drop in velocity (Papelbon), it won't be easy for Amaro to find teams willing to sacrifice top prospects for his marquee veterans.

Hamels, however, is a different story. Since May 11, the former World Series MVP has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. In nine starts over that span, the potential NL All-Star has posted the following eye-opening numbers: 65 IP, 1.66 ERA, 46 H, 70 SO, 22 BB and .201 batting average against. 

That streak included a stretch of 23.2 innings without yielding a run, the second-best streak of Hamels' nine-year career. 

Despite that dominance, Hamels has only two personal victories to show for his work. Worse, Philadelphia has lost five of his nine excellent starts due to a dearth in run support. Despite the frustration, Hamels doesn't want to be moved unless the Phillies engage in a full-scale rebuilding mode, per Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly.

“Then it’s a different situation,” Hamels said. “And I think you kind of have to look at it in a different way because your careers are only so long. Your good years only last so long. You want to make them count."

For as much as Hamels wants to make his prime count, the Phillies need to make it count even more. By cashing in its best chip now, Philadelphia can expedite a rebuilding process that should have begun last year, if not sooner.

Furthermore, with 24 of 30 teams (including Philadelphia) within six games of postseason position entering play on June 23, an abundance of contenders could be looking for help over the next six weeks, with impact starting pitching at the forefront of potential discussions.

When surveying the scene of potentially available starting pitchers, Hamels stands out for two distinct reasons: 2014 excellence and a reasonable long-term deal moving forward. From 2015-18, Hamels is due $22.5 million per season. In total, $90 million over four years is a bargain for a star-level lefty in his early 30s.

While the following chart includes lower-priced arms and one lefty outshining Hamels this season, the best combination of age, production and cost assurance belongs to the biggest trade chip that Amaro currently owns.

For contending teams, the trading season will represent the annual tug of war between winning now and preserving the future. Thanks to excellent production and a reasonable long-term deal, Hamels represents the best of both worlds. His potential inclusion on the open market would change the entire specter of the 2014 season, along with altering the future of the Phillies.

During an interview with SportsRadio 94 WIP in Philadelphia on Monday morning, Amaro was asked about the potential of moving Hamels before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Although the general manager expressed the desire to move forward with Hamels in the organization, his response was void of any guarantee, per CBS Philly.

"I have to keep my mind open on everything,” Amaro said. “Again, some of these guys have limited no-trade clauses. Clearly, we’d like to keep Hamels because I think he’s going to be a part of any transition we might have to make.”

If Amaro's mind is truly open and Hamels continues to mow down National League hitters, offers will come in for the excellent starter.

The 2014 Phillies may be decent enough to make a run in a mediocre NL East, but the odds say that a trip to October is a long shot. If the franchise wants to reposition itself for future trips to the postseason, it's time to cash Hamels in for potential stars.


Agree? Disagree?

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.comFanGraphs and ESPN unless otherwise noted and valid entering play on June 23.

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

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Stock Up, Stock Down for the Phillies’ Top 10 Prospects at Midseason

June 23, 2014 by Zak Schmoll  
Filed under Fan News

The major league Phillies got on a bit of a hot streak this past week, but the same can't be said for their prospects. Although there have certainly been some positive developments for some of the players on the following list, performances are becoming inconsistent and potentially problematic.

That being said, we are only about halfway through the season, so there's plenty of time for a second-half rebound.

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

The Biggest Issues Philadelphia Phillies Must Address at the Trade Deadline

June 20, 2014 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

For the third consecutive season, the Philadelphia Phillies are going into the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline as a team that could, in theory, ship off some of its veterans in exchange for prospects who could help out the team in the future. Also for the third consecutive season, the Phillies have not firmly established themselves as definitive contenders or pretenders.

While the 2012 season—one that was considered an anomaly at the time—was the worst of the three, the Phillies have been a losing team and have spent more days in recent years with a losing record than within fighting distance of the top of the NL East division. It's led to the departures of Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Michael Young and John McDonald over the last two years.

This season, while the murkiest of the three in what lies ahead, could be the most radical yet.

The Phillies are not getting any younger, and they aren't getting cheaper, either. It's why expensive veterans such as Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins and even Chase Utley, to an extent, are possibly available in trades.

This is a Phillies team without a clear road map in front of them. They have approached a fork in the road, yet they remain stuck there, indecisive on which road to take.

What needs to be addressed at this year's trade deadline? Plenty, ranging from players to personnel to prospects, both physically and metaphorically. Not only is the minor league system thin, but so are this team's hopes for future success. Here's a rundown of what exactly are the biggest issues the Phillies must address at the 2014 trade deadline.

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Jimmy Rollins’ All-Time Phillies Hit Record Leaves Lasting Legacy, HOF Debate

June 14, 2014 by Joe Giglio  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins is now the all-time hit king in franchise history, surpassing Mike Schmidt with career hit No. 2,235 on Saturday afternoon against Cubs starter Edwin Jackson. After 15 years of borderline Hall of Fame-caliber play, the best shortstop in the history of Philadelphia now has the number to cement his legacy.

Since arriving to Veterans Stadium as a dynamic, athletic and switch-hitting force in 2000, Rollins has been a model of consistency and durability as the Phillies franchise transformed from laughing stock to National League powerhouse. Along the way, Rollins racked up gaudy numbers, but was overshadowed at times by teammates like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.

Now, as the Phillies' run of excellence has ended, Rollins is back to where he was when his sterling career began: a standout in a sea of poor baseball.

While stars like Utley and Cole Hamels still remind Philadelphia baseball fans of winning days, the roster isn't good enough to compete. By next month, a roster purge could commence around the July 31 trade deadline.

Yet, in this moment, Rollins deserves the attention that has somehow eluded a player that will one day be enshrined in the Phillies Wall of Fame at Citizens Bank Park. Perhaps, a trip to another hall of fame will also one day commence.  

As Jayson Stark of ESPN dutifully described, Rollins' Hall of Fame case isn't buoyed by becoming the all-time hit leader in Phillies history, but another credential certainly doesn't hurt. With unique statistics—such as the 400 SB/200 HR club—each marquee moment left in Rollins' career doubles as another reason for Hall of Fame consideration.

Upon breaking the record held by the legendary Schmidt, Rollins vaulted atop the all-important hits category in franchise history. As you can see from the following chart, it's not the only area in which he's excelled and rewritten the record books over the past 15 seasons.

Schmidt, the gold standard for Philadelphia baseball players and possibly the best third baseman in the history of the sport, recently talked about Rollins' career statistics and the idea of misinterpretation around a player with a batting average of just .268, per Bob Brookover of The Philadelphia Inquirer

"We were kidding in the clubhouse that we have the same career batting average," Schmidt said. "I think a lot of teams would like to have Jimmy Rollins as their shortstop." 

Schmidt may have been talking about the present, but his assertion could work across the annals of baseball history. Time will tell if Rollins' career deserves legitimate Cooperstown conversation, but there's little denying that a special shortstop has been in Philadelphia for a long, long time.

The following chart shows where Rollins ranks among the most prolific shortstops ever, but it's almost more remarkable to think about some of the names he's ahead of on those respective lists, per Baseball-Reference (subscription required). 

With more home runs than Barry Larkin or Alan Trammell, Rollins brought power to Philadelphia's lineup. By scoring more runs than Ozzie Smith or Joe Cronin, Rollins consistently did his duty as a leadoff hitter. In the midst of swiping more bases than Derek Jeter or Omar Vizquel, Rollins added a different dynamic to the offense. 

Of course, unlike many of the great shortstops in history, Rollins played at a time where Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, Troy Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez excelled. Upon breaking into the league, Cal Ripken Jr.—then a third baseman—still loomed over the position.

Perhaps in a different era, Rollins would have been a big fish in a small pond. In recent memory, however, his offensive exploits became mundane to contemporary baseball fans accustomed to productive shortstops.

Rollins' legacy—both in Philadelphia and around the sport—has been subdued. This franchise hit chase, however, has rightly cast a spotlight on a player that teammates admire for work ethic and consistency. 
 

After a recent start against the San Diego Padres, A.J. Burnett spoke about Rollins' path to the record and why his teammate deserves credit.

"You have to feel good for Jimmy during this chase," Burnett said. "He's been an incredible player for years and deserves credit for taking care of his body, staying consistent with his approach and aging well. It's not easy to keep hitting or pitching at a high level as the years creep up. I'll tell you what, I love playing with him."

Closer Jonathan Papelbon, upon racking up his 300th career save, talked about how easy it is for individual numbers to get lost in the shuffle when a team is struggling to win games.

"Sometimes stats, like my saves or his hits, can get overlooked when the team isn't performing as well as everyone hoped, but he deserves his moment," Papelbon said. "To pass Mike Schmidt is amazing. I love watching him play and playing alongside him. Jimmy is special."

As the years go on, Papelbon's quote could become a prescient view on Rollins. Since 2000, words like "talented" and "brash" have been used frequently to describe the three-time NL All-Star and 2007 NL MVP, but rarely are fans or columnists willing to use the word "special" to describe this rare talent.

Now, after years of piling up games, plate appearances and hits, Rollins sits alone atop the Phillies franchise hit list. In time, future generations will look at Rollins and Schmidt alongside each other as the most prolific hit men in franchise history.

Beyond that? Memories of a special player will commence and the Cooperstown debate will rage on.


Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.comFanGraphs and ESPN, unless otherwise noted. 
All contract figures courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts. Roster projections via MLB Depth Charts. Burnett and Papelbon quotes obtained firsthand.

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

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses of Philadelphia Phillies’ Top 10 Prospects

June 13, 2014 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

Although the Philadelphia Phillies are in the midst of their longest winning streak in over a year, they are still one of the worst teams in baseball at 28-36. They sit dead last in the NL East, and despite being just a half-game behind the fourth-place New York Mets, they have shown no promise of contending this year.

As pessimistic as that sounds, it's the unfortunate truth. With that said, perhaps the most exciting part of the Phillies is not who's playing for them now but who's inclined to don a Phillies uniform in the future.

Now that the 2014 MLB draft is in the rear-view mirror, the focus can return to whom the Phillies have in their system at this present time. While the Phillies have not yet signed all of their draft picks—they have until July 15 to do so—all but two of their first 10 draft picks, including first-rounder Aaron Nola, have signed as of the publishing of this article.

Even though the best part about discussing prospects is their upside, all prospects have their downside as well, which isn't always considered. In order to accurately gauge a prospect, one must take both sides of the spectrum into account.

Here are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of the Phillies' top-10 prospects.

 

All prospects on this list have yet to make their MLB debuts. All prospect commentary courtesy of the 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook and/or MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies’ Jonathan Papelbon Records 300th Career Save

June 12, 2014 by Bleacher Report Milestones  
Filed under Fan News

With a scoreless ninth inning in Tuesday's game against the San Diego Padres, Jonathan Papelbon of the Philadelphia Phillies recorded his 14th save of the 2014 season and No. 300 for his career. He joined Joe Nathan (354) and Francisco Rodriguez (323) on the list of active players who have reached the 300-save mark, per ESPN Stats & Info

At 300 career saves, Papelbon is tied with Jason Isringhausen and Bruce Sutter in 24th place on the all-time list. To break into the top 20 this season, Papelbon will need to log at least 12 more saves, which would move him past Tom Henke, who tallied 311 over his career. 

The 33-year-old Papelbon needed 585.1 innings—spread across 10 MLB seasons—to become the 26th member of the 300-save club. He closed the majority of his games as a member of the Boston Red Sox, earning 219 saves during a seven-season stretch that included four straight All-Star Game selections from 2006 to 2009. The right-hander put together an impressive streak of seven consecutive 30-save seasons from 2006 to 2012 before falling one short at 29 in 2013, his second year with the Phillies.

Now in his third year with Philadelphia, he hasn't blown a save since his first attempt of the season back on April 2, converting 14 consecutive opportunities since that date. Following another appearance Wednesday, he has gone eight consecutive outings without allowing a run and owns a 1.42 ERA and 1.02 WHIP for the year. 

 

All stats courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise specified.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Jonathan Papelbon’s 300th Save Mirrors His Philadelphia Phillies Career

June 11, 2014 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

Jonathan Papelbon earned his 300th career save in a manner befitting his entire tenure as the Phillies' closer.

For starters, much like Papelbon's Phillies career, it probably should have never happened (subscription required), as ESPN's Keith Law wrote at length when the Phillies signed Papelbon to a four-year, $44 million contract.

"The history of signing relievers to deals of that length is simply too awful to ignore," Law wrote then. This season, the myth of the proven closer is taking a new and severe beating from the failures of relievers like Jim Johnson and Grant Balfour.

Papelbon's 300th career save should arguably never have happened because, up 5-2 in the eighth inning, the Phillies loaded the bases only to see Ryan Howard, Marlon Byrd and Domonic Brown all strike out.

Had any of those three "sluggers" driven a run in, the save situation would have been off the board and Papelbon would likely not have begun the ninth inning.

Then, much like Papelbon's tenure in Philadelphia, his ninth inning got messy.

It took him 28 pitches to retire a wholly non-threatening San Diego Padres lineup that is presently dead last in the National League in batting. Papelbon had the Padres down to their last strike before hitting Padres catcher Rene Rivera (hitting .227 this season) with a pitch to load the bases.

And finally, like his whole Philadelphia story, everything somehow ended pretty well for Papelbon. He induced a fielder's choice groundout, the Phillies won and Papelbon had his milestone save.

This too is consistent with both the perception and the reality of Papelbon's two-and-a-half seasons in Philadelphia.

Papelbon blew a high-profile save in Texas in the first series of this season, and quickly the emphasis on his diminished velocity was all anyone wanted to talk about.

Two months on, Papelbon's earned run average is a paltry 1.48, he is striking out more than seven batters per nine innings and his WHIP is an above-average 1.07. Papelbon only has 14 saves, but then it is hard to save a game your team is losing in the ninth inning.

And it is not like Papelbon's prior two seasons were subpar, either. He made the 2012 All-Star team, saving 38 of the Phillies' 81 wins that season while posting a 2.44 earned run average and a 1.06 WHIP.

2013 saw some regression (29 saves, 2.92 earned run average, seven blown saves), but Papelbon was hardly the reason the Phillies only won 73 games last season.

Papelbon's main crime right now is being overpaid to perform a role that a team that is 10 games under .500 simply cannot afford to splurge on.

But Papelbon did not force the Phillies to offer him all that money, and neither Papelbon nor the Phillies could have known how fast the Phillies would plummet into mediocrity.

At a time when every move Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has ever made is under white-hot scrutiny, the Papelbon signing can only fairly be called a net positive—even if Papelbon is often hard to watch, or like.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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

June 9, 2014 by Zak Schmoll  
Filed under Fan News

It was an interesting week down on the farm for the Philadelphia Phillies. Many of the guys who had been underperforming so far had comebacks, but some of the frequently strong performers slipped off this week.

However, three of the players on this list are now in the majors, and that does speak a good deal to the team's development system. It is always nice to see guys make it to The Show.

Also, it is interesting that almost everyone on this list has returned from injury, even though most of them have dealt with injuries at some point this season. With one more recovery, the Phillies prospects will be ready to develop into higher-level performers.

Anyway, you always hope for a week where everyone overperforms, but this week was not too bad for the Phillies' top 10 prospects.

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Next Page »