Marlon Byrd’s High Price Tag Means Missed Opportunity for Phillies

July 31, 2014 by Michelle Bruton  
Filed under Fan News

According to David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News, the Philadelphia Phillies were expected to move Marlon Byrd by the MLB non-waiver trade deadline at 4 p.m. ET Thursday, but the final hours came and went, and Byrd was placed in the lineup for Thursday's game against the Nationals, per CSN Philadelphia's John Clark. 

Though NJ.com's A.J. Perez had the news that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was not looking for "top prospects" for the right fielder, several other outlets reported that Philadelphia's asking price was "extremely high," including CBS' Baseball Insider Jon Heyman

Amaro contends that other clubs "were not aggressive enough" in their talks with the Phillies, but it's not hard to see why Amaro's contract gave some teams pause. 

Meghan Montemurro of The News Journal had the details of Amaro's contract, which includes $8 million owed next season with an $8 million club option for 2016 that becomes guaranteed with 600 plate appearances in 2015 or 1,100 in 2014-15.

Byrd had a limited no-trade clause in his contract that involved four teams, including the Seattle Mariners, according to Heyman, and would only waive that clause if those teams picked up his 2016 option. It appears the $16 million price tag for Byrd was too much for the Mariners and other reportedly interested partners to swallow.

The Phillies and New York Mets were the only teams in the National League East that didn't move at least one player, per Perez. Shortly after the trade deadline passed, the hashtag #FireRuben was trending (h/t The700Level). 

Byrd is having a productive year for the Phillies, batting .270 with 20 home runs and 60 RBIs in 106 games. But trading Byrd, who turns 37 next month, was a valuable opportunity to get younger and build for the future that Amaro missed out on. 

As if to underscore that point, starting pitcher Cliff Lee, who shares a birthday with Byrd and will turn 36, exited Thursday's game with an apparent elbow injury, per ESPN's Buster Olney, reinforcing the need for young talent on this club.

Bleacher Report National MLB Columnist Scott Miller and Phillies beat writers alike reflected the mood in Philadelphia Thursday. The Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Gelb called the day's events a "damning commentary" on the "flawed roster" Amaro has constructed. 

It's not an unfair criticism. Amaro didn't impress with his offseason additions and has now missed his second opportunity to take this team into the postseason, instead setting the Phillies up for an early exit in September. Carrying three players worth $20 million or more with the third-largest bankroll in baseball and failing to balance the roster with young, inexpensive players who can produce is what creates a "flawed roster."

Failing to deal one of your most expensive—and most attractive—commodities is what constitutes a missed opportunity. 

Moreover, Amaro was taking a risk by betting on the health of star pitcher Lee, the linchpin holding this team together. With his elbow injury Thursday, the wheels just came off for Philadelphia. 

Gelb reported Thursday evening that Amaro "is confident" he will still be the team's general manger come winter but that he hasn't had any conversations with president David Montgomery. 

Montgomery, however, was quoted as saying in June that he didn't want the team to rebuild because attendance would fall, per Kevin Cooney of the Bucks County Courier Times (subscription required), so fans hoping for an ousting of Amaro could be dismayed to find he and Montgomery are of a like mind. 

The Phillies and then-free agent Byrd agreed to the two-year, $16 million deal last November. This season, the San Diego Padres traded outfielder Chris Denorfia to Seattle for pitcher Stephen Kohlscheen and outfielder Abraham Almonte, while the Arizona Diamondbacks got outfielder Mitch Haniger and pitcher Anthony Banda from the Milwaukee Brewers for trading outfielder Gerardo Parra.

Moves around the league suggest the Phillies could have gotten a good return on Byrd had they lowered their asks. 

For now, fans will have to hope Amaro can make something happen in August, when the Phillies could try again by placing Byrd on waivers and hoping another team claims him. If that were to happen, the claiming team would be responsible for the rest of Byrd's contract, which would free up some money and allow the Phillies to get younger. 

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Stock Up, Stock Down for Philadelphia Phillies’ Top 10 Prospects for Week 17

July 28, 2014 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

With the MLB non-waiver trade deadline looming on July 31, the focus around baseball tends to be on what major league teams will be doing to bolster their rosters. Whether it's by means of acquiring talent for the home stretch or for the future, many names will switch places over the next few days, if they haven't already.

In the case of the Philadelphia Phillies, who reside in last place in the NL East with a 46-59 record, any talent they acquire will be of the minor league and/or prospect variety. They will not be a team trying to trade prospects away because they aren't in any sort of playoff race and the farm system is too depleted to be able to sacrifice the little depth it has. Consequently, the Phillies prospects will continue to develop along their current tracks within the Phillies organization.

Without further ado, here's the Week 17 edition of Stock Up, Stock Down for the Phillies' top prospects.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Cliff Lee Concludes Interview with Loud Fart, Asks If Reporters Got It on Tape

July 22, 2014 by Dan Carson  
Filed under Fan News

If there are no more questions, Cliff Lee would like to end this interview on a wet, crinkly note. 

After two months on the disabled list, the Philadelphia Phillies starter returned to the mound in uninspiring form Monday night, chalking up one of the worst games of his career against the San Francisco Giants (12 hits, six runs in just under six innings).

It was a night to forget for Lee, who could be hopping towns if the Phillies can convince an eligible suitor to take a chance on the 35-year-old lefty and pick up the $12.5 million buyout left on his contract.

Thus, Lee concluded what could have been one of his final interviews in a Phillies uniform with a definitive (ceremonious?) passing of gas. 

CSNPhilly.com (h/t Barry Petchesky of Deadspin) was on hand to capture the endearing moment.

After halfheartedly going through the postgame motions with reporters (he wants to win games; he’s not worried about leaving Philly), Lee waited patiently for a final question from the pack.

The pause soured into awkwardness, and, sensing conclusion, Lee adjourned the forum with a judicious gavel clap of butt thunder.

Is there any punctuation in public discourse more final than the screech of the barking spider? I believe there is not. 

No matter how serious the business or matter afoot, it will be derailed—if not ended entirely—by the sound of the boxer bugle’s crisp reveille. Farts end discussions and, as Lee proved, introduce newer, deeper lines of conversation. 

“Did you get that on tape?” Lee asked, not in the least ashamed.

Yes, the reporters got that all down, and if Mr. Lee believes his bottom was misquoted, he may take that up with the editors at CSN.

 

Follow me on Twitter for more sports and flatulence-related news.

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10 Realistic Trades Philadelphia Phillies Could Make at 2014 MLB Trade Deadline

July 21, 2014 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

During the MLB All-Star break, players and fans alike took a four-day breather from the rigorous 162-game season to celebrate the best players in the game and to focus on other priorities for a few days. From a fan perspective, this could not have been any truer for supporters of the Philadelphia Phillies, who have watched the team go 43-55 and sit 11 games out in last place in the National League East division.

Consequently, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has publicly said that changes are coming to this team (per CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury). Whether that's in the form of trades, minor league promotions or both, it's worth noting that this is arguably the most candid Amaro has ever been concerning the state of the team during his tenure as Phillies GM.

So where does Amaro go from here? It's almost a foregone conclusion that the Phillies will sell at this year's trade deadline. Given the lack of production on the major league team and the lack of offense and starting pitching depth throughout the organization (per Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer), the Phillies need to—and for once, likely will—make as many moves as possible to replenish the dearth of talent in the farm system.

Amaro's job could also hang in the balance of this trade deadline. In a radio interview with 97.5 The Fanatic's Mike Missanelli, Amaro was asked if he has been guaranteed an offseason to clean up this mess. Although Amaro did not explicitly say he has not been given that promise, he was dodgy in his answer and it led to an inferred conclusion that that is indeed the case.

This trade deadline is both the most important for the Phillies and for Amaro in recent history. On the brink of what will likely be a full-out rebuilding phase, the Phillies need to get pieces to jump-start the process.

Amaro is responsible for bringing in talent—and the right talent at that—to create the future for the Phillies. The difference between years past and 2014, however, is that Amaro has no margin for error. If Amaro makes even a slight mistake, it could mean the difference between his employment after 2014 and a new general manager at the helm in 2015.

Due to the Phillies' current state, all trades in this slideshow will be of the selling variety. The Phillies are not in a position to be acquiring talent by surrendering the few minor league pieces they have. There are no spare parts, and that's what needs to change going forward.

Please keep in mind as well that the following list of trades, which are based on rumor, speculation or both, are not all intended to happen. Rather, any of the following trades are meant to be feasible possibilities, but it's not like the Phillies will likely be making 10 trades in the span of roughly 10 days.

Ladies and gentlemen, with that in mind, here are 10 realistic trades the Phillies could make at or before the 2014 MLB non-waiver trade deadline.

*All prospect rankings and commentary are courtesy of Baseball America's 2014 Prospect Handbook unless otherwise noted. All contract information courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

A.J. Burnett Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation Surrounding Phillies Star

July 20, 2014 by Sean ODonnell  
Filed under Fan News

Updates from Tuesday, July 22

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports on the teams that A.J. Burnett could be traded to without consent:

Original Text

The Philadelphia Phillies signed right-hander A.J. Burnett to a one-year deal worth $16 million in guaranteed money over the spring, but the pitcher hasn't quite lived up to expectations.

In 21 starts this season, Burnett has a 6-9 record, an ERA of 4.08 and a 1.36 WHIP, allowing 128 hits and 70 runs while striking out 113 batters. Needless to say, he hasn't been able to replicate the success he had with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013.

Despite some struggles this year, Burnett has still garnered the interest of contending teams looking to bolster their rotations before the July 31 trade deadline.

According to a tweet from Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, the Baltimore Orioles are one such team:

Even though the Orioles currently boast a 53-43 record and hold the top spot in the AL East, the team's total 3.85 ERA is only good enough to rank 17th in the majors.

Baltimore appears to be strongly considering adding Burnett, as Morosi tweeted initial talks with the Phillies have already begun:

It could be speculated that Burnett would welcome the move, as Mike Axisa of CBSSports.com notes the pitcher's wife is from Maryland and the couple live there during the offseason.

The New York Yankees find themselves with pitching issues due to a rash of injuries, and according to a report from George A. King of the New York Postthe team could consider filling the void with Burnett:

With Samardzija and Hammel off the market, trade options are slimmer. The Rays aren't likely to deal David Price within the AL East and Cliff Lee of the Phillies has to prove he is healthy. The Phillies would move A.J. Burnett, but the Yankees don't have a strong interest in bringing back the right-hander. With Samardzija and Hammel gone, the price on secondary starters such as Ian Kennedy likely has risen.

Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com also weighed in with reports surrounding Burnett:

The Yankees and Blue Jays are both looking for starting pitching, but sources say they are cool on Burnett. Baltimore and Pittsburgh could be possibilities, but first there might have to be more movement on the starting pitching market as teams wait to see what happens with Lee and David Price.

That may be a long shot, as New York's interest doesn't seem to be elevated; however, it's certainly something to keep an eye on.

Burnett recently told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that he's not looking to be traded anywhere this season:

I signed here to play here. I'm not a guy who looks for an out or wants to get out because things aren't going the right way. If that happens, then it happens, but I'm not looking to move on. This is my team. I understand how things work, but I'm trying not to worry about it. I just try to go about my business and enjoy my teammates.

The pitcher may end up having some say in the matter. According to Spotrac.com, he has a limited no-trade clause in his current contract. But, Burnett's fate may still be decided by which team ultimately pursues him.

As for the Phillies, the team currently holds a 43-54 record but isn't offloading players just for the sake of doing so. Philadelphia hasn't made an attempt to trade Cole Hamels, and Cliff Lee is still rehabbing from an elbow injury.

The Phillies hold a team ERA of 3.89, which is lower than several of the league's contending teams, and the team's future looks bright with prospects such as Jesse Biddle, Ethan Martin and Adam Morgan developing.

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Jonathan Papelbon Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz, Speculation Involving Phillies Star

July 20, 2014 by Sean ODonnell  
Filed under Fan News

Jonathan Papelbon is in the midst of his best season with the Philadelphia Phillies—and most productive since his 2006 showing with the Boston Red Sox—through 39 appearances this season.

The closer is currently boasting a 1.17 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 23 saves while allowing just 23 hits and five earned runs in 38.1 innings pitched.     

His performance this season appears to have caught the eye of reliever-needy contenders.

According to Mark Saxon of ESPN, the 54-45 Los Angeles Dodgers were looking to acquire the pitcher's services:

However, that rumor was superseded by another, as Saxon tweeted this one day later:

Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com also reported financial details surrounding a potential trade involving Papelbon:

The Tigers, Giants and Orioles could still be in the market for a closer. Papelbon is owed the remainder of $13 million for this season, another $13 million next season and has a reachable option for another $13 million in 2016, so he is not cheap. Amaro is on record as saying he would eat some salary to move certain players. Papelbon is likely one of them. The team, sources say, was willing to eat up to half of Papelbon’s salary in the offseason. Papelbon is having an excellent season so it’s unclear whether the Phillies would still be willing to eat that much.

The Dodgers weren't the only Los Angeles team to have some kind of interest in Papelbon. Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, reported that the Angels were interested—albeit, on a limited basis:

Although speculation has focused on San Diego Padres closer Huston Street, the Angels also are interested in two other Padres pitchers: setup man Joaquin Benoit and starter Ian Kennedy. The Angels are less interested in Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon and Texas Rangers closer Joakim Soria.

Well, that speculation appears to be ancient history as well, due to the team's recent acquisition of Huston Street.

Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe also weighed in on the possibility of Papelbon joining the Dodgers:

The Dodgers already have some interesting personalities in their clubhouse, so adding one more probably isn’t a big deal. Papelbon has worn out his welcome in Philly, but he’s had a very good year. So the Dodgers, in need of a late-inning reliever, could partake. 

At first glance, you'd think Philadelphia's phones would be blowing up for calls regarding Papelbon with Street now off the market. As it turns out, that's not the case.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the next coveted closer is Texas Rangers right-hander Joakim Soria:

So, why are teams balking at the idea of acquiring Papelbon's services? Well, his contract may have something to do with it.

According to Spotrac.com, Papelbon is making a base salary of $13 million this year—and also for the next two years. With pitchers like Soria making roughly $7 million, it may be difficult for teams to warrant spending that extra money.

This situation could prove to be frustrating for Papelbon, as he's made it clear a trade to a contending team would be welcomed.

After all, the Phillies continue to struggle this season and are currently floundering in the cellar of the NL East with a 43-54 record, and the pitcher expressed his desire to possibly leave Philadelphia during an interview with Todd Zolecki of MLB.com:

Some guys want to stay on a losing team? That's mind-boggling to me. I think that's a no-brainer.

You know, I came here for a reason, and I say that because I'm with a group of guys in the bullpen that can do very special things in the future. I've been waiting for that, you know what I mean? It's fun to be a part of that, it really is. We are there finally with our bullpen. So that aspect of it would kind of suck to leave. But at the same time, winning is the cure-all of cure-alls.

With July 31 fast approaching, Papelbon will soon learn of his fate. But for now, he'll have to wait and see if a contending team is still scrambling to find a reliever in the final hours before the trade deadline.

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Stock Up, Stock Down for Philadelphia Phillies’ Top 10 Prospects for Week 16

July 20, 2014 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

As the All-Star break has ended for the major leagues, so too has it ended for some of the upper minor leagues. Although the lower minors held theirs more than a month ago in some cases, prospects are nonetheless entering the home stretch of the 2014 season.

Concerning the Philadelphia Phillies' prospects, some are coming off of their respective level's All-Star games, while others haven't exactly been spectacular in recent days.

At the unofficial halfway point in the 2014 season, here's a look at what the Phillies' top prospects have been up to over the past week.

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. All statistics courtesy of MiLB.com.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Cliff Lee Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz, Speculation Surrounding Phillies Star

July 18, 2014 by Adam Wells  
Filed under Fan News

Updates from Tuesday, July 22

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports on the teams Cliff Lee could be traded to without his approval: 

Lee’s deal also includes a limited no-trade clause that allows him to block trades to 20 teams. According to a baseball source, Lee has listed Atlanta, Cleveland, Houston, Miami, Minnesota, the New York Mets, San Diego, Tampa Bay and Washington as the nine teams he can be traded to without his consent.

Updates from Monday, July 21

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported on teams taking a look at Cliff Lee after his return from the disabled list:

Fox Sports' Jon Morosi reports how many teams are on Cliff Lee's no-trade list: 

 

Original Text

On Friday night, the Philadelphia Phillies begin their second half in the National League East cellar with a 42-53 record. General manager Ruben Amaro has several assets who will be very valuable in trades, including left-handed pitcher Cliff Lee. 

According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, word around Philadelphia is the team would rather move Lee than Cole Hamels. 

"The strong belief, based on talks so far with the Phillies," wrote Heyman, "is that the team would much prefer to trade Cliff Lee than Cole Hamels."

However, another general manager quoted in Heyman's report wonders how you can possibly trade for Lee now, because he "isn't pitching."

Lee pitched in only 10 games this season before going on the disabled list May 20 with a left elbow strain. He was terrific in the games he did pitch, posting a 3.18 ERA with 61 strikeouts and nine walks in 68 innings. 

If you are asking teams to trade for Lee, who is 35 years old and will make $25 million in 2015 with a vesting option for $27.5 million in 2016, they need to see what he's capable of doing and whether the financial investment is worth the cost. 

The 2008 American League Cy Young winner is on track to return July 21, according to manager Ryne Sandberg, per Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

There is still no definitive word on what the Phillies plan to do at the deadline. Amaro did recently say the team would be "open to anything," via another report from Heyman. That's the first logical quote from Philadelphia's general manager in almost two years. 

Given how expensive Lee will be the rest of this season and next season, it seems likely the Phillies will have to pick up some of that contract to get the package they want or settle for a lesser deal in order to get a team to take on all that money. 

Lee has been an impact starting pitcher for seven years, and there was little to suggest that was going to change before he got hurt, so a team in need of pitching help can elevate its standing dramatically if it acquires the lefty.

It's still a steep price to pay for anyone, especially a pitcher coming off an arm injury who will turn 36 on August 30. 

 

If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter. 

 

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5 Prospects the Philadelphia Phillies Should Give a Shot in the 2nd Half

July 18, 2014 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

In the midst of what is likely a lost season, the Philadelphia Phillies haven't had extensive experience with this situation in recent years. The 2012 season still showed some hope when the Phillies caught lightning in a bottle in September to get to an even 81-81 record, while last year's club found some winning ways in mid-June and mid-July before the wheels fell off.

In 2014, there has been no such luck. The Phillies won five in a row not too long ago, but they then proceeded to lose two straight before the All-Star break. While the Phillies aren't in as dire of straits as they were in their shockingly-poor 2012 campaign, it is clearer now that this team is producing to its potential, not underperforming as was thought to be the case back then.

Such circumstances mean that players will likely be traded come the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, while others could be shipped off in August through waiver deals. With vacancies emerging on the major league roster, opportunities will present themselves for prospects and minor league players to get a chance to impress at the major league level.

What would the Phillies have to lose? Absolutely nothing. Giving prospects a chance would allow the Phillies to get a long look at what they have so they can evaluate their talent, which helps for knowing how to approach the offseason and spring training in 2015.

Without further ado, here are five prospects the Phillies should give a shot in the second half of the season.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Chase Utley Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz, Speculation Surrounding Phillies Star

July 14, 2014 by Matt Fitzgerald  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is gearing up for the All-Star Game. Even though he's having a stellar season as the only All-Star from the only club he's played for in his MLB career, Utley may be susceptible to a trade.

According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, Philadelphia is mulling an overhaul that could include sending Utley, 35, out of town in favor of more youth and developmental players:

The Phillies, who are operating under the organizational mantra of "we’ve got to get younger," would rather build around [Cole] Hamels than deal him, but if they do they can’t reap the rewards of the likely three good young players they’d get in return.  Their longtime shortstop/second base combination of Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley aren’t willing to move anywhere. Both could probably net some minor league depth, particularly Utley, who is coveted.

The outside interest in Utley seems to be driving the Phillies' consideration to trade him more than anything. Even at this advanced stage of his career, he is still producing well enough to be an All-Star starter. Utley is batting .293 with eight home runs and 46 RBI in 2014.

That could be attractive enough to entice a true World Series contender to sacrifice assets in exchange for a shot at the Commissioner's Trophy this autumn. Since Utley already won a World Series in Philadelphia in 2008, he has championship experience and would have a more realistic shot to win a second Fall Classic elsewhere.

But Utley said he wants to remain with the Phillies, per a Monday report by Philly.com's Ryan Lawrence:

I haven’t ever envisioned leaving Philadelphia, honestly. I feel like I’m wanted in Philly. I feel like the fans appreciate the way I play. I feel like the front office appreciates the way I play. And I appreciate their support over the years. I don’t plan on going anywhere, but, again, if someone comes up to me and says you’re no longer wanted in Philly, then I’ll have to change my tune.

Although his contract is just two years guaranteed, there are vesting options based on certain incentives that could see Utley play out four additional seasons with the organization. Utley also has a full no-trade clause as part of the deal, which will make it more difficult for the Phillies to move him.

Utley is also immensely popular, as Calkins Media's Kevin Cooney can attest to:

Based on the direction Philadelphia is headed, though, even the previous, apparent long-term commitment to see Utley never wear another uniform may run its course prematurely.

The Phillies are languishing in last place in the National League East. Barring an unforeseen turnaround, not even Utley's best efforts are likely to get them back into the postseason chase. One problem is that Philadelphia would lose a big bat in its already struggling lineup, which is 25th in runs scored this season.

Then there are the sentimental implications of sending Utley packing. The beloved ballplayer would be missed by Phillies fans, and it would be difficult to sell the new direction of the team—unless Philadelphia gets absolutely enormous compensation in return.

Utley's recent reassurance suggests that he is staying put, but this rumor will persist until the non-waiver MLB trade deadline arrives and passes on July 31.

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