Terry Ryan Hired as Phillies Special Assignment Scout: Latest Details, Reaction

November 30, 2016 by Adam Wells  
Filed under Fan News

Terry Ryan needed only five months to find a new job, with the Philadelphia Phillies hiring the former general manager as a special assignment scout. 

The Phillies announced Ryan's hiring in a press release on their official website. 

"I have known Terry for more than a decade and have enormous respect for all that he accomplished during his tenure with the Twins," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said in the release. "Terry's work ethic, loyalty and track record as a talent evaluator are simply unparalleled in our game."

Ryan previously worked with the Minnesota Twins, serving 19 years as general manager in two different stints from 1994 to 2007 and 2012 to 2016. He helped lead the franchise to four American League Central titles between 2002 and 2006, including an appearance in the American League Championship Series in 2002. 

The Twins became one of the American League's worst teams since 2011, losing at least 92 games five times in the previous six seasons. The team fired Ryan in July due to a reported disagreement with owner Jim Pohlad over how to go about improving the club, per Phil Miller of the Star Tribune.

The role of a special assignment scout can vary depending on the team. Typically, he will be used as one of the last channels of communication to a general manager before the GM decides to make a talent acquisition. 

Even though things fell apart with the Twins, Ryan did oversee a front office that led to the franchise having the best farm system in MLB before the 2014 season, with talent like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano among the top prospects. 

The Phillies are still in rebuilding mode with a promising farm system that will likely start to pay dividends as soon as 2017. Adding another sharp scouting mind to the mix like Ryan will ensure the talent pipeline in Philadelphia continues to stay strong. 

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Jeremy Hellickson Accepts Phillies’ Qualifying Offer: Contract Details, Reaction

November 14, 2016 by Adam Wells  
Filed under Fan News

After having his best season while with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2016, Jeremy Hellickson has decided to extend that partnership by accepting the team's $17.2 million qualifying offer.  

The Phillies announced the news on Monday after Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball first reported the decision.

Hellickson's 2016 season flew under the radar because the Phillies were bad, but he quietly turned in the best season of his seven-year career.

One of the big keys for Hellickson's success last season was staying healthy, which has been a problem for him since 2014, and something he acknowledged in September. 

"I've felt good every time out," Hellickson said, via Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com. "Felt good in between starts. I'm recovering like I was early in my career."

Hellickson doesn't have top-of-the-rotation stuff with a fastball that FanGraphs clocked at an average of 90.0 mph in 2016, but he's able to find different ways to succeed without posting gaudy strikeout numbers. 

His ground-ball percentage each of the last two seasons has been over 40 percent, per FanGraphs. The difference between his 2015 and 2016 performances was he got out of the hitter-friendly confines afforded by the Arizona Diamondbacks in Chase Field. 

With the Phillies still in a rebuilding mode but boasting talent at the MLB level like Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera with more coming through the pipeline, like shortstop J.P. Crawford, it's not inconceivable that there will be a return to relevance soon. 

Starting pitching was an area the Phillies were severely lacking last season. Hellickson and Jerad Eickhoff were the only pitchers to make at least 25 starts and total over 135 innings.

For Hellickson, still just 29 years old, remaining with a franchise that helped him turn in his best season as they continue to add talent and get better makes sense. He will be a stabilizing force in the rotation for the Phillies as they continue to look for those key pieces that will help them become a dominant force in the National League East. 

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Charlie Morton’s Contract Option Declined by Phillies: Latest Comments, Reaction

November 3, 2016 by Timothy Rapp  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies announced Thursday that they have declined to pick up the mutual option on pitcher Charlie Morton

Morton was set to earn a $9.5 million salary in 2017, but the Phillies instead exercised a $1 million buyout, per SB Nation's Chris Cotillo

Morton, 32, made just four starts in 2016, finishing 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 19 strikeouts in 17.1 innings pitched. He missed the majority of the season after tearing his hamstring in April. 

A major reason for the buyout was likely because it wouldn't have been guaranteed that Morton would have made the starting rotation given the team's bevy of young starters and prospects. Jerad Eickhoff, Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez are locks to earn spots on the rotation, while Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson, Alec Asher and perhaps even Mark Appel will compete for spots in the rotation.

In other words, Morton would have needed to have a very strong spring to earn a spot in the rotation this season. Given that Morton has pitched 150 or more innings just three times in his career and has dipped below a 3.70 ERA just once, the Phillies weren't willing to bet on his justifying a $9.5 million contract on the mound.

        

You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.

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Ryan Howard’s Contract Option Declined by Phillies: Latest Comments and Reaction

November 3, 2016 by Mike Chiari  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies made a long-expected move Thursday, as they announced they have declined the 2017 club option on first baseman Ryan Howard's contract, making him a free agent.

According to Spotrac, the Phils would have had to pay Howard $23 million next season had they exercised their club option, but they instead decided to buy him out for $10 million.

The Phillies honored the 36-year-old veteran prior to their final game of the 2016 regular season in a move that signaled the end of his time with the organization.

Despite that, Howard made it clear he wanted to continue playing elsewhere, according to ESPN.com: "I know there's more in the tank. I'll know when it's time."

Howard hit a career-low .196 last season, and his 56 RBI were the fewest of his career in a season that saw him play 100 or more games.

The 2001 fifth-round draft pick of the Phillies did club 25 homers, however, which was his highest total since hitting 33 in 2011.

Howard finished in the top 10 of MVP voting every year from 2006 through 2011 and won the award in 2006, when he hit .313 with 58 home runs and 149 RBI. He was named to three All-Star teams during that six-year run and averaged a .274/44/133 line per season while also leading the Phillies to a World Series championship.

The five years since then have illustrated a significant fall from grace, as Howard averaged a greatly reduced .226/19/66 line during that time frame.

With Howard's skills eroding at the plate and his already mediocre defense getting even worse, turning the page on him was an obvious move for the Phillies.

Also, 25-year-old Tommy Joseph emerged as a power threat at first base last season, hitting .247 with 21 home runs and 47 RBI.

There was no longer any room for Howard on the team with Philly fully embracing a youth movement, and keeping him for $23 million as a part-time player and pinch hitter wouldn't have been a smart economical decision.

Howard could still have some value, potentially as a designated hitter in the American League, but his best days are undoubtedly behind him.

If he can be had at a bargain price in free agency, then Howard's contributions in 2017 may be viewed far more favorably than they were when he underperformed while making over $20 million per season with the Phillies.

    

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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