Placido Polanco: Ruben Amaro Chose Wisely in the Winter of 2009

June 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

When Indiana Jones was finally able to reach the Grail room in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, he had to choose the correct cup. The Grail Knight protecting the cup said, “Choose wisely, for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.”

Of course, Jones “chose wisely,” according to the knight, and Walter Donovan didn’t have the same luck.

“He chose poorly,” the knight famously said.

In the winter of 2009, Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro was faced with a similar decision. No, he wasn’t facing a life-or-death situation, though sometimes having rapid and passionate Phillie fans angry with you might be 10 times worse.

Amaro was faced with the decision of who was going to be the Phillies’ third baseman for the next couple of years. The decision came down to free agents Mark DeRosa and Placido Polanco.

Between the two, DeRosa seemed to be the more logical choice at the time.

DeRosa is a northeast guy. He was born in New Jersey. He went to Bergen Catholic High School. And he went to college in Pennsylvania at the University of Pennsylvania.

DeRosa was also coming off a season where he hit 23 HRs and he could also play first, left field of right field if need be. He seemed like the perfect fit in Philadelphia.

Amaro didn’t see it that way. He decided that Polanco, a former Philly from 2002-2005, was a better fit, and man, was he right.

“He chose wisely.”

While DeRosa has played in only 44 games in a San Francisco Giants uniform because of a wrist injury and other ailments, Polanco has been rock solid in a Philly uniform.

Here a comparison of the two players since the beginning of the 2010 season:

Polanco has outproduced DeRosa in every way. He’s been an excellent signing for the Phillies and has been worth about three wins a season for them.

Amaro has done a great job in making the Phillies a powerhouse now and setting them up for success in the future. Making the right decisions like the one he made in the winter of 2009 have only helped with that process.

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Jose Contreras Lands On the Disabled List in Philadelphia

April 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies have placed closer Jose Contreras on the 15-day DL with a right flexor strain. There is no timetable for Contreras’ return.

With Brad Lidge and now Contreras out with injuries, the Phillies will go with Ryan Madson as their closer. Madson has a 1.00 ERA and has K’d 10/9 in nine innings of work in 2011. He saved games for the Phillies on both Friday night and Saturday night.

He is a must pickup in all fantasy formats. However, don’t be surprised if Madson blows a couple of saves every now and again. He has struggled in the role in the past.

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MLB 2011: Philadelphia Phillies Cut Luis Castillo

March 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

What does it say about what the Philadelphia Phillies thought of Luis Castillo that they cut in him in favor of Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez?

It says the Phillies think Castillo is toast. Perhaps if Steve Jeltz was still playing second for the Phillies, Castillo would have made the club. Actually, maybe not.

The Phillies cut Castillo a little more than a week after signing him to a minor league contract. Castillo would have made $414,000 if he made the Phillies’ roster, but since he didn’t, the Phillies don’t owe him ugatz.

With Chase Utley slated to start the year on the DL, the Phillies will roll with Valdez as their starting second baseman. Valdez has a career .240/.289/.326 slash line with five HR’s in 732 plate appearances.

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Philadelphia Phillies Closer Brad Lidge Out Until July

March 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

The injuries keep piling up for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Their season in March is starting to resemble what the Boston Red Sox went through in the middle of last season. All of a sudden, guys start going down in batches. Boston’s organizational depth was challenged in 2010, and it looks like the Phillies will be challenged in 2011.

The latest guy to go down for the Phillies? Closer Brad Lidge.

According to the Wilmington News Journal, Lidge has a partially torn rotator cuff and will be shut down completely for three to six weeks. Once that period is over, Lidge will then begin a strength conditioning program and the goal is to be ready in the second half.

This certainly stings the nostrils if you are a Philly fan.

While Lidge is out, the Phillies will go with Jose Contreras as their closer. Ryan Madson will continue to set up.

Contreras is a must-pickup in fantasy leagues. Consider him a low-end No. 2 fantasy closer going forward. He reminds me a Fernando Rodney-type closer. He will get his saves, but make every outing exciting.


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Philadelphia Phillies’ Domonic Brown Breaks Hand

March 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Let’s just say these past two weeks won’t be the “Best of times” section in Domonic Brown‘s autobiography.

On Friday, I wrote about Brown’s recent struggles at the plate. At the time he was 0-for-15 with 9 whiffs. Now in a span of 24 hours, it’s gone from bad to worse for the Philadelphia Phillies’ OF.

Brown fractured the hamate bone in his right hand on Saturday while taking a swing. This sounds very familiar to what happened to David Ortiz a couple of years ago. Brown will most likely need surgery and will be out a minimum of three to six weeks.

To be honest, this might not be the worst thing in the world for Brown. The Phillies had him so messed up with his stance and swing, this might give him some time to clear his head.

Brown will still be a big part of what the Phillies do in 2011, but it might not be until May or even June now that he makes an impact.

Ben Francisco is the biggest beneficiary of Brown’s injury. He should see the majority of the playing time in right for the Phillies. John Mayberry Jr. and Ross Gload could also see some playing time as well.

Francisco hit .268/.327/.441 with with six HRs in 197 plate appearances for the Phillies in 2010.

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Domonic Brown on Borrowed Time with the Philadelphia Phillies

March 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

If Domonic Brown is going to win the starting right fielder job for the Philadelphia Phillies out of spring training, he is going to need to start figuring things out at the plate.

After another 0-for-3 performance against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, Brown is now 0-for-15 this spring training with a whopping nine strikeouts. He looks completely lost at the plate.

I would say the main reason for his struggles is the fact that he is screwing around with his batting stance. Throughout his career, Brown has always held his hands above his head. Now, Phillies’ hitting coach Greg Gross has convinced Brown to lower his hands in the batter’s box, and the results obviously haven’t been pretty so far.

There is no point in panicking just five games into spring training if you are a Phillies fan, but Brown’s new stance is just not working. I had the opportunity to watch Brown against the Detroit Tigers as well as the New York Yankees and he couldn’t even catch up to average fastballs right down the middle.

He looked tentative and uncomfortable.

I understand Rome was not built in a day, but if Brown doesn’t start showing that his new stance is working, I would imagine that the Phillies will have him go back to his old stance and take their chances.

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Joe Blanton’s Trade Market: Who Wants the Philadelphia Phillies Righty?

December 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

The weather here in the northeast is unbelievable. I hope everyone is staying safe and not trying to travel in this snowstorm and the aftermath of it.

Speaking of  the northeast, the Philadelphia Phillies haven’t made too many moves this offseason, but the one move they did make had major impact on the landscape of Major League Baseball. When they signed Cliff Lee, they sent a ripple effect throughout baseball that everyone is still talking about.

Now with Lee in the fold, the Phillies have four aces in their five-man rotation. The fifth guy, Joe Blanton, might just be the odd man out.

The Phillies are looking to trade Blanton so they can free up money to potentially make a move if they have to during the season. Now that the Phillies are looking to trade the former Oakland Athletic, let’s take a look at the pros, cons, and which teams could be interested in Blanton.


In a day and age where finding pitchers to eat up innings is a rarity, Blanton can eat up innings with the best of them. In his six full seasons in the Major Leagues, Blanton has averaged 199 innings a season. That’s pretty good.

And those 199 innings a season aren’t hollow innings. There is some substance in his performance.

In his three years in Philadelphia, Blanton has averaged 7.1 K/9, which is right on par with pitchers like Matt Cain and and Johnny Cueto.

While a lot of people will look at Blanton’s 4.82 ERA and notice it was tied for the highest of his career, he also had some bad luck in 2010. Hitters had a .331 BABIP against Blanton in 201o, which is about 30 points higher than their career average against him. I would expect that number to come back down in 2011, which will make Blanton’s peripherals look a lot better.

The last pro for Blanton is his contract. Two years and $16 million for Blanton is a pretty reasonable contract—$8 million a year is the going rate for a No. 3 or 4 starter these days and Blanton has performed to that amount throughout his career.


At the end of the day, Joe Blanton is, well, Joe Blanton. He’s not a No. 1 starter, but he’s not a ham n’ egger either. He’s your classic middle of the road starter.

On most nights, Blanton is a guy who is going to pitch five or six innings, give up eight hits, four runs, 3 walks and strike out three while throwing 110 pitches. That’s remarkably average.

And Blanton was remarkably average in 2010. He saw a dip in his K/9 from 7.5 to 6.7 and he had his highest WHIP since 2006 at 1.42.

A team is going to have to ask themselves are they willing to assume $16 million in salary and trade a couple of prospects for No. 3 starter at best. That line of thinking could eliminate a lot of teams as trade possibilities.

Now that we looked at the pros and cons of Blanton, let’s see which teams might be interested in trading for the former University of Kentucky hurler.

Washington Nationals: If the Nationals miss out on Carl Pavano, Blanton could be a fall back option. Sadly, Blanton would be the Nationals’ No. 1 starter in 2011.

Chicago Cubs: The Cubs have had their eye on Matt Garza for some time now, but if they can’t pull off a trade for him, then Blanton could be Plan B.

Colorado Rockies: The Rockies really need another pitcher behind Ubaldo Jimenez and Jorge de la Rosa and Blanton could be that guy. Plus, he has experience pitching in a hitter’s ballpark.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks need a pitcher, but I think they A) don’t want to trade young players and B) don’t want to assume Blanton’s salary.

New York Yankees: It would be such a slap in the Yankees’ grill if the Phillies traded Blanton to New York to fill the spot that should have been filled by Lee. But what do the Yankees do if Andy Pettitte retires?

Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles have done a lot of good things this offseason, like adding Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy, but their starting rotation is still horrendous. Perhaps Blanton can fill the role that Kevin Millwood filled last season or should I say, attempted to fill.

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Cliff Lee Shocks Baseball, Signs With The Philadelphia Phillies

December 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

So, I guess there was a mystery team after all.

Usually when an agent tells everyone there is a “mystery team,” it’s nine times out of 10 just him trying to make agent speak and trying to drum up interest in his client.

It’s like when a girl tells you she is leaving for another guy. You kind of don’t believe it, but in the end, it proves to be true.

Unfortunately for the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers, there was a mystery team involved in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, and that team was the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Phillies shocked baseball early this morning when they signed Lee to a five-year, $120 million contract. The contract also includes a vesting option for a sixth year.

I am for one, am shocked. I thought if there really was a mystery team, it would have been the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I thought they might have been desperate enough to outbid everyone.

I am not shocked, however, that Lee spurned the Yankees. I called this back in November in my Free Agent Primer.

Let’s go back to two winters ago and the CC Sabathia negotiations. It seemed Sabathia had very little interest in pitching in New York. By all accounts, he wanted to stay in California. But because he was a free agent in the most depressed baseball market in years, no other team could afford him except for the Yankees.

Even then, Brian Cashman had to fly to California, bid against himself and practically beg Sabathia to come to NY. If any of the California teams were seriously interested in Sabathia at that time, I would bet he would be pitching with those teams instead of the Yankees right now.

My point is, this time around the Yankees had serious competition and the player they were going after had options. The Yankees weren’t the only game in town.

Lee never showed to have much interest in NY and choose the best situation for him and his family. The key word in that last sentence is “choose.”

Unlike Sabathia, Lee didn’t have to sign with the Yankees out of default.

Lee clearly liked his time spent in Philadelphia back in 2009 and now gives the Phillies a rotation for the ages. Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and Lee is one ridiculous five-man rotation.

The Phillies now have $147 million tied up into 11 players. Look for them to try to trade Blanton or Raul Ibanez to free up some money.

So the question is, which team lost out more on not getting Lee? The Rangers or the Yankees?

I am going to say the Rangers on this one. Despite the fact that Lee wouldn’t have taken up a good chunk of their payroll, he gave them something they haven’t had in years—a true, bona fide, punch-you-in-the-mouth ace.

Lee made the Rangers a World Series contender. He gave them someone that can walk into any stadium and shut another team down.

Now the Rangers have a bunch of No. 2 and 3 starters in their rotation. That might be good enough to win the division, but, as they found out this season, aces win the World Series, not No. 3 starters.

Expect the “Zack Greinke to the Rangers” trade rumors to heat up.

The reason the Yankees don’t hurt as much as the Rangers do in this one is because they still have Sabathia and Phil Hughes. Would Lee have shifted the balance of power back in the Yankees’ favor in the AL East? Yes it would have. But it’s not the end of the world.

Expect the Yankees to bring back Andy Pettitte to fill out the rotation. I don’t expect them to pursue Greinke at all.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Roy Halladay Runs Away With National League Cy Young Award

November 16, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

My Preseason National League Cy Young Pick: Roy Halladay

2010 National League Cy Young winner: Roy Halladay

At the All Star break, Colorado Rockies’ ace Ubaldo Jimenez was the odds on favorite to win the NL Cy Young award. He was 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and even had a no-hitter to his credit.

Halladay, who had a lower ERA than Jimenez (2.19), seemed to be lying in the background. And just like Zenyatta, Halladay made a furious run in the second half to win his second Cy Young.

He received all 32 first-place votes as he joined Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez and Gaylord Perry as the only pitchers to win a Cy Young award in both leagues.

Halladay is really in a league by himself. I always believed Greg Maddux was the best pure pitcher I had ever seen, but what Halladay has been able to do over the last couple years is making me re-think my belief.

My second-guessing comes because Halladay is doing something these days that almost no other pitcher is doing on a consistent basis—throwing complete games. In an era where the complete game is almost nonexistent, Halladay does it without breaking a sweat.

Over the past three years, Halladay has 27 complete games. During that span, no other pitcher has over 20. “Doc” has complete mastery of his craft.

Halladay lead the National League in wins (21), IP (250.2), Complete Games (nine), Shutouts (4), BB/9 (1.1), K’s/BB (7.3), and WAR (6.6). He also finished second in K’s (219) and WHIP (1.04).

Halladay’s two shining moments during the season were his perfect game against the Florida Marlins on May 29th and, of course, his no-hitter in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds. That was a game for the ages.

It’s very rare that an accomplishment in sports captivates non-sports fans. I manage 12 females during my day job (no, I don’t work at a strip club) and trust me when I tell you, sports conversation is not on the agenda during the day.

However, I did have two of the members of my team come up to me the next day and ask me if I watched the Halladay game last night—it was that kind of sports moment.

Congratulations to Halladay on winning the Cy Young. I would say he is the odds on favorite to win the award next year, as well.


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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies-Giants: Philadelphia’s Bullpen Dominates NLCS Game 5

October 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Even the great ones need a hand sometimes.

Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum were supposed to be the stars in Game 5 Thursday night, but it was the Philadelphia Phillies’ bullpen that lent Halladay a hand and stole the show Thursday night as the Phillies staved off elimination and beat the San Francisco Giants 4-2.

The Giants now lead the best-of-seven NLCS 3-2.

This game was very similar to Game 1 in which both Lincecum and Halladay were good, but neither was great. I would venture to say Lincecum out-pitched Halladay, but it was one inning that did him in.

Lincecum gave up three runs in the third thanks to a bloop single by Raul Ibanez, a hit batter, a bunt that was foul, but was called fair and then a big error by first baseman Aubrey Huff.

The big play of the inning was the Halladay bunt that was foul, but was called fair by home plate umpire Jeff Nelson. The bunt was not even a foot in front of Nelson, so I am not sure how he missed it.

Buster Posey picked up the ball and tried to get Ibanez at third, but Pablo Sandoval couldn’t get to the bag in time and Ibanez was safe. Carlos Ruiz advanced to second and now the Phillies were set up with second and third and one out.

Interesting note about this play. Halladay didn’t run to first right away. Eventually he just jogged to first.

At the time, I thought to myself, how could he not run to first and try to help himself out? The reason he didn’t run was because, as Charlie Manuel later revealed in his press conference, Halladay pulled his groin the inning before.

The next batter was Shane Victorino, and he grounded sharply to first. The ball hit off Huff’s glove and knee and ricocheted out into right field.

Keith Hernandez Huff is not.

The Phillies added an all important third run in the inning and took a 3-1 lead.

From there, Halladay took over. Well, sort of.

Halladay was by no means great in this game. When Halladay walked Andres Torres to lead off the game, you just knew Doc wasn’t on top of his game.

Halladay went six innings mainly because the Giants did a good job of running up his pitch count. Halladay gave up six hits, two runs, two walks and struck out five. Not a classic Halladay performance, but it was good enough.

After Halladay departed, the bullpen did the rest.

Jose Contreras, J.C. Romero, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge were the hot knives and the Giants batters were butter. The foursome combined to pitch three innings of one-hit, no-run baseball, while striking out five.

Madson was the most impressive of the bunch. I thought he would be tired after throwing 37 pitches the night before, but he went through Buster Posey, Pat Burrell and Cody Ross with no problem. He struck them out on just 13 pitches.

Overall, this might have been the best game the Phillies have played from top to bottom this series. Now they head home and it wouldn’t shock me or anyone else if they come back to win this series.

Game 4 will be Saturday.

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