Phillies’ Signing of Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez Means Cliff Lee Not Going Anywhere

July 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Fan News

Cuban-born pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez may not have pitched a single inning in Major League Baseball, but he could be the missing link the Philadelphia Phillies have been looking for.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the Phillies have inked Gonzalez to a six-year, $48 million contract, with an option for a seventh year at $11 millionbringing the total value to $59 million. That represents the largest international signing ever.

The Phillies obviously thought that Gonzalez was worth it, outbidding the Boston Red Sox and several other teams.

For teams who may have thought they might have a shot at landing Phillies starter Cliff Lee, they could now be very disappointed.

Gonzalez is considered to be a pitcher who’s already ready for the majors and may just need a couple of minor league starts to acclimate himself.

The Phillies are five games under .500 and a full 10 games out of a wild-card spot in the National League, but this is clearly a signing that indicates Philadelphia is at least looking at a postseason berth in 2014, if not this season.

According to Passan, Gonzalez has a solid four-pitch repertoire that recently impressed just about every scout who attended workouts in Mexico.


Re-Tooling, Not Rebuilding

In recent weeks, the Phillies’ fate as either a buyer or seller has been discussed ad nauseum. Several weeks ago, general manager Ruben Amaro gave every indication that he simply wasn’t interested in offering up players like Lee, despite the team’s mediocre start to the season.

However, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN wrote on Friday that several teams were interested in Lee, and that Amaro was at least listening.

Via Crasnick: 

I never put any real absolutes on anything. Although we don’t have any desire to move a guy like that because we view him as someone who will be key to our future, I am a businessperson as well and I’ll be a good listener.

That could have been nothing but a smokescreen.

The acquisition of Gonzalez gives the Phillies a solid foursome along with Lee, Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick. That doesn’t even include Roy Halladay, who has a $20 million option for next season that will likely be declined. That doesn’t mean that Halladay couldn’t come back for much less, however.

Think of that for a starting five, if Halladay comes back healthy.

It simply doesn’t sound like a team that’s going be selling off any of its pitching parts anytime soon.


Future Television Money Means Phillies Can Keep Playing With Big Boys

The Phillies can’t necessarily cry poor-mouth—they have the third-highest payroll, according to USA Today. But they aren’t blessed with a TV deal quite like the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers, either.

That could be changing very soon.

The Phillies could be in line for a TV deal that nets them somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 billion. That’s certainly enough to continue paying the likes of Lee, Halladay, Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon and now Gonzalez. 

That’s a whole lot of incentive for the Phillies to have traveled to Tijuana last month to watch Gonzalez pitch. And it’s a lot of incentive to sign him and keep everyone else as well.

Let’s face it—the Phillies have some issues. Injuries have decimated their bullpen, with Jeremy Horst and Mike Adams now out for the season. Ryan Howard is likely out until at least late August with a torn meniscus. Their best power hitter, Domonic Brown, just hit the seven-day disabled list with a concussion, and Chase Utley isn’t getting any younger. 

It’s a stretch to think the Phillies have a snowball’s chance in hell of making the postseason this year. 

But with a rotation that boasts of Lee, Hamels, Gonzalez, Kendrick and Halladay, the 2014 season is all of a sudden looking a whole lot brighter. And the Phillies will have the benefit of a potential $5 billion TV deal that can help cushion the financial blow.

So, to the teams that are currently salivating at the thought of Cliff Lee helping their drive for postseason glory this season, they might have to consider Plan B.

Could Amaro still consider dealing Lee? He said it himself: He’s a businessman. He’ll at least listen. He’d be a fool to turn down a deal that completely overwhelmed him. But it would absolutely have to be a slam-dunk type deal to convince Amaro that Lee needs to be moved.

He has a pitcher in Gonzalez who could very well be the missing link for next season, and who could potentially help in 2013 as well. He has a possible TV deal that will keep the Phillies in the black for quite a while. 

That’s a whole lot of hope. And for teams pining away for Lee, it’s a lot of heartache as well. 


Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.

Feel free to talk baseball with Doug anytime on Twitter.


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Vernon Wells Phillies Rumors: Trade Would Be Colossal Mistake for Aging Team

December 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Fan News

Vernon Wells to the Philadelphia Phillies. At least that’s what the latest rumors would have you believe.

For Phillies fans, it could be more of a nightmare than a happy thought.

According to Jon Heyman of, Wells is drawing interest from the Phillies, who are looking to add an impact bat from the right side.

With the signing of free-agent slugger Josh Hamilton, the Angels have a logjam in their outfield. With Hamilton, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo expected to be the starters, that leaves Peter Bourjos and Wells as the extras.

Something’s gotta give.

It’s been no secret to anyone that the Angels want to unload Wells. Recent reports have the New York Yankees interested in adding Wells as well.

Wells’ stay in Anaheim has not been pleasant. Over two years, Well has hit just .222 with a .667 OPS.

A thumb injury kept Wells on the disabled list for over two months last season. The transition of Trumbo to the outfield along with the spirited play of Trout kept Wells on the bench for much of the latter part of the season as well.

Add to that the fact that the Angels owe Wells $42 million over the next two seasons, and you have some pretty good reasons why they’re so anxious to ship him elsewhere.

However, the Phillies should simply and quietly walk away from this discussion.

Money likely wouldn’t be an issue for the Phillies, who are already challenged with a high payroll. The Angels presumably would pony up significant cash to help pay the remaining money on Wells’ contract.

The issue is age and production.

With the exception of newcomer Ben Revere, everyone in the starting lineup for the Phillies is over the age of 30. recently discussed the Revere acquisition and how his presence helps the Phillies in terms of his youth and athleticism.

Doesn’t acquiring Wells counteract that?

There’s no question the Phillies could use some power from the right side to complement lefties Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.

They could use some more youth to complement their ages as well.

In addition, Heyman mentioned that the Phillies are looking for a cleanup hitter to hit behind Howard. Wells’ .222/.258/.409 slash line over the past two seasons does not scream cleanup, it screams bottom of the order.

Free agent Cody Ross has also been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Phillies. In perusing various forums and reading writers’ comments about Ross, it’s obvious that fans don’t believe that Ross is the answer.

If they feel that way about Ross, they have to be apoplectic about the possibility of Wells roaming left field at Citizens Bank Park.

This is an idea that the Phillies need to get out of their head. Desperate times do not require desperate measures.

Acquiring Wells qualifies as a desperate measure.


Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.

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5 Free-Agent Sluggers Who Could Fix Philadelphia Phillies’ Power Outage

November 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Fan News

Throughout the mid-to-late 2000s, the Philadelphia Phillies played long ball with the best of any team in Major League Baseball. Now, however, that power is starting to flicker.

In 2009, the Phillies hit 224 home runs when they returned to the World Series to defend their championship.

But in the last two seasons, the Phillies have hit just 311 home runs combined—153 in 2011 and 158 in 2012—finishing 18th in the league in both seasons.

It’s pretty telling when your shortstop—Jimmy Rollins—is your home-run leader with 23 and the second-place man—Hunter Pence with 17—left the team in late July.

Some of that missing power obviously has a lot to do with extended absences of both Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, but they still need a little assistance.

Bob Brookover of believes the answer is in the power, and re-energizing that power. That’s certainly hard to argue his point, especially with Citizens Bank Park being known as a hitters’ park.

So, just who could the Phillies look toward to find that power?

Let’s take a look.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Is It Now Mayberry Time in Left Field for the Phillies?

May 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

I’m not sure if there is a Raul Ibanez bobblehead night coming up anytime soon at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, but if there is, the Phillies might want to consider cancelling that event.

The Phillies have the second-best record in Major League Baseball at 18-9, and their vaunted starting pitching has been as advertised, with their top four of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels posting a combined record of 12-5 with a 2.99 ERA.

Despite the absence of slugging second baseman Chase Utley, the offense has not been as anemic as feared. Ryan Howard certainly did his part, with six homers and a league-leading 28 runs batted in, and Placido Polanco is third in the National League with a .385 average.

Their biggest issue right now is in left field, where Ibanez is currently mired in a terrible 0-for-34 slump, and his batting average has dipped to .156, about 70 points under his playing weight.

Recently, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has given reserve outfielder John Mayberry at-bats against left-handed pitchers in four of the last five opportunities, and has indicated that Mayberry will continue to receive more at-bats. However, with Ibanez’s current slump, shouldn’t Mayberry be getting ALL the at-bats?

Mayberry has done well with the opportunities presented to him, currently hitting .313 on the season with a .874 OPS.

As it stands right now, Ibanez has the ninth-worst slump in the major leagues over the last 20 seasons among regular position players, and stands just 12 at-bats away from the worst slump in history, suffered by Bill Bergen of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1909.

That is an anchor on the lineup that the Phillies must let go of before it sinks the lineup.

While there are those in baseball that are big believers in letting veterans work out of their slumps, this is certainly NOT one of those cases. At 38 years of age, Ibanez saw his power numbers shrink across the board last season, and with his current slide there appears to be no upside whatsoever in continuing to pencil his name into the lineup.

So, that begs the question: What should the Phillies do about left field?

One of the bigger schools of thought among writers, experts, fans and fantasy baseball freaks is to immediately start the Domonic Brown era in Philadelphia, and move Ben Francisco to left field.

By all accounts, Brown would have had an excellent shot at doing that at the start of the 2011 season, but Brown broke his hamate bone, landing him on the DL. Today, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. made the decision to activate Brown from the disabled list, and then assigned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

With Ibanez currently locked in his horrific slump, the move was a bit of a surprise. Amaro Jr. could have elected to keep Brown on the DL and allow him to continue his rehab, with the possibility of activation from the DL straight to the Phillies within the next two weeks. But Amaro Jr. was not of that school of thought.

“I’m not going to bring Domonic Brown just to bring Domonic Brown,” Amaro Jr. told Bob Putnam of “We’re going to bring Domonic Brown when he’s ready to play in the big leagues and contribute here.”

Um, Ruben, do you mean contribute more than Ibanez is now?

Another school of thought is to have John Mayberry playing in left field full-time.

As mentioned earlier, Mayberry has done quite well with the opportunities presented to him, hitting .313 on the young season—albeit against mainly left-handed pitchers.

However, can he REALLY hit as badly as .156 against right-handed pitchers? With no specific timetable set for Utley’s return, there is no need to keep putting a position player out on the field and sacrificing an automatic out every time up.

The pitching staff has been terrific, but even they need a pickup from time to time. Having Ibanez in the lineup is a rally-killer that isn’t necessary.

By all accounts, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is a players’ manager, with a tendency to give players the benefit of the doubt. However, how much rope do you want to continue giving Ibanez? With his 39th birthday coming up in June, Ibanez is not going to be finding a power source anytime soon. That ship has sailed.

The Phillies are off to a great start, they’re pitching well, and their offense hasn’t yet sunk the team. If there was ever a time to make a move, that time is now.

For continuing coverage of Major League Baseball, follow Doug on Twitter @Sports_A_Holic.

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Roy Halladay Postseason No-Hitter: Greatest Achievement in the Last 25 Years?

October 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay completely dominated the Cincinnati Reds on his way to the second no-hitter ever thrown in postseason history, and one thought came to mind: He simply made it look easy.

The last 25 years of postseason baseball have brought many thrilling plays, and while many of them could be best-of-all-time contenders, none of them compares to the performance that Roy Halladay delivered today.

By its very definition, a postseason no-hitter ranks among the best events in overall baseball history itself, particularly when you consider that it had previously been achieved one time.

In October 1956, Don Larsen threw a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the World Series, becoming the only pitcher to achieve the feat.

Fifty-four years have passed since that historic event, and dozens of no-hitters and even a few perfect games have been achieved since then. However, none of them were thrown in postseason play.

Halladay also becomes the first pitcher in 37 years to throw two no-hitters in the same season, matching the mark set by Hall-of-Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.

There is also the game itself, and his accomplishments during the game made it indeed special to watch.

Halladay threw 104 pitches, 79 for strikes, a whopping 76 percent strike to ball ratio. That in itself is masterful.

Halladay went 0-2 to 11 batters, literally freezing Reds hitters with an array of fastballs, sinkers, and devastating curveballs.

The most incredible statistic of the night was that he threw 23 of 27 first-pitch strikes. Not only was he showing that his command was on target, it also showed confidence in his defense behind him.

The only hard-struck ball hit off Halladay all game was in the third inning when Reds pitcher Travis Wood lined out to Jayson Werth in short right field.

This was a masterpiece of epic proportions. Halladay, who had won 169 career games before making his debut in the postseason, was almost stoic in his responses after the game.

“It’s surreal, it really is,” Halladay said. “I just wanted to pitch here, to pitch in the postseason. To go out and have a game like that, it’s a dream come true.”

And, in usual Halladay fashion, he preferred to give the credit to his catcher, Carlos Ruiz.

“I felt like we got in a groove early,” Halladay said. “Carlos has been great all year, he helps me get into a rhythm early, throwing strikes.”

Throw strikes he did, and we were witness to an event that has only happened twice in 107 years of postseason play. That in itself truly makes this the single greatest achievement in the last 25 years of postseason play.

Doug is a featured columnist for and Green Celebrity Network.

For breaking updates in the world of sports, follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.


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MLB Playoff Predictions: 10 Reasons the Philadelphia Phillies Will Win It All

October 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Now that the 2010 MLB regular season has been completed and the divisional playoff pairings have been decided, all of the baseball prognosticators will be out in force, attempting to give their predictions on which team will likely emerge as World Champions.

These same scribes, statisticians, former players and sabremetricians will no doubt distribute mountains of data and spew out fact-based analysis to support their arguments.

They will also undoubtedly base their findings on their own spectacular histories in correctly predicting previous winners.

MLB Network has even hired 237 additional current ballplayers who are not competing in the playoffs to provide their own analysis during the month of October.

Well, that’s a bit of a white lie, but you get my meaning.

Here at Bleacher Report, we pride ourselves on bringing our readers quality content all season long on the 4,860 games played throughout the season, logging thousands of hours in supplying scores, recaps, analysis, breakdowns and commentary.

We’ll also join the bandwagon and give you our unabashed opinion about who will win it all in 2010.

For this writer, that team is without question the Philadelphia Phillies.

Now I am not a sabremetrician, nor am I a scribe with years of experience following the Phillies. But I do know this: There are ten reasons in that I strongly believe in that leads me to make this bold prediction, and we’ll explore those reasons right now.

Doug is a featured columnist for and Green Celebrity Network.  

For continuing sports updates, follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.

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This Day in Sports, August 20: Phillies Lose Record 23rd Straight Game

August 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Ignominy is a terrible thing. Waking up and wondering whether or not you’re going to lose another game today is a horrible way to start the day. The 1961 Philadelphia Phillies collectively harbored those same thoughts. On August 20, 1961, the Phillies lost their 23rd consecutive game, a modern baseball record.

The Phillies had enjoyed a rare rise to prominence a decade earlier, culminating with the famous “Whiz Kids” winning the National League pennant on the final day of the 1950 regular season. Hopes quickly faded after that, as key members of that team either retired or were traded, plunging the Phillies back to the familiar state of mediocrity.

In 1961, the Phillies were predicted to once again be near or at the bottom of the National League standings. They did not disappoint, plodding through the early months of the season hovering at the bottom of the standings. On July 29, they lost to the San Francisco Giants, 4-3, their record 30-65 at the time.

The Phillies continued losing. And losing. And losing. They were swept in successive fashion by the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, the Pirates again, and the Chicago Cubs.

On August 20 while facing the Milwaukee Braves, the Phillies dropped the first game of a scheduled double-header, losing to eventual Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn. In the second game, the Phillies trotted pitcher John Buzhardt to the mound.

Buzhardt had been the last pitcher to win a game for the Phillies, beating the Giants 4-3 on July 28. On this day Buzhardt had good stuff, and the Phillies struck early, seizing the lead in the fourth inning on a Wes Covington 2-run homer. The Phillies added one more run in the sixth, and then put it away with four more runs in the top of the eighth. Buzhardt went on to complete the game, finally putting the Phillies back in the win column, 7-4.

After the game, during the plane ride back to Philadelphia, the Phillies were told that a crowd was waiting for them at the airport to greet them. Sure enough, when the plane landed, there were over 2,000 fans waiting for them, including a 300-piece band, to greet the victorious Phillies.

“We were hesitant to get off the plane,” then Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Tony Taylor recalled. “But it was a good feeling. The band lifted (manager) Gene Mauch on their shoulders.”

The 1988 Baltimore Orioles made a run at the record, losing 20 straight. But no team has come close since, assuring the 1961 Philadelphia Phillies the distinction of the all-time record for futility.

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