Results tagged ‘ contracts ’

The Perplexing Papelbon Problem

Wednesday night’s Phillies 3-4 loss to the Rangers was the kind that makes you want to scream.  It was a game they had well in hand; very winnable.  Enter the $50 million dollar man, Jonathan Papelbon:

Through 7 innings, starter Kyle Kendrick was great, allowing only 1 run.  Rookie reliver Mario Hollands totally redeemed himself from a very rough outing the previous day by pitching a scoreless, hitless 8th inning.  Papelbon entered the 9th inning with a 3-1 lead that any closer making $50 million dollars, the largest payday ever for a reliever, should be able to preserve.  That did not happen.

Papelbon has lost 3-5mph off his fastball since the signing and has yet to make an adjustment for his lost velocity.  He just keeps flinging the ball up there figuring he’ll get all the swings and misses of days past.  He was severely up in the zone all inning and the Rangers put a beating on him with 4 hits and 2 walks.

The 2nd walk was literally a walk-off win for the Rangers.  The 4th ball of the at-bat was not even anywhere near the strike zone.  How does a veteran pitcher walk home the winning run?  I almost looked like he just said “screw it, I want to go home now” and just threw the ball without even thinking.  This is a big problem.

After the game, here was Papelbon’s take on the loss:

“Obviously, this is a disappointment,” Papelbon said. “I thought Kendrick pitched well enough to deserve that win, and unfortunately the bullpen wasn’t able to preserve it for him. But it’s a long season. I think that’s one of the stronger points of my game is being able to bounce back and not have any memory of the previous game good or bad.”

So he is saying “the bullpen” couldn’t hold the lead?  Try again…the ONLY guy who gave up a run after Kendrick left the game was Papelbon.  The least he could have done was owned it.

And one of the strongest points of his game is a lack of memory?  I guess he likes to take full advantage of this “strong points” by blowing games so he can then utilize his terrible memory to the fullest.

But maybe a bad memory is not so helpful.  Frankly, I think Papelbon needs to remember what he did wrong and try not to do it again.  I know he was speaking more to the mental aspect of the game, but perhaps those words have a deeper meaning than he realizes.  If we do not remember, how can we learn from our mistakes?

Or is that a moot point and Papelbon’s career is to suffer a very expensive and painful end?   Not expensive for him, of course.  But the Phillies have him under contract for at least 2 more seasons, with an automatic vesting option for 2016 if he finishes 15 games in 2015.  That is a scary thought.

Yes, it is only 3 games into the season.  But this issue goes all the way back to last season and Papelbon has still not adjusted his pitching style.  Is he capable of doing so?  Sure, I think so.  But will he?  That is the real question.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

An Emotional Offseason

A recent Sports Illustrated article graded the Phillies offseason moves a “D.”  They summarized it by saying, “Though the trade for Revere gives the Phillies a cost-controlled centerfielder to grow on, they’ve taken steps backward with most of their other moves, and are more likely to repeat last year’s middling showing than contend in a division where the Nationals and Braves have upgraded in impressive fashion.

Ouch.

This assessment, however, may or may not be totally off-base.  I decided to rank some of these moves for myself using not grades, but my emotions about each event.  Roger Ebert once said, “Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you.”  Let’s see if he is correct:

Happy: The trade for centerfielder Ben Revere.  He is cheap, young and has room for improvement.  My instinct says he will be a pleasant surprise.

Nostalgic Joy: Re-signing RHP Chad Durbin.  Durbin is a solid human being and he had a great 2012 with the Braves.  Plus he helped the Phillies collect their 2008 World Series championship.

Cautiously Optimistic: Signing Michael Young to play third base.  Young seems like another solid human being with a true passion for the game.  The question is whether or not he can still play defense.  I feel that a guy with this much experience and motivation should be able to work it out.

Conflicted: Adding Chase Utley-hater and lefty John Lannan to the starting rotation.  Obviously with the departure of Vance Worley, the Phillies needed a starter.  Lannan is cheap, but how well he will perform and his attitude are, at least for me, big question marks.

Confused: Signing outfielder Delmon Young.  This guy is a problem child who is also still recovering from offseason ankle surgery.  His defense is awful and he has been, not without cause, labeled an anti-Semite with a bad temper.  I get the low-risk, high reward school of thought here.  What I do not get is why the Phillies would rather mess around with this guy than finally give Domonic Brown a full-time shot at one of the corner outfield spots.

Nervously Nauseous: I am just a wee bit sick to my tummy about the 2-year, $12 million deal the Phillies gave to RHP Mike Adams to be the 8th inning guy.  I like Adams if he is healthy.  However, he is recovering from thoracic outlet surgery.  This is the same surgery that Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals had and his career looks like it may be over.  That is a little scary.

Utter Disappointment: Carlos Ruiz’s 25-game suspension for using a banned substance.  He did not use steroids, which is a relief.  But still, getting caught with ADHD meds when he was forewarned about it after a previously positive test is very disappointing.  He knew he’d probably get caught again and did it anyway.  *Sigh.*

Sad: Losing Vance Worley in the Ben Revere trade.  I wish him luck in Minnesota!

Indifferent:  Everything else.  A lot of minor moves were made, mostly involving minor league deals and guys past their prime.  Unless someone makes a real impact in camp, I cannot imagine there will be much to say about these miscellaneous people.

And my final emotion of the day…

Elation!  Spring Training starts tomorrow!

 

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Delmon’s Diet and My Off-Season Hangover

The signing of Delmon Young on a $750,000, one-year contract just got weirder, if that is possible.  An initial look at Young’s problems included a 2012 arrest for a brawl involving Anti-Semitic remarks, the pummeling of a minor league umpire with his bat, terrible defense and an inconsistent bat.  Let us now add to that list two items: Young’s weight and dog poop.

Yes, dog poop.  Apparently, part of his community service for the 2012 arrest includes cleaning up doo-doo at a community park.  Also of note, Young does not like soupy poop:

“I didn’t like cleaning up dog poop,” Young said inside the Phillies clubhouse. “It was a dog park and people don’t clean up after their dogs sometimes and we’re left to. A lot of times, I just stared at it, because it was too soupy. But that put some perspective on things, too.”

This is a man who has actually spent time staring at dog poop.  Now let that sink in for a moment and see the picture develop in your brain…

While that thought marinates and comes to a slow, sad simmer, let us examine the next oddity in this signing.  Young’s contract has been set up so that he can earn an additional $2.75 million in bonuses.  $600,000 of that involves him getting on a scale and meeting a goal weight.

Young will receive $100,000 each time he makes weight.  If someone offered me that deal, I would be anorexic by now.

That aside, I am actually beginning to feel sorry for this guy.  Think about the endless jokes we can all make about this.  Then picture Young walking sadly past a box of donuts in the clubhouse, carrying a poop scoop on his way to the dog park, while singing a melancholy version of Hava Nagila and wearing an “I Love Umpires” pin on his lapel.  I don’t know about you, but I am really depressed now.

In fact, this entire off-season has seemed like a long, tortuous, binge-induced hangover.  Seriously, my head hurts.  All these strange and questionable roster moves, the thought of poor Domonic Brown sulking over the Phillies apparent disinterest towards him, the looming injury questions, Chooch cheating…all this and more is making slightly insane.

Is it Spring Training yet?  If I am going to be tortured by all these uncertainties, at least once the season begins, I will get a bigger glimpse of what is to come.  In the meantime, pass the donuts.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Walks and Errors Kill the Phils in Atlanta

The Phillies win streak has ended at 4 games after an awful 6-1 loss to the Braves in Atlanta last night.  After a lead-off single from Jimmy Rollins in the 1st inning, the Phillies scored their only run of the game.  It all went downhill from there.

Pitcher Cole Hamels had one of the worst starts of his career immediately after signing a huge $144 million contract.  He walked a career high 6 batters, 3 of which came in the 2nd inning and led to 2 runs for the Braves.

Of course, those 2 runs could have been avoided if Mike Fontenot had not made a gigantic error at 3rd base.  He missed a routine ground ball that would have ended the inning without a run scored.  Third base has been a total nightmare for the Phillies with Placido Polanco’s constant back issues over the past 2 seasons.  Polly is on the DL again and neither Fontenot nor Ty Wigginton are able to handle the hot corner.  20% off all Phillies errors this year have happened at 3rd base.

The Phillies have had many 3rd base troubles over the years since after Scott Rolen departed.  Think about this: David Bell, Pedro Feliz and Polanco.  What do they all have in common?  You guessed it…back problems.  And if next year the Phillies decide to try Freddy Galvis at 3rd, he and his back fracture will fit right in:

So the troubles at 3rd continue as do the trouble with playing error-free baseball, starting pitching woes and a sluggish offense.  The other problem the Phillies are facing?  How about Brian McCann.  This guy is a 1-man Phillies wrecking crew.

In 6 games against the Phillies just this year, McCann has hit a home run in EVERY single game, including 1 grand slam.  He has 16 RBI against the Phillies in 2012…so far.  So my question then is, why are the Phillies still pitching to this guy?  Walk him!  Hit him with a pitch!  Throw darts at him!  I don’t care…just please stop pitching to the guy!

Tune in tonight at 7:10pm to see if the McCann curse continues…ugh.

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Phillies photos by Jenn Zambri Photography; McCann photo courtesy of MLB.com

Streaking & Signing: Things Are Looking Up for the Phillies

It is officially a streak – the Phillies have won 4 games in a row and all 4 came during their final at-bat.  In the 3-game sweep of the Brewers, every game also ended in the exact same score, 7-6.

Tuesday’s improbable win included a 6-run rally in the 8th inning which was started by a 2-run homer from 2nd back-up catcher, Erik Kratz.  To that point, Kratz had exactly 3 major league hits and all 3 were home runs.

Then today, Kratz doubled his major league hit total even while abandoning the long ball.  He recorded 3 hits including an RBI and a double in extra innings to once again set the Phillies up for a late-game win.   Chase Utley also had 3 hits today plus 3 RBI.   Jimmy Rollins got the game-winning hit today and also in Sunday’s walk-off win.

As for the pitching, Cliff Lee was not great on Tuesday, giving up 6 runs.  But the Phillies offense got all 6 back for him in that 8th inning.  Then today Vance Worley had an ok outing, allowing 3 runs in 5.1 innings.  Kyle Kendrick kept him from further damage with 1.2 scoreless innings.

The bullpen has, with one exception, found it’s groove in  these last 4 games.  Only Antonio Bastardo faltered with a 2-run homer to Ryan Braun today that almost cost them the game.  But the late-inning magic bailed him out, even despite another Ty Wigginton error at third base.

But the HUGE bang for the Phillies came earlier today when the Phillies announced they finally signed ace pitcher Cole Hamels to a long-term deal.  A collective sigh of relief was heard around the city.

Hamels got 6 years for $144 million, which is the second biggest contract ever behind only CC Sabathia of the Yankees who got $161 for 7 years back in 2008.  It is the largest contract ever for a Phillie.

It appears then that the Phillies have not given up just yet.  The Hamels signing should be a big relief for guys like Lee, Rollins and Roy Halladay who chose to come to or stay in Philly with the promise from the front office that they would continue to try to win in the long-term.  And these last 4 wins which happened in the most unlikely ways should also light a fire under the entire team.

The Phillies are off tomorrow for the annual Phestival and they will then fly to Atlanta for 3 games with the Braves.  Those 3 games will be very telling as to whether this team can stage an improbable comeback and make a run at a Wild Card spot.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

J-Roll Rides The D-Train Right Back to Philly

The wait is finally over and Jimmy Rollins has finally re-signed with the Phillies.  The 3-year, $33 million deal is said to have a 4th year option which should be fairly attainable.  Both Rollins and the Phillies seem pleased with the outcome.  Rollins had wanted 5 years, but that was likely just a matter of him bidding high to ensure at least a 3-year deal.

Rollins shared the joy on his twitter account today:

The signing come right on the heels of the D-Train, Dontrelle Willis, agreeing to a 1-year deal with the Phils.  Rollins and Willis are old friends who attended the same high school and whose mom’s are also friends.

A former starter and former Rookie of the Year in 2003, Willis’ career has run way off the tracks in recent years.  But he may be useful as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen for very little cash.  Philly seems like a good place for a comeback, but how that unfolds is yet to be seen.

I would have loved to have been a fly on that wall when J-Roll learned that Willis got a contract before he did.  It may have gone something like, “What you talkin’ ’bout Willis?”  Only here, Willis is Gary Coleman and J-Roll is Todd Bridges.  Think of it as a 70′s reverse time warp.

Either way, both players are probably thrilled to finally be on the same side.

Earlier this off-season, I made some predictions on how the free-agent period would play out for the Phillies.  Let’s see how I did:

I said that both J-Roll and Brian Schneider would re-sign.  Check.

Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge would not have their options picked up and neither would resign.  Check.

And I predicted that Ryan Madson, Raul Ibanez and Ross Gload would also not re-sign.  Check.

That makes me 7 for 7.  Check.  Did you expect any less? ;o)

Technically, anything can happen between now and spring training, but I am fairly certain the Phillies are done making moves.  How about you?  Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments :O)

 

 

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*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

 

Kendrick VS. Worley, Amaro’s Contract & Utley’s Knee

The Phillies played two games today in split squad action.  Kyle Kendrick started against the Rays in Clearwater and Vance Worley took the mound against the Pirates in Bradenton.

Worley did well and allowed just one run over 3.1 innings on two hits and two walks while striking out five batters. 
Thumbnail image for KendrickKK.jpg
Kendrick, on the other hand, looked good for two innings but was then slammed with three homers from lefties in his final two innings.  The five runs Kendrick surrendered contributed to a 6-2 Phillies loss.

While it is only spring training, the question of whether or not Kendrick can get left-handed batters out still remains.  In four seasons with the Phillies, Kendrick has been consistently inconsistent.  The issues with lefties, a sinker ball that does not always sink and Kendrick’s tendency to become frustrated on the mound are concerning.

With all the experience he had gained over the years, the time for Kendrick to get it together into one complete package may be now or never.

Worley, 23, is younger and has less experience.  But in the long run, he may turn out to be the better pitcher between the two.  In 13 innings with the big club last year, Worley posted a 1.38 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP.  His minor league lifetime WHIP is 1.280.

In addition, Worley has a variety of pitches including both a two-seam and four-seam fastball, slider, curve and cut fastball.

It is possible that Worley will have outpitched Kendrick by the end of spring.  If so, do the Phillies go with Worley or stick with experience in Kendrick?

There is a different possibility as well.  If another bullpen pitcher bombs, like Danys Baez for example, there could be room for both players.  This also gives the Phillies additional options in the case that a starting pitcher gets injured.  Although, having two long-men in the bullpen seems unlikely as Worley could easily be recalled from the minors if needed.

With only a few weeks left this spring, both pitchers will need to bring their A-games.

Amaro’s Contract Extension

Earlier today, Ruben Amaro Jr. signed a four-year contract extension with the Phillies.  Amaro has been with the Phillies organization for a very long time and it appears that will not end anytime soon.

Amaro played for the Phillies from 1992 to 1993 and again from 1996 to 1998.  Right after that, he moved to the Phillies front office, serving as Assistant GM until being promoted to GM at the end of the 2008 season.  Amaro grew up in Philadelphia and his father, Ruben Amaro Sr., also played for the Phillies for six seasons.

Chase Utley’s Knee

The Phillies have issued a statement that Chase Utley has made “a small improvement” in his rehab after suffering patellar tendinitis, chondromalacia and bone inflammation this spring.

The news is underwhelming.

However, a newspaper cartoonist had another take on the subject:

 

Utley cartoon 007.jpg

It seems he feels like Utley is comparable to Humpty Dumpty.  Quick, get the Super Glue!

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Cartoon from The Dover Post

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

 

Manuel’s Contract & Spring Update

Earlier today, the Phillies finally got the deal done with manager Charlie Manuel.  The two-year extension will take him through the 2013 season.

In a press conference, Manuel expressed his desire to stay with the Phillies until he leaves baseball.  Manuel discussed other teams he has worked with and then stated, “I’m a Phillie. If I cut my arm it’s going to be red blood, not blue.”


Thumbnail image for Manuel phillie.jpgWell, unless Charlie is a horseshoe crab or an octopus, I am pretty sure he bleeds red.  But seriously, it is great to have a guarantee for Charlie before the season starts.

During Manuel’s time in Philly, the team has the best record in the National League.  Manuel has won 544 games with the Phillies plus four division titles, one league title and , of course, the 2008 World Series Championship.

Spring Training Update

The Phillies are plugging along through spring training despite losing both Chase Utley and Domonic Brown to injuries.  Utley is still out indefinitely.  Brown had successfully surgery to remove the hamate bone in his hand and is expected to play again in four to six weeks.

Today, Roy Halladay pitched six scoreless innings against the Yankees, allowing only four hits.  Halladay was sharp and used his curve ball more than usual in preparation for the season. 

While winning by a score of 7-0, the Phillies saw contributions from several lesser-known players.  One of those players, Josh Barfield, went 2 for 3, including a triple today.   He is hitting .538 in 13 at-bats so far this spring.  Barfield is a second baseman who spent parts of four seasons in the majors with the Indians and Padres.  He hit .294 with 36 RBI last year in the Indians AAA club.

Barfield has been impressive, which may be of great importance now that Utley’s future is uncertain.  Wilson Valdez is an option as well, but it could not hurt to have an extra infielder right now.

 

Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Why Charlie Manuel Deserves A Contract Extension Before Spring Training

Charlie Manuel’s contract as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies is set to expire at the end of the 2011 season. With Spring Training just weeks away, the Phillies have yet to finalize an extension for their skipper.


C Manuel hat1.jpgNo manager likes to enter a season with their status up in the air. It can raise questions about why a manager is not yet resigned and can sometimes even undermine a manager’s authority in the clubhouse.

In the case of Charlie Manuel, the Phillies surely must want him back. A winning percentage of .560 over six years with the team, four Division titles, a National League Pennant and a World Series Championship should be reason enough for an extension.

The only feat Manuel has yet to accomplish is a second World Series title. If the Phillies are trying to squeeze more than that out of him, they may have to hook Manuel up to an IV to give blood.

Besides the winning record, Manuel has many intangible qualities that make him a perfect fit for this franchise. The players love him. They play hard not just for the love of the game, but for their love and respect of Charlie.

Because of his reputation as a player’s manager, other major leaguers want to come to Philadelphia.  Just ask Cliff Lee.  He turned down more money and additional years to come back and play for Manuel in 2011.

The fans love Charlie too. They love him not only because he brought winning baseball back to Philadelphia, but also for his kind, approachable attitude. Fans can walk right up to him and engage in a conversation.

Manuel genuinely respects and appreciates the fans, treating them as equals.

The Phillies should take that to heart and give the same respect and appreciation back to Manuel. Whether it is two or three years, give the man what he wants.  He has earned it.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

J.C. Romero Returns


P4137463A.jpgAbout a week after coming to an agreement with lefty reliever Dennys Reyes, the Phillies deal fell through following the physical exam.  But bad news for Reyes turned out to be great news for a familiar lefty, J.C. Romero.

The Phillies had previously declined the option on Romero which was worth $4.5 million, opting instead to pay the $250,000 dollar buyout.  But with few left-handers on the market and the Reyes deal gone south, Romero became the best option.

The details have not been released yet, but it appears Romero has agreed to terms with a one-year deal.  He will still have to pass a physical, which should take place sometime in early January when Romero returns from spending the holiday’s with his family in Puerto Rico.

In the previous three and a half years with Philadelphia, Romero averaged a 2.59 ERA, but he struggled with control and walked many batters, especially last season.  But if anyone can bounce back from a difficult year, it will be Romero.

With 11-years in the majors, Romero has had his share of ups and downs.  But it is that experience and confidence, plus an inner-drive to compete, that will make him an effective part of the Phillies bullpen again.

On a personal note, having gotten to know J.C. over the past several seasons, I can tell you that the Phillies would not have found a better quality human being to fill this spot.  He is a family man, a great teammate and he truly appreciates his fans.

Welcome back, J.C.!

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

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