Results tagged ‘ free agency ’

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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Welcome Back, Chad Durbin!

Please excuse the following outburst of unbridled enthusiasm for a move that many may view as not very exciting:  The Phillies have signed our old friend Chad Durbin!!!!  Whoo hoo!!!!  Durbin was a big part of the 2008 World Championship team; he spent the last 2 years with the Indians and the Braves.

Durbin adds much needed depth and maturity to the Phillies bullpen.  In his first stint with the Phillies, he was known as the intellectual of the bullpen group.  He has a great personality and is extremely fan-friendly, as well.  Durbin was one of my personal favorites for those reasons and I am glad he is back!

Durbin, 35, did very well with the Braves last year, pitching in 76 games with a 3.10 ERA.  His new contract with the Phillies is for 1 year with an option for a second year.

The Phillies also signed a utility infielder this week to a minor league deal.  Yuniesky Betancourt, who turns 31 in a few days, will join the team for Spring Training.  He hit .223 with the Royals last year, but was designated for assignment in August when the team manager, Ned Yost, became unhappy with his attitude.  “Yuni did a great job for us. But he was a guy that wanted more playing time, and he would get upset when he didn’t,” Yost said.

So add Betancourt to the Phillies list of problem children headed to camp next month.  If nothing else, Spring Training looks a lot more entertaining now!

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Phillies Sign Mel Gibson…I Mean Delmon Young

Phillies Sign Mel Gibson Delmon Young

In what may amount to one of the most interesting/weird signings for the Phillies this offseason, a 1-year, $750,000 deal for outfielder Delmon Young is now on the books.  He is cheap, but this kid has issues.  This past April, Young was arrested for a Mel Gibson-esque, alcohol-infused episode in which he hurled anti-Semetic slurs at a group of people in New York City before a game against the Yankees.

Back in 2006, Young was suspended for 50 games from the International League after throwing his bat which hit an umpire in the chest.  In 2005, Young received a three-game suspension for bumping a minor-league umpire.

Young has also been ridiculed for his horrific defense and as a result, he was used mostly as a DH in 2012.  He posted a .947 fielding percentage with the Tigers over 31 games.  That ranks him 267th among all outfielders in the majors.

To recap, Young hates Jews, umpires, and fielding balls.  The only family-friendly thing I can think of to say is, “Oh my…”

In Young’s defense (not the baseball fielding kind), he was the 2012 ALCS MVP for the Tigers, batting .353 with two home runs and six RBI in a 4-game sweep of the Yankees.  He does have some power and nailed 18 homers in the 2012 regular season, although he only batted .267 with a .296 (yikes!) on-base percentage.

Young is young at 27 years old.  If he overcomes prior injuries, including off-season surgery for bone spurs in his ankle, he could bounce back to his top form of 2010 when he hit .298 with 21 homers.

And hey, who wouldn’t love having TWO Young’s on their team to keep us all on our toes?  I am sure Michael Young is happy to have the company.  On the flip side, Domonic Brown is probably contemplating having many, many stiff drinks as he wonders if this team will ever consider him an everyday, major-league outfielder.  Poor kid.

So if you are not a Jewish person, an umpire or a baseball, please join me in welcoming Delmon Young.  Hip, hip, hooray??

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Photo by Keith Allison, Wikipedia Commons

Phillies Add More Pitching & Hamels Gets an Unpleasant Surprise

The Phillies have added three right handed pitchers;  Juan Cruz, Aaron Cook and Rodrigo Lopez.  They have each been asked to attend Spring Training as non-roster invitees on minor league contracts.

You may remember Lopez (photo to the right); he started 5 games for the Phillies in 2009.  He spent the last 2 years with the Cubs and in the minors.  Lopez, 37, has a career 4.82 ERA in the majors and compiled a 5.28 ERA in the minors last year over 18 games.

Cook and Cruz are both 34 years old.  Cook posted a 5.65 ERA in 18 starts with the Red Sox last year and will get $1.625 million if he makes the roster.  Cruz was with the Pirates in 2012 and went 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 43 games.

The combined age of all three pitchers is 105.  Clearly, these signings were not meant to help the team get any younger.  These are just more spare parts in case Cole Hamels breaks a finger nail or Roy Halladay’s arm falls off.

Hamels is already having a rough off-season.  In October, the star pitcher apparently had a sore shoulder, which the Phillies have since downplayed as being nothing serious.

And more recently, Hamels found out that the Philadelphia school system flat out lied to him in regards to donations he and his wife made to 3 Philly schools that are now slated for closure.  They were assured these schools would remain open.  The Hamels Foundation is now trying to save those schools so that the playgrounds and library they helped build do not get torn down and turned into apartment complexes or the like.

At least Spring Training is almost here…26 days to go!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Sign Pitchers Lannan and Adams

I am guessing that John Lannan and Chase Utley will never be BFF’s, but Lannan signing with the Phillies may at least prompt a truce.  In 2007, Lannan threw the pitch that broke Utley’s hand, essentially ending his run for the MVP award that year.

In 5 plus years in the majors with the Nationals, Lannan has hit Phillies’ batter’s 11 times; 3 of those were directed at Utley.  I would venture an educated guess that these two guys do not like each other.

Regardless, Lannan is on-board for 1 year and $2.5 million to take the place of Vance Worley, who was traded to the Twins earlier this month.  It sounds like a low-risk, high reward situation, as long as Lannan can stop himself from whacking his new teammates with the ball.  The temptation may linger until he gets used to his new location.

As for Mike Adams, this sounded like a good signing until I heard the terms.  We will get to that in a moment.  Adams is a very solid relief pitcher who has a lifetime 2.28 ERA over 8 seasons.  However, he is 34 years old and coming off a surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition in which a rib bone presses against a nerve, causing pain and numbness in the arm.

Does this sound like a guy you would sign to TWO years and $12 million?  Not so much.  And yet, that is what the Phillies are giving him.  While this is not fully in the range of a Freddy Garcia-type disaster (whom the Phillies gave $10 million to in 2007 to do basically nothing), the potential is similar.  If Adams does not recover from surgery or comes back as a lesser pitcher, this deal is a huge bust.

But the Phillies are once again rolling the dice and praying for the best case scenario.  Let us hope they come out on the winning end this time.

By the way, if you missed my 2012 Phillies Photo Tribute slideshow, here it is again for your entertainment.  Enjoy!

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Lannan photo by Nick Wass (AP)

Slideshow photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Get Young

Adding veteran infielder Michael Young to the Phillies roster does not actually make the team younger, but it does fill the hole at third base.  Young is owed $16 million in 2013 and the Rangers are reportedly picking up at least $10 million of that.  The Phillies sent right-handed reliever Josh Lindblom and minor league pitcher, Lisalverto Bonilla to the Rangers.

Lindblom had little to no impact when he came to the Phillies in July of last season in the Shane Victorino trade.  He had a 4.63 ERA in 26 games with the Phillies, so this seems to be a good move.  And Bonilla is a prospect who probably has a future as a middle reliever.  This was also not a bad price to pay for the return.

As for Young, he is no so young (36), but may still have some ammunition left.  A 7-time All-Star, Young is the Rangers’ all-time leader in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles and triples.  He has hit over .300 7 times in his career, with the latest being in 2011.

2012 was not a great year for Young as the Rangers severely reduced his playing time.  Young had graciously moved all over the infield in prior years, playing 2nd, short and 3rd, to accommodate his team.  But he felt slighted when he was bumped down to basically a DH and utility role, despite hitting .338 in 2011.  As a result, the relationship with Young and the Rangers was strained and he wanted out.

Young’s performance suffered as a result; he hit only .277 with 67 RBI in 2012 which is a steep drop-off from his usual numbers.  The Phillies are banking on this change in scenery to have a positive impact on Young.

The likelihood of Young bouncing back to 2011 form is high.  He is a starter once again, which should make him happy.  This is also a contract year for him and his final chance to show he can still be an impact player.  Young will be 37 in 2014; getting a descent contract at that age is not easy.  He will need to impress in 2013 in order to make that happen.

So Young will fill the void at 3rd, with Kevin Frandsen filling in as needed, which should be a good thing for the Phillies.  Young is also touted as a great clubhouse guy, which is also a perk.  He joins another new edition, Ben Revere, who will take over in center.  And I have it on good authority that Revere will be loved in Philly.  Take it from the Mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota, R.T. Rybak, who told me, “You’ll love him.”

Welcome, Revere and Young!

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Young photo by Keith Allison

Ben Revere In; The Vanimal Out

Right-handed pitcher Vance Worley was actually standing in Citizens Bank Park when he got the news that he was being shipped to Minnesota.  He was as shocked as the rest of us that his time in Philadelphia was at an end.  Sadly, the Vanimal is gone.  Phillies’ top pitching prospect Trevor May will join him there as well.

In return, the Phillies got a young centerfielder.  Ben Revere, 24, hit .294 last year for the Twins with a .333 on-base percentage.  He also had 40 stolen bases and is being touted as a young Juan Pierre with excellent range in the outfield.  The downsides include his lack of power, minimal walks and below-average arm.  But he is under team control and therefore, very cheap.

It seems Revere’s skill set could make him the new lead-off hitter; he has speed and gets on base.  While it is very sad to say bye-bye to the Vanimal and to May, this trade may pay dividends for the Phillies if they can use the money they are saving towards a bullpen piece or another outfielder.

Revere should fit in well in Philly.  In fact, his name alone is a combination of two historical figures with Philadelphia ties:  Ben Franklin and Paul Revere.  I suppose then, it was fate that brought him here.

Welcome, Ben!

The Phillies are not done yet as trade talks still linger.  The latest rumor has Michael Young, who is actually not so young at 36 years of age, possibly coming to Philly with half of his salary paid by the Rangers.  Stayed tuned…

UPDATEJust a few quick notes on the Ben Franklin and Paul Revere comments above.  It seems we have some badly educated, wanna-be historians in the Twittersphere who question my references to the historical links of these figures in Philadelphia.  First, Revere was born in Boston and made several rides to visit the Continental Congress in Philly to report on the impending revolution.  Then, during the war in 1775, Revere was sent to Philadelphia to study the only powder mill in the colonies so that northern colonies could learn how to produce more gun powder.  So yes, Revere does have ties to Philly.  Look it up.

Even more shocking was someone questioning Ben Franklin’s relation to Philadelphia.  No, he was not born there, but he lived there most of his life (around 67 years), died and was buried in Philly.  Oh, and he signed that little document called the United States Constitution in Philadelphia.  Anyone questioning that should be ashamed.

By the way, Ben Revere retweeted the photo I posted of him as Ben Franklin and Paul Revere.  So clearly, he enjoyed it :O) 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Holiday Shopping List

‘Tis the season to buy lots of crap!  Black Friday, Cyber Monday….here we come!  The Phillies began shopping early when they signed Kevin Frandsen earlier this month to a 1-year, $850,000 deal.  If Frandsen plays the way he did last year, that small chunk of change could wind up being the bargain of the year.

But the Phillies have a much longer shopping list than that.  Unfortunately, even on Black Friday, not everything is on sale.  Even if Ruben Amaro Jr. camped out in front of All-Star Josh Hamilton’s house all night, I am pretty sure someone with more money would be camped out in front of him in line.  Fold up the tent, Ruben, and let’s work on a more realistic shopping list.

- The first item on the list should be a centerfielder.  I hear our old pal Shane Victorino may come at a descent discount.  But the Phillies seem to be more focused on B.J. Upton, who could rival Ryan Howard for strikeouts.  They both strike out around 30% of the time and neither hit for average.  Regardless, this team needs to shop for an outfielder!

- Bullpen help is needed….badly.  Maybe the Phillies need to look back at a few guys they previously tossed in the trash?  Here are some oldies, but goodies: Our old pal Chad Durbin had a 3.10 ERA for the Braves last season.  And how about Jason Grilli, who was with the Phillies minor league system until they dumped him…he went on to record a 2.91 ERA for the Pirates last season.  But my #1 oldie would be Ryan Madson.  He is coming off Tommy John surgery so the bidding for him should not get too high.

- Third base: Personally, I feel a combination of Frandsen and a drug-free Freddy Galvis can handle the hot corner.  But if you are the type who MUST buy during holiday sales whether you need to or not, here is who might deserve a look:  Kevin Youkilis will be 34 in March, but the guy can still hit for power.  At 36 years, Michael Young is not exactly young anymore….but he would be a solid veteran to keep the spot warm for a much younger Cody Asche in 2014.

- While the team is stocked with starting pitchers, maybe a few small upgrades could help?  You know…get Roy Halladay a bionic shoulder to replace the bum one.  Buy Kyle Kendrick an “All I Want For X-Mas is You” tee-shirt to keep his confidence high.  And for Cliff Lee, donate to his favorite charity and make a pledge to get him more than 6 wins this year.

- Buy baby-faced Darin Ruf a pair of big-boy pants and put him on the big-boy team.  That gamble may really pay off.  What have they got to lose?  And J.C. Penney has a great Black Friday sale on pants right now…

- And the final big purchase for the Phillies should be a stand-up comedian.  When things start to go downhill for the Phils, the comedian can jump in and tell jokes between innings to keep spirits high.  Because as a fan base in 2012, we have all lost a bit of our sense of humor.  You cannot blame us though…losing is just not funny.  Help us all remember how to laugh and smile again!  And if the wins start coming, you can trade the comedian to a more needy team.

Happy shopping, everyone!

 

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Amaro photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

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