Results tagged ‘ free agents ’
In a press conference today, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. discussed many issues including free agents, the “age” issue and the disappointing offense this year.
The hot topic of discussion centered around right fielder, Jayson Werth. Amaro did not close the door on the issue by any means, but it certainly seems like a long shot for Werth to return.
Werth stated in a later press conference that he was “looking forward to the experience of being a free agent” and that “Philly is one of the teams in consideration.” He also hired monster agent Scott Boras in September; the only reason to do this is if he is looking for a huge contract, which the Phillies likely cannot afford.
Amaro was quick to point out Werth’s struggles this year: “It wasn’t an extraordinary year. He had a tough time with men in scoring position. It wasn’t as productive a year as he’s had in the past.” In fact, Werth batted only .186 in these situations which ranks 215th out of 218 qualified players.
My gut feeling is that Werth will not be back. I predict he will be in Yankees pinstripes soon; New York is geographically in the same area plus his stepfather, Dennis Werth, played for the Yankees from 1979-1981. Not to mention that the Yanks may be one of the few teams who can afford to pay him what he wants.
As for the aging Phils, Amaro did not seem overly concerned saying that the team’s core players are “very productive players and they’re not beyond their prime years.” He also added that an injection of youth may be a good thing as well. If Domonic Brown takes over for Werth, that is one step towards getting younger.
While it was not discussed today, my thought is that moving Raul Ibanez who is owed $11.5 million next year is a good way to clear up payroll space as well as get a little younger. We love Rauuuuul…however, he has been streaky at best and will turn 39 in June. Then again, it will not be easy to move an declining player with a hefty salary so, this may not even be possible.
Also up for discussion was the lack of offensive production which prompted many questions about a possible shake-up. Amaro seems happy with the core of the team but did note that they “just didn’t have the right approach” at the plate. He also stated that, “Some guys may be looking at preparing a little differently for the 2011 season as they get older.” Amaro noted Jimmy Rollins in this category and said all the innings he has played over the years may be taking a toll.
I looked it up; among all active players, Rollins, age 31, ranks 32nd in career at-bats with 6291. Among players 31 years of age or younger, he has the 2nd most career at-bats behind only Adrian Beltre with 6874 at-bats. So yes, Rollins may need a different off-season routine to keep up this pace.
Mike Sweeney Needs A Hug
One of the most difficult moments after Saturday’s loss was watching veteran Mike Sweeney give a post-game interview. He was nearly in tears as he discussed the end of the season and contemplated his future:
Prior to the interview, Sweeney could be been seen in the background of a Ryan Madson interview, standing for a long time, still in uniform, with his head resting against his locker. After a while, he sat, clearly downtrodden, and put his head in his hands.
This was a heartbreaking scene. Sweeney has been praised by nearly everyone for his team spirit, positive attitude and for been an amazing and kind human being. His long, productive career aside, this is a quality guy and it was painful to see him in such agony after the loss, especially when he had only one at-bat the whole post-season. He did make the most it though, with a pinch hit in the NLDS.
If you would like to offer a virtual HUG to Mr. Sweeney, please visit my Facebook page, “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney” and share your thoughts. I am going to see if I can get someone to direct him to the page in the hopes that our messages of support might lift his spirits.
Thank you to all the Sweeney supporters already out there for stopping by!
Werth photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Last night, 6-ABC Philadelphia aired a special report on the Phillies Off-Season. The report covered the weddings of Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, Jamie Moyer’s charity work, Chad Durbin’s business venture, the Phillies Cruise and Charlie Manuel’s weight loss. The Phillies Cruise coverage is about 3 minutes into the program and you can see five of my photos featured in that portion of the report with my name listed underneath:
And here are still shots of the photos as they aired in the report:
Special thanks to Scott Palmer and Scott Nickle at the Phillies and Beth Widhson at Holland America for including me in this project :O)
Earlier this week, there were a few very “minor” signings that occurred. The Phillies picked up veteran outfielder Freddy Guzman on a Minor League contract. He will not be invited to Spring Training. And veteran right-hander Oscar Villarreal was also given Minor League contract on Thursday. Villareal is coming off Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2009 season. He was with the Astros in 2008, the Braves from 2006-2007 and the D-Backs three years prior to that. With many question marks still in the bullpen, another in inexpensive, yet experienced arm hanging around is a good idea.
And if you have not seen it already, check out my report on the new Fantasy Baseball tools from Bloomberg Sports. The tools are available for pre-order now at mlb.com and will be ready to use on 2/18/10.
So the countdown to Spring Training continues…only 6 days until the truck rolls out and 13 days until pitchers and catchers report!
Photos by Jenn
Ok then, here ya go! The Phillies have signed Placido Polanco to play 3rd base after the Tigers declined to offer him salary arbitration. Because he was not offered arbitration, this means the Phillies do not have to give up a draft pick. The deal is for 3 years, 18 million dollars, plus an option for a 4th year.
Phillies fans should be thrilled to see Polly back in the red pinstripes; he is a career .303 hitter and rarely strikes out, a stat which would be a huge help to this lineup which tends to whiff more than most teams. Polanco played second base for the Tigers, but has played 322 games at third in his career as well. The Phillies actually signed him as a third baseman originally in 2002.
Back in June of 2005, the Phillies traded Polanco to the Tigers after Chase Utley won the position at second base. Fans screamed for Polanco to stay and to be placed at third base instead of David Bell, but the Phillies sent him packing, a move which I have always felt was a huge mistake. So, the Phillies have not only signed an amazing player today, but they also righted the wrong of 2005.
In exchange for Polanco in 2005, the Phillies got right-hander Ugueth Urbina and infielder Ramon Martinez. To give you an idea of how that worked out, the following off-season in 2005, Urbina was arrested on attempted murder charges for attacking 5 farm workers at his Venezuela home with a machete and he also tried to light them on fire. He is currently serving a 14-year prison sentence. Great pick up, Phils! I wonder if we can get him back when he is released? Nothing wrong with a little entertainment… ;o)
Polanco is back and I think this is an outstanding move for the Phillies! Welcome back, Polly! We missed ya!
More Arbitration News
The Phillies did not offer arbitration to any of their free agents, not even Chan Ho Park. He may still be back, but it looks like the Phillies did want to be tied down monetarily. While this gives them greater freedom to sign players at lower costs, it also means other teams can now sign them.
Ticket Price Revisited
Thank you to everyone for their feedback on my last blog regarding the ticket price increases. There were a few revelations in those comments. For instance, Rich of Fightin’ Phillies reports that parking has also gone up from $11 to $15 and if the price continues to rise, he will not be renewing his season ticket plan in 2011.
The BILF Reporter says the ticket price increase did not upset her parents too much, but it also appears that partial plan holders are losing a playoff game opportunity. In 2009, the partial season ticket holders were guaranteed at least 3 games; for 2010, it has been knocked down to 2 games. Another comparison is that in 2008, partial plan holders not only got the 3 games, but they were also given “second chance” opportunities for up to 3 additional games when there were tickets leftover. So, it is basically going from 6 possible games to 2 in a matter of only 2 years, while prices continue to rise.
Add together the parking increase, ticket increase, lost playoff game and some partial season ticket holders getting their seats bumped backwards, this is a recipe for some very disgruntled fans. If anyone from the Phillies is listening, they may want to rethink this strategy. Imagine what is going to happen here; they will lose their loyal fans as season ticket holders, gain bandwagon fans and then, when they stop winning, who will be left in the seats? There are fewer and fewer reasons to buy or renew your season tickets. Where is the incentive when each year, we pay more and get less?
And yes, I understand the Phillies are more reasonably priced that say, the Yankees. And if you’ve got money, you are probably not concerned. But people on a budget are used to paying a certain amount for a particular level of service; they will resent the changes. All of these teams, not just the Phillies, should be more sensitive to what their fans expect and deserve. Of course, this is just my opinion :O)
Speaking of fan appreciation, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. left an automated message on my voice mail today, thanking me and all the fans for our great support. Say it with flowers, say it with a phone call….or, how about saying it with better seats and lower prices? Just an idea…
Polanco photo by Jenn
Free agent signings officially kicked off today and one of the top needs for the Phillies is a third baseman. Although, do not expect them to jump too quickly; it will likely be a while before they settle on a player. The front runner appears to be Mark DeRosa (Cardinals). The Phils have courted him before and he should be within their price range. Plus, DeRosa is from the area, growing up in Passaic, New Jersey and attending the University of Pennsylvania.
The big free agent name at third appears to be Chone Figgins. However, Figgins also appears to be out of the Phillies price range. Placido Polanco is an option, but the Phillies would have to give up a 1st round draft choice to sign him. Adrian Beltre is another option, but he is defensively weaker than DeRosa. So, odds are pretty good on DeRosa, but who knows.
As for bullpen help, the pickings are slim. A few good options may be Mike Gonzalez (LHP) and Rafael Soriano (RHP), both from Atlanta. Rafael Betancourt, Jose Valverde, Octavio Dotel and Bob Howry are all good right-handers, but each is getting up there in age. Left-handed help is even scarcer, so let us hope Scott Eyre will return.
You probably know by now that Charlie Manuel came in 6th place for the Manager of the Year voting. That’s right, 6th place for taking his team to back-to-back World Series. But this is just one more revealing award that shows the idiocy of the voting process for these honors. No shock there. Jim Tracy of the Rockies took home the prize.
But if you would like to voice your opinion this awards season, log on at MLB.com and vote for the This Year in Baseball awards. Candidates include Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, JA Happ, Jayson Werth and even Emily, the cute little girl who tossed the ball her Daddy caught back towards the field. And of course, you can give props to Manuel for the TYIB manager award.
Photo by Jenn
What would have been the perfect ending to an outstanding season for rookie pitcher JA Happ went instead to Chris Coghlan of the Marlins. The Rookie of the Year award is voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and this year, it looks like they may have gotten it wrong.
While it is difficult to compare a hitter like Coghlan to a pitcher like Happ, perhaps the deciding factor should be which player had the greatest impact on their team? Happ filled the void left by starters Brett Myers and Jamie Moyer; without him, the Phillies would not have made the playoffs. Coghlan’s resume is impressive, but his team did not go to the post-season.
To review, Happ went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA, topping all rookies in innings pitched (166), strikeouts (119), complete game shut-outs (2) and 3 total shut-outs. Coghlan hit .321 with 9 homers, 47 RBI, 162 hits and a .390 on-base percentage. Again, difficult to compare, but clearly good pitching beats good hitting as has been demonstrated by years of baseball past.
So while myself and probably a lot of people feel that Happ was snubbed having come in 2nd place, these awards are seldom fair. But the second place finish does not diminish what was an amazing season for Happ, who has more than proved his worth to this team. As a consolation prize, I hereby dub JA Happ the “Fan Rookie of the Year“! Yes, complete with a photo montage:
In other news, the Phillies have removed the following players from the 40-man roster, making them free agents: Eric Bruntlett, Tyler Walker, Paul Hoover, Andy Tracy and John Ennis. Tracy will likely be back next year with the Iron Pigs (AAA) in Allentown as well as Ennis. Hoover may find himself serving as a back-up catcher if not one fills that spot right away. But it does look like Bruntlett and Walker will probably be gone.
Free agent signings will begin on Friday.
Photos by Jenn
If all that glitters is gold, Phillies Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino have enough bling to go around. Both players were awarded the Rawlings Gold Glove Award in their respective positions yesterday. For the shortstop Rollins, it is his third Gold Glove in a row; for centerfielder Victorino, this makes two in a row. Rollins had only 6 errors all year, which was the best among all qualifying players. Victorino had a .997 fielding percentage, 2nd best in the NL among outfielders, and 5 assists.
On the injury front, Brad Lidge had surgery yesterday to repair his right flexor tendon as well as remove loose bodies from his elbow. It was not known before the surgery if the tendon was damaged, but it appears Lidge was worse off than anyone let on. That fact has caused quite a stir among fans who are very disappointed about the whole situation. Tell me again why Lidge was pitching with serious injuries, especially in the World Series?
But everyone must look forward now and it appears that Lidge will not be ready for the start of Spring Training. As a result, the Phillies have been reportedly looking for another / back-up closer. They need bullpen help anyway, so this is no surprise.
As for the Roy Halladay / Cole Hamels rumors, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. insists this will not happen. Again, not much of a surprise as such a trade was a long shot at best. In fact, the Jays demands are still very high, so it is possible that Halladay may not go anywhere.
Thank you everyone for the comments yesterday on this topic :O) And to clarify, I have not given up on Hamels. Odds are that he will rebound and have a better year. However, the thought of a Cliff Lee – Roy Halladay combo, two proven veterans, is an exciting thought. Think about it this way: The Phillies window to win another championship is closing. We will probably have Lee only for 1 more year as he is going to command Yankees-type money, which the Phillies historically are unwilling to pay. They may strike a deal with him, but do not hold your breath. The core of the team is intact for a while, but the pitching overall has been shaky down the stretch. If the Phillies can get a quality third baseman, improve the pen and add or develop a solid starter, they could be unstoppable in 2010. In my humble opinion, they need to toss everything, including the kitchen sink, at this 2010 team.
But sadly, the Phils do not have the payroll of many other teams; the Phillies rank 7th, which is very high, but still $88,445,143 less than the Yankees, as an example. That equals almost 4 CC Sabathia’s and nearly 8 Chase Utley’s. I don’t know about you, but I would take 8 Chase Utley’s anyday. And no, I am not jumping on the “buying a Championship” bandwagon which I hear a lot about the Yankees. I believe they still have to play the game, regardless of income. And this year, the Yanks played better than anyone else. But would an additional $88 million be a BIG boost for the Phillies or any other team…obviously, the answer is “yes.”
But that is just a dream and the Phillies will need to do the best with what they have. Hopefully, that will include a few more quality pitchers.
Photo by Jenn
Oh yes, here we go again… It is only mid-November and the Roy Halladay rumor mill is already in full swing. While the Phillies were unable to strike a deal with the Blue Jays in July for the star pitcher and instead wound up with Cliff Lee (and we are all ok with that, of course), the Jays may still be looking for a chance to get Halladay off their payroll.
If the Phillies can manage a deal for Halladay, odds are they will have to pay much less for him than they would have in July since now he is only good for one potential post-season instead of two. But the Jays are probably still interested in the Phillies top prospect, Kyle Drabek, whom the Phillies are unlikely to part with. In an interesting twist however, it has also been rumored that the Jays might be willing to take Cole Hamels. Can I get a Hallelujah and an Amen to that possibility?!!
Although Hamels is six years younger than Halladay, he had a terrible season for the Phillies and most fans are sick of his emotional issues, media faux pas and lack of composure on the mound. Odds are, not many people would be sad about such a trade. Sadly, if this were rumored last season, there may have been riots in the street full of angry fans unwilling to let the World Series MVP go. But now? Not so much…
Besides upgrading the pitching staff, it appears the Phillies now need a third baseman as Pedro Feliz did not have his option picked up. The Phillies can still sign him as agree agent if they come to an agreement, but it looks more likely that the Phils will look elsewhere.
Feliz had a decent season, but I think he really screwed himself in the playoffs where he hit only .167, made unproductive outs in crucial situations and hit into double plays that killed rallies. Plus, he is 34 years old, which does not help his case.
The top prospects for third base right now are Chone Figgins, Adrian Beltre, Mark DeRosa and former Phillie, Placido Polanco. Figgins would be the best choice, although fans loved Polanco when he was here and many were upset when Chase Utley took his job. Hind sight, as they say, is 20/20.
Back in 2005 when Polanco went to the Tigers, many Phillies fans felt he should have been moved to 3rd base to keep him on the team, myself included. As it turns out, had the Phillies done so, Polanco would likely still be with us. Up to that point, he had moved back and forth from 2nd to 3rd base for years. But after going to the Tigers, it was 2nd base all the way. The question then with Polanco is, could he transition back to 3rd after more than 4 years steady at 2nd? That may be too big a question for the Phillies to consider taking him.
So, third base is wide open right now and several other Phillies have filed for free agency; Chan Ho Park, Matt Stairs, Paul Bako, Pedro Martinez and Miguel Cairo. The Phillies will not likely sign Martinez again, as he will command too hefty a salary and they need a more consistent arm. Park is a possibility, Cairo and Bako will probably not be back and Stairs I am not too sure about. My feeling was that he might retire, but since he has filed, I now do not know what is on his mind. But this leaves the Phillies with the need for a back-up catcher, a right handed bat off the bench and a variety of pitching needs.
As for our walking wounded, both Scott Eyre and Raul Ibanez had successful surgeries yesterday and are expected to make recoveries before Spring Training. Eyre may or may not decide to retire so his future is uncertain. Ibanez, we hope, will be back to 2009 first-half form. Brad Lidge will have surgery tomorrow. What exactly is wrong with him will be an interesting revelation. We should have more information in the days to come.
Feliz photo by Jenn