“Our reports were good when we saw him, so he’s going to sign somewhere,” the general manager said.
Interesting because Amaro said Madson is going to sign somewhere, not necessarily with the Phillies. If the Phils were in the thick of negotiations or seriously interested, Amaro typically would have much less to say.
There could be a reason for that. Sources said Madson has been telling teams he is looking for a guaranteed Major League contract. That might be too much for the Phillies to handle, considering they just signed A.J. Burnett, but most importantly because Madson has not pitched in a big league game since 2011 because of right elbow surgery.
The Phillies emailed the following statements from people who knew Jim Fregosi, who died this morning.
“Jim Fregosi will be deeply missed in the baseball world. Joni and the rest of the family are in our prayers. Fregos, was the best manager I’ve ever played for. Our relationship was so special….and he was the one that taught me how to be a leader. Fregos and I could relate to each other whether we were in the clubhouse or on the field. In 1993 The City of Brotherly Love changed the world…..Fregos was the driving force!!!” - Darren Daulton
“Jim Fregosi was not only one of the most respected men in baseball, he was a great man. He was a player’s manager. He had that special gift as a manager that made you want to get to the field and play your ass off for him. Jim Fregosi was the reason that 1993 was one of the most exciting years in Philadelphia sports history.” - Lenny Dykstra
“Jimmy was the perfect manager for our team. He knew exactly when to leave us alone and exactly when to jump our asses when it was needed…and along the way he became our friend.” - John Kruk
“Jimmy was the best manger I ever had the honor of playing for. He was a man who was happy every time in ever saw him. My career was less than spectacular, but would have even been more mediocre if not for Jim. The word that defines him best is trust! He trusted everyone to do their jobs. I was a manager’s nightmare, but Jim trusted that I would get the job done. He made all his players better because his trust gave us confidence. He would hand me the ball in the 9th and go up the tunnel and smoke and say let me know when it’s over. He trusted me. He once said that ‘Mitch doesn’t have an ulcer, but he is definitely a carrier.’ I loved Jimmy and his wife Joni. They both lived to be happy. I can’t express the sorrow I feel for Joni, and Jimmy’s 5 kids. He was like a father to me, and I was just a player. I can only imagine the kind of father he was to his own kids.” - Mitch Williams
“I am deeply saddened today about the news of Jim Fregosi. He was a dear friend, and father figure to me throughout my baseball career. He gave me my first opportunity to play in the Major Leagues and taught me how to be a professional baseball player on and off the field. My prayers go out to Joni, Jim, Jr. and the rest of the Fregosi family. He was a great baseball man and he will be missed severely.” - Mickey Morandini
“Playing for Jim Fregosi was like playing for your Dad, except he always claimed I was older than him. He was a tremendous manager and a huge reason the 93 team was as good as it was. He will be sorely missed and our thoughts and prayers go out to Joni and the kids” - Larry Andersen
“The thing about Jim is he was your friend but there is a line that you don’t cross when he is the manager and everyone knew the line. He was the best manager I had played for! I will never forget him and what he gave me in the short period of time we were together.” - Danny Jackson
“I don’t know what I can say about Jim Fregosi that anybody in baseball doesn’t already know. WHAT A GREAT AND KIND MAN! I can tell you what he meant to me: He was always honest with me and spoke in a way that made me feel so confident in what I was doing. He always believed in the ability that I had. He made baseball FUN!!!!” - Tommy Greene
“What a great leader. Jim led a group of guys who weren’t supposed to do anything to a National League Championship. He wasn’t afraid to tell a player the truth and I respected him for that. He will be missed.” - Milt Thompson
“Jim was a man’s man and a player’s manager, but most importantly he was a great friend.” - Dave Hollins
“Not only was Jim a great players’ manager to play for, but he was also a father figure to all of his players. He not only cared about you on the field, but he cared more about how you and your family were doing off the field. He was a special man. He will be deeply missed. God Bless his soul and my condolences to his family.” - Ricky Jordan
“I couldn’t have asked for a better first manager in the big leagues. Jim was the master at dealing with different clubhouse personalities. From the biggest to the smallest. Even though I was a rookie in 1993, Jim made me feel like a veteran from the first day I was called up. Jim wanted his players to succeed, not only to help the team but he understood that baseball was a career choice and he would have done anything to help you on that path. He will be missed.” - Kevin Stocker
“Jim was a great baseball man and a special friend. He will always be fondly remembered for his handling of the Phillies 1993 team that made it to the World Series.” - Dallas Green
“Jim was someone everyone enjoyed being around. He was a very smart man with a good sense of humor and a tremendous love for his family. He will be thought of and missed by his many friends, both in and out of Major League Baseball. My wife, Doris, and I pass along our condolences to his family.” - Pat Gillick
“Jimmy was a very good friend of mine. I loved talking baseball with him because we shared a lot of the same philosophies about the game, especially when it came to managing, and we both care deeply about the Phillies. I’m going to miss him and our fishing trips together. Missy and I send our thoughts and prayers to his family.” -Charlie Manuel
“Jimmy was a man who loved life, his family and the game of baseball. He had many opinions and loved a good argument. In many ways, he was a larger than life character with a tremendous, self-deprecating sense of humor. When asked how the Mets could have traded a young Nolan Ryan for him, he would bellow, ‘What were they thinking. Didn’t they know I was done’! We’ve lost a good friend. Our game has lost a great ambassador.” - Chris Wheeler
“Lee Thomas brought Jim and I on board in 1989 and it is a friendship that I’ve valued for the past twenty-plus years. Jim’s magnetism and larger that life personality drew people to him. And, along with that outgoing spirit, Jim possessed a genuine sense of kindness and generosity. Today, we remember not only a good baseball man, but also a great human being.” - Ed Wade
“There are so many memories of Jim. Probably the one that stands out happened in the Executive Dining Room at the Vet years ago. We were having lunch before a trade announcement. I brought up some questions he may get asked. He slid his reading glasses to the end of his nose, looked me in the eye and said, ‘Baron, I don’t need your coaching.’ My response was simple, you’re right.” - Larry Shenk
If there is a Man of Mystery in Phillies camp, a Mr. X, an unknown, it is Miguel Gonzalez.
The right-hander defected from Cuba last year before he agreed in July to a $48 million deal with the Phillies. But something happened during his physical and the parties ultimately agreed to a three-year, $12 million contract. He seemed to be destined for a top spot in the Phillies rotation, but the Phillies have lowered expectations for him because they said nobody really knows what kind of pitcher he might be.
Factor in the imminent arrival of A.J. Burnett and he could open the season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
“I’ve got more to prove to myself than anyone else,” Gonzalez said of his Mystery Man status. “Once I prove it to myself, everyone else will be able to see it clearly.”
Gonzalez said he started throwing bullpens Jan. 6 and feels 100 percent healthy.
“There is more speed, more movement,” he said. “I can tell I’ve progressed.”
Cole Hamels is expected to open the season on the disabled list, but he could be back before the end of April. Once he is healthy, Hamels, Cliff Lee, Burnett and Kyle Kendrick will take the top four spots in the rotation. The Phillies signed Roberto Hernandez to a one-year, $4.5 million contract in December. He is the heavy favorite for the No. 5 spot because Gonzalez, Jonathan Pettibone and others in camp have options.
“Those are decisions that are out of my control,” said Gonzalez, asked if he sees himself in the rotation come Opening Day. “I’m going to do my best to do that, but that (decision) is out of my hands.”
He said he would pitch in the bullpen, if needed, but Ruben Amaro Jr. said he is best suited pitching regularly in a rotation.
The Phillies released right-hander Chad Gaudin after he failed his physical.
“We didn’t feel comfortable with the exam yesterday, so we decided to let him go,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
The Phillies signed Gaudin to a Minor League contract. He had a good chance to make the team as a swing man, but now the Phillies must find somebody else for that role.
“It hurts,” Amaro said. “The roles he could fill as a long guy that can sit around for 10 days and not pitch then pitch as a starter … all those things you’d like a veteran guy to do. We’re going to have to find out if that guys in our camp.”
A source said this morning the Phillies have agreed to a one-year, $16 million contract with right-hander A.J. Burnett.
It includes a mutual option for 2015 and a limited no-trade clause.
If everybody is healthy, Burnett, 37, projects atop the rotation with Hamels and Cliff Lee. Burnett went 10-11 with a 3.30 ERA in 30 starts last season with the Pirates. He led the big leagues in ground ball-to-fly ball ratio (2.62), which should help at cozy Citizens Bank Park. He also led the National League with 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
“I have met him quite a few times when he was with Toronto,” Hamels said before news broke about the deal. “He’s got unbelievable talent. Unfortunately, I think he kept us away from another ring (in 2009 World Series). What he brings to the table is great. If we’re able to get him, it only helps us out. It doesn’t hurt us. He’s another veteran who has good experience and a good repertoire. I know he is pretty charismatic. He would be good for us.”
Interestingly, Burnett’s $16 million salary could push the Phillies to a franchise-record payroll following an 89-loss season in 2013. They finished 2012 at a record $174.5 million, according to figures sent from the commissioner’s office to teams for luxury tax purposes. That figure includes the average annual value of contracts, more than $10 million for benefits and extended benefits, bonuses and more.
Figure Burnett’s $16 million salary into the mix, and the Phillies payroll alone is about $174 million with the luxury tax now $189 million.
So why Burnett? The payroll actually might have something to do with it.
The Phillies already are heavily invested in players like Hamels, Lee, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins and others. The front office believes if the team is healthy it will win. If that is the case and the Phillies are all-in, why not spend more to improve the rotation?
The rotation had its share of concerns following Hamels and Lee, and now Hamels is behind schedule after feeling discomfort in his throwing shoulder around Thanksgiving. Hamels said he is not worried, is pain free and expects to be pitching in a regular-season game in April, but players often put on rose-colored glasses when speaking about their health.
But Kyle Kendrick had a 6.45 ERA in his final 14 starts last season before finishing the season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Roberto Hernandez signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal in December, but has a 5.19 ERA over 67 appearances (59 starts) the past three seasons. The No. 5 job projected to be a competition between Miguel Gonzalez and Jonathan Pettibone. The Phillies have tempered expectations for Gonzalez, who signed a three-year, $12 million deal last summer.
He said he will not be ready to start the season, but insisted he will be pitching for the Phillies sometime in April.
“Oh, yeah, yeah,” said Hamels, asked if he expects to be pitching before May 1. “I see myself pitching in April. I guess I don’t see myself pitching in March. It’s not any pain or discomfort. It’s just the building up of muscles. When you start you can’t run a marathon right off the bat. You have to build up to it.
“Not too far behind (Opening Day) I’ll be ready.”
Phillies pitchers and catchers hold their first official workout Thursday at Carpenter Complex, but Hamels will not be throwing off the mound with his teammates. He said he just started to throw Jan. 1, when he typically begins to throw Dec. 1.
“I felt some discomfort in my shoulder,” Hamels said.
He later said the tendinitis is in his biceps, but for Phillies fans who understand several things need to go perfectly for the team to make the postseason in 2014, it is cause for concern. But Hamels seemed unworried and said after talking with Phillies physician Michael Ciccotti and head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan they simply decided he should not throw in December.
Hamels, 30, did not have a MRI.
“Right now I’m just kind of in the middle stages of my throwing program, which doesn’t allow me to throw bullpens at the moment,” he said. “Don’t feel alarmed. I feel healthy now. It’s just trying to get the strength and the stamina to be able to do that comfortably and not injure myself. But other than that, I’m glad we were able to find it earlier. Things look good. I will progress during Spring Training into the start of the season.”
Sources said today contracts are nearly finalized. Sources told MLB.com last week the network had begun negotiations with the pair as replacements for Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews, whom the network declined to bring back as part of its recently negotiated 25-year contract with the Phillies.
Moyer, who has worked with ESPN, interviewed three weeks ago. Stairs, who has worked with NESN, interviewed two weeks ago. Comcast originally intended to hire just one broadcaster, but both impressed during auditions.
Both are members of the Phillies’ 2008 World Series championship team.
It is unclear how the Moyer-Stairs combination will work alongside play-by-play announcer Tom McCarthy. They could share time in the booth like Wheeler and Matthews (Wheeler broadcast six innings, while Matthews broadcast three), they could split games, or they could both be in the booth at the same time with McCarthy.
Comcast also had Mitch Williams, Mickey Morandini and Kevin Stocker among its finalists.
Comcast broadcasts its first Grapefruit League game from Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., on Feb. 26.
But sources said tonight the Phillies are very much still in the running for free agent right-hander A.J. Burnett.
It is unclear if the parties are close to a deal, but the chances have improved since Friday when Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said, “It’s more likely we’ll go (into Spring Training) with what we’ve got.”
If the Phillies and Burnett agree to a deal – the Pirates seem to be their top competition — he would become the rotation’s No. 3 behind Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Kyle Kendrick also has a spot in the rotation. Roberto Hernandez signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal in December. Entering camp Amaro indicated Miguel Gonzalez, Jonathan Pettibone and others would fight for the No. 5 spot.
Ruben Amaro Jr. said this morning he will continue to look for ways to improve the Phillies roster, but with pitchers and catchers holding their first workout at Carpenter Complex in six days any significant additions seem unlikely.
“It’s more likely we’ll go in with what we’ve got,” Amaro said.
The Phillies have been talking with free-agent right-hander A.J. Burnett, but the Pirates and Orioles also are top suitors.
But the Phillies will be one team watching former closer Ryan Madson throw today in Arizona. Madson has not pitched since 2011 because of Tommy John surgery and complications following the surgery, but when he has been healthy he has been one of the top relievers in baseball.
“There are several guys in that boat,” Amaro said. “We’ll have our eyes on these guys who are working on coming back from an injury or surgery.”
It is unclear if Madson is looking for a guaranteed Major League contract, and if so if that would scare away the Phillies.
The Phillies also have been looking for a backup center fielder. Currently, John Mayberry Jr. and Tony Gwynn Jr. are two top candidates for that job.
“There aren’t a chock full of opportunities,” Amaro said. “It’s a possibility, but as I said we’ll probably go with what we’ve got and see what happens over the course of the spring.”
Sources said this week the network has been speaking to both Jamie Moyer and Matt Stairs about joining Tom McCarthy in the broadcast booth. The network originally planned to hire just one color commentator to replace Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews, whom the network declined to bring back as part of its recently negotiated 25-year contract with the Phillies. But those plans apparently changed following strong auditions by both.
Moyer, who has worked with ESPN, interviewed two weeks ago. Stairs, who has worked with NESN, interviewed late last week.
It is unclear how a Moyer-Stairs combination would work, if they reach agreements with both. They could share time in the booth like Wheeler and Matthews (Wheeler broadcast six innings while Matthews broadcast three),they could split games or they could be in the booth at the same time with McCarthy.
Comcast also had Mitch Williams, Mickey Morandini and Kevin Stocker among its finalists.
An official announcement could come as early as the end of the week. Comcast broadcasts its first Grapefruit League game from Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., on Feb. 26.