Results tagged ‘ A.J. Burnett ’

Phillies Still Trying to Make A Deal

The Phillies front office has been frustrated lately with its lack of success on the trade market, but it is still trying to complete at least one deal before Thursday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Ruben Amaro Jr. traveled with the team to New York, where it opened a three-game series tonight against the Mets at Citi Field. But Amaro was nowhere to be found before the game as he continues to call teams to find a trade partner for a group of players that includes right fielder Marlon Byrd and left-hander Antonio Bastardo.

“Am I expecting any (trades)?” Ryne Sandberg said. “I don’t know one way or another. Just from what I hear, if there is (a trade) it’ll be very late in the process.”

Byrd and Bastardo remain the most likely Phillies to be moved, which is nothing new. Byrd is hitting .266 with 20 home runs and 60 RBIs. His 20 homers are tied for eighth among right-handed hitters in baseball, which makes him valuable. Byrd can block trades to four teams, including the Mariners and Royals. He makes $8 million next season and he has an $8 million club option for 2016 that automatically vests with 600 plate appearances in 2015 or 1,100 plate appearances in 2014-15, including 550 plate appearances in 2015, which is a sticking point to some teams.

Left-hander Cole Hamels remains available, but the asking price remains extraordinarily high. This also is nothing new. The Phillies want to keep Hamels because he is the rare Phillies player signed to a mega contract still in his prime, but they will consider trading him if they are absolutely blown away by an offer.

Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon are unlikely to be moved by Thursday, but they could be traded in August if they clear waivers. Lee is owed at least $37.5 million following this season, while Papelbon is owed at least $13 million. A.J. Burnett remains a possibility, but he seems to be a second choice for teams still hoping for a pitcher like David Price, Jon Lester or Hamels. Burnett’s player option could be worth more than $10 million next season. The money owed to Lee, Papelbon and Burnett has made trading them difficult.

Relax A Little Bit About Lee’s Monday Night

Cliff LeeCliff Lee didn’t help his cause last night, but Phillies fans shouldn’t panic about it.

He struggled in his return from the DL against the Giants at Citizens Bank Park, allowing 12 hits, six runs and failing to command his pitches in 5 2/3 innings. You’d think the guy forgot to pitch, but one scout afterward correctly pointed out that Lee maintained his velocity throughout the night, which indicates he is healthy. The struggles? Most likely the result of a two-month layoff.

If Lee is healthy there is no reason to think he will not return to form as one of the top starting pitchers in baseball.

If the Phillies can’t trade him before the July 31 trade deadline, perhaps he clears waivers next month. If he does the Phillies have until Aug. 31 to trade him. If he doesn’t clear waivers, there is nothing to prevent the Phillies from trading him in the offseason. A couple more months isn’t going to hurt anybody, if Lee is healthy and pitching well. In fact, it would get more teams involved in the offseason because right now the only teams interested in Lee are contending teams.

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ESPN.com reported Lee can be traded to nine teams without his consent: the Braves, Indians, Astros, Marlins, Twins, Mets, Padres, Rays and Nationals. ESPN.com also reported that A.J. Burnett, who shares the same agent as Lee, can be traded to nine teams without his permission: the Orioles, Red Sox, Reds, Royals, Mets, Yankees, Pirates, Cardinals and Nationals.

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I still think the three Phillies most likely to be traded before the deadline are Jonathan Papelbon, Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo. The Phillies are listening, but not actively shopping Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. I would be incredibly surprised if any of those three are traded.

Phillies Busy as Trade Deadline Approaches

Cole HamelsLet the rumors, speculation and stories filled with unnamed scouts and insiders begin!

The Phillies return to action tonight in Atlanta, and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is 13 days away. The Phillies are busy trying to find trade partners for several veteran players, but just because they have players to trade it doesn’t mean they’ll trade them. They’re not pressured to make something happen before July 31. The front office hasn’t been told by ownership to shed payroll no matter what. Remember, the Phillies can still trade these players before the Aug. 31 waiver deadline or in the offseason.

Let’s repeat that: The Phillies can still trade these players before the Aug. 31 waiver deadline or in the offseason. Especially if they’re not getting much of a return in their current discussions. Would you trade Byrd or Lee or Papelbon for Tyson Gillies 2.0 just so you can turn to Phillies fans and say, “Look, guys, we made some trades!” It’s doubtful.

A report Sunday had the Mariners hot and heavy for Marlon Byrd, but reports since said their interest has cooled or talks have stalled. Keep this in mind as you read countless reports between today and July 31: 95 percent of this stuff is teams kicking the tires and reporters taking a kernel of information and writing it. For example, when you read a team with a need for starting pitching has inquired about Cole Hamels, don’t say to yourself, “Oh my God! The (insert team here) are going to get Cole Hamels!” Say to yourself, “Well, no kidding! Of course they’re interested in Cole.”

A team expressing interest in a Phillies player and a team actually making a legitimate offer are two totally different things. Maybe the Mariners called the Phillies last weekend and said, “We’d really like Marlon Byrd, but we’ll only give you a marginal prospect for him.” In that scenario, Ruben Amaro Jr. most likely said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and hung up the phone.

A few reminders as the July 31 deadline approaches:

  • The Phillies are absolutely open to trading Jonathan Papelbon, Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo. The contracts and limited no-trade clauses for Papelbon, Lee, Burnett and Byrd could be stumbling blocks, but I just don’t see the Phillies making deals if they’re only getting a light-hitting outfielder or a middling reliever in return.
  • They would need to receive a huge package of prospects to trade Cole Hamels.
  • Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins have 10-and-5 rights and have repeatedly expressed their desire to remain in Philadelphia. The Phillies will listen to offers for Hamels, Utley and Rollins, but they are not going to give them away.

So, yes, the Phillies are not “looking” to trade Hamels. And they absolutely prefer to trade Lee over him. They would welcome a Papelbon trade, and they are willing to part with Bastardo because they have two younger, less expensive left-handers in Jake Diekman and Mario Hollands.

It is going to be an interesting couple of weeks for the Phillies. Like I said, they are active. But like I also mentioned, there are no indications they’re going to just get rid of players, either.

Enjoy the weekend.

Burnett Not Pushing For A Trade

A.J. BurnettChanges are almost certainly coming for the Phillies.

A franchise-record payroll has not translated into postseason contention this year. The Phillies reached the All-Star break today with a 42-53 (.442) record, their second-lowest winning percentage at the break since 1997, when they went 24-61 (.282).

Jonathan Papelbon made it perfectly clear last week that he would like to play on a contending team, and his limited no-trade clause will be no obstacle for the Phillies. If he can play for a winner, he will happily go.

“Some guys want to stay on a losing team?” he said. “That’s mind-boggling to me.”

Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels have said they have no desire to leave Philadelphia, although each has acknowledged in some way that things can change. The Seattle Times reported today that the Mariners have had serious discussions with the Phillies about Marlon Byrd, who it said was willing to waive his limited no-trade clause. CSNPhilly.com reported last week that he had the Mariners, Royals, Blue Jays and Rays on a four-team no-trade list.

A.J. Burnett also has a limited no-trade clause. He should have value to a contending team needing starting pitching help. He is 6-8 with a 3.83 ERA in 20 starts this season, including a 2.94 ERA in his past seven starts.

“I signed here to play here,” Burnett told a reporter after Sunday’s 10-3 loss to the Nationals. “I’m not a guy who looks for an out or wants to get out because things aren’t going the right way. If that happens, then it happens, but I’m not looking to move on. This is my team. I understand how things work, but I’m trying not to worry about it. I just try to go about my business and enjoy my teammates.”

So Burnett doesn’t know what he would say if Ruben Amaro Jr. approached him about a trade?

“I have no clue what I would say,” he said.

No clue at all?

“I guess it depends on what he says,” he said. “I wouldn’t know until it’s brought to me.”

A lot might be brought to Phillies players before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Papelbon has said he would go. Cliff Lee, who rejoins the rotation July 21, has said in the past he wants to play for a winner. Byrd is unlikely to stand in the way of a trade. Burnett sounds open to it, though he isn’t campaigning for it, either.

The Walking Dead (And Other Walk Up Music)

Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona DiamondbacksHere are a few music updates from my last post April 16. If you do not see a player listed, it means his tune has not changed since then or he has not chosen a tune.

Here we go:

AT BAT:

  • Domonic Brown: Move That Dope by Future and The Devil is a Lie by Rick Ross
  • A.J. Burnett: Walking Dead Theme by Bear McCreary
  • Tony Gwynn Jr.: Who Do You Love by YG
  • John Mayberry Jr.: Ambition by Wale
  • Wil Nieves: No Soy Yo by Tony Vega
  • Jayson Nix: No Leaf Clover by Metallica
  • Carlos Ruiz: In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins

PITCHING:

  • A.J. Burnett: Black Skinhead by Kanye West

Burnett is a big Walking Dead fan, thus the zombie face paint in Arizona on the last road trip and his choice of walk-up music when he hits. Chooch goes back in time to choose a tune he used when the Phillies were winning NL East titles.

Tuesday’s Game Postponed

Nationals Phillies BaseballThe Phillies postponed tonight’s game against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park because of rain.

It will be made up at a later date.

The postponement does not alter the order of the Phillies rotation. Left-hander Cliff Lee will pitch tomorrow night, while right-hander A.J. Burnett will pitch the series finale Thursday afternoon. Right-handers Jonathan Pettibone, Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez would fall in line to pitch this weekend in Colorado.

But the Braves have skipped right-hander David Hale, who was scheduled to pitch tonight. Lee instead will face right-hander Julio Teheran and Burnett will face left-hander Alex Wood.

Perhaps a night off will help the Phillies starters get on track. They have pitched more than six innings just twice in 13 games, which has placed additional pressure on a bullpen with the third-highest ERA (5.53) in baseball.

Phillies starters are 22nd in baseball in innings pitched, but are seventh in pitches thrown. It is partially why Phillies games are averaging 3 hours, 17 minutes, which is the third-longest average in baseball.

“For me, the game starts with pitching and defense,” Ryne Sandberg said in his office before the postponement. “I think overall our pitchers have to establish the strike zone and work ahead in the counts. I think that has a big part in why we’re playing the slowest games and longest games in baseball. Every time I look at the clock and leave (the ballpark), it’s almost midnight. I can’t believe it, but it is what it is.

“Our pitchers are throwing a lot of pitches, so on the starting pitching side of things they’ve been limited on the time that they can be out there and then we’ve had to use our bullpen and then with some of our bullpen guys it has been the same thing with the amount of pitches coming out of the pen.”

The Phillies planned to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day tonight, but pregame festivities surrounding the Jackie Robinson Salute will take place tomorrow night, including both teams wearing No. 42 jerseys. All fans attending tomorrow night’s game will receive the commemorative Jackie Robinson print, featuring quotes from Phillies players and Sandberg on what Robinson meant to them.

Burnett Plans to Pitch with Hernia

Bob McClure, Carlos RuizA.J. Burnett will need surgery at some point, but he said today he plans to pitch the rest of the season with an inguinal hernia.

Burnett received a cortisone injection today and is scheduled to start Wednesday.

“It’s something that I think is manageable,” he said.

And what makes it manageable?

“I guess manageable is that I’m going to have to deal with it,” he said. “Paying attention to it, knowing it’s there, knowing what I can do to overdo it and knowing what I can do to keep it where it needs to be. I’m more of a go getter and I’m not really a take it easy kind of guy, so it’s going to be a test.”

Burnett had to be pulled from Friday’s start in the fifth inning because of discomfort, but he said, “I’ve pitched with worse. The other night was more of an uncertainty because I didn’t know where it was coming from. I didn’t know if it was hip, groin, whether I tweaked something or pulled something. Now that I know upstairs what I’m dealing with, I can deal with it a lot better.”

Cole Hamels pitched with same injury in 2011 before having surgery in the offseason. He went 14-9 with a 2.79 ERA in 32 appearances (31 starts) and finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award voting.

In a perfect world Burnett performs similarly to Hamels in 2011, and waits until the offseason to surgically repair it as recovery can take six to eight weeks. Burnett said he is confident he still can pitch like he had the past couple seasons with the Pirates, when he went 26-21 with a 3.41 ERA in 61 starts.

Burnett is 0-1 with a 3.94 ERA in three starts this season. In 16 innings, he has allowed 17 hits, 11 runs (seven earned runs) and 14 walks with 10 strikeouts.

“It could be a blessing in disguise and I pay attention more to my delivery,” he said. “The two pitches I felt it in my bullpen (Sunday) is when my timing was a tick off. I flew open early or something was off. But when I nailed my delivery in the next 15, it was fine. I’m not worried about it now that today happened. I talked to the doctors and had my questions answered. How severe is it? Can it get really, really worse?”

Can it?

“It can get larger,” he said. “But as far as pain wise, they said it would be the same. Uncomfortable.”

But surgery will come at some point. He knows that. He just hopes it’s not until after the season.

Burnett Hopes for Good News Monday

Bob McClure, Carlos RuizA.J. Burnett should know tomorrow if he will make Wednesday’s scheduled start against the Braves.

He will have an ultrasound in the morning to see if he has a sore groin or possibly something worse.

“I feel good, but I want my mind to be 100 percent,” he said about the ultrasound. “Let’s just hope it’s not a hernia or something. That’s what I’m worried about. Tomorrow will give me peace of mind. But as far as physically, today was a good day today. A lot better.”

Burnett left Friday’s start against the Marlins in the fifth inning because of soreness in his right groin. He threw a bullpen session this morning at Citizens Bank Park. He said it went better than expected, although he twice felt a pull in the muscle while throwing out of the stretch.

“It went away right after that,” he said. “I’m feeling good enough to throw.”

If Burnett misses a start or more they could use Triple-A right-hander David Buchanan. He pitched just one inning today, which keeps him fresh should he be needed Wednesday. Buchanan is not on the 40-man roster, but they made room on the 40-man Saturday when they outrighted right-hander Brad Lincoln to Lehigh Valley.

Burnett Goes Down, How Long?

Bob McClure, Carlos RuizCole Hamels could rejoin the Phillies’ rotation as early as April 22.

But will A.J. Burnett be there with him?

Burnett left last night’s game against the Marlins in the fifth inning with what the team called “groin soreness.” He will be evaluated today. The right-hander said his right groin affected him intermittently throughout the game, in which he allowed two runs on five hits and six walks while striking out four in 4 1/3 innings.

“It was in and out,” Burnett said. “It was pretty uncomfortable the last inning, but it came on early and went away. That’s why I didn’t feel like it was too serious.

“Pretty much every pitch out of the stretch, more so out of the windup, the last inning I felt it a lot. That ain’t me. I don’t walk guys like that. I’m going to walk my guys here and there, but I couldn’t throw the ball anywhere I wanted to. Hopefully we’ll find out tomorrow that it’s not that bad.”

Burnett, 37, also walked six batters in 5 2/3 innings in his previous start Sunday at Wrigley Field, but he said he did not have any problems before Friday’s start.

“I’d just say it felt more snug that anything,” he said. “Like everything was tight, opposed to something going. I guess that’s a positive. I tried to mask it, but I guess I didn’t, huh? … I’m not too concerned about it, but then again, you never know. I’m not a spring chicken anymore. But it takes a lot to get me out of the ballgame. I’m not happy about that.”

It’s Official: Burnett Signs $16 Million Deal

burnettThe A.J. Burnett deal is official.

The Phillies announced this morning they have signed Burnett to a one-year, $16 million deal, which includes a mutual/player option, bonuses and a limited no-trade clause.

Burnett will speak to reporters after today’s workout at Carpenter Complex.

“To be able to add a pitcher of A.J.’s caliber at this time of year says a lot about our ownership group’s commitment to winning,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. “A.J. will complement Cole (Hamels) and Cliff (Lee) in our rotation and adds another experienced arm to our team.”

If everybody is healthy, Burnett, 37, projects to slot atop the rotation with Hamels and 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. Burnett also led the National League with 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings. He has made at least 30 starts for the sixth consecutive season.

“I have met him quite a few times when he was with Toronto,” Hamels said last week. “He’s got unbelievable talent. Unfortunately, I think he kept us away from another ring [in the 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.”

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 Phils’ payroll alone is about $174 million, with the luxury-tax threshold now at $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 Phils 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, which resulted in left biceps tendinitis. Hamels said he is not worried, is pain-free and expects to be pitching in a regular-season game in April.

Kyle Kendrick had a 6.45 ERA in his final 14 starts last season before finishing the campaign on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Roberto Hernandez signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal in December, but he has a 5.19 ERA over 67 appearances (59 starts) the past three seasons. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Jonathan Pettibone and others will also be getting looks as starters this spring.

Burnett will wear No. 34, which Roy Halladay wore the past four seasons.

To make room for Burnett on the 40-man roster, left-hander Joe Savery has been designated for assignment.

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