Results tagged ‘ Adrian Beltre ’

Hamels Pitching Like An Ace Again

hamels 0613 2010.jpgIf Roy Halladay is the Phillies’ ace, what is Cole Hamels?

Hamels earned the ace label during the 2008 postseason, but lost it during a disappointing 2009. I felt like I was in the minority (based on the ridiculous booing I heard during some of Hamels’ earlier starts this season), but I never worried about him. Hamels threw a ton of pitches and a ton of innings in 2008, and for a young pitcher it meant Hamels likely would struggle in 2009. He did. But after a rigorous off-season program, Hamels is looking once again like ace material.

He allowed five hits and one run and struck out eight in seven innings today in a badly needed 5-3 victory over the Red Sox.

His fastball often hit 96 mph, which was impressive. But the most impressive thing I saw? Hamels kept cool after Jayson Werth dropped a fly ball for a “double” and after Victor Martinez walked following a grueling 15-pitch at-bat to start the sixth inning. Hamels struck out Adrian Beltre, got David Ortiz to ground into a fielder’s choice and got Mike Lowell to fly out to end the inning.

“After Victor’s at-bat, there was a lot of, I don’t want to say excuses or reasons [Hamels could have slipped], but for him to do what he did after that, I think shows even more the type of pitcher he is,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “That was an unbelievable at-bat and in a lot of ways, maybe takes something out of a pitcher. We still couldn’t get it done. He’s a good pitcher that pitched a great game.”

Hamels has a 2.77 ERA in his last eight starts. If the offense ever gets on track and Halladay and Hamels keep doing what they’re doing, the Phillies will look especially dangerous in October.

Of course, October is a long way away, and if the last several weeks has showed us anything, nothing should be taken for granted. But Hamels is pitching well, which should give fans one less thing to worry about.

*

The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Phillies Focus on Polanco, Talks Serious


polanco.jpgTalks have become serious as the Phillies have narrowed their focus to Placido Polanco to replace Pedro Feliz at third base.

Multiple sources told MLB.com today that the Phillies have been very aggressive in their pursuit of Polanco, a free agent who played for the Phillies from 2002-05. The Phillies also had targeted Mark DeRosa and Adrian Beltre, but Polanco has separated himself from the pack. It is unclear how close the sides are to a deal.

The Red Sox, Astros and other teams have expressed interest in Polanco, but it appears the Phillies are further down the line in their pursuit.

Polanco, a career .303 hitter, has spent the past four-plus seasons with the Detroit Tigers, who acquired him in a trade with the Phillies in 2005 for relief pitcher Ugueth Urbina and infielder Ramon Martinez.

Polanco hit .285 with 10 home runs and 72 RBIs in 618 at-bats last season with Detroit. He hit .341 in 2007 and .307 in 2008.

He has played only second base with the Tigers, where he won three consecutive Gold Gloves. Polanco has played 322 games in his career at third base, but only nine since the end of the 2004 season.

If the Phillies sign Polanco, he could hit second in the Phillies lineup between Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. Polanco struck out just once every 14.7 plate appearances in 2009, the second-best mark in the Majors. He has averaged just one strikeout every 17.5 plate appearances the past five seasons, which also is the second-best mark in the Majors.

*

The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter.

It's Deadline Day

Thumbnail image for park 0917.jpgThe Phillies have until 11:59 p.m. tonight to decide whether or not to offer salary arbitration to their free agents.

The suspense is killing you, isn’t it?

The Phillies basically have two players worth watching: Chan Ho Park and Scott Eyre. They’re both Type B free agents. The Phillies would receive a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft as compensation, if they offer them salary arbitration and they sign elsewhere.

I’m guessing they offer Park arbitration, but don’t offer Eyre arbitration.

Park’s agent said recently that Park has drawn interest from several teams, and the Phillies have said recently they want Park back. If Park accepts arbitration from the Phillies, he is signed for 2010 and will get a raise from the $2.5 million he made last season. If he signs elsewhere, the Phillies get a draft pick. Seems like the Phillies can’t lose there.

Eyre seems less likely to be offered arbitration because he is coming off surgery on his left elbow, and because the Phillies seem to want to bring him back at their price. If the Phillies offered him arbitration, he would seem more likely to accept because it would mean a certain raise from the $2 million he received last season. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.‘s comments that the Phillies will not engage in a bidding war for Eyre’s services indicates they don’t want to go much higher – if at all – than the $2 million he made in 2009.

None of the team’s other free agents are expected to be offered arbitration: catcher Paul Bako, infielder Miguel Cairo, third baseman Pedro Feliz, right-hander Pedro Martinez, right-hander Brett Myers, outfielder Matt Stairs and left-hander Jack Taschner.

It also will be interesting to see which free agents on other teams are offered arbitration. I’m curious to see what the Tigers do with Placido Polanco. He’s a Type A free agent. If the Tigers offer and the Phillies sign him, the Phillies would forfeit their first-round pick to get him. If the Tigers don’t offer, I would think the Phillies really go after him, if they haven’t already. The other Type A free agent worth watching for the Phillies is Miguel Tejada, who they could have some interest in — although Polanco, Mark DeRosa and Adrian Beltre are their top targets at third base.

*

The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter.

Phillies Favorites for DeRosa?

derosa.jpgFOXSports.com reported early this morning that the Phillies are the favorite to land Mark DeRosa, according to a Major-League source.

But the Phillies also are seriously interested in Placido Polanco and Adrian Beltre. Other potential candidates like Miguel Tejada could become possibilities, depending how the market develops.

DeRosa hit .250 with 23 home runs and 78 RBIs last season with the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Cardinals. He hit .285 with 21 homers and 87 RBIs in 2008 with the Chicago Cubs. He had wrist surgery Oct. 26, but his representatives said Tuesday that DeRosa should resume baseball activities before Spring Training.

There are reasons why DeRosa would fit.

He is from the Northeast. He grew up in New Jersey and attended Penn. He has a reputation as a hard worker and good teammate, which the Phillies consider important attributes. He also is not expected to command a major salary, which is why Chone Figgins is not a realistic possibility for the Phillies. DeRosa made $5.5 million last season.

Of course, those same things can be said about Polanco. He played with the Phillies from 2002-05. He is a hard worker, good teammate and also is unlikely to command a major deal. He made $4.6 million last season. But one potential sticking point with Polanco is that he is a Type A free agent. If the Detroit Tigers offer him salary arbitration, the Phillies would forfeit their first-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft if they sign him.

The Phillies have liked DeRosa for some time. They talked with him and Wes Helms about joining the Phillies before the 2007 season, but ultimately signed Helms. They also tried to trade for DeRosa last winter. The deal ultimately fell through, and the Phillies signed Raul Ibanez to play left field.

*

The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter.

A Hot Stove Refresher

Let’s catch up with where the Phillies stand as teams can sign free agents beginning Friday.

First, some important dates to know:

  • The Phillies have until Dec. 1 to offer salary arbitration to their own free agents.
  • Free agents offered arbitration have until Dec. 7 to accept.
  • The Phillies have until Dec. 12 to tender contracts to their remaining unsigned players.

Everybody knows the Phillies are looking for a new third baseman. They would love Chone Figgins, but they are not expected to be in the running because he is seeking a reported five-year, $50 million deal. The Phillies already have $106.75 million committed to just 12 players next season, which does not include significant raises to salary arbitration eligible players Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton and Carlos Ruiz, plus upgrades to the bullpen and bench. The Phillies are going to look for a shorter, more affordable contract to fill their void at third. More likely targets are Placido Polanco, Adrian Beltre and Mark DeRosa. The Phillies have had interest in Miguel Tejada in the past, but he also might command too big a contract.

The Phillies reportedly have expressed interest in right-hander Fernando Rodney, but if he can close elsewhere, I imagine that is where he would go.

The Phillies have nine free agents: catcher Paul Bako, infielder Miguel Cairo, left-hander Scott Eyre, third baseman Pedro Feliz, right-hander Pedro Martinez, right-hander Brett Myers, right-hander Chan Ho Park, outfielder Matt Stairs and left-hander Jack Taschner.

Park and Eyre, who are Type B free agents, seem to be the most likely players to return. Ruben Amaro Jr. said he has contacted Park’s agent about bringing him back. Eyre, who had elbow surgery last Monday, said he will play for the Phillies or retire. If he decides to play, the Phillies seem interested. He is 5-1 with a 1.62 ERA in 61 games since he joined the Phillies in Aug. 2008.

The Phillies have told Myers that he will not be back. If Stairs returns, it would on a Minor League deal.

If Feliz returns it means the Phillies’ plans to upgrade at third base did not go as intended. Amaro said last week that he has told Martinez that they have not closed the door on his return, but are focusing their attention elsewhere. It seems unlikely Martinez will be back.

Amaro hasn’t ruled out Bako’s return, but he also said finding a backup catcher is a priority, which indicates they will be looking elsewhere. Taschner is expected to sign elsewhere. It is difficult to picture the Phillies signing Cairo to anything other than a Minor League deal.

The Phillies have seven players eligible for salary arbitration: Blanton, infielder Eric Bruntlett, right-hander Clay Condrey, right-hander Chad Durbin, Ruiz, Victorino and right-hander Tyler Walker. The Phillies are expected to tender contracts to Blanton, Ruiz and Victorino. Durbin is a good bet, depending on how the Phillies rebuild their bullpen. The futures for Bruntlett, Condrey and Walker seem less certain.

*

The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter.

Phillies Declind Feliz's 2010 Option

The Phillies are going to explore other options at third base.

They announced tonight they have declined Pedro Feliz‘s $5.5 million club option for 2010. They will pay his $500,000 buyout instead.

“This doesn’t preclude us from bringing Pedro back next season,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. “While this allows us to explore other opportunities, we will continue to keep the lines of communication open with Pedro and his representative.”

There are some intriguing names available at third base. Chone Figgins would be the best third baseman available on the free-agent market. Adrian Beltre and Mark DeRosa are interesting names. Former Phillies infielder Placido Polanco is expected to become a free agent. He has played second base since he joined the Detroit Tigers in 2005, but has played third in the past.

The Phillies are expected to bring back their remaining seven everyday players – catcher Carlos Ruiz, first baseman Ryan Howard, second baseman Chase Utley, shortstop Jimmy Rollins, leftfielder Raul Ibanez, centerfielder Shane Victorino and rightfielder Jayson Werth – which means this could be the Phillies’ only opportunity to upgrade their lineup. They have plenty of power, so maybe they look toward finding a quality top-of-the-order hitter. Figgins or Polanco would fit that bill. Figgins hit .298 with 114 runs scored, a .395 on-base percentage and 42 stolen bases this season for the Los Angeles Angels. Polanco hit .285 with a .331 on-base percentage and 82 runs scored.

Like Amaro said, the Phillies still could re-sign Feliz if they don’t find a suitable alternative. But there is some risk. Feliz could ask for more than the $5.5 million he would have received had the Phillies simply picked up the option. Or he could sign elsewhere. The Phillies are willing to take that risk.

*

The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 277 other followers