Results tagged ‘ Ben Francisco ’

Kendrick, Francisco Tendered Contracts

Thumbnail image for kendrick 0719 2010.jpgThe Phillies will tender contracts to both Kyle Kendrick and Ben Francisco.

Neither is a surprise.

The Phillies have very little starting pitching depth, so non-tendering Kendrick would have been a risk because it would have allowed him to become a free agent. Had Kendrick then signed elsewhere it would have left Vance Worley as the favorite for the fifth starter’s job. We know injuries happen in the rotation, so it’s always good to have depth.

Francisco was a no-brainer. He could be platooning in right field with Domonic Brown or Ross Gload next season.

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Looking for a holiday gift(s)? The 4th annual Philadelphia Sports Book Signing Extravaganza is Friday from 7-10pm at Barnes & Noble, The Court @ Oxford Valley Mall, 210 Commerce Blvd., Fairless Hills, Pa. Ray Didinger, Anthony Gargano, Glen Macnow, Jayson Stark, Randy Miller, Greg Cosell, Reuben Frank, Mark Eckel and myself will be on hand to sign copies of our books and talk sports.

I’m also signing books from 2-3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Majestic Clubhouse Store at Citizens Bank Park. So if you can’t get to Barnes & Noble on Friday night, try the ballpark on Saturday. Thanks!

A Quiet Winter for the Phillies?

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If everything is happening like it seems to be happening, the Phillies’ offseason checklist looks like this:

  1. Improve the bullpen.
  2. Resign Jayson Werth (or find his replacement).
  3. Find a replacement on the bench for Greg Dobbs.
  4. Acquire starting pitching depth.

Nowhere on that list are the words, “Shake up the lineup,” or, “Move some pieces around.” No, if everybody is to be believed, the Phillies could be relatively quiet the remainder of the offseason, certainly compared to winters past when they acquired Roy Halladay, Raul Ibanez, Brad Lidge, etc.

“Right now, I’m actually pretty pleased with what we have,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said yesterday. “That doesn’t mean that I’m satisfied with where we’re at. We do need to try to improve our bullpen and give ourselves more depth and such, but if we were to open the season today I would feel very confident with what kind of team we would be fielding. I still think it’s a championship-caliber type of club.”

Based on e-mails, tweets and Facebook messages, some fans think the Phillies need to make a big move. I don’t get the sense they will. It sounds like the only big move they might make is resigning Werth, although nearly nobody in baseball expects that to happen. (Disclaimer: Amaro said before, during and after last year’s Winter Meetings they were not in the hunt for Halladay and a few days later they made one of the biggest trades in franchise history — not only trading for Halladay, but trading away Cliff Lee. In other words, just because the Phillies said it could be quiet doesn’t mean it will be quiet.)

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A Few Offseason Questions

Thumbnail image for werth 1012.jpgI’ve been away for a few days, so I haven’t blogged since last week. My apologies.

I’ve gotten plenty of questions about the Phillies’ offseason since their season ended. I’ll try to answer some of those questions the best I can.

Question: Are the Phillies going to resign Jayson Werth?
Answer: No, I don’t think they will. Somebody is going to give Werth a big contract. I don’t think he’ll get the seven-year, $120 million contract Matt Holliday got from the Cardinals, but he’ll get paid. The only way I see Werth returning is if the market simply isn’t there for him and he surpisingly accepts salary arbitration from the Phillies (Kevin Millwood surprised the Phillies when he accepted salary arbitration in 2003) or the Phillies get him at a team-friendly price. I don’t see either scenario happening.

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Moyer, Dobbs Become Free Agents; Unlikely to Return

moyer 0507 2010.jpgIt looks like the end for Jamie Moyer and Greg Dobbs in Phillies uniforms.

The Phillies said today that Moyer and Dobbs, who was eligible for salary arbitration, have become unrestricted free agents. Both players could return in 2011, although it is highly unlikely. The Phillies placed both players on waivers earlier this week to expedite the process for them to become free agents, which is a pretty good sign they don’t plan to bring them back. Once they cleared waivers, each player filed for free agency.

The waiver process also allowed the Phillies to clear two spots on the 40-man roster.

Moyer, who turns 48 next month, finished the season on the disabled list with an injured elbow. He is going to pitch Winter Ball in the Dominican Republic to see if he can pitch and possibly get a contract before Spring Training.

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(Not) The Last Word on Werth

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Thumbnail image for werth 1025 2010.jpgDo I think Jayson Werth will be back next season?

No, I don’t.

I don’t think the Phillies expect him back, and I don’t think Werth expects to be back. I think the writing has been on the wall for months.

Ruben Amaro Jr. has said several times he cannot have a roster full of $15 million-a-year players, which Werth aims to be. The Phillies already have roughly $145 million committed to 16 players next season. Assuming Werth lands a contract between Jason Bay‘s four-year, $66 million deal and Matt Holliday‘s seven-year, $120 million deal, I just don’t see how it fits.

The Phillies could move some players to clear salary for Werth, but I think it’s unlikely. I’ve gotten e-mails like, “Just trade Raul Ibanez. There’s $11.5 million right there.” Really? Just trade Ibanez and have a team pick up his entire salary? Just like that?

But I think the Phillies will miss Werth’s bat. Werth had an .889 OPS the past three seasons, which ranked 10th in baseball for right-handed hitters. His 87 home runs ranked eighth among right-handed hitters. He played good defense. He stole 53 bases. He had a career-high .921 OPS this season, which was best on the team. And while he struggled with runners in scoring position, I do think it’s an anomaly.

He will be tough to replace, unless Domonic Brown develops incredibly quickly. He had a 1.083 OPS against right-handed pitchers this season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Ben Francisco had a .901 OPS against left-handed pitchers. If Brown can hit right-handers and Francisco can hit left-handers it just might work. But after hearing Amaro express his concerns about an everyday lineup with everybody in their 30s — everybody in that lineup had subpar seasons other than Werth and Carlos Ruiz – it is a risk.

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Looking Ahead: Six Free Agents, Three Arbitration Eligible Players

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You probably still have your NLCS hangover, but I thought I’d give everybody a quick look at the Phillies’ offseason. They have six potential free agents and three players eligible for salary arbitration.

Here is a look:

FREE AGENTS

- Jayson Werth. The Phillies and Werth are going to say the right things in the coming weeks. The Phillies are going to say they would love to bring back Werth, which is true. And Werth is going to say he wants to come back, which also is true. But the reality is different. The Phillies already have more than $145 million committed to 16 players in 2011, and Werth is going to be one of the top free agents on the market. Ruben Amaro Jr. has said several times the Phillies can’t have a roster full of $15 million-a-year players, which is what Werth could be making soon. Outfielder Jason Bay received a four-year, $66 million contract from the New York Mets last winter. Werth should command more. Bay hit .267 with a .362 on-base percentage and a .493 slugging percentage in the three seasons leading to free agency. Werth hit .279 with a .376 on-base percentage and a .513 slugging percentage the past three seasons. The numbers show Werth is a better hitter than Bay. He also is a better fielder and base runner. And there seems to be little doubt Scott Boras, who is Werth’s agent, will be seeking the big-time deal Werth has waited his entire career for.

- J.C. Romero. The Phillies have a $4.5 million club option on Romero, but it is unlikely to be exercised. The Phillies are expected to rely next season on Antonio Bastardo instead. And while Romero went 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA the last two seasons, he also missed time with injuries and has walked (42) more hitters than he has struck out (42).

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The Six Comeback Teams in the LCS

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It looks bad for the Phillies because it is bad. The Giants have a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series. One loss and it’s over. But there is hope for the Phillies: Six teams since 1985 have overcome 3-1 deficits to win the LCS:

Ben Francisco played for the 2007 Indians, who blew a 3-1 lead to the Red Sox.

“We’re still confident,” Francisco said after last night’s 6-5 loss to the Giants in Game 4. “We’ve just got to win one and get it back to Philly. That’s what the ’07 Red Sox did to us. They came out, beat our ace and they went back to their home park. That’s what we’ve got to do.”

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

Amaro: This is Our Team

Ruben Amaro Jr. chatted with reporters for more about 13 minutes today at Yankee Stadium.

Here are the highlights:

Q: Are you concerned?
A: I’m paid to be concerned. That’s my job. We’ve gone through a tough time, but it’s not like it’s the first time we’ve gone through a tough time since I’ve been in the front office. I think we’ll be OK. We’re concerned, yes. But I think we’ll be OK. We were (6-17) last June. Pretty horrendous.

Q: But the offense wasn’t struggling this much. That’s the difference, right?
A: Yeah, but I’d like to have this happen because I know we’re going to hit. I believe we’re going to hit. We’re not where we want to be obviously with the way we’ve played, but we will be, I think.

Q: Are you mystified at Chase Utley’s struggles?
A: Everybody is kind of a little bit confused by that, including him probably. But I think all of us know what Chase is. He’s a quality run producer and one of the best offensive players in the league. At the end of the day he’ll prove that to be the truth again.

Q: Raul Ibanez’s power numbers are down. Is there a chance he’s gotten old real quick?
A: What I think has happened, this is just my opinion, he’s still the first part of the season getting his legs underneath him. I think having a surgery – two surgeries like that – are pretty significant. I still think he’s getting his sea legs under him. I think he’s swinging the bat better of late.

Q: So you don’t see a slower bat?
A: I do not.

Q: The bench has struggled. Why? Is there a chance to upgrade?
A: I think Ben has been swinging the bat well. Dobb has had his struggles. I don’t know that Gload has played a lot, so it’s hard to get a rhythm. Obviously we want everybody to perform better. It’s got to start with the guys that are playing every day. That’s probably the most important thing. I’m actually OK with how the bench has played to be frank with you. It’s just as a team we have to play better baseball.

Q: And Dobbs?
A: He’s struggled. He’s had his struggles. There’s no question about it. But he’s not alone.

Q: Sounds like you’re in a stay the course mode?
A: We’re not making any major moves here. This is our team out here and they’ll be fine. If we get the guys healthy we’ll be fine.

Q: Why don’t you feel a shakeup would work?
A: Because the guys have track records and they’re good players and they’re championship-caliber players and they will be again. Do you dismiss the idea that you’ll make a deal of some substance? I don’t know if there’s anybody better than the players we … we have one of the best nine in the game. I’ll challenge anybody if they don’t think we have one of the best nine players on the field.

Q: Could you add starting pitching?
A: Pitching is always the issue. Everybody is always looking for the same thing. Again, a lot of it depends on how Happ progresses. We’ve got to get Madson back. I like our chances when both of those guys are back. It gives us quite a bit of depth, I think. We’ve got to get these guys healthy. That’s the most important element of what we need to do right now.

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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!

Take A Break

Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock negotiatied the contract extensions for Joe Blanton, Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz. He also negotiated the contract for Chad Durbin, who avoided salary arbitration.

Proefrock might not be as busy next January.

Ben Francisco and Greg Dobbs will be eligible for salary arbitration after the season. Kyle Kendrick and Scott Mathieson also could be eligible for arbitration, if they qualify as “Super Two” players.

A “Super Two” has less than three years of big-league service time, but more than two. He basically must rank in the top 17 percent in total service amongst players with more than two, but less than three years of service time … with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season.

Complicated? Yeah, but don’t sweat it. I’ll try to let you know when it matters. Right now it really doesn’t.

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Charlie Manuel held a news conference earlier this afternoon and confirmed that Jose Contreras will be in the bullpen. The Phillies haven’t announced it because Contreras hasn’t taken his physical. Manuel said they will start him in Spring Training to build up his arm strength, but put him in the pen when the season starts.

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Details on Ruiz’s contract:

He will make $1.9 million this season, $2.75 million in 2011 and $3.7 million in 2012. The club has a $500,000 buyout on its 2013 option, or they will pay him $5 million. Ruiz also receives $100,000 performance bonuses for 120, 130 and 140 games started. Any of those bonuses reached in any year will be added to his 2013 salary.

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Phils Have Pieces to Land Halladay


Thumbnail image for halladay 02.jpgBaseball insiders agree: the Phillies have what it takes to acquire Roy Halladay.

In an informal poll of baseball personnel this week at the Winter Meetings, folks think the Phillies have as good a chance as anybody of getting him.

“They have the pieces,” one AL executive said. “I would say the Phillies and Red Sox have the talent to make it happen more than the other teams out there.”

“They’ve got the prospects,” a National League scout said. “They didn’t give up anything for [Cliff] Lee.”

The Phillies shipped Carlos Carrasco, Jason Knapp, Lou Marson and Jason Donald to the Indians for Lee and Ben Francisco. Baseball America considered Carrasco, Knapp, Marson and Donald among the organization’s top 10 prospects. But they also were not Philadelphia’s best prospects. That designation belongs to Kyle Drabek, Domonic Brown and Michael Taylor, and the Phils still have them.

Some things to consider about a potential Halladay trade:

  • The asking price must drop. The Blue Jays originally asked for Drabek, Brown, J.A. Happ and Anthony Gose. The Phillies balked. And they still would balk, if they asked for that package. It’s simply too much to ask for a pitcher who could become a free agent after the season. “It could come down to the Phillies determining if they can significantly deplete their system for a player they may be unable to retain,” a NL executive said.
  • Can they afford him? The Phillies’ payroll seems to have a budget of around $140 million. They’re fast approaching it. Halladay’s $15.75 million salary would obliterate it. Ownership would need to make an exception for Halladay, or the Phillies would have to move salary to make him fit.
  • Talk at the Winter Meetings that Philadelphia has made Joe Blanton available might not be a coincidence. Blanton made $5.75 million in 2009, and is due a raise. Ruben Amaro Jr. declined comment when asked about reports that Blanton is being shopped, but one source said Tuesday that to get Halladay, the Phillies “would have to move Blanton. And he is on the market, by the way.”
  • But this is more than just the 2010 payroll. It’s about the future. If the Phils trade too many top prospects, they will have fewer options in their system to replace current talent. For example, Jayson Werth is a free agent after 2010. Raul Ibanez, Ryan Howard, Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson will be free agents after ’11. Jimmy Rollins also will become a free agent after ’11, assuming the Phillies pick up his ’11 club option. I know what you’re thinking: prospects are no guarantee. And you’re right. But you can’t trade all of your prospects because if you trade all of your prospects then none of them will hit. And the Phillies can’t just replace Werth, Ibanez, Howard, Lidge, Madson, Rollins and others via free agency. They must have young, inexpensive talent to step in. “At some point … retaining all of their quality players will be difficult,” the NL executive said. “When you reach that point, there has to be depth in the system to cover needs. It’s tough to continuously deal your top prospects, extend payroll and have the ability to recover when the bill comes due.
  • Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said recently that he considered the Phillies and Yankees favorites to land Halladay. One reason is that Halladay lives in the Tampa area, where the Phillies and Yankees hold Spring Training. Halladay has a no-trade clause, but he would waive it for the Philies. “We’re not a Florida team,” Ash said. “I also don’t think he’s looking for a chance to win, he’s looking for a guaranteed win.” Nothing in baseball is guaranteed. But with a rotation that includes Halladay, Lee and Cole Hamels, they would be as close as you can get.

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