Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’

Rollins Talks Thole Blunder

Jimmy Rollins could not believe his eyes.

In the top of the second inning in last night’s 5-2 loss to the Mets, R.A. Dickey executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance Josh Thole to second base with one out. Phillies first baseman Jim Thome tagged Dickey about halfway up the first-base line and nonchalantly tossed the ball back to Cliff Lee, who believed like everybody else at Citizens Bank Park the play had ended.

In fact, Rollins motioned for Thole that he did not need to slide as he reached second base, which is something he has done since he reached the big leagues whenever there is no play at the base.

“Nice hit,” Thole told Rollins as he reached second, referring to Rollins’ first-inning double.

“Thanks,” Rollins replied.

Then Thole inexplicably turned around and walked back to first base.

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Baby, You’re (Gonna Be) A Rich Man

So we know Cole Hamels will be signing at least a five-year, $112.5 million contract.

The Giants and Matt Cain agreed to those terms yesterday, and I believe most everybody would agree Hamels is a better pitcher than Cain. Hamels is 74-54 with a 3.39 ERA since 2006, pitching half his games in cozy Citizens Bank Park. Cain is 67-72 with a 3.39 ERA since 2006, pitching half his games at canyon-esque AT&T Park. Hamels has more strikeouts (1,091 to 1,055), a better strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.74 to 2.32) and WHIP (1.14 to 1.21) in that span. He is at the top of most pitching categories in the National League since he made his big-league debut. Cain is up there with him, but Hamels is usually just a bit better.

So if Cain got that, Hamels gets what?

I wonder if the Phillies said today, “How about Cliff Lee money?” if Hamels takes it.

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Doc Gets Opening Day, Hamels Gets Home Opener

We asked nicely today, so Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee revealed his rotation to open the 2012 season:

  • April 5 in Pittsburgh: Roy Halladay
  • April 7 in Pittsburgh: Cliff Lee
  • April 8 in Pittsburgh: Vance Worley
  • April 9 vs. Miami: Cole Hamels

Dubee explained.

“Cole has had more experience,” said Dubee, asked why Hamels gets the home opener. “Hell, he’s pitched in the World Series. The big flag is out there. Not that Vance can’t handle it, but it’s a little bit of a hectic day. Any of our guys deserve to pitch the home opener or the opener of the season. This way it lines up where Cole gets it. It splits our lefties. It doesn’t put Vance in that situation. Cole is more accustomed to pitching with a lot of hoopla around.”

It is unclear when Joe Blanton would pitch, but because of two off days between the season opener April 5 and the fifth game of the season April 11, it is likely Halladay pitches April 11.

“I don’t think we’re going to let Doc sit around for seven or eight days,” Dubee said. “That’s too much.”

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!
Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • April 2: Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 3: Chester County Book Company in West Chester, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.

Nats’ Top 3 over Doc, Cliff and Cole? Whatever

The Nationals are trying their best to build a rivalry with the Phillies in the National League East.

It started with their Take Back the Park campaign, designed to make tickets less accessible to Phillies fans for the Phillies-Nationals series May 4-6 at Nationals Park. But then Nationals manager Davey Johnson told The Washington Post the other day he would take Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann and the rest of his rotation over Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels and the rest of the Phillies’ rotation, in part because of their youth and potential.

“Their top three versus our top three, stuff-wise, we match up as good,” Johnson told the Post.

“I guess that’s his opinion,” Rich Dubee said.

Asked what he thought about Johnson’s comments, Lee said, “He should (take them) because that’s his only option. It’s what he’s got to do.”

In other words, whatever.

Lee said he wouldn’t compare Halladay, Hamels and himself to any other pitchers on any team in baseball.

“I’m not trying to compare myself to anybody,” Lee said. “There’s nothing good that’s going to come out of that. I know we’re proven and we’ve shown what we can do, and if we’re healthy we stack up pretty good against anyone. I’m not going to sit here and try to create something out of nothing because to me really that’s nothing.”

Asked about the Take Back the Park campaign, Lee said, “That’s another nothing thing for me. Whatever. They should try to get more fans to come out and support them. They should expect a lot out of their team. It’s normal stuff. He should think his pitchers are better than anyone. He should think all his position players are better than anyone else. He should think he’s got the best bullpen. If he doesn’t, what’s he thinking?”

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!
Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • March 19: Bright House Field in Clearwater, FL, TBA
  • April 2: Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 3: Chester County Book Company in West Chester, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.

Lee Relates to Hamels

Cliff Lee is one of the few people in the world who can truly relate to Cole Hamels‘ upcoming free agency.

He spoke about that today, as Hamels’ agent is in town talking to the Phillies about an extension. The sides are not close and an agreement is not expected before the end of spring training, if one happens at all. These talks will be difficult. Why? Because Hamels’ agent would not be doing his job if he were not trying to get Hamels a contract worth more than $100 million, and the Phillies already have tons of money committed over the next several seasons. Looking at things from the outside and not knowing how much money the Phillies have to spend, it would seem difficult to not only meet the demands of Hamels, but Shane Victorino, who becomes a free agent following this season, and Hunter Pence, who becomes a free agent following 2013.

Can they keep all of them? It will be very, very difficult.

The Phillies already have $109.85 million committed to eight players next season: Lee ($25 million), Roy Halladay ($20 million), Ryan Howard ($20 million), Chase Utley ($15 million), Jonathan Papelbon ($13 million), Jimmy Rollins ($11 million), Kyle Kendrick ($4.5 million) and Laynce Nix ($1.35 million). And that’s not counting club options for Carlos Ruiz, etc. They have $94 million committed to Lee, Halladay, Howard, Papelbon and Rollins in 2014; and $74 million committed to Lee, Howard, Papelbon and Rollins in 2015.

Let’s say Hamels wants $20 million per season from the Phillies. Let’s say Victorino wants $12 million. Let’s say Pence wants $15 million. That’s $47 million for the three (and that’s probably a low figure, if you think about what they could get if they hit the open market). That puts the Phillies’ 2014 payroll at $141 million for just seven players. So what? Well, none of those players are a catcher, second baseman or third baseman. There are bullpen jobs, bench jobs and possibly a starting pitcher or two to find, too. I’m not saying the Phillies will not resign Hamels, but it will not be easy. And it might mean they have to lose talented players elsewhere, something Victorino acknowledged recently.

Stay tuned …

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!

Now Available: The Rotation

Just a heads up: The Rotation is now available in Delaware Valley bookstores! So if you’re out and about and need a good book before heading to Clearwater (or you just need a book to get your ready for the baseball season), check it out. It’s also available on Amazon.com!

Injury Updates on Lee, Howard, Contreras and De Fratus

Ruben Amaro Jr. had a few injury updates this morning at Carpenter Complex, where the Phillies are holding their first full squad workout:

  • Cliff Lee. He missed a scheduled bullpen session yesterday, but Amaro said he is fine. Lee has “midsection soreness.” “But it’s really minimal,” Amaro said. “I’m not worried about Cliff.”
  • Ryan Howard. There is some thought Howard could be back before May, although it seems unlikely. Amaro said, “I don’t know how realistic it is. We all like to try to be optimistic. But as far as I’m concerned, if he comes back sometime in May, I’m happy. Ryan’s rehab is going well. He’s going to have good days. He’s going to have some not-so-good days. But he’s doing well, and that’s all we can ask. It’s a process we’ll let play out. We’re not in any rush to get him back.”
  • Jose Contreras. He threw a bullpen session this morning and the Phillies were “very encouraged.” Amaro said, “More importantly, he was encouraged, and that’s real important. Once you go through a surgery and you’re throwing, there’s always some tentativeness there. And so I think he had a really good demeanor when he walked off the mound. That’s a very, very good step for him.”
  • Justin De Fratus. He has some soreness in his right elbow. The Phillies are shutting him down for at least a week. Team physician Michael Ciccotti will examine him at some point. “We’re just trying to be conservative with him,” Amaro said. De Fratus first started feeling some tightness in his elbow in January. It hasn’t improved.

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!

Hamels: No Deadline, Wants to Stay

Cole Hamels just finished up his news conference this afternoon at Bright House Field.

Here are a few highlights:

Q: Are you setting a deadline to reach an extension?
A: No. No, I don’t have any deadline. I think the only deadline that is set is by Major Leauge Baseball with (exclusive negotiating rights) five days after the World Series.

Q: So nothing needs to be settled by Opening Day or anything?
A: No, no, no. I’m just going out and getting ready for this year. that’s my main focus. It’s to get as strong as possible throughout spring training and go into the season and try to help this team win. That’s everything I’ve always been able to focus on, especially since we haven’t been back to the World Series in a couple of years, that’s kind of the main focus that I’m going to put every ounce of energy going toward.

Q: In your heart, do you want to be a Phillie for a long time?
A: I was very fortunate enough to be drafted to an organization that is trying to win and obviously has won. Every day, every year we seem to get some top players. So that kind of shows the value and the direction the team wants to go. I’ve just been very fortunate to be a part of it. And it’s also something where I don’t know any better, I live in Philadelphia. I’ve been here for I guess 10 years now, so that’s been something that’s been kind of nice, kind of something I’ve been focused on. It’s a great organization to play for and I’d love to be a part of it.

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Hamels’ Next Deal: Think Lee, Not Weaver

The Phillies and Cole Hamels today agreed to a one-year, $15 million contract, which allowed them to avoid salary arbitration.

Next up? The Phillies and Hamels’ agent John Boggs will talk about a multiyear extension.

“We can negotiate with Cole from today through the end of November, and then beyond that to get a multiyear deal done,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “Just because we have a one-year deal in place doesn’t mean we can’t do something long term. As far as Cole beyond 2012, that’s something that’s still very much open for discussion.”

Hamels is line for a major payday, but how large remains to be seen.

But think Cliff Lee more than Jered Weaver.

Weaver signed a five-year, $85 million contract extension last summer with the Angels, but Weaver bypassed free agency partly because he wanted to stay in Southern California and play for his hometown team. Weaver and Hamels have remarkably similar career statistics, so it is easy to think Hamels might be paid in that range: Hamels is 77-54 with a 3.39 ERA in 181 career appearances. He has a 1.141 WHIP and averages 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings. Weaver is 82-47 with a 3.31 ERA in 171 career appearances. He has a 1.165 WHIP and averages 7.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

But Boggs said this afternoon the Weaver deal is a “non-starter” in negotiations, which I assume the Phillies already know.

“It would be natural to look at that as a comparison,” he said. “Jered signed for his own personal reasons – and I applaud him for that – but it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to follow the same standard. Everybody is different. For Jered to sign there it doesn’t mean that’s the template we’re going to follow.”

Lee signed a five-year, $120 million contract with the Phillies in Dec. 2010. That certainly seems to be a better measuring stick for Hamels, right?

“Absolutely,” Boggs said. “If you’re this close to free agency, you start to make comparables of what you have the potential of making as a free agent.”

Lee signed his deal at 32. Hamels is 28. It stands to reason Hamels will be looking for a contract worth $20 million or more per season.

Reason to be nervous if you’re a Phillies fan? Not yet. There seems to be genuine interest on both sides to reach an agreement. Finalizing Hamels’ 2012 contract could have been the first step.

“The goal was to get that out of the way,” Boggs said. “I’m sure down the road we’ll have a conversation about moving forward. We plan on keeping the discussions open. It’s a process.”

Boggs said he hasn’t talked to Hamels about setting any potential deadline regarding negotiations, which some players have done in the past.

“At the end of the day we really don’t have any concrete game plan as far as how long we are going to plan on discussing this,” Boggs said. “That will be decided at some point shortly, or as we get into the process. But there’s definitely a desire to stay. At the end of the day it really depends on the value we place on Cole, and hopefully it coincides with the value the Phillies place on Cole. That’s the reason you have a negotiation. From a basic desire, yes, he’d be more than happy to stay there. He knows the Phillies. He’s homegrown. That’s what we’ll attempt to do, but sometimes things don’t work out if we can’t agree on the value.”

Phillies Trade Benny Fresh to Toronto

The Phillies traded Ben Francisco to Toronto today for Minor League relief pitcher Frank Gailey.

The trade is not a complete surprise. The emergence of John Mayberry Jr. and recent signing of Laynce Nix had pushed Francisco deep onto the Phillies’ bench as a fifth outfielder. And with tonight’s midnight tender deadline for salary arbitration eligible players looming, it made some sense the Phillies would move Francisco rather than pay him more than the $1.175 million he made last season.

Francisco’s departure could open the door for veteran outfielder Scott Podsednik, who recently signed a Minor League contract with the team.

Gailey, 26, is a native Philadelphian, attending Archbishop Carroll High School and West Chester University. He split last season with Class A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire, combing to go 5-6 with a 3.41 ERA in 45 appearances. He is 23-15 with a 2.45 ERA in 175 appearances.

The Blue Jays selected him in the 23rd round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. He is expected to provide the organization depth at the Minor League level.

Francisco, 30, came to Philadelphia as part of the Cliff Lee trade with the Cleveland Indians in July 2009. He hit .259 with 17 home runs and 75 RBIs in 225 games. Francisco’s most memorable Phillies moment will be his last. He hit a game-winning, pinch-hit three-run home run in Game 3 of the 2011 National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

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Here’s moer on Gailey from MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo:

A 23rd-round pick out of the 2007 Draft from West Chester University, Gailey gets to return home to eastern Pennsylvania. A starter in college – his name is all over West Chester’s career leaderboards – he’s been a reliever since entering the pro ranks. He’s moved slowly, though he’s put up decent numbers at every stop, with the exception of his first taste of Double-A in 2011.

Gailey has been forced to move slowly, proving himself at every level, including the Gulf Coast and short-season New York-Penn Leagues, even as a college pitcher. That’s largely because his stuff doesn’t grade out much better than average across the board. His fastball is an average offering, but his breaking ball is below-average. He gets a ton of action on  his changeup, but sometimes it’s too much.

Gailey will pitch out of two slots, sidearm and three-quarters, which can cause problems for left-handed hitters. Lefties in the Florida State League hit just .131 against him in 2011 and if the 26-year-old has any future in the big leagues, it will be as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen.

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Need a holiday gift? We’ve got another Sports Writers Extravaganza book signing at 7 p.m. THURSDAY at the Barnes & Noble at the Willow Grove Mall.

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