Results tagged ‘ free agent ’

Is This A Playoff Team? Hamels Says Ask Somebody Else

Jimmy RollinsWell, that couldn’t have gone much worse.

A few thoughts on the Phillies following their 3-7 road trip:

  • There is a level of frustration settling into the Phillies’ clubhouse, an amount I haven’t seen in Charlie Manuel‘s nine seasons here. Just read Cliff Lee‘s comments Thursday in Minnesota, or what Cole Hamels told reporters after yesterday’s loss in Colorado. Is this a playoff team? “I’m not going to comment on that one,” Hamels said. “You can ask the other guys that one.” Remember, those comments are being made publicly, which certainly means the apathy/resignation/frustration is worse behind closed doors. That is troubling. I remember in seasons past, somebody like Jayson Werth would say confidently and almost nonchalantly, “Relax, everybody. We’re fine. We’re much better than this. We’ll pick it up when we need to pick it up.” They knew they would. You don’t hear that talk right now.
  • The Phillies are 25th in baseball in runs per game. They are 24th in ERA. In seasons past, the Phillies always had one thing going for it: a great offense or a great pitching staff. You could always say, “Well, if they add a bat (Hunter Pence) or if they add an arm (Lee or Roy Oswalt) at the trade deadline it could push them over the top.” You can’t say that with this team. There are too many holes. Where would you even start?
  • Look at where the Phillies rank in OPS at every position. Catcher: 23rd at .651. First base: 17th at .763. Second base: 20th at .671. Third base: 13th at .727. Shortstop: Ninth at .747. Left field: second at .876. Center field: 27th at .616. Right field: 23rd at .691. Second base would be better if Chase Utley had remained healthy, but other than that the only two positions holding their own against the best in baseball are left field (Domonic Brown) and shortstop (Jimmy Rollins).
  • If you say, well, the Phillies are only 8 1/2 games back in the NL East (I’m not sure why anybody would say that, but still …), remember the NL East is probably the worst division in baseball.
  • Looking for a reason to keep the faith? That’s tough, but I guess if you’re going to hold onto something hold onto this: Manuel’s teams traditionally are much better in the second half (.610 winning percentage after the All-Star break from 2005-12 is second-best in baseball). Of course, if they keep playing like this they could be buried in the standings and some of their top players could be traded by July 31. That traditional second-half surge might not matter.
  • Take a look at the upcoming free agent class at MLB Trade Rumors. I don’t see a lot of guys that could help the Phillies turn around their fortunes quickly.  Is there anybody that gets you excited enough to say, “I’d be OK if the Phillies shelled out a ton of cash for him?” There is Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury and that’s about it as far as high on-base percentage bats the Phillies could use. (Forget about Robinson Cano. I can’t believe the Yankees will let him sign elsewhere.)

Thome’s First Job: Recruiter

It sure sounds like Jim Thome would love Michael Cuddyer to sign with the Phillies, huh?

Thome signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract with the Phillies yesterday, and he was asked if he had spoken with his good friend Cuddyer, whom the Phillies are pursuing in free agency.

“We’ve texted a little bit,” Thome said. “We’ve talked. All I can say about Michael is he’s a great player. He’s a winner. He’s a stand-up guy. I know he’s done a lot of great things on and off the field in Minnesota. Anybody that plays in that organization for a long time, their credibility is instantly high. Any team that gets him is going to gain. He’s a great teammate. I would put Michael as one of my top-five, all-time favorite teammates. No question. He’s up there. He’s a winner.”

Did Cuddyer express any interest in coming to Philly?

“I can’t answer that,” Thome said. “Look, every player that
sees the way the Phillies have done things over the last seven or eight years, they’ve set the bar very, very high. Guys around baseball would love to come here. When you win, you create a lot of good things.”

Did Thome encourage his former teammate to join him?

“I could, yes,” he said. “Absolutely. I’m sure we will talk
going forward.”

You can be certain Thome will be talking to Cuddyer, Charlie Manuel and anybody else who will listen (I’m sure Thome can shoot Ruben Amaro Jr. a few texts). Cuddyer makes sense for a few reasons. He is a right-handed bat that can play the corner infield and outfield positions, although my understanding is he isn’t much of a defensive third baseman. He has a career .343 on-base percentage. His .346 on-base percentage this season would have tied for fourth on the team with Ryan Howard. And one would think his offensive numbers would improve moving from pitcher-friendly Target Field to hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park. He also is a high-character, high-energy guy, which the Phillies value.

Of course, Thome can talk until he is blue in the face. If the money isn’t right it won’t happen. But if the money is close maybe Thome can push Cuddyer toward Philly.

The Market Is Open

This isn’t big news, but 148 players became free agents this morning. Free agents are eligible to sign with any team beginning at 12:01 a.m.  Thursday.

The Phillies have seven free agents:

  • Ross Gload
  • Raul Ibanez
  • Brad Lidge
  • Ryan Madson
  • Roy Oswalt
  • Jimmy Rollins
  • Brian Schneider

Werth Declines Arbitration

werth at the cage.jpgThe Phillies expected this. So did everybody else.

Jayson Werth declined salary arbitration with the Phillies before tonight’s midnight deadline.

The news is hardly surprising. Werth is expecting to land a once-in-a-lifetime contract as one of the top two free agent outfielders on the market (Carl Crawford is the other). Accepting arbitration meant Werth would have been signed to a one-year contract with the Philllies. The only way that would have happened (and made sense) would have been if the market had not existed for him.

Phillies fans might recall Boras had Kevin Millwood accept arbitration with the Phillies in 2003, when there was no market for him.

That shouldn’t be the case for Werth with teams like the Red Sox and Angels interested.

The Phillies will get two draft picks if Werth signs elsewhere as expected: the team’s top available pick and a sandwich pick between the first and second round.

Declining arbitration does not prevent the Phillies from trying to resign Werth. They can continue to talk with Boras about a deal. But it’s my belief the Phillies won’t go more than four years for Werth with Boras and Werth looking for a longer, more lucrative contract.

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A Quiet Winter for the Phillies?

amaro in the stands.jpg

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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Phillies, Contreras Could Be Close to Deal

Jose Contreras is one free agent the Phillies want to see in red pinstripes in 2011.

They could be close.

ESPNDeportes.com reported Sunday night the Phillies are nearing a two-year, $5 million contract with Contreras. The report also said Contreras could receive a third year in an option based on performance incentives.

Contreras, 38, went 6-4 with a 3.34 ERA in 67 appearances this season – his first full season as a relief pitcher. He quickly became a favorite for Charlie Manuel, picking up three of his four saves in May when Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson were on the disabled list.

The Phillies have seven free agents, and Contreras has been the most likely to resign. The Phillies also are interested in bringing back rightfielder Jayson Werth and right-hander Chad Durbin. The Phillies have had discussions about Werth, although it is believed he will sign elsewhere. Durbin could be back, depending on what kind of deals he can find elsewhere.

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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!

Hitting the Open Market

Thumbnail image for Werth0036.jpgJayson Werth hits the open market in less than 24 hours.

That should not surprise anybody. Werth was not going to sign a contract during his exclusive negotiating period with the Phillies. But beginning at midnight Saturday anybody from any team can contact any player, including Werth.

I still don’t think Werth resigns with the Phillies.

Scott Boras, who is Werth’s agent, said yesterday it doesn’t have to be that way.

“The Yankees are a Goliath,” Boras said. “George (Steinbrenner) built them with the idea of the word ‘best.’ The Phillies are now Goliaths. The reality of it is they have the ability to do what they need to do to retain their players. It’s merely a matter of choice. It’s not a matter of good business because I think everybody would agree they’ve made some really good business decisions. They’ve all proven to be fruitful economically as far as franchise value increase, future television negotiations, fans. Everything is going well. Somebody asked me if they can have a $200 million payroll? Of course they could. It would be good business to do so.”

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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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Phillies Contact Boras

boras.jpgRuben Amaro Jr. said Monday the Phillies would call Scott Boras before the end of the week.

They’ve called.

And?

“There’s really not much to say,” Amaro said. “We’re not going to have a public discussion with what’s happening with Jayson (Werth), but we have touched based and we’ll see where it goes from here.”

It has been speculated Boras, who Werth hired as his agent last month, could seek a contract in the neighborhood of the seven-year, $120 million contract outfielder Matt Holliday signed last winter with the St. Louis Cardinals. If Boras cannot land that, Werth could fall somewhere in line with the four-year, $66 million contract outfielder Jason Bay signed last winter with the New York Mets.

Either way, it is believed Werth will not be back in 2011. The Phillies have nearly $145 million committed to 16 players next season, and Amaro said during Monday’s news conference he needs to inject some youth into the roster. With every other starter under contract and expected back next season, the only place the Phillies could get younger in the lineup is right field.

The Phillies have exclusive negotiating rights with Werth until five days after the World Series, but it is almost a certainty there will be no agreement before then. Boras certainly will test Werth’s value on the open market.

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Former Phillies hitting coach Milt Thompson interviewed Thursday for the same job with the Seattle Mariners, according to his agent.

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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!

(Not) The Last Word on Werth

Thumbnail image for werth 01.jpg
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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