Results tagged ‘ Hunter Pence ’

Asche, Joseph and Others Headed to Spring Training

The Phillies announced today they have added six more players as Non-Roster Invitees for Spring Training.

This list includes several of the organization’s top prospects:

  • Third baseman Cody Asche. He hit .324 with 33 doubles, six triples, 12 home runs and 72 RBIs between Class A Clearwater and Double-A Reading last season. Asche, 22, will be in camp to get big-league experience. If he continues to progress in 2013, the Phillies could look at him as their everyday third baseman as early as 2014.
  • Right-hander Justin Friend. He allowed just one earned run in 39 2/3 innings and converted each of his 24 save opportunities with Double-A Reading last season. Friend, 26, will get a look in Spring Training, but the Phillies have plenty of relievers ahead of him on the depth chart. Expect him to open the season in the Minor Leagues.
  • Catcher Tommy Joseph. The Phillies acquired him in the Hunter Pence trade and he immediately became the organization’s top position player prospect. He will be in camp to get big-league experience, but will open the season in the Minor Leagues. Where he opens remains to be seen. Joseph, 21, is expected to compete with Sebastian Valle for the Triple-A job.
  • Outfielder Joe Mather. He hit .209 with 11 doubles, five home runs and 19 RBIs in 103 games last season with the Chicago Cubs. The Phillies have plenty of outfielders, so Mather, 30, joins the organization to provide depth at Triple-A.
  • Left-hander Adam Morgan. The Phillies are high on Morgan, so like others in this group they want him to get his feet wet in big-league camp. He had a 3.29 ERA last season with Clearwater, and went 4-1 with a 3.53 ERA in six starts with Reading. Morgan, 22, led Phillies Minor Leaguers with 169 strikeouts in 158 2/3 innings.
  • Right-hander Kyle Simon. The Phillies acquired him in the Jim Thome trade. The Phillies made him a reliever last season with Clearwater and Reading with positive results: He went 4-0 with a 1.36 ERA in 20 appearances.

It’s Pence Bobble Head Night

MLB.com’s Jake Kaplan has an interesting note on tonight being Hunter Pence bobble headed night, despite the fact he has been traded.

When you think about it, what in the world are going to do with 45,000 Pence bobble heads? Might as well give them away.

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My two cents: I’ve got to say I think it’s absolutely crazy fans cheer Wilson Valdez like a former National League MVP while somebody like Greg Dobbs, who was one of the best pinch-hitters in baseball for a period and helped the Phillies win the 2008 World Series, hears boos. If anything both should hear cheers or get no reaction at all. I mean, Valdez had a nice season for a utility infielder in 2010 (.667 OPS). Dobbs had a .780 OPS in 2007 and an .824 OPS in 2008.

Can These Guys Play?

Here is what MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo wrote today on the prospects the Phillies got in the Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence deals:

HUNTER PENCE

  • Tommy Joseph, C: The 2012 Futures Gamer was ranked No. 5 on the Giants’ Top 20 at the time of the trade. Drafted in 2009 out of the Arizona high school ranks, his calling card was his bat, with many feeling he wouldn’t be able to stay behind the plate long-term. The bat was on display in 2011 as he broke out as a power-hitting run producer. He hasn’t been as dangerous with the move to Double-A, but he still has solid hitting skills, especially if he can continue to improve his plate discipline. His defensive game has improved tremendously – a strong arm in particular helps control the running game – and questions about him staying behind the plate have ended. He could be ready to take over when Carlos Ruiz’s contract is up after the 2013 season.
  • Seth Rosin, RHP: Rosin was the No. 19 prospect on the Giants’ Top 20 at the time of the trade Taken out of the University of Minnesota in 2010, he began his first full season as a starter, but then moved to the bullpen and that’s his long-term home. Out of the pen, his fastball hits the mid-to-upper 90s in shorter stints and he commands it well. He has a very good changeup to go along with it. His breaking ball isn’t as good, but he can thrive with two pitches in short relief.

SHANE VICTORINO

  • Ethan Martin, RHP: Martin was the No. 7 prospect on the Dodgers’ Top 20 at the time of the trade. A 2008 first-round pick, Martin has been a little slow to develop, but patience can be a virtue when it comes to high-ceiling young arms with arm strength. Martin still has the raw stuff that made him a hot commodity coming out of the Georgia high school ranks four years ago. He has a plus fastball and curve and his changeup is continuing to improve. In his second taste of Double-A, it does appear like things are starting to come together for the right-hander. His command has improved, though he still needs to refine that to be a starter at the highest level. His power stuff would play well coming out of the bullpen, but at age 23, it might be too early to give up on him as a starter, especially given his improvement this season.

Rollins, Hamels and Other Reaction from Clubhouse

Here is what some Phillies said about today’s trades that sent Shane Victorino to Los Angeles and Hunter Pence to San Francisco:

JIMMY ROLLINS
How did you take the news?
Like you take anything. It’s nothing new. I’ve been through it before unfortunately.

But this year has been unexpected?
The results this year? The record?

Usually you’re bringing guys in?
At the end of the year Shane was going to be a free agent anyway, you know? We knew that his time here was over or they were going to work out something in the offseason. The season was going to dictate the length of his time here. Even if we were winning it wasn’t a guarantee he was going to be here. The writing was already on the wall that his tenure here may have been over.

(more…)

Victorino to LA; Pence to SF Next?

Shane Victorino provided some of the greatest and most memorable moments for the Phillies in recent memory.

He played his last game for them Sunday in Atlanta.

Sources confirmed the Phillies and Dodgers have finalized a trade Tuesday that will send Victorino to Los Angeles for right-handed relief pitcher Josh Lindblom and Double-A right-handed relief pitcher Ethan Martin.

Triple-A Lehigh Valley outfielder Domonic Brown is on his way to Nationals Park, where the Phillies open a three-game series Tuesday against the Nationals. It remains to be seen where Brown will play because the Phillies still could trade rightfielder Hunter Pence before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. Trade Deadline. The Giants have been pursuing him aggressively, and a deal is in the works.

The Phillies are looking to overhaul their roster after a remarkably disappointing season. Moving Victorino, who will become a free agent after the season, to the Dodgers allowed them to bolster their bullpen, which has been a weakness.

Victorino had been looking for a five-year contract once he hit the open market. The Phillies were not going to sign him to a multiyear extension, so it made sense to move him rather than let him leave with nothing in return after the season.

Lindblom is 2-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 48 appearances this season for the Dodgers. He cannot become a free agent until 2018. Martin was the Dodgers’ first-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. He is 8-6 with a 3.58 ERA in 20 starts this season with Double-A Chattanooga.

The Phillies also have been talking to the Orioles about a trade involving Joe Blanton, although it appears the remaining $3 million on Blanton’s contract will kill the deal. The Orioles want the Phillies to pick up a substantial portion of the contract, which makes little sense to them if they are getting a lesser prospect in return.

Victorino to LA Deal Gets Close

The Phillies and Dodgers are closing on a deal that would send Shane Victorino to Los Angeles, a source confirmed to MLB.com.

The Dodgers would send the Phillies right-handed reliever Josh Lindblom and a second player.

Triple-A Lehigh Valley outfielder Domonic Brown is on his way to Nationals Park, where the Phillies open a three-game series Tuesday against the Nationals. That is a sure sign a deal is imminent, although it remains to be seen where he plays. The Phillies also have been trying to trade rightfielder Hunter Pence. The Giants have been pursuing him.

Don’t rule out the Phillies trading both Victorino and Pence on the same day.

ESPN.com first reported the Phillies and Dodgers were close to the finish line on the trade.

The Phillies are looking to overhaul their roster after a remarkably disappointing season. Moving Victorino, who will become a free agent after the season, to the Dodgers will allow the Phillies to bolster their bullpen, which has been a weakness.

Victorino had been looking for a five-year contract once he hit the open market. The Phillies seemed unlikely to sign him, so it makes sense to move him rather than let him leave with nothing in return after the season.

Lindblom is 2-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 48 appearances this season for the Dodgers. He cannot become a free agent until 2018.

The Phillies have been talking to the Orioles about a trade involving Joe Blanton, although it appears the remaining $3 million on Blanton’s contract could kill the deal. The Orioles want the Phillies to pick up a substantial portion of the contract, which makes little sense to them if they are getting a lesser prospect in return.

Improvers Should Improve

The Phillies don’t like to call themselves buyers or sellers.

They’re improvers, they said.

Well, it’s time to improve for 2013.

Charlie Manuel said yesterday the Phillies still have a heartbeat, but he understands the reality of the situation. They’re on pace to finish 71-91 and have given nobody any reason to believe they can put together the type of run they need to make the postseason for the sixth consecutive year. They knew they needed to win 2 of 3 or sweep this weekend in Atlanta, but they got swept instead. The Braves currently hold the second NL Wild Card and are on pace to finish 91-71, which means the Phillies would need to finish 46-14 (.767) to tie. That’s right, the Phillies would need to win more than three of every four games the rest of the season just to get into contention with the Pirates and Braves, assuming those teams keep their current pace. But the Phillies are just 8-7 (.533) since the break.

It doesn’t look like they’re up for the miracle of miracles.

The trade deadline is 4 p.m. tomorrow.

Is there any reason not to make a few trades to improve for next season?

Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton seem to be the most likely to go. Victorino could help a few outfields and Blanton could help a few rotations, much like he helped the Phillies rotation in 2008. Juan Pierre could help somebody. Hunter Pence‘s name is swirling around San Francisco, although every credible reporter there and nationally has dumped on the San Francisco TV report the Giants are simply awaiting approval from ownership to complete a deal. Personally, I don’t think it makes much sense to trade Pence unless they get quite a haul in return. They’ll need him next season. But if you can get something of value in return for Victorino and Blanton — a couple bullpen arms maybe? — then I think you have to do it. Sure, it would mean John Mayberry Jr. playing every day in center field the rest of the season, but it also might mean Domonic Brown playing every day in left field the rest of the season. And don’t the Phillies have to give Brown a two-month tryout, so they have a better idea of how they’re going to tackle the outfield in the offseason? I’m not sure they can go into next season hoping Brown can handle the job. They entered the previous two seasons hoping Ben Francisco could handle right field in place of Jayson Werth and Mayberry could handle left field in place of Raul Ibanez, and both fell far short of expectations.

Trading Victorino, Blanton, Pierre and others won’t make for pretty baseball the last two months of the season, but the first four months of the season haven’t been pretty with them.

Time to cut bait. Time to improve.

Hamels, Lee, Rollins, Pence and More …

It sounds crazy, but today could be Cole Hamels‘ last start at Citizens Bank Park in a Phillies uniform.

I don’t think it will be, though.

If the Phillies are willing to offer Hamels six years, which they are, then they are likely willing to offer him the money he wants (or at least get very close to it). And if the Phillies make that effort and Hamels still says no, well, then he made their decision to trade him easy. If he says yes, then they have Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Hamels together through next season, and that’s not a bad thing.

A few thoughts on this:

  • If Hamels signs, what’s the plan? The Phillies could have more than $150 million committed to just 11 players for 2013: Lee ($25 million), Halladay ($20 million), Ryan Howard ($20 million), Chase Utley ($15 million), Jonathan Papelbon ($13 million), Jimmy Rollins ($11 million), Carlos Ruiz ($5 million), Kyle Kendrick ($4.5 million) and Laynce Nix ($1.35 million) are already signed. I’m not sure how Hamels’ deal will be structured, but let’s go with a projected AAV (average annual value) of $24 million per season. Hunter Pence, who is salary arbitration eligible for the final time, could earn around $14 million. That’s a ton of money for just 11 players. The luxury tax threshhold next season is $178 million. If the Phillies are willing to go well over the luxury tax (i.e. more than just a couple million or so) there’s no problem. But if they’re not then they have about $28 million to spend on the rest of the roster. Did we mention the holes on the roster next season could include center field, third base, left field (unless Domonic Brown becomes the guy) and a couple reliable bullpen pieces? Try adequately filling those holes (and completing the rest of the roster) for about $28 million.
  • That’s why you’re hearing names like Lee, Rollins and Pence mentioned in trade speculation. It’s the only thing that makes sense: the Phillies are considering clearing salary. But I’m not sure how moving any of those players makes them better next season, unless they would get a ridiculous score of prospects in return. Can’t you see a situation next July — assuming the Phillies are contenders — where they are looking to fill a hole they created by trading Lee, Rollins or Pence? I can. They’ve already done it. They traded Lee in Dec. 2009 and found themselves needing a starting pitcher in July 2010, thus shipping prospects to Houston for Roy Oswalt. Would they let history repeat itself?
  • I don’t trade Pence, unless I’m totally blown away with an offer. Why? Forget for a second his slow start with runners in scoring position. He’s still on pace for 29 home runs and 98 RBIs. If you trade Pence, who is going to be your right-handed power bat? Chooch? Carlos Ruiz is having a fantastic season, but he’s a 33-year-old catcher and he’s never hit like this before. It would be a tremendous leap of faith to enter 2013 believing he can do this again, and be the team’s primary power bat from the right side. The Phillies lost Jayson Werth following the 2010 season and bet on Ben Francisco. Francisco wasn’t up to the task, so the Phillies sent a bunch of prospects to Houston for Pence. Would they let history repeat itself?
  • If the Phillies trade Rollins it means they are going with Freddy Galvis at shortstop. OK, he’s brilliant defensively and he’s cheap. But they better have a good backup plan for Utley. They can’t enter 2013 saying, “We like our infield because we’ll finally have Utley and Howard healthy the entire year,” after Utley missed the first couple months each of the previous two seasons. If they don’t have a good backup plan they could be going with Galvis and Michael Martinez (or a Mike Fontenot comparable). And that just won’t work. Plus, consider for a second Rollins’ .729 OPS is seventh among 23 qualifying shortstops in baseball. Yes, he leads the big leagues in infield pop ups, but consider the alternatives.
  • The Phillies are 41-53 and 11 games behind the NL Wild Card leaders with eight teams ahead of them in the standings. Even if they sign Hamels to an extension, does it make any sense not to sell? I don’t think so, unless they go 7-1 or 8-0 before the deadline. Get what you can for what else you’ve got (other players still available to trade include Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Placido Polanco, Juan Pierre, etc.). You won’t get the haul you’ll get for Hamels, but you could get something that might help next season.

Pinch Me …

Carlos Ruiz emerged from a back room in the Phillies clubhouse late tonight with a smile on his face.

He came to a stop and leaned against the red countertop in the middle of the room, where a reporter informed him that he is “leading the world” in hitting after going 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs in tonight’s 5-4 victory over the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. Ruiz is hitting .361, which leads the big leagues.

“Come on,” Ruiz said in disbelief.

“Yeah, you’re leading the world.”

“Let me see,” Ruiz said, trying to sneak a glance at the reporter’s notebook.

“You are. Trust me.”

Ruiz chuckled.

The reporter repeated that Ruiz is leading the big leagues in batting. He asked Ruiz if he pinches himself. Ruiz thought about it, pinched his left arm and smiled.

“That’s me,” he joked.

Ruiz is a distant third in All-Star voting for National League catchers, but he should earn his first trip to the All-Star Game. He left the ballpark Tuesday first in the league in batting average (.361), second in OPS (1.006), third in on-base percentage (.427) and fifth in slugging percentage (.579).

He singled to score Hunter Pence from third in the first inning to hand the Phillies a 1-0 lead. He singled and scored on Ty Wigginton’s two-run homer in the third to take a 4-1 lead. He then homered in the eighth inning on a 0-2 pitch from Juan Cruz to make it 5-3.

It was Ruiz’s 10th homer of the season, which is a career high.

Chooooch.

“When you feel good at home plate you can find out the way they’re going to pitch to you,” Ruiz said. “I feel great and that’s a big thing.”

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From Elias Sports Bureau: Ruiz went 3-for-4 with two hits on 0-2 pitches, including a home run. Ruiz had been 1-for-19 on 0-2 pitches this season. He hadn’t had two 0-2 hits in one game since May 31, 2011 and he hadn’t hit an 0-2 homer since last April 9.

Fake Tough

Photo courtesy of @JSalisburyCSN

Have fun.

The Phillies have tried to beat that mantra into their brains during their recent struggles. Have fun. Have fun. Have fun. On Tuesday they showed they still know how to laugh a little bit when several teammates sported red t-shirts with the Liberty Bell and “Fake Tough” printed on the front.

“Fake tough” should sound familiar to Phillies fans because Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo called Cole Hamels “fake tough” after Hamels said he intentionally hit Bryce Harper with a pitch last month in Washington. Hunter Pence apparently purchased/spearheaded/organized/fronted the t-shirts efforts and Hamels donned one, although he had no plans to talk about it today.

“I’m not commenting on that,” Hamels said with a smile. “I’m just wearing it because I’m trying to be a good teammate. That’s it.”

For what it’s worth, I like ‘em.

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