Results tagged ‘ Marlon Byrd ’
He uttered the word “anxious” a few times this afternoon at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, where Major League Baseball is holding its Winter Meetings. He is entering his second full season as Phillies manager and the team is in the beginning stages of a massive rebuild.
He is waiting like everybody else to see who exactly will be in the Phillies’ clubhouse in Spring Training.
“The goal of the organization is to get younger,” Sandberg said. “That is what this winter is all about.”
But there is another reason to be anxious. Managers are frequent casualties in rebuilds. Sandberg is signed through 2016 with a club option for 2017, but Phillies interim president Pat Gillick said the Phillies are unlikely to contend until 2017 at the earliest.
“Well, you know, he said probably might not contend,” Sandberg said.
But is he concerned he will be allowed to see the rebuild to completion?
“Well, I’d say after last year that this is the necessary thing to do is to get young and get more athletic,” he said, evading the question. “I think that helps in defense. That helps in scoring runs. It also starts to form a new core group. So with that being necessary and being a part of that, I’m excited about that possibility of seeing that started.”
Cole Hamels became the latest player to express his frustrations about Sandberg, when he pulled Hamels from Tuesday’s game in the eighth inning. Hamels looked disgusted as Sandberg approached and handed him the ball as he walked off the mound. Hamels made a point after the game to sidestep questions about Sandberg.
Sandberg recently met with Domonic Brown and David Buchanan following comments they made regarding playing time. A week earlier in San Francisco, he met with Kyle Kendrick after he nearly left the mound before Sandberg could remove him from a game. Sandberg had closed-door meetings with Ryan Howard last month following his announcement he wanted to see others play more at first base, saying he could not care less about Howard’s salary because he wanted to win games. Sandberg benched Jimmy Rollins in Spring Training, but ruffled feathers when he offered a “no comment” when asked about Rollins’ energy and influence in the clubhouse.
“I just deal with it and have conversations,” Sandberg said Wednesday.
Does he feel he has a good handle on the clubhouse?
“Yes,” he said. “Yeah.”
But sources said some players are frustrated, either with how Sandberg handles the game or how he handles players. Of course, much of this has to do with losing. Problems fade on winning teams. They fester and grow on losing ones.
So is there a good or bad relationship between players and manager?
“It’s been quiet the whole time,” he said Thursday afternoon at Nationals Park. “I haven’t heard from Ruben (Amaro Jr.) or my agents as far as front-running teams that have been close. I wasn’t surprised.”
Byrd is hitting .270 with 20 home runs, 60 RBIs and a .795 OPS. Teams could use a right-handed bat like that. But perhaps some teams backed away from Byrd, 36, because he is owed $8 million next season, plus a potential $8 million more in 2016 if a club option vests based on plate appearances. Byrd also has a limited no-trade clause to four teams, including the Mariners and Royals. He said he would have waived the clause had he been asked.
But now what?
“It goes back to change and figuring out a way to make those wins happen,” Byrd said. “Until then, it’s going to be a long road. We have the guys who want to win because they know how to win. They’ve done it before. We still have that core here. We still have a great pitching staff. We still have Chooch (Carlos Ruiz) behind the plate. So anything can happen next year. We’ll see what happens with offseason trades and stuff like that.”
Byrd still could be traded before the Aug. 31 waiver Trade Deadline or in the offseason. So could other veterans like Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon and A.J. Burnett. But what if things remain the same?
“I know one thing this team has to do is be open for change, whatever it is, to get better,” Byrd said. “I don’t know what it is for guys. For me, the (PED) suspension put me in a position to go to Mexico, but I had to go down there and learn how to play the game again. You have to be dedicated and understand that sometimes there needs to be change in your game, in your lifestyle, wherever it is, to make you better as a player. I knew what I needed and I did it. And it actually worked. We’re creatures of habit, 35 or 36 (years old). You’ve done stuff in this game that has made you successful. Not having that success, we have to change.
“Are you willing to do it? If it’s a guy in the offseason trying to get back into the game, do you go just work out or do you go play the game? A lot of guys talk about it. But you actually have to do it.”
The Phillies front office has been frustrated lately with its lack of success on the trade market, but it is still trying to complete at least one deal before Thursday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Ruben Amaro Jr. traveled with the team to New York, where it opened a three-game series tonight against the Mets at Citi Field. But Amaro was nowhere to be found before the game as he continues to call teams to find a trade partner for a group of players that includes right fielder Marlon Byrd and left-hander Antonio Bastardo.
“Am I expecting any (trades)?” Ryne Sandberg said. “I don’t know one way or another. Just from what I hear, if there is (a trade) it’ll be very late in the process.”
Byrd and Bastardo remain the most likely Phillies to be moved, which is nothing new. Byrd is hitting .266 with 20 home runs and 60 RBIs. His 20 homers are tied for eighth among right-handed hitters in baseball, which makes him valuable. Byrd can block trades to four teams, including the Mariners and Royals. He makes $8 million next season and he has an $8 million club option for 2016 that automatically vests with 600 plate appearances in 2015 or 1,100 plate appearances in 2014-15, including 550 plate appearances in 2015, which is a sticking point to some teams.
Left-hander Cole Hamels remains available, but the asking price remains extraordinarily high. This also is nothing new. The Phillies want to keep Hamels because he is the rare Phillies player signed to a mega contract still in his prime, but they will consider trading him if they are absolutely blown away by an offer.
Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon are unlikely to be moved by Thursday, but they could be traded in August if they clear waivers. Lee is owed at least $37.5 million following this season, while Papelbon is owed at least $13 million. A.J. Burnett remains a possibility, but he seems to be a second choice for teams still hoping for a pitcher like David Price, Jon Lester or Hamels. Burnett’s player option could be worth more than $10 million next season. The money owed to Lee, Papelbon and Burnett has made trading them difficult.
He struggled in his return from the DL against the Giants at Citizens Bank Park, allowing 12 hits, six runs and failing to command his pitches in 5 2/3 innings. You’d think the guy forgot to pitch, but one scout afterward correctly pointed out that Lee maintained his velocity throughout the night, which indicates he is healthy. The struggles? Most likely the result of a two-month layoff.
If Lee is healthy there is no reason to think he will not return to form as one of the top starting pitchers in baseball.
If the Phillies can’t trade him before the July 31 trade deadline, perhaps he clears waivers next month. If he does the Phillies have until Aug. 31 to trade him. If he doesn’t clear waivers, there is nothing to prevent the Phillies from trading him in the offseason. A couple more months isn’t going to hurt anybody, if Lee is healthy and pitching well. In fact, it would get more teams involved in the offseason because right now the only teams interested in Lee are contending teams.
ESPN.com reported Lee can be traded to nine teams without his consent: the Braves, Indians, Astros, Marlins, Twins, Mets, Padres, Rays and Nationals. ESPN.com also reported that A.J. Burnett, who shares the same agent as Lee, can be traded to nine teams without his permission: the Orioles, Red Sox, Reds, Royals, Mets, Yankees, Pirates, Cardinals and Nationals.
I still think the three Phillies most likely to be traded before the deadline are Jonathan Papelbon, Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo. The Phillies are listening, but not actively shopping Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. I would be incredibly surprised if any of those three are traded.
The Phillies return to action tonight in Atlanta, and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is 13 days away. The Phillies are busy trying to find trade partners for several veteran players, but just because they have players to trade it doesn’t mean they’ll trade them. They’re not pressured to make something happen before July 31. The front office hasn’t been told by ownership to shed payroll no matter what. Remember, the Phillies can still trade these players before the Aug. 31 waiver deadline or in the offseason.
Let’s repeat that: The Phillies can still trade these players before the Aug. 31 waiver deadline or in the offseason. Especially if they’re not getting much of a return in their current discussions. Would you trade Byrd or Lee or Papelbon for Tyson Gillies 2.0 just so you can turn to Phillies fans and say, “Look, guys, we made some trades!” It’s doubtful.
A report Sunday had the Mariners hot and heavy for Marlon Byrd, but reports since said their interest has cooled or talks have stalled. Keep this in mind as you read countless reports between today and July 31: 95 percent of this stuff is teams kicking the tires and reporters taking a kernel of information and writing it. For example, when you read a team with a need for starting pitching has inquired about Cole Hamels, don’t say to yourself, “Oh my God! The (insert team here) are going to get Cole Hamels!” Say to yourself, “Well, no kidding! Of course they’re interested in Cole.”
A team expressing interest in a Phillies player and a team actually making a legitimate offer are two totally different things. Maybe the Mariners called the Phillies last weekend and said, “We’d really like Marlon Byrd, but we’ll only give you a marginal prospect for him.” In that scenario, Ruben Amaro Jr. most likely said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and hung up the phone.
A few reminders as the July 31 deadline approaches:
- The Phillies are absolutely open to trading Jonathan Papelbon, Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo. The contracts and limited no-trade clauses for Papelbon, Lee, Burnett and Byrd could be stumbling blocks, but I just don’t see the Phillies making deals if they’re only getting a light-hitting outfielder or a middling reliever in return.
- They would need to receive a huge package of prospects to trade Cole Hamels.
- Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins have 10-and-5 rights and have repeatedly expressed their desire to remain in Philadelphia. The Phillies will listen to offers for Hamels, Utley and Rollins, but they are not going to give them away.
So, yes, the Phillies are not “looking” to trade Hamels. And they absolutely prefer to trade Lee over him. They would welcome a Papelbon trade, and they are willing to part with Bastardo because they have two younger, less expensive left-handers in Jake Diekman and Mario Hollands.
It is going to be an interesting couple of weeks for the Phillies. Like I said, they are active. But like I also mentioned, there are no indications they’re going to just get rid of players, either.
Enjoy the weekend.
The streak ended at 665 games Tuesday at Globe Life Park.
Ryne Sandberg dropped Howard to fifth against Texas left-hander Martin Perez. Marlon Byrd hit fourth, splitting up the left-handed-hitting Chase Utley and Howard. Sandberg split the lefties with Byrd four times in Spring Training, a strong indication he would make the move in the regular season.
“He’s the manager,” Howard said. “I don’t make the lineup. Whatever the lineup is, that’s what the lineup is. As far as spots and stuff, wherever my name is, that’s where I’m supposed to hit.”
Sandberg made other platoon-type moves, playing John Mayberry Jr. in left field and Jayson Nix at third base instead of Domonic Brown and Cody Asche, respectively.
“I’ve talked with him about it,” Sandberg said about Howard. “I’ve talked to him a couple of times about that, the reasons for it. I noticed in the Spring Training games – I think he had four or five – two of those games he had two hits and he had one hit in the other. So he had some success there. The fifth spot is still an RBI spot with men on base. It’s a power spot. It’s still a good spot for him regardless.”
Howard deferred to the manager when asked about the change.
But does he have a preference?
“I don’t know,” he said.
There are reasons for the adjustment. The Phillies ranked 22nd in baseball last season against lefties with a .679 OPS, a number which must improve. Byrd had a .959 OPS against lefties last season, which ranked 13th out of 173 qualifying players in baseball. Meanwhile, Howard has a .602 OPS against lefties from 2011-14, which ranks 203 out of 213 qualifying players.
“Yeah, it’s noteworthy,” Howard said. “But at the same time … I’m not even going to go there. I really have nothing to say about it. I’m going to stay away from all of that. Just try to keep everything on the up and up. You say the wrong thing and then all of a sudden … people just misconstrue or whatever. That’s not what I want to have happen.”
He made considerable changes to his lineup following Monday’s 14-10 victory over the Rangers at Globe Life Stadium.
He has Marlon Byrd hitting fourth between Chase Utley and Ryan Howard tonight against Rangers left-hander Martin Perez. That itself should not surprise people. Sandberg hit Byrd fourth several times in Spring Training. Byrd also had a .959 OPS against lefties last season, which ranked 13th out of 173 qualifying players in baseball. Meanwhile, Howard has a .602 OPS against lefties from 2011-14, which ranks 203 out of 213 qualifying players.
But the move is noteworthy because Howard had started 665 consecutive regular-season games in the cleanup spot. The last time he started a game and did not hit fourth? June 29, 2008, in Texas.
Pat Burrell hit fourth that afternoon.
Sandberg also has Cesar Hernandez playing second base with Utley the DH. John Mayberry Jr. is starting in left field, giving Domonic Brown a day off. That’s a platoon move. Brown’s career splits: .794 OPS vs. righties to .672 OPS vs. lefties. Mayberry’s career splits: .852 OPS vs. lefties to .668 OPS vs. righties.
Cody Asche, who had a big game yesterday, also takes a seat to Jayson Nix at third base. Nix has a career .727 OPS against lefties, compared to a .602 OPS against righties. Asche has a .629 OPS against lefties in his brief big-league career, compared to a .762 OPS agianst righties.
Interesting stuff …
He knows Phillies fans well.
He has heard how fans are underwhelmed at the Phillies’ offseason acquisitions, which not only includes himself, but right-handers Roberto Hernandez and Brad Lincoln, catcher Wil Nieves and outfielder Bobby Abreu.
Byrd takes no offense.
“If I was a fan I think I’d rather have Robinson Cano. I think I’d rather have (Masahiro) Tanaka,” Byrd said with a smile this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. “I want those guys. Ruben (Amaro Jr.) went with the guys he thought would help this team. And until we get on the field and actually get to show it, the fan base will kind of be looking at this team like, ‘Hey, two years of trying to get back to the promised land, we need 10 Robinson Canos in this lineup and a whole staff of Tanakas. I think they’ll be happy once we get on the field and we start producing.”
Byrd hit a combined .291 with 24 home runs and 88 RBIs last season with the Mets and Pirates. Fans normally might be enthused at the thought of somebody like that hitting behind Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. But following a 50-game suspension for using a performance enhancing substance in 2012, many people wonder if Byrd can replicate those numbers at 36.
Those skeptics wonder how real those numbers are.
Once again, Byrd takes no offense.
“Everything last year until I retire will be looked at that way because I did test positive,” he said. “The guys that don’t like talking about it are the ones that were trying to cheat or trying to beat the system. I wasn’t. I was stupid. I took something. I didn’t do my due diligence. It’s as simple as that, so it’s easy for me to talk about it because I have nothing to hide.”
Byrd said he is excited to rejoin the organization, which drafted him in the 10th round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft. He has remained close to Howard and Jimmy Rollins, both of whom served as groomsmen at his wedding.
“I was so excited when they were making their run, going through the playoffs,” Byrd said. “I was coming to games. I was waving my towel like a fan and everything. I absolutely loved it.”
Byrd shared a story about how he texted Rollins during the 2008 World Series to tell him how Rays pitcher Matt Garza tipped his pitches. Coincidentally or not, Rollins went 2 for 3 with a run scored against Garza in Game 3 at Citizens Bank Park, which the Phillies won, 5-4.
“I felt like a scout,” Byrd said.
The Phillies recently spent $42 million on Carlos Ruiz and Marlon Byrd, and barring a big move from Ruben Amaro Jr. those signings could be the end of their offensive upgrades for 2014. Every position is set, unless Amaro trades somebody like Domonic Brown or Ben Revere or some starting pitching to add a bat. It seems clear the front office is entering next season the same way it entered this past season: hoping a healthier roster is enough to return them to the postseason. The Phillies thought a healthier Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in 2013 would provide a big boost. The theory had some merit. The Phillies were 45-57 on July 29, 2012, before they traded Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. They finished 36-24 for the fifth-best record in the National League. They thought they had momentum. They thought they saw signs of the former five-time NL East champions.
But that hope is a harder sell following a 73-89 finish in 2013, the organization’s worst since they lost 97 games in 2000. The Phillies scored the fourth-fewest runs in baseball lats season.
Not only do the Phillies need Howard and Ben Revere healthy and productive, they need bounce back seasons from Ruiz (he had his worst season since 2008) and Jimmy Rollins (he had the worst season of his career), Byrd to prove a career-year at 35 wasn’t a fluke, Brown to prove he can replicate his breakout season and Utley to prove he can stay healthy two years in a row.
It seems like a lot of things need to break perfectly for the Phillies to score more runs next year.
Thoughts on this potential lineup for 2014?
- Revere, CF
- Rollins, SS
- Utley, 2B
- Howard, 1B
- Byrd, RF
- Brown, LF
- Ruiz, C
- Cody Asche, 3B