Results tagged ‘ Paul Bako ’

A Hot Stove Refresher

Let’s catch up with where the Phillies stand as teams can sign free agents beginning Friday.

First, some important dates to know:

  • The Phillies have until Dec. 1 to offer salary arbitration to their own free agents.
  • Free agents offered arbitration have until Dec. 7 to accept.
  • The Phillies have until Dec. 12 to tender contracts to their remaining unsigned players.

Everybody knows the Phillies are looking for a new third baseman. They would love Chone Figgins, but they are not expected to be in the running because he is seeking a reported five-year, $50 million deal. The Phillies already have $106.75 million committed to just 12 players next season, which does not include significant raises to salary arbitration eligible players Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton and Carlos Ruiz, plus upgrades to the bullpen and bench. The Phillies are going to look for a shorter, more affordable contract to fill their void at third. More likely targets are Placido Polanco, Adrian Beltre and Mark DeRosa. The Phillies have had interest in Miguel Tejada in the past, but he also might command too big a contract.

The Phillies reportedly have expressed interest in right-hander Fernando Rodney, but if he can close elsewhere, I imagine that is where he would go.

The Phillies have nine free agents: catcher Paul Bako, infielder Miguel Cairo, left-hander Scott Eyre, third baseman Pedro Feliz, right-hander Pedro Martinez, right-hander Brett Myers, right-hander Chan Ho Park, outfielder Matt Stairs and left-hander Jack Taschner.

Park and Eyre, who are Type B free agents, seem to be the most likely players to return. Ruben Amaro Jr. said he has contacted Park’s agent about bringing him back. Eyre, who had elbow surgery last Monday, said he will play for the Phillies or retire. If he decides to play, the Phillies seem interested. He is 5-1 with a 1.62 ERA in 61 games since he joined the Phillies in Aug. 2008.

The Phillies have told Myers that he will not be back. If Stairs returns, it would on a Minor League deal.

If Feliz returns it means the Phillies’ plans to upgrade at third base did not go as intended. Amaro said last week that he has told Martinez that they have not closed the door on his return, but are focusing their attention elsewhere. It seems unlikely Martinez will be back.

Amaro hasn’t ruled out Bako’s return, but he also said finding a backup catcher is a priority, which indicates they will be looking elsewhere. Taschner is expected to sign elsewhere. It is difficult to picture the Phillies signing Cairo to anything other than a Minor League deal.

The Phillies have seven players eligible for salary arbitration: Blanton, infielder Eric Bruntlett, right-hander Clay Condrey, right-hander Chad Durbin, Ruiz, Victorino and right-hander Tyler Walker. The Phillies are expected to tender contracts to Blanton, Ruiz and Victorino. Durbin is a good bet, depending on how the Phillies rebuild their bullpen. The futures for Bruntlett, Condrey and Walker seem less certain.

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Four More Phillies File for Free Agency

It is a formality, but Chan Ho Park, Pedro Feliz, Matt Stairs and Paul Bako filed for free agency today.

They joined Pedro Martinez, Brett Myers and Miguel Cairo, who filed Friday.

The Phillies have contacted Park’s agent about returning next season, which makes sense at the right price. He pitched effectively in the bullpen, going 2-2 with a 2.52 ERA in 38 relief appearances. The Phillies have told Myers that he will not be back. They have declined Feliz’s $5.5 million club option, which means they are exploring other options at third base. Stairs seems unlikely to return, unless they bring him back on a minor-league deal. It sounds like the Phillies will look elsewhere for a backup catcher. Martinez also seems unlikely to return because the Phillies already have Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ, Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick and others signed or under their control.

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What A Pain in the Neck


martinez 0919.jpgPedro Martinez
just lost the 100th game of his career, which might have been the most newsworthy thing to happen tonight at Turner Field.

Martinez is a remarkable 219-100.

Think about that for a second. Martinez has been pitching in the Majors since 1992. He has made 408 starts and 67 relief appearances — and he just lost his 100th game.

His .6865 winning percentage is the third-best in baseball history in the modern era. Only Spud Chandler (.7171) and Whitey Ford (.6901) are better.

“That’s just a number,” Martinez said. “It’s a loss. A loss is a loss. To lose 100 games in the big leagues is a great honor to be honest. It’s a great honor. Many people don’t even get the opportunity to lose even three games or two games or maybe none. I’m a very blessed man to be able to do that. I’ve accomplished a lot of wins, too.

“If you didn’t tell me today, I wouldn’t have realized it. I would just go home, try to get some sleep and take a muscle relaxer and forget about it.”

Now about that muscle relaxer …

… Martinez left the 6-4 loss to the Braves after throwing one warm-up pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning because of stiffness in the right side of his neck. He said he pulled a muscle when he swung at a 0-2 curveball in the second inning.

“Everybody gets that sometimes, even from sleeping on a pillow,” he said. “I hope mine is not any worse than that. I felt it pinch when I threw that pitch to warm up. I don’t want to aggravate my arm or something like that. I don’t want to take chances.”

Of course, the initial reaction when Martinez hurt himself after throwing 119 pitches Sept. 8 against the Nationals and 130 pitches Sunday against the Mets was that it was pitch-count related. Martinez had not thrown 119 or more pitches since Sept. 16, 2005, when he threw 122 against the Braves. He had not thrown 130 or more pitches since May 1, 2001, when he threw 136 against the Mariners. He had not had consecutive starts with that much work since May 24-30, 2001, against the Yankees, when he threw 120 and 121 pitches, respectively. (Martinez spent most of the rest of 2001 on the disabled list with shoulder problems.)

“My arm is really good. It’s fine. It’s perfectly fine,” Martinez said. “I was totally positive. I didn’t feel quite as strong as I would like to, but you could see my fastball – I could click it when I wanted. I got to 90, 91 mph or whatever. I was able to pitch.”

Martinez threw more offspeed pitches tonight. Nearly half his pitches Sunday were fastballs, but just 17 of his 56 pitches tonight were fastballs. Phillies catcher Paul Bako said he thought Martinez was just starting to get into a groove before the neck stiffened up.

“He started to really command the heater with some life and some pop on it,” Bako said. “I believe he was about to throw about three or four more shutout innings because he was really starting to get out there and command and finish his fastball, where early he was trying to get a good feel for things.”

Martinez said he planned to see a chiropractor in the next couple days to crack his neck, but he sounded like he thought he could make his next start Friday against the Brewers.

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Phillies Watch Martinez Throw Again

pedro watch.jpgPedro Watch continues.

A Phillies source said team officials watched right-hander Pedro Martinez throw three scoreless innings in a simulated game this afternoon at the organization’s academy in the Dominican Republic.

Phillies assistant to the general manager Charley Kerfeld watched Martinez pitch Tuesday. The Phillies then requested a second session with Martinez to see how his arm responded. Contrary to a report, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was not in attendance Friday. He is in Philadelphia.

The source would not say what the Phillies thought about Martinez’s second performance. But if they came away impressed and remained interested in signing him, they would require Martinez take a physical.

If Martinez takes a physical and passes it, he could agree to a contract with the Phillies as early as next week.

“I feel the best I have for some time,” Martinez told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The Phillies have been looking for starting pitching help for most of the season. Their rotation has a 5.06 ERA, which is 15th in the National League. A baseball source told MLB.com on Thursday night that signing Martinez would not prevent the Phillies from continuing to pursue Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay in a trade. In fact, they plan to pursue Hallday whether they sign Martinez or not.

The Phillies don’t need a fifth starter again until July 20 against the Cubs because of the All-Star break, but because Martinez hasn’t pitched this season he likely would need to pitch in the Minor Leagues before he could pitch in the Majors.

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The Houston Astros claimed Chris Coste off waivers, which cleared room for the Phillies to activate Raul Ibanez from the DL. Ibanez is not starting tonight against the Pirates.

Coste had not started behind the plate since June 17, so the writing was on the wall. The Phillies clearly preferred Paul Bako as Carlos Ruiz‘s backup. But Coste handled the news well. He joked that his time in Philly was so good that he could write a book about it. In fact, he did.

I thoroughly enjoyed covering Coste since he made his debut in 2006. He always treated me well. I wish him the best.

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Lidge Hits the DL

lidge 0523.jpgThe Phillies announced today they have placed close Brad Lidge on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right knee.

Surprising?

Not exactly. Lidge missed time in late April/early May with inflammation in the knee, the same knee that required surgery before the 2008 season. He got a cortisone shot for it, which sidelined him a few days. But the Phillies and Lidge had maintained since that his knee was fine, certainly not bad enough to effect his performance.

But Lidge is 0-3 with a 7.27 ERA and 13 saves in 19 opportunities.

His ERA is the fifth-worst in baseball amongst relief pitchers.

His 68.4 percent save percentage is 28th out of 30 pitchers in baseball. Only Oakland’s Andrew Bailey (5 for 8) and Washington’s Joel Hanrahan (5 for 8) are worse at 62.5 percent.

I’m guessing the DL is a combination of his performance and his knee. Maybe it was his knee all along. Chase Utley maintained last season his hip was fine, and he had hip surgery in November. So if Lidge played the good teammate and pitched through pain, he isn’t the first.

More to come.

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Limited Options

park 2.jpgThe Phillies find themselves in first place in the National League East despite the worst starting pitching in baseball.

Can it continue?

“We’re not going to get very far unless they all step up and pitch the way we think they can pitch,” Phils general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Monday. “It’s something we monitor every day. We haven’t made any decisions as far as changes are concerned. But, of course, when they’re not performing at their normal levels, it is cause for some concern.”

The Phils enter tonight’s game against the Reds at Great American Ball Park with a 6.35 starter’s ERA, which is the highest in baseball.

Right-hander Joe Blanton has a 6.86 ERA, which is the sixth-highest ERA in the Majors. If left-hander Jamie Moyer had enough innings to qualify for the ERA rankings, he would have the highest ERA in the game at 8.15. If right-hander Chan Ho Park had enough innings to qualify with Moyer, he would have the sixth highest ERA at 7.08.

I bring this up (again) only because I’ve been getting plenty of questions about what the Phillies can do to improve the rotation.

And, well, what can they do?

Not much.

“We have to keep our minds open with what ways we can improve our club,” Amaro said. “But at this time, the options that we have internally are not necessarily better options than what we have going right now. If we feel differently, then we’ll make changes, but right now that’s not the case.”

Moyer and Blanton aren’t going anywhere, which means the Phillies have just one option at the moment: replace Park with J.A. Happ. I would not be surprised if Park gets bumped to the bullpen this week after he lasted just 1 1/3 innings Sunday against the Nationals.

“He’s pitched very well out of the bullpen, and we’ve needed him,” Amaro said of Happ. “He’s been effective back there. He’s helped us there. He’s been helping us win games there. The question is whether or not we’re better off having him do his job as well as he has done in the bullpen, or whether we end up weakening our bullpen and adding what may be a question mark in our rotation. Do you weaken two areas just to see? Those are the things you have to factor in.”

In short, the Phillies have to hope Cole Hamels and Brett Myers continue to pitch well, and Moyer and Blanton start pitching better because other than Park, they have what they have.

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Signing catcher Paul Bako to a Minor League deal doesn’t seem like much, but I don’t think it’s completely insignificant either. The Phillies already have Lou Marson and Paul Hoover in the system, so they are not hurting for depth should Carlos Ruiz or Chris Coste get hurt. But I’m thinking Bako not only provides the Phillies a little more depth, but he pushes Coste a little, too.

Of course, Coste is accustomed to that. He always seems to be behind the eight-ball with the Phillies. He had a great Spring Training in 2006, but he didn’t make the Opening Day roster. He eventually joined the team and hit .328 that season, but the Phillies signed Rod Barajas before 2007. Coste experienced no drama in 2008, but struggled offensively late in the season. He was hitting .182 on May 2 this season, but is hitting .455 (5 for 11) in his last four games to boost his average to .236.

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How about that Ryan Church? Doh!

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