Results tagged ‘ Phillies ’

Phillies’ Top 20 Prospects

MLB.com ranks the Phillies’ top 20 prospects.

Click this link to read the story.

Click this link to read profiles on the top 20.

Catcher Tommy Joseph ranks third in the system behind left-hander Jesse Biddle and right-hander Ethan Martin. Joseph will be interesting to watch in 2013. He will be competing with Sebastian Valle (ranked eighth) for the starting catching job with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. If Joseph wins the job and makes great strides this season, you wonder how the Phillies will view Carlos Ruiz‘s impending free agency? Ruiz is 34, so he isn’t young anymore. If Joseph looks great at Triple-A and Ruiz struggles following his 25-game suspension for using a banned stimulant, which way will the Phillies lean? Ruiz is immensely popular in the Phillies clubhouse. The pitchers love him. Everybody respects him. But the Phillies need to start getting younger. Maybe they look there.

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How does MLB.com come up with its Top 100 Prospect rankings?

This year it spoke to 25 individuals in the industry: scouting directors, scouts, front office executives, etc. Those 25 talent evaulators then ranked their top 50 prospects in a format similar to an AP college football or basketball poll. The No. 1 player on each person’s list receives 50 points. The No. 2 player receives 49 points. The 50th player receives one point. You get the idea. Jesse Biddle ranked 60th overall and Ethan Martin ranked 80th. MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo said he originally had Martin ranked lower in the Phillies’ organizational rankings, but moved him up based on the opinions of those talent evaluators putting together their top 50 lists. Interesting stuff.

Twelve Agree to Contracts

The Phillies have agreed to Major League contracts with the following 12 players:

  • Jeremy Horst
  • Ethan Martin
  • J.C. Ramirez
  • Mauricio Robles
  • Michael Stutes
  • Raul Valdes
  • Erik Kratz
  • Sebastian Valle
  • Zach Collier
  • Tyson Gillies
  • Ender Inciarte
  • Darin Ruf

Why Not Wait and See?

Roy HalladayDuring our meet-and-greet Tuesday with Chad Durbin, a reporter asked him what it’s like entering the season with the Nationals and Braves considered the top two teams in the National League East.

“That’s the sentiment right now, but that can change in a month as soon as the games are played,” Durbin replied.

Wait for some games to be played. That sounds pretty reasonable. But why be reasonable when it’s more fun to speak in absolutes?

On paper I can’t argue the Phillies are the third-best team in the division. The Nationals won 98 games last season. The Braves won 94. The Phillies won just 81. And while I know the Phillies have been telling everybody they played .600 baseball from July 31 through the end of the regular season, those two teams are in a better position to win (especially the Nationals) while the Phillies have a ton of questions entering camp in a couple weeks:

  • Can Roy Halladay bounce back?
  • Can Chase Utley stay healthy and produce like a true No. 3 hitter?
  • Can Ryan Howard hit left-handed pitching and produce like a $20 million cleanup hitter?
  • Can Carlos Ruiz replicate his offensive numbers without the benefits of PEDs?
  • Can Michael Young return to form and play third base regularly?
  • Can Delmon Young play right field?
  • Who in the world is going to play left field?

Those seven questions constitute six of the team’s eight positions in the field, plus its ace. Oof. That’s ugly. And based on e-mails and tweets this offseason, most of you agree. There are a lot of angry, upset, depressed and pessimistic Phillies fans. But relax for a moment. Follow Durbin’s lead and give them until June 1. That’s just two months of baseball. I really don’t see any need to get bent out of shape on Jan. 31. What’s the point? A colleague recalled earlier this week how experts gushed over the Marlins and Angels last winter, annointing them the clear-cut winners of the offseason. Both teams missed the postseason — the Marlins in spectacular fashion — while nearly nobody had the Nationals coming together so quickly, the A’s winning the AL West or the Orioles winning an AL Wild Card.

Another colleague posed an interesting question last week: Do the Braves’ additions of the Upton brothers and Chris Johnson make up for the losses of Chipper Jones, Martin Prado and Michael Bourn? The Braves might lead baseball in five-tool outfielders, but are they so much improved they’re completely uncatchable?

The Phillies need quite a few things to go right this season if they expect to win the division. The odds of that happening are not good. But I don’t think it’s a stretch to see them make the postseason. Their chances might not be as strong as the past few years, but this team is not doomed before camp opens. But that school of thought is not popular. It’s much better to declare clear-cut winners and losers and speak in grand absolutes. Delmong Young? Disaster waiting to happen. Michael Young? He won’t be able to play third base effectively every day. Utley? Can’t stay healthy. Halladay? Too many innings on that right arm.

Those things might end up being completely true. The Phillies might flat-out stink. They were on pace to lose 91 games on July 29. And with a few injuries and their worst fears coming true at a couple other positions, this team could lose 90 games this year. But is it more likely they lose 90 or win 88 and win the second Wild Card? I’d say 88, but I’m going to wait and see. I’m heading to Clearwater in a couple weeks. I’m going to grab some breakfast at Lenny’s, enjoy the sun and watch everything unfold.

It’s not the worst idea in the world. It’s much less stressful, too.

So What’s Manuel’s Lineup?

rollins 0517So, if everybody is healthy, what do you think Charlie Manuel‘s Opening Day lineup will be?

That’s a big if, obviously. Chase Utley hasn’t played in a single Grapefruit League game since 2010 and Delmon Young could miss the first couple weeks of the season because of an injured ankle. But if everybody is healthy, what will it be?

Here’s my best guess:

  1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  2. Michael Young, 3B
  3. Utley, 2B
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Young, RF
  6. Domonic Brown/Darin Ruf/John Mayberry Jr., LF
  7. Erik Kratz, C
  8. Ben Revere, CF

Here is what Manuel said about Delmon Young hitting fifth, providing that right-handed power like Pat Burrell and Jayson Werth in the past:

“Yeah, he can hit fifth,” he said. “He definitely can hit fifth. I think once we get to Spring Training and put him in and let him play, I think hitting is definitely his strong point. I think he’s a good hitter.”

Where is Revere hitting?

“He can hit in the top of the lineup to somewhere down toward the bottom. It kind of depends on how he looks. I have seen the guy hit three times. I don’t go on somebody telling me where he can hit. I go on what I see, once I see him.”

If Delmong Young hits five, can Michael Young hit second?

“Yeah. First of all, we can do a lot of things. But also, too, as I explained, if we are going to give people time off and things like that, then we will have different lineups. We are going to have completely different lineups sometimes.”

Note: Scream so hard your face turns red, but I don’t see Rollins moving out of the leadoff spot. That could change once the season starts or if Manuel falls in love with Revere, but Manuel likes Rollins at the top of the lineup.

Hamels: I’m Fine, Ready to Go

Matt Cain,Cole Hamels gave a few Phillies fans a moment of panic earlier this month when word spread he suffered from a sore left shoulder late last season.

Hamels’ reaction when asked about it tonight?

“I don’t know of anything that happened,” he insisted. “I’ve been healthy. That’s the last thing on my list. … I haven’t felt anything of that sort. That’s the honest truth. I don’t know. I wasn’t the one that started it. I know I feel good and I’m ready to go. That’s all I can really answer. That’s kind of where it is. Same program, ready for Spring Training and finally getting out of the cold. That will be a lot nicer. I’m very excited.”

Ruben Amaro Jr. earlier this month addressed a report that said Hamels suffered from a sore shoulder. Amaro said the Phillies shut down Hamels’ throwing program for a couple weeks and has been fine since.

Amaro said the Phillies never considered it an issue, pointing out Hamels never visited a doctor. Hamels said the same thing. So while Hamels felt something in the shoulder in September he considered it typical soreness from the grind of the regular season and nothing more. That seems to be why there is a discrepancy in what Hamels said. Typically when a pitcher complains of shoulder soreness it means he cannot pitch, but Hamels apparently never felt that way.

If Hamels is fine that certainly is good news for the Phillies. Hamels, 29, signed a six-year, $144 million contract extension last summer and they need him healthy if they expect to return to the postseason in 2013.

Hamels said he planned to throw his fourth offseason bullpen session Wednesday. He plans to head to Clearwater, Fla., sometime next week.

Betancourt Signs Minor-League Deal

The Phillies announced today they have signed infielder Yuniesky Betancourt to a Minor League contract.

The deal includes an invitation to big-league camp in Clearwater, Fla.

“Just to give us some depth,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “I think that some competition for one of the utility spots. We have Freddy (Galvis) and (Kevin) Frandsen who have a chance to be on the club and so does Yuni. He’s got some experience and background. We’ll see how it goes. It gives us some depth.”

Betancourt, 30, hit .228 with 14 doubles, one triple, seven home runs and 36 RBIs in 57 games last season with the Kansas City Royals. He played 46 games at second base, eight at third base and one at shortstop. He hit .308 with eight doubles, seven home runs and 22 RBIs in 26 games in Winter Ball in Mexico.

Betancourt provides the organization additional infield depth. If healthy, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Michael Young will be the Phillies’ everyday infielders. Frandsen, who hit .338 with an .834 OPS in 55 games last season, and Galvis, who is a defensive whiz, are the favorites to come off the bench.

“I am sort of anxious to see him work out and play and stuff,” Charlie Manuel said of Betancourt. “You know, I have always liked his tools. I think that with the talent that he has, going into spring training, it gives us more competition.”

Also in camp as Non-Roster Invitees are infielders Josh Fields, Pete Orr, Michael Martinez, Andres Blanco and Cody Asche.

In 1,019 games in the big leagues with Seattle, Kansas City and Milwaukee, Betancourt has hit .266 with a .290 on-base percentage, .392 slugging percentage and .682 OPS.

Phillies, Durbin Agree to 1-Year Deal

Phillies to Offer Werth Arbitration, Not DurbinThe Phillies are bringing back a familiar face to fortify their bullpen.

Sources told MLB.com today the Phillies and right-hander Chad Durbin have agreed to terms on a one-year deal, pending a physical. The deal includes a club option for 2014.

“It gives us some depth,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He was a guy who was out there at a very good price and still available late in the (offseason). He loved Philadelphia and liked being in Philly and we’re hoping to get something done in the next 24 hours or so. … Veteran guy and a quality guy and he can give us something that the young guys may not be able to give us and that’s experience.”

Durbin, 35, pitched for the Phillies from 2008-10, when he helped solidify the middle innings.

He went 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA in 76 appearances last season with the Atlanta Braves. He had a 2.33 ERA from April 18 through the end of the regular season, and carried a 0.83 ERA in 28 appearances against the National League East.

Durbin is expected to join a bullpen that includes closer Jonathan Papelbon, setup man Mike Adams and left-hander Antonio Bastardo. Durbin’s arrival means there likely will be three jobs available in the bullpen, which should make for an interesting competition in Spring Training.

The Phillies obviously hope Durbin helps them on the mound, but they also might welcome his positive presence and potential influence on the team’s younger relief pitchers. Durbin was a popular player in the Phillies clubhouse during his three seasons, and known as a good guy that fit in seamlessly with other Phillies relievers like Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero and Scott Eyre.

Durbin went 11-7 with a 3.62 ERA in his three seasons with the Phillies, when they won a World Series championship, two National League pennants and three division titles.

Delmon Young Signs One-Year, $750,000 Deal

Detroit Tigers Delmon Young takes part in batting practice at their MLB baseball game against the Chicago White Sox in Detroit,The Phillies finally found a right-handed-hitting corner outfielder with power.

But this one comes with baggage.

On Tuesday the Phillies and Delmon Young agreed to a one-year, $750,000 contract. The signing screams low-risk, high-reward for the Phillies. Young, who is just 27, earned 2012 American League Championship Series MVP honors with the Detroit Tigers and hit .267 with 18 home runs and 74 RBIs in the regular season. He also had a career-high 112 RBIs in 2010 with the Minnesota Twins and has a career .824 OPS against left-handed pitchers.

But Young also has battled consistency issues on the field with several notable off-the-field problems, including an April arrest in New York on a second-degree aggravated harassment charge. Police said an intoxicated Young hurled anti-Semitic slurs at four men, and Major League Baseball suspended him seven days as a result. But the Phillies are comfortable with the risks, especially considering they have just a one-year commitment to him.

If Young plays well, the Phillies could have a productive corner outfielder at a remarkable bargain. The Phillies had been looking at Scott Hairston as a possible corner outfielder, for example, but he has been seeking a two-year, $8 million deal.

If he causes problems, well, the Phillies always can cut him loose without taking a significant payroll hit.

The Phillies have been looking for a corner outfielder since the beginning of the offseason. But how much outfield can Young play? And how effectively? He played just 31 games in the outfield last season, playing 113 games as Detroit’s designated hitter.

Young has had conditioning issues in the past, and last season he played with bone spurs in his ankle. He had surgery to remove the spurs in November, but is expected to be ready for Spring Training.

Young’s arrival creates an interesting outfield situation for the Phillies. Ben Revere will be the team’s everyday centerfielder. Young presumably will take one of the corner outfield spots, potentially as an everyday player. That could mean Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. sharing time in the other corner spot with Laynce Nix a reserve and Darin Ruf possibly opening the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley for more seasoning.

Can Young keep his head on straight in Philadelphia?

He was suspended twice in his Minor League career. He was suspended three games in 2005 for making contact with an umpire and 50 games in 2006 for flinging a bat at an umpire.

He has a troubled past, but he has loads of talent. The Phillies believe it’s worth a shot.

Nothing to See Here? Keep Moving?

Is there anything to worry about here?

Ruben Amaro Jr. said today left-hander Cole Hamels’ shoulder is fine. CSNPhilly.com reported Hamels had some shoulder soreness late in the 2012 season and early in the offseason. But the Phillies shut down Hamels’ throwing program for a couple weeks and has been fine since, Amaro said.

“We really weren’t concerned,” Amaro said. “If we were concerned or had any concern then he would have or would be seeing a doctor. We had none of that. If there are problems that come up in Spring Training then we’ll deal with them. But there is no indication that Cole has an issue right now.”

The Phillies hope so. Hamels, 29, signed a six-year, $144 million contract extension last summer and they need him healthy if they expect to return to the postseason in 2013.

How Many Wins?

Darin Ruf, Erik KratzSo if you had to guess today, how many games will the Phillies win this season?

81, which they won last year?

More? Less?

A few things to consider:

  • How confident are you Roy Halladay, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard will be healthy and productive? If you are confident, push that number north of 81.
  • The Phillies went 36-24 (.600) the final two months of the 2012 season. That translates to 97 victories over a full season. Now, it’s foolish to say the Phillies will win 97 games next season based solely on a strong finish because there are slow starts, injuries, etc., but if you believe the talent on this team will be there (and possibly be improved) over six months in 2013 push that number past 81.
  • The Phillies blew 13 leads in the eighth inning last season. If setup man Mike Adams is the guy the Phillies hope he is — he had offseason surgery, remember — you figure he holds at least seven of those games, right? If the Phillies had held just seven of those 13 leads last season they would have won 88 games.
  • The Phillies went 10-8 against the Marlins last year. The Marlins should be absolutely dreadful this year. You’ve got to figure the Phillies get an extra win or two from Miami.

Or you could go the other route: this team is another year older, the Phillies haven’t made enough moves to push past the Nationals and Braves, Halladay’s best days are behind him, Utley hasn’t been healthy in years (why should this year be any different?), Howard’s OPS has been in decline since 2009, the corner outfield situation is scary, Carlos Ruiz will miss the first month of the season and who knows how good he will be once he returns, etc.

I’m thinking the Phillies finish in the 86-90 win range. If they finish on the higher end of that they probably make the postseason.

If you don’t think Halladay, Utley and Howard will be healthy and productive, oof, it could be a long season.

But it’s January 9. Who wants to be Debbie Downer today? But it’s at least something fun to think about with pitchers and catchers a little more than a month away.

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