Results tagged ‘ trade deadline ’

Phillies React to Papelbon’s Trade Comments

Chase Utley, Jimmy RollinsJonathan Papelbon seemed baffled last night when reporters asked if he hopes to join a contending team before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

“Some guys want to stay on a losing team?” he said. “That’s mind-boggling to me.”

Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are two long-time Phillies who have said in recent weeks they have no desire to leave Philadelphia. Both have 10-and-5 rights, so they can reject any trade at any time. Utley said nothing this morning at Miller Park when asked about Papelbon’s comments and if anything has changed for him. He shooed away the question with his hands.

Rollins said little more than that.

“Not until I say so,” he said, asked if anything has changed for him. “You don’t have to investigate.”

Ruben Amaro Jr. said he had no problems with Papelbon’s candid comments.

“Every single player on this team should want to play for a winning team,” he said. “Simple as that. … Don’t misconstrue his words. He never said he’s unhappy here. He never said anything like that. He never expressed to me that he’s been unhappy. Why wouldn’t players want to play on a contending team? It’s really rather simple.”

Cole Hamels walked past Amaro in the visitors’ dugout at that moment.

“He wants to play on a winning team,” Amaro said about Hamels. “Why wouldn’t he?”

Amaro said Papelbon has not requested a trade. He would not say if there is much interest in his closer, although he said, “I’m getting calls on people all the time.”

But Papelbon is 10th among 149 qualified relief pitchers in baseball with a 1.24 ERA. His 0.85 WHIP is 15th out of 203. He is 22 of 24 in save opportunities.

He could help a contending team in need of bullpen help.

“It’s not a problem,” Amaro said. “I don’t view it as a problem. I’ve never viewed him as a problem.”

Asked about Papelbon’s bewilderment that anybody would want to stay on a losing team, Rollins said, “Pap is entitled to say whatever he wants to say. And he will. As all of us will. Those who have enough courage to.”

But there has to be many more people in the Phillies’ clubhouse that feel that way. They just don’t want to say it publicly.

“I can’t necessarily agree with that,” Rollins said.

Amaro said the Phillies are open-minded about a lot of things as the Trade Deadline approaches. It could mean eating some of Papelbon’s contract. He is owed about $19.5 million through next season, plus a potential $13 million more in 2016 if an option automatically vests based on games finished.

“Something is probably going to happen,” Rollins said. “No one knows who, what or when obviously. Something is likely going to happen.”

But Rollins figures to be here August 1.

“Probably,” he said.

Utley Doesn’t Plan on Going Anywhere

Utley Addresses His Injured KneeThe Phillies have 33 games to play before the July 31 trade deadline, which leaves plenty of time for minds to change.

But Chase Utley indicated yesterday that he does not expect to change his mind.

Utley’s name is popping up as the trade deadline approaches with the Phillies sitting below the .500 mark and in last place in the National League East. The Phillies have played better recently, but they still have plenty of work to do. In fact, if they struggle leading to the deadline, the Phillies front office could initiate a fire sale with Utley becoming an attractive piece for postseason contenders, although the club has said it has no inclination to trade him.

Utley has indicated his desire to remain in Philadelphia, but what if the team begins a long rebuilding effort?

“Well, you’re creating situations that aren’t necessarily going to happen,” Utley told MLB.com. “I guess we’d have to see at that point, but I don’t plan on going anywhere.”

Utley has 10-and-5 rights — 10 years in the Major Leagues, the last five with the same team — so he can refuse any trade at any time for any reason. He signed a $27 million contract extension last August, which could be worth as much as $75 if options are vested.

Utley said then that one reason he re-signed is because he believed the Phillies could win in the future.

“Last year, re-signing here was something I really wanted to do,” he said. “Great organization. Nothing has changed since then.

“I mean, honestly, I haven’t thought about it.”

But Utley said he still thinks the Phillies can win in the future.

“I think the mentality of trying to win will be there,” Utley said. “I think we need to make improvements as does every team in baseball.”

Utley’s comments follow ones made recently by Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels. Rollins, who also has 10-and-5 rights, told USA Today that the Phillies “would have to come up with a reason for me to leave. … if they tell me to go, then I got no choice. I’ll go. If you make it that clear that you don’t want me, you don’t have to tell me twice.

“I’m not going to volunteer to go anywhere. Even if somewhere else was the perfect spot, this is what I know. You weigh that against the instant gratification of winning right now. You leave, and there’s no guarantee you’re going to win anyways. You pack up to leave for a different organization, a different city, and it feels temporary.”

Asked about his desire to remain in Philadelphia should the club elect to rebuild, Hamels, who has a partial no-trade clause, told CSNPhilly.com: “Then it’s a different situation. And I think you kind of have to look at it in a different way because your careers are only so long. Your good years only last so long. You want to make them count.”

But each player has indicated he wants to stay.

It’s A Start

A.J. BurnettThe Phillies had the worst record in the National League on June 8. They were 25-36, last in the division and seven games out of first place.

Sell, sell, sell!

But the Phillies are 9-4 since, which ties the Brewers and Dodgers for the best record in baseball in that span.

Buy?

Hold on a second. Despite their recent run, the Phillies are just 34-40. They remain in last place and are five games out of first place. They have played better, but they still have a long way to go. Even if they replicate their 9-4 mark over their next 13 games, matching their best 26-game run (18-8) since Aug. 25 to Sept. 22, 2012, they still would be a game under .500 on July 5. And at that point there are still 22 games remaining before the 4 p.m. trade deadline on July 31.

In other words, there is a ton of baseball to play before the Phillies hit the trade deadline. They need to keep going and they need to keep playing well over the next several weeks. Because the Phillies front office doesn’t need to do anything until 3:49 p.m. July 31, if they don’t want to.

Rollins Is Hit King, Talks Future with Phillies

Jimmy Rollins, Mike SchmidtJimmy Rollins has more to accomplish, and it sounds like he hopes to accomplish those things in Philadelphia.

He reached a big one this afternoon when he singled to right field in the fifth inning in a 7-3 victory over the Cubs at Citizens Bank Park. It was the 2,235th hit of his career, which moved him past Mike Schmidt as the franchise’s hits leader.

“I’m not done,” Rollins said afterward. “Hopefully we can bring another championship to the city if I’m here long enough and the rest will be the rest.”

That is the question, isn’t it? Will Rollins be here long enough? He is signed through this season with an $11 million option that automatically vests with just 156 more plate appearances this season.

He will hit that mark with ease.

In fact, he should fly past that mark before the July 31 Trade Deadline, which brings up the biggest question of all. Rollins has 10-and-5 rights, so he can veto any trade at any time for any reason. He said last July in Detroit he would not waive his rights because he wanted to break the hits record.

Well, he has it. He also is playing on a team that, despite four wins in five games this week, is just 29-37 and on pace to lose 91 games following an 89-loss season in 2013 and an 81-loss season in 2012. Five consecutive National League East championships, two National League pennants and one World Series championship between from 2007-11 seems like a distant memory.

If the Phillies hold a fire sale next month would Rollins maintain his no-trade stance?

“It really depends if everything is blown up,” Rollins said. “Then you take that into consideration. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that right now. But if that time does come, and it’s time to go … people move on.”

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Fire Sale Looming

Chase UtleyOn the train to DC this morning I crunched some numbers and came up with a few thoughts about the Phillies, who seem to be headed nowhere fast following a 4-7 homestand, which included their first no-hit loss since 1978 and four losses in five games to the Mets.

The Phillies are 9-17 since they were 15-14 on May 4. It’s the worst record in the National League in that span.

They are 24-31 overall. They were 26-29 at this point last year, when they were on their way to 89 losses.

I’m typically one to preach patience during a 162-game season because it is difficult to draw concrete conclusions about a team a little more than two months into it. I often remind people about the deficits the 2007 and 2008 Phillies overcame to win the National League East: seven down with 17 to play in 2007 and 3 ½ back with 16 to play in 2008. But those teams did at least one thing very, very well. Those teams had the best offense in the National League. They hit the cover off the ball. They also had a very good bullpen down the stretch in 2007 and a great one throughout 2008. They also played good defense.

But the 2014 Phillies don’t do anything well. You can’t say, “This team has fantastic starting pitching, so if they can just add a bullpen arm and get Domonic Brown going they should be OK.”

There are holes everywhere.

*

Brown is hitting .206 with six doubles, one triple, four home runs, 27 RBIs, 15 walks, 36 strikeouts and a .557 OPS through the team’s first 55 games. It reminds me of Pat Burrell’s 2003 season. Burrell’s struggles were a huge story that year. Fans wanted him sent to Triple-A, like Brown. I got emails from people asking about Burrell’s eyesight or other ailments that might be affecting him at the plate. But through 55 games in 2003, Burrell was hitting .204 with 13 doubles, one triple, 10 home runs, 25 RBIs, 31 walks, 64 strikeouts and a .751 OPS. Amazing. Burrell’s OPS was nearly 200 points higher than Brown’s is today.

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Plenty of ‘Ifs’ Ahead for Phillies

Jimmy RollinsNow what?

The Phillies could have traded just about anybody from their 25-man roster before yesterday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline, but they kept everybody. Michael Young, Cliff Lee, Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon, Carlos Ruiz, Delmon Young … they’re all still here. Ruben Amaro Jr. said yesterday they didn’t get “anything that was satisfactory. Nothing we thought was going to improve us. So we decided not to do anything.” Amaro said he did not want to give away his players for nothing in return, so he kept them. (CBSSports.com reported the Phillies weren’t interested in shipping Young and Ruiz to the Yankees.) The Phillies can still trade these players before the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline, so maybe sometime between now and then they will get something more satisfactory in return. Remember, they made a waiver trade with Joe Blanton last year. They also acquired Jamie Moyer, Matt Stairs, Jeff Conine, Jose Hernandez, etc., on waiver trades in the past.

Maybe the Phillies will deal somebody after all.

But at this very moment it looks like the Phillies will be carrying the same mantra into 2014 as they carried into 2013.

If, if, if, if, if, if, if

If Ryan Howard is healthy and produces like a $125 million cleanup hitter …  if Utley’s knees can stay healthy another year … if Jimmy Rollins can bounce back from the lowest OPS of his career … if Cody Asche is the answer at third base … if Darin Ruf can hit big-league pitching on an everyday basis … if Ben Revere can repeat his success the last couple months before he got hurt … if Domonic Brown can replicate his first full season in the big leagues … if they can find somebody to replace Ruiz (I can’t see the Phillies bringing him back) … if Papelbon’s declining velocity is no big deal … if they can rebuild the bullpen … if Miguel Gonazlez really is a middle-of-the-rotation starter … if they can build a better bench and improve their depth at Triple-A (they should be able to find somebody somewhere better than Michael Martinez if they can’t develop a player better than him) … if those things happen then the Phillies have a chance at competing for a spot in the postseason.

It is a sobering thought.

Basically, the team goes into 2014 feeling pretty good about its starting rotation with Cole Hamels, Lee, Kyle Kendrick, Gonzalez and maybe Roy Halladay, depending on how he pitches later this season and his desire to remain in Philadelphia. Everything else is a crap shoot.

“My job is to put ourselves in a position to have a lot less holes,” said Amaro, when asked about the ifs with this team. “We have a lot of time to do that. Our job is to be a contender every year. That is what my job is — to make sure the Philadelphia Phillies are contending for a championship every year. We’re not contending right now. We aren’t completely out of it, but we aren’t in the position I’d like us to be in, clearly. I have to think about 2014, and when I think about 2014, I don’t think about coming in second or third or fourth place. I think about trying to win our division and trying to put us in a position to do that. Whether we can do that with younger players or older players or experienced players, that remains to be seen. That’s part of our job, to design the club so that we can be a better club and contending club.”

How Amaro plans to accomplish is a mystery.

Quiet Deadline for Phillies?

Michael YoungThe Phillies have spoiled fans with plenty of action at the trade deadline in recent years, one way or another.

Let’s look back, shall we?

  • 2006: Traded Bobby Abreu, Cory Lidle, Rheal Cormier, David Bell and Sal Fasano and DFA’d Ryan Franklin in a fire sale.
  • 2007: Acquired Kyle Lohse and Tadahito Iguchi.
  • 2008: Acquired Joe Blanton.
  • 2009: Acquired Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco and signed Pedro Martinez.
  • 2010: Acquired Roy Oswalt.
  • 2011: Acquired Hunter Pence.
  • 2012: Traded Shane Victorino and Pence.

This might be the quietest deadline since 2005, when the Phillies got Ugueth Urbina in June. I say that because last night the Red Sox acquired Jake Peavy from the White Sox, which means Lee isn’t going to Boston or anywhere else. So I believe at this point it’s Michael Young or nobody. The Phillies are not going to trade Lee just to trade him. Why do that? They don’t need to shed payroll, and they’ve already been burned once on a Lee deal. Teams aren’t beating down doors for Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz or Delmon Young either, so they probably aren’t going anywhere. Ruben Amaro Jr. has said Chase Utley isn’t leaving as they’ve discussed a contract extension, so that’s basically it. It’s Michael Young or nobody, unless something crazy happens in the next few hours.

The Clock Is Ticking …

Cliff LeeThe speculation and rumors are at a full boil.

Depending on the time of day, Cliff Lee either is not going to be traded because the Phillies’ asking price is way too high — we’ve heard everything from three to four legitimate prospects to first, second and third born children — to there is a good chance he will be traded. Here’s what I know: the Phillies are willing to trade Lee. They are listening to offers for Lee. But they still plan to try to win next season and beyond — thus the $48 million to Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and the expected contract extension with Chase Utley — so they’re not pressured to trade him. They’re not the Marlins or Pirates or another small-market team. They don’t have to shed payroll. Lee’s contract isn’t an issue (although it is an issue for other teams), and for all of those reasons I would say the chances the Phillies trade Lee are less likely than trading him.

Now, please keep in mind these things can change by the hour, minute, text message or phone call. The Phillies thought they had no chance to acquire Hunter Pence before the 2011 trade deadline, but eventually got the deal done. The same could happen for Lee, but I think the Phillies aren’t as motivated to move Lee as they were to acquire Pence.

The most likely Phillies player to be traded is Michael Young for obvious reasons. He has value as a veteran corner infielder that can also DH and he isn’t expected back next season. But don’t expect much in return for a two-month rental.

The rest? Utley is not going to be traded. (See above.) Jonathan Papelbon‘s trade value isn’t terribly high at the moment and not because of his strong comments Sunday to MLB.com. It’s because of his performance and contract. His velocity has dipped and his five blown saves are tied for third in baseball. Carlos Ruiz could be moved, but don’t expect much in return. His .581 OPS would be the worst among big-league catchers, if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.

Trading Jimmy Rollins is moot. He said Sunday he would not waive his trade rights. I suppose the Phillies could move Delmon Young, but they would get less for him than they would get for Michael Young. CSNPhilly.com reported the only three players the Phillies will not trade are Utley, Cole Hamels and Domonic Brown. No surprises there. The Phillies expect Hamels to bounce back and a team starved for young talent would be crazy to trade Brown at this point.

If There’s A Bottom, This Has To Be It

Jake DiekmanThe Phillies didn’t need to say much in the visitors clubhouse following today’s 12-4 loss to the Tigers.

A few just offered a look.

It’s that look when the eyes open wide for a split second like, “Wow, can you believe that just happened?”

It did. The Phillies went 1-8 on the road against the Mets, Cardinals and Tigers. Their eight-game losing streak is their longest since an eight-game skid in Sept. 2011. It is their worst road trip of nine or more games since July 28-Aug. 6, 1995, when they went 1-8 against the Cubs, Braves and Reds.

“I’ve seen a lot, but I haven’t seen that,” said Jimmy Rollins, who has been with the team since 2000. “That was embarrassing. … If there’s a bottom, this has to be it. I can’t imagine things getting worse than they have this past week, culminating the way they did today.”

Rollins also offered his reasons for optimism. Read the above link for that. But Jonathan Papelbon isn’t nearly as cheery. He spoke a couple times yesterday, expressing his frustrations about the losing and the organization. He said if things don’t improve changes need to be made from top to bottom. I asked if Papelbon wants to be traded. He said no, he wants to remain in Philadelphia. But then he said if things continue this way, he doesn’t want to stick around. He said who would? You wonder what is going to happen there. I think both parties would welcome a trade, but it’s easier said than done. There doesn’t appear to be much of a market for Papelbon, and that could become a problem if the team keeps losing.

Michael Young said he hasn’t heard anything yet about a potential trade. And even though Rollins hasn’t been rumored to be traded, he said he would reject any proposals for now.

It was an interesting trip at the very least. It is hard to imagine the Phillies buying in any true capacity before Wednesday’s 4 p.m. deadline (i.e. giving up a top prospect to fill a void in the bullpen or outfield). It wouldn’t make much sense. But I’m just not sure who they can trade to retool for the future. I’m not sure how much value Young has. It sounds like Chase Utley isn’t going anywhere. And while the Phillies would trade Cliff Lee, I wonder what they can get in return. They already traded him once and didn’t get much back.

Papelbon mentioned the Red Sox from 2011. Theo Epstein and Terry Francona both left the organization following a 7-20 finish. They also ditched players like Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Papelbon. The Red Sox struggled last season, but they are now first in the American League East with the second-best record in baseball. Ruben Amaro Jr. has his work cut out for him, but if he can make the right moves the Phillies could bounce back relatively quickly. But that’s easier said than done, and the last couple years nothing has been easy.

Can Phillies Make A Run? Can They Keep Utley and Doc?

Chase Utley, Roy HalladayThe Phillies are 48-48 at the All-Star break, 6 1/2 games behind the Braves in the NL East and 5 1/2 games behind the Reds for the second Wild Card.

They finished the half on a 9-4 run, although if you watched their just completed three-game series against the White Sox, you know this team is far from perfect.

“I think we made a statement that if we are going to be a contender and we’re going to win our division or a wild card, we still need some help,” Charlie Manuel said.

But this should be a fascinating second half for numerous reasons. First, the Phillies have a .610 winning percentage post-break with Manuel at the helm. That is the second-best record in baseball from 2005-12. They had a .587 winning percentage after the break last season, even after trading Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton. If the Phillies play the same this year they would finish 86-76. The Reds are on pace to win 90 games, so the Phillies need to pick up the pace in the second half.

But the Phillies play the Marlins, Mets, Padres and Cubs 25 more times, or 38.9 percent of their remaining games. Those teams have four of the five-worst records in the league. They also play the Braves and Nationals 22 more times, or 33.3 percent of their remaining games. So 47 of their remaining 66 games (71.2 percent) are against four of the worst teams in the league and the two teams they’re chasing to win the division. Since the Braves started 12-1, they are just 42-40. The Phillies are 42-40 in that same stretch, while the Nationals are 40-41.

The Phillies can’t say they won’t have a chance.

Second, what will the next couple weeks hold? Will the Phillies find a centerfielder to replace Ben Revere? Will they get some desperately needed bullpen help? I know everybody is saying the Phillies are buyers today, but if they stumble coming out of the break that could change quickly. The Phillies have a three-game series this weekend against the Mets at Citi Field, but then travel to St. Louis and Detroit. That isn’t an easy road trip, so the Phillies will need to play well.

Third, there will be plenty of evaluating going on in the second half. The Phillies will evaluate if they should buy or sell, and if they buy how much do they want to buy? But they also will be looking at their players on the field, deciding how they want to improve in 2014 and beyond. But players will be evaluating them, too. Chase Utley and Roy Halladay are free agents following the season. Ruben Amaro Jr. already has said he wants Utley to be a “Phillie for life.” If Halladay returns later this season and pitches well, you have to think the Phillies will try to bring him back. People always ask me about leaders in the Phillies clubhouse. Utley and Halladay are the two best. If they’re performing well you don’t want to lose them.

But Utley and Halladay also will have to decide if it’s best for them to stay. If they think the Phillies are moving in the wrong direction they might want to try to get a World Series ring elsewhere.

Utley talked about his future in Philadelphia. Read that story here.

Halladay also talked about his future in Philadelphia. Read that story here.

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