Results tagged ‘ trade deadline ’

Papelbon Might Stay, Ready To Be Booed

Jonathan PapelbonThere is a real possibility Jonathan Papelbon will not get his wish to be traded before the July 31 trade deadline. There aren’t many teams looking for closers right now, and if they are they might not like the remaining money on his contract. He is owed $13 million next season with a $13 million club option in 2016 that automatically vests if he finishes 55 games in 2015 or 100 games in 2014-2015 and is not on the DL at the end of 2015 with right shoulder or elbow injury. (He has finished no fewer than 53 games in any season the past seven years.)

If that’s the case, it means he’s stuck in Philly for the foreseeable future.

If that’s the case, he is ready to accept the villain role.

Phillies fans booed him as he entered this afternoon’s 2-1 victory over the Giants. Papelbon pitched the previous two games, blowing a save Tuesday and taking the loss Wednesday. But he retired the side in order to pick up his 24th save in 27 opportunities this season. He is 2-2 with a 1.91 ERA in 42 appearances.

Do the boos bother him?

“No, I enjoy it,” he said during an entertaining (in my opinion) postgame interview.

Why?

“I just think it’s fun,” he said. “It brings a little bit of energy and life to the ballpark. It gives me a little bit of something to look forward to every day.”

So maybe the fans weren’t loud enough.

“I heard some of them,” he said.

Sure, but only about half of the ballpark booed.

“Maybe we can get the whole park booing here soon,” he said.

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Phillies Take A Peek at Tigers Prospect

jake thompsonPhillies scouts are pretty much everywhere these days, watching Minor League prospects from every team that might be a trade partner before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Double-A Reading played Erie this afternoon in Erie, and the Phillies had a scout there to watch Tigers right-hander Jake Thompson, who pitched last week in the All-Star Futures Game. He allowed five hits, one run, two walks and struck out five in five innings in a 6-1 victory over Reading.

The Tigers drafted Thompson, 20, in the second round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. He went 6-4 with a 3.14 ERA in 16 starts this season with Class A Lakeland before recently being promoted to Erie, where he is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts.

The Tigers are looking for bullpen help and it is well known Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon and left-hander Antonio Bastardo are available.

Relax A Little Bit About Lee’s Monday Night

Cliff LeeCliff Lee didn’t help his cause last night, but Phillies fans shouldn’t panic about it.

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.

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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.

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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.

Phillies Busy as Trade Deadline Approaches

Cole HamelsLet the rumors, speculation and stories filled with unnamed scouts and insiders begin!

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.

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.

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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.

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