Results tagged ‘ Wil Nieves ’
The Phillies announced today they have signed catcher Wil Nieves to a one-year contract.
He is expected to back up Carlos Ruiz.
Nieves, 36, has hit a combined .299 with three home runs, 30 RBIs and a .704 OPS in 295 plate appearances the past two seasons with the Rockies and Diamondbacks. He has hit .242 with a .597 OPS in his 10-year career.
The Phillies had an agreement with Nieves in place before they finalized the deal that shipped catcher Erik Kratz and left-hander Rob Rasmussen to the Blue Jays for right-hander Brad Lincoln.
The Phillies also announced they have signed right-hander Jeff Manship to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. He appeared in 11 games (four starts) last season with the Rockies. He went 0-5 with a 7.04 ERA. He is a combined 3-7 with a 6.42 ERA in 52 appearances (10 starts) in his big-league career.
The lesson: an organization can never have enough arms.
The Phillies added another arm Tuesday night when they announced they had acquired right-hander Brad Lincoln from the Blue Jays for catcher Erik Kratz and left-hander Rob Rasmussen. Lincoln has made 97 appearances in four seasons in his big league career, which began in Pittsburgh. He has posted a 4.66 ERA, although he spent much of 2013 in Triple-A Buffalo as he battled command problems.
“We’ve always liked Brad Lincoln’s arm,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said Wednesday morning. “He’s gone back and forth as a starter and reliever. We think he’s going to be somebody that can really help us in our bullpen. It’s a matter of him getting back into that niche.”
The trade explains the Phillies agreeing to terms with catcher Wil Nieves, which sources confirmed following the initial CBSSports.com report. Amaro declined comment on Nieves, but said, “We’re trying to create some depth there.”
Presumably, Nieves will be Carlos Ruiz’s backup, although Amaro and manager Ryne Sandberg are quick to praise Cameron Rupp, who spent much of last season in Triple-A. Nieves hit .297 with a .690 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in 206 plate appearances last season with the D-backs. He has a .597 OPS in his 10-year career, but is known for his defensive capabilities.
Lincoln, 28, averaged 9.9 strikeouts and 2.7 walks per nine innings with Buffalo, but 7.1 strikeouts and a troubling 6.3 walks per nine innings with the Blue Jays. Before last season, he has averaged 6.8 strikeouts and 2.6 walks per nine innings.
“He had some issues with his command last year,” Amaro said, “but I don’t think that’s his MO typically. We think he’s a good arm. We’re trying to create some depth in our pen.”
The Blue Jays have plenty of depth in the bullpen, which made him expendable. He also had run out of options, which is something to remember as the Phillies finalize their Opening Day roster in March.
The Phillies hope Lincoln provides depth to a struggling bullpen short on experience, which finished 14th in the National League with a 4.13 ERA. Closer Jonathan Papelbon (527 career appearances) is expected to anchor the ‘pen, but he has experienced a dip in velocity and strikeouts. Setup man Mike Adams (386) will try to come back from right shoulder surgery – Amaro said they cannot expect him to be ready by Opening Day, although they are hopeful — while left-hander Antonio Bastardo (208) will try to prove himself following a 50-game suspension for using a performance-enhancing substance.
Following them are a host of relievers that includes Mike Stutes (79 career appearances), Jake Diekman (77), Justin De Fratus (76), Jeremy Horst (72), B.J. Rosenberg (44) and Phillippe Aumont (40).
“We have to have confidence they’re going to continue to improve,” Amaro said about his collection of young relievers. “But at the same time if there’s a way we can improve our club we can’t just stop doing it. We’ve been surprised at times with some of these guys, particularly a couple years ago with Stutes and Bastardo. On the flip side we’ve been disappointed, which is part of the growing process when it comes to the bullpen and particularly young bullpen guys. Some guys year to year can make it click. And other guys just don’t ever get it.”
Amaro said they have interest in several players recently non-tendered by their former teams. Relief pitchers include Ryan Webb, John Axford and Wesley Wright.
“We’ve made several calls to quite a few of those free agents,” Amaro said. “We’ll see how it pans out. I think it’s still very fresh. Whenever this happens to players typically they’re surprised by it. So they’re just getting into the marketplace. Our job is to try to make sure guys know we have interest in them.”
Kratz hit .230 with 18 homers and 52 RBIs in 120 games over three seasons with the Phillies. The Phillies acquired Rasmussen from the Dodgers in August for infielder Michael Young. He went 3-11 with a 4.11 ERA in 28 games with Double-A Chatanooga and Triple-A Albuquerque.
The Phillies entered last night’s ninth inning against Washington with a 5-3 lead, and Manuel went to Lidge as expected. Manuel told reporters before the game that he had confidence in him, but that his patience had a limit. Lidge needed to start producing consistently with the postseason less than a month away.
“There comes a time when, I don’t know …” Manuel said. “We’re trying to win a championship.”
That time finally came. Lidge allowed a single to Wil Nieves to start the inning. A hit batter, wild pitch and walk later, Manuel pulled Lidge, who had loaded the bases with one out, for Ryan Madson, who retired the next two batters on six pitches to end the game.
“That’s a tough call,” Manuel said. “I have all the respect in the world for Brad. I know how good a closer he is, and I know how great he can be. I’ve still got all the confidence in the world in him. But I’m sitting there and I didn’t have a very good feel about the game. And I made up my mind that I wanted to try Madson. Things will work out and be OK, but at the same it’s real tough.”
Manuel said he continues to have confidence in Lidge, but his actions spoke differently.
“Let me tell you something,” Manuel said. “When I tell you he’s my closer, I don’t tell lies. I don’t like to go back on nothing. But the team and the game is bigger than my heart and it’s bigger than anything else, if you want to know the truth. Winning a game is what it’s all about. It’s baseball and why I manage and it’s what comes first.”
Asked who will close tonight if there is a save situation, Manuel said Lidge could be the guy. But Lidge said Manuel told him in his office that he would get the shot.
“If there is a save situation tomorrow he said he was going to bring me in,” Lidge said.
Why? I believe Manuel has a couple reasons: 1) He realizes this team has its best chance to win if Lidge is right. And because the Phillies have a six-game lead in the National League East they still have time to get him right. 2) Manuel knows he has Lidge as his closer the next two seasons. If he crushes Lidge’s confidence today it could have long lasting effects.
I think Manuel’s first reason far outweighs his second reason. Manuel is focused on this year. He wants to win consecutive World Series. (That’s why he vented Monday in Houston.) But clearly the first domino has fallen for Lidge. I could see Manuel running Lidge out there a couple more weeks before settling on Myers or Madson with a week or two to go in the regular season. I’m sure Manuel would like to feel settled — and have the closer feel settled — entering the postseason.
Lidge still has time, but time is running out. The clock started ticking last night.