Friday, July 31, 2015

Harang Steps Up To Take Opener Against Former Team

GAME RECAP: Phillies Beat Braves 4-1

Aaron Harang and Shelby Miller came into Thursday night's Braves-Phillies game a combined 0-14 since May 17. Harang broke his streak. Miller didn't. Harang threw five innings in his first start since July 1 -- when he went on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis -- in the Phillies' 4-1 win at Citizens Bank Park. The winning decision for Harang ended a streak of eight straight starts in which he registered the losing decision and nine straight winless starts in total. He allowed just one run despite the nine hits he surrendered and struck out three. "All of his pitches were sharp," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "He threw strikes. He just had a higher pitch count than we like. That's why we took him out of the game. But he certainly looked like a different guy than he was while he was pitching with that foot injury. We were real pleased with his performance." The loss for the Braves was their fourth in a row and seventh in eight games. Phillies bats found Miller's pitches early as he worked up to 59 pitches through the first three innings, but it wasn't until the fourth -- when four Phillies in a row singled -- that Philadelphia was able to break through against the right-hander. Limited run support has led Miller to go winless while posting a 3.19 ERA over his past 13 starts. "It was definitely hot, but I don't think that was the reason at all," said Miller, who changed his jersey multiple times while sweating profusely throughout the outing. "You play the game in humidity. Atlanta is hot and here is hot. You've got to get used to that. There is no excuse for that."

  • Miller entered this game with 15 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings against the Phillies and a 2.03 ERA in six career starts against them. But Atlanta's All-Star hurler started to waver after he allowed four consecutive one-out singles in the fourth and then three consecutive one-out singles in the fifth. The 11 hits he surrendered matched the career high he allowed on July 10 at Coors Field vs. the Rockies.
  • Playing in his 1,000th game as a Phillie, catcher Carlos Ruiz came to the plate for his second at-bat of the night with the bases loaded in the fourth inning after the three players before him all reached with singles. Ruiz joined in on the action with a single of his own, plating Odubel Herrera and Freddy Galvis and giving the Phillies a 2-1 lead.
  • Domonic Brown continued the turnaround he's been in the middle of for the last eight games on Thursday. Brown smacked two hits, including his first home run of the season, marking his fourth multi-hit game in 10 days. The home run was Brown's first since Sept. 16, 2014. "He hit a missile," Mackanin said. "It was nice to see. I think he's been so concerned about the outer half of the plate. I think he's got to remember that mistakes are made over the plate and on the inner half. I think that he's got to get back to that.
  • After Miller allowed four straight Phillies to single, giving the Phillies a 2-1 lead, Harang stood at the plate with Ruiz on first and Brown on second base. Brown ventured a little too far off second and Pierzynski threw down to second with Andrelton Simmons covering. On initial appearance, Brown looked safe and such was second-base umpire Gabe Morales' call. However, replay showed that when Brown stood up out of his slide, there was a brief moment where neither his hand nor foot were on the bag while Simmons still had the tag applied and the call on the field was overturned. The review lasted an estimated one minute and 20 seconds.
  • "He might've been lurking in the shadows somewhere, but I haven't seen him." -- Mackanin. on whether or not Cole Hamels was in the clubhouse on Thursday in the wake of his potential trade to the Texas Rangers.
  • Outfielder Cody Asche wasn't in the lineup for the Phillies on Thursday night and if his track record versus Atlanta is any indicator, he might not play on Friday either. Despite the fact that he has played the Braves more times than any other team, Asche is just 13-for-113 lifetime against Atlanta pitching after pinch-hitting and going 0-for-1 on Thursday. Though two of those 13 hits are home runs, his on-base percentage and slugging percentage are both below .200, combining to create his lowest OPS against any National League opponent.
  • The end of July marks the ends of opposite months for the two teams. By record, July will easily go down as the Phillies' best month of the year -- with a win Friday, they have the chance to finish above .500 in a month for the first time in 2015. The Braves, on the other hand, will be glad to see July end. After Thursday's loss, they are five games under .500 this month, tied for their worst month of the year.

The Braves have rarely fared well when facing a Cole Hamels-led Phillies team. Luckily for Atlanta, they probably won't have to deal with him much anymore. Hamels was scheduled to start for the Phillies on Friday, but with a trade to the Rangers all but confirmed, the chances of Hamels -- who has a 3.11 ERA in 225 2/3 innings versus Atlanta -- matching up against the struggling Braves are growing increasingly slim. This comes at an opportune time for an Atlanta offense that has lacked output in recent days. The Braves had scored a grand total of 15 runs in their last nine games, being shut out as many times, twice, as they have won. Instead of Hamels, this ailing offense draws David Buchanan, who the Phillies plan to call up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley in advance of Friday's game. Buchanan is 0-2 with a 4.02 ERA in three starts lifetime versus the Braves.


Finalizing The Details – Cole Hamels is going to be a Texas Ranger. The eight-player trade between the Phillies and Rangers is taking a little longer than expected to become official, but sources told late Thursday night that everything is in place and that it will happen. An announcement is expected Friday. Sources said Wednesday night that the Phillies agreed to send Hamels, Jake Diekman and about $9.5 million to the Rangers for five prospects -- outfielder Nick Williams, catcher Jorge Alfaro and right-handers Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff and Alec Asher -- and left-hander Matt Harrison. Major League Baseball needed to approve the trade because of the money involved, but a source said it has been approved. The teams also needed to go through extensive medical records, which can take time. The Dallas Morning News reported Thursday the Rangers needed to transfer the insurance policy they held on Harrison to the Phillies, which involves a third party. Complicated, administrative stuff, but the fact is the trade is going to happen. Hamels remained out of sight Thursday. If he ever appeared at Citizens Bank Park, nobody seemed to know it. "He might have been lurking somewhere in the shadows, but I didn't see him," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. Diekman was at the ballpark, waiting for somebody to tell him something about his future before the 4-1 victory over the Braves. Word never came. He eventually got into his Phillies uniform and walked with his teammates to the bullpen, knowing he would pitch only in an emergency situation. He sat there the entire night, contemplating his fate. "I didn't do anything until 6:30 p.m.," Diekman said. "Then I went into the hot tub and got ready for the game. I mean, it sucked. Like, this could be the last time I walk in here. I mean, I have no idea, but just sitting out there thinking about it sucked." The Phillies and Rangers had worked for some time to complete this deal. It certainly did not happen overnight. But after Hamels rejected a trade to Houston -- which means the Astros offered an even better package of prospects than Texas -- the Phillies and Rangers reached an agreement. The Phillies still like what they got. They received three of the Rangers' top six prospects, according to Thompson (fourth), Williams (fifth) and Alfaro (sixth). Eickhoff ranked 17th and Asher ranked 29th. Thompson, Williams and Alfaro are ranked 60th, 64th and 69th, respectively in MLB Pipeline's Top 100. The Phillies wanted hitters in any trade for Hamels, and they believe they got two good ones who project to be everyday players with Williams, 21, and Alfaro, 22. Williams, who was a second-round pick in the 2012 Draft, was hitting .300 with 21 doubles, four triples, 13 home runs, 45 RBIs and a .837 OPS with Double-A Frisco. Alfaro, who signed a $1.3 million bonus in 2010, will miss the rest of this season following left ankle surgery in June, but before that, said he had "the best combination of raw power and pure arm strength among Minor League catchers." Thompson, 21, was traded from Detroit to Texas last year for Joakim Soria and became Texas' top starting pitching prospect. He was 6-6 with a 4.72 ERA in 17 starts with Frisco. Eickhoff, 25, was 8-4 with a 4.47 ERA in 17 games with Triple-A Round Rock. Asher, 23, was 3-6 with a 4.73 ERA in 12 starts with Round Rock. In time, the Phillies hope a few of those players catapult the Phillies to their next postseason run, similar to how Hamels, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Jimmy Rollins led the Phillies to five consecutive National League East titles from 2007-11. The Phillies had to sacrifice one of their greatest postseason performers to get them. "Just a surreal moment," Hamels said following Saturday's no-hitter against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. It turned into a surreal week, including Thursday with everybody in limbo.

Everybody Limbo! – It was three hours before first pitch of the Phillies' 4-1 win over the Braves on Thursday and interim manager Pete Mackanin glanced down at the partially completed lineup card on the desk in front of him. He half-smiled, half-shrugged. He only knew so much. He could say even less. By Thursday afternoon, The Big Trade had been a hot topic since the news started breaking late the previous night: ace left-hander Cole Hamels and reliever Jake Diekman to the Rangers for veteran starter Matt Harrison and five prospects. The deal had been discussed, dissected, critiqued and analyzed from every angle. It just hadn't been completed -- which created a weird vibe as the Phillies prepared to play the Braves at Citizens Bank Park in the first game of the homestand. Mackanin didn't know whether to list Diekman as being one of his available relievers; when the game started, he was sitting in the bullpen. It also wasn't clear whether Hamels was at the park. He was scheduled to start Friday night against the Braves. The official game notes listed TBA instead. Mackanin wasn't even sure what to say to Hamels before the Phillies boarded their charter from Toronto back to Philadelphia on Wednesday night. "I didn't say goodbye," he explained. "Unless it's done, I don't want to do that. That's what made it uneasy." As always, the lack of solid information left a void that was filled with rumors and speculation. As the hours passed, conjecture mounted. Most of it centered on the possibility that one of the players involved may have been red-flagged for medical reasons. Maybe the deal would have to be reworked. Maybe it would be scuttled entirely. The Phillies and Rangers, however, are expected to announce the deal Friday, sources tell's Todd Zolecki and T.R. Sullivan, before the 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline. The clubs have not confirmed. Still, uncertainty can be draining. To the Phillies' credit, it didn't prevent them from winning for the 10th time in 12 games since the All-Star break. After the game, some of the picture began to come into better focus. Hamels apparently stayed home. His locker appeared undisturbed. "I didn't see him, but he might have been lurking in the shadows somewhere," said Mackanin, drawing a laugh. David Buchanan will start Friday night, he added. The manager conceded that he was supposed to stay away from using Diekman. And the hard-throwing reliever spoke about the emotional toll the previous 24 hours had taken on him. "I really don't know what to say," he said. "I haven't been told anything. I walked in [after Wednesday night's game] and three of my buddies texted me. Congrats and stuff. Then I check online and it's all over." Still, when he got to the park, nothing. "I didn't do anything until 6:30," he said wryly. "Then I went in the hot tub and got ready for the game." He was told he would only pitch in an emergency. "This could be the last time I walk in here. I have no idea. Just sitting out there thinking about it sucked. I feel like it would be a good opportunity if it happens, but leaving here would suck. I mean, I'm 28. I've been here nine years. I've been here a while. "I don't know if I feel anything right now. Until something happens, I'm still here. I'm still a Phillie. I was a Phillie when I woke up. I was a Phillie during the entire game. I love it here. Just because I've been here for nine years, it's tough." Making trades in baseball, with bigger money and more intricate contracts, has become more complex. It can take longer to finalize deals. At the same time, social media means news breaks instantaneously and circulates with breathtaking speed. Those two realities clashed Thursday, and the result was a general awkwardness all around. And there was nothing anybody could do about it. "Everybody's got concerns. Everybody's got anxieties. The old guys. The young guys. I'd like to know who to put on my lineup card," Mackanin said. "It's uncertainty, but you just go with what you're given. The people who do it the right way and get after it are the people you're looking for. "You can't take anything for granted in this business. That's the way you have to look at it. It's a bottom-line business. You either succeed or you don't. And if you look at it that way, you're not going to worry about it and you're going to be more successful. You'd like to know what's going on, but sometimes it just doesn't happen that way."

Stepping Up – David Buchanan is 26. Adam Morgan is 25. Aaron Nola is 22. And then there's Aaron Harang. With word of Cole Hamels' trade to the Rangers expected to come Friday, the Phillies' clubhouse is losing more than just an ace; it's losing a veteran presence to help guide the new guard of Philadelphia starters in times of confusion. Enter Harang. The 37-year-old said after Thursday's 4-1 win over the Braves that he has filled the role of sage veteran a few times over the five-year journey that has taken him from San Diego to Los Angeles to Seattle to Queens to Atlanta to Philadelphia. But now with Hamels gone, Harang is the likely figure to step in and take over as the intellectual leader of the young rotation. This is a mantle Harang said he is happy to assume. "The nice thing is I've been able to be around and go on a couple of the road trips and be there to kind of answer questions and talk with Morgan and Nola. Watching how guys are working hitters and maybe giving them ideas on situations. How to set guys up to be able to establish another pitch for them," Harang said. To Harang there is a value in learning through listening. That being said, Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin is pleased to have Harang as more of a visual professor of the game. "He's important in the respect that hopefully all the guys recognize what he did tonight," Mackanin said. "He used all his pitches, he used the whole plate up and down. His command wasn't the best, but still in all, he knows how to pitch, he knows how to hold runners. And the players see that and get to understand what he did." Harang started Thursday night for the first time since he went on the disabled list on July 1 with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. He threw five innings of one-run ball, allowing nine hits, but keeping the ball mostly on the ground being that all nine of the hits were singles. His pitch count reached 96 pitches after five innings, but the strategy succeeded, leading to a win for his team and for his record. Putting a new notch in the win column is a bit of a foreign experience for Harang. Prior to Thursday's win, Harang had been the loser in each of his previous eight starts, the first Phillies pitcher to achieve that not-so-desirable feat since 1972. Counting the no decision he earned prior to the beginning of the losing streak, it was Harang's first win since May 14. The right-hander said he was proud to break the streak, saying it was a testament to how hard he worked to get back into the rotation. "It's been a little while," Harang said. "It's been kind of a grind this last month."

Staying Focused – As he came, so too he may go. Outfielder Ben Revere came to the Phillies in December 2012 via a trade that sent Trevor May and Vance Worley to Minnesota. Now in his third season with the Phillies and less than 24 hours away from the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, Revere is speculated to be the last piece the Phillies are shopping. With former closer Jonathan Papelbon already in Washington after Tuesday's trade and the deal to send ace Cole Hamels to Texas all but complete, Revere is the remaining talent most likely to be dealt before Friday's 4 p.m. ET deadline. When asked if he is prepared to be traded if a transaction is to occur, Revere said that he has to remember baseball is a business, as hard as it may be to think of it that way. "Anything can happen in baseball," Revere said. "Someone could go down. They're like, 'Okay, we need a guy.' Choose me or choose him. Anything can happen. One phone call or one trade could happen. But really I'm not thinking about it." A reliable contact hitter and a fleet-footed threat on the basepaths, Revere is batting .298 this season with 24 stolen bases and is on pace to score about 80 runs, which would be a career high. Over his five full MLB seasons, Revere has twice batted .300 or better and twice stolen more than 30 bases. He did both in 2014. Pragmatic about the chances of being traded, Revere said he is not scared despite the fact that his fate isn't in his own hands. He emphasized that as of right now, he is a member of the Phillies and that his sole focus has to be on doing what he can to help the Phillies thrive as long as that is true. That being said, the prospect of being traded to a contender is an interest proposition for Revere. "I've known guys who have been with a team that was struggling who got traded to a team that won the World Series," he said. "You never know what will happen in the game of baseball, a 180 just like that."

Welcome To Alumni Weekend – It is unlikely Cole Hamels will stick around for the Phillies' alumni weekend. But the Phillies have plenty planned without him. Here is a look at the weekend's festivities: Friday: Pat Burrell will be the 37th player inducted onto the Phillies' Wall of Fame. Wall of Famers participating in the pregame ceremony at Citizens Bank Park include Jim Bunning (inducted 1984), Steve Carlton (1989), Mike Schmidt (1990), Larry Bowa (1991), Dick Allen (1994), Greg Luzinski (1998), Garry Maddox (2001), Tony Taylor (2002), Bob Boone (2005), Dallas Green (2006), Juan Samuel (2008), Darren Daulton (2010), John Kruk (2011), Mike Lieberthal (2012) and Charlie Manuel (2014). Fans will receive a commemorative print of Burrell. Saturday: The Phillies will dedicate their mural on the Walnut Street Bridge at 11 a.m. ET. The mural is part of the city's Mural Arts Program. Located at 24th and Walnut, it is eight stories high and faces the Schuylkill River and I-76. Later that night at Citizens Bank Park, more than 50 Phillies alumni will be introduced before the game. Phillies alumni will be signing autographs at various parts of the ballpark from 5:45 p.m. ET to 6:15 p.m. ET. The John Vukovich Award will be presented to Steve Schrenk, who is the pitching coach for the Gulf Coast Phillies. The John Vukovich Award is presented annually to an instructor in the Phillies organization who embodies the characteristics of the late Vukovich, the longest-tenured coach in team history. Sunday: Fans will receive a Fathead that features Carlton, Daulton, Allen, Schmidt and Burrell.

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 39-64. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and performance so far this season, this could end up being the worst team in franchise history! All time, the Phillies are 60-52-1 on this day.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hamels Heads Out As Phillies Hit The Rebuild Button

GAME RECAP: Toronto Trounces Philadelphia 8-2

Troy Tulowitzki made the most of his Blue Jays debut Wednesday, cracking a homer while collecting a pair of doubles in an 8-2 win over the Phillies at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays' newest star collected three hits with three RBIs and three runs scored as Toronto split the two-game set. Making his first career start in a leadoff role, Tulowitzki, acquired in a trade with the Rockies on Tuesday, made his presence felt in the third, when he went deep with a two-run shot off Philly starter Jerome Williams to spot the Blue Jays an early 2-0 lead. He was at it again in the fifth, when he laced a leadoff double to left field before Jose Bautista cashed him in with a one-out single. Tulowitzki hit an RBI double off the wall in his next at-bat as part of a three-run sixth, and he finished 3-for-5. While the Blue Jays piled up runs, veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey took care of business on the mound, earning the win. Dickey tossed eight innings while allowing seven hits and two runs. None of them were earned.

  • Williams helped Tulowitzki get acclimated to his new team. He threw him an 0-2 fastball over the heart of the plate for the two-run homer in the third before allowing two more runs in the fifth, which included a double to Tulowitzki. Williams lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing 10 hits and four runs and striking out one as he dropped to 3-8 with a 6.36 ERA. "My job is to get the guy out. In the first at-bat, I got him out [with a strikeout]. In the second at-bat, he got me," Williams said.
  • Gibbons successfully had an out call at second base overturned in the third inning. As Josh Donaldson slid into second to break up a double play, Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis dropped the transfer but initially still got the call. That prompted Gibbons to ask the for the review, which after 35 seconds went the Blue Jays' way.
  • The Phillies challenged a play at first base in the seventh inning, when it looked like Domonic Brown grounded into a double play. The Phillies thought Brown beat the throw, and the call was indeed overturned. Brown went on to score on an error later in the inning.
  • "It was a strange week, but you can't really think about the highs with Cole [Hamels] throwing the no-hitter and [Aaron] Nola pitching well Sunday. You had the lows with Pap [Jonathan Papelbon] and everything being traded. You can't really worry about that. All you can do is play baseball." -- Williams, reflecting on the team's 4-1 road trip.
  • The last-place Phillies have won nine of 11 games since the All-Star break. The Braves enter Philadelphia having lost six of their past seven games.
  • Hamels was tentatively slated to pitch Friday night's game, but he was traded to the Rangers on Wednesday night.

The Braves will face an old friend as Aaron Harang will take the mound on Thursday to make his first start since he was sidelined in early July with plantar fasciitis. Harang was one of the most consistent pitchers in the Braves rotation last year. He has allowed one run in 14 innings against Atlanta this year. While the Phillies are now preparing to play the rest of this season without their ace (Cole Hamels), the Braves are simply hoping to soon prove to their ace (Shelby Miller) that they are capable of providing him some offensive support. Miller will enter Thursday night's series opener in Philadelphia looking for his first win since he nearly no-hit the Marlins on May 17. The All-Star hurler has produced a 2.96 ERA in the 12 starts that have followed, but the Braves have totaled just 10 runs while he has still been in line for a potential win during this span.


Off To Arlington – Cole Hamels engineered some of the greatest moments in Phillies history, including Saturday's no-hitter against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. It will be his final moment in a Phillies uniform. Sources told on Wednesday night that Hamels will be traded to the Texas Rangers in a massive eight-player deal, which is expected to be announced Thursday. The Phillies will send Hamels, left-hander Jake Diekman and cash to the Rangers for five prospects -- outfielder Nick Williams, catcher Jorge Alfaro and right-handers Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff and Alec Asher -- along with Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison, who has made nine starts over the past three seasons because of a back injury. Hamels, 31, declined comment following Wednesday night's 8-2 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Diekman indicated that he had not heard much as he left for the team bus for the flight back to Philadelphia. "They were talking about this right after the season last year," said Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, who along with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are the only remaining members of the 2008 World Series championship team. "If they have to make a move ... they're trying to rebuild the team. We just have to keep going. But definitely it's sad when you're around one of your teammates for a long time and then they have to go away." Hamels, whom the Phillies selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2002 Draft, almost single-handedly carried the Phillies to their second World Series championship in franchise history. He earned National League Championship Series and World Series Most Valuable Player Awards that postseason. He finishes his Phillies career 114-90 with a 3.30 ERA in 295 career games (294 starts). He is 7-4 with a 3.09 ERA in 13 postseason starts. But the Phillies have looked to trade Hamels since the end of the 2014 season to speed up their rebuilding process. USA Today reported that Hamels first rejected a trade to the Astros before the Phillies agreed to the trade with Texas. Hamels could reject a trade to 20 teams, but the Rangers were not on that list. reported the Phillies will send $9.5 million to the Rangers, plus take the entirety of the roughly $32.3 million owed Harrison through 2017. Hamels is owed about $81 million: $7.5 million for the remainder of this season, plus $22.5 million each of the next three seasons. He also has a $6 million buyout on a $19 million club option for 2019 that automatically vests at $24 million based on innings pitched. In essence, the Phillies are paying nearly $42 million to get the prospects they wanted from Texas. But this trade for the Phillies is about the future. They received three of the Rangers' top six prospects, according to Thompson (fourth), Williams (fifth) and Alfaro (sixth). Eickhoff ranked 17th and Asher ranked 29th. Thompson, Williams and Alfaro are ranked 60th, 64th and 69th, respectively, among all prospects in Minor League Baseball. The Phillies wanted big hitters in any trade for Hamels, and they believe they got two with Williams, 21, and Alfaro, 22. Williams, who was a second-round pick in the 2012 Draft, was hitting .300 with 21 doubles, four triples, 13 home runs, 45 RBIs and an .837 OPS with Double-A Frisco. Alfaro, who signed a $1.3 million bonus in 2010, will miss the rest of this season following left ankle surgery in June, but before that, said he "has the best combination of raw power and pure arm strength among Minor League catchers." Thompson, 21, was traded from Detroit to Texas last year for Joakim Soria and became Texas' top starting pitching prospect. He was 6-6 with a 4.72 ERA in 17 starts with Frisco. Eickhoff, 25, was 8-4 with a 4.47 ERA in 17 games with Triple-A Round Rock. Asher, 23, was 3-6 with a 4.73 ERA in 12 starts with Round Rock. In time, the Phillies hope a few of those players catapult the Phillies to their next postseason run, similar to how Hamels, Utley, Howard, Ruiz and Jimmy Rollins led the Phillies to five consecutive National League East titles from 2007-11. But the Phillies had to sacrifice one of their greatest postseason performers to get them. "Just a surreal moment," Hamels said following Saturday's no-hitter. It turned into a surreal week.

Here Is The Haul – The Phillies have waited and waited and waited to get the best deal possible for Cole Hamels, one that could help restock an organization thin on talent in the Majors and Minors. They finally did so Wednesday, consummating an eight-player deal with the Rangers. Though neither club confirmed the trade,'s T.R. Sullivan and Todd Zolecki have reported that Philadelphia will send Hamels, Jake Diekman and $9.5 million in cash to Texas for Matt Harrison and five prospects: right-handers Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff and Alec Asher, outfielder Nick Williams and catcher Jorge Alfaro. Thompson (No. 60), Williams (No. 64) and Alfaro (No. 69) all rank among's Top 100 Prospects. The Phillies' system, which had fallen on hard times before the team began trading veterans for prospects last offseason, now has six Top 100 farmhands. Shortstop J.P. Crawford (No. 6) and Philadelphia's last two first-round picks, right-hander Aaron Nola (No. 22) and outfielder Cornelius Randolph (No. 99), already were on the list. Thompson, 21, has been traded twice in the last year after the Tigers shipped him and Corey Knebel to the Rangers for Joakim Soria last July. A second-round pick from a Texas high school in 2012, Thompson has one of the best sliders in the Minors and pairs it with a hard sinker that ranges from 90-95 mph. Thompson has gone 6-6 with a 4.72 ERA in 17 starts at Double-A Frisco this year with a 78-30 K/BB ratio in 87 2/3 innings. Williams, 21, also was a second-rounder out of a Texas high school in 2012. He has one of the quickest bats in the Minors and has made huge strides with his plate discipline this year, giving him a chance to become a .280 hitter with 20 homers per season along with solid speed and defense. Williams batted .299/.357/.479 with 13 homers and 10 steals in 97 games at Frisco. Alfaro, 22, signed for a Colombian-record $1.3 million in 2010. No Minor League catcher can beat his combination of raw power and arm strength, though his hitting and receiving skills still need a lot of polish. Alfaro hit .253/.314/.432 with five homers in 49 games at Frisco before season-ending ankle surgery in June. Eickhoff, 25, went from a 15th-round pick from Olney Central (Ill.) JC in 2011 to leading the Double-A Texas League with 144 strikeouts in 2014. His best pitch is a 91-97 mph fastball and he'll also flash a plus curveball and solid slider. Eickhoff has spent most of this season at Triple-A Round Rock, going 9-4 with a 4.25 ERA in 18 games (17 starts) with a 107/36 K/BB ratio in 111 2/3 innings. Asher, 23, was a fourth-round choice out of Polk (Fla.) CC in 2012. He can hit 96 mph with his fastball but usually operates at 89-93 mph, backing it up with an average slider and changeup. He has split this year between Frisco and Round Rock, compiling a 4-10 record with a 4.43 ERA in 20 starts and a 97/37 K/BB ratio in 107 2/3 innings. All five prospects could arrive in the big leagues before the end of 2016. If they all reach their ceilings, the Phillies could have a No. 2 starter (Thompson), a pair of All-Star position players (Williams, Alfaro) and a pair of workhorse starters for the back half of their rotation (Eickhoff, Asher). Of course, not all prospects will fulfill their potential, but Philadelphia has a lot more building blocks than it did before the trade and also saves roughly $35 million in the difference between the commitments to Hamels and Harrison. From the Rangers' perspective, Hamels gives them a frontline starter who's locked up through 2019 and can headline what could be a formidable long-term rotation should Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Martin Perez return to full health. Texas was able to acquire the three-time All-Star and 2008 National League Championship Series and World Series MVP without sacrificing either of its cornerstone prospects, third baseman Joey Gallo or outfielder Nomar Mazara. The Rangers' impressive prospect depth allowed them to retain Gallo and Mazara while still satisfying the Phillies.

Mural Celebrates Phillies History – Once again, Tug McGraw is jumping into the sky, celebrating the first World Series championship in Phillies history. Only this time, McGraw is doing it eight stories high. And he's joined by dozens of iconic faces and moments and even the ballparks from franchise history on a spectacular 3,750-square-foot mural located at 24th and Walnut Street, and visible from the Schuylkill River Trail and I-76. The Phillies Mural was created by award-winning artist David McShane, a lifetime Phils fan who also created a mural honoring Jackie Robinson in North Philadelphia, and another honoring the Philadelphia Stars of the Negro Leagues in West Philadelphia. The Phillies Mural was executed in conjunction with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. The official dedication will take place Saturday, with festivities beginning at 11 a.m. ET, including entertainment from the Whiz Kids and refreshments. The ceremony starts at 11:30 a.m. Fans are invited to help celebrate along with more than a dozen legends, such as Mike Schmidt, Brad Lidge, Charlie Manuel, Darren Daulton, Dallas Green, Mitch Williams, Larry Bowa, Steve Carlton, Dick Allen, Greg Luzinski, Curt Simmons, Jim Bunning, Tony Taylor and the Phillies Phanatic. The free event is part of the Toyota Phillies Alumni Weekend. It's fitting that Harry Kalas and Rich Ashburn, two of the most beloved figures in team history, are in the center of the painting. Opposite McGraw, Brad Lidge drops to his knees after recording the final out that gave the Phils their 2008 championship. Players from as long ago as Chuck Klein and Grover Cleveland Alexander are represented, as are several current stars. McShane's preliminary drawing left room for two more players who were determined by a fan vote. That's how Luzinski and Carlos Ruiz were added. In each corner, groups of fans look on. The artist said that deciding who and what to leave off was far more difficult than figuring out who to include. "That was a challenge," McShane said. "Rather than start with individuals, I started with teams -- so the championship teams and the teams that were pennant winners, and I thought of key players from there. Then, I filled in the void with the other Hall of Famers and retired numbers. For instance, someone like Chuck Klein who was one of the greatest sluggers they ever had, but played in the 1920s when the Phillies weren't very good. He deserves to be in the mural. So that's sort of how I went about it. "I was also trying not to overwhelm the mural. If you put a hundred figures in, it kind of loses its impact. So I was kind of thinking of trying to target around 25, 30 players max. When I was a kid, I really loved Garry Maddox, so I would have loved to have put him in there. There are certain singular moments like Shane Victorino hitting that grand slam [off CC Sabathia in the playoffs], Matt Stairs' home run [in the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers]. But when you take a look at the grand history, you really have to narrow it down." While the mural understandably focuses on franchise highlights, it doesn't whitewash the lowlights. Williams is depicted throwing the pitch that Joe Carter hit to win the 1993 World Series for the Blue Jays. Players from the 1964 team wake echoes of the club that squandered a 6 1/2-game lead in the final two weeks of the regular season. "It's certainly a rich history with a lot of successes and failures," McShane said. "But for most of us as a collective community we have both celebrated the triumphs and suffered through the disappointments. My hope is that people look at the mural and remember how we're connected as a community. Because we all shared these moments together." The 50-year-old has painted more than 70 murals. This is one of his all-time favorites, and it should be around for a while. "This mural has a special UV coating applied, so it'll take a lot longer for the paints to fade," McShane said. "We would anticipate at least a good 25-year life span. And hopefully we'll have at least another World Series or two by then."

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 38-64. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and performance so far this season, this could end up being the worst team in franchise history! All time, the Phillies are 67-47-0 on this day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Papelbon Gets Moved And The Phillies Keep Rolling

GAME RECAP: Philadelphia Tops Toronto 3-2

Ken Giles settled into his newly minted role as closer on Tuesday, helping the Phillies seal a 3-2 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Hours after former closer Jonathan Papelbon was traded to the Nationals, Giles came on to protect a one-run lead and threw a scoreless ninth inning as Philadelphia took the opener of a two-game set. After allowing a leadoff single to Edwin Encarnacion, Giles retired Chris Colabello and Russell Martin on flyouts before Danny Valencia grounded into a forceout to end the game. It was Giles' first save of the season and the second of his career. "I can't thank him enough for guiding me through the way of the closer," Giles said about Papelbon. "I think I'm going to be a great closer." The Phillies rallied for three runs in the fifth to erase a two-run deficit, driving Blue Jays starter Felix Doubront from the game with four hits in a row, three of them for extra bases. Doubront lasted only four-plus innings, allowing six hits and three runs with two walks and three strikeouts. Lefty Adam Morgan took the win. Morgan allowed a leadoff homer to Devon Travis and surrendered another run on a pair of hits in the second, but he settled in and allowed only two more baserunners before he was lifted in favor of Jeanmar Gomez when the Phillies took the field for the seventh inning. Morgan tossed six innings and allowed five hits and two runs with two strikeouts and two walks.

  • The Phillies picked up 21 extra-base hits in their weekend sweep of the Cubs, their most in a three-game stretch since 2001. The power continued against the Blue Jays. After Ryan Howard started the fifth inning with a single, which appeared to carom off his leg, Darin Ruf, Cody Asche and Andres Blanco each doubled to hand the Phillies a 3-2 lead.
  • The Blue Jays have crushed left-handers this season, posting an .832 OPS against them. No other team had as much as a .771 OPS against left-handers. But Morgan handled himself well. After he served up the homer to Travis, he allowed one run in his final five innings to post his third quality start of the season. "It's challenging to face a lineup of all righties," Morgan said. "I just stuck to my game plan. This is a good hitting lineup, but if you keep the ball down and mix speeds, you give your team a chance to win. I learned pretty quick that anybody in that lineup can hit a home run. Just from then on, I really focused on keeping the ball down and mixing speeds in and out."
  • "It was hard to mentally prepare myself when I was already as nervous as I was. I think I did an OK job. I think it was the jitters, I was nervous up there. Just getting that first one out of the way, and hopefully the next one and beyond will be a lot smoother." -- Giles, on batting nerves as the team's new closer.
  • Troy Tulowitzki will make his much-anticipated Toronto debut when the Blue Jays and Phillies wrap a two-game series at Rogers Centre on Wednesday. The All-Star shortstop was acquired from the Rockies, along with reliever LaTroy Hawkins, early Tuesday, but he wasn't able to arrive in time to be in the lineup for the series opener later that day. He's expected to be activated ahead of the series finale. The addition of Tulowitzki is a clear upgrade at shortstop over Jose Reyes, who was sent to Colorado along with three Minor League pitchers in the blockbuster deal. Tulowitzki, 30, is hitting .300 with 12 homers and 53 RBIs this season. It's not immediately evident where he fits into the Blue Jays' batting order, but manager John Gibbons said that will become clear Wednesday.
  • Blue Jays rookie second baseman Devon Travis is questionable after exiting Tuesday's game with left shoulder irritation. Jose Bautista, who exited late due to a leg cramp, said he'll be ready to play Wednesday.

Right-hander Jerome Williams will make the start for the Phillies, his second since returning from the disabled list after he suffered a strained left hamstring. Williams is 3-7 with a 6.28 ERA this season. In four career games (three starts) against the Blue Jays, he's 2-0 with a 3.72 ERA. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey will get the start for the Blue Jays. The right-hander has surrendered three earned runs or fewer in all but one of his last 10 starts. 


Taking Over – Ken Giles seemed destined to pitch the ninth inning in a save situation Tuesday night, right? Less than an hour after the Phillies announced they had traded Jonathan Papelbon and cash considerations to the Nationals for Double-A right-hander Nick Pivetta, Giles picked up the save in a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. "You know, the ball always seems to find you when you go in a game," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "I was talking to [pitching coach Bob] McClure, and he said, 'The ball is going to find Giles tonight.' The baseball gods work that way." Giles allowed a leadoff single to Edwin Encarnacion before retiring the next three batters for the second save of his career, but his first as the full-time replacement for Papelbon, who ended his tumultuous three-plus seasons with the Phillies as the franchise's all-time leader with 123 saves. "I can't thank him enough for guiding me through the way of the closer," Giles said about Papelbon. "I think I'm going to be a great closer." The Phillies hope so. They need one. But while Giles certainly is confident in his abilities, he could not help but feel nervous Tuesday. It is one thing to be a setup man picking up a save for Papelbon late last season, when Papelbon was suspended for an indecent gesture after blowing a save. It is something entirely different to save a game as the man. "Yeah, I started to get a little nervous," Giles said. "The first one is the hardest. And even though I did it last year, I was way more nervous in this one, because I was the guy, I needed to get three outs to conserve that win. The eighth inning is way different. All I have to do is conserve that lead or come out with the tie. Closer, you just want to go 1-2-3, shut them down, let's go home." Papelbon had made his feelings known about his desire to be traded for more than a year. He said he enjoyed playing the role of villain in Philadelphia. He obviously had his detractors, but pitchers in the bullpen generally seemed to enjoy Papelbon's mentorship over the years. Giles is included in that group. "Pap was guiding me and teaching me the way," he said. "I knew he wanted to be traded, and I knew it was only a matter of time. It was just to the point of when he was going to get traded and when he felt like he was satisfied with where he wanted to go and stuff like that. I wish him all the best of luck, and hopefully we'll all cross paths once again and I'll see how he's doing then. "But being a closer feels great, it's a once in a lifetime dream for me to be a closer. Now it's my opportunity to show what I've got." So what's his intro music going to be? "I guess we'll wait and see."

One Down – Jonathan Papelbon finally got his wish. The Phillies announced Tuesday night they had traded Papelbon and cash considerations to the Nationals for Double-A right-hander Nick Pivetta, ending Papelbon's tumultuous Phillies career without the trips to the postseason he expected when he signed a four-year, $50 million contract in November 2011. ranks Pivetta as the Phillies' No. 10 prospect. "We didn't want to just get rid of him," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a news conference in Philadelphia. "He had an extraordinary career with us. The fact of the matter is, he was as good as advertised and maybe better. We just didn't play very well around him. Unfortunately, we didn't have the kind of club that was the reason for him to be here. "No, I don't believe in just getting rid of the guy. Not for me. The ultimate goal was to do what's right for the Phillies. That's what I have to do. I think, ultimately, this will work out for everyone." Amaro said the Phillies are paying a "significant" portion of Papelbon's salary for the remainder of the season. The Washington Post reported it is $4.5 million, which is essentially the rest of his 2015 salary. But Amaro said they will pay none of the $11 million Papelbon will make in 2016. Papelbon, who waived his no-trade rights, actually took less money to leave the Phillies, forgoing a $13 million club option that would have automatically vested if he finished just 14 more games this season. Papelbon flew home to Mississippi following Sunday's game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, so he never made it to Toronto. Papelbon recently had made it a habit to fly home for off-days, packing his bags each time and hoping he would get that call from the Phillies that he had been traded. He finally got that call Tuesday. Papelbon and his agents negotiated the new contract directly with the Nationals, and the Phillies and Nationals agreed on Pivetta. "I think every trade has its challenges," Amaro said. "This had a variety of different challenges because we had to get approval from him, and there was some complication in converting the contract. I think, at the end of the day, hopefully this works out for everybody." The Nationals selected Pivetta, 22, in the fourth round of the 2013 Draft. He went 7-4 with a 2.29 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) this season with Class A Advanced Potomac before being promoted to Harrisburg, where he is 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA in three starts. "A strapping, big arm," Amaro said about Pivetta. "A guy who our scouts liked quite a bit. We have seen him quite a bit over the last couple of years. We like the arm. Hopefully, Nick can continue his development and continue his way up the ladder so he can help us in Philadelphia sometime soon." Amaro said Pivetta's ceiling is as high as a No. 3 starter. "He's still got some upside," Amaro said. "Our projections are a middle to the bottom of the rotation type of pitcher. Could be as high as a three. Could be as low as a five. A lot of it depends on how he develops. He's got great stuff to work with, and I like the way our development people are working with our pitching." Coincidentally, Papelbon's trade came two years to the day that he told in Detroit: "I definitely didn't come here for this." Papelbon had been vocal about wanting to leave Philadelphia ever since, most recently campaigning for a trade at the All-Star Game. He will leave the Phillies as the franchise's all-time saves leader, with 123. He finished his Phillies career 14-11 with a 2.31 ERA in 234 appearances, making the National League All-Star team in 2012 and 2015.

Trade Talk – Jonathan Papelbon is headed to the Nationals, but what about Cole Hamels? Sources told on Tuesday that Hamels is expected to be traded before Friday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, although nothing is imminent. But the Phillies moved Hamels' scheduled start from Thursday to Friday, which erases any risk of a freak injury and allows the acquiring team to pitch him almost immediately. The Phillies would not have bumped Hamels if they did not hope to trade him. reported the Phillies have told teams to make their best offers for Hamels by Wednesday. "I guess I'm pretty valuable to them right now," Hamels said with a smile before Tuesday night's 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. "I understand. It's OK. I just do what they tell me to do. But I understand them. I guess if I were in their position, I'd do the same thing, too." The Rangers and Dodgers remain the frontrunners for Hamels, but a source told on Tuesday that the Giants have escalated their efforts. San Francisco has the financial flexibility to facilitate a trade, although it is difficult to see how they will come up with the prospects to satisfy the Phillies. The Astros also have emerged as a suitor. reported that Phillies scout Charley Kerfeld scouted Houston's Double-A affiliate on Tuesday. Phillies president Pat Gillick leans heavily on Kerfeld's opinions, so the fact he has been watching Texas' and Houston's Double-A affiliates this week is worth noting. Sources said the Yankees, Cubs and D-backs also have expressed interest in Hamels. But the Rangers continue to make the most sense for the Phillies because they like the young power hitters in their farm system. Hamels can block trades to 20 teams, but he cannot block trades to the Rangers, Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs, Nationals, Cardinals, Braves, Padres and Mets. But there are more hurdles to clear than just the no-trade list. First, the Phillies need to get some prospects they like, preferably power hitters. Second, there is Hamels' salary. Hamels will be paid $22.5 million each of the next three seasons, which includes a $6 million buyout on a 2019 club option worth $20 million. "We've had really fluid conversations with a bunch of teams on a variety of players," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a news conference in Philadelphia.

Minor Update – Players of the Week: Player 1B Brock Stassi, Reading…Stassi, 25, was named Phillies Minor League Player of the Week after batting .444 (12-27) in seven games with three doubles, two home runs and eight RBI. He has hit safely in eight of his last nine games, and in five of those games has recorded multiple hits. Stassi's 66 RBI are most in the league, and he also ranks among the top four in average (.315), on-base percentage (.406), total bases (156) and walks (54). His home run on July 23 was his ninth of the season, which is a new career high. Stassi was selected by the Phillies in the 33rd round of the 2011 draft out of The University of Nevada-Reno, and was signed by Joey Davis. Pitcher - LHP Ranger Suarez, GCL Phillies…Suarez, a 20-year-old lefthander, started one game last week, tossing 6.0 scoreless innings while allowing only two hits and a walk against the GCL Yankees. He struck out five batters en route to Phillies Minor League Pitcher of the Week honors. Suarez now has scoreless outings of 6.0 innings or more and three hits or fewer in three of his four starts. He has allowed only two earned runs in 27.2 innings pitched this season (0.65 ERA) and has a 0.69 WHIP (15 hits, four walks), both of which rank in the top four in the league. Suarez was signed as an amateur free agent in April of 2012 by the Phillies and Jesus Mendez.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs - International League North Division…46-56, 4th place…The IronPigs have improved to 5-0-3 in their last eight series after splitting a four-game set with the Toledo Mud Hens and then taking two of three from the Syracuse Chiefs. They have gone 24-14 since June 14 after posting a 22-42 record through that date. Top hitting performers - OF Aaron Altherr recorded RBIs in five of seven games, including three multi-RBI efforts. He clubbed two home runs, scored four runs and tallied 17 total bases for Lehigh Valley…In his return to the Phillies' farm system, C Erik Kratz batted .500 (7-14) with four runs scored, two doubles, a triple and a pair of RBI. Top pitching performers - LHP Anthony Vasquez won his third straight decision after tossing 6.0 innings of one-run ball against Toledo on July 21…LHP Jesse Biddle impressed for the second straight start, this time surrendering a run on four hits in 5.2 innings of work. He has allowed one run in his last 12.1 innings…LHP Adam Loewen appeared in four games, all in relief, and struck out five while allowing just three base runners (a hit and two walks) in 4.1 innings. He also converted his lone save opportunity. Reading Fightin Phils - Eastern League Eastern Division …54-47, T-2nd place…Reading's week began strong with a series win over Bowie, but quickly turned as they won just one game in a four-game series with New Britain. The Fightins sat in first place in the division briefly two weeks ago, but have now lost four of five and sit 1.5 games behind the first-place Binghamton Mets. Top hitting performers - 1B Brock Stassi was named Phillies Minor League Player of the Week after compiling a .444 average with two homers, eight RBI, a .531 on-base percentage and 1.309 OPS in seven games. He has seven RBI in his last five games and 66 for the season…SS J.P. Crawford doubled three times, homered, scored seven runs and knocked in two more while hitting .308…C Andrew Knapp batted .364 with six RBI and a team-high four doubles in six games. He had multiple hits in three of those games…OF Kelly Dugan went 7-24 (.292) with four runs scored, two doubles and two RBI. Top pitching performers - RHP Colton Murray had a 2.0-inning relief appearance and a 3.0-inning relief appearance and did not allow a base runner in either. He struck out six batters in those 5.0 innings combined…RHP Edubray Ramos combined for 4.0 innings and one unearned run in his two games out of the bullpen…LHP Tom Windle struck out five in 3.2 innings of work, allowing just one unearned run on two hits. Clearwater Threshers - Florida State League North Division…20-11, 1st place, 57-44 overall… The first-place Threshers started their week with three straight wins, scoring 20 combined runs in those games. They were unable to carry that momentum, however, as they dropped two of their last three against Jupiter and the series opener with Bradenton to finish 4-3 for the week. Top hitting performers - 1B Rhys Hoskins recorded 10 hits in 25 at-bats (.400) while reaching base in half of his plate appearances. He scored five runs, walked five times and has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games…OF Carlos Tocci also batted .400, recording three multi-hit games with four doubles, four runs scored and four RBI…C Willians Astudillo is now batting .310 for the season after going 8-24 (.333) with five RBI and three runs scored…OF Andrew Pullin reached double digits with his 10th home run of the season and also drove in a team-high six runs while batting .320 in six games…OF Dylan Cozens may have only played in five games, but he still managed to hit a home run, triple and double while batting .412 with 13 total bases. Top pitching performers - LHP Brandon Leibrandt threw 7.0 strong frames, yielding just two runs on three hits to Jupiter. He has 11 quality starts in 15 total starts this season…RHP Victor Arano allowed two runs on seven hits in 6.1 innings during his lone start of the week. Lakewood BlueClaws - South Atlantic League Northern Division…19-11, 2nd place, 52-46 overall…Lakewood sits just a game back in the division after a dominant 5-1 week which included a series win over first-place West Virginia. The Blue Claws will finish their series with Kannapolis before heading to West Virginia to try to gain more ground on the Power in a four-game series. Top hitting performers - 2B Scott Kingery hit .346 with a home run, four RBI and four runs scored in six games. He has eight hits in last 17 at-bats (.471 average)…1B Kyle Martin continues his torrid season after batting .348 with four extra-base hits (two doubles, a triple, and a home run). Martin set a career-high with four hits on July 25, and is batting .372 this season…OF Jiandido Tromp went 7-21 (.333) with three doubles and two RBI. Top pitching performers - RHP Ranfi Casimiro has now won four straight decisions after throwing 7.2 shutout innings with six strikeouts against the West Virginia Power on July 22…RHP Will Morris lasted 7.0 innings for the second straight start, allowing three runs in his win over Kannapolis…RHP Tyler Viza tossed 7.0 scoreless frames and scattered six hits in his lone start…LHP Elniery Garcia tied his season-best with just three hits allowed in a 6.0-inning scoreless start on July 24…RHP Matt Hocknberry appeared in three games, combining for 4.0 scoreless innings and two saves in as many chances. Williamsport Crosscutters - New York-Penn League Pinckney Division…24-12, 1st place…The Crosscutters rebounded nicely from an 0-3 start to the week to win three of their last four games by a combined score of 19-10. They allowed three runs or fewer in each of their three wins and remain four games ahead in the division. Top hitting performers - OF Zachary Coppola hit safely in his first six games of the week, finishing with a .357 average and five runs scored to go along with a .400 on-base percentage…2B Josh Tobias hit .345 with two doubles, a triple, a home run and three multi-hit games…OF Jose Pujols went 8-27 (.296) with five runs scored, two driven in and a double. He is tied for the league lead with 11 doubles this season…OF Mark Laird batted .318 with four RBI and hit safely in all but one of his six games played…1B Brendon Hayden reached base at a .435 mark thanks to six hits (three doubles) and a team-high four walks. Top pitching performers -  RHP Mitch Gueller held Aberdeen to two runs (one earned) in 6.2 innings on the mound on July 24. He has allowed one earned run or fewer in four of his six starts…LHP Tyler Gilbert did not allow a run and surrendered only three hits in 5.0 innings of work during his one start…RHP Anthony Sequiera had outings of 2.1 innings and 2.0 innings, both of which were scoreless. He nailed down his only save opportunity, and now has five straight outings of at least 2.0 innings pitched. GCL Phillies - Gulf Coast League, Northwest Division…20-8, 1st place… Bad weather held the Phillies to just five games last week, as they had three contests, including a doubleheader, postponed due to rain. They took their first two games of the week against the Yankees by scores of 7-5 and 3-0, but then dropped three straight to the GCL Blue Jays on Wednesday and Thursday. Top hitting performers - OF Juan Luis raised his average 48 points in three games after going 6-9 with a home run, three RBI and four runs scored…3B Lucas Williams batted .556 (5-9) in three games and now has a seven-game hit streak…SS Jonathan Arauz hit .364 with a walk in three games. Top pitching performers -  LHP Ranger Suarez's ERA sits at 0.65 after yet another scoreless outing. He pitched 6.0 innings and allowed two hits, giving him three starts of 6.0 innings, no runs and three hits or fewer this season. His dominant start earned him Phillies Minor League Pitcher of the Week…RHP Edgar Garcia made his first start of the season, yielding two runs (one earned) in 4.1 innings of work while striking out four…RHP Kevin Walsh did not allow a run in his season-high 3.1 innings of relief on July 23.

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 38-63. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and performance so far this season, this could end up being the worst team in franchise history! All time, the Phillies are 55-50-0 on this day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Next Few Games Should Be Interesting

GAME RECAP: No Game Yesterday
Phillies took the day off yesterday to reflect on the drastic shift in play compared to the first half… anyone else notice that the weather has gotten quite a bit cooler lately?

  • Morgan has been up-and-down in his first five starts. He allowed nine hits and three runs in just 4 1/3 innings last week against the Rays, but he has allowed two or fewer runs in 5 2/3 innings or more in three of his first four.
  • The Blue Jays are 8-0 against the Phillies since Roy Halladay beat them on July 2, 2011.
  • Doubront has made three starts for the Blue Jays, and he has gone more than five innings just once. He allowed seven hits and three runs in 4 1/3 innings in his last start last week against the A's.

If the Blue Jays decide to make a serious push for Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon they will have the opportunity to see him up close and personal beginning Tuesday night in a two-game series at Rogers Centre. Sources told that the Blue Jays, Cubs and Nationals are three teams that have expressed interest recently in Papelbon, although the Blue Jays' interests might be elsewhere. The Phillies would have to eat plenty of Papelbon's salary to make it happen, but they have said they are willing to do that. Games will be played regardless, and Phillies rookie left-hander Adam Morgan and Blue Jays left-hander Felix Doubront will start the opener Tuesday night.


Hamels Named Player Of The Week – One outstanding position player and one outstanding pitcher -- Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and Phillies starter Cole Hamels -- have been named National League Co-Players of the Week after their performances last week. Hamels threw a no-hitter against the Cubs on Saturday, while Gonzalez led the Majors with five home runs and a 1.190 slugging percentage. Hamels' no-hitter was the third of the Major League season and included 13 strikeouts against the Cubs, who were no-hit for the first time since 1965. After throwing the first six innings of a Phillies combined no-hitter last year, Hamels is just the fifth pitcher in MLB history to throw a no-hitter of his own and be involved in a combined no-no. Gonzalez also led the NL with 11 RBIs and 25 total bases while tying for the league lead with nine runs scored. He hit .476 (10-for-21) and capped his week Sunday with a 3-for-4 game against the Reds that featured two home runs, four runs scored and six RBIs. The runs and RBIs both tied career highs, and the multihomer game was Gonzalez's second of the season and 12th of his career. It is Hamels' second career NL Player of the Week Award and Gonzalez's fifth.

Increasing Values – Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon could have their wishes granted before the end of the week. Momentum continues to build for trades involving both the Phillies' ace and their closer ahead of Friday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline. Sources told that the Dodgers and Rangers are the front-runners for Hamels, who also is receiving interest from the Yankees, Cubs and Giants. reported Monday night the D-backs and Astros have entered the mix, too. Papelbon is receiving the most interest from the Cubs, Blue Jays and Nationals, and those discussions seem to have picked up in the past 24 hours. Both Hamels and Papelbon have limited no-trade protection. Hamels can block trades to 20 teams, but he cannot veto a trade to the Rangers, Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs, Nationals, Cardinals, Braves, Padres and Mets. He can block trades to the D-backs, Astros and Giants. Papelbon can block trades to 17 teams, but the Cubs are not one of them. He can block trades to Toronto and Washington, but he has said repeatedly his no-trade clause will not be a problem. That said, Papelbon will only accept a trade to a team where he will be the closer. The Nationals currently have a closer in Drew Storen. Papelbon also has a $13 million salary this season and a $13 million club option for 2016, which will automatically vest if he finishes just 14 more games this season. He might require a team to exercise that option to facilitate a trade, but if he closes for a contender, he should vest it without a problem. Of course, Hamels is the big fish. The Rangers privately expect to finish second in the Hamels sweepstakes, although the Phillies like their farm system more than Los Angeles' because Texas has something that Philadelphia's system sorely lacks: power hitters. Rangers catching prospect Jorge Alfaro and outfield prospect Nomar Mazara -- who rank 34th and 42nd, respectively, among's Top 100 Prospects -- could be part of a package for Hamels. Both have power. Texas is becoming more comfortable with the prospect of taking on Hamels' remaining salary, which pays him $23.5 million annually through 2018, plus a $6 million buyout on a $20 million club option for '19. The Dodgers would love to insert Hamels into a rotation that already includes Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, but they are expected to hold onto shortstop Corey Seager and left-hander Julio Urias, who are considered the fourth- and fifth-best prospects in baseball, respectively. Right-handed prospect Grant Holmes ranks 75th overall, and right-hander Jose De Leon ranks 89th, but as mentioned previously, the Phils prefer power bats. Dodgers outfield prospects Alex Verdugo and Scott Schebler have power potential. But with at least two teams strongly interested in Hamels, the Phillies should be able to get something they like. The Royals just acquired right-hander Johnny Cueto from the Reds, and the Astros acquired Scott Kazmir from the A's on Thursday. That removes two starting pitchers from the market. The Tigers might hold onto David Price, which also helps. The Royals shipped left-handers Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed to the Reds for Cueto, who can become a free agent after the season. Finnegan was Kansas City's top pick in the 2014 Draft. Lamb was 9-1 with a 2.67 ERA at Triple-A Omaha before the trade. Reed was a second-round pick in 2013. He was 2-2 with a 3.45 ERA at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Right-hander Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham went to Oakland for Kazmir, who also can become a free agent after the season. Mengden was Houston's No. 19 prospect, according to Nottingham was No. 22. The Reds and A's got those prospects for rentals. Hamels is not that, which theoretically means the Phillies should get something more valuable in return. Sources said that no deal for Hamels is imminent, but with four days remaining before the Deadline, there is time to make it happen. The feeling around baseball is that Hamels finally will be dealt. Papelbon's chances to be traded seem to have improved in the past week, although it is far from certain. Ben Revere, Jeff Francoeur and, perhaps surprisingly, Chase Utley have all received interest from teams. Revere is the most likely to be dealt from that group. But the focus since Pat Gillick became Phillies president last August has been Hamels and Papelbon. The chances that the Phils will finally reach the finish line with trades involving both pitchers is better than ever.

Deadline Approaching – The big Johnny Cueto trade finished a crazy weekend of rumors, races and Hall of Fame remembrances in Major League Baseball, but Monday gets the frenzy going again. Yes, the Week Ahead marks the final five days prior to Friday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, and if you were out of cell range or off the grid on Saturday and Sunday, well, you missed a lot, and much of it figures to affect the season at we inch ever closer to October. On Saturday, Cole Hamels threw a no-hitter. On Sunday, the National Baseball Hall of Fame welcomed its new quartet of inductees -- Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio -- while the team with the best record in the American League, the defending AL champion Royals, welcomed their new ace, Cueto. Hamels, the Phillies' veteran left-handed ace, twirled his no-no against the Cubs in Wrigley Field, serving notice that he's not only righted himself after a recent slump but that he remains a huge, headlining draw for contending clubs looking to land a stud starter before the Deadline. Hamels is scheduled to pitch for the Phillies on Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park against the Braves, but not a lot of baseball people think that will happen. Sources have told's Todd Zolecki that the Rangers, Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees and Giants are among the teams linked to the owner of both a World Series ring (2008) and a no-hitter, and that Texas and Los Angeles might be the front-runners. "I mean, it's not what I envisioned," Hamels said when asked if he was thinking during Saturday's bit of history that it was his last outing as a member of the team that drafted him in 2002. "It's not what I thought. It's not in my thought process. I think all I've been thinking about the past couple days was just to kind of correct my pitching, just being able to be out there and enjoy the moment." Cueto might have been thinking about the same thing with his former team, the Reds, until he was dealt to Kansas City on Sunday in a blockbuster that brought back a trio of lefty pitching prospects -- Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed -- to Cincinnati. The timing couldn't be better for Royals general manager Dayton Moore and his support staff, given that lefty Jason Vargas just came back from an injury only to be lost for the season with a torn elbow ligament, and in the sense that the Royals were having issues with starting pitching all season. Now look at them. Cueto is 29, at the top of his game (7-6, 2.62 ERA, 120 strikeouts in 130 2/3 innings and a WHIP of 0.93 entering Monday) and should get the ball for his Royals debut on Thursday night against the Blue Jays in Toronto. "He's a guy who gives us tremendous depth in our rotation," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "If you get Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura to the way they were a year ago, you got them and Eddie Volquez and Cueto ... you can stop a losing streak right away with any of those guys. It's a better team for now and into the postseason if we make it. "If we didn't do this deal, I still would have felt good about this team. But this makes us better." That's the idea for this time of year, and especially this week. Teams will be clamoring to improve their rosters ahead of the stretch run, with parity and the added Wild Card entries making it even more competitive to land a deal. Take a look at the National League West, for example. The up-and-down Giants are back on the upswing, having won five in a row and nine of their last 10 to pull within a game of the first-place Dodgers. What will they do? And what will the Dodgers do? Los Angeles might be able to land Hamels, but Detroit ace David Price is also said to be available, and the Giants could use an extra arm. If the Tigers decide to hang on to Price, other arms in the offing could include Mat Latos, Yovani Gallardo, Tyson Ross, Jeff Samardzija and James Shields. And would the Dodgers really trade Yasiel Puig? That will be another topic to keep a close eye on for the next five days. And what about the AL West? The Angels are riding another otherworldly season from Mike Trout (who hit his 30th and 31st homers on Sunday) and have taken over the lead in the division, but the Astros are hanging in there, only a game back, and they just landed Scott Kazmir from the A's for the stretch. The Angels are looking for a bat, and Jay Bruce, Justin Upton, Ben Zobrist and Yoenis Cespedes might be available for the right price. The drama should get even more intriguing on Tuesday, when the Angels head to Houston for a three-game series that ranks as the best in baseball over the next seven days. The division lead could hang in the balance, and we should see Kazmir pitching in his hometown against a familiar rival. Elsewhere, the Mets could be looking for more offense, even after adding Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe in their weekend deal with the Braves. And although the Yankees are rolling in the AL East, it's hard to believe that they're not looking to augment their roster for the crucial days of September and, they hope, beyond.

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 37-63. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and performance so far this season, this could end up being the worst team in franchise history! All time, the Phillies are 47-65-0 on this day.