Friday, July 24, 2015

Phillies Remain Unchanged As Trade Deadline Approaches

GAME RECAP: No Game Played Yesterday
Phillies are taking time to enjoy the 5-1 start to the second half and to prepare for the changes to the roster that will be taking place before July 31st.

  • Jerome Williams will make his first start in over a month for the Phillies after being activated from the disabled list on Monday night. Williams has underwhelmed in production this year compared to last as he is 3-7 with a 6.43 ERA in 14 starts. Williams was 4-2 with a 2.83 ERA in nine starts for the Phillies in 2014.
  • Rookie third baseman Maikel Franco was out of the Phillies' lineup Tuesday and Wednesday with elbow soreness. Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin indicated Tuesday that it is likely the rookie will return to the lineup Friday.
  • If the rest of the season is any indication, this likely won't be a series where starters provide many innings. The Phillies and Cubs have combined to pitch 606 innings from the bullpen this year, an average of just under 3 1/3 innings per game. The two teams are second and fifth, respectively, in the NL in bullpen innings.

Already the lowest-scoring offense in the National League by runs scored per game, the Phillies run into a pitcher who isn't just hot, but has a dominant track record against them. They'll face Jon Lester when they visit the Cubs for the first game of a three-game weekend series Friday. Lester (5-8, 3.37 ERA) has an ERA of 1.27 over 28 1/3 July innings spanning four starts, and in two of those he allowed just two hits. In five lifetime starts against the Phillies, Lester is 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA, a .912 WHIP and 31 strikeouts versus just eight walks. The seven Phillies on the active roster who have at least one at-bat against Lester are a combined 10-for-61 with 18 strikeouts. Ryan Howard, Jeff Francoeur and Carlos Ruiz are a combined 3-for-37 with 13 of those strikeouts.


Maybe Something Should Change – Pat Gillick is in charge, Andy MacPhail will be in charge and Ruben Amaro Jr. is putting together trade packages that could shape the Phillies for the next 10 years, despite his contract expiring at the end of the season. The Phils sure have a unique power structure as the non-waiver July 31 Trade Deadline approaches. Philadelphia is trying to trade Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Chase Utley, Ben Revere and others, but there are reports recently that other organizations think the Phillies' eventual transition from Gillick to MacPhail as team president and the uncertainty surrounding Amaro's future could slow the team's willingness to make a deal. In other words, if MacPhail is going to be calling the shots beginning Oct. 5 and possibly start looking for a new general manager, then maybe the Phils will wait until the offseason so the new front-office members are the ones making the final calls on Hamels, Papelbon, etc. At the moment, Gillick has total veto power. "I don't see this situation as an impediment at all," Amaro said Tuesday. "Pat is my boss. Andy is in an advisory role. He's informed and he gives his opinions about the discussions that we've had, and I always believe three or four or five or six heads are better than one. We've always been very inclusive when we do deals anyway. In essence, we're just adding another very smart baseball man into the process." But this setup certainly is different than the past. For example, when Philadelphia pursued Cliff Lee as a free agent in December 2010, Amaro dealt exclusively with former Phillies president David Montgomery. Assistant GM Scott Proefrock played a critical role in the contract negotiations and Gillick offered his opinions as an advisor, but it essentially was Amaro and Montgomery. Imagine if Amaro's contract expired in a couple months, Montgomery planned to step down at the same time and somebody else planned to take over. It is easy to see how negotiations with Lee could have had a different result. Gillick declined to comment and a request to speak with MacPhail was declined, but Amaro said baseball operations have not been slowed. "Everybody has their opinions and everybody is free to express them," Amaro said. "At the end of the day, I think we'll bring together what we think is important to us as a unit. We'll move forward unified. I'm the point guy. I'm the GM. So whatever discussions we have, I'll take back to our group and discuss it and move on." So these reports? "It's speculation," Amaro said. "It's people speculating, I guess, about things they probably don't know much about. But I believe it's clear that clubs have needs and have been aggressive. It doesn't mean anything will get done, but I think there is some aggressiveness. Listen, we have some players that are desirable. And so we fully expect teams to be aggressive, because we've opened the doors to allow them to discuss it. We've been open-minded from last October on. "There's nothing weird about this situation. It's pretty clear-cut. Andy is an advisor right now. He's going to become the president. I think he's part of the decision-making process, but Pat is my boss. He kind of has the ultimate say. He'll consult with the ownership group, and we'll try to make good decisions. Both Pat and Andy are working together to do what's best for the Phillies. That's what we're all trying to do. We all have a very vested interest with what happens with the organization."

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 34-63. 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 46-57-0 on this day.

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