Friday, August 14, 2015

Will An Utley Trade Come To Fruition?

GAME RECAP: No Game Yesterday
Phillies enjoy the day off after a rough stop in Arizona.

  • Keep an eye on Phillies second baseman Chase Utley this weekend. The Phils are looking to trade him, and he has been tied to the Giants, Cubs, Angels and Yankees.
  • Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco did not play Wednesday after getting hit with a pitch on his left wrist Tuesday. Franco said Wednesday he is day to day, but it is unclear if he will play Friday.

The Phillies will cap a three-city, nine-game road trip with a series against the Brewers beginning on Friday at Miller Park, with Adam Morgan and Jimmy Nelson squaring off in the opener. The Phillies had been playing well since the All-Star break, posting a Major League-best 16-5 mark before dropping a rough series vs. the D-backs at Chase Field. Phils starters struggled in the series, with Aaron Harang giving up eight runs Monday and David Buchanan falling victim to an 11-run inning on Tuesday. The Phillies will hope for better pitching from Morgan (3-3, 4.06 ERA), Jerome Williams (4-8, 5.73 ERA) and Harang (5-13, 4.52 ERA) in Milwaukee. The Brewers, who swept the Phillies in a four-game series in Philadelphia in late June and early July, have tabbed Peralta, who's 2-7 with a 4.48 ERA and has just one win in his past six outings despite three quality starts. Nelson (9-9, 3.65 ERA) will pitch on Saturday and Taylor Jungmann (6-4, 2.42 ERA) will get the ball on Sunday.


Trade Talks Heating Up – Trade talks for second baseman Chase Utley are hotter than ever. Sources told on Thursday night that several teams have made offers for Utley, although no deal is imminent. The Giants are just one of those teams. San Francisco general manager Bobby Evans confirmed to that his team has made an offer. The Angels, Cubs, Astros, Yankees and Dodgers are in the mix. The Angels have been interested in Utley for more than a month, and are worth watching. One source made one thing clear on Thursday: Everything is in Utley's hands. He has 10-and-5 no-trade rights, so he can be traded only if he wants to be. If he prefers a particular team, he can steer the Phillies toward that team. If he does not like what he sees or hears, he can say no. reported earlier Thursday that Utley wants a guarantee of playing time before he goes anywhere. He does not want to ride the bench, because he plans to play next season. That makes the Giants' situation interesting. Utley spends his offseasons in the San Francisco area, and the Giants certainly are World Series contenders. But although Giants second baseman Joe Panik is on the disabled list with inflammation in his lower back, he would expect to play once he is healthy. Two sources agreed that Utley wants to play regularly, which make the Giants far from a certainty, despite their aggressiveness. It is a small sample size, but in five games since returning from the DL with a sprained right ankle, Utley is hitting .412 with three doubles, three RBIs and three runs scored. He is hitting .196 with a .564 OPS in 70 games overall, which makes compensation an interesting point of discussion. Teams believe Utley can help them, but based on his performance in the first half, they seem unlikely to give up a top prospect for him. But those who know his thinking say Utley still believes he can play at a high level, and the poor numbers before the All-Star break were the results of his ankle injury and a mechanical flaw in his swing. Utley has a $15 million club option for 2016 that no longer will vest automatically based on plate appearances. His club option would then drop to $11 million, but the Phillies would be expected to take the $2 million buyout instead. That would make Utley a free agent, and the Phillies are unlikely to re-sign him, because they plan to make Cesar Hernandez their second baseman in 2016. Utley could be going over his options at this moment. If not, it seems only a matter of time before he does, and these things can move quickly. Asked on Sunday in San Diego if he expects to be with the Phillies by the end of the season, Utley said, "Who knows?" That question could be asked a bit differently at this point: Does he expect to be with the team by next week?

Rich With Pitching Prospects – Chase Utley could be traded at any moment, which means the Phillies could add at least one more prospect to their system before the end of the month. The Phillies have thus far acquired 12 prospects, including 10 pitchers, in exchange for Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins, Jonathan Papelbon, Ben Revere, Marlon Byrd, Jake Diekman and Antonio Bastardo. And while it is foolish to think each one will make significant contributions in the big leagues, the Phils hope at least a few are part of their future core. The Phillies need pitching. They just optioned David Buchanan to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Wednesday after he allowed 11 runs in 1 2/3 innings the day before. Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams and Chad Billingsley can be free agents after the season. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez might never pitch again for the Phils. So there will be holes to fill in the 2016 rotation, which makes this a good time to look at how those 10 new pitching prospects have fared since their arrival. From the Hamels/Diekman deal: RHP Jake Thompson, 21. The No. 59 prospect in baseball, according to, is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two starts with Double-A Reading. "His upside is very good," Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan said. "He's left a very good impression." RHP Jerad Eickhoff, 25. He is a top candidate to replace Buchanan. The right-hander, who is ranked No. 14 in the Phils' farm system, is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. "He's a big guy with pretty good weapons," Jordan said. "He's just a strike thrower. I thought he had a great presence in his first outing. Just pounded the zone." RHP Alec Asher, 23. He is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two starts at Triple-A. "He's a strong, physical strike thrower," Jordan said. "His changeup needs to develop. The more he uses it, the better he'll get. Both [Eickhoff and Asher] have ability and have a chance to help us sooner than later." From the Papelbon deal: RHP Nick Pivetta, 22. He has struggled since his promotion from Class A to Double-A, including three starts he made with Harrisburg before the trade. Pivetta has gone 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA in 10 innings with Reading. "I watched his last start," Jordan said. "He walked four in the first inning and struck out the side. [He has] a great arm. Just really easy velocity, up to 97. He's just not as refined as Thompson, Eickhoff and Asher, but he's got as good of an arm as any of them." From the Revere deal: RHP Jimmy Cordero, 23. His fastball has hit 102 mph, but he has a 5.40 ERA in five appearances with Reading. "There's an argument that he's the best arm we have in our system," Jordan said. "I saw a breaking ball that will play. He just needs to learn how to pitch to the plate a little bit. Hitters need to be a little more uncomfortable. We can help him with that." RHP Alberto Tirado, 20. He hits 99 mph on the gun. Tirado could return to the rotation next season, but at the moment, he has a 2.25 ERA in three relief appearances with Class A Clearwater. "He's got ability," Jordan said. From the Rollins deal: RHP Zach Eflin, 21. Some think Eflin, the club's No. 9-ranked prospect, has a higher ceiling than current Phillies starter Aaron Nola. Eflin is 6-6 with a 3.67 ERA in 18 starts with Reading. "If he reaches his potential, he has an opportunity to be every bit as good, if not better, [than Nola], because his weapons are better," Jordan said. "Zach has pitchability. He's just a younger guy and doesn't quite know how to use his weapons to the degree that Nola or Eickhoff do at this time. But he can pitch." LHP Tom Windle, 23. The Phils moved him to the bullpen because they think his stuff will play better there. Windle is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in 12 relief appearances with Reading. He is likely to pitch in the Arizona Fall League. "The spike in his stuff has been a little sporadic," Jordan said. "There are nights you see exactly what you want to see from him in that role. There are nights it doesn't really play up. But he will show you two above-average Major League pitches out of the bullpen. He's going to be a tough look for a good left-handed hitter when all is said and done." From the Byrd deal: RHP Ben Lively, 23. He was 8-7 with a 4.17 ERA in 22 starts with Reading before he went on the DL with a strained right shoulder. "Ben had a good year, not a great year," said Jordan, who discussed Lively before the injury was announced. "He likes to pitch with his fastball, but the secondary pitches have to be developed as you move up. I think that's kind of the resistance he's run into. We've got to sharpen up the breaking ball, slider and changeup. I like Ben. He's an aggressive, confident competitor." From the Bastardo deal: RHP Joely Rodriguez, 23. He is 6-8 with a 5.88 ERA with Reading and Lehigh Valley. "He's set himself up to finish the season very strong," Jordan said. "In his last start, he resembled the guy we saw in the Fall League. I really liked what I saw. He just lost his way a little bit. He got out of his delivery. That's why we put him in the 'pen. He's back in the rotation, and that's where we want him to finish the season."

The Phillies season has taken an unexpected turn for the better as they have officially climbed out of the bottom of the NL East with a record of 46-69. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances this season, this could still end up being the worst team in franchise history! All time, the Phillies are 57-55-0 on this day.

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