Monday, November 30, 2015

Phillies Flyin’ To End The Month


PHILS PHACTS:
Still Nothing!

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

At Some Point The Phillies Have To Do Something…

Bring back Jamie Moyer! The rotation could use him!
PHILS PHACTS:
Still Nothing!

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Phillies Take Some Time Off


PHILS PHACTS:
A whole lot more of nothing…

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy Birthday J-Roll!


PHILS PHACTS:
No news from the front office or the clubhouse.

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Giving Back On Thanksgiving

PHILS PHACTS:


Phillies Embrace The Holiday – The Phillies started their holiday season Monday in West Philadelphia, where everybody from the Phanatic to broadcaster Scott Franzke to pitcher David Buchanan distributed 2,000 food baskets and turkeys to those in need. The partnership with ShopRite, the Urban Affairs Coalition and numerous local churches and city officials will help feed more than 12,000 people citywide this Thanksgiving. It will be one of the largest distributions ever in the region. "I've gone to food banks and packed up boxes before, but I've never been part of the giving-away process," Buchanan said. "I really enjoyed it. You can see the appreciation from people and you get to see how important this is and how important it is to give to the community." The Phillies had been busy before Monday, too: This year, Phillies Charities, Inc. donated nearly $2 million primarily to local charitable organizations in the Delaware Valley. That figure includes the Phillies Phestival, which is the annual autograph and auction party to fight ALS. The Phestival and the Phantastic Auction raised about $786,000 for the ALS Association to provide patient care and services for ALS patients in the area. Phillies Charities' 50/50 drawing during every game at Citizens Bank Park raised more than $517,000, which was donated to 45 area nonprofit organizations. Part of the contribution included more than $110,000 in grants to 41 charities serving a variety of needs. Eighty-six charities benefited from Phillies Charities fundraising this year. More than 125,000 tickets were donated to local charitable organizations throughout the Philadelphia area. Carlos Ruiz, Aaron Harang, Cliff Lee, Ryne Sandberg and Jonathan Papelbon hosted ticket programs in which they donated tickets, concessions and merchandise to children and adults in need for each home game. Chase Utley's "Chase's Champs" provided full season tickets to children and families at CHOP and St. Christopher's Hospital of Philadelphia. Save a Pet at the Park raised more than $14,000 for the Pennsylvania SPCA. Other events included the annual Phillies Charities 5K and Bike Ride, which contribute to the amount of grants awarded at the end of each year. The Outreach Department packaged thousands of leftover giveaway items for approximately 25 local nonprofit organizations helping less fortunate children and senior citizens during the holiday season. "The Phillies have had a long-standing commitment to giving back to the community for nothing more than it's simply the right thing to do," Phillies vice president of communications Bonnie Clark said. "One of the greatest benefits of being part of this organization is the opportunity to positively impact someone's life. However large or small the gesture is, the feeling of knowing that you've impacted another life is the reward itself."

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Will Frenchy Return To Philly?

PHILS PHACTS:


Will He Be Back? – Jeff Francoeur made his feelings about the Phillies pretty clear late last season. He would love to return for at least another year. But will Francoeur be back? And if not him, who? Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock declined to comment on negotiations with Francoeur, citing a memo from the Commissioner's Office regarding free agency. "I really don't have anything to report," Proefrock said. "But one thing I can speak about is the job Jeff did for us last year and how valuable he was in the clubhouse. He was a good fit as a veteran who understood his role and he was a great influence on our young players." But while sources said the Phillies remain interested in Francoeur, they are exploring other options. They are not expected to be in the running for free-agent outfielders like Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton, Jason Heyward and Alex Gordon, who will receive the most lucrative multiyear deals this offseason. But other everyday and part-time outfielders like Chris Young, Ryan Raburn, David Murphy, Rajai Davis, Alejandro De Aza and Justin Ruggiano might be a fit. Francoeur hit .258 with 16 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs, 45 RBIs and a .718 OPS in 343 plate appearances last season. Off the field, he established himself as a sorely needed vocal leader. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak has said a positive culture in the clubhouse is important to him, but the potential for more production offensively from other outfielders might outweigh that. Certainly the free-agent market has been slow moving to this point, so nothing is imminent, but eventually the Phillies are expected to add at least one veteran outfielder to the 40-man roster because they have too many question marks in the outfield. Whether or not that veteran is Francoeur remains to be seen.

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What Will The Roster Look Like In 2016?

PHILS PHACTS:


More Questions, Fewer Answers – Do you think Ryan Howard will be back next year? -- Matt H., Raleigh, N.C. Now that the Phillies have a new president and general manager, I'm not sure which way they will go with Howard, but I think everybody agrees it would be best to part ways. I'm not sure Howard is happy in Philadelphia. His good friends are gone. He is playing on a losing team and he knows he is not part of its plans once it starts winning again. He also knows the team would have cut him loose already if it had not committed $35 million to him next season ($25 million in salary, plus a $10 million buyout on a 2017 club option). The Phillies have been trying to trade Howard for a long time but have found no takers, despite being willing to eat most of his contract. Perhaps president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and GM Matt Klentak will finally say the deal is a sunk cost, release him and move on. A fresh start might be best for everybody. Of course, the move would be easier if the Phillies had a definite replacement at first base. If the Phillies release Howard, it would be some combination of Darin Ruf and perhaps another left-handed bat in a platoon situation. With so many young players and prospects, are the Phillies subject to what just happened to them? That is, many players reaching their prime at the same time and thus commanding high-dollar, long-term contracts? Is there a way to come to a balance apparently like the Cardinals have done? -- Steve B., Carlisle, Pa. That would be a nice problem to have in a few years, wouldn't it? Let's say Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola, Odubel Herrera, J.P. Crawford, Jake Thompson, Nick Williams, etc., all live up to their potential and become very good players in the near future. How should the Phillies handle that? I think they actually dealt with things well when they bought out the first few years of free agency for players like Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. They got those players in their prime for a relative discount. But things went south when they continued to re-sign those players, despite evidence that their production had started to decline. Partner John Middleton said last month: "One of the criticisms the fans have leveled on the Phillies -- and I think it's justifiable -- is that we didn't recognize early enough and act upon that recognition that the window had closed and we needed to move on. That we were trying to extend guys that were older and trying to create a bridge and we needed to realize that the bridge didn't exist and we needed to move on." In short, the front office should not be sentimental about its star players, no matter how well they performed in the past. Because in the end, fans only want a winner. If I had told fans following the 2011 season that the Phillies would blow up the roster -- despite winning a franchise-record 102 games -- but it would guarantee another World Series title in five years, I bet almost everybody would say, "OK, let's do it." So the problem isn't signing players to long-term contracts or not. If it buys out their first couple years of free agency while they are in their prime, it makes sense. No, the problem is knowing how far to go with those players and realizing when they are on the decline to cut bait and move on. Because Cliff Lee is no longer pitching, would Klentak be open to offering him a pitching-coach position if one came open? -- Jodi S., Portland, Ore. Personally, I don't think Lee would be interested in being a pitching coach.

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Monday, November 23, 2015

It Continues To Be A Slow Off Season


PHILS PHACTS:
Sometime, no news is good news!

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Intricacies Of The Off Season

PHILS PHACTS:


Protected Trio – The Phillies protected three players from the Rule 5 Draft before Friday's 8 p.m. ET deadline. They added outfielder Roman Quinn and right-handers Jimmy Cordero and Edubray Ramos to the 40-man roster. If they had not been placed on the roster, they could have been selected in next month's Rule 5 Draft in Nashville, Tenn. International and high school players signed at age 18 must be added to the 40-man roster within five seasons or they become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Players signed at 19 or older must be added within four seasons. Notable Phillies players not added to the 40-man include outfielder Carlos Tocci and right-hander Alberto Tirado, who rank among the Phillies' Top 30 Prospects, according to MLBPipeline.com. But those two are expected to be placed on the Phillies' Triple-A roster, which means if they are selected, they would have to remain on a team's 25-man roster the entire 2016 season for the Phillies to lose them. That seems unlikely to happen. Quinn, 22, hit .306 with six doubles, six triples, four home runs, 15 RBIs, 29 stolen bases and a .791 OPS in 257 plate appearances last season with Double-A Reading. A torn hip flexor sidelined him for much of the season. The Phillies' No. 6 prospect, Quinn is playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. Cordero, 24, is a hard-thrower acquired from Toronto in July in the Ben Revere trade. He posted a 2.12 ERA in 13 appearances with Reading, striking out 18 in 17 innings. He has thrown 7 1/3 scoreless innings in winter ball in the Dominican. Ramos, 22, posted a combined 2.07 ERA in 47 appearances with Class A Advanced Clearwater and Reading. The Phillies have 37 players on their 40-man roster. They have 40 Minor League players eligible to be selected in the Rule 5, including Tocci, Tirado, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Tommy Joseph, Gabriel Lino, Cameron Perkins and Brock Stassi.

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Another Minor Signing

PHILS PHACTS:


Another Wildcard – The Phillies on Friday added another arm for their bullpen competition in Spring Training, claiming right-hander A.J. Achter off waivers from the Twins. Achter, 27, went 4-2 with a 2.63 ERA and 14 saves in 43 games this season with Triple-A Rochester. The 6-foot-5 pitcher held opponents to a .167 batting average and averaged 8.81 strikeouts per nine innings. He posted a 6.75 ERA in 13 1/3 innings with the Twins after posting a 3.27 ERA in 11 innings with Minnesota in 2014. The Twins originally selected Achter in the 46th round of the 2010 MLB Draft.
Gillick Has Hall Vote – The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced that former Phillies president and general manager Pat Gillick has been named to the 16-member Pre-Integration Era Committee, which will vote on 10 candidates for the Hall of Fame.

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Giles On The Block?

PHILS PHACTS:


Hot Commodity – It seems more and more like Phillies closer Ken Giles will be a hot name this offseason. The Phils have received calls from multiple teams interested in Giles, who went 6-3 with a 1.80 ERA last season. His season included 15 saves in 17 opportunities after late July, when he replaced Jonathan Papelbon as the closer. General manager Matt Klentak said last week at the GM Meetings that "it's not a goal" to trade Giles, but he also acknowledged "we're trying to be opportunistic at every turn and trying not to operate in absolutes." FOXSports.com reported Thursday that the Marlins and Astros are just a couple of the teams to inquire about Giles. It only makes sense for the Phillies to listen, especially after the package the Padres netted from the Red Sox on Friday for closer Craig Kimbrel. Boston sent San Diego four prospects, including outfielder Manuel Margot and shortstop Javier Guerra. They are the No. 25 and No. 76 prospects in baseball, respectively, according to MLBPipeline.com. The other two prospects -- infielder Carlos Asuaje and left-hander Logan Allen -- ranked among Boston's Top 30 Prospects. In theory, Giles could fetch a similar package because he is paid significantly less than Kimbrel and cannot become a free agent until after the 2020 season. Kimbrel will make $11 million in 2016, $13 million in '17 and has a $13 million club option, with a $1 million buyout, for '18. Of course, Kimbrel has a much longer track record than Giles. But because the Phils are not obligated to trade Giles like some of their veterans from last season (Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Papelbon, etc.), they can hold out for what they want. That should keep the asking price high. "I think Ken is terrific," Klentak said. "He's great in his role. We want to hold the leads we can hold, but I don't want to categorically say we will or we won't do anything."

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

DR Updates And Spring Training Invites

PHILS PHACTS:


Adding Depth To The Competition – The Phillies on Wednesday announced they had signed five players to Minor League contracts with non-roster invitations to Spring Training. They signed infielders Emmanuel Burriss and Ryan Jackson and right-handers Frank Herrmann, Chris Leroux and Reinier Roibal. Burriss, 30, spent last season in the Nationals' system. He hit .279 with a .341 on-base percentage with Triple-A Syracuse. Burriss played five games for Washington. He has played 282 big league games, spending 2008-12 with the Giants. Burriss has a career .578 OPS in 806 plate appearances. Jackson, 27, appeared in 22 games last season with the Angels. He has 39 plate appearances in 42 games in parts of three seasons with the Cardinals and Angels. Herrmann, 31, has appeared in 95 big league games with the Indians, but none since 2012. He went 4-2 with a 3.76 ERA in 44 appearances last season with Triple-A Salt Lake and Indianapolis. Leroux, 31, spent the majority of last season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley and Colorado Springs. He posted a 3.90 ERA in 85 1/3 innings. Leroux has a 6.03 ERA in 65 career appearances with the Marlins, Pirates and Yankees. Roibal, 26, had a 1.64 ERA in 31 games with Class A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. He is 11-6 with a 2.62 ERA in his four-year Minor League career.


DR Updates – In the future, the Phillies imagine a hulking corner outfielder in the middle of their lineup, hitting home runs like Ryan Howard in his prime. But Jhailyn Ortiz is a long way away from the Majors. The Phillies signed Ortiz to a $4 million signing bonus in July. He is 6-foot-3, 240 pounds and strong. But Ortiz also is just 16, which means he is several years away from reaching Philadelphia. Phils player development director Joe Jordan recently visited the Dominican Republic and got another look at Ortiz, who MLB.com ranked as the eighth-best prospect in this year's international free-agent class. "I believe we saw a lot of what our scouts saw and liked," Jordan said. "He had a really good week. I really believe that the kid has a chance to be a good hitter. He's 16 years old, but he did some things that I thought were a little advanced. He had a good two-strike approach. He really hit some balls hard. "Balls just come off his bat differently than almost all of the kids down there. It was a very impressive week, but we've got a lot of work to do." Of course, handing a $4 million signing bonus to a 16-year-old kid is a considerable risk. But former Phillies president and general manager Pat Gillick frequently said teams cannot be afraid to take such risks. Can't win big without occasionally betting big. "We just need some time with him," Jordan said about Ortiz. "He can really throw. He's got an above-average arm. He's going to have accuracy. He's athletic for his size. Over the next couple years, we're going to reshape him a little bit, reshape his body. He's just a young kid that we've got to firm up, but he is athletic for his size. I saw a lot of good things." Alfaro ready to go: Catcher Jorge Alfaro is scheduled to leave Clearwater, Fla., this week and head home to Colombia for a few days before heading to Venezuela to play winter ball. The Phillies acquired Alfaro, 22, in July in the Cole Hamels trade. He is considered the Phils' No. 4 prospect and the No. 59 prospect in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com. Alfaro spent most of the season recovering from surgery on his left ankle, but he is ready to play. "He looks good," Jordan said. "He is ready to go. We need to get him on the field. He needs to play for a while and knock off some rust. Physically, he has everything you're looking for, but we need to see him play."

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Franco Already Getting Ready For 2016

PHILS PHACTS:


Ready For The Winter? – So where has Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco been lately? Franco played the final three games of the 2015 regular season following a nearly two-month stint on the disabled list with a broken left wrist. He is scheduled to begin playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic with Gigantes del Ciabo as early as this week. "He took some time off, but he's supposed to be out there any day," Phils player development director Joe Jordan said Tuesday afternoon. Franco, 23, hit .280 with 22 doubles, one triple, 14 home runs, 50 RBIs and an .840 OPS in 335 plate appearances this season. He is a lock to be Philadelphia's 2016 Opening Day third baseman, provided he is healthy.


One Day, Three Teams – Baseball fans and pundits love to debate who they'd like to build a franchise around, if they were given the opportunity to do so. But on this day in 1997, the D-backs and the Rays actually had that opportunity in the MLB Expansion Draft. With the sixth pick in that draft, the then-Devil Rays selected a Venezuelan outfielder named Bobby Abreu (the Astros left him unprotected in favor of fellow Venezuelan outfielder Richard Hidalgo). Before Abreu could even pack his bags for sunny Tampa, however, the Rays turned around and traded him to the Phillies for shortstop Kevin Stocker. Within the span of about four hours, Abreu was an Astro and then a Devil Ray and then a Phillie. Over the next nine seasons, Abreu played in 1,353 games for the Phils and accumulated 1,474 hits before he was traded to the Yankees in 2006. He finished his career with 2,470 hits, 288 home runs, two All-Star appearances, a Gold Glove Award, a Silver Slugger Award and one incredible Home Run Derby performance.

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Questions Abound This Offseason

PHILS PHACTS:


More Questions About The Rebuild – Do the Phillies have a target date for when they think they'll be playoff-ready? Are they looking for short-term free agents or building blocks this year? -- Bill S., Centennial, Colo. Matt Klentak has been asked a lot of questions since he became the Phillies' general manager, but it seems no question has been asked more than this one. People want to know when the Phils will be good again. It is understandable, but it also is impossible to answer. Why? Because nobody truly knows. The Phillies can hope they can contend as early as 2017, but that hope could crumble if players like Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff experience setbacks, or if prospects like J.P. Crawford, Jake Thompson, Nick Williams, Andrew Knapp and Jorge Alfaro sustain injuries or don't pan out. So why would Klentak or anybody else with the Phils give a definitive date for when the club will be a contender? The Phillies first need to see improvement from their young players and prospects in 2016. And that is why they will probably acquire more short- than long-term solutions this offseason. It just doesn't make sense to sign a few players to lucrative multiyear deals when the Phils aren't certain about where their building blocks will be in a couple of years. How does Jeremy Hellickson help the Phillies next season? -- Jimmy C., Philadelphia. Simply put, Hellickson provides depth to the rotation. He is a veteran, but he also is just 28. So it isn't like Hellickson is at the tail end of his career. He went 22-27 with a 4.86 ERA in 72 appearances (71 starts) the previous three seasons. That isn't good -- consider that Aaron Harang posted a 4.86 ERA last season -- but the Phillies are rolling the dice, hoping that Hellickson can have a bounce-back year as he enters free agency. If he does, great. If he doesn't, they didn't lose much by trying. The Phillies didn't commit to more than one year of Hellickson. Based on Twitter and email, fans seemed to respond pretty positively to this acquisition. The ones that didn't either want the Phils to go out and get pitchers like Zack Greinke (which makes no sense, in my opinion -- see my answer to the first question) or they believe Philadelphia should be able to acquire young, controllable aces by Klentak performing some sort of Jedi mind trick on opposing GMs. That just isn't reality. Is trading Ken Giles this offseason really a good idea? I know he could net a huge return, but what if the Phillies pull a miraculous worst-to-first and make the World Series next year? Who's going to nail down that ninth inning? Would he be as good as Giles? -- Brett L., Broomall, Pa. First, trading anybody is a good idea if the return is right. It's not like the Phillies are going to trade Giles for a marginal player. They would only trade him if they believe they are getting a significant return. In my opinion, it's negligent not to be open to those possibilities. Second, you have to play the percentages here. You don't stop yourself from trading somebody on the very, very small chance the Phillies go from worst to first. In that scenario, nearly everything would have to go much better than expected next season. And if everything goes much better than expected, it probably means they already found somebody to replace Giles. I wouldn't worry about it. Giles won't get traded unless the Phils like the return. I've never been to Clearwater. Is it worth a trip this spring? -- Chelsea D., Philadelphia. Absolutely. Spring Training is fun for fans, regardless of the team's expectations. Clearwater, Fla., is a great place to visit in March. The ballpark is fantastic, and there is something cool about leaving home and being surrounded by fellow Phillies fans. Did I mention the weather and the fact the ballpark is great? Just make sure to get a grouper sandwich at Frenchy's while you're there.

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Phillies Pursuing Quantity Over Quality

PHILS PHACTS:


Taking A Flyer on Hellickson – Phillies general manager Matt Klentak is fulfilling his promise of acquiring as much pitching as possible before next season. The Phillies announced Saturday afternoon they had acquired right-hander Jeremy Hellickson from the D-backs for Minor League pitcher Sam McWilliams, who was ranked as the No. 27 prospect in the Phillies' system by MLBPipeline.com. Hellickson, 28, went 9-12 with a 4.62 ERA in 27 starts last season. "This offseason we made it a priority to add a stabilizing influence to our young rotation, and we think we found that guy in Jeremy," Klentak said in a telephone interview. "I think one of the things on top of the obvious is that he's a veteran guy, but still just 28 years old. He'll pitch at 29 this season, so we're excited that he's still in his prime. And more than anything, he's a competitor. He wants the ball. We've talked about building an environment and we think he'll be a very positive influence on our staff." Hellickson, who won the 2011 American League Rookie of the Year Award with the Rays, can become a free agent after the 2016 season. The Phillies are hoping for a bounceback year from Hellickson before he hits the market, much like they hope for from recently acquired relievers Dan Otero and James Russell. "I think that's right," Klentak said. "We offer an opportunity to players to come in and get back to the form they've shown in the past. And that's probably true all three of those players. We like what he has done in his career. He's a good fit for us." Hellickson went 22-27 with a 4.86 ERA in 72 appearances (71 starts) the previous three seasons, but he provides the Phillies a sorely needed veteran presence in their rotation. Free agents Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams, Chad Billingsley and Cliff Lee are not expected to return, which leaves the Phillies with a host of young and inexperienced starters like Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Adam Morgan, David Buchanan and Alec Asher. Hellickson figures to be the first of at least one or two more veteran starters the Phillies will acquire this offseason. "We're open to anything," Klentak said. "This doesn't preclude us pursuing anything. We'll continue be open minded. We felt adding him early as a stabilizing influence made sense. I think pitching depth can be built a lot of ways. We acquired one on a waiver claim [Otero], one on a Minor League contract [Russell] and one in a big league trade [Hellickson]. That will continue to be a goal." The Phillies selected McWilliams in the eighth round of the 2014 MLB Draft. He went a combined 2-5 with a 4.19 ERA in 16 games (12 starts) the past two seasons with the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Phillies.

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Phanatic Has A Long Way To Go…

PHILS PHACTS:


Phanatic Going The Distance – The Phanatic is a creature of many talents: He's a thespian, a comedian, a troll, a college football analyst, an edible projectile expert ... and an athlete? Beneath that furry green belly that shakes and wiggles to the beat of the stadium music must be an eight-pack of rock-hard abs because the Phanatic recently completed a Spartan Race at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies are hosting their third annual Spartan Race on Saturday and the Phanatic got a bit of a head start, scaling walls and swinging on ropes as he moved through the course that makes use of existing structures and features obstacles created especially for the event. OK, so maybe the Phanatic could stand to take a CrossFit class or 12. Still, though, pretty solid effort considering his belly is big enough to be used as a prop during dance numbers.

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Getting Ready For The Spring Competition

PHILS PHACTS:


Possibilities Aplenty – Matt Klentak finished his first General Managers Meetings this week in Boca Raton, Fla., setting up his first Winter Meetings next month in Nashville, Tenn. Klentak discussed numerous Phillies issues with reporters, including the possibility of trading closer Ken Giles and the importance of the international market. But he talked about much more than that: Alfaro and Knapp: Two of the top prospects in the Phillies' system are catchers Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp. The Phils acquired Alfaro from the Rangers in the Cole Hamels trade this past summer. MLBPipeline.com ranks him the 59th-best prospect in baseball. Philadelphia named Knapp its Minor League Player of the Year. The Phillies hope one of them develops into a front-line catcher. Of course, in a perfect world, both develop into top catchers and the Phils have a nice problem on their hands. But nobody is losing sleep about that possibility just yet. "We like having a lot of good players," Klentak said. "If they're at the same position, that's OK. "I want to try to think as open-mindedly and creatively as I can. We don't necessarily have to have the starting player-backup player. Maybe there's a more creative solution to that long term. Look, I hope both these guys are so good this becomes an issue. But for now, we're pleased with their development and their talent." A prospect-laden Spring Training: This could be one of the Phillies' most interesting Spring Trainings in years, because they may have a host of top prospects in the clubhouse. That group includes J.P. Crawford, Jake Thompson, Nick Williams, Knapp and Alfaro. "I think as a general rule, if there is a player that has a reasonable chance to impact your Major League club in the upcoming Major League season, having that player around the big league club, around the big league staff in Spring Training, tends to be a good rule of thumb," Klentak said. "That doesn't mean you'll do it every time. Sometimes you'll have popup guys that you didn't expect. Or sometimes you might have a good reason to not invite a guy to camp. But I think as a general rule, if you're that close, and there's a reasonable expectation of being in the big leagues, that's probably someone you should at least consider bringing to camp." Klentak, like many, is eager to get his first close-up look at those players. "I've studied up on them," Klentak said. "I've listened to people talk about them. I've read scouting reports. I've watched video on these players. But there's nothing like actually getting down behind the cage and watching them take swings or watching them pick up ground balls." Remember MAG? The Phillies signed Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a three-year, $12 million contract in August 2013, making next season the final year of his contract. It would be surprising if he significantly contributed, considering his checkered health history. That said, if Gonzalez is healthy, he will get an opportunity to compete for a job. "If he's performing and he gives us the best chance to win, just like with any other player, we will give that player the chance to go out and compete," Klentak said. "If he doesn't, just as if anybody else doesn't, we're going to find the best guys to take the field and give us a chance to win." But one thing is certain: Gonzalez won't get a longer leash because he is set to be paid $4 million next year. "I mean, we're paying him regardless," Klentak said. "We're in the business of winning baseball games. And this is no knock on the player. If he's the best guy for the job, we'll give him the chance." Extra bases: Klentak said he expects left-hander Mario Hollands to contribute in the bullpen next season. Hollands had Tommy John surgery April 8; Left-hander Matt Harrison is on the 40-man roster, but it is unclear if he will compete for a job. Harrison had spinal fusion surgery in 2014, and his recovery has been slow.

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Rebuild Begins With… A Veteran Signing?

PHILS PHACTS:


Adding Some Bullpen Competition – The Phillies added a veteran arm to their pitching mix on Thursday, when they agreed to terms with left-hander James Russell on a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. The 29-year-old registered a 0-2 record with a 5.29 ERA in 49 appearances for the Cubs last season. Russell, a veteran of six big league seasons, posted a 3.26 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 217 games with the Cubs and Braves over a three-year run between 2012-14. Russell was drafted and developed by the Cubs, traded to Atlanta in 2014, and re-signed with Chicago last April. A 14th-round selection in the 2007 Draft, Russell is the son of former All-Star Jeff Russell, and he's posted a 10-18 record with a 3.90 ERA in 387 career appearances. Russell has just four career saves, but he's finished 70 of the 387 games in which he's appeared in the Major Leagues.

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Picking A Direction

PHILS PHACTS:


More Than One Way – It has become the annual tradition in baseball that the most recent World Series champion is the latest model franchise. Teams looking to win a World Series must follow the champ's path to glory. Of course, the reality is there are numerous ways to build a World Series champion. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak understands that. He is at the General Managers Meetings this week in Boca Raton, Fla., trying to carve his own path to a title. "What I've learned from the Royals is there's no one way to do it," Klentak said Wednesday afternoon. "The way that they won the last couple years has been unique, relative to how teams have built over the last ... decade or so. And that's encouraging, right? That works for them. The Mets' style worked for them this year. The Cubs' style is working, the Astros' [style] -- again, a very different style that's working for them. That's very positive. "It can turn on a dime if you're disciplined, if you're organized. If players are developing and you're accurate in the projections of when those guys are going to reach their ceilings or start to achieve at the big league level, it can turn quickly. But you have to be disciplined. You have to be prepared for when that day comes." The international market remains an excellent way to acquire talent. There are big buys and bargains everywhere, and because the Phils finished the 2015 season with the worst record in baseball, they will have the biggest international signing-bonus pool next summer. The D-backs had more than $5.3 million in their pool this year, which was the largest in baseball. "I think it's critical to any operation," Klentak said of the international market. "The way that baseball has evolved over time, and the way that the Collective Bargaining Agreement has been set up, it really minimizes the areas where we can add talent. One of the areas we can do that is via the international market. "As I've said before, I don't like to operate in absolutes. But it is paramount that we take advantage of situations like that to bring talent into our system. Understanding that when you're talking about kids at that age, from the Dominican Republic, from Venezuela, it's going to take a long time for a lot of those players to get there. But we still have to do that. We have to create waves of players that will feed this team three, four, five, six, 10 years down the line, because we don't know where we'll be three, four, five, six, 10 years down the line. We need to make sure we've got steady waves of players coming, and that's true of the Draft. It's really true of the few areas that are still available to us to bring in players." This past summer, the Phillies signed Dominican outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz to a $4 million bonus, but they have found bargains along the way, too. Carlos Ruiz famously signed for just $8,000 in 1998. Maikel Franco looks like steal for the $100,000 bonus he signed in 2010. "It depends on that particular market, as with free agency, as with the Draft," Klentak said. "Do you spread out your dollars over multiple or do you invest in one big-ticket item? "I do believe, generally, in the idea of volume. Nobody in this industry is so smart that they know exactly who's going to be good, who's not going to be good, when they're going to develop and who's going to get hurt. That's just the reality of baseball. "So I do believe in the approach of adding as many talented players as we possibly can. But having said that, I wouldn't rule out the possibility of spending a large percentage of the pool on one player, because sometimes the player is just that good." If it works, perhaps everybody will be talking about the Phils as baseball's model franchise once again.

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Lauded GM Open To Talking About Everyone

PHILS PHACTS:


Open To Anything – Everybody knows that Phillies general manager Matt Klentak has a lengthy to-do list. It starts with improving the pitching staff. It won't be easy, so Klentak has to be open to any means of improvement, which includes trading some of the club's young talent, possibly even closer Ken Giles. "The biggest thing is we need to add innings to our rotation to help protect our kids," Klentak told reporters on Tuesday at the General Managers Meetings in Boca Raton, Fla. "That's going to be important. We'll be opportunistic in terms of how many and who they are. I don't want to put a number on it. But you know what we ended the season with and who was in our rotation, and who walked away." Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams, Chad Billingsley and Cliff Lee are free agents. None are expected to return. Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff are heavy favorites for two 2016 rotation jobs. Adam Morgan, David Buchanan and Alec Asher will be competing for spots, too. Philadelphia could pursue free-agent starters like Doug Fister, J.A. Happ and Bartolo Colon this offseason, and it could try to trade for pitching, too. Giles could help the Phillies acquire more young talent for the rotation, bullpen or elsewhere. The Phils already have received calls from teams about Giles. "It's not a goal," Klentak said about trading their closer. "We're trying as much as possible to collect as many good young controllable quality players as we can. But as I said last week and probably the week before that, we're trying to be opportunistic at every turn and trying not to operate in absolutes. I think Ken is terrific. He's great in his role. We want to hold the leads we can hold, but I don't want to categorically say we will or we won't do anything. "I think we do need to be conscious, regardless of how many games we win next year, of making sure from a morale perspective we are winning the games that we are in a position to win, and I think having a good bullpen in general is critical to that. And I will also say, when you ask, 'Is it a luxury?', I think it's a little different when you're talking about a guy with one year of service time. If you were talking about a pending free agent, then, yeah, that might be a slightly different situation. But Ken Giles, if he's here, can very easily be a part of our future, so I think we have to account for that in our thinking." The Phillies also need to find some outfield depth. Jeff Francoeur is a free agent. He performed well in a part-time role, but performed even better as a leader in the clubhouse. "We've been talking to him," Klentak said. "The guys that are our own players, we've had the luxury to talk with them longer, so yeah we're not ruling anybody out. "We have room on our 40-man [roster] to add. Some of that will come through Rule 5 [Draft] protections, and some will come through waiver claims or free-agent signings or trades. There's a lot of room for growth on our roster in general, and I have no doubt that at least one of those spots will go to an outfielder."



GM Praised By Former Boss – Jerry Dipoto knows Matt Klentak's strengths and weaknesses as well as anybody. Dipoto hired Klentak as assistant general manager with the Angels before the 2012 season. They worked together through July, when Dipoto resigned as the Angels' GM. Dipoto, who is now the Mariners' GM, spoke on Tuesday at the General Managers Meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., about Klentak landing the Phillies' GM job. "Matt is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get guy," Dipoto said. "He is a wonderfully nice guy. He's extremely intelligent. Good family guy. He knows the baseball rules inside and out. I think one thing you'll not see, he's a ferocious negotiator. He's very good in that milieu. "He has a good feel for players. I guess most importantly, Matt is a listener. He listens to the people around him. So what is being said, he will absorb. He'll do a great job." Dipoto confirmed what others have said about Klentak before and since Phillies president Andy MacPhail hired the GM: Klentak is a well-balanced decision maker. He might not have a scouting and player development background, but Klentak listens and gets along well with those people. "Matt was always a part of what we were discussing in scouting and player development," Klentak said. "So when we were laying out player plans for guys at the lowest levels in the Minor Leagues, he sees how that develops. He didn't spend much time out in the field, but his last two years, we did get him out and he started scouting and watching players. He would sit in the Draft room every year, go through the Draft and see how we stacked players up. Why we would choose this player here and that player there. "He was probably our go-to guy in understanding how to best balance the Draft pool money, which is a more complex thing than maybe your average cross-checker was able to designate. Matt was pivotal, he was our spearhead, in salary arbitration. He was a go-to guy for me. We would split up contract negotiations almost 50-50. He would take this half and I would take the other." Dipoto said Klentak Also was heavily involved in every free-agent contract the Angels signed from 2012-15. "I don't know if I would have survived the four years without him," Dipoto said. "I would ask his opinion on anything. A lot of times, I would not do things because he would be anti that move. I'd bounce things off him. Our offices were very close to one another, so I'd just walk in with a baseball bat, start taking swings, and sometimes he'd tell me I was crazy and sometimes he'd tell me that was something he thought we should try. … I think Matt understands where the Phillies are in their progression right now, where they need to go, and he'll make good, balanced decisions that incorporate the people around him."

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Would Schilling Be Inducted As A Phillie?

PHILS PHACTS:


Once again, beat reporter Todd Zolecki answers Phillies fans' questions including whether or not the team should be fishing in the free agent pool or focusing on taking the floaties off of their young talent. The full Q&A can be read/watched here.


An Interesting HOF Ballot This Year – Under new voting rules established this summer by the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the annual Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot was released Monday on the earliest date in recent history. Ken Griffey Jr. and his 630 homers and Trevor Hoffman and his National League-record 601 saves are the top candidates among a bevy of first-time qualifiers for the Class of 2016. Billy Wagner, who had 422 saves in 16 seasons for five teams, is another significant new name on the ballot. Mike Piazza (69.9 percent of the vote last year), Jeff Bagwell (55.7 percent) and Tim Raines (55 percent) are the returnees with the best chances of being elected this time around. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held on July 24 in Cooperstown, N.Y. Griffey was selected first overall as a 17-year-old in the 1987 Draft and went on to play his first 13 seasons for the Mariners, ending his 22-year career with them in 2010. He batted .284 and produced 1,836 RBIs. Along the way, Griffey played parts of nine seasons with the Reds and part of one with the White Sox before returning to the Mariners for the final two. Griffey was a four-time American League home run champion, hitting 56 homers in back-to-back seasons in 1997-98, and he won the AL MVP Award in '97 and was a 13-time All-Star. Griffey would be both the first Mariner and the first No. 1 overall Draft pick to be inducted. "I am truly honored and humbled to be associated with these people here," Griffey said when he was inducted into the Mariners' Hall of Fame in 2013. "I may have sometimes been standoffish; I didn't mean to. I just wanted to play baseball. That's the only thing that mattered: playing and winning ballgames for this team. I want to thank all of you, and the Mariners organization, for letting me be part of something special. I just want to say thank you." Hoffman would be the third player to go into the Hall with an interlocking SD on his plaque. Dave Winfield and the late Tony Gwynn are the others. Hoffman had a 2.87 ERA and 61 wins in 1,035 games, plus a career-high 53 saves in 54 opportunities for a 1998 Padres club that lost to the Yankees in the World Series. "I know it would be a nice little bow tie if it would happen and to have the All-Star Game in San Diego the same year," Hoffman, who pitched 16 of his 18 big league seasons for the Padres, said in noting that the Midsummer Classic is to be played at Petco Park on July 12. "That would be amazing." Among the other newcomers on the latest ballot are Garret Anderson, David Eckstein, Jim Edmonds, Luis Castillo, Troy Glaus, Mike Lowell and Mike Sweeney. The BBWAA ballot announcement commences the Hall of Fame voting season that includes elections by the 16-member Pre-Integration Committee and nominees for the Ford C. Frick Award and the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, all slated to be unveiled at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., from Dec. 7-10. This year's version of the Veterans Committee will vote on six players, three executives and an organizer who were all active in baseball prior to Jackie Robinson breaking Major League Baseball's color barrier in 1947. The Frick Award voters will pick a baseball announcer who was a pioneer during that same period. The BBWAA honors a writer with the Spink Award for meritorious contributions to the baseball writing profession. The new rules for the BBWAA ballot winnowed the rolls by about 125 voters, a Hall official said. While 625 ballots were sent out last year, about 475 were put in the mail on Monday. The ballots historically had been mailed just prior to Thanksgiving and had to be returned by New Year's Day. Voters will now have until Dec. 24 to mail their ballots. The results are to be revealed on MLB Network on Jan. 6, with a news conference involving any of the electees to be held the following day. In the past, all members of the BBWAA with more than 10 consecutive years of membership received a ballot. Under the new rules passed in July by the Hall's board of directors, members who have not actively been a member of the BBWAA for 10 years must apply every year for their ballot. The Hall then determines by the number of games an applicant covered in the previous season whether to issue a ballot. As always, a candidate must have his name written on 75 percent of the ballots to be elected, and the electorate can vote for as many as 10 players. In another change, the Hall will release a roster of all voters, but not how they voted. It's up to each individual whether to release his or her ballot. The BBWAA was established in 1908 and has been voting players into the Hall of Fame since elections began in 1936. It remains to be seen what kind of impact a smaller group of voters will have on the election. In the last election, 549 ballots were cast and a player needed 412 votes to be elected. Piazza, now in his fourth year on the ballot, fell 38 votes short last year. Bagwell and Raines fell 106 and 110 votes short, respectively. Returnees Curt Schilling (39.2 percent), Roger Clemens (37.5), Barry Bonds (36.8) and Mike Mussina (24.6) are much further out. Like Piazza, Schilling, Bonds and Clemens are in their fourth year of eligibility. Others who received sufficient support to remain on the ballot for 2016 are first basemen Fred McGriff and Mark McGwire; second baseman Jeff Kent; third baseman-designated hitter Edgar Martinez; infielder Nomar Garciaparra; and outfielders Larry Walker, Gary Sheffield and Sammy Sosa. Another rule change seriously affects Raines, who is going into his ninth and next-to-last year on the BBWAA ballot. In the past, BBWAA eligibility was for as long as 15 years, but the Hall shortened that period by five years in 2014, grandfathering in three players who were already in the 11- to 15-year range: Don Mattingly, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell. It is also McGwire's final year on the ballot. Mattingly's BBWAA eligibility ended with the last ballot. On this one, Trammell is in his 15th and final year and Smith his 14th. Smith received 30.2 percent of the vote and Trammell 25.1 percent last time. A player must reach at least a five-percent threshold to be carried over to the next ballot until his 10 years of eligibility expires. The ballot: Garret Anderson, Brad Ausmus, Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Luis Castillo, Roger Clemens, David Eckstein, Jim Edmonds, Nomar Garciaparra, Troy Glaus, Ken Griffey Jr., Mark Grudzielanek, Mike Hampton, Trevor Hoffman, Jason Kendall, Jeff Kent, Mike Lowell, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Mike Mussina, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Lee Smith, Sammy Sosa, Mike Sweeney, Alan Trammell, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker, Randy Winn.

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

Monday, November 9, 2015

How Many Of These Phillies Do You Remember?

PHILS PHACTS:
The Phillies begin the week with a heaping pile of nothing.

THE BEGINNING:
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.