Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hit or miss: Phillies 2015 season

Last season was a rough one for the Philadelphia Phillies. With a record that read 73-89 it did not come as too much of a surprise to find them rooted to the bottom of the National League East. Whilst that was a bad year, people are already suggesting that the one to come is going to be even worse. Bookmakers Betfair currently have the Phillies at 100/1 to win the World Series. Together with the Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks, we have all been written off. So can our team upset the bookies odds and have a fairly successful season, or will Citizens Bank Park again be invaded by mediocrity and disappointment?

The Squad

Phillies at the Orioles by Keith Allison / flickr

To start with let’s look at the core, the squad. The biggest talking point is naturally the departure of Jimmy Rollins to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Coming in his place were Tom Windle and Zach Eflin; two young and relatively inexperienced pitchers. Rollins is very much a double-edged sword. On the one hand you have a player who has spent all his career with the Phillies, was the National League MVP in 2007, a three-time All-Star shortstop, the franchise leader in hits - at-bats and doubles - whilst his role in the victorious World Series 2008 team can never be underestimated. On the other hand there is a drastic need to modernize. Rollins has sentimental value to Philadelphia fans but does he really have a practical use at 36-years-old? If Rollins had remained with the team he would have cost them $11 million. That is money that could be used to bring in hot prospects.

Jimmy Rollins by Matthew Straubmuller / flickr

With the decision from management being to trade Rollins it did make you beg the question about Cole Hamels’ availability, although it has since been all but confirmed that the 31-year-old is available. The pitcher is one of the hottest commodities available in the MLB right now. As a three-time All-Star it is only natural that teams like the Yankees, Padres and Dodgers are sniffing around. Losing Rollins was bearable but what sort of shape is the squad going to be in without Hamels? Not a very good one. Efficiency was missing in so many Phillies players last season and only a few could truly hold their head up.

Cole Hamels by hueytaxi / flickr

One of those few was Hamels, who, despite how lacklustre the side around him could be at times, managed to finish sixth in the Cy Young voting. With their strongest component increasingly looking likely to jump ship it is imperative that the Phillies replace him with the right player. Signing Wandy Rodriguez is a gamble and one that could go either way. He is a pitcher who has proven that he can cut it in the past. He was a member of the Houston Astros 2005 World Series team and, although he hasn’t been at his best in recent years, he does still show glimpses and could be an attacking force. Unfortunately, all this talk is just theoretical baseball chatter. Hamels is a World Series-winning pitcher, although he will never do that again with us, whilst Rodriguez is someone who comes in at 36-years-old with his talent depleting by the innings.

Rodriguez is not the answer, but there is pitching talent in the younger players of the Phillies outfit. Granted, they will need to be blooded and shouldn’t be rushed, but trial by fire can be of extreme advantage. A lot of attention will be paid to Aaron Nola’s progress. The 21-year-old, who was drafted No. 7 by Philadelphia, will be expected to blitz through the minor leagues. It borders on the absurd to be thinking that Nola will be able to perform to the levels that Hamels achieves, but if the lad is given a chance in the big leagues then it would certainly speed up his improvement. Nola has the makings of a great pitcher, it’s just about making sure that he doesn’t get stuck in the minors for too long.

All in all, when it comes to the squad it is undeniably weaker. There are positives to be found, the club are looking towards younger players and expect there to be many more of them to come into the club as the older players are moved on. This season the improvements and benefits of this transfer policy will be highly unlikely to see, but the creating of a solid bedrock will be more than evident. If management bring in enough high-quality, hungry, young players then the side will grow together and before you know it will be back to performing like a cohesive unit.

Ryne Sandberg was brought in in 2013 after the club’s hierarchy ended Charlie Manuel’s eight-year tenure. It was a decision that did split some fans, many of which Sandberg has failed to truly convince. There are those that believe his handling of the Rollins situation was the right thing to do and there are those that believe it to be stupid ostracizing one of your greatest assets.

Ryne Sandberg by Tom Hagerty / flickr

Regardless of his dealings with Rollins there is still one undeniable fact; Rollins is unproven at the top. Yes, his time in the lower leagues saw him take the Lehigh Valley IronPigs to their first ever playoff appearance and International League championship in 2011, a feat that saw him justly named Baseball America’s Minor League Coach of the Year.
Here is a coach who may have an impressive resume, a resume that deserves to have a shot in the big leagues. Besides his success with the IronPigs, Sandberg is a Hall of Famer and a World Series MVP. However, for all the glory he has had in his past career it counts for nothing. You cannot live off reputation, you need to bring results. Something that last year Sandberg failed to do.
However, there is a much bigger picture going on with the Phillies than just the results, and this is something that Sandberg is very much vested in. You get sick of saying it but the need for youngsters is huge, and with his wealth of minor league baseball knowledge it is safe to say that Sandberg knows how to bring the best out of young talent.
Much like the team, Sandberg needs to become part of the bedrock. No, he won’t do particularly well this year, but he will be forging the start of something. The coach and the team have to be as one, getting rid of one completely disrupts the harmony of the other. If the Phillies are to get the best out of this partnership then they have to allow it time to grow.
So management won’t be doing much this year to put a smile on the faces of Philadelphia fans, but they will hopefully be building a playoff contending team. 

Beating the Mets
The relationship we share with the New York Mets is one of the hottest in the MLB. A poor season can always be made slightly better by beating the Mets. Although the bookmakers favour the Mets over the Phillies in the World Series betting, they don’t have faith in either. In essence, we are both as bad as each other.
Last season it was the Mets who came off the better. This season let us hope that won’t re-occur. The Mets are more than beatable and the Phillies owe us one.

Philadelphia is very much a fixer-upper. It has all the grandeur and iconography of a lovely old home, but it also has the rotting deadwood inside. Here is a great team that just needs to be made great again. The only way to do that is to modernise. This season is not going to be particularly favourable for Phillies fans, but the project has an end goal that makes all this pain bearable.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas to you

Merry Christmas to all the readers of FightinPhillies.com and listeners of the Phillies Talk Podcast, the most listened to independent internet broadcast about the Phillies.

For old time sake, let's all remember J Hustle just one more time for the holiday! Thanks for everything Jimmy!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fleeing Phillies to leave much different team

Ruben Amaro wants to be plain that now since he's made plenty of errors with the make up of the team in the last few years, he's rolling out the 'see you later' spiel to any other long time Phillie on the team

Jimmy Rollins is now gone from the Phillies. He's in the hills of LA with the Dodgers with a much better Dodger team.

You can say what you want about Rollins in terms of his hustling in the last couple of years. He's been admonished for not running every play out, and just generally not giving it his all when he is on the field sometimes. One thing that not a lot of people talk about is his 'team' centric mentality.

Rollins seemed to embrace the team mentality, not just the 'me' mentality.

Cole Hamels was very much the same, he embraces the team theme most of the time. Now, he's thinking about leaving that former World Series winning team to go somewhere else, according to many trade reports from around the league. He's due nearly $100M dollars from the Phils in the next 4 seasons.

Who will be the next long time Phillie to leave the team?

Friday, December 19, 2014

It's taken long, but Rollins will be a Dodger for 2015

Rollins will have to fill his locker up with new blue spikes soon, his red ones will be from his 'old' team

In what has to be one of the longest trades to be completed in recent Phillies history, Jimmy Rollins is all but sure to be a Dodger for 2015. That is what all the 'experts' are saying.

The deal hasn't been announced as official as of this morning, but that announcement could come soon as Rollins is a man in the middle right now.

Even Jimmy's twitter page still reflects he is with the Phillies, but he hasn't said a word about the trade in twitter or public for that matter.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Mayberry Jr. to play for the Mets in '15

John Mayberry Jr. leaving the confines of Toronto for New York in '15

A signing by the New York Mets will have John Mayberry Jr. coming back to Philadelphia to not play for the Phillies again, but he will be in a Mets uniform as the Metropolitans picked up Mayberry pending a physical.

Now the fans in New York will have a nice chance to see the ex-Phillies player who we expected to do a lot better in his career, but never blossomed into that semi-star that perhaps a few tweaks to his game he could have been.

John Mayberry Jr and Domonic Brown were touted as being the next big stars that the Phillies would cultivate from their own farm system, but neither one really took off, although Brown did find his swing briefly and started hitting home runs faster than Ryan Howard for a short time a few seasons ago.

Ruben Amaro Jr. and John Mayberry are both alumni from Stanford University, and that's what a lot of people said helped keep Mayberry on the Phillies roster through his tougher times in his early career.

If Mayberry can get back to his double digit home runs that he has hit in 3 seasons in a row from 2011-2013, he'll be a welcome addition to that Mets team. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rollins going out to the sun and fun of LA?

Well so much for a quiet off-season.

Word is out that the Phillies have traded Jimmy Rollins, who has been a mainstay on this team for the last 15 seasons. Rollins has been with the team as their continuous shortstop for many years before the team got real good and then through arguably one of the best stretches of the Phillies history ever.

Something had to break though with this team, players had to be traded and now news that Rollins is apparently headed to LA and Antonio Bastardo is heading to Pittsburgh.

Now word is spreading is Utley may be on his way out to Dodgerville? Well, Hollywood Hamels might as well go out there too, and the Phillies might get 62 wins this year? The Rollins deal wasn't announced as official by either club yet as of the time of this posting, so we'll just have to wait for the official announcement.

Holding the line on the Phils best players is admirable

Ruben Amaro Jr. has had the task of making the Phillies younger, he hasn't been rushing this task since he's been trying

When you think of it, all Ruben Amaro has to do is move a few players that have been on the team a long time, and make a ton of money.

It would probably be easy to give these players away for next to nothing as teams would line up to get the likes of a Cole Hamels, Chase Utley or Ryan Howard for practically nothing.

So, the fact that Amaro and company haven't done that is very admirable. This team still isn't a team that's totally lost. It's in desperate need of some tweeks to make it younger but at the same time, have that youth contribute to this team in a very positive way.

Armchair GM's that follow the Phillies probably have a lot of ideas on making this team better. If you're one of them, share your move with the blog here by leaving one or more in the comments section. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

Former Phillie Jayson Werth to trade uniform for prison garb

The Phillies ex-player Jayson Werth will have to swap out his Nationals uniform for some prison issue clothes soon, as he was guilty going 105 mph in Virginia with his 911 Porsche.

That's not a good idea in Virginia, as their laws don't allow for just a fine and you're on your way. In fact, Werth has a suspended sentence of 170 days as well, so if he gets into any more problems, he could see himself into the slammer for up to 6 months.

Maybe community service would have served Virginia better in this case, but apparently that's not good enough and Werth will have to do time for his crime.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

NL East Baseball Podcast Simulcast hosted by Miami Marlins 'MarlinsFamilyPodcast' tonight at 7 PM Eastern Live

A special simulcast of the Marlins Family Podcast tonight with FightinPhillies Podcast, Mets Musings, Atlanta Baseball Talk and more! 

Tune in at 7PM Eastern time to hear the show and get a chance to call in and speak live on the show!

Everyone knows the Phillies need change as Winter Meetings start

The Phils World Series win is now but a distant memory, but there are still familiar names still on this team some 6 seasons later

Ruben Amaro Jr. has kept longtime Phillies together for a chance a returning to the World Series well past the time he should have.

As the years have gone by, the core group of Hamels, Howard, Rollins, and Utley have also had a lot of others staying with the team as well. Lessor known names to the casual baseball fan as Kyle Kendrick, Domonic Brown, and until recently John Mayberry have been on this team for long periods of time too.

The facts hare all there to see that this team has needed change for some time now, and only recently did the Phillies front office officially acknowledge that they weren't a contender anymore and it could be several years before they become a contender again. You think?

Maybe it was the last two years that the Phillies finished dismally in the standings. That gave the front office a clue that this was indeed the case, that the Phillies were not in good shape.

If anything, the last three years have been dismal for this team, and the last three years have seen this team spend a whopping $509M on salaries. That is a half a billion dollars my dear readers.

The front office above Ruben Amaro has been on snooze alert as this team has spent and not gotten anything in return for it. Normally a business that is managed so poorly as that gets some attention. Usually the people responsible for things like that find themselves out of a job.

What happens after such a poor performance last year? The Phillies announce there will be no changes in the coaching staff. Huh? A terrible season in which the team had a 73 win season and there won't be any changes? That's just proof that this team is hurting more than we realize.

What will happen at the Winter Meetings that start up today? Maybe the Phillies will trade Cole Hamels has the media has been clamoring for. That isn't the answer to the Phillies problems though, it goes much deeper than that.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Holiday Selfies this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park with Ben Revere

Its' the annual Christmas Tree lighting at Citizens Bank Park, and this afternoon it was holiday selfies with Ben Revere...

Monday, December 01, 2014

Baseball Winter Meetings just a week away

A huge baseball floats down the Thanksgiving Day Parade from New York City's 88th Annual parade

The winter meetings for baseball is just a week away, taking place in San Diego this year from Dec. 7 through the 11th at the San Diego Hilton Bayfront.The city of San Diego is the 3rd time for hosting this event, the first two times were 1963 and 1985. It's 113th such Winter Meeting of baseball.

There is usually a trade buzz happening around the Winter Meetings, although we've seem a lot of movement already, we could see a lot more as this meeting generally shakes the trees loose when it comes to trades.

We could see a significant trade involving the Phillies during this event, if there was ever a time to get something done, this meeting would be the time.

A lot more than just trades happen at this event, the business of baseball also happens as well.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Moyer leaves Phils broadcast booth; Games after Wheeler left booth suffered

Jamie Moyer won't be in the booth for the Phillies broadcast games in 2015. That might be a good thing, as the broadcasts last year with the two new additions to the TV broadcast team were seriously lacking for about the first 3/4 of the season.

Jamie Moyer and Matt Stairs shared the duties after the longtime broadcasters Chris Wheeler and former Phillies player, Gary Matthews contracts were not renewed for the 2014 season in a surprise move. It's important to note that this was Comcast's decision and not the Phillies.

Comcast Sportsnet will be searching for a replacement and wished Moyer well for his services, as Jamie cited family time as his main reason for not coming back after only 1 season in the booth.

Many fans commented on Wheeler and Matthews style of doing the games, but when they heard the alternative with Moyer and Stairs, they had to be wanting some quality to return to the booth which was seriously lacking the whole season.

The tandem of Stairs and Moyer were new to the booth and weren't ready to take on this assignment as most of the conversations weren't really game focused and the color commentary that they were supposed to be talking about often fell back to the games that they have played in the majors and a session on learning baseball, rather than what we were seeing happen on the field.

What direction will the Phillies game day broadcast go in now? There can only be an improvement here as last year's games were extremely hard to listen to and even hear the comments made by Stairs and Moyer.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Rollins wants to remain a Phillie

J-Roll is still a relevant force on the Phils

It's rare these days, players generally go where the money is. A couple of days ago, there were reports of the NY Yankees interested in Jimmy Rollins. The Phillies were all ears on the trade possibilities but the Yankees apparently didn't offer enough in return and to top it all off, Jimmy Rollins (who has a no-trade clause) didn't want to go to the Yankees.

Rollins could have steered himself into a nice new 3 year deal to finish out his career with the Yankees and possibly took advantage of the generous salaries that the Yankees offer players like the former MVP Rollins. Jimmy didn't elect to do this, he wants to remain in the Phillie pinstripes.

This was all reported by ESPN's Jayson Stark, who had closes that were at the source of this information.

So, for now, Rollins remains a Phillies player which could be for his last season as his contract is up at the end of 2015 and then we'll see what happens with him. Jimmy just celebrated his 36th birthday on Thanksgiving Day.

Rollins has been the spark plug of this team some years ago, and even though he's aged as well as the other Phillies players have that have been with the team a long time, J Roll still puts up decent numbers.

Check out Jimmy's numbers over the years:

Year Age G AB R H 2B HR RBI BA Awards
2000 21 14 53 5 17 1 0 5 .321
2001 ★ 22 158 656 97 180 29 14 54 .274 AS,MVP-17,RoY-3
2002 ★ 23 154 637 82 156 33 11 60 .245 AS
2003 24 156 628 85 165 42 8 62 .263
2004 25 154 657 119 190 43 14 73 .289 MVP-30
2005 ★ 26 158 677 115 196 38 12 54 .290 AS,MVP-10
2006 27 158 689 127 191 45 25 83 .277 MVP-21
2007 28 162 716 139 212 38 30 94 .296 MVP-1,GG,SS
2008 29 137 556 76 154 38 11 59 .277 GG
2009 30 155 672 100 168 43 21 77 .250 GG
2010 31 88 350 48 85 16 8 41 .243
2011 32 142 567 87 152 22 16 63 .268
2012 33 156 632 102 158 33 23 68 .250 GG
2013 34 160 600 65 151 36 6 39 .252
2014 35 138 538 78 131 22 17 55 .243
15 Yrs 2090 8628 1325 2306 479 216 887 .267
162 Game Avg. 162 669 103 179 37 17 69 .267
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/27/2014.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving - from FightinPhillies.com

It's been another fast year, and the holidays are here again. Let's give thanks this year to the things that we don't necessarily see everyday. The poor, the sick and the underprivileged. We distract ourselves throughout the year with our hobbies, the love of baseball and other things. Let's all try to do something nice for someone else this year.

I am going to kick it off, with a donation to my local rescue mission from this blog, we'll feed 10 people for Christmas with the donation, and it's all made possible because of you, the reader, you stop by and patronize the blog and even click on an ad or two and make it all possible. Thank you, have a great holiday and please pass it forward! 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

100 Days until first Spring Training Game, there is still time

100 Days until the Phillies Spring Training schedule starts, is Ryne Sandberg mangerial style fitting in with the Phillies team?

The Phillies have exactly 100 days until their first Spring Training game in Florida. That's a good thing, because now pretty well into the off-season, not much has changed in the composition of this team. No changes to the coaching staff was made public knowledge, and incredibly so since the Phillies really played poorly most of the season.

A week ago, during the GM meetings in Arizona, there was great speculation that just about everyone was on the trading block from A to Z. Cole Hamels name was prominent as was a few others, but now after the hoopla of the meetings have settled, only a few mentions of trades are still making their way to the internet and publications.

Maybe the words of Pat Gillick is correct, 'this team won't contend for a couple more years.' So as Phillies fans, there may be a serious slip back (as there already has been) to the days when the Phillies were not good at all, and a last place finish last year sort of foretells that there may be more pain heading towards Phillies fans as they watch this team degrade further.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Major League Baseball 2015 Picks

The new Major League Baseball season will get under way in April of next year, and bookmaker Betfair already have prices on which teams will make it to the World Series. Current joint favourites for the 2015 World Series crown are the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers have had great success in years gone by, but their last World Series win came way back in 1898. Since the end of the last decade, this side have shown steady improvement, and have now won the West Division in four of the last seven years, including the last two years consecutively. Farhan Zaidi has done an excellent job since arriving as General Manager, and the Los Angeles Dodgers certainly have a good platform on which to build now. With a decent off season, they can certainly be one of the leading contenders for MLB glory come 2015. The odds compilers at Betfair make the Dodgers 7/1 chances to win the next World Series and that is a price that will definitely appeal to a number of baseball punters.

Joining the Los Angeles Dodgers at the head of the Betfair World Series market are the Washington Nationals, who can also be supported at odds of 7/1. The Nationals are a part of the East division, and have only been known by their current name since 2005. Previously, the Washington Nationals were called the Montreal Expos, but a move for the franchise to Washington, D.C. Meant a change of name was very much in order. While their trophy cabinet is pretty bare thus far, the Washington Nationals have made encouraging strides over the last couple of season, having won the East Division title in both 2012 and 2014. Manager Matt Williams has got his side playing some decent stuff and following some good draft picks, the Nationals now have a chance of some major honours in the world of baseball.

As far as the Philadelphia Phillies are concerned, the bookies give the side little hope of challenging for Major League Baseball's biggest prize come 2015. The Phillies are ranked at 100/1 outsiders along with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies and the Minnesota Twins. Having had a great spell from 2007 to 2011 winning five consecutive division titles, the Philadelphia Phillies have dropped off again over the last few seasons. Long time manager Charlie Manuel was sacked in 2013 and that would end up being the sides first losing season since back in 2002. This is now very much a rebuilding phase for the Phillies, and a lot will depend on what happens during the off season for this great franchise. The Phillies are rumoured to be looking at some Red Sox players and if the right men come through the door, then things can change very quickly as we see season after season. Those odds of 100/1 could look very big come next April if that were to be the case. Stayed up to date on all the latest market movers in the 2015 World Series at betfair.com.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Howard's family tries to gnaw at his fortunes

Did off-field stress contribute to Howard's poor batting average in 2014? One could argue yes, and he still managed to hit almost 100 RBI on the season

I read this story yesterday at Philly.com, you have to feel sorry for Ryan Howard after you read the whole story, which you can do here.

You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family. That's the old saying when things go wrong in a family, and that's exactly what happened with Ryan Howard. He started employing his family and paying them fantastically high wages for doing next to nothing and one day he woke up from that fact and decided to close the gravy store for them and now they've come back at him and sued him.

Howard is paid very well, some would argue too much, for the Phillies. That wasn't his fault though, there was a contract offer made after Howard had several great seasons in a row. He looked as if he would continue to tear the cover off the ball for years, but in the last couple years, Howard has appeared more human than the super-human feats he put up when he was in his late 20's.

This is just a bad story all the way around. Now it's public. Apparently, it's already settled out of court after it made it to court. The damage is still there though. It's what happens sometimes when a person comes into money like Howard did.

Now the Phillies apparently look to shop Ryan Howard to a team where he can play out the remainder of his career. Yes, the Phillies still owe him millions, and Howard will be OK where ever he ends up, I still wouldn't be surprised if we see him in Phillies pinstripes come opening day though.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Stanton's $325M wouldn't have fit in with Phillies

Stanton may be bordering on great, but he's not a Hall of Fame type player yet

The Phillies reportedly wanted Giancarlo 'Mike' Stanton for the last year or two.

What no one saw coming though was this contract that was given to him by Marlins owner, Jeff Loria. A massive 13 year, $325M contract for a player who has hit the long ball very well, but is he one of the best in the game?

Let's look at Giancarlo's numbers:

2010 20 FLA 100 359 45 93 21 1 22 59 .259 .326 .507 .833
2011 21 FLA 150 516 79 135 30 5 34 87 .262 .356 .537 .893
2012 ★ 22 MIA 123 449 75 130 30 1 37 86 .290 .361 .608 .969
2013 23 MIA 116 425 62 106 26 0 24 62 .249 .365 .480 .845
2014 ★ 24 MIA 145 539 89 155 31 1 37 105 .288 .395 .555 .950
5 Yrs 634 2288 350 619 138 8 154 399 .271 .364 .540 .903
162 Game Avg. 162 585 89 158 35 2 39 102 .271 .364 .540 .903
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/19/2014.

He's been in the league for 5 years now, and has never put in a full season. Stanton's BA is at .271 for his career and he doesn't really have monster numbers like RBI, or a great amount of doubles per year.

All in all, I don't think Stanton is anywhere near a ballplayer who should have gotten a $325M contract. The numbers just aren't there, he hasn't been on pace to be a Hall of Famer by any stretch either.

This contract plainly makes no sense, now the Phillies have the dubious honor of no longer holding the worst contract in baseball.