Saturday, November 28, 2015

J.A. Happ gets $36M from the Blue Jays

Happ had a great stay with Pittsburgh, but the Jays are betting that those good times continue

Now I know the MLB is out of touch with reality in reading this morning's sports updates. The news across the wire is that the Blue Jay signed J.A. Happ, a Phillies ex-pitcher and now career journeyman, for $36M for three years.

The last time I checked, $36 million dollars was a whole lot of money, but according to the MLB contract world, now all you have to be is a mediocre to below average pitcher to get that kind of money. Basically, if you have an arm attached and you can still throw a baseball, you're in for a very great payday.

Happ burst onto the MLB scene back in 2007, well, he got his foot wet anyway with a 4-inning start in which the 24 year old have up 4 runs on 7 hits and 5 strikeouts. In 2008, Happ played in 8 games for the Phillies. He started 4 games for the Phils, and picked up his first win of his career, The next season, Happ showed a lot of promise. As a 26 year old, Happ was a full member of the starting rotation, making 23 starts. Happ finished up at 12-4 on the year, with 2 shutouts. He did so well, he finished 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting.

That's sort of the pinnacle of Happ's career at this point in time, the Phillies loaded up on multi-million dollar pitching in 2010 and traded Happ off to Houston with other players for Roy Oswalt.

Happ's tenure with Houston wasn't too good, that promise that he showed with the Phillies all but disappeared. In three seasons with the Astros, which were a bad team of course, J.A. finished up his Astros stay with an 18-28 record with a 4.84 ERA

He then was traded off to Toronto on July 20, 2012, he worked primarily as a reliever for the Jays until the opportunity arose for him to get back as a starter. In 2013, for the Jays, Happ was hit in the head with a line drive in a game with the Tampa Bay Rays. Happ remained on the ground for 11 minutes on the mound in a very scary moment for him.

Happ's three year stay in Toronto resulted in a 19-20 record and a , and he was traded to the Seattle Mariners, for a very brief stay on one year, then the Mariners traded Happ off to Pittsburgh for their playoff run last year. Happ's stay with Pittsburgh was epic, he went 7-2 with a 1.85 ERA with the team. Is it just a fluke or is it that no one had faced Happ in years in the National League and he was 'new' to the NL this time around?

Whatever the case, the Jays feel that maybe Happ has found some sort of elixir that makes him rejuvenated from the time he had already spent with them.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving from

Wishing all the readers of FightinPhillies Blog and listeners of the Phillies Talk Podcast a very Happy Thanksgiving, we're getting ready to record our next show. Looking forward to the 2016 season of Phillies baseball.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Number 33 for Phils will be worn on new pitcher in 2016

As Phillies fans, we've grown accustomed to see the jersey with the number 33 on the back associated with Cliff Lee for the past 5 seasons, well 4 if you don't count last season that Lee was on the DL for the whole year.

Cliff Lee didn't throw a pitch in 2015 for the Phillies but still collected a cool $25M on his contract, and recently a $12.5M buyout of his contract if what could be an important lesson for any future GM signing a pitcher with a lot of miles on his arm already to a multi-year deal like the Phillies did with Lee.

Despite the great times with Lee, the Phils also had a tough parting with him, as he only pitched 81.1 innings in 2014 for which he also collected a big $25M payday for the year. Adding this all up and you didn't get too much from Lee for the $62.5M of the last couple years on his contract.

If Lee doesn't ever throw another game in his career, he'll end with a record of 143-91 with a 3.52 ERA over his career. Lee's career with the Phillies was pretty good, he was 48-34 with a 2.94 ERA overall.

Lee's jersey number 33 will be worn by a new pitcher that the Phillies just signed this offseason, and that pitcher is Jeremy Hellickson.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hellickson may be the high point of Phillies off-season

The Phillies are well into the off season and ho-hum, not much has changed with this team that will likely change the course of the team too much next season.

Yes, a pitcher was signed in the past week, but Jeremy Hellickson, who made $4.275M last year, isn't the type of pitcher that is going to bring a whole lot of greatness to the starting lineup. A team still needs players though, and Hellickson was the player that GM, Matt Klentak, thinks will bring a bit of experience to the rotation.

Hellickson was 9-12 last year with a bad Diamondbacks team. Jeremy did win his 8th game of the season last year against the Phillies, by a score of 13-1. That game was also the game that Maikel Franco was hit on the wrist with a pitch by the right handed pitcher Hellickson, now Jeremy will be Franco's teammate.

Hellickson had 27 starts for the D-Backs in 2015, and pitched 146.0 innings.

Here is the chart of pitches that Jeremy threw in 2015:

Hellickson relied on his fastball the most followed up with a change and curve, he rarely threw anything else. Maybe developing one more pitch may help him to keep batters a little more surprised at what he will be throwing at them.

The Boras Corporation represents Jeremy Hellickson, who also is a free agent after the 2016 season. Possibly a good time for Jeremy to prove hi,self for his next contract, as you can see even a pitcher that doesn't have a good record is pulling down multi-million dollar contracts.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

"Can't Lose" Klentak has plenty of supporters, now must make some decisions

A few additions to this team would be nice, with the GM meetings winding up, nothing has happened so far but continued banter 

For the past couple weeks we've been reading how Phillies newly appointed GM, Matt Klentak, has been in former roles in organizations. Glowing reports of being a great negotiator and task master have been flowing in from various sources and being reviled about in the local press.

My first though on all of this would be, if he was so good previously, why didn't some other team like his former team gobble him up as GM? There have been many opportunities for teams to do that, but it was Andy MacPhail that finally hired him a few weeks ago.

All that said, the Winter meetings are drawing to a close, and not much is happening so far with the Phillies with the few exceptions of Ken Giles name being thrown around as teams may have interest in him. Sort of the way a 'going out of business' sale at a retailer and someone wants to inquire about the clothes racks also being for sale?

The next point we've heard in the press has been how the Phils under Klentak would like to tap the international market. Matt, look at your team already, it's very international with Galvis, Hernandez, and Franco in your infield and Herrera in the outfield.

So now, onto the coming months, we've seen a ripple of activity so far, and some great talk about where this team could go, and the potential it has. Right now though the Phillies were the worst team in 2015, they've kept a coaching staff in place that has seen a couple years of dismal finishes under them. Maybe you should have started there?

How about starting with getting a good pitcher for the team?  

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Otero is first player picked up with GM Klentak's regime

Oakland reliever Dan Otero is the first player added to the Phillies roster on the Matt Klentak era of Phillies baseball. Otero was claimed off the waiver wire to see if he can make a contribution to the bullpen in 2016 possibly.

I say possibly because Otero was sent down by the Oakland A's on three occasions to Triple A last season, and he turned in his worst year as a pro last year for the Athletics as well. Otero only pitched 46.2 innings for the A's and gave up 35 ER and 7 HR over that span, his record was 2-4 with a 6.75 ERA. Otero had one really bad outing for the A's last year against the Orioles, he gave up 8 H and 8 R in only 1.1 IP (27 total pitches) in an 18-2 loss to the O's last year on 8-16-2015 that could have skewed his overall numbers for the season.

Otero had a 2015 that was very similar to Justin DeFratus, who the Phillies jettisoned from the team after a similarly bad season last year. DeFratus had pitched for 5 seasons with the Phillies, but last year was his worst, in 80 innings he gave up 49 ER and 9 HR. Looking at a comparison against Otero's record last year, that doesn't look all that bad.

Here's a chart that shows what pitches Otero has pitched over his career:

Otero is primarily a sinker pitcher and fourseam fastball pitcher, his fastball usually results in flyballs and that could be a reason why Otero gave up some many homeruns in 46 innings last year. The Phillies coaching staff will be tasked with figuring out how Otero can improve upon that.  

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Latest Phillies Talk Podcast - Klentak Talk and WS 2015 through 4 games

A few days ago we learned more about Phillies upper management with he announcement of new Phillies GM, Matt Klentak, we talk about that.

We're also recapping the World Series through 4 games, the Mets and the Royals were turning in an entertaining World Series.

All this and more on this edition of the independent Phillies Talk Podcast with Rich Baxter and Jim Mulry.