Baseball With A Philly Flavour
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After The Worst Season In 14 years What’s Next For Phils

By The Captain

This weekend the Phillies ended their worst season since 2000 with their 89th loss.  This group of aging injury prone veterans and a smattering of young players have shown they need significant help if they have any chance of a better outcome in 2014.  General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. admits he made some mistakes this season but clearly doesn’t see how far away this team really is from the championship caliber team of just 2 years ago.  Amaro has said he will focus on starting pitching, getting an outfielder and upgrading the catching situation while attempting to bring back Carlos Ruiz.  He seems to think this club just needs a bit of tweaking and they can be right back on top.  Sadly, Amaro is woefully wrong and the first move that needs to be made is to get someone else in the general manager’s chair that sees the Phillies for what they are and his willing to make the moves to set the team on the long term road back to the top.   Read the full article

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Look To The Future Or Start The Dark Ages

By The Captain

With the MLB non-waiver trade deadline just a week away Phillies G.M. Ruben Amaro Jr has some work to do if he wants to keep the Phillies from a long stay in the NL East cellar and a pink slip for himself.  First things first Ruben and Phillies ownership need to look in the mirror and see the reality that the Phillies are an aging team that is fading quickly and without aggressive action they will be doomed to look up at the rest of the NL East for the next half dozen years.  Second, Amaro needs to star aggressively shopping Jonathan PapelbonMichael Young,Delmon YoungChase Utley, and Carlos Ruiz.  Third, at worst he must have at least 3 of those 5 dealt before the deadline next week.

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Can The Phillies Pull Off a Red Sox Style Salary Dump Deal?

By The Captain


With Roy Halladay about to have shoulder surgery, his career his return to baseball in serious doubt, and the Phillies floundering under 500 people are wondering if it’s time to blow up the roster and rebuild.  Some are even speculating if Ruben Amaro could pull of a huge salary dump trade much like the Red Sox did last season when they traded Adrian GonzalezCarl Crawford, and Josh Beckett to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  In short no they can’t.  There are no other teams that can currently take on the huge contracts of Cliff Lee and Ryan Howard.  The Yankees are striving to be under the luxury tax when it rises to 189 million in 2014, the Angels and Dodgers are already up against it or over it and are not willing to go any higher.  The Texas Rangers traded Michael Young to the Phillies in part to trim 8 million off their budget and didn’t resign Josh Hamilton so they could stay within their budget.  The Orioles have a crazy owner in Peter Angelos but probably not crazy enough to add to huge contracts over the next 3 years even if picking up Howard and Lee would be exactly what his club needs on the field.   What the Phillies are more likely to do if they choose to dump is do a serious of maybe a half dozen smaller deals.   Click here to read the full article
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The 3 Things That Kept The Phillies From Being A Dynasty

By The Captain


We are well into spring training and the Phillies look like an aging team that might be in their last gasp as a playoff contender.  A few years ago it looked like the Phillies were on the verge of a dynasty much like the late 90’s Yankees.  Now all Phillies fans are thinking is what could have been and why it didn’t happen. I believe there are 3 reasons the Phillies are where they are now and not the dynasty they should have been.

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Looking Ahead

By The Pres For Life

As I sit watching the Eagles season founder and the Andy Reid era come to an end, it's time to turn our attention to the Phillies. Their 2012 season is one most fans want to forget. But I am here to tell you it wasn't as bad as it appeared, after July 10, when they were 37-50. The Phillies went on to finish 44-31. And that was with an injured Roy Halladay. So the coming season should hold hope for another Phillies playoff run. 

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Who's to Blame and What  to Do?


 By The General


It seems like the Phillies awful first half has caused a lot of finger pointing. Many are calling for Manual to be fired, others say Amaro is the cause, and still others feel that with the injuries to UtleyHowardHalladay and horrible pitching out of the bullpen, that it just isn't the Phillies year. Manuel has indeed made some questionable moves this year, but that can most likely be said of all managers at some point during the season. If the moves happen to work out then the manager is a genius, but if not and the team is failing then the manager is a bum. In Amaro’s case, he knew going in that he would be a good portion of the season without his starting first and second baseman. He was also relying on a bullpen with personal like ContrerasStutes and Bastardo and hoping they would be as good as last year. I don't think he or Manual envisioned the likes of players like SchwimmerDiekmanSavery orChad Qualls having to come in in crucial moments of a game. Didn't they realize this was a far cry from: RomeroMadson and Lidge? But they're not the only ones to blame, the team hasn't necessarily been playing stellar defense either and oh by the way, with batting averages like: Victorino (.245), Rollins (.256), Wigginton (.247), and Mayberry (.232) it's difficult to outscore your opponent. Be that as it may, for whatever reason and whoever is at fault, now the Phillies find themselves in dead last, fourteen games behind. What do they do now?

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Who Should The Phils Sell To?

By The Captain
 

The Phillies 2012 hopes quickly fading away and now it’s time to think about the future.   In looking to the future means selling off some of their marketable talent.  This is obvious a horrible proposition for anyone in Philadelphia considering how used to the post-season they have become over the last 5 years.  The reality is this team has gotten old and selling off some of the soon to be free agents or other potential trade pieces could help them as soon as the 2013 season and for the long term.  Now, let’s take a look at what the Phillies have to offer, where and who the possible return could be.

The first to go would likely be Shane Victorino and the best landing spot would be in the division with the Washington Nationals.  Before you start screaming, the Nationals have one of the more talent rich farm systems and a need for a centerfielder. My top target would be Anthony Rendon, possibly Steve Lombardozzi, and a decent to marginal prospect.  Honestly, if you forced my hand I might even accept just Rendon if the Nat’s would even give up their top prospect.  He would be your 3B of the future and a potential middle the order right handed bat.  He is on the minor league DL right now with a broken ankle but long term he projects.  Lombardozzi would be a nice utility option and even could be the stop gap 3B until Rendon is ready, which at worst would be 2014.  Another potential target would be the L.A. Angels Mark Trumbo but that would likely take more than Shane Victorino.  I would suspect the only way that would happen is if it was Victorino, Hunter Pence for Trumbo plus and even that is doubtful though interesting.  The third team I would look at is the Reds and my favorite targets would be Billy Hamilton, Todd Frazier, and Chris Heisey.

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The Twitch Club
By The Captain

Back in the 80’s a few friends of mine and I affectionately started calling a portion of the Phillies pitching staff the twitch club. Wipe, that, “what in the world are you talking about,” look off your face I’ll explain it to you. The Twitch is that quick head snap when the pitch you just threw goes past you for a base hit or sailing into the seats for a HR. A member of the twitch club is one of those special pitchers that spend more time looking over his shoulder watching one after of his pitches being crushed.   These are the guys that come into a close or tied game to put out a fire but instead throw napalm on it. Or they start a game and just blow up leaving your club in a hole they’d never be able to climb out.

No matter what team you are a fan of I’m sure you can name some current twitch club members on the roster. Also, I bet you can recall some all-time members in your team’s history. For me growing up in the 70’s and 80’s in the Philadelphia area the names, .... 
 
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I Must Have Missed the Memo!!!
By The General

Today I heard the most ridiculous thing on a Philadelphia radio sports talk show. I won't mention names, but it was just so laughable, I had to comment on it.  The announcers were actually okay with Cole Hamels hitting Bryce Harper in last night’s Phillies game. Here's the funny part: they said it's code. Since when is it standard procedure to plunk a kid because 1, he's real young and 2, because he's real good. Don't get me wrong, I'm not all high and mighty and holier than thou on a pitcher throwing at a hitter. But there needs to be a purpose other than because you want to show the kid whose boss. I wonder just where this code is. I've been following baseball for 43 years and I didn't know anything about it. Is it in some book, do the umpires know about this code, where do I find out more about it?  Cole Hamels first mistake was hitting the kid on purpose, and then his second was admitting to it.  Now he is suspended for five games (real bright). And here's his reason for hitting the kid: welcoming him to the big leagues. I don't understand did Cole get hit by a pitch when he was a rookie or something?   I can see if Harper slid hard into a Phillie and injured someone, or was show boating, or did something to warrant retaliation, but according to these two talk show hosts it's okay because it's code.  A little later in the show, to add to the hilarity, a caller calls in to agree with them (which I was waiting for) because there's always one in a crowd, with the brilliant statement that he's sure Bob GibsonRandy Johnson, and pitchers from back in the day did the same thing, really?  

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Leap Year?
By The Pres For Life

I see all you Phillies fans high up there ready to jump. But before you do I thought I would attempt to ease your rising trepidation about the Fightins. I'm here to tell all you fans to relax. Take a breath and keep repeating, "It's only April".

In case you hadn't noticed the Phillies just finished a west coast swing with a 5-5 record. That's pretty good. Especially when you think about how poorly they hit for the first 7 games of that trip. 


Their starting pitching, which everyone knew would be good, is actually better. Cole Hamels threw pretty well in their final game of the trip. Vance Worley went 6 innings giving up only one run the day before. In fact the top 4 starters combined for 15 earned runs over 63 innings. That translates to a 2.14 ERA. Trust me; you are going to win a lot of games with your starting pitchers throwing like that. 
 

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Gonzalez Makes His Debut Today
CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reports Miguel Gonzalez will make his Phillies debut on today against the Yankees on the same day that Masahiro Tanaka makes his debut for the Bronx Bombers.  Gonzalez had his debut postponed earlier this week because he was sick.

Pettibone Throws Bullpen, Martin Injured

Ryan Lawrence of The Philadelphia Daily News blogs Jonathan Pettibone threw a 20 pitch bullpen session on yesterday with no problems and declared himself ready for regular work.  Lawrence also noted that Ethan Martin left Friday's game with an injury after only facing 4 batters.  Later it was disclosed it was shoulder soreness and Martin would be examined by a doctor according to David Murphy of The Philadelphia Daily News.  Martin's injury could make things tough on an already questionable Phillies bullpen.   

Lee Not Interested In Being Traded
Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News delves into the idea Cliff Lee could be trade bait at the July deadline if the Phillies flounder in the first half of the season.  No surprise Cliff Lee says he really isn't interested in being dealt.  He has said that in the past too.
To be realistic there is virtually no way Lee won't be on the block by June. This club is likely the worst team in the NL and will be out of the lead in the NL East by double digits come June 1.
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Phils Notes:
Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Miguel Gonzalez will not make his Grapefruit League debut on Thursday as originally planned be cause he is sick.  Gelb also reports former Pirates first round pick, 28 year old Brad Lincoln, is working hard to be a power arm out of the Phillies bullpen.  Ryne Sandberg really likes what he sees and believes Lincoln is, "a bulldog type of guy."   Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer discusses how important it is for the Phillies to get a full year from CF Ben Revere as their CF and lead off man.  They especially need the Ben Revere they got after he bounced back from his slow start at the plate in 2013.  CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reports Jesse Biddle and Ethan Martin will both pitch in today's  intrasquad game before Grapefruit League debut against the Toronto Blue Jays tomorrow.  Salisbury also reports that Cole Hamels is making progress in his throwing and his shoulder tendinitis is better.  Of course Hamels is still behind schedule for the start of the season and will likely miss his first couple starts but it is very good news overall.  Today he will make the move from throwing off flat ground to throwing off the mound in the bullpen.  Over the weekend Salisbury also noted that Jonathan Pettibone took a step forward 5 days after receiving a cortisone shot in his sore right shoulder and resumed throwing on flat ground.  He also remarks that top prospect Maikel Franco is impressing in camp as expected at the plate but also in the field.  Sandberg and Larry Bowa have been impressed.  It shouldn't be that much of a surprise because Franco has been considered a better fielder than Cody Asche during both their minor league careers.  Franco is also clearly the far superior offensive player.  That said it is a virtual lock that Franco starts the season in Triple A unless he does something like hit 500 with 10-15 home runs this spring leaving the Phillies no choice but to come north with him.

Phillies Made Major Mistake Reporting Prospect To NCAA
CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury writes the Phillies reported draft pick Ben Wetzler to the NCAA for using an agent in his negotiations with the Phillies.  It seems to be a bit on the vindictive side by the Phillies who claimed to have had a handshake agreement with thier 5th round pick, Wetzler, initially before he decided to return to Oregon State for his senior season.  The NCAA suspended Wetzler for 20 percent of the 2014 season.  The Phillies are declining to comment but word around baseball is Wetzler being using an agent is not out of the norm. Also, both agents and other people in baseball are saying the Phillies have hurt themselves for years to come because players and agents will no longer give the Phillies any vital information.  Leave it to the Phillies management to do something so vindictive and stupid.  It so reminds me of their moronic vendetta against Scott Boras which hurts no one but the Phillies and their fans.
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Former Phils Manager Fregosi Passes Away
CBSSports.com reports former Phillies manager Jim Fregosi passed away peacefully at 2:36 a.m. this morning at a Miami hospital. Fregosi had a severe stroke while on a Caribbean cruise earlier this week then had multiple strokes after that.  He was taken to a Miami Hospital later.  Life support was removed yesterday and was surrounded by family when he passed.  He was 71 years old.

Former Phillies Manager Fregosi Taken Off Life Support
Bob Brookover of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports 71 year old former Phillies managerJim Fregosi has been taken off life support at a Miami Hospital.  Fregosi suffered a severe stroke earlier this week while on a Caribbean cruise.  There had been earlier reports he had passed away but that is known now is that he is off life support and as Phillies team chairman Bill Giles said, "It sounds very bad."  Fregosi led the Phillies to the 1993 World Series and managed the club from 13 games into the 1991 season through 1996.

Phillies Release Gaudin
Mat Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer tweets the Phillies have released reliever Chad Gaudin after he failed his physical.

Burnett's Deal Has An Option Year
MLB.com's Todd Zolecki blogs AJ Burnett's 1 year 16 million dollar deal with the Phillies contains a 1 year mutual option and a limited no trade clause. 
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Phillies Sign AJ Burnett, Hamels May Miss Opening Day
Hayden Balgavy of THV 11 in Arkansas tweets the Phillies have signed AJ Burnett to a 1 year 16 million dollar contract.  Burnett will likely be the Phillies number 3 starter behind Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.  Also, Hamels has left shoulder tendinitis issues(reported by CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury via Twitter) this off season that have him behind in his throwing program and likely keeping him from being ready opening day.  That probably made the signing of the 37 year old Burnett more important if the Phillies wanted any stability in their already questionable starting rotation.

Phillies Pitchers & Catchers Report Today & Other Notes

Phillies pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater today.  CSNPhilly.com's Corey Seidman  reports on Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr  talking about the rumors the Phillies are still very much in the running to sign veteran pitcher A.J. Burnett on CSNPhilly's Philly Sports Talk.  Amaro joked a bit about it's a done deal but then when he got more serious was very non-committal on getting anything done with Burnett.  Ryan Lawrence of The Philadelphia Daily News discusses his 5 pressing questions for the 2014 Phillies: they are, 1. Can Ryan Howard be counted on?, 2. Is Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez a difference-maker?, 3.  Is clubhouse chemistry an issue?, 4. Can Bob McClure fix the bullpen?, 5. Is this team too old (and brittle) to contend? It's an interesting read but let me give my take on all 5 real fast.  After 2 years of not being healthy you can't count on Ryan Howard until he proves otherwise. Gonzalez is a maybe at best. From the scouting reports a big big if. Chemistry will be a question as long as they struggle or until they trade Jonathan Papelbon whichever comes first.  Bob McClure some bullpen woes but it's all about talent, health, and focus.  There are questions about all 3 in the pen.  Finally, Yes this team is not only old if they decided to make a fourth Jurassic Park film have this roster could be cast as Dinosaurs.  ESPN.com reported yesterday afternoon that former Phillie Roy Oswalt announced his retirement from baseball after 13 seasons.


Phils Add Moyer & Stairs To The Broadcast Team
The Phillies announced they have added former Phillies Matt Stairs and Jamie Moyer to the Phillies broadcast team.
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Phils Notes:
Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes Phillies OF/1B Darin Ruf could have a bigger role in 2014.  Interesting  considering there have been a lot of hints he may not make the 25 man roster.  Gelb points Ruf working on his OF defense and the fact the only other OF right hand bat off the bench is John Mayberry Jr, who while better is nothing better than average and more suspect at the plate, plus more expensive.  GM Ruben Amaro doesn't see Ruf as a fulltime player but if Marlon Byrd goes back to career norms and either Dom Brown or Ryan Howard have any injury issues Ruf could find himself getting a lot of at bats.  If it were up to me Mayberry would be gone and Ruf would be the primary right-handed bat off the bench and back up corner OF/1B.  Philly.com's Justin Klugh notes the Phillies are continuing to keep an eye on former  Phillies reliever Ryan Madson and watched him throw on Friday.  Madson has not pitched in the majors since 2011 with the Phillies.  He had Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2012 after signing with the Reds.  He was released by the Angels last summer while trying to come back.  Chris Branch of The Camden Courier Post breaks down the 9 questions for the Phillies this spring. They are, 1.The health of  Ryan Howard, 2. Ryne Sandberg's first spring, 2. Who ends up in the rotation, 4. who wins bench jobs, 5. Ruf or Mayberry, 6. What should we expect from Miguel Gonzalez , 7.  Who will be this year's Zach Minor, 8. Bullpen questions part 2, 9. Low expectations could be a good thing. It's an interesting article and a reminder of how many issues this ball club has and the likelyhood of them finishing dead last in the NL East and potentially in all of baseball.

ESPN.com's Schoenfield Says Only Astros Worse Than Phils

ESPN.com's David Schoenfield  ranks the Phillies as the second worst team in baseball.  He says they will likely finish 66-96 and second only to the Houston Astros for the worst record in baseball  Schoenfield does say if everything goes right for the Phils they could win 85-87 games and sneak in the wildcard hunt.  I have to say Mr Schoenfield is being generous with the potential of getting in the wildcard hunt if things go right.  I believe the best this team can do is 72 wins and they are at least a 95 loss team and likely the worst team in baseball. Houston is bad and very young and I believe that youth could surprise some people and help the Astros finish better than the senior citizen Phillies.
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On The Farm: Rating Phillies Prospects & Farm System
Here's several takes on the Phillies farm system and ranking of their top prospects. ESPN.com's Keith Law on his insiders blog(subscription required) ranks the Phillies farm system as the 14th best in baseball and his top 10 has 7 new names from last year including last years first round pick SS J.P. Crawford as the Phillies number one prospect ahead of everyone else's top pick 3B Maikel Franco, who came in second on Law's list and local product starting pitcher Jesse Biddle, who was Law's number 3.  One interesting guy on his list a guy I am keeping an eye on is Law's choice for number 10 is catcher Deivi Grullon.  He will turn 18 on the 17th of the month. Grullon is  6'1" 180 with great arm and is considered an elite defender already and considered advanced for his age on the cerebral part of the game.  He still needs to improve offensively but at his age he has some time and if that starts to come he will rise through the system extremely fast. Below is Law's full top 10, as well as Baseball America's top 10 and Fangraphs top 15, and MLB.com's top 20 which also has bio for each player.  As of this posting John Sickels has not listed his top 20 Phillies prospects on www.minorleagueball.com and www.baseballprospectus.com has not posted their 2014 list either.
Law's full top 10.    

Player, POS (Top 100 rank)
1.  J.P. Crawford, SS (46)
2.  Maikel Franco, 3B/1B (63)
3.  Jesse Biddle, LHP (77)
4.  Kelly Dugan, RF
5.  Severino Gonzalez, RHP
6.  Cord Sandberg, OF
7.  Roman Quinn, SS
8.  Andrew Knapp, C
9.  Carlos Tocci, CF
10. Deivi Grullon, C

Baseball America's Top 10
1.  Maikel Franco, 3B
2.  Jesse Biddle, LHP
3.  J.P. Crawford, SS
4.  Miguel Gonzalez, RHP
5.  Roman Quinn, SS
6.  Carlos Tocci, OF
7.  Ethan Martin, RHP
8.  Cesar Hernandez, 2B/OF
9.  Aaron Altherr, OF
10. Severino Gonzalez, RHP

Fangraphs Top 15
1.  Maikel Franco, 3B
2.  Jesse Biddle, LHP
3.  J.P. Crawford, SS
4.  Miguel Gonzalez, RHP
5.  Severino Gonzalez, RHP
6.  Carlos Tocci, CF
7.  Aaron Altherr, OF
8.  Roman Quinn, SS
9.  Cesar Hernandez, 2B/OF
10. Tommy Joseph, C
11. Andrew Knapp, C
12. Dylan Cozens, OF
13. Cord Sandberg, OF
14. Shane Watson, RHP
15. Adam Morgan, LHP


MLB.com's Top 20
1.  Jesse Biddle RHP
2.  Maikel Franco 3B
3.  Roman Quinn SS
4.  J.P Crawford SS
5.  Tommy Joseph C/1B
6.  Adam Morgan LHP
7.  Mitch Gueller RHP
8.  Shane Watson RHP
9.  Ethan Martin RHP
10. Larry Greene OF
11. Austin Wright LHP
12. Carlos Tocci OF
13. Andrew Knapp C
14. Cesar Hernandez
15. Andrew Pullin 2B
16. Dylan Cozens OF
17. Aaron Altherr OF
18. Cord Sandberg OF
19. Jan Hernandez SS
20. Kevin Munson RHP

Phillies Among Finalists For Burnett
According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe the Phillies are among the finalist to sign veteran starting pitcher A.J Burnett.  Cafardo lists the Pirates Orioles and Phillies as the teams  with the best chance to sign Burnett.  Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer makes his case why Burnett would fill a need for the Phillies.  Ryan Lawrence breaks down whether or not Burnett is a fit for the Phillies.
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Phillies Notes
Ryan Lawrence of The Philadelphia Daily News reports Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg is focused on getting the Phillies rotation squared away particularly slots 3-5 with Miguel Gonzalez, Kyle Kendrick, Roberto Hernandez, Jonathan Pettibone, and Ethan Martin competing for spots.  Gonzalez is expected to be number three though the Cuban is a bit of a mystery.  Kendrick is expected to be number four even though hey was a complete train wreck from late May through the end of the season.  That leaves Hernandez, Pettibone, and Martin for the final slot.  One other thing Lawrence mentions is that Ruben Amaro revealed that Marlon Byrd will play some CF this season.  Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer breaks down the decisions the Phillies will have to make this spring about the make up of their bench.  It's an interesting read check it out.  Philly.com's Justin Klugh examines Phillies GM Ruben Amaro's baffling vision for the future of the Phillies.  Amaro believes the club can contend while in transition.  Klugh hints at what I believe Amaro is delusional if he honestly believes this.  The Phillies are not in transition they are in full collapse.  They are the worst team in the NL East and potentially the worst team in the entire National League. There is little doubt that this team will lose any less than 90 games and likely in the 95-98 range. Clay Davenport is predicting they will finish dead last in the East in 2014 and they are 100 percent right.  Phillies avoided arbitration with CF Ben Revere and agreed to a 1 year 1.95 million dollar contract according to Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News.  Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer makes the case that Darin Ruf and not Marlon Byrd should be the Phillies starting right fielder.  He breaks down Byrd's career over the last few years and looks at Ruf's small MLB sample size and superior power that the Phillies desperately need.   Brookover is 100 percent right in his point.  Also, it is a reminder of how bad the Byrd signing was even if Ruben Amaro doesn't believe Ruf is an every day player.  Fact is he is more likely to give the Phillies the right handed power the need than a over aged  outfielder that has only hit over 12 home runs twice in his 12 year career.  CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury talked with Cole Hamels about what the Phillies should do.  Hamels focused on the need to build better Chemistry and balked at idea of rebuilding saying he doesn't want any part in that.  Salisbury also takes a look at how the Phillies rotation will break down and second year man Jonathan Pettibone tells him he is looking forward to competing for a job in the rotation.
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Phils Avoid Arbitration With Bastardo
Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer tweets the Phillies and reliever Antonio Bastardo avoided an arbitration hearing and agreed to a 1 year 2 million dollar contract.  Bastardo made 1.4 million last year and is coming off a PED suspension.

Phillies Sign Bobby Abreu To A Minor League Deal

ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick tweets the Phillies have come to agreement on a minor league deal with Bobby Abreu.  No, this is not a joke, no seriously I am not kidding the Phillies really did sign Bobby Abreu.   In other news Citizen's Bank Ball Park is slated for  a name change.  The options are Senior Citizen's Ball Park  or AARP Stadium.

Phillies Sign Reliever Chad Gaudin
The Phillies announced they have signed right handed reliever Chad Gaudin to a minor league deal with an invite to major league spring training.  It's a decent signing for bullpen depth and a potential spot starter.  Essentially it's a deal with no real risk.  In 2013  with the San Francisco Giants Gaudin was 5-2 with a 3.06 ERA and a  1.247 WHIP in 30 games(12 starts) and 97 innings pitched.

Phils Interested In Vernon Wells
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies have expressed interest in former Yankees OF Vernon Wells O' boy a 35 year old way past his prime outfielder just what the over aged Phillies need.  
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Franco's Shot To Win The 3B Job May Not Be Legit
Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports Phillies top prospect Maikel Francois hoping for a major role with the Phillies but the Phillies aren't going to let that happen this year.  Though the Phillies publicly said that Franco was going to compete for the 3B job with Cody Asche the reality is the organization has no interest in giving Franco a real shot at the job in 2014.  The Phillies would prefer he take a similar track as Asche and go back to Double A at the start of the 2014 season according to Phillies player development director Joe Jordan.  That's interesting though Franco's talent level and upside is significantly higher than Asche and Franco's rise has also been much faster.  Judging the Phillies history though they are a big market team they love to play this small market game of going on the cheap and doing things so that they could potentially bring a player up later so to slow the start of the arbitration clock  whenever possible.    Asche is a nice player to have on the 25 man roster with a good work ethic but he is not someone that will ever be more than an average to below average 3B will  12 to 15 home run power.  Franco on the other hand has 30 home run power, a better glove, has the upside of being a potential allstar and the right handed power bat the Phillies desperately want.  The toughest jump for a player is the jump from single A to double A and Franco actually improved when he reached double A. There is no reason not to give him a legit shot to win the 3B job this season.  You won't see that this spring and this type of decision is another reason  I am sure this Phillies team is likely a 90-95 loss club.

Phils Avoid Arbitration Sign Kendrick & Mayberry
Joel Sherman of The New York Post tweets the Phillies avoided arbitration with John Mayberry Jr agreeing to a 1 year deal that will pay Mayberry 1.5875 million.  CSNPhilly.com's John Finger reports the Phillies also avoided arbitration with pitcher Kyle Kendrick and agreed to a 1 year  7.675 million dollar deal. It's a big raise for Kendrick who made 4.5 million last year. 
Both offering arbitration and agreeing to these two deals are mistakes by the Phillies. In both cases it was time to move on.  In Mayberry's case after looking like a late bloomer in late 2011 he has since regressed each of the last 2 seasons, hitting .227 in 2013.  Kendrick looked great from the middle of 2012 and through the first month and a half of 2013 but then was among the worst 2 or 3 starters in baseball through the end of the season.  He showed at his age no legitimate reason to offer arbitration much less a 3 plus million dollar raise.
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Uncle Cholly Returns To The Phils As An Advisor
CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reports former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has agreed to return to the club as a senior advisor to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.  Good for Charlie.  He was the best manager in club history and he deserves to be taken care of for all he has done.   On a side note what are their like 50 senior advisors to the GM?

Ruben Will Keep Swinging Thinks Phils Can Contend.
Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that not all the Phillies problems are Ruben Amaro's fault.  Sure he has made his share of mistakes. So did Pat Gillick before him.  Ford points to the injury issues of the Phillies core stars as part of the Phillies troubles.  That is nothing more than a lame excuse.  Injuries are part of the game especially with an aging team.  Amaro also said to Ford that he needs to take chances and if he hits 70 percent of the time the Phillies will be in good shape and the club and contend as it provided the veteran core stays healthy and produces.   Amaro did point to some of the more pricey free agents this winter and how if he had gone after them it would have prevented him from signing other less expensive players to fill multiple holes in the roster.   That argument by Ruben is just flat wrong when it comes to actual Phillies cash flow versus their self imposed salary cap. Also for Ruben to hit on 70 percent of his moves it would be helpful not primarily go after cheap well past their prime players or failed prospects  from other organizations.  That was the method the Phillies used under GM Lee Thomas in the late 80's through the 90's and it gave a return or one winning season and multiple last place finishes. In the end it is a plan will help find the answer to the question what is the name of the Phillies general manager that replaced Ruben Amaro Jr.
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Phils Sign Ronny Cedeno To Minor League Deal
Foxsports.com's Ken Rosenthal tweets the Phillies have signed infielder Ronny Cedeno to a minor league contract with an invite to major league spring training.  It's no big deal just competition for a utility slot, purely meaningless.  Cedeno has bounced around a bit so maybe it was just the Phillies turn to have him in camp, lol.

Gelb Playing Lapdog To Phils Ownership

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer tries and fails to make the point that the Phillies new local TV deal with Comcast was best for the team.  He compares their deal to the one the Dodgers got and  and the Astros deal.  He skips over the Texas Rangers and L.A. Angels deals with Fox.  Gelb also so doesn't seem to grasp that not waiting  for when Fox could also negotiate cost the team at least a billion dollars.  He does note that the 25 percent equity in CSNPhilly is worth a ton and as super agent Scott Boras stated it helps the Phillies use a loophole in the revenue sharing agreement.  That's great in the current deal but the reality is an equity stake in CSNPhilly or any other Sports network caring the games was a virtual lock in any TV deal even if the Phillies had waited long enough for Fox to get in the mix. Again the Phillies jumped the gun and cost themselves in the process. Also, as I stated in my previous article the idea that Comcast would refuse to carry a Fox Sports Channel that had the Phillies is a false argument and would be a failure just look back at the debacle it was for Cablevision when they refused to carry the Yes Network when it started.  Either way even with the increased cash flow ownership has already tried to downplay the idea that they would spend more of this new found money. That is definitely a bad sign for baseball fans in Philadelphia and another reason why this ownership must sell.

Phils Top Prospects Get Invite To Big League Camp
Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports the Phillies have invited their top two prospects pitcher Jesse Biddle and 3B Maikel Franco to Big League camp for Spring Training.  Franco will compete with Cody Asche for the starting 3B job.  Gelb notes he doubts either will have a shot at winning a job on the big league roster.  In the case of Franco I think Gelb may be off base.  Ruben Amaro Jr. has given hints that Franco's chances to be the team's starting 3B may be good.  Amaro has pretty consistently down played prospects chances to make the team always opting to talk about the young players getting more time to grow at the next level of the farm system.  Franco finished the year in double A but instead of saying he was looking forward to see Franco for a full year in Triple A Amaro said if Franco's bat proves to much to overlook he could be with the club when they head north.  That is a clear indication that the club is not sold on Cody Asche at 3B and they really like Franco's power right hand bat.  We will find out which is the case in March but I would give 60-40 odds on Franco beign the starting 3B when the Phillies open the season. In other prospect news MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reports two Phillies pitching prospects are having surgery.  Phillies number 6 prospect Adam Morgan is under going surgery on his right shoulder that bothered him most of last season and is expected to be out until August.   Pitcher Shane Watson the Phillies number 8 prospect will also be out until August with surgery on his right shoulder as well.
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Glavine, Maddux & Thomas Make The Hall Of Fame
the BBWAA announced  results of the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame vote.  The Hall of Fame has 3 new members, pitchers Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine, along with 1B/DH Frank Thomas. Former Astros 2B/CF Craig Biggio missed by 2 votes of joining Maddux, Glavine and Thomas in the 2014 Hall of Fame class. Some other notables that missed out were Tim RainesJack MorrisCurt SchillingMike PiazzaJeff Bagwell,  Fred McGriff, and steroid tainted Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

Wheeler & Matthews Removed From Broadcast Team
The Phillies announced that Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews would no longer be in the booth for game broadcasts.  Both are still employees of the club.  For Wheeler it ends his run as the longest tenured member of the Phillies broadcast team at 37 years.
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Phillies Get 2.5 Billion Over 25 Years From CSN
Matt Gelb and Bob Fernandez of the Philadelphia Inquirer report the Phillies new 25 year contract with Comcast for broadcast rights will pay them 2.5 Billion over the length of the deal and give them a 25 percent equity stake in Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia.  Essentially the deal pays the Phillies on average 100 million per season.  That is roughly 50 million less per year than the Texas Rangers get in their deal with Foxsports Southwest which pays them 3 Billion over 20 years(150 million per year).  The consensus had been the Phillies deal would pay them at least that much but likely about 20 million or so more per season.  The Phillies new deal was negotiated during Comcasts exclusive negotiating window.  It was well known that Fox Sports very much wanted to get into the Philadelphia Market. Getting the rights to the Phillies would have enabled them to start a Foxsportsnet in Philadelphia.  Fox paid the Angels 3 billion over 20 years.  Knowing that Fox wanted in Philadelphia the wise move would have been to wait until Fox could make their pitch and let the bidding war between Comcast and Fox begin.   Any belief that the threat that Comcast wouldn't carry a Foxsportsnet Philadelphia if CSNPhilly lost the rights was a joke.  Do you remember how well that worked out for Cablevision when the Yes Network started?  It was a disaster, the folded and carried Yes.   This is just another example of the Phillies jumping to get a contract done long before it was wise to do so, like the Ryan Howard contract extension.  That is not to say 100 million a year is anything to sneeze at but for the number 4 market it is a significant underpay.  Good job Dave Montgomery you gave a hometown discount when it was the worst possible move. This is why after a great 5 year run the Phillies will be doomed to another 20-25 years of misery like they suffered through after their run from the mid 70's through the 83 World Series.

Phillies & Comcast Agree To New TV Deal

David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News reports the Phillies and Comcast have agreed to a new local TV contract that goes well beyond the current deal that expires in 2015.  There are no details on the specifics of the deal or how much more the Phillies will be paid per season that the 35 million they are currently paid by CSNPhilly.  The deal gives the Phillies certainty on revenue though I think they should have explored a deal with Fox Sports. Once the details of the deal are released maybe it will look different but right now I suspect they are being penny wise and pound foolish and a bidding war between Comcast and Fox could have done nothing but help the Phillies.

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