In a press conference today, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. discussed many issues including free agents, the “age” issue and the disappointing offense this year.
The hot topic of discussion centered around right fielder, Jayson Werth. Amaro did not close the door on the issue by any means, but it certainly seems like a long shot for Werth to return.
Werth stated in a later press conference that he was “looking forward to the experience of being a free agent” and that “Philly is one of the teams in consideration.” He also hired monster agent Scott Boras in September; the only reason to do this is if he is looking for a huge contract, which the Phillies likely cannot afford.
Amaro was quick to point out Werth’s struggles this year: “It wasn’t an extraordinary year. He had a tough time with men in scoring position. It wasn’t as productive a year as he’s had in the past.” In fact, Werth batted only .186 in these situations which ranks 215th out of 218 qualified players.
My gut feeling is that Werth will not be back. I predict he will be in Yankees pinstripes soon; New York is geographically in the same area plus his stepfather, Dennis Werth, played for the Yankees from 1979-1981. Not to mention that the Yanks may be one of the few teams who can afford to pay him what he wants.
As for the aging Phils, Amaro did not seem overly concerned saying that the team’s core players are “very productive players and they’re not beyond their prime years.” He also added that an injection of youth may be a good thing as well. If Domonic Brown takes over for Werth, that is one step towards getting younger.
While it was not discussed today, my thought is that moving Raul Ibanez who is owed $11.5 million next year is a good way to clear up payroll space as well as get a little younger. We love Rauuuuul…however, he has been streaky at best and will turn 39 in June. Then again, it will not be easy to move an declining player with a hefty salary so, this may not even be possible.
Also up for discussion was the lack of offensive production which prompted many questions about a possible shake-up. Amaro seems happy with the core of the team but did note that they “just didn’t have the right approach” at the plate. He also stated that, “Some guys may be looking at preparing a little differently for the 2011 season as they get older.” Amaro noted Jimmy Rollins in this category and said all the innings he has played over the years may be taking a toll.
I looked it up; among all active players, Rollins, age 31, ranks 32nd in career at-bats with 6291. Among players 31 years of age or younger, he has the 2nd most career at-bats behind only Adrian Beltre with 6874 at-bats. So yes, Rollins may need a different off-season routine to keep up this pace.
Mike Sweeney Needs A Hug
One of the most difficult moments after Saturday’s loss was watching veteran Mike Sweeney give a post-game interview. He was nearly in tears as he discussed the end of the season and contemplated his future:
Prior to the interview, Sweeney could be been seen in the background of a Ryan Madson interview, standing for a long time, still in uniform, with his head resting against his locker. After a while, he sat, clearly downtrodden, and put his head in his hands.
This was a heartbreaking scene. Sweeney has been praised by nearly everyone for his team spirit, positive attitude and for been an amazing and kind human being. His long, productive career aside, this is a quality guy and it was painful to see him in such agony after the loss, especially when he had only one at-bat the whole post-season. He did make the most it though, with a pinch hit in the NLDS.
If you would like to offer a virtual HUG to Mr. Sweeney, please visit my Facebook page, “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney” and share your thoughts. I am going to see if I can get someone to direct him to the page in the hopes that our messages of support might lift his spirits.
Thank you to all the Sweeney supporters already out there for stopping by!
Werth photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Free agent signings officially kicked off today and one of the top needs for the Phillies is a third baseman. Although, do not expect them to jump too quickly; it will likely be a while before they settle on a player. The front runner appears to be Mark DeRosa (Cardinals). The Phils have courted him before and he should be within their price range. Plus, DeRosa is from the area, growing up in Passaic, New Jersey and attending the University of Pennsylvania.
The big free agent name at third appears to be Chone Figgins. However, Figgins also appears to be out of the Phillies price range. Placido Polanco is an option, but the Phillies would have to give up a 1st round draft choice to sign him. Adrian Beltre is another option, but he is defensively weaker than DeRosa. So, odds are pretty good on DeRosa, but who knows.
As for bullpen help, the pickings are slim. A few good options may be Mike Gonzalez (LHP) and Rafael Soriano (RHP), both from Atlanta. Rafael Betancourt, Jose Valverde, Octavio Dotel and Bob Howry are all good right-handers, but each is getting up there in age. Left-handed help is even scarcer, so let us hope Scott Eyre will return.
You probably know by now that Charlie Manuel came in 6th place for the Manager of the Year voting. That’s right, 6th place for taking his team to back-to-back World Series. But this is just one more revealing award that shows the idiocy of the voting process for these honors. No shock there. Jim Tracy of the Rockies took home the prize.
But if you would like to voice your opinion this awards season, log on at MLB.com and vote for the This Year in Baseball awards. Candidates include Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, JA Happ, Jayson Werth and even Emily, the cute little girl who tossed the ball her Daddy caught back towards the field. And of course, you can give props to Manuel for the TYIB manager award.
Photo by Jenn
Oh yes, here we go again… It is only mid-November and the Roy Halladay rumor mill is already in full swing. While the Phillies were unable to strike a deal with the Blue Jays in July for the star pitcher and instead wound up with Cliff Lee (and we are all ok with that, of course), the Jays may still be looking for a chance to get Halladay off their payroll.
If the Phillies can manage a deal for Halladay, odds are they will have to pay much less for him than they would have in July since now he is only good for one potential post-season instead of two. But the Jays are probably still interested in the Phillies top prospect, Kyle Drabek, whom the Phillies are unlikely to part with. In an interesting twist however, it has also been rumored that the Jays might be willing to take Cole Hamels. Can I get a Hallelujah and an Amen to that possibility?!!
Although Hamels is six years younger than Halladay, he had a terrible season for the Phillies and most fans are sick of his emotional issues, media faux pas and lack of composure on the mound. Odds are, not many people would be sad about such a trade. Sadly, if this were rumored last season, there may have been riots in the street full of angry fans unwilling to let the World Series MVP go. But now? Not so much…
Besides upgrading the pitching staff, it appears the Phillies now need a third baseman as Pedro Feliz did not have his option picked up. The Phillies can still sign him as agree agent if they come to an agreement, but it looks more likely that the Phils will look elsewhere.
Feliz had a decent season, but I think he really screwed himself in the playoffs where he hit only .167, made unproductive outs in crucial situations and hit into double plays that killed rallies. Plus, he is 34 years old, which does not help his case.
The top prospects for third base right now are Chone Figgins, Adrian Beltre, Mark DeRosa and former Phillie, Placido Polanco. Figgins would be the best choice, although fans loved Polanco when he was here and many were upset when Chase Utley took his job. Hind sight, as they say, is 20/20.
Back in 2005 when Polanco went to the Tigers, many Phillies fans felt he should have been moved to 3rd base to keep him on the team, myself included. As it turns out, had the Phillies done so, Polanco would likely still be with us. Up to that point, he had moved back and forth from 2nd to 3rd base for years. But after going to the Tigers, it was 2nd base all the way. The question then with Polanco is, could he transition back to 3rd after more than 4 years steady at 2nd? That may be too big a question for the Phillies to consider taking him.
So, third base is wide open right now and several other Phillies have filed for free agency; Chan Ho Park, Matt Stairs, Paul Bako, Pedro Martinez and Miguel Cairo. The Phillies will not likely sign Martinez again, as he will command too hefty a salary and they need a more consistent arm. Park is a possibility, Cairo and Bako will probably not be back and Stairs I am not too sure about. My feeling was that he might retire, but since he has filed, I now do not know what is on his mind. But this leaves the Phillies with the need for a back-up catcher, a right handed bat off the bench and a variety of pitching needs.
As for our walking wounded, both Scott Eyre and Raul Ibanez had successful surgeries yesterday and are expected to make recoveries before Spring Training. Eyre may or may not decide to retire so his future is uncertain. Ibanez, we hope, will be back to 2009 first-half form. Brad Lidge will have surgery tomorrow. What exactly is wrong with him will be an interesting revelation. We should have more information in the days to come.
Feliz photo by Jenn