The wait is finally over and Jimmy Rollins has finally re-signed with the Phillies. The 3-year, $33 million deal is said to have a 4th year option which should be fairly attainable. Both Rollins and the Phillies seem pleased with the outcome. Rollins had wanted 5 years, but that was likely just a matter of him bidding high to ensure at least a 3-year deal.
Rollins shared the joy on his twitter account today:
The signing come right on the heels of the D-Train, Dontrelle Willis, agreeing to a 1-year deal with the Phils. Rollins and Willis are old friends who attended the same high school and whose mom’s are also friends.
A former starter and former Rookie of the Year in 2003, Willis’ career has run way off the tracks in recent years. But he may be useful as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen for very little cash. Philly seems like a good place for a comeback, but how that unfolds is yet to be seen.
I would have loved to have been a fly on that wall when J-Roll learned that Willis got a contract before he did. It may have gone something like, “What you talkin’ ’bout Willis?” Only here, Willis is Gary Coleman and J-Roll is Todd Bridges. Think of it as a 70’s reverse time warp.
Either way, both players are probably thrilled to finally be on the same side.
Earlier this off-season, I made some predictions on how the free-agent period would play out for the Phillies. Let’s see how I did:
I said that both J-Roll and Brian Schneider would re-sign. Check.
Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge would not have their options picked up and neither would resign. Check.
And I predicted that Ryan Madson, Raul Ibanez and Ross Gload would also not re-sign. Check.
That makes me 7 for 7. Check. Did you expect any less? ;o)
Technically, anything can happen between now and spring training, but I am fairly certain the Phillies are done making moves. How about you? Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments :O)
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The Phillies have decided to begin the 2012 season roster update with a blast from the past. Jim Thome, who played for the Phillies from 2003-2005, has signed a one-year deal to return to the Phils in 2012. Stating publically on a number of occasions that Charlie Manuel is like a father to him, it is no surprise that Thome wanted to come back for what may be his final year in baseball.
A future hall of famer with 604 career home runs, Thome was already a fan favorite in Philly. But at age 41, can he contribute to an already aging line-up? After spending the last 5 years in the American League, Thome saw little playing time in the field and was mostly a designated hitter.
It is possible the Phillies think he can fill in at first base occasionally as Ryan Howard may not be ready for the start of the season. But it is more likely he will be a bench player, cheerleader and veteran mentor for younger players.
Although in an odd twist of fate, it would be ironic to see Thome take over first base for Howard (if only temporarily) as Howard is the reason Thome was traded away from the Phillies after the 2005 season. Howard was an emerging rookie at the time and the Phillies had no use for Thome once Howard was ready to go full time.
Here is a quick trip down memory lane with a few photos I shot of Thome in the 2004 season:
Thome is an all around great guy and it will be wonderful to see him back in a Phillies uniform. Perhaps the Phils can begin grooming him for a coaching position? Just a thought.
An even better thought is that Thome could finally get that World Series ring he is lacking. But as the 2011 season showed us, anything can happen.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
I have embarked on a mission to cleanse myself of the horror and grief surrounding the untimely end to the Phillies 2011 Season. I simply cannot continue to carry this overwhelming sense of emptiness and loss around much longer. It is like a funeral around here, and that is never much fun.
However, I have still not gotten past the Denial stage. Frankly, I refuse to believe this actually happened. How did a team with such talent managed to get knocked off in the first freaking round of the playoffs?
No. I tell you it is just not possible.
I will not cry over the death of the 2011 Phillies because I refuse to acknowledge that they are gone. If they were actually gone, that would mean that free agents like Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Madson and Raul Ibanez could be gone for good.
That would also mean, so I have been told, that no fewer than five Phillies are headed for off-season surgery with real potential to totally screw up next season as well. Ryan Howard needs Achilles tendon surgery, both Placido Polanco and Hunter Pence have sports hernias and Ross Gload needs hip surgery.
But maybe the biggest bombshell of them all is Cole Hamels who will have TWO surgeries back to back starting on Friday. Hamels will have “loose bodies” removed from his elbow and then a week later, inguinal hernia surgery.
Oh please, say it ain’t so. No one even knew Hamels was hurt! And Howard? He could miss the start of the season.
No, no, no….this is just NOT happening!
Stay tuned for Stage 2…
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Many Phillies fan’s rolled out of bed this morning and had to pinch themselves to make sure they were not dreaming. Next, came a glance at the calendar to verify that they had not time travelled to April Fool’s Day. And when all that was done, the reality hit like a freight train, only in a good way. Sleepy eyes widened and fans began to jump for joy! Cliff Lee is back!
Phillies fans were treated to the exact same mind-boggling experience last offseason, just without the happy ending. Lee was sent to Seattle to free up prospects and acquire Roy Halladay which was a serious shock. It takes a big man to admit he was wrong. Not only has GM Ruben Amaro Jr. done that, he has redeemed himself completely with this signing.
And Cliff Lee has just established himself as almost God-like in the still sleepy eyes of Phillies fans everywhere. Lee accepted less money and fewer years to come back to Philadelphia simply because he loved it here. His wife Kristen loved it here. And Philadelphia loved them right back.
The deal is reportedly for five years and $120 million with a vesting option for a 6th year. The Yankees offered six years, $138 million and another option to bring the total to $154 million. The Yankees must be equally stunned as the Phillies are with this turn of events. A player choosing happiness over money is not something you see every day.
The Yankees fans who probably feel the worst about this news are the ones who harassed and spit on Cliff Lee’s wife Kristen during the ALCS in New York this past October. These fans may be to partly blame for sending the Lee family on this journey back to Philadelphia. Phillies fans thank you.
As far as making room for Lee, the Phillies made an exception to their payroll to make the deal happen. It is also rumored that they are shopping pitchers Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick plus outfielder Raul Ibanez. Whether any teams will bite remains to be seen.
For now, Phillies fans should feel free to celebrate. The Phils now have the best rotation in the majors with Lee, Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. And while no one faults Jayson Werth for taking the money and going to Washington, Cliff Lee will be appreciated that much more in Philly for choosing this team over the money. And what an amazing team it is.
You can all take the masking tape off you HalLEEday tee-shirts now.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The five teams in the NL East, the Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Mets and Nationals, have all had busy off-seasons trying to improve their clubs. Some have been more successful than others. And some, like the Phillies and Mets, are moving very slowly through the free agent and trade possibilities.
Here is a countdown of the top 10 moves so far within the division and a breakdown of potential future moves for each team.
#10 – Three Relief Pitchers to the Marlins
In mid-November, the Red Sox swapped lefty relievers with the Marlins. Dustin Richardson went to the Marlins and Andrew Miller landed with the Red Sox. Miller, previously a highly-touted prospect, was a disappointment in Florida. He struggled with control and lacked consistency.
The addition of Richardson is a good move for the Marlins. At only 26-years of age, Richardson posted a 4.15 in 26 relief appearances in the bigs, although most of his time has been spent in the minors. This lefty has great potential. The Marlins hope they can mould him into a solid reliever.
The very next day, the Marlins also acquired two right-handers, Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica. The Marlins sent Cameron Maybin to the Padres in exchange. Webb has averaged a 3.19 ERA in two major league seasons while Mujica is going into his 6th season having posted a 3.62 ERA last year.
These three pitchers combined should make a major impact on the Marlins 2011 bullpen.
#9 – Dennys Reyes to the Phillies
The Phillies have agreed to terms with veteran left-hander, Dennys Reyes. The 33-year-old reliever posted a 3.55 ERA in 59 relief appearances last season for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Phillies chose not to re-sign JC Romero after Romero struggled with control and left elbow surgery last offseason seemed to alter his mechanics. Reyes will be counted on to take over for Romero.
The only other lefty who has had much success with the Phillies in the few past years is Antonio Bastardo. The Phillies will likely go into the 2011 season with these two left-handed relievers in the bullpen.
#8 – Javier Vazquez to the Marlins
Right-handed starter Javier Vazquez struggled last year with the Yankees, ending the season with a 10-10 record and a 5.32 ERA. However, Vazquez pitched for the Braves in 2009 and ended with a 2.87 ERA. A return to the NL East may be exactly what Vazquez needs to get back on track.
The Marlins also like the idea that Vazquez can eat innings for them, which is something they have been lacking. This 13-year veteran is sure to bring some stability to the Marlins rotation.
#7 – Eric Hinske re-signs with the Braves
The Braves liked Eric Hinske in left field last year, where he made only 1 error in 360 innings. At the plate, Hinske hit .256 with 11 homers and a .793 OPS. In 2011, Hinske is likely to serve as a left-handed pinch-hitter who may fill in for Martin Prado from time to time.
#6 – John Buck to the Marlins
Catcher John Buck will enter his 8th major league season with a 3-contract from the Florida Marlins. Buck had a breakout year in 2010 with the Blue Jays and made the All-Star team for the first time in his career.
Buck set career highs in batting average (.281), on-base percentage (.314), homers (20) and RBIs (66) with the Jays and also threw out 28% of runners attempting to steal. The Marlins may have hit a home run with this signing.
Jose Contreras spent most of his career as a starter until last year with the Phillies where he made a nice transition into a full-time reliever. Contreras was one of the most dependable relievers in the Phillies bullpen and as such, the Phillies rewarded him with a new 2-year deal, including an option for a third year.
Contreras went 6-4 with four saves and a 3.34 ERA in 67 games in 2010. He is able to pitch multiple innings when necessary and can also fill in as a closer. This gives the Phillies some much needed stability in the bullpen.
#4 – Scott Linebrink to the Braves
There was one more pitching swap this offseason as the Braves sent Kyle Cofield to the White Sox in exchange for another righty, Scott Linebrink. At 23 years of age, Cofield was moved in favor of experience. Linebrink is a 12-year veteran who has had a fairly consistent career. He went 3-2 with a 4.40 ERA as a reliever for the White Sox last year and will be a solid piece in the Braves bullpen.
#3 – George Sherrill to the Braves
Continuing to add pitching, the Braves signed lefty reliever George Sherrill, who will be entering his 8th season in the majors. The one-year deal is a smart one for the Braves as it is fairly low-risk. Sherrill performed well in 2008 and 2009, but last year, he ran into trouble. Posting a 6.69 ERA with the Dodgers in 65 games, Sherrill got destroyed facing right-handed hitters who batted .427 off him.
If Sherrill can rebound to his 2009 form, the Braves move will pay major dividends. If not, they only spent $1.2 million dollars to sign him. This looks like a winner for the Braves.
#2 – Dan Uggla to the Braves
His name is Dan Uggla and yes, he is now a Brave. This All-Star second baseman has been tearing up the NL East for five years now. The Marlins refused to meet Uggla’s demand of a five-year contract and decided to trade him. They received Omar Infante and left-handed reliever Michael Dunn in exchange.
The winner of this trade may be a tough call. Uggla, with 33 homers last year, gives the Braves a right-handed power bat. However, Infante is a more versatile and solid defender. Plus, Infante batted over .300 each of the past two seasons. And with good left-handed relievers hard to come by, Dunn’s 1.89 ERA in 25 games last year looks pretty good. However, Dunn is a rookie with little experience so the Marlins cannot be sure what they will get out of him.
The worst news about this trade for the NL East is that Uggla remains in the NL East. The Marlins may have just shot themselves, plus three other teams, directly in the foot.
If anything is certain about this signing, it is that no one saw it coming. The 7-year, $126 million dollar deal handed to right fielder Jayson Werth is the biggest move made in the NL East so far this offseason. It may even wind up being one of the top five deals in all of baseball by the time 2011 gets started.
The Phillies could not afford to meet Werth’s demand, who made his first All-Star appearance with them in 2009. Batting .296 with 27 homers and 85 RBI last year, this five-tool player is a great addition to any team. However, at 31 years of age, Werth’s 7-year deal may look foolish a few seasons down the road.
Potential Future Moves: The Phillies
A name you are likely to hear a lot in the coming weeks is Zack Greinke. In fact, the only NL East team who has not been linked to Greinke is the Mets. The Royals have made it known that they are willing to part with this right-handed starter for the right price. Once Cliff Lee signs somewhere, the market for Greinke will certainly heat up.
While Greinke is on the Phillies wish list, they may also be looking at right fielder Delwyn Young. Having spent the last two years with the Pirates, Young has not exactly been lighting up the batter’s box, hitting only .236 last year. But the Phillies are still deciding how to replace Jayson Werth. Young is a possibility, but look for the Phils to fill the spot internally.
Potential Future Moves: The Braves
Aside from Zack Greinke, the Braves are also rumored to be in talks with lefty reliever Ron Mahay. While with the Braves the last few months of 2007, Mahay posted a 2.25 ERA in 30 appearances and has since expressed interest in returning to the Braves.
Mahay had surgery near the end of the 2010 season for a torn rotator cuff. but with left-handers in short supply, the Braves may take a look at re-signing Mahay.
Despite signing a few lefties already, the Marlins are still looking for depth in this area. Ron Mahay, whom the Braves are looking into, is also a possibility here. A few other lefties the Marlins may consider are Joe Beimel and JC Romero. Beimel posted a 3.40 ERA in 45 innings last year and Romero had a 3.68 ERA in 36 2/3 innings.
The Marlins have also been tossing around the idea of signing right fielder Delwyn Young, whom the Phillies expressed interest in as well.
Potential Future Moves: The Mets
The Mets have not made many moves this offseason aside from a few smaller players like catcher Ronnie Paulino and righty DJ Carrasco. The biggest potential move for the Mets may be simply retaining outfielder Carlos Beltran. Already signed through 2011, several teams including the Red Sox, have expressed interest in a trade for Beltran.
With budget concerns, the Mets have little room to squeak out any significant deals. Therefore, the most important move they make may just be retaining players like Beltran, David Wright and Jose Reyes. The Mets will need to resist the urge to dump payroll if they are to have a chance to compete in 2011.
Potential Future Moves: The Nationals
While the Nationals severely overpaid for right fielder Jayson Werth, they may not be done just yet. It seems, that like a lot of teams, star pitcher Cliff Lee is on their radar. And similar to the Werth deal, no one would ever see it coming. But the Nats appear to have money to burn so Lee may not be out of the question.
Veteran outfielder Randy Winn has also been rumored to be generating interest in Washington. Also add first baseman Adam LaRoche to their wish list and right-handed reliever Kevin Gregg. Gregg spent two years in the NL East with the Marlins from 2007 to 2008. He pitched in 63 games for the Blue Jays last year and posted a 3.51 ERA. Several teams, including the Nationals, have been courting the reliever.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
In a shocking move, Jayson Werth has signed a 7-year deal with the last place Washington Nationals, snubbing higher-profile teams like the Red Sox. After losing Adam Dunn to the White Sox and star rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg to Tommy John surgery, the Nats needed a seat-filler. Attendance in DC has been pathetic over the years due to a lack of success for the team and very high ticket prices.
In the last two years, the Nats ranked 24th and 23rd place for attendance out of 30 teams. The acquisition of Werth should produce a spike in season ticket plans, not to mention a spike in team batting average and runs scored. The exact terms of the contract have not yet been disclosed, but it is in the area of $126 million dollars.
The real shock is that Werth chose to sign with a last-place team. The Nats are trying to build a winner, but realistically, this will not happen overnight. In fact, their biggest obstacle may be the Phillies who have won the division 4-straight years now. But Werth has his ring already so maybe winning is now lower on his list than money and stability.
As for the Phillies, they now have a huge, gaping hole in right field to be filled. With Domonic Brown leaving Winter Ball early today due to being “tired and sluggish,” big questions remain as to his ability to fill the spot. Worst case scenario is that the left-handed Brown will have to platoon with righty Ben Francisco.
Another right-hander who may be able to platoon with Francisco or even Ross Gload is John Mayberry Jr. In 11 games with the big club in 2010, Mayberry batted .333 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI. He has been working on his stroke in AAA and, if Brown is not ready, Mayberry might be a better option.
There is a list of free agents as well that may also be able to fill the hole. The top choice for Charlie Manuel is probably Matt Diaz. The two men live in the same neighborhood and spend time together in the offseason. Diaz is a lifetime .301 hitter who got little playing time with the Braves last season. However, Diaz did find time to tackle a rouge Phillies fan on the field back in September. He is almost a folk-hero in Philly already after that feat.
A few other options include Jeff Francoeur, Carlos Quentin or Scott Hairston. With a little more creativity, the Phillies may wish to consider former Phillie Aaron Rowand. The Giants have indicated that Rowand is not in their plans going forward and may be willing to eat his huge salary just to get rid of him. Rowand struggled last year at AT&T Park. Perhaps the smaller, friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park can revive his bat?
A few other long-shot free-agents might be Willie Bloomquist, Joe Inglett or Jose Guillen. Whichever way the Phillies decide to go, it is clear that Werth has left very big shoes to fill. He will be missed.
Yes, Ryan Howard saved some Mets fans from certain death…on TV anyway. Last night both Howard and Chase Utley made guest appearances on the show “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” Howard may have gotten the biggest laugh of the night when he stopped one of the characters from attacking a few Mets fans:
Utley did not have many lines, which is probably a good thing. So while a career in acting is out, at least his hair looked terrific. And Howard got the best line of the night with, ” I just saw you bite that dude.”
Crossing Broad has the video of their segment, in case you missed it.
Free Agent News With a Dash of Sarcasm
– Pitcher Kyle Kendrick and outfielder Ben Francisco were both tendered contracts yesterday in order to keep them with the Phillies and out of free agency. Francisco was a no-brainer. And due to a lack of starting pitching depth, signing Kendrick makes sense as well…unless his 27.51 ERA with 2 outs and runners in scoring position bother you.
– The San Francisco Giants have asked Pat Burrell to return and signed him to an undisclosed amount. Apparently his 0 for 13 with 11 strikeouts World Series performance prompted the signing? Here is another fun Burrell fact; Pat “The Bat” has two World Series rings and only one World Series hit. It is good to be The Bat.
– Adam Dunn and his 38 home runs in the 2010 season signed a four-year, $56 million dollar deal with the White Sox. The Washington Nationals collective batting average immediately dropped about 100 points. Attendance will likely drop to a 15 fan per game average.
– Star closer for the Yankees, Mariano Rivera, 41, has been signed to a new two-year deal. As part of the contract negotiation, Rivera will still be allowed to use his Senior Citizen discount at the team gift shop.
– Jayson Werth has still not signed with the Phillies and hell has not yet frozen over. Coincidence?
Have a great weekend!