Tagged: free agents

Are Rumors Werth Listening To?

In the digital age, rumors fly much quicker than they used to.  It literally takes only seconds to post a rumor online and create a huge buzz over basically nothing.  The same applies to Phillies free-agent  right fielder, Jayson Werth. 
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Early this morning, a talk-show radio host mentioned that the Phillies had offered Werth a contract and that it was good enough for him to possibly sign.  Should you give credence to this rumor?  The simple answer is “No.”

Black Friday came and went and no “sale” on outfielders was ever advertised.  Tomorrow is Cyber Monday; for those awaiting a holiday miracle and second-chance sale on Werth, put it out of your mind.  It is not going to happen.  The odds of Werth returning to Philly are about the same as the possibility of a meteor landing on your house; for the record, those adds are about 182,138,880,000,000 to 1.

Did you know there is even a web site page on eHow.com dedicated to helping people determine if rumors are true?  One of the suggestions says, “Send at text to (CHA CHA) 242 242 with any rumor questions and they might be able to answer your question in just a few minutes.”  Is this not the basic equivalent to shaking a Magic 8-ball?

So if you prefer logic to magic text messages, just look at the facts.  The Phillies already have $143 million dollars committed to 2011 salaries.  Werth is going to aim for an average of $15 million a year.  Nearing the $160 million dollar mark does not leave room for improvements elsewhere, like in the bullpen.  Plus, while Domonic Brown may not be ready to take over full-time in right field, he is close enough.  The Phillies can find help elsewhere for the one year or so until Brown is ready.

Now think about some of the moves GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has already made.  If Amaro was not willing to pay to keep Cliff Lee, $15 million a year for Werth seems even more like a huge, unsustainable amount.  The Phillies are also not afraid to platoon players to fill the spot, as evidenced by previous pairings like Werth and Geoff Jenkins.  While this will not improve the position at all, it is possible that the Phillies will settle for a platoon of Ben Francisco and Brown if all else fails.

Players will wait to get the best offer.  Remember after the 2007 season when the Phillies gave a solid 3-4 offer to Aaron Rowand to return?  The Giants came in with a 5-year deal and Rowand walked.  It will be the same with Werth; even if the Phillies offer a very good deal, odds are that another team will outbid them.

And if all that has not quelled your suspicions that this weekend’s rumor might be true, take it from Werth himself.  CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Werth said via text message about being close to signing, “Not at all. It’s very early. I will make an informed decision in due time.”  So you can choose to believe the magic CHA CHA eHow text message or the verified text message sent to Salisbury.  Magic or logic; you decide.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Free Agent News

Earlier this week, the Phillies declined the option on JC Romero’s contract, thus rendering him a free agent.  Romero can still return, but it would have to be at a price both parties agree on.  Left-handed- relievers are not growing on trees, so hopefully, they can work something out.  Romero’s control should be much improved next year as his arm, which was operated on last off-season, has more time to gain strength.

As for Greg Dobbs and Jamie Moyer, it is likely the end of the line.  Neither were offered contracts and both opted for free agency. 
P7265926_dobbs_hr.jpgDobbs had a few good years with the Phillies off the bench but his numbers declined this year with his lack of playing time.  Dobbs is a super-nice guy and his personality will be missed…plus, the team just got a little bit uglier without him around ;o)

Moyer missed most of this year with an injury and has had multiple surgeries between last off-season and this year.  Add his age to that, 48 next month, and it may be hard for Moyer to find a new home.  Moyer is a class act and I wish him luck.

Today, Placido Polanco will have surgery on his elbow due to bone fragments and tendinitis, which he played with most of the year after getting hit by a pitch.  The expected recovery time is 8-10 weeks, so he should be good to go by Spring Training.  Polly hit .298 this year, despite playing through immense pain and enduring 4 cortisone injections.  I cannot wait to see what he does when he is healthy.

So, have you all been watching the World Series?  Actually, it has been less of a series and more of a tar and feathering of the Texas Rangers so far.  Cliff Lee got absolutely destroyed by the Giants in Game 1, allowing 7 runs over 4 2/3 innings.  Before that game, Lee said about the Phillies, “I didn’t mind seeing them get beat, either, just because they got rid of me.”  Call it baseball karma if you like.  I admire the man for being honest, but the comments certainly did not help him on the mound.

The Giants walked, lirerally, all over the Rangers again in Game 2 and won by a score of 9-0.  The Rangers bullpen allowed 4 walks in a row in the 8th inning…that has to be some kind of World Series record.  Former Phillie Aaron Rowand had a big hit in that inning after the walks with a 2-run triple.  The Rangers are down 2 games to none; Game 3 is on Saturday.

Does this make Phillies fans feel a little better about being pounded by the Giants?  Ok, maybe a little.  I guess I have to revise my initial prediction though….Lee will NOT be the MVP.  And it looks more like Giants in 6 than Rangers in 6.  Although, stranger things have happened.  We shall see…

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Analyzing Ryan Howard’s Season

The final out of the Phillies 2010 season will linger in the minds of many fans throughout the off-season.  In Game 6 of the NLCS on a pitch that was borderline, Ryan Howard stood and watched as strike three was called, officially ending the Phillies year.  Whether it was a ball or a strike does not matter; it was close enough that Howard probably should have swung to protect the plate and at least try to foul it off to stay alive.  But that is how the season went for this team – they were so close to breaking out and just never got it done.

Injuries plagued the team all year, including Howard who missed 16 games with a sprained ankle.  So while Howard’s numbers were down significantly from 2009, how much better could he have produced if he played those 16 games?

This is a chart that shows Howard’s numbers in 2009 and 2010.  The numbers in red bold are projections if 16 games, which is roughly 12% more at-bats, were added in.  Take a look:

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

TB

BB

SO

SLG

AVG

2009

616

105

172

37

4

45

141

352

75

186

.571

.279

 

616

97

170

26

6

35

121

311

66

176

.505

.276

2010

550

87

152

23

5

31

108

278

59

157

.505

.276

 

From the data, it appears that Howard had a similar season to 2009, although his power numbers are clearly declining.  Even with the adjustment, on average, Howard would still be hitting 10 fewer home runs and have 20 fewer RBI’s than in 2009. 
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Back in 2007, the year of the MVP award, Howard hit 47 homers in only 529 at-bats.  In 2008, it was 48 homers in 610 at-bats.  So the years 2007 – 2010 show a steady and consistent decline in power.

It is also worth noting that with the power outage, Howard’s batting average has not improved.  Howard has been getting more singles and fewer extra-base hits.  So while the average remains steady, they are not paying him around $25 million dollars a year to hit singles.

The high strikeout count for Howard has also been an issue since he arrived.  He had 157 this year, an improvement over 186 in 2009.  But if you average in 12% more at-bats, that number rises to 176, only 10 fewer than 2009.  So he is striking out at about the same rate but seeing less production in extra base hits, homers, runs scored, walks and RBI’s.

One positive may be that Howard’s defense has improved, something he has worked very hard at.  While he had the same number of errors this year and last with 14, sometimes the numbers do not accurately reflect the overall performance.  Howard was able to get to balls this year that he may not have last year and seemed to put more effort into diving for balls that he may have given up on before.

All this amounts to is that Howard had a disappointing season and did not come through in clutch situations during the playoffs.  In fact, the same can be said for most of the team; many had down years.  That makes the age of the Phillies’ key players a bit more concerning overall.  But Howard, 31, should be in his prime, which is why his steady decline in power is alarming.  His numbers are not bad by any means; I just think the Phillies expected more from him when they gave him a huge extension.  Howard is signed through 2016 with an option and $10 million dollar buyout for 2017.  The Phillies will have Howard for at least 6 more years so, they had better hope he comes out of the gate swinging next year.

I will be examining other Phillies players as well throughout the next few weeks while we await word on free agency and other off-season moves. 

The World Series begins tonight (without the Phils….*SIGH*).  Who are you rooting for and what are your predications?  Please let me know in the comment section below.  My crystal ball says Rangers in 6.  The MVP will be Cliff Lee.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Amaro Discusses The Near Future

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. 
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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.

Sweeney after game.jpg

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

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Phillies Off-Season Report on 6-ABC

Last night, 6-ABC Philadelphia aired a special report on the Phillies Off-Season.  The report covered the weddings of Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, Jamie Moyer’s charity work, Chad Durbin’s business venture, the Phillies Cruise and Charlie Manuel’s weight loss.  The Phillies Cruise coverage is about 3 minutes into the program and you can see five of my photos featured in that portion of the report with my name listed underneath:

http://cdn.abclocal.go.com/static/flash/embeddedPlayer/swf/otvEmLoader.swf?version=&station=wpvi&section=&mediaId=7259159&cdnRoot=http://cdn.abclocal.go.com&webRoot=http://abclocal.go.com&site=

And here are still shots of the photos as they aired in the report:


Thumbnail image for 6 abc Cruise photos.jpgSpecial thanks to Scott Palmer and Scott Nickle at the Phillies and Beth Widhson at Holland America for including me in this project :O)

Earlier this week, there were a few very “minor” signings that occurred.  The Phillies picked up veteran outfielder Freddy Guzman on a Minor League contract.  He will not be invited to Spring Training.  And veteran right-hander Oscar Villarreal was also given Minor League contract on Thursday.  Villareal is coming off Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2009 season.  He was with the Astros in 2008, the Braves from 2006-2007 and the D-Backs three years prior to that.  With many question marks still in the bullpen, another in inexpensive, yet experienced arm hanging around is a good idea.

And if you have not seen it already, check out my report on the new Fantasy Baseball tools from Bloomberg Sports.  The tools are available for pre-order now at mlb.com and will be ready to use on 2/18/10.

So the countdown to Spring Training continues…only 6 days until the truck rolls out and 13 days until pitchers and catchers report!

Photos by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Polly Wanna Contract?

Ok then, here ya go!  The Phillies have signed Placido Polanco to play 3rd base after the Tigers declined to offer him salary arbitration.  Because he was not offered arbitration, this means the Phillies do not have to give up a draft pick.  The deal is for 3 years, 18 million dollars, plus an option for a 4th year.DSCF3255 Polanco.jpg

Phillies fans should be thrilled to see Polly back in the red pinstripes; he is a career .303 hitter and rarely strikes out, a stat which would be a huge help to this lineup which tends to whiff more than most teams.  Polanco played second base for the Tigers, but has played 322 games at third in his career as well.  The Phillies actually signed him as a third baseman originally in 2002.

Back in June of 2005, the Phillies traded Polanco to the Tigers after Chase Utley won the position at second base.  Fans screamed for Polanco to stay and to be placed at third base instead of David Bell, but the Phillies sent him packing, a move which I have always felt was a huge mistake.  So, the Phillies have not only signed an amazing player today, but they also righted the wrong of 2005.

In exchange for Polanco in 2005, the Phillies got right-hander Ugueth Urbina and infielder Ramon Martinez.  To give you an idea of how that worked out, the following off-season in 2005, Urbina was arrested on attempted murder charges for attacking 5 farm workers at his Venezuela home with a machete and he also tried to light them on fire.  He is currently serving a 14-year prison sentence.  Great pick up, Phils!  I wonder if we can get him back when he is released?  Nothing wrong with a little entertainment… ;o)

Polanco is back and I think this is an outstanding move for the Phillies!  Welcome back, Polly!  We missed ya!

More Arbitration News

The Phillies did not offer arbitration to any of their free agents, not even Chan Ho Park.  He may still be back, but it looks like the Phillies did want to be tied down monetarily.  While this gives them greater freedom to sign players at lower costs, it also means other teams can now sign them.

Ticket Price Revisited

Thank you to everyone for their feedback on my last blog regarding the ticket price increases.  There were a few revelations in those comments.  For instance, Rich of Fightin’ Phillies reports that parking has also gone up from $11 to $15 and if the price continues to rise, he will not be renewing his season ticket plan in 2011.

The BILF Reporter says the ticket price increase did not upset her parents too much, but it also appears that partial plan holders are losing a playoff game opportunity.  In 2009, the partial season ticket holders were guaranteed at least 3 games; for 2010, it has been knocked down to 2 games.  Another comparison is that in 2008, partial plan holders not only got the 3 games, but they were also given “second chance” opportunities for up to 3 additional games when there were tickets leftover.  So, it is basically going from 6 possible games to 2 in a matter of only 2 years, while prices continue to rise.

Add together the parking increase, ticket increase, lost playoff game and some partial season ticket holders getting their seats bumped backwards, this is a recipe for some very disgruntled fans.  If anyone from the Phillies is listening, they may want to rethink this strategy.  Imagine what is going to happen here; they will lose their loyal fans as season ticket holders, gain bandwagon fans and then, when they stop winning, who will be left in the seats?  There are fewer and fewer reasons to buy or renew your season tickets.  Where is the incentive when each year, we pay more and get less?

And yes, I understand the Phillies are more reasonably priced that say, the Yankees.  And if you’ve got money, you are probably not concerned.  But people on a budget are used to paying a certain amount for a particular level of service; they will resent the changes.  All of these teams, not just the Phillies, should be more sensitive to what their fans expect and deserve.  Of course, this is just my opinion :O)

Speaking of fan appreciation, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. left an automated message on my voice mail today, thanking me and all the fans for our great support.  Say it with flowers, say it with a phone call….or, how about saying it with better seats and lower prices?  Just an idea…

Polanco photo by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Free Agency Kicks Off

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.

197.JPGAs 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.

More Awards

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

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*