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
No one can say that Jimmy Rollins did not do his part to help Team USA advance in the World Baseball Classic; but despite his best efforts, the USA was eliminated by Japan last night. Rollins, in the DH role yesterday, went 4 for 4 at the plate, including a triple; he also stole a base, had 1 walk and scored a run. But in all 5 times Rollins was on base, only one time was he able to score. The other 4 times, he was left stranded. J-Roll ended his stint in the Classic with a .417 batting average, putting him 3rd place overall for the USA.
Some rather controversial moves by the USA manager, Davey Johnson, also seem to have contributed to the loss. At times, it seemed more like Johnson was trying to make everyone happy, rather than trying to win the game. This is an unfortunate consequence of the presser put upon Johnson by Major League coaches to only use their players in certain ways, at certain positions. For example, pitcher Roy Oswalt was left in the game too long; he should have been pulled earlier in the 4th inning, before the 5 run explosion by Team Japan. But, likely because Johnson felt a duty to Oswalt’s team, the Astros, he was left in to stretch out his arm in preparation for the upcoming MLB season. By the time Oswalt got his pitch count in, the damage was done.
Another issue arose in the 8th inning when, with the USA down 6-4, Shane Victorino stood in the on deck circle to pinch hit with a runner on 3rd and 1 out; at the last minute,
Johnson pulled Victorino and sent Evan Longoria to the plate. Johnson was obviously hoping for a long ball from Longoria, but the problem was that Longoria, being right handed, was going to have to face a right handed pitcher and monster winds that were blowing towards right field. Victorino, who is a switch hitter and could have batted left-handed, had a much better shot at getting a hit off the righty and could have used the wind to his advantage. So, why would Johnson put Longoria in? One possible reason is that Longoria was a late addition to the team and had not yet gotten an at-bat. Johnson likely felt indebted to Longoria for making the trip out and decided he should at least get one at-bat out of the trip. While this is very nice and thoughtful of Johnson, it was not in the best interest of Team USA. Longoria struck-out, Brian Roberts grounded out and that was the end of the threat.
Defense also hindered the Americans from advancing; with 3 errors in the game, Mark DeRosa playing first base, where he had never started before, and Adam Dunn in right field, Team USA was just not able to keep pace with Japan. Dunn, put in the game for his bat even though he is a below average fielder, wound up going hitless in 5 at-bats with 1 walk and 3 strikeouts. In the future, if the USA intends to compete, they are going to have to prepare much earlier for this tournament; plus, players and managers will have to understand that these are real games and that they will be expected to play accordingly. Will this ever actually happen? Your guess is as good as mine.
So the good news for the Phillies is that J-Roll and Victorino will be returning to camp. After a 3-0 loss to the Red Sox yesterday, the Phils will be hoping that J-Roll can kick start the offense for them. Jamie Moyer gets the start today against the Yankees at 1:05pm. Less than 2 weeks until Opening Day…things are going to get a lot more interesting the closer we get to April 5th. More on that later…
(All Photos by Jenn)
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