With the Fab Four of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels already locked up in their starting rotation, do the Phillies still need Joe Blanton? The righty has two years left on his contract which will earn him a total of $17 million dollars.
In comparison, Kyle Kendrick has a 25-20 record with a 4.55 ERA in 63 starts since the 2008 season. The statistics are similar, but it should also be noted that Kendrick spent a good amount of time bouncing back and forth from the majors to the minors in 2009. And last year, Blanton spent time on the disabled list.
Another alternative for the fifth starter position is rookie Vance Worley. In two starts with the Phillies in 2010, Worley pitched 13 innings and recorded a 1.38 ERA. Between AA and AAA last year, Worley recorded a combined 10-7 record with a 3.36 ERA over 27 starts. But Worley is still a big unknown. He is young and lacks experience.
With these options, it seems that either Blanton or Kendrick would be the best fit for the role. If the Phillies are concerned with payroll, trading Blanton may be a good idea as Kendrick is still under team control.
When asked if payroll would move him to trade Blanton, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told the media, “I really don’t have to do anything.” A lower payroll would help if Amaro has other future moves in mind, however, it does not appear to be necessary right now.
If money is not a true motivator at this times, the Phillies may be better served to keep Blanton. Having both Blanton and Kendrick provides tremendous pitching depth. In the event that one of the Fab Four gets injured, the decision to then move Kendrick into the rotation to fill the hole should be a no-brainer.
Blanton also has experience in eight different playoff series, including two World Series. Kendrick pitched less than four innings in the 2007 NLDS and has not seen any playoff action since that time.
And if the Phillies start the year off with Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels and Blanton, then Kendrick can fill a hole in the bullpen as a long reliever. With Chad Durbin still unsigned, there may be a greater need for a long man.
It appears that keeping Blanton is probably a good idea. Of course, if another team makes a good offer, the Phillies still have other options for the fifth spot in the rotation. But until the season actually begins, anything can happen.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies Night Before Christmas
Twas the night before Christmas, when all over the field,
Not a player was stirring, as the 2010 season had been sealed.
The bats were stacked in the clubhouse with care,
In hopes that a Championship soon would be there.
The Phillies were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of trophies danced in their heads.
And Ruben with his new HoLEEday contract tucked under his cap,
Had just settled down for a long off-season nap.
When out in Charlie’s house, there arose such a clatter,
He sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window he stumbled, half asleep,
Having woke from a nightmare of his bullpen being taken deep.
The moonlight lit up the old ’08 trophy, causing it to glow
And gave the illusion of a night game on the grass down below.
When, what to his wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh filled with ballplayers in good cheer.
With his General Manager, ace pitchers in tow,
He knew in a moment it must be Ruben Amaro.
More rapid than the trade deadline, forward they all came,
And he grumbled, and shouted, and called them by name!
“Now, Utley! Now, Howard! Now, Rollins and Victorino!
On, Ruiz! On, Halladay! On, Lee and Polanco!
To the top of the National League! To the top of them all!
Now run away! Run away! And play some baseball!”
And then, in a twinkling, Charlie heard, “You The Man!”
From the shouting and cheering of each happy fan.
As he drew in his head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Cliff Lee came with a bound.
He was dressed all in pinstripes, from his head to his foot,
Having tossed his old Rangers uniform, which was tarnished, with ashes and soot.
But he arrived with a smile and Charlie gave him a pat on his back,
Surely the return of his ace would put this team right back on track.
Cliff spoke many words, but getting on with his job,
He showed off his great arm, getting praise from the mob.
And in their joy, the fans clapped their hands,
With Lee, Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels together in Philly, 2011 is sure to be grand!
Cliff then sprang to the sleigh, and to his team gave a call,
“You guys are the best ballplayers of all!”
But Charlie heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,
“Happy HoLEEday’s to all and to all a good night!”
Re-wording & photoshop by Jenn
December 15th is a historical date. In 1794, the United States Bill of Rights became law. In 1933, the 21st Amendment went into effect, legalizing alcohol. Russians landed on Venus in 1970. And now, in the year 2010, Cliff Lee re-signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The signing will obviously not impact our society in such way as the Bill of Rights or the 21st Amendment once did. And it is doubtful that December 15th will be named a national holiday. However, this is still a historic occasion for the City of Philadelphia.
The following is a list of five ways in which the Cliff Lee deal has made a positive impact on the team, the city and the fans.
Four Aces Are Better Than Three
The entire Phillies team just got a whole lot better. Adding Cliff Lee to the already dominant rotation of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels has the potential to make the opposition weep like children.
All together, that makes 3 Cy Young awards, 13 All-Star appearances plus an NLCS and a World Series MVP title. Combining all four starter’s 2010 ERA’s comes out to an average ERA of 2.86. If they stay healthy, this rotation will be frightening.
Statistics aside, these are four very competitive pitchers who will push each other to do better. This type of healthy dynamic should inspire the entire team to work harder and expect more from themselves and their teammates.
Having solid starting pitching also takes a great deal of pressure off the offense. Players who can relax at the plate will be more productive. After a down year in 2010, this Phillies offense should be ready to explode.
The City of Philadelphia Finally Gets Some Respect
The City of Philadelphia and their sports fans constantly get a bad rap in the media. Focusing only on the negative, national press makes Philadelphia look like a war zone.
Yes, some horrible human being threw up on a little girl at a Phillies game. The Eagles snowballs and Santa disaster begs the question, will the media ever get over it? That was in 1968. It is officially time to let it go.
There are idiots everywhere, not just in Philly. Look at the Cubs fan who threw beer on Shane Victorino during a play in the outfield. Ask the family of the poor teenager who was killed after a San Francisco Giants game in 2008. But these are isolated incidents and by no means do they reflect the attitudes or actions of an entire fan base.
About Philadelphia fans, Cliff Lee told the press, “They get excited. They’re passionate fans. They understand what’s going on. They don’t need a teleprompter to tell them to get up and cheer, to do that.” Lee also stated, ” Yeah, you know, the feeling of playing on the field feels different than anywhere else. I don’t know how to explain it other than you can feel the volume that’s created by the fans and their intensity.”
Lee loves Philadelphia, the team and their fans so much that he took fewer contract years and less money to play here. Much to the dismay of the national media, Cliff Lee has finally given Philadelphia the respect it deserves.
Philadelphia Just Landed On Every Player’s Wish List
Along with the respect that Cliff Lee’s words and actions have delivered, this signing has also put the Phillies on the wish list of all major league players who are interested in winning.
The days of JD Drew, who was drafted by the Phillies in 1997 but refused to sign, are long gone. No more grumblings from the likes of Scott Rolen either, claiming the Phillies have no desire to win.
The Phillies were already on the minds of many players before the Cliff Lee signing. Roy Halladay made an exception to his no-trade clause last year to come to Philadelphia. Later in July of 2010, Roy Oswalt did the same.
But the Cliff Lee deal puts the Phillies in a whole new echelon. They are now able to compete with the likes of the Red Sox and Yankees. The Yankees lost out on Lee despite offering more money and additional years. So while the Yankees payroll still far outweighs the Phillies, in terms of status, they are now nearly equals.
Jayson Who? Losing Werth Is Not So Bad
There was a lot of groaning among Phillies fans when All-Star right fielder Jayson Werth signed a gigantic contract with the Washington Nationals. Fans having flashbacks to Werth’s monster home runs, a steal of home plate, his rocket arm nailing runners at the plate and the 2008 World Series win, were disappointed that the Phillies did not try harder to sign him.
The facts now show that had the Phillies re-signed Werth, Cliff Lee would not be on the team. They simply would not have had the money or resources to bring Lee back.
Pitching wins ballgames. The impact Lee will have on this Phillies team in the long run far outweighs anything that Werth may have delivered.
Werth went where the money was and no one can fault him for that. But that move further illuminates the magnitude of Lee’s decision to sign with the Phillies for less money. Lee will be appreciated by Phillies fans everywhere. Werth will simply fade away into a distant memory.
Ruben Amaro Jr. Is Now A Phillies Legend
A Philadelphia native, Ruben Amaro Jr. started out as a Phillies bat boy in 1980. His father, Ruben Amaro Sr., was the first base coach at that time. Prior to that, Amaro Sr. played short stop for the Phillies from 1960-1965. Amaro Jr. also played for the Phillies from 1992 to 1993 and 1996 to 1998 in the outfield. He became the Assistant GM right after his playing career ended. Currently the Phillies General Manager, this man has literally spent almost his entire adult life, and part of his teenage years, with the Phillies.
Many were unsure of how Amaro would fare in the GM spotlight, having taken over the job right after the 2008 World Series. Amaro was doing a pretty average job but did not score big until wrapping up Roy Halladay last offseason. Most were thrilled with the Halladay signing. However, the happiness quickly turned to shock when it was announced that Cliff Lee was traded in order to replenish the farm system.
The short half year that Lee spent with the Phillies in 2009 was enough to enamor him to the entire fan base. His easy-going and unwavering demeanor on the mound combined with his ability to mow down opposing batters made Lee a fan favorite. He was also the only Phillies pitcher to record a win in that year’s World Series, which they ultimately lost to the Yankees.
To say that trading Lee was a stunning blow to the fans is an understatement. Even months later and well into the 2010 season, people questioned the move. Some even went so far as to proclaim it the dumbest move Amaro would ever make.
And while those people may be correct, Amaro created an extreme reversal of fortune by re-signing Lee on December 15, 2010. The five-year, $120 million dollar dear with a sixth year option completely redeemed Amaro.
Amaro jumped though a number a very large hoops to make this deal happen. The biggest of those had to be convincing team ownership, who have been notoriously stingy in the past, to cough up the dough. This will be the highest payroll carried in Phillies team history.
Respect is not easy to come by in this business, but Amaro has now earned it. He is a formidable opponent in the eyes of other ball clubs and to his own staff and players, he is a true leader. More than that, Amaro has earned the trust of this organization. They know he wants to win both now and in the future.
The Cliff Lee deal has cemented Amaro’s place in Phillies history. All he is missing now is his very own World Series Championship.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
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
While the Phillies were unable to conjure a tidal wave in the Winter Meetings this year, they did make a few smaller splashes. Free-agent left-handed reliever Dennys Reyes, 33, has been signed to a one-year, $1.25 million dollar contract, pending a physical. Reyes is a 14-year, well- traveled veteran who now joins his 11th major league club.
While the signing is relatively small in terms of impact, Reyes is anything but small. This six-foot, 3-inch 250 pound reliever goes by the nickname, “The Big Sweat.” In other words, he will add both depth and width to the bullpen.
On the other end of the size spectrum, the Phillies also picked up a five-foot, nine-inch, 145 pound infielder from the Nationals AAA system in the Rule 5 Draft. Michael Martinez, 28, had better watch himself around Reyes who is liable to mistake him for dinner.
Martinez’s small size has made him a versatile player who can handle both shortstop and second base as well as the occasional stop in centerfield. He hit a combined .272 with 21 doubles, six triples, 11 home runs, 56 RBI’s and a .408 slugging percentage in 522 plate appearances with Double-A Harrisburg and AAA Syracuse.
When asked about the pick-up of Martinez, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. joked, “We figured with this Rule 5 Draft we would get back at the Nationals. They got Werth. We’ll take Martinez and call it even.” While the attempt at humor is admirable, Amaro should probably not quit his day job.
The Phillies picked up a few other players in the Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft; Colorado outfielder Chris Frey and Oakland righty Justin Friend. While these are not real impact moves, it does give the Phillies a little more depth in the minor league system.
Overall, the Phillies had a quiet week at the Winter Meetings. However, with rumors flying about a possible deal for the Royals righty Zach Greinke, the Phillies may still have a big move on the horizon.
Photo by shgmom56 on Flickr via Wikimedia Commons
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.
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
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