Tagged: Wilson Valdez

Phillies Infield Grasping at Straws

After trading utility infielder Wilson Valdez for a minor league pitcher in January, things have gone steadily downhill since then.  In an interview on 97.5 The Fanatic earlier this month, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. finally admitted that the Valdez trade was “foolish.”  His exact quote was, “It was foolish to trade Wilson Valdez” and Amaro then admitted if he could go back in time, he would take Valdez back.

I knew that in January.  Why didn’t Amaro?  Obviously, he did not see the train coming before it ran him over this spring training.  You cannot predict injuries, but even I knew that Chase Utley would be a big question mark this year after last year’s chronic knee issues.  Sure enough, he is out and no one knows when he will return.

Adding to the disaster at second base,  Michael Martinez has a broken foot and will be out until at least May.  To begin with, I’d have taken Valdez over Martinez anyway.  But again, Valdez is gone.  And first base is going to be an adventure as well with Ryan Howard out until…???  No one knows.

Now the Phillies are stuck with a rookie short stop as their starting second baseman.  Don’t get me wrong, Freddy Galvis is a wonderful prospect, but can he handle this type of pressure so early in his career?  Switching positions makes this even harder on a very young player who may not be ready for the big leagues yet.

Galvis may be just fine.  But this is certainly not the kind of uncertainty the Phillies wanted to start the season with.

Pete Orr may wind up being the back-up for Galvis, although the roster will not be set in stone until probably Sunday night.  We do know outfielder Juan Pierre has made the team, but the rest of the roster is still in limbo.

You can see the Phillies are very worried though…today they signed a Nationals reject, just in case.  Andres Blanco, a 27-year-old utility infielder who hit .224 with the Rangers last season, was given a minor-league deal.  This is the Phillies idea of a back-up plan.  Yikes.

A few other bonehead moves by Amaro this offseason include signing outfielder Laynce Nix to a 2-year deal.  This guy has hit above .255 only ONE time in a nine-year career.  And this spring, he is hitting .200.  And how about first baseman Ty Wiggington?  His career has been on a steady decline the last two seasons, hitting .248 and .242 respectively.  This spring, Wiggington has hit .190.

The good news is, both guys were cheap and Wiggington was given just a one-year deal.  But in case anyone is wondering, Valdez is hitting .318 in 44 at-bats this spring with the Reds.  Just saying…

Ok, so maybe all these new guys will surprise us all and get some big hits?  But I do not see any of them volunteering to pitch the 19th inning and risk making a total idiot out of themselves for the team.  That guy is gone….Wilson!  Miss you already…

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Valdez Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Advertisements

More Off-Season Moves for the Phillies

Over the past several weeks, the Phillies have made a number of off-season moves.  Some of them make sense, some of them make a bit less sense.  The following is a breakdown of the various Phillies events, the reasoning behind it and my opinion as to the real reason for the move.

Event: The Phillies send Wilson Valdez to the Reds in exchange for a minor league pitcher.

Reason: One can only assume that the Phillies wanted to add pitching depth.

The Real Reason: Having a great back-up for Jimmy Rollins is unnecessary since J-Roll is superman and cannot possibly get injured again, right?  Also, Ryan Madson needed the company of an old teammate for his transition to the Reds.

Event: Brad Lidge, left unsigned by the Phillies, goes to the Nationals on a one-year, $1 million deal.

Reason: Lidge was told he was not in the Phillies’ future plans and that was the extent of the explanation he received.

The Real Reason: Lidge has lost the speed on his fastball and is almost guaranteed to get hurt multiple times based on his past track record.  Also, after the awful 2011 season Jayson Werth had with the Nationals, Lidge can now provide him with moral support.  The Phillies like to take care of their former players ;o)

Event: Hunter Pence received a $10.4 million, one-year deal for 2012.

Reason: To avoid arbitration.  Pence is the final arbitration-eligible player therefore, no hearings for the Phils this year.

The Real Reason: Had the Phillies allowed this to go to arbitration, they would have gotten spanked by Pence and probably would have been forced to pay him more.  But the real reason for the contract is simple; a happy Pence means more “Let’s Go Eat!” T-Shirt money for the Phils.

Event: The Phillies have torn out the grass on the field and are putting down brand new sod.

Reason: The Winter Classic torn up the field pretty bad.

The Real Reason: While the stated reason is valid, there is another underlying reason as well.  Having raised ticket prices yet again, the Phillies now have more money than God and they need to justify that by spending a boat load of cash.  Last year it was a new Phantavision screen; this year is a new field.  Maybe next year they can hire more employees so the concession lines will be less than an hour wait time?  Nah…dream on people.

Event: The Phillies sign former Padre, Chad Qualls to a one-year, $1.15 million contract.  Qualls is a 33-year old right-handed reliever who posted a 6-8 record with a 3.51 ERA in 2011.

Reason: Ruben Amaro Jr.’s favorite saying – Low-risk, high reward.  In other words, if he sucks, they did not pay much for him.

The Real Reason: Because we really miss Chad Durbin and this was the best right-handed Chad they could find.

Event: Pat Burrell has decided to retire.  Amaro is “considering” a 1-day contract so he can retire as a Phillie.

Reason: Burrell retired due to a nagging foot injury.  Amaro is “considering” the 1-day contract because Burrell deserves a proper send-off.

The Real Reason: The foot injury may have played a role, but really, no one was going to sign Burrell.  He has passed his expiration date.  And the only reason Amaro hesitates to make a decision here is because he is afraid that Burrell’s dog Elvis will pee on his brand new field.

Wilson! A Strange Phillies Trade…

In an odd move this week, the Phillies traded my favorite utility man, Wilson Valdez, to the Reds for a minor-league pitcher.  26-year old Jeremy Horst spent most of last season with triple-A Louisville, where he posted a 1-4 record and had a 2.81 ERA in 36 games.  He did make 12 relief appearances for the Reds and posted a 2.93 ERA.  Horst will get an invite to Spring Training.

But back to Valdez…I am not really sure what the Phillies are thinking, aside from the fact that they picked up maybe a few too many bench pieces this offseason.  But among all of those bench guys, Valdez seems like the most valuable.  Certainly in the last two years, he has proven his worth, filling in anywhere and everywhere he was needed.

Most notabley, Valdez picked up the majority of the slack when Jimmy Rollins was injured.  And in a 19-inning affair this past May with the Reds (oddly enough, his new team), Valdez even pitched an inning, picking up a win.

Perhaps  Bob Vetrone of “Boopstats” on Philly.com explained it best with this chart.  Having started 1/2 of the regular season games for the Phillies, here is how the team did both with and without Valdez:

Not too shabby.  And here are a few more important stats, this time with my own special chart:

As you can see, Wilson Valdez has pissed me off far less than all other Phillies combined.  If you divide by the other 24 players on the roster, the average percentage of time each other individual Phillie pissed me off would be 4.12% compared to Wilson’s total of only 0.72%.

Not only that, but Wilson played with heart and truly appreciated his place on this team.  He will be sorely missed.  So, so sad….

Best of luck Wilson!  We will miss you!

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Phillies Continue to Crank the Money Machine

The amount of money the Phillies have cranked out over the past several years is pretty astonishing.  It is especially shocking for fans like me who previously lived thought decades of penny-pinching squalor and a grand tradition of losing.  I definitely prefer the shopping spree…

This week, the Phillies dropped another $15 million to avoid arbitration for the 2012 season with lefty Cole Hamels.  Some may be annoyed that a long-term deal was not struck.  However, the $15 million may just be a little grease for the money machine wheel leading up to a more lucrative, long-term deal in the near future.  Call it a gesture of goodwill to Hamels, letting him in on their forthcoming intentions.

A few more Phillies each got a smaller piece of the pie this week.  Utility man and part-time relief pitcher extraordinaire Wilson Valdez pocketed $930,000, the biggest paycheck of his 6-year career.  But seriously, they could not cough up the remaining $70,000 to give the guy a cool million?

Even Kyle Kendrick got $3.585 million to avoid arbitration and Valdez might be the better pitcher…  Okay, I am kidding.  Maybe Hamels can buy Valdez a BMW instead….

The only player left who is arbitration eligible is right fielder Hunter Pence who is looking for $11.8 million while the Phillies are aiming for $9 million.  This one may go to a hearing.   Maybe Pence is just not making as much money as he had hoped off his “Let’s Go Eat” proverb?  I don’t know about you, but I could eat a LOT with $9 million…

And as you all probably know by now, former Phillies reliever Ryan Madson finally signed a 1-year deal with the Reds worth about $8.5 million.  Rumor has it that the Phillies offered Madson at least a 3-year deal worth about $30 million, which he and super-agent Scott Boras apparently turned down.  What he got stuck with instead is an insult.  I would totally fire Boras if I were Madson…

In other random Phillies news, pitcher Joel Pinero, 33, has been signed to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training.  In 2011 for the Angels, Pinero went 7-7 with a 5.13 ERA.  Lifetime, he is 104-93 with a 4.41 ERA in 12 seasons.  It is unlikely that Pinero will contribute with the possible exception of making Kendrick and Joe Blanton a little nervous.

 

 

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

 

Hamels photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Questions That Loom Over the Phillies 2012 Season

A new year is upon us and a new Phillies season is almost here, with Spring Training to begin in just over a month.  A few off-season signings have solidified some areas, where other areas may still be of concern.  Here is my list of Phillies looming questions by position:

The Starting Rotation – The projected starters and order are Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and Vance Worley.  Halladay and Lee are no brainers.  Hamels is recovering from elbow surgery but reports are that he is throwing and feeling fine.

This means the two questions remaining are Blanton and Worley.  Blanton sat out most of 2011 with a bum elbow and chose not to have surgery this offseason.  How he will respond in 2012 is a mystery.  However, Kyle Kendrick will be waiting in the wings to fill in should Big Joe go down.

And the question for Worley is simply, will he suffer the sophomore slump or pick up where he left off in 2011.  Either way, the Vanimal will be fascinating to watch.

Catcher –  Carlos Ruiz returns as Batman with Brian Schneider backing him up as Robin.  Choooooch!  No questions here.

1st Base – The sight of Ryan Howard tumbling to the ground in agony to end the Phillies 2011 season still burns in our collective memories.  Beat-writer Todd Zolecki reports that Howard is recovering well from Achilles surgery and is now beginning a light exercise program.

Still, Howard will miss some time.  Experts predict that John Mayberry Jr. will pick up most of the time at 1st with an occasional appearance from Jim Thome.  This seems like a terrible shame for Mayberry who should simply be handed left field and allowed to get comfortable there for the long haul.  Instead, the Phillies will probably platoon Laynce Nix in left with someone like Scott Podsednik.

My suggestion?  Give Nix a shot at 1st base and leave Mayberry in left.  Nix has played 1st before and with some work in Spring Training, he could work his way into the role easily.  Of course, I have no real say in the matter.

2nd Base – Can Chase Utley start and end a whole season at 2nd with his health intact?  We shall see…

Shortstop – Jimmy Rollins returns with a fresh 3-year deal.  The question here is that same as that of the other Phillies aging players…can he stay healthy?

3rd Base – I hate to beat a dead horse, but can Placido Polanco stay healthy at  36 years of age, coming off sports hernia surgery?  We hope so.  Polly’s contract is up after 2012, so who will be our 3rd baseman in 2013?

My suggestion?  Glad you asked.  Have minor league prospect Freddy Galvis spend the year working on a move from SS to 3rd.  Galvis is almost major league ready but out of options with J-Roll resigned at SS for 3 years.  Either Galvis becomes trade bait or he finds another way to be useful to the Phils.

Outfield –  As I mentioned before, Mayberry should be the left fielder but it may wind up being Nix until Howard gets healthy.  At least center and right are set: Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence will both be back and ready to play.

The Bullpen – Once again, the Phillies pen is a huge question mark.  The Phils saw rookies and younger, less experienced players, like Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo, rise and fall throughout 2011.  The status of veteran Jose Contreras is mostly unknown since having elbow surgery.  Other veterans, like Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson are gone (for now).  However, neither Lidge or Madson have found homes.  Could they return?  It’s a long shot….but not impossible.

Spring Training is going to be huge in determining the make-up of this bullpen.  There will be a lot of opportunities for younger guys to step up and steal a spot.  It will also be interesting to see if Dontrelle Willis can conjure up some of his early career magic or if he will slide back into oblivion.

And of course, the closer question was answered with the signing of Jonathan Papelbon.  The only question here is will Papelbon play up to his huge salary?

The Bench – Both Thome and Wilson Valdez are set.  The rest of the bench could consist of any number of new signings or guys like Michael Martinez and Pete Orr.  Again, Spring Training should be very interesting.

FYI – Totally off topic, if anyone has noticed some of my photos and albums mysteriously gone missing, this is due to an unexpected issue with the site I was using to store them.  I am in the process of getting it all loaded to a new site and will be working on updating older blogs as I am able to.  For now, all 2011 albums are back up and can be found under my 2007 – 2011 Photo Archives.  Thank you for your patience while I get everything back up and running :O)

I would like to thank all of my loyal readers for stopping by and helping to make Phillies Phollowers the #1 Phillies Fan MLBlog for the 4th straight year.  Among all team MLBlogs, I ranked #10 in 2011.

Many thanks to everyone in the MLBlogs community and congrats to all the leaders!

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Sign Wigginton & Victorino Gets His Own Day

Flyin HawaiianMahalo and Happy Shane Victorino Day!  Yes, Governor Neil Abercrombie declared that today is Shane Victorino Day in Hawaii.  And no, you cannot make this stuff up, folks.

Shane tweeted about the event earlier today:  “Just founded out that Hawaii Governor Abercrombie declaring today as Shane Victorino Day in Hawaii! Whoa…honored! #TeamMana”  But what I really want to know is, where was Mr. Fitch today and did he knit a ridiculously expensive sweater for the occassion?

Seriously, congrats to Shane!  The Flyin’ Hawaiian has earned the honor!

Taking a back seat to the Victorino news today was the signing of utility man Ty Wigginton, 34.  The Phillies will pay half of his $4 million salary next year and they expect he will fill in mostly at 3rd and 1st since both Ryan Howard and Placido Polanco had surgery this off-season.

Wigginton has been tossed around MLB like a ping-pong ball.  The Phillies will be his 7th team entering his 11th major league season.  He is a lifetime .265 hitter and batted .242 last season.

The big draw here appears to be his power, but the right-handed Wigginton will probably see limited at-bats so I question that reasoning.  I also question why the Phillies picked up another aging player on the tail end of his career whose batting average has dropped steadily each year since 2008.

With all the talk about this team needing to get younger, I am confused.  We signed a 34-year old who will likely replace 29-year old Michael Martinez on the major league roster.  And this is after signing and severely overpaying for a 31-year old Jonathan Papelbon (to a FIVE year deal) and 41-year old Jim Thome.  Is it just me, or are the Phillies sort of going backwards here?  I understood the addition of Thome, which is good on a number of levels.  But this one?  Not so sure…

Not to mention Wigginton has a nice list of injuries to his credit, including groin strains, oblique strains, a fractured thumb, a broken hand and a sore back.

While Wigginton did not cost much and has value as a versatile player, the Phils already have plenty of versatile, average hitting  bench guys (Wilson Valdez, Martinez, Ben Francisco).  This seems a bit redundant to me.

Anyone else care to share their opinion?  Feel free to comment below.  And please, have a super Happy Shane Victorino Day :O)

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Award Season: Which Phillies Made the Grade So Far

Despite an early exit from the playoffs, the Phillies 102 regular season wins and stellar individual performances have earned some players much deserved honors.

Earlier this offseason, Placido Polanco was awarded a Gold Glove for his work at third base.  Polly also won the award playing second base for the Tigers in 2007 and 2009.  He and Darin Erstad are now the only two players in big league history to win a Gold Glove at multiple positions.

MLB.com also handed out awards on Monday.   Ryan Howard was named the club’s Player of the Year, while right-hander Roy Halladay was chosen the team’s Pitcher of the Year.  And rookie right-hander Vance Worley was voted the Breakout Player of the Year.

Not to be outdone, the Philadelphia chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America put its two cents in as well.  Center-fielder Shane Victorino was the winner of the Mike Schmidt Award  for Most Valuable Player and left-hander Cliff Lee received the Steve Carlton Award for Most Valuable pitcher.

The big awards come out next week which will include Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year and the Cy Young award.  It is expect that many Phillies will be considered for these top honors, but realistically, none of them will win.  Charlie Manuel is overlooked every year in the manager category; Worley will probably lose out to Freddie Freeman.  As for the Cy Young, both Halladay and Lee will probably get passed over in favor of Clayton Kershaw who had 21 wins and an almost invisible 2.28 ERA.

Of course, anything can happen.  But those are my predictions…how about you?  Leave your best guess in the comments and we will see who gets it right.

And if anyone missed it, here is my annual Phillies Photo Tribute slideshow.  Enjoy!

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*