Category: Dailies

Phillies Fans… Young Still On Radar

Have we not learned from the last couple of years that Ruben Amaro Jr. is like the old line about the Canadian Mounties… He always gets his man!!!

So the news this week that the Phillies inquired about Rangers third baseman Michael Young and his availability shouldn’t come as a surprise. But it also should signal something else.

Amaro, Charlie Manuel and anyone else involved in the baseball operations with the Phillies (along with the entire Delaware Valley) know that they still need a right-handed bat.

But what makes this an interesting prospect is that acquiring Young would fall right into the mode of what Amaro has done over the last few years – get a guy who wants out of the town he is playing in and BE ON A WINNER.

Amaro did it with Cliff Lee and didn’t give up much to get him. He did the same with Roy Halladay, but we don’t know the fates of those players traded for him. And now Young could be the next one in Amaro’s sights.

It is a little different with Young as he helped them reach the World Series last year. And who was one of his teammates? Cliff Lee.

And don’t forget that Michael Young came up through the farm system of the Toronto Blue Jays. Hmmmmm???

Ok, so the Phils GM kicked the tires on the next potential big-ticket purchase and was rebuffed for the time being. But don’t think for one second that Amaro didn’t tell Rangers GM John Daniels the same thing he told Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker, a couple of months back.

“Before you do anything, give us another call.”

His “close to the vest” philosophy sounds a lot like the one of Jolly Ol’ Saint Andy across the street at the NovaCare Complex. But the big difference is that Amaro has cashed in for one World Series. And is going All In for his second.

Young might be the best option for the Phillies to fill in that vacant right-handed bat slot in their daunted lineup. Sure we heard the lines about Ben Francisco and John Mayberry, Jr. But if you had the option between those two guys and Young, who would you take???

And from a financial perspective, the Phillies will be around $163 million when Opening Day hits. If they make a deal with Texas, Placido Polanco would have to be in it, along with some other pieces. But for 2012, Young’s contract at $16 million works because the Phillies will most likely not re-sign either Raul Ibanez or Brad Lidge, which is $24 million coming off the books. That would leave $8 million to go get an outfielder to play left field. It is also very important for the Phillies to find out what they have in Scott Mathieson and can he be your next closer.

So Phillies fans shouldn’t sweep the Michael Young story under the rug right now. Chances are we will be hearing his name again in the future.

How Messed Up Are The Mets???

Recently, the N.Y. Mets organization has come out to say to anyone that will listen that the Wilpon’s dealings with pyramid scheme artist Bernie Madoff have not hurt the team and won’t affect the day-to-day operations.

Memo to Jeff, Fred… No one believes you.

While I totally agree that the repercussions from this scandal will drag out over the next several years and that the Wilpon’s were the victim in this matter, don’t believe the PR spin that is coming out of Citi Field these days.
In fact, it is a good thing the Mets reside in Flushing, NY because you can flush all of this stuff right down the toilet.
Currently, the complaint filed by the special trustee overseeing the return of the money has filed paperwork to get it back. The complaint is sealed, so we don’t know the amount being asked to be returned. But with the Wilpon’s seeking to bring in $200-$250 million from a minority partner, you can bet that the amount they expect to lose is in the hundreds of millions.
Yet, new Mets GM Sandy Alderson says the Madoff case won’t affect the day-to-day operations of the team. Hello Sandy, it already has.
The Mets organization has been on a downward spiral for the last couple of seasons, both on the field and off. They have become almost an afterthought in the NL East, where the Phillies are currently on a 1990’s Braves-type of roll. The Braves have reloaded with young talent. The Marlins keep producing young talent. And the Nationals are trying to spend become relevant.
Then, there are the Mets.
Removing Omar Minaya from the Gm’s slot was a couple of years overdue. From a wretched farm system to Tony Bernazard’s tirade in a Minor League clubhouse, this organization has been dysfunctional, at the least.
Throw in some millions of dollars spent unwisely (see Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo) and the Mets have had to rely on the likes of R.A. Dickey to keep the team afloat. And now, the stadium is even taking hits as the Standard and Poor’s ratings service has downgraded the bonds used to finance the stadium to “junk” status. Some say this is because of the changes made to the stadium. I firmly believe it ends up being tied in to the Wilpon’s troubles with the Madoff scandal.
Look at the facts. The Mets aren’t going to contend for the playoffs any time soon, which means attendance at a stadium with overpriced seating is going to be much lower than expected. Less fans means less revenue and less money to spend on free agents or Minor League players.
And sure, the payroll will be higher ($133 mil) in 2011 than it was a year ago ($129 mil), but you get the sense that the Mets will be sellers on the trade market as soon as they can find a taker for contracts like Castillo, Perez and Carlos Beltran.
See how it all ties in. The involvement of the Wilpon’s in the Madoff scandal will affect the Mets for at least the next five years.

Phils Re-Claim Lee Through Deal

There is one word to describe the feeling of baseball fans in the Philadelphia area this morning.

STUNNED!!!
No one… and I mean no one… saw this coming.
Cliff Lee returns to the Philadelphia Phillies, agreeing to sign a 5-yr., $120 million contract. And it now forms what is arguably the most prolific starting rotation in Major League Baseball history.
The first four pitchers in the starting rotation read like this.
Halladay
Lee
Oswalt
Hamels
It just caught so many people off guard. Everyone figured that once they lost Jayson Werth to the Nationals that the Phillies were “cut off” from spending. Talk here in Philly was how they were going to fill the void with lower priced options… Dominic Brown, maybe re-acquire Aaron Rowand.
But just when you think you know all the rules, Ruben Amaro Jr. changes them. And their payroll this year will have to be in the $160 million territory. That is if they trade Joe Blanton and maybe find a taker for Raul Ibanez.
So it ends up being a case where the player didn’t take the biggest pot of cash in front of him. 
Lee wanted to play for the Phillies again. He was clearly disappointed when the Phillies traded him to Seattle. And he told Phillies players that he wanted to be back with Philadelphia.
And now the Phillies have three players that will make more than $20 per season and their four starters will haul in about $80 million.
Ticket price increase in Philly. No worries.

East Races Take Shape This Week

Baseball fans in Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York and Tampa will be glued to their televisions or at their local pub for a cold one (or two) or, for some, glued to their seats at either Citizens Bank Park or Yankee Stadium to watch what should be some of the best baseball of the year.

Even better yet, the next four days will go a long way to determining who will win the AL East and the NL East.
Let’s start in New York where the Yankees hold a slim 1/2 game lead over the Rays. Not only do these game mean winning the division, but they also mean “home field advantage” until the World Series. And while the teams with the two best records in baseball will be slugging it out, remember that the Minnesota Twins are wishing for a four-game split by the teams. Minnesota is the hottest team in baseball since July 4th and only one game behind the Yankees for best record in the American League.
In the National League East, the Philadelphia Phillies hold a three-game lead over the Atlanta Braves and have their pitching set up to send a case of “H2O” to Atlanta… Hamels, Halladay and Oswalt.
As Bobby Boucher says… “Hmmm. That’s some mighty fine H2O you got there.”
Enjoy the games….

Phillies Claim 1st Place

Thumbnail image for Phillies logo.jpgThey were once sitting at 48-47, struggling on offense and on the mound. Even many of the diehards had questions whether the 2010 edition of the “Fightin Phils” would be able to make a run at their third straight World Series appearance.

How the “world” has changed over the last couple of months.
You may remember back to a warm July night in St. Louis. Ryan Howard was back home and Phillies fell to the Cardinals, 5-1, to start their post- All Star Game stretch by losing six of their first seven games.

That was July 21st. And since that loss in the Gateway City 48 days ago, the Phillies have gone on a run that the ’64 Phillies wish they could have had a piece of.

They are 32-14 during that time… a .696 winning percentage.

Sure, the biggest part of that run has been the pitching. For the most part, the starters have been solid and the bullpen has closed the door when needed. But the hitters have really come around to make this team start to look like the teams that made the Fall Classic each of the last two years.

Put it this way…

Right now, the Phillies are the first National League team to reach 80 wins. There aren’t many people that would have said that two months ago.

It is also the first time since May 30th that they sit in 1st Place.

But maybe more amazing is… if the season were done today, the Phillies would have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Chew on that one for a while, baseball fans.

Phils Hitters Offensive

First, it was Milt Thompson. Now, what is he excuse.
The offense for the Philadelphia Phillies has been less than stellar for a majority of the season. And it shouldn’t be any surprise that scoring only 18 runs in the last seven games would lead to the Phillies getting swept at home by Houston and Monday’s defeat in Los Angeles, in which they produced just one hit. 
Enter Bob Uecker from Major League…

“One hit. That’s all we got. One Hit.”
But what is more surprising is that they swept San Diego at Petco Park over the weekend. In those games, the Phillies used three of their best pitching performances this year to take out the Padres.

But breaking down the lackluster performances is simple…
– Phils are 6-for-32 with runners in scoring position in the last eight games.
– Only twice in the last 12 games have they scored more than three runs.
– Have now been shutout 11 times this season (shutout 8 times in 2008 and 7 times in 2009).
– Ryan Howard is hitting .111 (4 x 36) since coming off the Disabled List.
– Chase Utley has a .184 BA (9 x 49) in August.
– Jimmy Rollins is batting .246 during the month
Over the last 10 games…
– Placido Polanco is batting .205
– Jayson Werth has a .206 BA
– Shane Victorino is hitting .205

The Phillies hitters need to send out a big “Thank You” to the pitching staff for doing the job lately.
– Phils pitchers have worked to a 2.10 ERA over the last nine games.
– In the month of August, Phils pitchers have allowed 3 runs or less in 18 of the 28 games played.
Yep, so I guess Greg Gross better be worried about a pink slip.

Kendrick, Blanton Seal Their Fate

Blanton.jpgKendrick.jpgOK, so no one really expects either Kyle Kendrick or Joe Blanton to make a post-season, if the Phillies are able cut down their M*A*S*H* list and get their starting eight in the lineup all at the same time.

And with the recent acquisition of Roy Oswalt, forming as CSN Philly’s Michael Barkann calls them… H2O (Hamels, Halladay, Oswalt), the starting rotation is pretty set.
That leaves just a few scraps on the plate for the other two. And this past week showed why the Phillies went out and traded for Oswalt. 
You just can’t trust either Kendrick or Blanton in a big spot. Kendrick has earned that reputation. Blanton was important to the 2008 World Series team, but has been a .500 (or sub-.500) pitcher for the last two seasons and has a knack for loaded up on his pitch count as fast as loading up your plate at an Old Country Buffet.
For Kendrick, it is either “the penthouse or the outhouse”. He has made 22 starts this season, allowing two runs or less in ten of those games and allowing four runs or more in the other 12. Many people say his biggest problem is lack of a “put away” pitch… something which he can strike out the batter, instead of either running a deep count or seeing four or five balls fouled off.
Blanton is also well known for racking up 100 or 110 pitches over five or six innings. And unlike Kendrick who has seven starts in which he has allowed one earned run or less, Blanton has not had a start in which he has allowed fewer than two runs. 
So, enjoy the bench, gentlemen. 
Who knows, maybe Blanton can be used as a pinch-hitter in the World Series again.