Fall Ball Notes

September 1st, 2014 by Mike H. | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, Phillies

This week, the Phillies announced some winter league roster moves. Phillies that will be represented in the Arizona Fall League include pitchers Colton Murray, Ryan O’Sullivan, Nefi Ogando, Ethan Stewart, catcher Logan Moore, and center fielder Roman Quinn, who is slated to get significant playing time. The Phillies have one more roster spot open to them should they wish to use it. Phillies representatives will be playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions this year.

Third base prospect Maikel Franco is currently slated to play in the Dominican Winter League again.

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Mayberry Traded

September 1st, 2014 by Mike H. | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, General, Phillies


This one gets filed under W for Why? On the last day of being able to make a trade of significance, Ruben Amaro Jr spent the afternoon haggling with Alex Anthopoulos over how to save $250k this season. The Phillies traded Mayberry to Toronto for minor league third baseman Gustavo Pierre. Outside of saving the money, the Phillies gain nothing moving forward. Pierre, 23 in December, is a career .247/.282/.378 hitter who has never seen double digit home runs in any season.

With the log jam of players who either are third basemen, Cody Asche, Maikel Franco, etc., and guys, like Jake Fox, who can play third base, why acquire another third baseman. Worse yet, the way this guy projects, he’s going to end up a career minor leaguer who can play first base, third base, or be a designated hitter. Don’t get me wrong, Mayberry had zero value in the trade market. I probably would’ve been happier having him traded for Low A relief pitcher that had even a remote shot at potential.

I guess this one falls “under making a trade, just to make a trade.” Whatever. All we can do is hope this is the last (non-) move Ruben Amaro Jr. is allowed to make as general manager of the Phillies.

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Done Deal

August 30th, 2014 by Mike H. | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, General, Phillies


It amazes me to say that Ruben Amaro Jr. ACTUALLY made a deal as a seller that impressed me. Not that it’s franchise altering or anything, but Amaro showed that it was possible for him to buy low and sell high. Last December, Amaro signed Roberto Hernandez to a one-year, $4.5M deal with another $1.5M in performance bonuses. Hernandez, who hadn’t been anything special since he stopped being Fausto Carmona, actually put up solid numbers as a Phillie and Amaro moved him to the Dodgers for two players to be named later.

Hernandez left for Hollywood on August 7th and it took roughly three weeks to finalize the deal. Jesmuel Valentin was the first player the Phillies chose. Valentin is a 20-year-old second baseman who was drafted 51st overall in 2012. He struggled at Clearwater offensively after hitting .280/.349/.430 for the Dodgers’ equivalent to Lakewood. The second player was Victor Arano, a 19-year-old right-handed pitcher. Don’t let that 4+ ERA fool you, there’s definitely potential there. In 20.1 innings as a reliever, Arano has a 1.31 ERA with an 18:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Like I said, these two guys are probably not going to hear fans complain about anyone blocking them and Hernandez has continued pitching well for the Dodgers. The fact of the matter is that the Phillies acquired two players that ranked between 11 and 20 in an organization that was a borderline top ten system. If anything, the Phillies have acquired bullpen depth and infield depth at the minimum.

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September Call: Russ Canzler

August 30th, 2014 by Mike H. | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, General, Phillies


I’m gonna refer to Canzler as Star-Lord because I know many of you will have the same reaction as Korath did when hearing his name. Who? Russ Canzler has been a minor league journeyman, having played for six different organizations since being drafted by Chicago in the 30th round of the 2004 draft. Like Star-Lord, I wonder if there’s more to him if given the chance. Philadelphia is his second organization this season after being let go by the Yankees affiliate.

In the 57 games (197 at bats) since joining the Iron Pigs, Star-Lord has hit to the tune of a .299/.376/.579 line with 20 doubles, one triple, and 11 home runs. There are two things that really intrigue me about Canzler. One is he fills a huge bench need by being a right-handed hitter with pop that plays all four corner positions. The other is he absolutely has been destroying left-handed pitching to the tune of .368/.455/.737.

Look, I’m not saying that Canzler is going to become the next Jayson Werth or Brandon Moss, but he is definitely an upgrade over John Mayberry Jr. I would expect Canzler to get the call, but having witnessed the blatant dismissal of Brandon Moss for John Bowker, it really wouldn’t surprise me to see the Phillies over look another guy with potential.

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September Call: Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

August 29th, 2014 by Mike H. | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, General, Phillies


If there’s one thing we’ve learned this summer it’s that the bullpen is shifting from a liability to a strength. Led by young guns Jake Diekman, Justin De Fratus, and Ken Giles, the bullpen is slowly but surely being filled with strikeout artists that paint with gas. With it becoming clearer by the day that Jonathan Papelbon and Antonio Bastardo will be moved either by Sunday or in the off-season, the Phillies will have an opening in 2015. One nominee will most likely be Cuban import, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.

Granted the Phillies could attempt to stretch out Gonzalez, or MAGs, in an attempt to add him to the rotation, but why not leave him in the position he’s succeeded in all season. MAGs has thrived in the bullpen so far. Granted the 27-year old has been feasting on more inexperienced competition over three levels to the tune of a 2.36 ERA, a 11:4 strikeout to walk ratio, and a WHIP just over 1.00. While he may not hit triple digits like Giles, MAGs has been sitting in the mid-to-upper 90s.

The Iron Pigs’ season comes to close on Monday, so it’s very possible MAGs could be a Tuesday addition. MAGs has two years of team control remaining after signing a 3 year, $12M contract last summer and it looks like his debut isn’t too far off.

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September Call: Maikel Franco

August 28th, 2014 by Mike H. | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, General, Phillies


On September 1st, major league rosters will expand from 25 active players to 40. Many fans and media members have been clamoring for Maikel Franco to be called up once AAA Lehigh Valley’s season is completed. The Phillies have not been as committal to a promotion, stating consistent playing time is a big factor. While Franco’s 2013 season and the second half of his 2014 season have given fans hope, it may make sense to wait until next June to call him up.

First off, Franco did struggle considerably the first month of the season. The adjustment period versus the available playing time at the big league level could potentially be even worse than the adjustment to AAA pitching. Not that I think it will affect him negatively to come up. I just think if you’re going to bring him up, make sure he plays.

More so, I want him to have a break. Franco played in Reading up until the beginning of September last year. He then proceeded to play from mid-October to late-December in the Dominican Winter League. Then after a few short weeks, Franco was back at it in Spring Training. Basically, Franco has been doing nothing but baseball for at least 70 of the last 78 weeks.

For as much as I want this team to turn the page, there’s no unselfish reason that justifies seeing Franco in red pinstripes. Whether Franco plays or not the last few weeks, it won’t prove anything positively or negatively. The sample size just won’t be significant enough.

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Is Ruben Amaro, Jr. the worst GM in Phillies’ history?

August 27th, 2014 by Kyle Lutz | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, Phillies

Perhaps so.


Amaro took over for his predecessor, Pat Gillick, in 2009 following Gillick’s retirement from baseball after the Phillies won the World Series in 2008. Gillick was here for three years, from 2006-08, taking the team to the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons in 2007. The year before, in his first season here, the team came within just three games of a playoff spot; after winning 85 in the regular season (the Dodgers were the NL wild-card representative that year with 88 wins). And following the former accomplishment, Gillick took the team all the way; a feat that hadn’t been done by a GM in Philly in 28 years.

Gillick did a good job in his role, keeping the core group of talented players on the team and adding key bench players to make the team even better, especially in close games (e.g. Matt Stairs, Geoff Jenkins). Although Wade set the tone for the future Phillies’ success with his strong draft picks, Gillick kept those star draft picks around, but did more to compete. He did this, unlike Wade, by adding complementary players (see above), not overpaying for free-agent talent, and making the necessary trades to fill holes.

Amaro, Jr. was primed to be Gillick’s successor, and ultimately did so a month after the ’08 World Series concluded. Dissecting Amaro, Jr’s general-manager career, the secret is out; he’s not a good one, to say the least. Most fans have complained about his frequent impatience and constant flurry of trades of minor-league talent/highly-touted prospects.

(Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Backtracking a bit, prior to Gillick,  Ed Wade was the Phillies’ GM from 1998-2005. Wade’s teams during his entire tenure had a combined win total of 643, with a winning percentage of 0.496 and average win total/year of 80. Wade’s contributions and success often go unnoticed and/or unappreciated, since the team didn’t make the playoffs once during his eight-year tenure. On top of that, he signed veterans Mike Lieberthal and David Bell to lucrative contracts during the end of their careers. Lastly, he also included no-trade clauses in Bobby AbreuJim Thome and Pat Burrell‘s contracts.

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