Archive for August, 2014

Done Deal

August 30th, 2014 by Mike H. | Comments Off on Done Deal | 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. | Comments Off on September Call: Russ Canzler | 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. | Comments Off on September Call: Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez | 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. | Comments Off on September Call: Maikel Franco | 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 | Comments Off on Is Ruben Amaro, Jr. the worst GM in Phillies’ history? | Filed in Baseball, MLB, Phillies, Sports

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.


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Should The Flyers Re-Explore Acquiring Shea Weber?

August 26th, 2014 by Ryan Waterman | Comments Off on Should The Flyers Re-Explore Acquiring Shea Weber? | Filed in Flyers, General, Hockey


It’s that time of year again. Free Agency has come to a practical standstill, and the rumor mill is running wild, once again. The hot rumor is a very familiar one…will Nashville trade superstar defender Shea Weber? Back in 2012, the Philadelphia Flyers signed Weber to a 14 year, $110 Million dollar contract, and fans were sure that Weber was as good as ours. That was until the frugal Preds splurged and matched the offer, crushing the hearts of Flyer fans, including myself. Now, that the rumor has re-incarnated itself, and Weber’s no-movement clause is up, I beg the question….does Ron Hextall make a splurge and finally land Shea Weber?

It is beyond an obvious statement to say that the Flyers defense is thin. However, with the loss of star defender Kimmo Timonen, the already thin defense has become paper-thin. While the signing of youngster Michael Del Zotto earlier this week helped, it still doesn’t make up for the fact that Kimmo is missing. Without the production of the Finnish defender, the Flyers lose their power play QB, their top offensive defender, and one of their top defensive defenders. There is not one defender currently on the roster that could step in to Timmo’s shoes. But, the only man who can, is Shea Weber. Weber is a much younger, maybe even more productive version of Timonen, taking into account that Kimmo is 37, Shea isn’t even 30.

Don’t get me wrong, the price would obviously be high….but, well worth it. The Preds would require offensive talent in return, and the Flyers have a decent amount of young, offensively talented prospects that are attractive. Guys like Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Scott Laughton, Tye McGinn, and Nick Cousins just to name a few. These youngsters would all be attractive options in a package heading back to Nashville, but like I said….the price is going to be steep. It would likely take 2-3 of the guys listed above, maybe another prospect and at least one first-round pick to pry Weber out of the Music City.

On paper, that may seem like a steep price, but it’s really not. Well, not for the level of play Weber provides. Weber is a Norris trophy contender every year, he is one of the top offensive defenders in the league, and is a legit lockdown defender. He is one of those “once in a generation” defenders, along the lines of Nicklas Lidstrom. Imagine what the Flyers defense would’ve been like had Flyers brass drafted the Swedish defender back in the 1989 entry draft?  Scary, huh?  Think of that, but modern-day with Weber.

What Weber would bring to Philly, is a breath of fresh air. It would take some pressure off of the offense via both ends of the ice, it would lighten some of the load on Steve Mason, and Shea would improve the play of everyone surrounding him. Weber brings out the best in his teammates, and if given the chance, I feel partnering him with Del Zotto would make for one of the most dangerous top-line duos in the NHL. Couple that with the pairings of MacDonald/Streit & Grossman/Schenn, and the Flyers wealth of young, talented defensive prospects…it could make the Flyers blue line a force for the foreseeable future.


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The Rise And Fall Of The Philadelphia Phillies

August 23rd, 2014 by Ryan Waterman | Comments Off on The Rise And Fall Of The Philadelphia Phillies | Filed in Baseball, General, Phillies


September 14, 2007…..a day that changed Philadelphia Phillies history. Entering that fateful day, the NL East leading Mets were seven games up on the Phillies, who were heavily favored to win the NL East and were dubbed as “the team to beat in the NL East” by shortstop Jimmy Rollins. On this day, the Mets began an epic collapse,( that eventually gave the Phils the East) with a 3-2 loss to the Phils. Over the next 16 games the Phillies went 12-4, while the Mets blew a major division lead behind a horrible 5-11 record. That was the start of the most exciting period of Phillies baseball in franchise history.

With their newly won NL East crown, the Phillies rode major momentum into Coors Field to face the Colorado Rockies. That’s where we met a buzzsaw, losing 3 games to 1 to the eventual National League champs. Despite the lack of playoff success that year, the Phillies fan base knew bigger things were on the horizon. Just not sure of how big though. Entering the 2008 season, the Phillies-Mets rivalry was at another all-time high. Mets Outfielder Carlos Beltran had declared the Mets “the team to beat in the entire NL” that season. The Mets were in a similar position entering the final 17 games of the 08′ season, up 3 1/2 games on the Phillies. Yet, they neglected to hold that lead, once again giving their enemies down I-95 a division title to celebrate. Little did Met fans know what that was going to do.

With the Phillies riding a 13-3 record in their final 16 to back to back NL East titles, they once again entered the playoffs with red-hot momentum. This time, things would turn out differently, as the Phillies went on to bring home the first World Series championship this city had seen since 1980. They made quick work, going 11-3 in the postseason, breezing their way to the world title. As one can imagine, this just added fuel to the fire of the Phillies-Mets rivalry.

Following a surprising World Title victory, the Phillies coasted to 3 years of regular season dominance, yet 3 years of postseason decline. The trade deadline of 2009 saw the Phillies take a major step forward and acquire ace Cliff Lee from the Cleveland Indians for prospects. Behind Lee’s arm, the Phils once again reached the Fall Classic, this time losing to the Yankees in 6 games. That following offseason, the Phils swapped one ace for another by dealing Cliff Lee in a three-team trade that netted them longtime Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay.

The following season, the Phils netted the best record in all of baseball behind the arms of Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, and mid-season acquisition Roy Oswalt. During the offseason, the Phils brought back Cliff Lee, after emerging as a late mystery team. This gave them arguably the best rotation in baseball, entering the 2011 season. Going into the 2011 season, the Phils expectations were high. Those same expectations grew even higher due to the acquisition of Hunter Pence. Once again, the Phillies had the fans buying into the hype, only to come up short in the NLDS to eventual champions; the St.Louis Cardinals. Entering the offseason, the Phillies faced a large amount of problems, including the losses of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley to injury, and the uncertainty of Ryan Madson’s skill as closer. The latter of the two was solved with the pinstripes signing of Jonathan Papelbon, the highly coveted closer from the Boston Red Sox.


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