Archive for September, 2014

Crucial Off-season Arrives For Amaro, Phils; Expect Some Major Changes for 2015

September 30th, 2014 by Jim Chesko | Comments Off on Crucial Off-season Arrives For Amaro, Phils; Expect Some Major Changes for 2015 | Filed in Baseball, General, Phillies

After a second-straight 73-89 season and the franchise’s first last-place finish since 2000, the Phillies now embark on a crucial off-season – for the future of the team as well as for Ruben Amaro Jr. The general manager, who has one year remaining on his contract, will need to make some drastic moves – and have those moves pay dividends – if he’s to hold onto that job beyond next year.

The good news is that Amaro finally seems to realize that it’s not 2010 or 2011 anymore and that the team’s aging core of veterans isn’t suddenly going to discover the fountain of youth. He admitted the other day that some “significant” changes are warranted, saying “I think we need it. What we have on our roster right now isn’t working.”

Who stays, and who goes? While a lot of fans would probably love to see Amaro channel his inner Sam Hinkie, blow up the roster and start over, that’s unlikely to happen. The guess is that Chase Utley will be the Opening Day second baseman in 2015 and Jimmy Rollins will once again man the fort at shortstop. Both of them will soon turn 36 years old. Utley’s production trailed off significantly in the second half of the 2014 season, but he stayed healthy the entire year and still finished with a .270 batting average. Although Rollins hit just .243, he put up some decent power numbers with 17 home runs and 55 runs batted in, and even managed 28 stolen bases. He’s still one of the top-fielding shortstops in the game. But the rest of starting eight could look quite a bit different next April.

Howard & Co. Look Mystified at the Plate

Howard & Co. Look Mystified at the Plate

The big question for many Phils’ fans: Will Ryan Howard be back at first base? The funny thing is, a lot of fans said last spring they’d be quite happy if Howard could stay healthy and hit about 25 homers with 100 RBIs. Well, he got into 153 games and he belted 23 homers and knocked in 95. Not bad, right? Well, it’s not so good when you also realize he hit just .223, he led the majors in strikeouts with 190, and his .690 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging average) ranked near the bottom among major-league first basemen. Amaro will try hard to trade Howard, probably to an American League team, but the Phils will have to pay a significant chunk of cash to get a deal done; Howard, who soon turns 35, is owed $50 million in salary over the next two years, along with a $10 buyout clause for 2017. Ouch.

The Phillies will also look to upgrade the outfield. Any or all of the mainstays from 2014 – Domonic Brown, Ben Revere and Marlon Byrd – could end up elsewhere next season. A 2013 All-Star, Brown was the Phils’ biggest disappointment in the just-concluded season. He hit just .235 with 10 home runs and frequently looked lost or unsure of himself in left field. Center fielder Revere hit .306 – good for fifth in the National League – and finished tied for the lead in hits with 184, and he swiped 49 bases. But his defense was average at best, and his throwing arm is among the worst in the majors. In right, Byrd was pretty solid, and he put up better numbers than almost anyone could have expected – 25 homers, 85 RBIs and a .264 average. He could be attractive for a team looking for some pop from a corner outfielder or designated hitter.


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Minor League Mondays: Ken Giles

September 30th, 2014 by Mike H. | Comments Off on Minor League Mondays: Ken Giles | Filed in Baseball, Phillies

When the Phillies announced that Ken Giles would be starting the 2014 season at AA Reading after just 25.2 innings in High A Clearwater in 2013, I thought they were rushing him and that he’d be overwhelmed. I thought the same thing when they promoted him to AAA Lehigh Valley after just 15 innings in Reading. I thought the Phillies were down right insane to promote him to the majors after just 13.2 innings in AAA. I mean how could ANY pitcher be successful with just 28.2 innings above the Florida State League? I mean how many times have we seen a thrower that can hit the high 90’s, or even triple digits on the radar gun and not be able to hit the broad side of a barn?

  • AA (Reading): 15.0 innings, 0.87 WHIP, 29:5 K:BB ratio
  • AAA (Lehigh Valley): 13.2 innings, 1.32 WHIP, 9:8 K:BB ratio
  • MLB (Philadelphia): 45.2 innings, 0.79 WHIP, 64:12 K:BB ratio

I was wrong and not even close. Giles was flat dominant this season. Giles’ strikeout rate was actually fourth in the league behind only Janssen, Kimbrel, and Chapman. Pretty good company to be associated with. Giles had a such a phenomenal year that I thought he was a shoe in for the Paul Owens award. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him be close to the top voting for National League Rookie of the Year.

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Holding Out Hope

September 29th, 2014 by Mike H. | Comments Off on Holding Out Hope | Filed in Baseball, Phillies

With the 2014 season finally behind us, the off-season officially can begin. Or can it? I for one am holding onto that last shred of hope that GM Ruben Amaro is let go. While many teams have already started the process of removing people from power, I believe it to be possible that the Phillies are trying to avoid any tampering allegations by not speaking publicly to potential replacements that may be a part of teams heading to the post season. Personally, I hope this is the case.

I believe two men in front offices of playoff bound teams would be good fits. Mike Girsch of the St. Louis Cardinals and David Forst of the Oakland Athletics. Both men have had good mentors to help perfect the art of financial responsibility. Forst, 37, is in his 15th season with the A’s and 11th as assistant general manager. He played four seasons at Harvard where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Forst has studied under Mr. Moneyball himself, Billy Beane. Girsch, however, has studied under John Mozeliak for the last few years. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from Notre Dame and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He was also the director of the analytical based Baseball Development department for three years before becoming assistant GM.

While either man would be an acceptable choice in my eyes, it does seem like Amaro’s job is safe. It’s finally becoming apparent that Pat Gillick was put in place to avoid someone who possibly would dismiss Amaro. Why wouldn’t another member of the ownership group have taken over as president on an interim basis. John Middleton would’ve been an excellent choice. He’s a successful business person who can make big decisions. He was also the most vocal about his disappointment after losing to the Yankees in the 2009 World Series.

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Eagles (3-0) vs. 49ers (1-2) Preview and Staff Predictions

September 28th, 2014 by Sam Shipley | Comments Off on Eagles (3-0) vs. 49ers (1-2) Preview and Staff Predictions | Filed in Eagles, Football, General, NFL


When the schedule first came out, this looked like a game that everyone had circled as a huge game in the season for the Eagles. Many months later it is still a huge game, but it just has a slightly different feel going into it. The Eagles have been far and away the better team of the two as you can see by the teams records, and the Niners really do reflect their record, which is odd for a team with Super Bowl hopes coming into the season.

The two teams are complete opposites when it comes to the way their games have been played so far, and I am not talking about the styles. The Niners have been a much better team in the first half of games, as they are being outscored a whopping 52-3 in 2nd halves so far this year. While the Eagles on the flip side have outscored opponents 74-24 so far in the 2nd half this season.

The Eagles, led by Nick Foles, are sixth in the NFL in total offense, while the Niners come into this game ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense, which means something will have to give in this game.


Injury Report:  (more…)

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Sam’s NFL Week Four Picks

September 27th, 2014 by Sam Shipley | Comments Off on Sam’s NFL Week Four Picks | Filed in General, NFL


Last Week: 11-5

YTD: 32-16

Game                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Winner

Giants @ Washington redskins

Packers @ Bearspackers

Buffalo @ Houston texans


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Fall Guy?

September 27th, 2014 by Mike H. | Comments Off on Fall Guy? | Filed in Baseball, Phillies

The percentage that Ruben Amaro Jr being dismissed from the organization has been declining just as steadily as the team has during his tenure. It now appears that Assistant General Manager Marti Wolever will be the fall guy for the season. Last year it was Charlie Manuel. Wolever had been with the organization for 22 years. He’s been the scouting director since 2001 and has been directly involved in drafting core players such as Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, and Ken Giles.

Does this mean one final year of being “all in”? One more year of other GMs not being aggressive enough? One more year of closing out the season at the bottom of the division standings? Hopefully I’m wrong and Amaro can turn this organization around. I’m just worried that Amaro will continue to put this team further back into baseball obscurity.

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All Locked Up

September 27th, 2014 by Mike H. | Comments Off on All Locked Up | Filed in Baseball, Phillies

Well friends, after last night’s come from behind loss to the Marlins, the Phillies assured themselves of being the worst team in the division. They also are now guaranteed to have one of the ten worst records in baseball, and a top eleven pick in the 2015 first year player draft next June. It also means that if the Phillies sign any player that received a qualifying offer, they will not lose their first round pick.

Whether the Phillies try to go “all in” one last time will be a topic to debate this winter and will probably be determined by the security of GM Ruben Amaro Junior’s position within the organization. With David Montgomery at the helm, Amaro basically received a full vote of confidence. That may not be the situation with Montgomery having to step down temporarily due to health reasons and having Hall of Famer Pat Gillick stepping in. Will Gillick’s extreme opposite approach to constructing an organization be the downfall of Amaro’s reign? Only time will tell, but it may be coup that puts them back on track.

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