Friday, May 7, 2010

Moving Day

I have decided to move this site to  I felt the change needed to be made as Phillie Nation is just too close to the popular Phillies Nation and in all honesty I should have never named it this.  Outside of the name change nothing else will be different about the new site.  I am excited about the change to "The Phranchise" as it abides the Philadelphia law of changing all Fs to PHs and in a way it honors the best basketball player ever, Steve "The Franchise" Francis.  Please enjoy.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Aumont Changing Things Up

Phillippe Aumont is adjusting nicely to minor league camp as he had an impressive outing yesterday against the double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.  Aumont pitched 3 perfect innings while striking out 4 and allowed only 1 flyball out.  Aumont has seemed to recover nicely from his outing in which he went 2/3 of an inning against FSU and allowed 5 runs.

It has been reported that the Phillies are tinkering with his delivery in hopes to improve his control.  The Phillies scouted Aumont when he was in high school and believe that his delivery has significantly changed since then.  The Phillies have sat down with Aumont in recent weeks to show him the difference and see if he can get back to what he was doing in high school, which was throwing at more of a 3/4 angle instead of an over the top motion.  This occurred because the Mariners organization viewed him as a reliever and wanted to utilize his 4-seam fastball over his sinker.  An over the top motion will increase velocity, but will take away from a pitcher's ability to add movement to a pitch, it also increases the chance of injury as it adds pressure on the elbow.

Aumont has an incredible amount of potential as he has 3 pitches (4-seamer, sinker, curveball) that can potentially be viewed as plus pitches.  Aumont also throws a changeup but it is a work in progress at this point.  The issue with Aumont, similar to almost all young pitchers, is whether or not he can control those pitches.  If Aumont can find comfort in his new delivery and control his pitches, the Phillies may have gotten more for Cliff Lee than originally thought.  2010 will be a big year for Aumont's development so it's good news that he's in Reading where they have been known to succeed in developing pitchers.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Is Kyle Kendrick For Real?

Roy Halladay is a 2-time 20 game winner, a Cy Young Award winner, he comes from the best division in baseball, and he was involved in one of the biggest baseball trades in a long time. Yet he seems to be garnering significantly less attention than rotation hopeful Kyle Kendrick. Can this really be possible? Maybe it is because most baseball fans know what they are getting in Halladay and when they get dominating performances out of him it just seems like the norm. Maybe it is because Philadelphia fans have been talking about him for over 3 months and have read all the articles that they can handle. Of course that is impossible. Maybe it is because Halladay is intentionally hiding from the media. Whatever it is, Kyle Kendrick seems to be getting all the attention. This, coming from a pitcher who was not a high round draft pick, who does not have an overpowering fastball, who failed in his short time as a major leaguer, and who spent the majority of last year in the minors.

Kendrick's last 3 seasons have been eventful to say the least. Kendrick was the unheralded hero on the Phillies 2007 squad that ended a 13 year playoff drought. Kendrick was brought up in replacement of Freddy Garcia, who was injured, or just being thrown in a dumpster somewhere, as his era was 5.90 and climbing. Kendrick, at the time, was 22 years old and having a very nice season at AA Reading. The Phillies reached pretty far with Kendrick, as the high minors were very empty and the major league squad was incredibly thin in starting pitching. To say Kendrick performed admirably or exceeded expectations would be a severe understatement. He went 10-4 in 20 starts, and posted a 3.87 era. The Phillies needed every single win that year as they clinched on the very last day of the season. Without Kendrick, the Phillies would not have come close to allowing the Mets to display the biggest collapse in baseball history.

Kendrick went into 2008 with supreme confidence and may have been a little too cocky as it seemed that he was completely unprepared for spring training and the regular season. To make matters worse, the one thing that Kendrick had going for him, his confidence, took a serious hit when the entire Phillies franchise pulled a prank on him. Everyone from Brett Myers to Ruben Amaro Jr., was involved in the prank that told Kendrick that he was traded to Japan for the hot dog eating champion, Koboyashi Iwamura.

Once the regular season started, Kendrick was quickly finding out how tough it was to stick as a major league pitcher. He had such success in 2007 he didn’t find the need to make adjustments as it seemed the league wasn’t familiar enough with him. As with many pitchers, as the league becomes more familiar with a pitcher, the less success that pitcher usually has. When this occurs the pitcher better be able to make adjustments or his time will not last too long. This happened to Kendrick from his very first start in 08 and it only got worse. In 2008 Kendrick’s era sat in the 5.00 range for the majority of the season until he was pulled from the rotation at the end of September. Kendrick finished the season with a 5.49 era and an astounding 1.612 WHIP. The interesting thing was that in Kendrick’s 30 starts, the Phillies had a record of 18-12. That was still not enough to keep Kendrick in the rotation as he just kept on putting up dismal outings when it mattered most. After a full year and a half in the Phillies starting rotation he was left completely off the playoff roster and was forced to watch the World Series run from his couch.

I want to say that this was the low point in Kendrick’s career, but that is not the case. In the upcoming spring, the Phillies setup an open competition for the 5th starter spot with Kendrick, young JA Happ, veteran Chan Ho Park, and top prospect Carlos Carrasco. The Phillies clearly wanted Kendrick to win the job but he pitched so horribly in spring training again that they had no choice but to send him to the minors. The Phillies hoped that this would be a good situation for Kendrick as he wouldn’t have to focus on results but could focus more on developing his other off speed pitches. Kendrick clearly disagreed with the organization and instead viewed it solely as a demotion.

The approach in which Kendrick took was absolutely horrible and it really deterred him from succeeding early on in 2009. Kendrick had a FIP of 3.93 and 4.70 to go along with a WHIP of 1.35 and 1.50 in the first 2 months of the season. Once Kendrick decided to place an emphasis on learning and developing his new pitches, his season really turned around and the organization really took notice. Kendrick posted a FIP of 2.76 and a WHIP of 0.85 in July which is really when he started getting comfortable with his new array of pitches. By season’s end, Kendrick ranked 5th in ERA, 3rd in WHIP, and 10th in innings pitched within the International League. By the time the Phillies were ready for September call ups, Kendrick was first on the list and he proved that he was ready to be back in the majors. When Kendrick was given his opportunity he did not disappoint as he posted a 3.42 ERA in 26 innings. Even though 26 innings is hardly enough time to truly assess a pitcher, it was clear that Kendrick had vastly improved in his one season at Lehigh Valley.

The issue with Kendrick was that he had a good sinker that had very good movement but that was basically it. He did throw a slider as well but it was rudimentary which made the sinker way too predictable for a major league pitcher. Once a pitcher becomes predictable in this league his days become numbered very quickly. This is the main reason that Kendrick was forced down to the minors. In his time in the minors, Kendrick worked on developing a changeup and improving his slider. Based on the innings he pitched in September last year, along with his spring training appearances this year, it is safe to say that Kendrick succeeded at reaching the goal that the organization set for him 2009.

The thing that appears most interesting about Kendrick is that he is throwing a cutter with great movement and control out of nowhere. We all knew that Kendrick had a good sinker and he was confident in his changeup, but before spring training there was absolutely no news about Kendrick adding a cutter to his repertoire. Obviously I’d be an idiot if I didn’t mention Roy Halladay. It can’t be a coincidence that Kendrick pulls a cutter out of nowhere the same time that Roy Halladay, who throws probably the second best cutter in baseball, arrives.

It’s no secret that Kendrick has latched on to Halladay and is trying to mimic his pitches, his movement, his location, even his ginger beard. It really is quite funny to see on camera because you can’t find a shot of Roy without Kyle standing right next to him. Kendrick has reportedly been showing up to practice even before Halladay and Manuel, which usually sits at about 5 a.m.  If Kendrick ever had the ability to improve as a pitcher, or athlete, or baseball player, he has clearly taken every step necessary to do it. Few have worked harder in spring training and in the offseason and it really seems to be paying off for him.

Even though they seem like meaningless Grapefruit League outings, Kendrick has been absolutely amazing and has basically been perfect in his 9 innings. Kendrick has not allowed a run this spring, but even more impressive is that he’s issued 0 walks and allowed only 4 hits. The only pitching aspect that Kendrick could improve upon this spring is his strikeout rate. Few pitchers are able to succeed in the majors while striking out less than 5 batters per 9 innings, so Kendrick does need to miss a few more bats. With the way Kendrick's pitches are moving this spring, I really can't see that being an issue.  In the first spring training game against the Yankees I really couldn't believe my eyes watching Kendrick pitch.  He looked as good as Halladay if not better in those 2 short innings.  The cutter, sinker, changeup, all have looked, dare I say "filthy?"  I am really trying to not overrate the 9 innings he's pitched in spring training but it's hard not to like what he could potentially add to our rotation.  All in all, Kendrick has shown great pitch selection, variation, movement, location, and the ability to become a leach to the best pitcher in baseball. Now it is up to the Phillies organization to show that they are able to learn from their mistakes and not screw up like they did last year (Happ/Park).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

2010 League Predictions

The 2009 offseason was very uneventful in that not many teams got much better or worse. All of the top the teams in both leagues should have similar success in 2010. The NL teams did almost nothing to change the outlay of their roster and the AL was almost as boring with the exception of Seattle and Boston. Without the Lee/Halladay trades, this offseason would have been completely nonexistent due to the horrible collection of free agents. The most impressive offseason easily goes to the Mariners as they acquired Cliff Lee and Chone Figgins while retaining Eric Bedard at a very reasonable price. They are really the only non-playoff team that really put themselves in an opportunity to seriously contend in 2010.

Since there were not many big contracts given out there really were no true losers in the offseason. With that being said, the Mets still appear to be lost. The Mets did acquire Jason Bay who is a quality middle of the order hitter as he provides some much needed power to their lineup, but everyone and their mother agrees that they overpaid. Bay is also known for being a notoriously bad defensive outfielder and putting him in the cavernous outfield of Citi Field will make him look like Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump.

So after it is all said and done, here are my 2010 predictions. Nothing too surprising outside of one or two teams in each league. As I feel it is a bit more relevant I have gone into more depth on the NL East teams. I have also put the team MVPs and their surprise player who are either impact rookies or just players who have significantly larger impact than expected.

NL East

1. Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies are easily the best team in the National League and anybody that disagrees needs to stop being a pretend baseball fan and go back to watching that communist sport with the sticks and black discs. Amongst National League teams, the Phillies have the best offense, defense, baserunning, and arguably the best pitcher. The Phillies could also sport the best rotation if Hollywood returns to his 2008 form and Happ continues his early success. Of course it would have been amazing if Lee was still on the team but I understand why Amaro did what he did. The additions of Polanco and Contreras are really going to improve the Phillies. 2010 should be a smooth ride barring any serious injuries. The Phillies have no real competition in their division or in the NL so there isn’t much more to analyze so I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the domination early and often.

MVP: Roy Halladay
Surprise: Antonio Bastardo

2. Atlanta Braves

The Braves are the best team in the NL not from Philadelphia and they will be the wildcard this year. 90 wins for this team is attainable. The Braves have almost nobody worth fearing in their offense or pitching staff but at the same time no real weakness exists on this team. A healthy Wagner, Chipper, and Hudson can make this team a legitimate contender. The Braves possess 2 of the best young players in baseball with Tommy Hanson and Jason Heyward. If both of those players can consistently display their talents in 2010 the Braves could go further than expected. It’s tough to not be high on a team with as much pitching as them.

MVP: Chipper Jones
Surprise: Jason Heyward

3. Florida Marlins

The Florida Marlins are always the most difficult team in the majors to predict. They are almost never as good or bad as people project them to be. Hanley Ramirez is an absolute monster and is one of the top 5 players in the league and Josh Johnson is a legitimate Cy Young candidate. Other than that there are a lot of questions but along with those questions, a lot of potential. The Marlins will be one of streakiest teams this year and will strike fear into their opponents for about 2 months until they drop off at the end of the season.

MVP: Hanley Ramirez
Surprise: Cameron Maybin

4. New York Mets

Oh the New York Metropolitans, what a funny team to have in your division. It really makes great entertainment to see the nonstop hype around this team followed by the nonstop disaster that is their franchise. Their GM and manager clearly do not understand what is going on as they had an embarrassing 2009 season and did almost nothing to improve. Jason Bay was a quality acquisition when you avoid looking at the price that came along with him. I mean seriously, who else was actually negotiating with him that he got almost $70 million. Anyways, as I said, Bay is a decent middle of the order hitter who will provide some power to their lineup. At the same time, the Mets did absolutely nothing to improve their biggest weaknesses which were middle relief and starting pitching. They have an amazing closer and one of the best pitchers in baseball in Johan Santana. With all things taken into account, assuming they stay healthy which is a huge assumption, the Mets should provide a high outage of runs but allow many more. The Mets should finish anywhere between 3rd and 4th within this division and that has more to do with the performance of the Marlins than the Mets.

MVP: Johan Santana
Surprise: Daniel Murphy

5. Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals are kind of like that nerdy kid in the neighborhood who is horrible at sports but your still nice and let him play. The Nats are so irrelevant I fought myself on whether or not they were actually worth writing a paragraph on them. So instead I write a paragraph on how pointless of a franchise they are. That is nothing against the Nationals as they played in Montreal and San Juan for a long time. Talk about bad luck. Anyways, they are building a solid foundation in Zimmerman and Strasburg, and Bryce Harper will be joining pretty soon. All in all, the Nats again will be bottom dwellers but Strasburg will be enough for them to actually garner some attention, at least regionally.

MVP: Ryan Zimmerman
Surprise: Nyjer Morgan

NL Central

1. Houston Astros

MVP: Hunter Pence
Surprise: Brett Myers

2. St. Louis Cardinals

MVP: Albert Pujols
Surprise: Colby Rasmus

3. Milwaukee Brewers

MVP: Ryan Braun
Surprise: Rickie Weeks

4. Chicago Cubs

MVP: Derek Lee
Surprise: Carlos Marmol

5. Cincinnati Reds

MVP: Joey Votto
Surprise: Jay Bruce

6. Pittsburgh Pirates

MVP: Garrett Jones
Surprise: Andrew McCutchen

NL West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

MVP: Matt Kemp
Surprise: James Loney

2. Colorado Rockies

MVP: Todd Helton
Surprise: Carlos Gonzalez

3. San Francisco Giants

MVP: Tim Lincecum
Surprise: Madison Bumgarner

4. Arizona Diamondbacks

MVP: Justin Upton
Surprise: Edwin Jackson

5. San Diego Padres

MVP: Adrian Gonzalez
Surprise: Kyle Banks

AL East

1. Tampa Bay Rays

MVP: Jason Bartlett
Surprise: Sean Rodriguez

2. New York Yankees

MVP: Mark Texeira
Surprise: Phil Hughes

3. Boston Red Sox

MVP: Victor Martinez
Surprise: Clay Buchholz

4. Baltimore Orioles

MVP: Nick Markakis
Surprise: Brian Matusz

5. Toronto Blue Jays

MVP: Vernon Wells
Surprise: Travis Snyder

AL Central

1. Minnesota Twins

MVP: Joe Mauer
Surprise: Denard Span

2. Chicago White Sox

MVP: Jake Peavy
Surprise: Gavin Floyd

3. Detroit Tigers

MVP: Miguel Cabrera
Surprise: Max Sherzer

4. Kansas City Royals

MVP: Billy Butler
Surprise: Kila Ka'ai

5. Cleveland Indians

MVP: Shin Soo-Choo
Surprise: Lou Marson (shocker)

AL West

1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

MVP: Bobby Abreu
Surprise: Howie Kendrick

2. Seattle Mariners

MVP: Cliff Lee
Surprise: Milton Bradley

3. Texas Rangers

MVP: Ian Kinsler
Surprise: Chris Davis

4. Oakland Athletics

MVP: Andrew Bailey
Surprise: Michael Taylor (shocker)

Phillies over the Houston Ed Wades
Braves over Dodgers

Yankees over Angels
Rays over Twins

Phillies over Braves

Rays over Yankees

Yup 08 Repeat. Phils over Rays but in a closer series.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Return of Hollywood

2009 was a year to forget for many, among those were Jimmy Rollins, Brad Lidge, Yankee Haters, and the creditors union. The list could really go on forever but today we address Colbert "Hollywood" Hamels and his attempt to extinguish the memory of the 2009 season.

Hamels was an absolute phenom when he made his major league debut for the Phillies in 2006. Some viewed him as the savior of the franchise and he did not disappoint. Hamels helped the Phillies get to the playoffs in his first full season, he then carried them to the Broad Street Parade of World F***in Champions the next year.
In Hamels's first full season he was named to the National League All-Star team and finished 6th in the Cy Young race. The following year, Hamels pitched 227 innings and led the Majors in WHIP, while posting a paltry 3.09 era. Once the postseason came, Hamels then all of a sudden turned into Walter Johnson as he went 4-0 in 35 innings and posted a 1.80 era earning him MVP honors of the NLCS and the World Series. This all occurred at the age of 24.

Who's Partyin?? Hollywood Hamels, that's who!!

Then 2009 came and he got a raw backhand to the face in spring training and never recovered. In 2009, Hamels posted career a worst in winning%, losses, era, hits, whip, basically every single pitching stat that exists. He had a few really good outings that restored hope in Philadelphia but that never materialized as he couldn't pull it together by playoff time. The 2009 playoffs didn't go as swimmingly as 2008 as Hamels went 1-2 in 19 innings while posting an era (7.56) that chased the height of Philadelphia basketball hero, Shawn "the stick" Bradley.

Hamels appeared as if he did nothing in the offseason after the World Series and it really affected his 2009 performance. Hamels has gotten alot of crap for partying too much during the 08 offseason. Ya, you try and become the most decorated postseason hero in Philadelphia history at 24 years old and focus on the task at hand. Good luck.

There is no question that Hamels is one of the most talented pitchers in baseball. You don't post great numbers like he did in the minors and his first 3 years in the majors without being talented. Every single great pitcher in this league has gone through struggles after their early success except Tim Lincecum, I guess that is why he's named "the freak." Hamels posted a 4.3 era at 25 years of age, Halladay posted a 4.2 era at 27, Beckett posted a 5.0 era at 26, Chris Carpenter had a 6.2 era when he was 25, and Cliff Lee even got demoted when he was 28.

Hamels seems to have learned his lesson as he has put in some serious work during the offseason. It appears that Hamels has been working on several different offspeed pitches along with developing arm strength early in the season. I believe that the struggles of 2009 will help out Hamels in the long run as it has forced him to refocus himself. I predict a Cy Young type season for Cole. Hollywood will be back with a vengeance.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

THE Prospect List

Over the past few weeks there have been many prospect lists being published. Well I am here to give you my Phillies prospect list. I have said before that it is difficult to compare the value of pitchers to position players so here is the top 25 in both category. Overall the Phillies farm system is much better than people believe. Obviously it was stronger last year as we have lost Marson, Knapp, Carrasco, Donald, Drabek, Taylor, and D'Arnaud. Still, the Phillies have plenty of high ceiling players in the low minors. The Phillies have a plethora of good prospects, it just doesn't seem this way because they are all 18,19,20 years old and are at the very least 2+ years away. Anyways here it the top 50 overall.

Organizational Levels
(AAA) Lehigh Valley IronPigs
(AA) Reading Phillies
(A) Clearwater Threshers
(A-) Lakewood BlueClaws
(A--) Williamsport Crosscutters
(A---) Gulf Coast League Phillies

Pitchers AcronymKey:
RHSP: Right Handed Starting Pitcher
LHSP: Left Handed Starting Pitcher
RHRP: Right Handed Relief Pitcher
LHRP: Left Handed Relief Pitcher


Rank Player Position Level
1 Phillippe Aumont RHSP/RHRP AA
2 Trevor May RHSP A-
3 Antonio Bastardo LHSP/LHRP MLB
4 Jarred Cosart RHSP A---
5 J.C. Ramirez RHSP/RHRP AA
6 Brody Colvin RHSP RHSP A---
7 Scott Mathieson RHRP AA
8 Steven Inch RHSP A---
9 Vance Worley RHSP AA
10 BJ Rosenberg RHRP AA
11 Andrew Carpenter RHSP AAA
12 Colby Shreve RHSP A---
13 Michael Stutes RHSP AA
14 Michael Cisco RHSP AA
15 Yohan Flande RHSP AA
16 Jonathan Pettibone RHSP A--
17 Matt Way LHSP A-
18 Jesus Sanchez RHSP A-
19 Justin Defratus RHRP A-
20 Edgar Garcia RHSP A-
21 Julio Rodriguez RHRP A---
22 Austin Hyatt RHSP/RHRP A-
23 Michael Schwimmer RHRP AA
24 Joe Savery LHSP/LHRP AAA
25 Tyler Cloyd RHSP A

Position Players

Rank Player Position Level
1 Domonic Brown RF/LF AA
2 Tyson Gillies CF AA
3 Anthony Gose CF A-
4 Jonathan Singleton 1B A---
5 Sebastian Valle C A-
6 Domingo Santana RF/LF A---
7 Freddy Galvis SS AA
8 Kyrell Hudson CF A-
9 Zach Collier OF A-
10 Jiwan James CF A--
11 Jonathan Villar SS A---
12 Kelly Dugan RF/LF A---
13 John Mayberry Jr. RF/LF AAA
14 Stephen Susdorf RF/LF AA
15 Leandro Castro CF A-
16 D'Arby Myers CF A-
17 Quintin Berry CF AA
18 Francisco Diaz C A---
19 Tim Kennelly C/3B/OF AA
20 Jeremy Barnes SS A--
21 Anthony Hewitt OF A--
22 Aaron Altherr OF A---
23 Adam Buschini 2B A--
24 Travis Mattair 3B A-
25 Cesar Hernandez 2B A---

Some notes about my list.

Personal Favs:

Bastardo- Maybe best stuff. Would have put #1 if they gave him a chance to start.
Cosart- Absurd athlete. Had a great rookie season even though very small sample size.
Cisco- Insane control. Better name.
Singleton- Great Discipline and power potential. Best pure hitter in the system.
Gillies- Most have him worse than Gose. Similar skills but I like Gillies patience and bat in the long run.
Hudson- Crazy athleticism and he may be faster than Gose.

Monday, February 1, 2010

BastardBall: Too Much For Dominica

Ruben Amaro Jr. has made it official that Bastardo will work exclusively as a reliever in 2010 and has taken the appropriate measures to make sure Bastardo is ready for the transition. Antonio Bastardo has been pitching down in the Dominican Winter League and has been nothing short of domination. In 23 innings he has posted a 0.78 era, allowed only 9 hits and 5 walks, while striking out 32 batters.

Here is a link that explains his amazingness in better fashion

Bastardo will be in the pen the entire season and will be the primary lefty reliever when romero is injured. Assuming Madson stays with the Phillies after his current contract is up, the Phillies bullpen appears to have a very strong future. Madson, Bastardo, Mathieson, Rosenberg, and Schwimer should all have successful careers for the Phillies for years to come.

The 2010 major league bullpen will have its share of injuries like every bullpen does, and when that happens the Phillies will not need to sign or trade anyone because they will have a schmorgesborg of relief options down on the farm.

Phillies Prospect Arrested

Phillies pitching prospect, Brody Colvin, was arrested yesterday morning due to having too good of a time it would appear.

According to a spokesman for the Lafayette County Sheriff's Office, Colvin -- was charged with disturbing the peace, simple battery and resisting an officer in Jefferson Street -- an area known for its bars -- at 2:20 a.m. ET Sunday morning.

Colvin was drafted last year by the Phillies in the 7th round out of St. Thomas More High School in Louisiana. Colvin, being 19 years of age, seems to be enjoying his celebrity a little too much. Many will crucify Colvin for this, I say let the kid live a little. He was given a $900,000 signing bonus at 18 years old. At least he's spending it in the proper way, droppin dimes at as many places that will serve him. It turns out that in Louisiana, that is about every place.

Cole Hamels got in similar trouble when he got in a bar fight when he was 19. He also broke his hand in that bar fight which cost him some time on the DL. That's right, Cole Hamels, bar fight, go figure. Anyways, Hamels turned out to be a decent pitcher so the concern isn't too high for Colvin.

Colvin is a high risk high reward type prospect. He clearly is already cashing in on the risk side of that but he also has incredible potential. I currently have him rated as the 6th best pitching prospect in the Phillies system. He only pitched 2 innings in the GCL in 2009 so he is nowhere close to reaching the majors, but he projects as a very good starting pitcher down the road.

It was sad to see Brett "Kenny Powers" Myers leave. At least it seems like the Phillies are grooming another Kenny Powers in the system.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Pitching Prosect #7: B.J. Rosenberg

B.J. Rosenberg is my next rated pitching prospect and he lands at the #7 spot. This is much higher than most people rate Rosenberg due to his lack of pre-draft hype and the fact that he is a relief pitcher. Relief pitching prospects typically hold less organizational value compared to starting pitching prospects. This is another reason why the Phillies recently converted Phillipe Aumont to a starter.

Rosenberg was drafted in the 13th round in 2008, out of the University of Louisville. There, Rosenberg was a starter until he had a shoulder injury which forced him to miss the entire 2007 season. When Rosenberg came back from injury, the Louisville Cardinals converted him to a reliever where he really seemed more comfortable.

Rosenberg has really forced his way into the prospect rankings due to his success at the minor league level. At the time of the draft, he was not highly touted in any way and wasn't really expected to make the major league roster anytime soon. Rosenberg has completely dominated in his 2 years as a minor league relief pitcher, and that cannot be ignored. In 2008, Rosenberg pitched at Williamsport and completely embarrassed the New York Penn League hitters. In 36 innings, he went 3-1 with 10 saves and posted a 1.00 era, Rosenberg struck out 52 batters compared to only 15 walks. In 2009, Rosenberg continued his dominance as he started the year in Lakewood and finished up in Reading. Rosenberg pitched a total of 61 innings between the two leagues and finished with a 7-3 record and 22 saves. He posted a 1.18 era while striking out 73 batters compared to only 14 walks.

Rosenberg will probably start the 2010 season at Reading, as he didn't pitch too much at that level. Assuming Rosenberg continues his success, he will probably see Lehigh Valley pretty quickly in 2010. The Phillies think enough of Rosenberg that he will be invited to spring training this year, so it will be nice to see what he can do against actual major league hitters. He hosts a 92-95 mph fastball and a good slider, he also has a changeup but doesn't use it too often. The most impressive thing about B.J. is his ability to command his pitches as he can throw them at anytime. He is 23 years old and due to the combination of his pitching ability and maturity, he probably has the ability to get major league hitters out right now. He also may get the chance to prove that in 2010 as Contreras is 38 years old, Baez and Durbin have both been injured in the past 2 years, and both Romero and Lidge will start the season on the DL. If the Phillies bullpen does need to bring somebody up, Rosenberg will probably get a look right after Mathieson.

Phils Sign Jose Contreras

The Phillies are reported to have signed Jose Contreras to a 1-year deal. Contreras had a 4.92 era in 2009 so the signing doesn't hold much promise, especially when considering that he is 38 years of age. Amaro hasn't made any official comment on the signing, so the amount of the deal isn't known at this point. Due to Contreras's decline in recent years I couldn't imagine that the Phils reached too deep into their pockets for this one, or at least I hope not. This signing reminds me alot of the Ryan Franklin signing. Lets hope this works out better. Both have been starters for their entire career with a handful of relief appearences. The Phillies will allow Contreras to compete for the 5th rotational spot but it is clear that the Phillies want that to go to Kyle Kendrick. At this point I think the Phillies see Contreras as a good long relief option and if anything else, just decent insurance policy for Kendrick/Moyer.

Phillies Extend Victorino

On Friday the Phillies officially signed Shane Victorino to a multi-year extension. They signed him for $22 million over 3 years. $7.33 million per year is very fair for Victorino even though he was only asking for $5.8 million in arbitration this year. This keeps Victorino on the Phillies through his first year of free agency where he probably would of demanded a much larger annual salary along with more years, especially after his projected increase in power and rbi numbers in the 2010 season. Yes, that will happen while batting in the 7-hole for 162 games. This was an intelligent fiscal move by Amaro because it locks up an elite centerfielder. It is very nice to see a general manager of a championship team thinking multiple years down the road. It is also nice to see a general manager not locking players up to extensively long contracts.

The only negative one can take out of this signing would be the departure of Werth. Unless Amaro trades somebody in the offseason, Werth is guaranteed to be hitting the free agent market. From there, Werth will be gone as he will be searching a substantial pocket enhancer. I just hope that the Mets won't be pursuing him. That would blow. Even before the Victorino signing it appeared that the Phillies wouldn't be able to resign Werth, so it's not really devastating. At least our 2011 rightfielder won't be looking like this. What the hell was he thinking.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Phillies Extend Blanton

The Phillies have just signed a 3 year extension with Joe Blanton worth $24 million. By extending Big Joe, the Phillies avoid arbitration where they could have potentially, but unlikely, paid him $10.25 million this year. This is a good signing as Joe Blanton is a very quality pitcher and one of the most durable in the majors. Blanton is a very underrated pitcher because he doesn't do anything spectacular but is extremely consistent and rarely has bad outings. 2009 could have been a breakout season for Blanton if he didn't have such a poor start. This is actually an amazing signing when you compare that the last pitcher the Phillies signed at 3 years for $24 million was Adam Eaton. I am predicting that Blanton will have the best season of his career to date winning 17 games. Yes, bold, but Blanton is a much better pitcher than most think. For me to be so high on Blanton is rare because I am still a little bitter due to the fact that Josh Outman and Adrian Cardenas are no longer in the Phillies system. I guess Outman would be a little overkill though, how many young lefthanded starting pitchers does one team need.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Phils Looking to Extend Victorino

The Phillies are making an attempt to resign Shane Victorino to a multi-year deal. At this point it is assumed that the deal will be 2 years in length which means almost nothing. This means little because the Phillies have Victorino under team control for the next two years anyway. Victorino has officially filed for arbitration just this past week and he will again be arbitration eligible next year. The Phillies front office has shown in the past that they do not like taking their players to arbitration.

By signing Victorino for the next two seasons, it avoids the arbitration hearings and all but guarantees that he will be on the Phillies the next two seasons. Locking up Victorino now will save the Phillies a few dollars in the long run which is always a good thing.

If the Phillies end up extending Victorino, this probably means that Werth will be gone after this year, which shouldn't come to a surprise by most. By 2011, the Phillies braintrust will be forced to decide between Victorino and Werth unless they find that magical pot of gold at the end of the Lucky Charms rainbow. This means that with Shane locked up at a reasonable price, they would have to trade him to make room for Werth's newly deepened pockets. It just seems that if the Phillies have plans on resigning Werth, Victorino wouldn't be getting a 2011 contract this soon.

Other Phillies Tids and Tats

Blanton has asked for $10.25 million in arbitration which is pretty ridiculous. $10 million is the highest ever awarded to a player in arbitration, so if it does go to the arbitrator, the Phillies will more than likely be the victors. The Phillies are offering $7.5 million.

The Phillies will be trying out Eric Gagne this week. Please no. He did not pitch at all in 2009 and posted a depressing 5.44 era in 2008. As I have made it clear before, I believe the Phillies internal options are much better than the run of the mill relief pitchers that are floating around the league. Scott Mathieson, Brian Rosenberg, Mike Zagurski, Michael Schwimer, Antonio Bastardo, and Sergio Escalona are all quality internal options.

Jimmy Rollins is getting married this weekend in the Grand Cayman's. While at his hotel there was an earthquake recorded at a magnitdue of 5.8. What is happening down there. Bobby Abreu will be his best man.

Shane Victorino has released his own clothing collection through Silverstar.

The Phillies have committed Bastardo to the bullpen. He pitched in the Dominican Winter League and did very well. He posted a 1.50 era in short relief during the regular season. It's good to see that Philadelphia will be seeing BastardBall 3-4 times a week. Get yo popcorn ready.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Phillies Move Aumont to Starter

The Phillies officially announced on Tuesday that they have plans to convert Phillipe Aumont back to a starter. Aumont was the main prospect involved in the Cliff Lee deal, and has almost unlimited potential. Aumont was drafted by Seattle in 2007, 11th overall, where he started his career as a starting pitcher but was moved to a relief role due to injury concerns. Aumont has pitched very well to date, as he has posted a 3.2 era in 106 innings, while striking out 109 compared to only 91 hits.

Moving Aumont to a starting role makes the Cliff Lee deal look significantly better as starting pitching prospects are much more valuable than relief pitching prospects. Originally it appeared that the Phillies replaced their best pitching prospect in Kyle Drabek, with a good relief pitching prospect. Even though Aumont doesn't appear to be a significant drop off in talent, he represented significantly lesser value as a prospect since he was situated in the bullpen.

2010 is a big year for Aumont because he has the ability to ease the Phillies concerns for losing Drabek. When comparing Aumont to Drabek, they both appear very similar based on pitching ability. Both throw a mid-90s fastball with a 12-6 power curveball and an improving changeup. It seems that in Philadelphia, fans are seriously overrating Drabek's abilities, and underrating Aumont's abilities. Across the board, Aumont has much better statistics, albeit mostly as a reliever, but he has still outperformed Drabek to this point in their minor league careers.

Aumont will start the season in the Reading rotation which should be an exhilarating rotation as the mound will see legitimate prospects every day. I expect the rotation to appear as this in no particular order, Worley, Cisco, Flande, Aumont, and Ramirez. Worley and Flande could start in triple-A but due to the Phillies history of being conservative in player development, I expect them to start in double-A and then be promoted to triple-A. The organization will eventually have to make room in Reading for top pitching prospect, Trevor May. That is assuming that May continues to embarass batters at his current rate, 2.72 era and 10.7 SO/9.

One last thing to note, Aumont is 6'7" and 220 lbs. He is officially the second tallest player in Phillies history, only behind 6'8" Gene Conley who played in the 1960s. That should be fun to watch. The Reading Phillies should be ready to welcome Mount Aumont.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pitching Prosect #8: J.C. Ramirez

The eighth pitching prospect slot goes to newly acquired Juan Ramirez. Ramirez was one of the prospects that the Phillies received in the Cliff Lee deal. Ramirez is the worst prospect of the three but is still a good prospect. I will admit that I am not as high on Ramirez as most. He was signed in 2005 out of Nicaragua, he was 16 years old at the time. Ramirez is a 6'3" righthanded starting pitcher that can only be defined as a power pitcher.

Ramirez looks like a thrower more than a pitcher at this point in his career but still is young, 21, and has time to learn. He throws a hard fastball that reaches 96 mph, a hard slider, and an improving changeup. Ramirez can be erratic at times, but he is only 21 years old, most 21 year old pitchers are erratic. He hasn’t quite put it all together as a pitcher because he is still very raw. In his 4 years in the minors, Ramirez has posted a 4.12 era in 406 innings. Even though Ramirez is a bit erratic, batters still have a difficult time hitting him as he has only given up 369 hits in those 406 innings. Ramirez is currently a starter in advanced single-A, but with his power fastball he projects as a good reliever down the road.

Ramirez reminds me a lot of Ryan Madson as they are both very tall, lanky, right handers. They also have a very similar repertoire, as they both have good overpowering fastballs, changeups, and a breaking pitch. Ramirez differs a bit from Madson because his breaking pitch is a slider compared to Madson's curveball, and Ramirez's slider is his #2 pitch where Madson's changeup was his #2 pitch. In the first 4 seasons of both pitchers' careers, Ramirez has posted a 4.1 era in 406 innings compared to Madson's 3.77 era in 394 innings. Madson pitched his entire minorleague career as a starter and wasn't converted to a reliever until he was promoted to Philadelphia. I believe the Phillies will take a similar approach to Ramirez based on how his pitches develop.

Ramirez has definitely pitched below his abilities to this point in his career but this is mainly due to having to pitch in a hitter friendly park in 2009 and being younger than his competition. Many Hispanic born pitchers take longer to develop than American pitchers due to signing at such a young age. Many Hispanic born prospects are signed at 16 years old. Personally, I was just studying for my permit test. Not quite as much pressure as playing professional baseball against 21-22 year olds.

I do believe that Ramirez is better suited for a reliever role but if he can improve both of his offspeed pitches, he can easily project into an elite starting pitching prospect. Keith Law, who works for ESPN, has stated that he projects Ramirez as a potential #2 starter in the majors. This is very high praise for a Ramirez and makes me think that his offspeed pitches are better than advertised. 2010 will be a big year for Ramirez as he will be 21 years old and pitching in AA Reading. Ramirez is another prospect that could make a serious jump in the prospect rankings or fade a bit if he repeats his 2009 numbers.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Phillies Sign Danys Baez

The Phillies finally addressed their biggest need, the bullpen. The Phillies officially welcomed righthanded reliever, Danys Baez, as they signed him to a 2-year $5.25 million contract. Baez has had a solid career as a reliever, including an all-star appearence in 2005 as the Devil Rays closer. Since then he has really tailed off and has become fairly pedestrian as he posted a 4.02 era in 2009.

Even though a 4.02 era is not very inspiring as the only bullpen acquisition to date, Baez does hold the ability to be a dominant reliever. As previously stated, Baez was an all-star closer in 2005. Baez also didn't pitch at all during 2008 as he had elbow surgery, so a 4.02 era in 2009 isn't too bad when you define it as a recovery season.

Baez will be taking the place of the departed Chan Ho Park. Park would have been great to retain but he was asking for too much money and he wanted to be a starter again. Apparantly he thinks teams are searching for starters that have an era close to the height of Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo. I am not expecting Baez to be as effective as Park, the reliever version, but he should be a dependable arm. Baez should definitely be improved from last year as he will be regaining strength in his elbow, but still shouldn't be expected to pitch at his all-star level. Anything in between there should be a welcome addition to the Phillies bullpen.

On a related note, Scott Eyre is not expected to return to the Phillies due to salary demands. This means that Bastardo will officially be in the bullpen the entire year and Escalona will be on the major league squad until J.C. Romero comes back from injury.

With the addition of Baez, only one more bullpen spot will need to be filled. This spot will most likely be filled by right-handed Scott Mathieson. I can only hope that the Phillies don't go out and sign a below average free agent reliever, because Mathieson has the ability to be the Phillies' next Ryan Madson.

Many are disappointed as how the current bullpen stands. I really don't think it's that bad. Lidge will be, at the very least, an above average closer again. Madson, will again be an elite setup man. The combination of Romero and Bastardo will be two of the best loogies in the league. The key to the bullpen is Durbin, if he can pitch anywhere close to how he appeared in 2008, the bullpen will be very good. The 2008 Phillies bullpen was one of the best in the league. The 2009 Phillies bullpen was one of the worst in the league. The pitchers in the 2010 bullpen should pitch much more like the 08 bullpen than the 09 bullpen. The Phillies have the best defense, the best offense, and a very good rotation. If the bullpen is average, the Phillies will again find themselves playing in the fall classic.