October 2, 2015 |
DESPITE WATCHING their major league team enter the final month flirting with 100 losses, there has been cautious optimism among Phillies front office executives within the last six weeks or so. The pre-deadline trades of Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Ben Revere and Jonathan Papelbon brought in an influx of talent to enrich the farm system. Their optimism was cautious, though, because they understand it takes starting pitching depth to enjoy sustained success at the major league level and, if they evaluated their upper minor league teams with an honest eye, they know there are more than a couple of question marks and few certainties.
October 1, 2015 |
Maikel Franco's rookie year is set to resume. The third baseman is planning to rejoin the Phillies in time for the final series of the season this weekend. Franco played on Tuesday at the team's facility in Clearwater, Fla. He will play there again on Wednesday. If all goes well, Franco will fly to Philadelphia on Thursday and be available to play the next night against Miami. Franco has been sidelined since Aug. 11 with a small fracture in his left wrist. "They've been sending us videos of his at-bats and he looks fine," manager Pete Mackanin said.
September 30, 2015 |
The signature moment of one of the best Rule 5 rookie seasons in baseball history came on a windy July afternoon at Wrigley Field in the form of a catch replayed countless times in the hours that followed. Odubel Herrera overran a Kris Bryant fly ball, slipped as he turned back and mystifyingly still recovered to haul in the final out of Cole Hamels' no-hitter. After he picked himself off the warning track at Wrigley Field that day, Herrera flashed the same smile he seemingly always wears, whether walking around the Phillies' clubhouse or strolling into second base for one of his 27 doubles.
September 26, 2015 |
MIAMI - The beginning of Alec Asher's major-league career had not gone as smoothly as it had for rotation mates Aaron Nola, Adam Morgan, and Jerad Eickhoff earlier this summer. When the 23-year-old righthander took the mound Thursday night, the Marlins Park scoreboard flashed a dismal 9.78 ERA under his name. Over the two hours that followed, though, Asher put forth by far the best of his five big-league starts in the Phillies' 1-0 loss to the Miami Marlins. Seven innings in which he allowed only one run and three hits marked clear progress for the team's second-youngest starter.
September 25, 2015 |
MIAMI - The early returns on Alec Asher, one of six players the Phillies received in the July trade that sent Cole Hamels to Texas, were not promising. In his first four major league starts entering last night at Marlins Park, Asher allowed 21 earned runs on 30 hits in 19 1/3 innings. That's an average of just over five runs per game in less than five innings per start. Not surprising, the Phillies lost all four of those games. Asher entered the the penultimate start of his 2015 season sporting an 0-4 record and a 9.78 ERA. No matter what Asher's projections were as a prospect in the Rangers system - he was the only of the five prospects in the trade who wasn't listed in Baseball America's top 30 of Texas's minor leaguers last winter - it probably would be unfair to adjust them after four major league starts.
September 20, 2015 |
ATLANTA - The first year of the Phillies' rebuild featured a revitalization of the farm system at various positions. That was certainly the case at catcher, the position at which Jorge Alfaro joined the organization in the Cole Hamels trade, and Andrew Knapp broke out with a torrid final 12 weeks at double-A Reading. Neither Alfaro nor Knapp, however, will be major-league ready come the beginning of the next baseball season. And so when the Phillies break camp next April for season No. 2 of their transition, it is likely their catching arrangement will mirror what it has for the latter months of this year.
September 19, 2015 |
Aaron Nola has never had Tommy John surgery. The Phillies righthander has not faced a significant injury. But an article about the elbow surgery's namesake reminded interim general manager Scott Proefrock about Nola. Proefrock said he spent a few days trying to figure out the best plan of action for the remainder of Nola's rookie season. Ruben Amaro Jr. said before his ouster that Nola would be shelved after reaching 185 innings, which would cause the Phillies to end Nola's season early.
September 14, 2015 |
Aside from Aaron Nola, there aren't any shoo-ins to make the Phillies' 2016 opening-day starting pitching rotation. Jerad Eickhoff is probably the closest, though. The 25-year-old righthander held the playoff-bound Chicago Cubs to only three hits - one a Kyle Schwarber home run - over seven innings on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies won, 7-5, when Cody Asche hit a two-out, two-run, pinch-hit, walk-off home run to right field off Cubs reliever Hector Rondon.
September 14, 2015 |
A DAY AFTER the Phillies removed Ruben Amaro Jr. as general manager, Jeff Francoeur was up to his usual antics in the team's clubhouse before a doubleheader with the Chicago Cubs, joking with his teammates, old and young, and making them practically fall out of their seats with laughter. Francoeur was all smiles, but he took no pleasure from the exit of Amaro, who gave the 31-year-old outfielder another shot in the big leagues when his career seemed to be fading around this time last year.
September 11, 2015 |
ONLY SEVEN YEARS ago, the Phillies were the toast of the town, the team that created a nightly, Delaware Valley-sized buzz from the club's epicenter at Citizens Bank Park, the organization that paraded down Broad Street and ended a quarter-century-long professional championship drought in this sports-crazed city. Ruben Amaro Jr., a lifelong Phillie, received the keys to that darling of a possible National League dynasty three days after the Halloween parade. Then 43, the Philadelphia native was living a charmed life.