December 23, 2013 |
The reporters will gravitate toward Jonathan Papelbon's locker when pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater, Fla., in less than two months for the start of spring training. He is the surly elephant in the room, the highest-paid closer on a team that cannot afford such a luxury. He is the player the Phillies have attempted to trade for months. He is the one who, last July, called for sweeping organizational changes. Papelbon may say he did not pay attention to the winter talk. He could point to the team's health because spring breeds optimism.
December 20, 2013 |
Lou Marson, a former Phillies fourth-round pick who was once traded for Cliff Lee, will return to the organization in 2014 on a minor-league contract, providing catching depth. Marson, 27, was among four players invited to spring training Wednesday by the Phillies. The others are outfielders Tony Gwynn Jr. and Dave Sappelt and righthander Sean O'Sullivan. The Phillies traded Marson to Cleveland as part of a four-player package to acquire Lee in 2009. He languished while with the Indians, hitting just .217 with a .602 OPS in five seasons as a reserve.
December 12, 2013 |
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Roy Halladay's decline, declaring for free agency and then sudden retirement on Monday was a stark reminder of a glaring hole that still remains on the Phillies' roster. The rotation still needs a replacement for Halladay, and starting pitching depth in general. So when rumors of the Phillies listening to trade offers for Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee swirled through the hallways and conference rooms at Walt Disney World's Swan and Dolphin Resort yesterday morning, it was pretty difficult to take them seriously.
November 14, 2013 |
ORLANDO - The cost of doing business in baseball's inflationary market manifested itself Tuesday in the form of a 36-year-old outfielder who was exiled last winter to Mexico. Marlon Byrd signed a $700,000 last-chance, minor-league contract with the New York Mets in February and was traded to Pittsburgh in August. He bashed 24 home runs in a 2013 resurrection. That made him attractive to the Phillies, and they acted with aggression. Now, Byrd is a $16 million asset. "There's not a lot of power out there; it's pretty simple," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
October 21, 2013 |
As the longest season of his career sputtered to a painful conclusion, Cody Asche sought Ruben Amaro Jr. for advice. The 23-year-old Phillies third baseman asked his general manager for an offseason plan - whether he should be learning another position or playing winter ball somewhere. "I don't know that playing more would be beneficial," Amaro told him. Asche totaled 625 plate appearances between the majors and minors just two seasons after his professional debut resulted in a .192 batting average at single-A Williamsport.
October 14, 2013 |
THAT THE PHILLIES finished second-to-last in the National League in bullpen ERA wasn't for a lack of trying. No team in the majors fiddled with more combinations of relievers in the later innings of games. Fifteen different relievers made at least 15 appearances for the Phillies in 2013, by far the most in the major leagues (the Mets had the second most, with 12). In fact, the Phillies are the only team in baseball history - or, at least, baseball history as recorded by Baseball-Reference.com - to ever use that many relievers.
October 1, 2013 |
ATLANTA - His season ended Saturday with 32 pitches of slop, but Jonathan Papelbon was unconcerned. His fastball topped at 92.3 m.p.h., averaged 91 m.p.h., and 40 percent of his pitches were breaking balls. He permitted three ninth-inning runs as the Phillies hung on for a 5-4 win. The Phillies paid $50 million for Papelbon, and he resembled nothing Saturday of the power arm that preserved so many Boston Red Sox victories. Can he still be a shutdown closer with a 91-m.p.h. fastball?
September 30, 2013 |
ATLANTA - Ryne Sandberg adjusted his hat. He glanced at a scribbled lineup card that displayed a pitching nightmare late Thursday night in the simplest of forms. "That was a big lift," he said of Mauricio Robles, an anonymous waiver claim from Seattle last winter and the 27th pitcher used by the 2013 Phillies. Robles walked five more hitters than he struck out in 34 games at triple-A Lehigh Valley. He should not be here, nor should the Phillies have needed him to throw 66 pitches in the season's 159th game to avoid a bullpen calamity.
September 29, 2013 |
ATLANTA - Three months passed between games for Mike Stutes, and when he stepped onto the Marlins Park mound on Tuesday, he expected nothing. He had thrown just five bullpen sessions while recovering from shoulder inflammation. He faced one hitter, Ryan Howard, in a relaxed environment. "If I spiked a slider," Stutes said, "I told him I was throwing it again. " So a scoreless inning against the Marlins was welcomed, even if he topped out at 89 m.p.h. There was no pain in his right shoulder, which has robbed him of the last two seasons after such a promising rookie year in 2011.