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Marlins signing Reyes shouldn't affect Phillies in 2012

Posted by Kevin Durso

Reyes_Marlins

Jose Reyes signed a 6-year, $108 million contract with the Miami Marlins. The Marlins are now targeting other top free agents, Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. 

The Miami Marlins made the first splash at the Winter Meetings with the signing of shortstop Jose Reyes. The longtime Met is staying in the NL East, but taking his talents to South Beach, to borrow a line from another Miami All-Star.

The Marlins have already landed closer Heath Bell. They've already got a talented young team, especially in the outfield, with Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez leading the charge of young stars. And, perhaps the strongest reason for the last place finish in 2011, they will have Josh Johnson back for a full season.

Now, they may be setting their sites on two more All-Star players. Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson have been linked to the Marlins lately, and the Marlins do have an offer out to Pujols.

Bell said at his introduction yesterday that he thinks the Marlins could contend with anyone in the division, most notably the defending five-time champion Phillies. Certainly anything is possible, and with the Marlins making significant upgrades, they won't be cellar dwellers in 2012. But are they good enough to win the division?

The Marlins are not a serious threat to the Phillies...yet. With Reyes, it is similar to Jayson Werth, who left the Phillies for the Nationals in 2011. Werth had a sub-par season in 2011, for one, but he proved an age-old adage: one player doesn't win championships, teams do.

Even if Werth improves in 2012, the Nationals aren't as much of a threat even as the Marlins, as Washington hasn't established improvements to their roster yet. Meanwhile, the Marlins are certainly going to be a better team, and the team that was so hot in April and May, then fell apart, will finish higher in the standings in 2012 than the Nationals.

But if nothing else happens for the Marlins this offseason, they don't challenge the Phillies and Braves for the crown. Sign a player like Albert Pujols, the prize of the free agent market this season, and they instantly become a threat.

Pujols is that type of player, that can instantly elevate a team into playoff contention. But he wouldn't be acting alone in this case. He's partnered with an All-Star closer and a shortstop coming off a batting title win. Consider it Miami's new Big Three, should Pujols agree to the massive contract offer awaiting him from the Marlins. The Phillies have mainly stayed right where they were last year, as have the Braves. The Marlins have improved, but so far, are probably no more than a third-place team. The Nationals and Mets are still in the lower echelon of National League teams.

Even if the Marlins don't sign Pujols, they will still become a threat to the Phillies sooner than you think. Since their origin in 1994, the Marlins have made the Postseason twice. Both times they went on to win the World Series. Even as lucky as that seems, figure this. Baseball's new CBA benefits teams like the Marlins, who, after the 2012 season, have a greater chance of making the Postseason. A third-place finish could still get you into the Postseason, and maybe that's what the Marlins are looking for. Granted, in that case, the Postseason expansion benefits the Phillies and Braves as well, who can still make the Postseason even in years of decline by posting a strong enough record.

The Marlins won't win a World Series again anytime soon without getting a little lucky again, so the Phillies 2012 dreams aren't in threat by the new residents of Miami. But with the right players, and a little bit of time, they will be a strong contender for years to come.


Could Aramis Ramirez Sign With the Phillies? How, Why, and What About Placido Polanco?

Posted by Frank Klose

Polanco
Courtesy mlblogs.com

Well, it's lunch again, so I guess I have some time to post something, and the reports that the Phillies are interested in 3B Aramis Ramirez and also shopping Placido Polanco certainly have given me something to muse while I eat my sausage gumbo.

Why might the Phillies make such a move?  Here are the reasons I could come up with off the top of my head while eating:

1. Ramirez is an offensive upgrade over Polanco and fits the lineup better.

Perhaps this is the most obvious.  Ramirez is a right-handed power bat capable of driving in runs and hitting fifth in the Phillies lineup.   Polanco projects to be a seventh-hole hitter these days, rather than the prototypical number-two hitter that he was most of his career.

In a lineup with Ryan Howard the Phillies would be able to bat Hunter Pence third and Aramis Ramirez fifth, letting Chase Utley bat second.  Without Ryan Howard the Phillies would still have a formidible 3-4-5 with Utley, Pence, and Ramirez.

2. Polanco Has Trade Value and Could Fill Needs Long-Term or Present

Signing Ramirez as a free agent costs no players, other than a draft pick.  Placido Polanco could be a worthy trade gamble for a team not willing to commit long-term to someone such as Ramirez.  Polanco could fill an immediate gap at either second or third base for a team such as the Detroit Tigers, who loved Polanco and have lost Carlos Guillen to free agency while Brandon Inge mostly vanished from productivity.  Polanco would be a perfect fit for the Tigers.

What could the Phillies get in return?  Well, the team could certainly use a left-handed reliever and maybe a right-handed outfielder should Ben Francisco be non-tendered.   An emerging, productive player with options could help the Phillies this year as they balance keeping Thome on the roster with Ryan Howard's injury and eventual return.

Additionally, after this year Polanco will leave as a free agent and the Phillies will get nothing in return.

3. The Phillies Have No Long-Term Plan at Third Base

While Polanco could play third for the Phillies in 2011, what happens after next year?  Polanco is towards the end of his major-league career and is probably not a candidate to be re-signed after this year.   The only real infielder prospect the Phillies have remotely close to the major leagues is Freddy Galvis, and he may be more important in the immediate future if the Phillies do not re-sign Jimmy Rollins.  While sentiment makes most Phillies fans want Rollins to re-sign with the club, it may not be very realistic.   

Signing Ramirez for three years gives them certainty at the position for three years.

4. Free Up Money

Polanco is set to make $7.25 million this season.   Ramirez may cost $14-15 million a year, and trading Polanco could help defray the cost.   If not for money, I would prefer Polanco stay as a utility player, perhaps playing second base while Chase Utley plays first in Ryan Howard's absence.   Reports Howard could be back before the season seem a little overly-optimistic.

5. Helps create the best Jimmy Rollins-free lineup

Jimmy Rollins could walk for money and extra years.   It's a real possibility.  Should Rollins be lost, the Phillies could hand shortstop to the defensive (though not offensively apt) Wilson Valdez until prospect Freddy Galvis is ready.   Maybe Galvis emerges before the trade deadline and is promoted, or maybe the Phillies go out and trade for a stopgap SS at the deadline.

This lineup would work just fine without Jimmy Rollins:

CF Victorino
2B Utley
RF Pence
1B Howard
3B Ramirez
LF Mayberry/Nix
C Ruiz
SS Valdez/Galvis 

Of course, with Ryan Howard out it looks like this:

CF Victorino
LF Mayberry/Nix or 1B Wigginton
2B Utley
RF Pence
3B Ramirez
1B Wigginton/Thome/Mayberry or LF Mayberry/Nix
 C Ruiz
SS Valdez/Galvis 

Even if the latter lineup is employed temporarily, that should be enough offense to sustain the Phillies' pitching.

Could it happen?

Of course it could.  Most of Amaro's moves have suggested a need to stay fresh and upgrade positions even marginally to be a better team.  

Ruben loves the big splash.  Here's his chance for this offseason.   Do we really know him to sit still and be patient?


There's Your New Outfielder: Phillies Sign Laynce (Is this correct? Yeah I think...) Nix

Posted by Frank Klose

Layncenix

Courtesy riveravenue.mlblogs.com


Oh man, the spell check on Google Chrome is going to bother me for the next two years, as the Phillies have signed outfielder Laynce Nix to a two-year contract, according to the Washington Post.

Nix spent the last season with the Washington Nationals, but lost a great deal of playing time with the emergence of Michael Morse.  According to the Washington Post report, Nix offers just what the Phillies need:

Last year, Nix clubbed a career-high 16 home runs, all of them against right-handers, and hit .263 with a .306 on-base percentage and a .475 slugging percentage against right-handed pitching.

Sounds like the Phillies got just what they were looking for: a left-handed bat that hits right handed pitching, can play the outfield and first base (well, he played nine games there last year).   Nix probably will play the bulk of left field to start the season, allowing John Mayberry Jr. to play first base most days.

The best part of this deal is that Nix will earn nowhere near the $11.5 million Raul IbaƱez earned last year.   The money the Phillies save can be used to sign a shortstop or bullpen help.  As eerie as it is to say, the Phillies probably could afford Jose Reyes, having signed a utility infielder and utility outfielder this cheap.   Nix has never made more than $700,000 a year in the major leagues.

Solid pickup; this move gives the Phillies options, particularly against right-handed pitching and in Ryan Howard's absence.


The Emotion Behind Jimmy Rollins' Current Status in Baseball

Posted by Danielle Wilson

JimmyNLDS
Courtesy of SI.com

Just in case you haven't heard it a million and one times already, Jimmy Rollins is looking to return to the Phillies in 2012. Ruben Amaro Jr. and the rest of the Phillies front office would also like to see a J-Roll return, but the two sides will have to agree on either a three year deal, or a five year deal.

Rollins wants the five year deal because he wants to stay in Philadelphia until he retires. Once a Phillie, always a Phillie. His skills and talents have been developing-- or declining here since 1998, making him the longest tenured Philadelphia athlete that the city has ever known. Of course he wants to stay, so what would be the point in leaving a city that you've known for your entire career?

The problem here is: Who wants to see a 38 year old Rollins in 2017? Jimmy, I love you dearly, but let's not get carried away.

I don't believe that he'll get the contract that he wants. In fact, I can see Jimmy playing in Philadelphia for the next three years, then calling it quits. I don't think anyone would be interested in him at that point anyway.

The teams interested in him now might as well keep looking. Jimmy's agent is scheduled to meet with Amaro during the winter baseball meetings which start on Monday, December 5th in Dallas, reports insider Jim Salisbury. The hot stove is starting to heat up.

Hypothetically speaking, what if Rollins decides to sign elsewhere? Hell will break loose in the city of brotherly back-turning love.

Did this not already happen? Jayson Werth was booed mercilessly every time he stepped up to bat at Citizens Bank Park in 2011. So he took the money and ran, so what? If you were Jayson, you would have done the same thing. Imagine Jimmy Rollins doing that, taking the money and running. Are you going to boo him when he's visiting Philly with his new team?

As a young Phillies fan, I've grown up watching one shortstop over the span of these last five years. If Jimmy were to leave, I would be quite heartbroken. Hell, I was feeling some pain when Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton were traded away for Hunter Pence.

The impact that Rollins' departure would have on his fans would have the same immensity as the rest of the team leaving with him. Jimmy Rollins has been with us through it all these past 11 years. The years that made the incredible 2007-2008 teams, which were the ones to beat.

Rollins carried that 2007 team, and since then, he has done everything in his power to make sure the Phillies win games, take titles, and become champions. Jimmy is one of the eight players on the 25-man roster that were on the 2008 team. The rest include Blanton, Kendrick, Hamels, Ruiz, Victorino, Utley, and Howard. Wow.

Needless to say, it's scary to think about the emotion behind Jimmy Rollins choosing to play elsewhere. Here's to hoping that the meeting between Amaro and J-Roll's agent results in a contract that leaves Jimmy in Philly for a few more years.


Jamie Moyer is working on more than his return to baseball

Posted by Danielle Wilson

100508_jamie_moyer
Courtesy of Komonews.com

Jamie Moyer, 49, is still going strong in the world of baseball. Not only is he eyeing a return for the 2012 season as a starting pitcher, but, he's currently in the process of writing a book. Moyer is teaming up with Larry Platt, editor of the Philadelphia Daily News.

Philly Burbs' Patrick Berkery writes:

The as-yet-untitled book will chronicle Moyer's life and late-blooming baseball success, according to Platt, emphasizing the mental aspect to Moyer's game and his relationship with the late sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman.

The book is expected to be released by the beginning of the 2013 baseball season, when Jamie Moyer will hopefully be on the field after his second year back from tommy john surgery. The old man has still got it.

As a free agent, Moyer is hoping for a return in the majors this season with most likely the Padres or Mariners. He has recently moved to San Diego where he has been using Petco Park's bullpen to toss sessions and be scouted by the Padres, Mariners, and Angels.

Here's to Jamie having a healthy 2012 season, and congratulations on your book.