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November 2012

Phillies Pick Up Carlos Ruiz's $5 Million Club Option For 2013

ChoochasgPhoto: Philliedelphia/Lindsey Crew 

The Phillies made another offseason move this morning. The club decided to pick up catcher Carlos Ruiz's club option worth $5 million. As MLB's Todd Zolecki worded it, there is "no surprise here".

The 33 year-old catcher, who will turn 34 before the 2013 campaign starts, is coming off of a career-year in 2012. Despite missing significant time on the DL with a torn muscle in his foot, Chooch batted .325 while hitting 16 home runs and driving in 68 RBI in 114 games. A rapidly-growing fan favorite, Chooch will remain in a Phillies uni through the 2013 season. 

The 2013 season will be a contract year for Ruiz, who will become a free-agent next winter. Although it's hard to see Chooch in another uniform, it could happen if he and the Phillies are on different grounds. Don't forget that if the Phillies are in a situation like they were this season, they may clear house on their roster again. With a free-agent catcher who is coming off of a breakout year, it's going to be a tough call on what to do with Ruiz. 

Let's not look that far ahead, yet. Spring training is less than four months away.

Update:

Todd Zolecki notes that the Phillies still have club options for Jose Contreras ($2.5 million or $500,000 buyout) and Ty Wigginton ($4 million or $500,000 buyout) and a $5.5 million mutual option (or a $500,000 buyout) with Placido Polanco. Zolecki also expects the Phillies to take the buyouts for each of those players.

Outfielder Juan Pierre (.307, 1 HR, 25 RBI, 37 SB) and catcher Brian Schneider (.225, 2 HR, 7 RBI) are also free agents this winter and Zolecki believes that neither are likely to return.

Follow Erik on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI.


Report: Phillies May Be Suitors for Melky Cabrera

Melky
Wikipedia Commons

This is not one of those rumors where there is a demonstrated link between the Phillies and Melky Cabrera.  This one comes from a New York Post column by Joel Sherman, which essentially looks at Melky Cabrera and whether or not he might be a fit for the New York Yankees or New York Mets.  It does, however, bring to mind whether or not Cabrera might be a fit.

Here is what he had to say about Cabrera and the Phillies, reflecting on what he heard from executive:

The Mets were one club that came up regularly as a potential landing spot for Cabrera, as were the outfield-needy Phillies. 

So, it's essentially speculation.

For many Phillies fans, the reaction is one that says, "Well, if he is cheap, I'll give him a shot..."  But, he may not be.   One thing Sherman does in the piece is look into what Cabrera might cost to sign.  Here is what he was able to get from various baseball excutives:

After the All-Star Game, there was talk Cabrera, a 28-year-old switch-hitter, would command a five-year contract worth as much as $75 million, maybe more. But in the group of executives with whom I spoke, one thought Cabrera could get two years at $10 million to $12 million, another said one year at $8 million to $10 million. But the large majority saw Cabrera having to take a one-year deal in the $2 million-to-$5 million range. He will have to use 2013 as a forum to prove he is a quality player.

Having been napped for PED use and with his production uncertain, many believe Cabrera will need to take that one-year deal to rebuild his value.  My thought is that Cabrera will sign closer to the $8 million to $10 million number than the $2 million to $5 million number.   My reasoning is that teams have showed a willingness to overpay for a one-year risk.  As long as a team is not committed beyond the one year, it might make for a worthwhile risk, depending on the upside.  

The difference betweet Cabrera and other PED users that have previously entered the marketplace is age.   From what I can tell, there have been no big-name first-time free agents suspended for PED use just yet.  We all know about Manny Ramirez, who did not get caught until the twilight of his career.   Cabrera is just 28 years old.

If - and only if - Cabrera can play capably play center field, I might like him as a fit for the Phillies.  Cabrera may have hit .346 while on PEDs, but Cabrera is a lifetime .284 hitter.   If he is capable enough to play center and move to right or left and John Mayberry enter for defense in the late innings, that is capable enough.  If the plan is to sign Cabrera and play him in left field, the Phillies better have picked up Ken Griffey Jr. in his prime, because they will need outfield offense, and I do not feel Dom Brown is a safe bet to provide a lot in right field.


Former Phillies Manager, Coach, and Shortstop Larry Bowa Emerges as Manager Candidate for Marlins

Larry_Bowa

The Marlins owner hates everybody whoever manages for him.   Former Phillies manager and shortstop Larry Bowa has a temper and is not afraid to speak directly and frankly.    Seems like the two would be a disaster, right?   That obvious disaster waiting to happen did not stop the Miami Marlins from interviewing Bowa for their managerial opening, FoxSports.com reports.

Bowa reportedly met with the Houston Astros earlier this offseason to discuss their managerial opening.    Bowa has not been in uniform since coaching with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010.  After Dodgers manager Joe Torre left managing, Bowa was not chosen to be part of new manager Don Mattingly's coaching staff.

Part of me wishes no part of the Miami Marlins on Larry Bowa, one of my favorites since I met him at Phillies baseball camp in 1988 when he was the Phillies' third base coach.  The other part of me wants to see Bowa to get a multi-year managerial deal with the Marlins.  That way, he would manage maybe a year, get fired, and get paid to do nothing for a few years while he appeared on MLB Network for extra pay.

Plus - it would be fun to watch, right?  I can see good ol' Larry going off on Loria.  The moment that the owner Loria, an art dealer by trade, screams about baseball decisions, Bowa would not stand for it.  But as I've said before, the Marlins are Loria's toy and he's going to play with it the way he wants.

That said, I think former Marlins catcher Mike Redmond will get the job.  I can see the Marlins trying to copy the Mike Matheny hiring with the Cardinals and thinking that the former backstop would be a good choice.  Plus, with only limited minor-league experience, Redmond will be cheap.  Bowa should command the salary of someone who managed for two major leagues and coached for four.

 


Twins Decline $6 Million Option on Matt Capps And The Phillies Need Bullpen Help

Capps
This afternoon, the Minnesota Twins declined the $6 million club-option for right-handed relief pitcher Matt Capps (2012: 1-4, 3.68 ERA). 

Capps spent time on the DL twice this season due to right shoulder inflammation while recording 14 saves in 15 opportunities in 30 games in 2012. Over his eight-year career, Capps has recorded 138 career saves. His career best season was in 2010 when he combined for 42  saves between the Washington Nationals and Twins in 2010. Capps was traded mid-season. After a poor 2011 season, the Twins re-signed him to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million and $250,000 buyout of his 2013 option.

It seems like they're forking over $250,000. Matt Capps will become a free-agent this offseason.

So with Matt Capps on the free agent market, it leads me to believe that the Phillies will show interest in the 29 year-old closer. The Phillies need the bullpen help dearly, as they have allowed RHP David Herndon and RHP Tyson Brummet to both be claimed off of waivers by Toronto.

With the bullpen posting a 3.94 ERA (21st in the league) this season, improvement is the main goal. The Phillies could use another right-hander, but could also get a few lefties as well. We'll see what Rube has up his sleeve.

Erik is a writer for Philliedelphia. Follow him on Twitter @ErikSeybold


Poll: Who will win the 2012 World Series?

The 2012 World Series gets underway tonight in San Francisco with Justin Verlander and Barry Zito taking the mound for the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants.

The Tigers have taken the American League by storm after being out of the playoff picture with two weeks remaining in the season. The Giants have played much of the Postseason with their backs to the wall, rallying from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits in the NLDS and NLCS.

Yesterday, I asked for our readers to give their pick for the 2012 World Series in a poll conducted via Facebook and Twitter. Out of 150 responses, here is what the results showed.

  • Tigers in 4 - 4%
  • Tigers in 5 - 32%
  • Tigers in 6 - 47.3%
  • Tigers in 7 - 3.3%
  • Giants in 4 - 0.0%
  • Giants in 5 - 4.0%
  • Giants in 6 - 7.3%
  • Giants in 7 - 2.0%

Here's what some of our writers voted:

  • Frank Klose - Tigers in 6
  • Christina Angelos - Tigers in 6
  • Kevin Durso - Tigers in 6
  • Rich Wilkins - Tigers in 5
  • Greg Vince - Giants in 5
  • Adam Gonsiewski - Tigers in 4

Also, a majority of our writers had the Tigers in the World Series back in February.

    Rich - "Phillies vs. Tigers - Phillies in 5"

    Steven Gallo - "Tigers vs. Diamondbacks - Tigers in 5"

    Kevin Durso - "Phillies vs. Tigers - Tigers in 6"

    Adam Gonsiewski - "Phillies vs. Tigers - Phillies in 6"

    Christina Angelos - "Phillies vs. Tigers - Phillies in 7"

We'll see how this year's Fall Classic plays out. The first pitch of Game 1 is set for shortly after 8:00 tonight.

 


Ruled Out: Former Rule 5 Pick Michael Martinez Outrighted off of Phillies 40-Man Roster

Michael_Martinez

David Herndon was not the only recent Rule 5 draft pick by the Phillies to be removed from the 40-man roster.  Today the Phillies also outrighted Michael Martinez to AAA, reports Todd Zolecki.  Unlike David Herndon who was claimed off of waivers, Martinez was not claimed and will remain Phillies property and likely be inventory at AAA.

Heading into the offseason, Martinez finds himself behind Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis as utility infielders.  The Phillies likely will add another infielder who can help at third base.

In two seasons since being taken in the Rule 5 draft from the Washington Nationals, Martinez has hit .188 in 324 at bats.   Martinez has played shortstop, third base, second base, left field, center field, and right field for the Phillies.


The Jeffrey Loria Turnstile Continues to Turn: Ozzie Guillen Fired by the Miami Marlins

OzzieGuillen

It's his money and he's going to do what he wants with it.   Yes, Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has fired another manager.  Joe Frisaro of the MLB.com reports that Ozzie Guillen has been fired after just one season at the helm of the Miami Marlins.

In recent times since purchasing the Marlins in 2002, Loria has fired:

  • Joe Girardi
  • Fredi Gonzalez
  • Edwin Rodriguez
  • Ozzie Guillen

I used to feel badly for Jeffrey Loria.  An art dealer by trade, Loria was owner of the Expos who were failing in Montreal, spending no money and making no money.   He worked out an elaborate deal with Major League Baseball where the plan was to contract the Expos, Marlins owner John Henry would buy the Boston Red Sox, and Loria could in turn buy the Marlins.  

The reason I felt badly for him because Major League Baseball ended up selling the Expos to the current Washington Nationals ownership for three times what Loria got for it.

Now, I realize that the reason the Montreal Expos failed very well could have been Loria's "invest nothing" plan.  He took that plan to Miami and screwed up the Marlins.  Just when it looked like he might have finally learned his lesson, he dismanted the Marlins.   Now he has fired his manager.

Why am I using the word "he?"  Doesn't the General Manager make such decisions?  Nope, not in Loria's world.  It's his money and he will play the way he wants to with it.  Until Loria is willing to let baseball people make baseball decisions, the Marlins will remain a laughingstock of Major League Baseball.


Reliever David Herndon is the Next Phillies Pitcher Out the Door

David_Herndon

We knew the Phillies would have some roster decisions to make, and today the Phillies lost yet another pitcher trying to create a roster spot.  According to Phillies beat writer Todd Zolecki, right-handed reliever David Herndon has been claimed off of waviers by the Toronto Blue Jays.  This is the second pitcher the Blue Jays have claimed off of the Phillies in a week.    Just five days ago Tyson Brummet was claimed off of waivers by the Jays as well.

By being claimed, it is apparent the Phillies were hoping they could outright Herndon off of the 40-man roster and slip him through to AAA.  After a suspect 2010 after being acquired in the Rule 5 draft, Herndon rebounded nicely in 2011 and had a very respectable second half.  In 2012, Herndon missed almost the whole season, just appearing in five games.  The injury did not cause the Blue Jays to refrain from claiming Herndon.

As a right-handed reliever, Herndon has fallen on the depth chart behind the likes of Justin DeFratus, Phillippe Aumont, Michael Stutes, and even Michael Schwimer causing the Phillies to risk exposing him to waivers.  

In 97 games of relief for the Phillies over three season, Herndon is 2-8 with a 3.85 ERA.

UPDATE: To make room for David Herndon on the Blue Jays' 40-man roster, they have designated for assignment - yes,  you guessed it - Tyson Brummett.


Phillies Spring Training Schedule Released, First Game On February 23rd

Philsspring(Photo: Phillies.com)

If you're tired of the offseason already, you have just four months to wait for the Phillies to get back in action.

This afternoon the Phillies released their 2013 Spring Training schedule. Pitchers and catchers will report to Clearwater on February 12th, while the first full-squad workout will take place on February 15th. The Phillies will open their spring on February 23rd against the Houston Astros, who will then be part of the American League.

Here is the full schedule.

  • Saturday, Feb. 23: vs. Houston Astros 
  • Sunday, Feb. 24: at Detriot Tigers (Lakeland, Fla.) 
  • Monday, Feb. 25 : vs. Detroit Tigers
  • Tuesday, Feb. 26: vs. NY Yankees
  • Wednesday, Feb. 27: at Minnesota Twins (Ft. Myers, Fla.)
  • Thursday, Feb. 28: vs. Atlanta Braves 
  • Friday, March 1: at NY Yankees (Tampa)
  • Saturday, Match 2: at Atlanta Braves (Orlando)
  • Sunday, March 3: split squad, vs. Toronto Blue Jays and at Baltimore Orioles (Sarasota, Fla.)
  • Monday, March 4: at Pittsburgh Pirates (Bradenton, Fla.)
  • Tuesday, March 5: No Game
  • Wednesday, March 6: vs. Toronto Blue Jays
  • Thursday, March 7: vs. Minnesota Twins
  • Friday, March 8: at Tampa Bay Rays (Port Charlotte, Fla.)
  • Saturday, March 9: vs. Tampa Bay Rays
  • Sunday, March 10: at Houston Astros (Kissimmee, Fla.)
  • Monday, March 11: No Game
  • Tuesday, March 12: vs. Detroit Tigers
  • Wednesday, March 13: at NY Yankees (Tampa)
  • Thursday, March 14: vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Friday, March 15: at Tampa Bay Rays (Port Charlotte, Fla.)
  • Saturday, March 16: at NY Yankees (Tampa)
  • Sunday, March 17: vs. Baltimore Orioles 
  • Monday, March 18: at Atlanta Braves (Orlando)
  • Tuesday, March 19: vs. NY Yankees
  • Wednesday, March 20: No Game
  • Thursday, March 21: at Boston Red Sox (Ft. Myers, Fla.)
  • Friday, March 22: vs. Atlanta Braves
  • Saturday, March 23: at Baltimore Orioles (Sarasota, Fla.)
  • Sunday, March 24: vs. Boston Sox
  • Monday, March 25: at Toronto Blue Jays (Dunedin, Fla).
  • Tuesday, March 26: vs. Tampa Bay Rays
  • Wednesday, March 27: at Detroit Tigers (Lakeland, Fla.)
  • Thursday, March 28: vs. Toronto Blue Jays 

This schedule is bad. If you look at it, there are no back-to-back home games for the Phillies. If you're going to fly down to Clearwater this spring, please plan accordingly.

Individual tickets for Grapefruit League games go on sale January 10th.

Follow Erik on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI.


What Are the Miami Marlins Doing? Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Heath Bell... Who is Next?

Ozzie_guillen_Ump
Will Ozzie Guillen stick around?  Time will tell.

With a beautiful new ballpark opening, 2012 was supposed to be a different Marlins.  No longer designated the "Florida" Marlins and ready to take the City of Miami by storm by renaming the team the "Miami" Marlins and changing their uniforms to Miami's flag's colors.  In came free agents Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, and Mark Buehrle and manager Ozzie Guillen was added from the Chicago White Sox.  Even some Albert Pujols talk floated its way through Miami.   This year was supposed to be different.

2012 started out badly even before it began.    The signing of shorstop Jose Reyes meant that Hanley Ramirez would have to switch to playing third base.  Nobody bothered to give Reyes a call before the signing to ask him, and Ramirez was "not on board" with the plan.  Ramirez would eventually play third base, but it was not a happy time for him in Miami.

Once the season began it only took just over a week for free-mouthed Ozzie Guillen to start upsetting people.  The first time he did it was the people of Miami, many of whom whose families had familial roots in Cuba.  Guillen said that he "admired" dictator Fidel Castro, whose name was synonymous with oppression to many.

Then - the team played poor baseball.  In April, the team got off to an 8-14 start.  In May the team appeared to hit their groove, going 21-8.  At the end of May, the Marlins were 29-22 and just 0.5 games out of first place in the National League East.  But then June happened.  As quickly as the Marlins went on a tear and got within half a game of first place, they fell.  After tying for first place on June 3 the Marlins went 3-17 and finished June  7.5 games out of first place.

Just a few weeks later on July 23rd, the Marlins were  11.5 out of first place and began disassembling their roster.  First, the Marlins traded starter Anibal Sanchez and starting second baseman Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers.  Sanchez and Infante both helped the Tigers get to to the World Series.

Then, the Marlins gave up on Hanley Ramirez in a trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  In return they acquired Nate Eovaldi.  Eovaldi replaced Sanchez in the rotation and went 3.7 for the Marlins the rest of the way and Greg Dobbs was the primary starter at third base the rest of the way.

At season's end the Marlins were 69-93 and 29 games out of first place.  $27 million closer Heath Bell blew eight saves.   $58 million starter Mark Buehrle was a .500 pitcher.   $102 million shortstop Jose Reyes was indeed productive, but his batting average fell 50 whole points from 2011.  

The exodus continues.  Closer Heath Bell was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday.  One must think that more moves are coming.  There are even reports that the Marlins are already "aggressively"  interviewing candidates to replace Manager Ozzie Guillen.  Guillen perhaps fired a pre-parting shot at Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who has gone through manager after manager in Miami.  Guillen's status reportedly will be addressed next week, reports CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.  Who could be next?

The plan going into 2012 was to build a new brand, a team that Miami could be proud of.  Now, there appears to be no plan.  After 1997 and 2003 the Marlins brought in many blue chip prospects for the future.  None of their return in 2012 seems to be any more than inventory exchanged in a pure salary dump.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria always did what he wanted with his money and his team.  The result?  Disaster.  Couldn't happen to a better guy.