Cliff Lee Strategically Makes Partial No-Trade A Full No-Trade Clause

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Photo: Philliedelphia/Steve Trapani

Phillies ace Cliff Lee returned both to the mound and to to trade rumors on Monday night, in a loss to the San Francisco Giants.  While Lee was almost predictably rusty, many scouts were in attendance.   In negotiating Cliff Lee's contract, Lee retained the rights to pick nine teams to which he would accept a trade, much like Cole Hamels' contract allows.  Lee's, however, makes him virtually untradeable.

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN released the list of teams to which Lee will accept a trade today.  He might as well have a full no-trade clause.  Lee and his agent have strategically picked the nine teams to which the Phillies are least likely to trade Lee and made them his nine.

The teams are:

  1. Atlanta Braves
  2. Cleveland Indians
  3. Houston Astros
  4. Miami Marlins
  5. Minnesota Twins
  6. New York Mets
  7. San Diego
  8. Tampa Bay
  9. Washington Nationals

Lee's approach is much different than that of Hamels.   While Hamels picked contending teams that he could go to and be an instant difference maker towards a championship, Lee has picked nine teams that the Phillies almost absolutely would never trade Lee. 

Here's why these teams will NOT trade for Lee:

  1. Atlanta Braves - The Phillies will not trade a Lee-calibur player  in-division most likely.  The Braves also have little chance of affording Lee.
  2. Cleveland Indians - If the Indians were able to afford Lee's contract, he would not be a Phillie in the first place.  Cleveland might be a dark horse candidate for a Lee return, but the Phillies would have to pay most of his salary.
  3. Houston Astros - They are in the early stages of a rebuild.  No need for Cliff Lee.
  4. Miami Marlins - This is the team that in the past laid off Billy the Marlin and did not hire an organist to save money.  Will they trade for Lee? No way.
  5. Minnesota Twins - The Twins are fledgling.  There is no need for Cliff Lee right now.
  6. New York Mets - See the Houston Astros.
  7. San Diego - No money here, either.
  8. Tampa Bay - Definitely no money here.
  9. Washington Nationals - Besides the fact the Nationals are division rivals, the Nats already have arguably the best rotation in the game with Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Gio Gonzalez, and Tanner Roark.  The number five starter, Roark, has been one of baseball's best pitchers since his debut.

So there you have it.  No New York Yankees, no Detroit Tigers, no Boston Red Sox... nobody who has a need or the means for Lee.   Unless Cleveland wants to bring back another former son bad enough that they'll mortgage their future, forget about it.

Cliff Lee stays.


Carlos Ruiz Hits Growing Phillies Disabled List

DSC_0075Photo: Philliedelphia/Andrew Gillen

Some devastating news for the Phillies this evening. According to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, catcher Carlos Ruiz has been placed on the seven-day disabled list. The seven-day disabled list was instituted for those at risk of a concussion.

The Phillies are already without catcher Wil Nieves, who suffered a strain sliding into second base. Cameron Rupp started for the Phillies tonight and Koyie Hill, who has major league experience with the Cubs, had been added to the Phillies roster. To make room on the 40-man roster, Zach Collier was designated for assignment, Zolecki notes.

With poor offensive performances in left field, this is an injury that will devastate the Phillies lineup.

 


Jimmy Rollins Can Tie Phillies Hit Record Tonight With One Hit As Phillies Take On Cubs

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Photo: Philliedelphia/Steve Trapani

Tonight could be the night for Jimmy Rollins to futher cement himself in Phillies history.  With one more hit, Rollins will tie former Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt on the all-time Phillies career hit list with 2,234.   A second hit tonight, of course, would make Rollins the all-time Phillies career leader.  All eyes will be on South Philadelphia for this one.  

Roberto Hernandez (2-4, 4.35) will take the mound for the Phillies.  Hernandez has been up and down this season, moreso on the down side.  In Hernandez's last start against the Cincinnati Reds, Hernandez went just four innings, allowing four runs.  The Phillies bullpen would give up two more runs and the Phillies would fall short, 6-5.  Hernandez must be efficient with pitches and go deeper into the game to give the Phillies a chance to win.

The Cubs are countering with righthander Jake Arieta (1-1, 2.50).   Arieta has made seven starts for the Cubs thus far this season, since joining the Cubs at the beginning of May.  Arieta is coming off a start against the Miami Marlins in which he pitched six shutout innings in a game that the Cubs would go on to lose 4-3.   Arieta has not gone deeper than six innings in the game.

Game Notes: 

  • The Cubs are 26-38 on the season, giving them the worst record in the National League.  If the Phillies hope to get out of the National League East basement, they will have to captialize upon the Cubs as they did with the San Diego Padres.
  • Many fans bemoaned the Phillies letting outfielder Nate Schierholtz go after the 2012 season.  Schierholtz, however, is batting just .213 with an OPS of .581
  • Since 2002, the Phillies are 54-27 against the Padres and have outscored them by 83 runs.
  • Former Marlins catcher John Baker gets the start for the Cubs.  Baker's father, Frank Baker, played in the Phillies system as a catcher in the 1970s, once sharing a room with Keith Moreland at AA Reading.

Phillies Lineup

  1. Tony Gywnn, Jr. CF
  2. Jimmy Rollins SS
  3. Chase Utley 2B
  4. Marlon Byrd RF
  5. John Mayberry Jr. 1B
  6. Domonic Brown LF
  7. Carlos Ruiz C
  8. Reid Brignac 3B
  9. Roberto Hernandez P

Cubs Lineup

  1. Chris Coghlan LF
  2. Ryan Sweeney CF
  3. Anthony Rizzo 1B
  4. Starlin Castro SS
  5. Luis Valbuena 3B
  6. Nate Schierholtz RF
  7. John Baker C
  8. Darwin Barney 2B
  9. Jake Arrieta P

Location: Citizens Bank Park, Philladelphia, Pennsylvania
Weather: 77°F - Overcast - precip. likely, scattered
Game Time: 7:05 PM Eastern


Phillies Are Actively Scouting The Red Sox

Ben Revere

The Phillies currently sit at 11 games under the .500 mark.  Short of a miraculous comeback, the Phillies likely will be sellers at the trade deadline.  According to one report, the Phillies may already be involved in some preparation for trade discussions.

Nick Carfardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies have spent a good amount of time scouting the Boston Red Sox in recent weeks:

This begs the question: where might the two teams match up?

We can rule out Jonathan Papelbon right off the bat.  Looking at the Red Sox, their needs appear to be outfield and perhaps some bullpen help.  Most notably, the Boston Red Sox need a center fielder.   Judging by the fact that the Phillies are looking at the Red Sox major league roster, it appears that any match would be for Phillies center fielder Ben Revere.

Any deal involving a center fielder could mean the Phillies take back one of the underachieving Red Sox youngsters.   There are currently three on the Red Sox roster: infielder Will Middlebrooks, infielder Xander Boagerts, and outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr.   Boagerts is going nowhere, even if he struggles.   The Red Sox gave themselves breathing room in the infield to be patient with Boagerts by signing Stephen Drew last month.  Still, Boagerts can play third base.

Will Middlebrooks does not seem to make sense for the Phillies, because he is strictly a corner infielder.  The Phillies already have Cody Asche and Maikel Franco to build for the future.  That has led to some whispers that Asche could end up in left field.  There is no clear place for Middlebrooks on the Phillies.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. could be the one the Phillies are looking at.  If Ben Revere and perhaps other pieces head to Boston, the rebuilding Phillies could nab Bradley in the hopes that he reaches his higher ceiling in the future.  Revere could give the Red Sox a centerfielder that they badly need.  They do not view Shane Victorino as an option in center field, despite Victorino's many years playing there.

Bradley was benched by the Red Sox after his poor play.  Masslive.com lays out Bradley's play for the Red Sox in the major leagues:

Bradley continues to be a force defensively, covering three zip codes worth of ground in center field, but his .203 average is tied for sixth-worst among major leaguers with at least 200 plate appearances this season. Even his .286 on-base percentage is among the bottom 15.

A bullpen arm like Adams might have interested the Red Sox before he went down with rotator cuff inflammation.  Maybe a reliever plus Revere could have gotten that deal done, depending on where Bradley stands in the eye of the Red Sox organization.   If his stock has fallen far enough, the Phillies could try to get Bradley's bat to come around, whereas a contending Red Sox may not have the ability to be as patient.


Phillies Pitching Scare: Cliff Lee Gets MRI

Lee1Photo: Philliedelphia/Andrew Gillen

UPDATE: Jim Salisbury updated the Twitter world with Ruben Amaro Jr.'s announcement: 

 
All fans are crossing their fingers that Lee will be able to return as soon as the 15-day stint is finished. Everyone, though, is relieved that it is nothing more serious than a strain, and that surgery isn't required. In his post, Salisbury also quoted Lee as saying: 

“The game I pitched against Atlanta, after the game it was pretty sore and I said something to the trainers about it. We started doing some treatment on it and it acted like it was getting a little better. Then this past start (Sunday) I was feeling it the last couple innings on just about every throw and obviously it was pretty sore the next day. I tried to go and play catch [Monday] and it was there on every throw, so we decided to do the MRI and see what’s going on. We’re going to let it rest for a week and re-evaluate at that point and hopefully it will be gone.”


Names like Jeff Manship, Sean O'Sullivan, and Barry Enright could also be used to fill Lee's vacant rotation spot. And now, the original post...

Some potentially troubling news for the Phillies: Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee underwent an MRI today. No more info was available, but the fact that Lee had the procedure is a red flag.

Lee hasn't been on a disabled list since 2007, when he suffered a groin strain. Lee returned to the starting rotation and went 4-9 with a 5.38 ERA coming off that.

Lee's injury puts the Phillies' already depleted pitching depth in more trouble. With starter Jonathan Pettibone on the shelf, the obvious option to help the Phillies rotation would be David Buchanan. Buchanan is 5-1 with a 3.98 ERA in nine starts at AAA Lehigh Valley.

 Salisbury tweeted about the procedure and updated with some information from Ruben Amaro Jr.

Chart

As you can see from the chart above, courtesy baseballsavant.com, Lee's velocity on every one of his pitches has dropped in the last season. The concern over him $120 million arm is growing. 


Two Eagles Are Up For The Cover Of Madden 2015; Vote Now!

EA

The first round of voting for the cover of Madden 2015 from EA Sports is online.   The Eagles have TWO of their players in the running for this prestigious spot.

Nick Foles is up against Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers in the first round.  While Kaepernick is probably the heavy favorite, there are enough passional Eagles fans to give him a run for his money.

LeSean McCoy is up against T.Y. Hilton of the Indianapolis Colts.  The Colts have a second player of their own on the list in quarterback Andrew Luck.

Having two players in the running could hurt the Eagles, as fans may split the votes.  So click HERE to vote for yourself and let your friends know to look out for the Eagles.


Outfielder Kevin Frandsen Upsets New Nationals Teammates With Comments

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Former Phillies player Kevin Frandsen joined the Washington Nationals after being cut by the Phillies.  Frandsen was "pissed" that the Phillies released him prior to the season.  But it is now other Nationals players who might be "pissed" at Kevin Frandsen.   Frandsen made some comments that have upset some of his teammates.

On  a Washington, D.C. radio show called "Sports Junkies" on 106.7 FM, Frandsen was asked who the Nationals' best young player was.    The answer most people would expect someone to answer that Bryce Harper would be.

Instead, Frandsen named the talented Anthony Rendon, but did so in a way that upset his teammates.  The Washington Post transcribed Frandsen's interview:

“Rendon,” Frandsen said, not skipping a beat. “Without a doubt. He is as impressive as any young player; in all honesty, he’s the best young guy we have, by far. … I don’t think there’s anyone in the same sentence as him, as far as young guys, and he might be one of the best ones in the league.”

At this point, Eric Bickel and Jason Bishop interjected to ask if Frandsen was including Bryce Harper in his evaluation.

“Absolutely,” said Frandsen, who later said he agreed with Matt Williams’s decision to bench Harper for not hustling. “Tony, ah man, that is one of the coolest swings I’ve seen. And especially for, what is he, 23, 24 years old? To be that consistent, to stay inside the baseball as consistently as he can, and to have that much pop. I don’t know how much the outside knows, but he hits balls farther than most people on the team. But he is so good, as far as staying inside and staying within himself, that just impresses me.”

I must say: I agree with Frandsen.  However, these are not remarks a teammate can make.

Teammates took this as a slight.  Frandsen could have said, "we have so many talented young players, such as Jordan Zimmermann and Bryce Harper" and continued by singing Rendon's praise for the job he has done this season while Harper is out injured, and considering Rendon shifted to third base to fill in for Ryan Zimmerman.

Frandsen is getting his playing opportunities thanks to Harper's injury.  Aside from two infield appearances, Frandsen has appeared in 11 of his 13 defensive games in left field.

Does Frandsen's point have validity?  Yes, if he was writing for a blog or serving as a talk radio host.  However, as a player, there are some things to avoid saying.  Frandsen left a less than favorable impression on his teammates, who are struggling along despite lofty expectations.


Phillies Manager Ryne Sandberg Runs Broad Street Run... Sorta

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Today was the annual Broad Street Run, a staple in the City of Philadelphia the first Sunday of May every year.   The Phillies responded to the event by postponing the start time of today's game from the typical 1:35 p.m. start to a 3:05 p.m. start.   However, the reported 40,000 plus all on Broad Street made Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg's travel to the ballpark a very interesting one.

If you have attempted to travel around the city during the race before, you know that there is no crossing over Broad Street until the end of the race.   Sandberg learned that the hard way today as he attempted to get to the ballpark.   After his car service could not get him onto the other side of Broad Street and to the ballpark, Sandberg had to improvise.

The Associated Press via CBS Philly got the story in Sandberg's own words: 

“It was full strength of runners at that point and there were no gaps,” Sandberg recounted following the Phillies’ 1-0 win over Washington on Sunday. “I talked to the policeman and told him I’ve got to get to the stadium.

“He said, ‘Well, if you want to risk it, you can go and kind of get with the runners and then get across. I actually ran about 50 feet.”

It's a sight from a comedy movie: Sandberg joining the runners and working his way to the other side, carrying his briefcase bag along the way, dressed much differently than the other runners.

Sandberg got there in time and managed today's 1-0 victory over the Washington Nationals.  There is no word if Sandberg will participate in any of the 11 races that will take place in the City of Philadelphia and surrounding area on May 10th.


Phillies Shuffle Rotation To Put Aces Up Against Nationals

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Photo: Philliedelphia/Steve Trapani

The Phillies will have three nights off this week, with tonight's rainout - Monday, Wednesday, Thursday.  Even though the Phillies skipped fifth starter Roberto Hernandez in the rotation, the Phillies will make one more adjustment.   Kyle Kendrick, originally tabbed to start tonight's game against the Mets, will start on Monday instead.

The move means that when the Phillies take on the Nationals this weekend at Citizens Bank Park, the Nationals will face the Phillies' top three starters.   Cliff Lee will pitch the series opener on Friday, as he was scheduled to.  Then, A.J. Burnett follows in game two.  Cole Hamels will pitch the Sunday matinee to close out the series.


Rangers Take Game Five; Flyers Will Head Home Facing Elimination

The Rangers had found themselves in the first round of the playoffs each of the last two seasons tied at two games a piece, and both times the Rangers lost game five at home.  But, 2014 would prove to be different as the Flyers were unable to muster much offense for much of the game.   Despite a late run by the Flyers, the Rangers would take game five from the Flyers.

The Flyers got the first power play just after three minutes on a Carl Hagelin plenalty but failed to capitalize, not even getting off a single shot.   Hagelin would give the Flyers a second chance with a cross checking penalty four minutes later.  The results were similar: the Flyers just managed two shots on goal.

The Rangers would strike first with 8:07 remaining.  Mark Staal would take advantage of a weak defensive alignment to catch Mason off guard with a goal right through his legs.  Staal had not scored a goal in his last 32 games.

Almost immediately, Vinny Lecavalier would be hit with a holding penalty, to give the Rangers their first power play of the game.   However, the Rangers were unable to get a shot on goal and it remained 1-0 Rangers, through the end of the period.  

The Flyers managed eight shots during the first period and the Rangers six.

In the second, Andrew MacDonald would give the Rangers a power play with a a hold against Rick Nash.   Within the power play, the Rangers would miss out on a goal that they should have had and the Flyers would catch a lucky break.   Both Mason and the refs thought that Mason had made the save, but the puck was lying just behind Mason's leg.  The referee would blow the whistle just seconds before the Rangers shot the puck into the net.  

Since the whistle was blown, no goal.  But the Rangers would get one soon thereafter.  Brad Richards would add his second goal of the playoffs with 11:53 remaning in the second.

The Flyers would almost immediately end up on the power play, thanks to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty from Kevin Klein.  The Flyers failed to capitalize, but almost immediately after the Rangers were back to full strength, Carl Hagelin would take his third penalty of the day.  But after taking one shot, the power play would end without the Flyers scoring.

As the Rangers returned to full strength, Matt Read would hit the penalty box for roughing.  It was a penalty of pure frustration, but one the Flyers could not afford.  But, the Flyers defense would respond with a penalty kill and ride out Read's two minutes.

The Rangers could not score during the power play, but shortly after the Rangers would add their third goal.  A Braydon Coburn pass into Hal Gill's feet caused Gill to turn to get the puck, which opened up the puck and a clear path to the net for Dominic Moore, who fired the puck past Mason to make it 3-0 Rangers.

Goaltender interference by Anton Stralman would give the Flyers one more power play to close out the second period with a power play.  The Flyers finally would take advantage of a power play as Vinny Lecavalier would fire a shot that redirected off of Kevin Klein's stick and into the net to make 3-1 with just 33 seconds remaining in the second period.  That score would stand as the period came to a close.

The Flyers and Rangers each had eight shots in the second period.  

The third period would start out pretty quietly.  With no penalties and no goals for most of the third period, the Flyers would pull Steve Mason with three minutes left to play.

With 1:29 to play,  Claude Girioux would score his first goal of the series.   Mason once again headed back to the bench, before coming back in and out at the the 1:00 mark.   After a Rangers icing with 44 seconds left, the Flyers got back to work with Mason out of the net.

However, Brian Boyle would find the empty net to make it 4-2 Rangers.  That would put an end to the Flyers' late run and give the Rangers game 5.

The Rangers and the Flyers head back to Philadelphia for game six.

Penalty Summary:

Carl Hagelin, NYR - 3:17, 1st - slashing

Carl Hagelin, NYR - 7:28, 1st - cross checking

Vinny Lecavalier, PHL - 12:03 1st - holding

Andrew MacDonald, PHL - 0:38,  2nd - holding

Kevin Klein, NYR - 8:26, 2nd - unsportsmanlike conduct

Carl Hagelin, NYR - 10:39, 2nd - hooking

Matt Read, PHL - 2nd 13:01 - roughing

Anton Stralman, NYR - 2nd 18:16 - goaltender interference

Scoring Summary: 

Mark Staal, NYR - 11:53, 1st – Derek Stepan (A), Marty St. Louis (A)

Brad Richards, NYR - 8:07, 2nd – J.T. Miller (A), Carl Hagelin (A)

Dominic Moore, NYR - 16:20, 2nd - unassisted

Vinny Lecavalier, PHL - 19:27, 2nd - Mark Streit (A), Andrew MacDonald (A)

Claude Girioux, PHL - 18:31, 3rd - Kimmo Timmonen (A), Wayne Simmonds (A)

Brian Boyle, NYR - 19:45, 3rd - Dan Girardi (A), Dominic Moore (A)