The Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly in agreement with free agent outfielder Michael Saunders on a contract for 2017. The deal is rumored to be for one year, with an option that may be the player’s to exercise.
There have been rumors all off-season that the Fightin’ Phils were looking to add another bat to their lineup. Just last week, club president Andy MacPhail publicly confirmed those rumors, which I explored here.
Word of a possible Saunders deal with the Phillies first broke across Twitter in the early afternoon from insider Jon Morosi.
Later in the day, information began leaking that the deal was for $9 million guaranteed in 2017. The second year option option at $11 could escalate to as much as $13 million.
If the Phillies do indeed complete this signing, what exactly will the club be gaining? In my opinion, very little of significance. In fact, a legitimate argument can be made as to whether signing Saunders improves their talent at all.
The Cincinnati Red Stockings were one of the eight charter members of the original National League when it first formed in February of 1876.
That first Reds involvement in the NL would not last long. The team was expelled after five seasons for violating two early league rules. Cincinnati opened their park on Sundays, and marketed beer. The final Reds club finished in last place with a 21-59-3 mark in the 1880 season.
Instead of disbanding, Reds ownership kept the club organized. They would eventually help to form the new American Association in 1881. The AA would last as a challenger to the NL for a full decade from 1882-91. The Reds would capture the very first AA pennant in the 1882 campaign.
Following the 1889 season, Cincinnati re-joined the National League. The club won 92 games by the 1898 season, good enough for a 3rd place finish.
THE BLACK SOX AND THE ROARING TWENTIES
The Reds finally captured their first NL pennant in 1919 under the guidance of skipper Pat Moran. Those Reds were heavy underdogs in the World Series to the AL champion Chicago White Sox. But Cincinnati shocked baseball when they pulled off a dramatic 5-3 win in the Fall Classic.
However, a number of key Chisox regulars had conspired with gamblers to “throw” the World Series. This would infamously become known in baseball history as the “Black Sox” scandal.
The Reds would finish in 2nd place three times over the next seven seasons, but collapsed to the bottom of the league by the end of the 1920’s.
The rebuilding Philadelphia Phillies escaped the cellar of the National League East Division in the 2016 season. Despite improving by seven games in the standings, the club continued to show significant shortcomings.
The greatest area of short-term concern for the Fightin’ Phils remains with offensive production from the lineup. The 2016 Phillies were the worst offensive team in baseball.
This past season, the Phillies finished last in runs scored (610) by a wide margin. The 29th place team, the division rival Atlanta Braves, scored 649 times. The top two scoring teams in the NL, the Colorado Rockies and World Series champion Chicago Cubs, scored 845 and 808 runs, respectively.
There has been a great deal of speculation in recent months that the Phillies might be interested in adding a new bat to their outfield mix. This addition would come either from signing an available free agent or via trade.
One new outfielder has already been brought on board. The Phillies traded for Howie Kendrick, installing him as the new left fielder. It is believed now that the club is looking to add a more proven right fielder, or a left-handed bat to platoon at first base with Tommy Joseph.
On Sunday morning, Phillies President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail was a guest on MLB Network Radio’s “Front Office” program. Per Jim Bowden, MacPhail stated that the Phillies are indeed looking to add a left-handed bat.
The Philadelphia Phillies’ rebuilding program continues to move along at a reasonable pace. After finally resolving to commit to that rebuild, the club has spent the past two years jettisoning aging, expensive players.
The Phils bottomed out in the standings in 2015. That year, the club finished with the worst record in all of baseball. In this past 2016 season they improved by seven games, and escaped the cellar of the National League East for the first time since 2013.
It is expected that the Phillies will continue to move up as the 2017 season unfolds. Not necessarily to a playoff contending level yet, but certainly to make a push for the .500 mark.
The Texas Rangers were formed from a failed attempt by Major League Baseball to forcibly keep a big league team in the Nation’s Capital.
The original Washington Senators had been one of the American League’s eight charter franchises. That club traced its existence back to the 1901 founding of the junior circuit.
Those first Senators relocated to Minnesota in 1961, where they became the current Twins. Wanting to keep baseball in D.C., an expansion club was created by MLB as a replacement.
The new expansion Washington Senators thus began play in that 1961 season. The team would remain there through the 1971 season.
The Senators had a losing record through each of their first eight seasons. With the nearby Baltimore Orioles as a consistent contender, attendance became a serious issue.
In 1969, baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams was brought in as the skipper with no prior managerial experience. “The Splendid Splinter” would guide the club to its only winning campaign. Williams’ 1969 Senators team finished 86-76 in the first year of MLB divisional play.
The Internet Baseball Writer’s Association of America (IBWAA) conducts voting in December of each year for its Baseball Hall of Fame.
This process is conducted in much the same manner as the formal BBWAA voting, which results in players being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.
The IBWAA was born on the Fourth of July in 2009. As described at the association website, the organization was formed “to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as a digital alternative to the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).”
The BBWAA is made up of writers who have covered the game for “traditional” media. This usually means of the print variety, such as newspapers.
Meanwhile, coverage of the game has exploded beyond such traditional means over the last two decades.
Baseball coverage has now expanded to purely digital websites and blogs. Due to this expansion, a vibrant and vital new resource is available to all fans of the sport.
Hence, the IBWAA organizes internet writers, columnists, and bloggers who might otherwise be shut out of the aging print media structure.
After winning the National League West Division crown in the 2011 season, the Arizona Diamondbacks fell to a .500 finish in each of the next two seasons.
Arizona further collapsed to a 64-98 finish in 2014. However, the club bounced back in 2015, picking up 15 wins to finish within four games of the .500 mark at 79-83.
Diamondbacks management felt that the club was coming on, and so a couple of key moves were made with an eye towards contending for at least a 2016 NL Wildcard berth.
At the Winter Meetings in December of 2015, the team signed free agent ace right-hander Zack Greinke. A day later they dealt an extremely valuable package of prospects led by shortstop Dansby Swanson to the Atlanta Braves in order to land pitcher Shelby Miller. Then in January they traded with the Milwaukee Brewers for shortstop Jean Segura.
Adding these players to a lineup that was led by the 2015 NL MVP runner-up Paul Goldschmidt and rotation with emerging young talents such as Patrick Corbin and Robbie Ray, Arizona believed they would indeed contend for a postseason berth.
Instead, the Diamondbacks collapsed back to a 69-93 record, 18 games off that NL Wildcard pace and 22 games behind the division-winning Los Angeles Dodgers.
Key injuries decimated the lineup, as a pair of starting outfielders, A.J. Pollock and David Peralta, missed most of the season.
WHAT WAS EXPECTED OF THE 2016 ROTATION
However, it was the collapse of the starting rotation, in particular the failures of the two big acquisitions in Greinke and Miller, that led to the team collapse.
According to general manager Matt Klentak, it is the mission of the Philadephia Phillies to have as much starting pitching as possible, and so the club swung a deal today with the Boston Red Sox with that end in mind.
The trade brings in 32-year-old right-hander Clay Buchholz. He was the Red Sox first round pick at 42nd overall in the 2005 MLB Amateur Draft out of McNeese State University. In exchange, the Phillies sent minor league second baseman Josh Tobias to Boston.
Buchholz throws a four-seam fastball that sits in the low 90s, but has reached the upper 90s in the past, and also has a cutter, curve, and changeup in his arsenal.
Over parts of 10 seasons with the Red Sox, Buchholz has gone 76-57 with a 3.97 ERA. He has allowed 1,039 hits over 1,094.1 innings in 184 games, 177 of those as starts. He has a career 850/392 K:BB ratio.
Rollins is a native of the Bay Area. He was born in Oakland, and played his high school ball with Encinal High School in Alameda.
He became the Philadelphia Phillies’ pick in the second round of the 1996 MLB Amateur Draft. Rollins then made his big league debut in the 2000 season. Rollins took over as the starting shortstop in Philly at the tail end of that 2000 campaign. It was a job that he would hold for 15 more seasons.
He became one of the greatest players in the history of the Phillies franchise, and its all-time hits leader. Rollins was a four-time NL Gold Glove Award winner with the Phils. He was also a three-time NL All-Star during that run.
The Philadelphia Phillies owe their birth in 1883 to the death of the old Worcester club. Worcester in Massachusetts had been deemed too small to support a major league team.
After three seasons in the National League, the club was disbanded and the franchise rights sold.
Needing a team to balance out their schedule, the NL awarded an expansion team to Philadelphia to begin play in the 1883 season.
Originally nicknamed the “Quakers”, the team was frequently referred to that season as the “Philadelphias”, which was shortened to “Phillies” on a regular basis.
Known as the “Phillies” and the “Quakers” through 1889, the former was embraced much more by fans and sportswriters, and so “Phillies” became the official nickname in the 1890 season. It is the oldest continuous same city, same name professional sports team in American history.
Halladay was 32 years old at the time. The winner of the 2003 AL Cy Young Award was a six-time American League all-star. He had finished fifth in AL Cy Young race that fall, the fourth consecutive season in the top five of the voting.
Just a year earlier, following that 2008 World Series victory by the Phillies, Halladay had been the runner-up for that AL Cy Young Award. The winner? Cliff Lee of the Cleveland Indians.
Lee was now Phillies property, having been acquired from the Tribe in a trade deadline deal. The lefty was a key addition in helping the Phils nail down a third straight NL East crown, and second consecutive NL pennant.
As word of the Halladay trade broke, there was a brief moment of almost indescribable joy that swept across Phillies Nation. A pitching rotation fronted by Halladay, Lee, and Cole Hamels?
Added to the still dynamic offense that the Phillies had at the time, that trio would certainly elevate the Phillies back to World Series favorites.