*** Welcome to the 2019 Major League Baseball 'HOT STOVE' season *** updates here on the PHILLIES and all of Major League Baseball all winter long ***

Friday, December 7, 2018

Lefty starting pitching still a priority for Phillies this off-season

Keuchel won the 2015 NL Cy Young Award with the Astros
After agreeing to a deal with the free agent lefty starting pitcher a couple of days ago, the Washington Nationals today announced the signing of Patrick Corbin to a six-year, $140 million deal. Corbin now joins Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg in the Nationals starting rotation.
With their own rotation headed by a pair of talented right-handers in Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta, the Philadelphia Phillies are known to be looking for a left-hander as well.
The Phillies appear to have been one of the finalists for Corbin. Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported  “five years at what is believed to have been a bit over $100 million” as the Phillies offer.
The Phillies have not had a southpaw in their rotation since Adam Morgan made 21 starts in the 2016 season. They haven’t had an effective left-handed starter since Cole Hamels was dealt in late July 2015.
Having lost out on Corbin to a division rival, where might Phillies general manager Matt Klentak turn next in his search?
There are a handful of remaining left-handed starting pitchers who have each been linked to the Phillies in recent weeks. Each one comes with his own question marks and challenges in bringing them to Philadelphia. Let’s examine a few of the better options.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS VETERAN

The biggest name is that of San Francisco Giants veteran Madison Bumgarner. The 29-year-old helped lead the Giants to three World Series titles earlier in this decade, and was the Most Valuable Player of the 2014 Fall Classic.

Trade rumors involving MadBum have blazed in the Hot Stove in recent days. (Photo: Arturo Pardavilla III)
Bumgarner made four straight NL All-Star teams from 2013-16, finishing among the top 10 in NL Cy Young Award voting each of those seasons. He also knows how to handle a bat, having blasted 17 career home runs and won a pair of Silver Slugger Awards.
After missing the first three months of the 2018 season with a broken hand, Bumgarner returned to make 21 starts. The North Carolina native is owed just $12 million for next season after which he will become a free agent, so there is not a big contract commitment.
However, he would not come cheap as far as the price to land him. Giants new GM Farhan Zaidi is likely to ask for a player/prospect combination with some real value. It might take something like an Odubel Herrera and Adonis Medina package.

HOUSTON ASTROS FREE AGENT

Assuming that Corbin was free agent pitching ‘Plan A’ for Klentak, perhaps the ‘Plan B’ is named Dallas Keuchel, who turns 31-years-old on New Year’s Day 2019.
Keuchel was the Houston Astros seventh round pick in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft. He has spent his entire seven-year big-league career in Houston, and was a key member of the 2017 World Series champions pitching rotation.
Keuchel has a 76-63 career record with a 3.66 ERA, 1.250 WHIP, and 3.72 FIP mark. The Oklahoma native is more of a typical crafty left-hander than a power pitcher, with career 2.76 K/BB and 7.2 K/9 marks.
The 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner has won a dozen or more games in four of the last five years, is a 2x NL All-Star, and has won five Gold Glove Awards including this past season.
It is believed that Keuchel will be looking for a four-year deal at an $80 million total. While that is less than Corbin’s total cost, it still takes him out to age 34. The Phillies supposedly balked at a sixth year on their Corbin offer, which would have been his age 34 season.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Harper and Machado would make this a happy holiday for Phillies fans

Harper would make a great Christmas gift to fans
If you follow Philadelphia Phillies social media as closely as I do, you have come to the same realization that I have over the last few days. Phillies fans are growing increasingly impatient with management’s failure to make really big moves so far this off-season.
The Phillies fan base was finally thrown a piece of red meat at the start of this week with the trade to acquire infielder Jean Segura and a pair of relievers.
In that deal the team also shed the contract and lineup albatross of Carlos Santana and officially gave up on J.P. Crawford as the shortstop of the future, a position to which he once seemed destined.
But tossing that piece of meat served as nothing more than chum in the waters for those victory-starved fanatics. The Phillies fan base wants something big done – really big – and Segura ain’t that.
In fact, from what I have read and heard, those fans want not something, but somethings, plural.
The Phillies are coming off a season in which they collapsed from a month on top of the division to finish in third place in the National League East, and only held on to that spot because time ran out on the New York Mets, who were charging up from behind at the end.
So far this off-season the two teams who finished ahead of them, the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, have each made multiple big moves to strengthen their teams. And the Mets just pulled off a trade that could be considered even more impactful than the Phillies move to add Segura.
Despite making a significant trade with the Seattle Mariners just days ago, Phillies fans are not feeling very positive. The reason for that comes from a combination of three things, one of those being the aggressive actions of those divisional rivals.

A second reason for their frustration comes from the team itself. It was three weeks ago that I wrote here at Phillies Nation on multiple reports  that owner John Middleton had stated the club “expected to spend money” and might even “be a little bit stupid about it“, implying major big-ticket additions.
The local Philly sports media has stoked the hot stove fires with statements such as this from Scott Lauber at Philly.comon Middleton:
“Officials from multiple rival teams have suggested, more seriously than not, that he’s (Middleton) prepared to offer a blank check to either Harper or Machado and have him fill in the number. There has even been speculation that the Phillies could drop more than $700 million to sign both players.” ~ Scott Lauber, Philly.com

Phillies fans are still hoping that Middleton will spend some stupid money this Christmas season.
There remains plenty of reason for Phillies fans to continue to hope during this off-season. That comes primarily from the simple fact that both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remain unsigned. Both impact hitters are still free agents and available for Middleton and the Phillies to sign.
That combination fits perfectly what this Phillies team needs to become a genuine contender in the National League over the next half-decade or so. Two impactful middle-of-the-order bats, one an infielder, one an outfielder.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Remembering the Phillies first-ever big free agent signing of Pete Rose

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Rose became the first big free agent signing by the Phillies in December 1978

The Philadelphia Phillies frustratingly lost out on free agent starting pitcher Patrick Corbin. They supposedly remain among the most active bidders for  the big bats of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado as this off-season moves along.
It was forty years ago today that the Phillies made their first-ever free agent signing, and it was a big one. It turned out to have as positive an impact on the history of the organization as those who made the decision could have hoped.
There were a number of superstars who made up the core of the Cincinnati Reds legendary ‘Big Red Machine’ back-to-back World Series champions of 1975-76. But the man who provided the engine to that powerful train was Pete Rose.
Nicknamed ‘Charlie Hustle’ because of his highly competitive style of play, Rose was already 37-years-old when Phillies owner Ruly Carpenter gave his blessing to the four-year, $3.225 million contract negotiated by GM Paul Owens.
The Phillies had won three consecutive National East Division crowns from 1976-78. But each year they fell short in the League Championship Series. They were swept out by Rose and the Reds champions of 1976. In both 1977 and 1978, the Los Angeles Dodgers won an NLCS each year when the Phillies seemed poised to win for themselves.
Those Phillies teams were extremely talented. Led by future Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton and filled with numerous Gold Glove Award winners and NL All-Stars, they had the talent to win. They just didn’t seem to quite know how to actually get the job done.
Rose knew how to win the big one. He was a key part, perhaps the most important part, of those Reds championship teams. Voted the Most Valuable Player of perhaps the greatest World Series in history, the Reds unforgettable seven-game 1975 victory.
Rose was the 1963 NL Rookie of the Year and a decade later was the 1973 National League Most Valuable Player. He had been runner-up for that NL MVP in 1968, and would finish among the top five in voting on three other occasions. Rose was a 12x NL All-Star, and won back-to-back NL Gold Glove Awards as an outfielder in 1969 and 1970.
This was the player whom the Phillies decided was, even at an advanced age for a baseball player, worth the largest contract in the history of the game. Carpenter and Owens brought Rose to Philadelphia for one reason alone, to put the team over the top. To finally win the first World Series title in franchise history.
During his first season with the Phillies, Rose helped drive the team back to the top of the division. They moved into first place on April 21 and would remain there for more than a month, building an early 3.5 game lead at one point. And then the wheels fell off.
The 1979 Phillies collapsed under a myriad of injuries, losing second baseman Manny Trillo, catcher Bob Boone, and starting pitchers Dick Ruthven and Larry Christenson for chunks of the season.
They would finish 84-78, a disappointing fourth place, 14 games behind the division-winning “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates team that would go on to win the World Series that year.
Rose himself could hardly have been considered a disappointment, however. He had 208 hits, including 40 doubles. He stole 20 bases and his .418 on-base percentage led the National League. Rose was selected to his 13th NL All-Star team that year.
It would finally all come together the following year. Rose led the NL with 42 doubles and was again an NL All-Star. And finally, the Phillies were World Series champions.

Monday, December 3, 2018

James Pazos not just a throw-in in trade between Phillies and Mariners

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Pazos arrives to Phillies as part of Jean Segura trade

The Philadelphia Phillies and Seattle Mariners have completed a tradethat was anticipated for days. In the formal announcement, the Phillies have sent Carlos Santana and J.P. Crawford to Seattle in exchange for Jean SeguraJuan Nicasio, and James Pazos.
Phillies fans are very familiar with the stories of the two players who are headed out to the Pacific Northwest, so I won’t spend time regurgitating the details of their careers.
Segura is the obvious centerpiece of the deal from a Phillies perspective. He upgrades the shortstop position immediately. Nicasio is a 32-year-old veteran right-handed reliever who doesn’t beat himself with walks, and who is owed just one year at $9.25 million on his contract.
Pazos, the “third” piece in the deal coming to the Phillies, is the player in this deal with whom fans are least likely to have some familiarity. While he is not a lights-out closer-type pitcher, he is far more than a simple throw-in on the back-end of a big deal.
Pazos is a 27-year-old native of Gilbert, Arizona who was the New York Yankees 13th round selection in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of San Diego. His big-league debut came in 2015 and he would make 18 total appearances with the Yankees over two seasons.
On November 18, 2016 the Yankees dealt the southpaw to the Mariners in a straight-up deal for right-handed pitching prospect Zack Littell. New York would subsequently flip Littell to the Minnesota Twins in the July 2017 trade for veteran starting pitcher Jaime Garcia.


Over the last two seasons Pazos has become a key member of the Mariners bullpen. He has allowed just 98 hits over 103.2 innings across 119 games with a 3.39 ERA, 3.83 FIP, and a 1.322 WHIP during those two seasons.
Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times found the inclusion of Pazos in the deal to be “curious”, writing the following in his own story on the deal:
“Pazos’ inclusion in the deal is curious but speaks to his struggles and lost velocity at the end of last season. The big lefty’s fastball slowly deteriorated from upper 90s down to low 90s and still no ability to consistently spot what was labeled an average breaking ball. The Mariners said publicly that it was a mechanical issue that led to the decrease, but some people in the organization worried that he was dealing with an injury.” ~ Ryan Divish, Seattle Times
While Pazos isn’t the kind of power lefty that free agents Andrew Miller or Zach Britton, both of whom remain on the Phillies radar, would bring he is a steady option from that side for manager Gabe Kapler to use in the match-up game that the skipper prefers.
However, Pazos was actually much more effective in 2018 against right-handed batters than against left-handers. The righties hit just .228 against him over 125 plate appearances while lefties hit him at a .280 mark in 86 plate appearances. Per Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia he was often a one-pitch hurler last season.

Mariners and Phillies have a long and at times pivotal trade history

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Jamie Moyer was an important pitcher in both Phillies and Mariners history

The Philadelphia Phillies and Seattle Mariners appear to be on the verge of a significant trade. If the rumors are true, this deal should be announced at some point later today.
In the deal, the Phillies would reportedly be sending first baseman Carlos Santana, young shortstop J.P. Crawford, and possibly a prospect to the Mariners in exchange for shortstop Jean Segura and a relief pitcher.
Assuming the deal is indeed completed, this would be the 11th trade between the Phillies and Mariners. It would mark the 16th transaction overall involving the two clubs dating back to even prior to Seattle playing their first-ever game as an expansion team in the 1977 season.
In that initial Philly-Seattle transaction on November 6, 1976, the Mariners purchased the contract of pitcher John Montague from the Phillies. It would be the last transaction involving the two clubs for nearly seven years.
On July 29, 1983 the Phillies purchased a 29-year-old righty relief pitcher from Seattle, one who would help them nail down the 1983 NL East crown and National League pennant. That reliever would spend parts of the next three years with the Phillies before a trade to Houston.
He would return as a free agent to help the 1993 Phillies win their next NL pennant, and has grown to become a beloved figure as a broadcaster with the team. I’m talking about none other than ‘LA’ himself, Larry Andersen.


More than four years later the Phillies and Mariners completed their first-ever actual trade. The Phillies sent popular veteran outfielder Glenn Wilson and a reliever who would become one of baseball’s best over the next decade, Michael Jackson, to Seattle in exchange for outfielder Phil Bradley and a prospect.
Following a couple of minor deals in the early-1990’s, the next interesting Phillies-Mariners trade came at the non-waiver deadline in the 1996 season. Veteran lefty starter Terry Mulholland was dealt to the Mariners in exchange for shortstop prospect Desi Relaford.
Mulholland and another lefty obtained by Seattle from the Boston Red Sox that year, Jamie Moyer, would help a Seattle team that featured Ken Griffey Jr. Alex Rodriguez, and Edgar Martinez make a late charge before finishing in second place to the Texas Rangers in the AL West. Relaford became the Phillies starting shortstop for a couple of years before yielding the position to Jimmy Rollins.
There were a couple of minor deals between the two teams over the next few years, but it would be a decade before another impact trade. That one came down on August 19, 2006 when the Phillies obtained Moyer for a pair of inconsequential prospects.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Yankees and Red Sox may soon become Phillies division rivals

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Andrew Benintendi and the Red Sox could soon become Phillies division rivals

The Philadelphia Phillies baseball club and their fan base have now experienced seven consecutive non-winning seasons, six straight losers.
The front office is now in the midst of a pivotal off-season. GM Matt Klentak and his staff work the phones for potential trade partners. Owner John Middleton has promised to provide “stupid” amounts of money for them to shop in the free agent market.
It is all an attempt to return the Phillies to a consistent winner, something that became commonplace in the previous decade. The Phillies fielded a winning team in 10 of 11 seasons from 2001-11. That included five consecutive National League East Division crowns, back-to-back NL pennants, and the 2008 World Series championship.
As they make their plans, the Phillies brain trust is keeping at least one eye on their NL East rivals. The defending division champion Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, both of whom finished ahead of the Phillies in 2018, have already made big moves to improve their clubs.
The New York Mets and Miami Marlins finished behind the Phillies in the NL East standings this past season, and the Marlins are in a rebuilding program that may have them years away from contention.
Up in New York, the Mets have a new general manager who is on the verge of his own first big move. The Mets finished just behind the Phillies in 2018 and were coming up fast from behind when the season ran out on them.
But should the Phillies management actually be worried about the Braves and Nationals at all as they plan for the longer term?
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has spoken with a number of individuals in recent years about expansion and realignment. The goal has been rumored to be the dissolution of the two-league system with unity of rules, including a universal DH rule.
The result of expansion, with Montreal and Portland emerging as the two leading candidates, would come a 32-team league. Those teams would then be divided by geography into eight four-team divisions.
And here comes the potentially tough part. In many of the rumors the Phillies would be placed into a division with three other teams: the long-time division rival Mets, along with both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.


Respected baseball writer Maury Brown of Forbes and formerly of Baseball Prospectus and USA Today was on this topic again today at Twitter as part of a discussion regarding the Portland efforts to build a ball park.