Qualls DFA’d, Savery Optioned; Sanches & Horst Recalled

The Pittsburgh Pirates scored 11 runs off the Phillies bullpen last night. It was only a matter of time. The Bullpen has undergone a facelift.

Chad Qualls was designated for assignment after allowing 3 runs on 3 hits in the 8th inning last night against the Bucs. The Phillies rallied for 3 runs in the Bottom of the 7th but Qualls put the game out of reach. Qualls was a late pick-up for the Phillies signing a one-year $1.15 million deal with the club on January 31st. Qualls finishes with a 1-1 record and an ERA of 4.60. His WHIP was over 1.5 and he allowed 39 hits in 31 and a third innings. He allowed 16 earned runs (18 total) though he also allowed a high number of inherited runners to score, which do not count against his ERA. He has 10 days to clear waivers.

Jeremy Horst, who will replace Joe Savery in the bullpen, will take Qualls’s place on the 40-man roster and on the 25-man roster. Horst went 2-1 with a 2.11 ERA in 38 and a third innings with AAA Lehigh Valley. He struck out 32 and walked 18. He owns a WHIP of 1.59, even higher than that of Qualls, so that could end up being a major concern. We’ll see how he performs at the big club.

Joe Savery was demoted to AAA Lehigh Valley after his performance against the Pirates last night. In 2 and two thirds innings Savery allowed 5 earned runs on 5 hits. He struck out 2 and walked 2. Savery overall was 0-2 with an ERA of 5.87. He allowed 15 ER in 23 IP, struck out 15, walked 7 and recorded a WHIP of 1.43. He will remain on the 40-man roster.

Brian Sanches will take Savery’s spot on the 25-man but will probably take over for Qualls in the bullpen. Sanches allowed 5 ER in 4 Innings for the Phillies earlier this season (ERA 11.25). At AAA Lehigh Valley Sanches 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA in 32 and two thirds innings. Sanches struck out 29, walked 5, and recorded a WHIP of 1.163.

Horst and Sanches should be avaliable for Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates. The Phillies hope to take 3 of 4 and win the series.

Injury Updates: Howard, Halladay, Nix, Stutes, Brown

The guard is returning. Chase Utley made his debut Wednesday night and, as of the 6th inning, is 2-3 with a Home Run and an Infield Single. A home run in his first at bat got the Phillies to a nice start, especially when Carlos Ruiz followed it up with his 11th of the season. But the bullpen-only game idea then bit the Phillies in the rear and they are currently down 8-4. But meanwhile, the guard IS returning. The Phillies gave updates on quite a few Phillies today including someone we’ve heard next-to-nothing about: Laynce Nix.

  • Nix suffered a setback last week (Strained Left Calf) but has rebounded and looks to begin a rehab assignment within 7-10 days. He would have to return to the Phillies within 20 days of that rehab assignment beginning. According to that time frame Nix would be set to return between July 24th and the 27th. It was noted that Nix still feels tightness in the calf.
  • Michael Stutes‘s 2012 Season is indeed over. Stutes had surgery Tuesday on his Shoulder which essentially cleaned out his labrum and his rotator cuff. He will not pick up a baseball for at least 12 weeks (Late September). Stutes should be ready to go for Spring Training 2013.
  • Domonic Brown was placed on the 15-Day Disabled List after spraining his left knee. He should be back on his feet in 2-3 weeks.
  • Ryan Howard will begin his rehab assignment tomorrow (Thursday, June 28th) with the Single-A Lakewood Blue Claws. He has twenty days to return to the big leagues which means Howard will be back no later than June 18th. That would be 8 days after the All-Star Game. Howard said he would probably not be 100% until next season but would be around 85% for the second half. Howard did note he does not expect the injury to impact his batting but only his running and fielding. Take that as what you will.
  • Finally, Roy Halladay has been throwing off flat ground and should begin throwing off the mound in the next week or so. He’ll probably return right around the same time as Howard barring setbacks.

The Phillies and the DL

As of June 26th the Phillies have ten players on the Disabled List: Four on the 60-Day and Six on the 15-Day. These players include their starting first baseman, their backup first baseman, their starting second baseman, their backup second baseman, their backup catcher, their ace, and four bullpen arms. It can be argued that no other team in 2012 has been ravaged by injuries as much as the Phillies have. Combine the injuries with lackluster seasons from many of their healthy players, and you have the recepie for a 36-40 start, and a eight game defecit in the division standings (four in the wild card).

Can the return of these players turn the season around, or will they not be enough to halt the freefall?

RHP Jose Contreras- Torn UCL- Out for Season- $2.5 Million

Jose Contreras signed a 2 year, $5 million deal with the Phillies following his strong 2010 campaign (123 ERA+). He started off well enough in 2011, but injury ended his season prematurely. Contreras finally worked his way back in 2012 but after just 17 Appearences (13.2 Innings), Contreras tore his UCL and will require Tommy John Surgery. His season is over. His career is in jeopardy. In a cruel twist of fate, Contreras lasted just as long in 2012 (17 App, 13.2 IP) as he did in 2011 (17 App, 14 IP). So, what does Contreras’s injury mean to the 2012 Phillies?

The Phillies will be down one right-handed bullpen arm for the rest of the season, and a good one at that. Aside from burning a $2.5 million hole in the Phillies pocket, all Contreras can do is cheer from the sidelines and recover from his injury. Hopefully his career does not end here.

RHP Justin De Fratus- Strained Right Elbow- By the All-Star Break- $480,000

Justin De Fratus is currently ranked as the seventh best prospect in the Phillies system. He made his big league debut for the Phils last September, allowing one earned run in four innings across five appearences. He struck out three and walked three. In the minors in 2011, between AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley, De Fratus went 6-3 with a 2.99 ERA in 75.1 Innings. He struck out 99 and walked 25. De Fratus looked primed to claim a spot in the Phillies bullpen before Spring Training, but an elbow injury struck during early practices before he could even play in a game. He’s been on the DL since. So, what does the De Fratus injury mean to the 2012 Phillies?

The Phillies had to go without one of their best relievers through the first three months of the season. Imagine if the Phillies had De Fratus to turn to instead of Chad Qualls. The Phillies would be much better off. De Fratus threw from 120 feet as recently as June 13th, but he doesn’t appear to have a timetable as of yet. Or at least a timetable that has been publically disclosed. The Phillies website claims he could be back by the end of June, but early July seems more reasonable considering the total lack of information about his progress.

RHP David Herndon- “Right Elbow Inflammation”- Out for Season- $495,000

The Phillies 2010 Rule 5 pick had a solid year out of the bullpen in 2o11 finishing 1-4 with a 3.32 ERA in 57 innings of work. Herndon struck out 39, walked 24, and recorded a WHIP of 1.368. Compared to his rookie year, Herndon had a fantastic season. His walk rate soared but the rate of hits off him plummeted. Herndon pitched seven and two-thirds innings in 2012 and they were lackluster. This could be explained by the fact Herndon was placed on the Disabled List on April 30th with Right Elbow Inflammation. So, what does Herndon’s injury mean for the 2012 Phillies?

Once again, the Phillies will be short a right-handed reliever for the rest of the season. Todd Zolecki reported June 19th that Herndon was heading for Tommy John Surgery, which means he’ll be out of action until Late 2013 at the earliest. The 26-year old Florida native may not have been the best pitcher in the Phillies bullpen but without him the Phillies will be forced to turn to younger pitchers like Michael Schwimer and BJ Rosenberg. However, by the time Herndon returns in Late 2013 or at the start of the 2014 season, top prospects Justin De Fratus and Phillippe Aumont should be ready for the show.

RHP Michael Stutes- “Right Shoulder Inflammation”- Out for Season- $485,000

Michael Stutes came out of nowhere to have a superb rookie year for the Phillies in 2011 and perhaps saved the bullpen after multiple relievers went down due to injury. He recorded six wins and two losses and an ERA of 3.63. In 62 innings pitched he struck out 58 and walked 28. His WHIP was 1.242. In a similar fashion as David Herndon, Michael Stutes barely pitched in 2012, and when he did he wasn’t good. In five and two-thirds innings he had an ERA of 6.35 and a WHIP of 1.941. And again, like Herndon, this can be attributed to injury. Stutes hit the Disabled List on April 25th due to inflammation in his pitching shoulder. He admitted to pitching through the pain in Spring Training. So, what does Stutes’s injury mean for the 2012 Phillies?

Once again, the Phillies will be short a right-handed reliever for a long period of time. Stutes underwent exploratory shoulder surgery today, June 26th. What type of surgery Stutes needs and why has not been publically disclosed, so determining a time frame for his return is difficult. I would think that at this point the Phillies are better off playing it safe and shutting Stutes down for the rest of the year. I find it odd though that it took this long for the Phillies to properly diagnose the injuries afflicting Herndon and Stutes.

LF/1B Laynce Nix- Strained Left Calf- TBD- $1.25 Million

The Phillies signed Outfielder Laynce Nix to a two year, $2.5 million deal over the offseason in a curious move. Not only could the Phillies have probably netted Nix on a one year deal, but he is notorious for not being able to hit left-handed pitchers. Over his career, Nix bats .255/.298/.454 with 64 Home Runs against Right-handers. Against left-handers? .185/.238/.280 with 2 Home Runs. But dispite this notority, Nix was perhaps one of the Phillies best hitters when he went down with a calf injury. In 22 Games for the Phillies across 51 Plate Appearences, Nix went .326/.392/.587 with 2 Home Runs, 11 RBI, 6 Doubles and 5 Walks. To be fair, out of the 51 Plate Appearences Nix had in 2012 only one of them was against a left-handed pitcher. Nix hit a RBI Double. Nix was only used against right-handed pitchers and the move paid dividends. So, what does Nix’s injury mean for the 2012 Phillies?

The Phillies are down a potent left-handed batter off the bench, but the resergence of Jim Thome should make the blow less severe. Nix suffered a setback last week and there is still no timetable for his return. There has been little to no information on his condition. Until more is known, don’t expect Nix back anytime soon.

SS/2B Freddy Galvis- Pars Fracture in Spine- Late August/Early September- $480,000

Freddy Galvis was initially expected to be the shortstop of the future for the Phillies, a tidbit that was often mentioned during the period Jimmy Rollins spent as a Free Agent. Then Jimmy returned to the Phillies on a three year, $33 million deal with an easily attainable option for a fourth. Galvis was blocked. When Spring Training came around it appeared that Chase Utley would begin a second consecutive season on the Disabled List. The Phillies decided to ask Galvis, one of the best defensive prospects around to make the move to Second. A few months later and, had an injury and steroids not derailed his season, Galvis probably would have won a Gold Glove, in his rookie year, at a position that was not his natural one. Galvis turned quite a few heads in 2012. We knew beforehand that Galvis was a great defensive infielder, but it is very safe to say he blew even the most optimistic fan’s expectations. He was a magician in the field. And he wasn’t a black hole at the plate to boot. When he hit the DL he was among the Phillies leaders in extra base hits. In 58 games and 200 Plate Appearences, Galvis hit .226/.254/.363 with 15 doubles, a triple, 3 Home Runs and 24 RBI. He scored 14 runs and walked 7 times to boot. Galvis was a pleasent surprise and refreshing to watch. And then it all came crashing down. Galvis suffered a Pars Fracture in his Back during an At Bat in a game. The injury should knock him out until Mid August at the earliest. And then he was banned 50 games for violating MLB’s Drug Policy. He will serve his suspension on the DL so he will not miss playing time due to the drug issue. But he will forever be linked with PEDs. So, what does Galvis’s injury mean for the 2012 Phillies?

The Phillies lose one of their best defensive stars for most of the season though his offensive is replacable. Mike Fontenot has risen to the occasion after the Phillies picked him up from the Giants earlier this season. He is nowhere close to being as defensively talented as Galvis (though he did make a stunning play against the Pirates on the 25th) but he brings much more to the table offensively. Fontenot is batting .345/.397/.414 in 29 Games. Since Chase Utley returns on June 27th the Phillies would have been forced to make a hard decision anyway. Instead, the decision was essentially made for them. It will be interesting to see what role Freddy will play upon his return. Or maybe the Phillies will play it safe and shut him down for the rest of the season instead.

C Brian Schneider- High Ankle Sprain- Late July/Early August- $800,000

Brian Schneider returned for his third season with his hometown Phillies when he signed a one year, $800K deal over the offseason. Schneider was horrible offensively in 2011 (.176/.246/.256, 2HR in 41 Games) but had proved to be a good personality in the clubhouse and a mentor for young Phillies starter Vance Worley. Luckily for Schneider and the Phillies, he has proven far more capable with the bat in 2012 than 2011. In 26 Games and 76 Plate Appearences, Schneider has batted .232/.293/.362 with 2 Home Runs, 5 RBI and 3 Doubles. Those stats are nothing to write home about, sure, but compared to 2011? Yes please. Schneider had been proven to be a capable defender and a good option to give Carlos Ruiz a needed day off. Unfortunately Schneider suffered a High Ankle Sprain during a home plate collision against the Pirates on the 25th. Schneider was placed on the 15-Day Disabled List and should return to action in 3-5 weeks. So, what does Brian Schneider’s injury mean for the 2012 Phillies?

To be blunt, not much. This is not a knock against Schneider by any means, but compared to the other injuries the Phillies have suffered a 4 week Ankle Sprain is short. Of course, the fact that Carlos Ruiz is putting together a fantastic (MVP?) season helps soften the blow immensely. Erik Kratz will have a chance to show what he can do at the big league level, and hopefully some of his AAA success can follow him. Schneider will return around the trade deadline and help the Phillies down the stretch. Much quicker and more straightforward than Nix’s Calf Mysteries and Herndon’s Tommy John Surgery.

RHP Roy Halladay- Strained Latissimus Dorsi- All-Star Break- $20 Million

Whenever a team loses their ace they are suffering a blow. Whenever that ace is a future hall-of-famer that is a big blow. When that hall-of-famer is Roy Halladay, it is a devastating blow. Roy Halladay is still one of the best in the game, but even during Spring Training something seemed off. His velocity was not where it normally was and Halladay cited his age, which is quite a valid concern. He then got off to a good start but deteriorate torwards very un-Halladay-like performances. In 11 Starts, Halladay is 4-5 with a 3.98 ERA across 72 and a third innings. Doc has struck out 56, walked 14, pitched zero complete games, and had a K/BB ratio of 4, his lowest since 2007. His 3.98 ERA would be his highest since 2004. His 7.0 K/9? Lowest since 2007. Most concerning is his ERA+ of 99. He has been slightly below the league average. His 99 ERA+ would be, with the exception of his so-historically-bad-he-was-demoted-to-Single-A 2000 Season, the lowest of his career. As it turned out, Halladay had strained his right latissimus dorsi. An injury would certainly explain why Halladay has been so off. So, what does his injury mean for the 2012 Phillies?

The Phillies lost Roy Halladay. No more needs to be said. Halladay has been progressing nicely and should return after the conclusion of the All-Star break. This team is in desperate need of good pitching, ironically enough. Having a healthy Roy Halladay would propel the Phillies back into the race.

1B Ryan Howard- Torn Achilles- All-Star Break- $20 Million

Perhaps it is because he has made the final out two years in a row, but Phillies fans appear to have soured a bit on Ryan Howard. Howard’s batting average has plummeted over the years as did his walk rate. His strikeout rate soared. But his Home Run rate would always stay the same. Before his injuries stole Howard of a full season in 2011 you could usually take it to the bank that Howard would hit 45 Home Runs and knock in 140. In 2011 Ryan Howard went .253/.346/.488 with 33 HR, 116 RBI and 75 Walks in 152 Games. Howard’s .253 AVG was his lowest since 2008, the .346 OBP his lowest since 2008, and his .488 SLG the lowest of his career. An off-year for Howard to be sure. And then he tore his Achilles in his foot on the final out in the NLDS and here we stand. What does Howard’s injury mean for the 2012 Phillies?

The Phillies are missing their cleanup hitter. Pretty straight-forward. The Phillies have been relying on a platoon at first base which has mainly consisted of Ty Wigginton, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix, and Hector Luna. That platoon, over the first 76 games, has batted .265/.324/.425 with 11 Home Runs, 41 RBI, and 13 Doubles. Pretty good all things considered. Howard is perhaps the most mysterious in the way that nobody really knows what he’s going to do when he returns. An Achilles tear is a severe injury and there’s no telling how he’ll play when he returns. Will he be the slugger of old, or will a new Ryan Howard show up come the All-Star Break? Only time will tell.

2B Chase Utley- Cartilage Damage in Left Knee- June 27th- $15 Million

During his prime years Chase Utley looked like he could finish his career as one of the best Second Baseman to ever play the game. He routinely batter near or above the .300 mark, hit 30 Home Runs and knocked in 100 runners. Three times he finished in the Top 8 in MVP voting and twice more in the Top 14. Defensively he was very good as well. His fake-out play during the 2008 World Series has gone down in Phillies lore. So has his record-tying 5 Home Runs in the 2009 Fall Classic. He was one of the most complete players in the game. Unfortunately, he’s been playing injured since 2010. In 2010 it was his finger injury that derailed him. In 2011 it was his Right Knee. In 2012, his left. His average plummeted to .259 in 2011, his lowest since his rookie year. He only hit 11 Home Runs last year and though that can partially be accounted for only playing in 103 Games, his .425 Slugging Percentage was his lowest since his rookie year in 2003. His knee injury has kept him out of action since Spring Training. What has Utley’s injury meant for the 2012 Phillies?

Not only have they been missing their starting all-star second baseman, but they’ve been missing their leader and the intense passion of which he plays the game. Just the mere return of Utley last year woke the Phillies’ offense up last year, though he did not contribute much to its production. The mere presence of Utley would kick the Phillies into high gear. Now imagine if he adds production to that. Utley says his knees feel the best they have in years which is a fantastic sign. In his final rehab game June 26th with AAA Lehigh Valley Utley was great. He was 2-5 with 2 Strikeouts, a hard lineout, a base hit and a long home run. He also made some great defensive plays. The Phillies have not gotten much offensively out of their second baseman this year. It has mostly been Freddy Galvis though after he went down Michael Martinez took over. After Martinez went .136/.191/.205 in 15 Games the job now belongs to Mike Fontenot who appears to be playing his rear off for a roster spot. He’s been batting near .350. Overall, second baseman have gone .246/.271/.381 with 5 Home Runs and 37 RBI. Utley will be sure to improve on those figures.

But Utley’s return also signifies the return of the guard. Utley will be the first huge absense to return to the Phillies. Utley’s return means that Halladay and Howard are not far behind. The Phillies are gearing up for a second half run. As of June 26th they are 8 behind in the division race. But with the new playoff system there are two wild cards. So the Phillies are only 4 and a half behind the Braves for the Second Wild Card. That is by no means an insurmontable number. The Phillies have overcome defecits twice that size in two and a half weeks. The Phillies are by no means out of it, and perhaps may be in the best position they’ve been in a while. Their players are coming back and they’ll be making a run, and come playoff time they should have all the momentum, something they’ve lacked and the Giants and Cardinals had. This summer should be fun to watch.

Total Money- $61,490,000

RECAP: Phillies 9, Orioles 6

The Phillies snapped a six game losing streak with a 9-6 victory over Baltimore Friday night. Shane Victorino, Jim Thome, and Mike Fontenot were the biggest contributors offensively for the Phightins. Victorino went 3-4 with a career high 5 RBI. Thome broke out of his season long funk recording 3 hits Friday: two doubles and an infield single. Mike Fontenot, who with the back injury to Freddy Galvis looks to be the Phils’ second baseman going forward, hit a 2-run shot. It was his first home run in a Phillies uniform.

Juan Pierre scored the 1000th run of his career on Thome’s double in the 2nd inning becoming just the 30th major league player in history to score 1000 runs, record 2000 hits, and steal 500 bases.

For the fifth consecutive start, Joe Blanton gave up at least 5 runs to the opposition. He pitched 6 and 2/3rds innings, allowing 5 earned runs on 7 hits. He walked one but did record 7 strikeouts. The franchise record for most consecutive starts with five or more runs given up is six, so Blanton only needs one more. He did record the win and improves to 5-6 on the year. Antonio Bastardo pitched a nearly spotless eighth inning, walking one but striking out three. He recorded his 12th hold. Jonathan Papelbon nailed down his sixteenth save.

Jake Arrieta pitched four innings and gave up nine earned runs on elven hits. He walked none and struck out five. He falls to 2-8.  The Orioles did not go down easily, as J.J. Hardy brought the Orioles within 3 when he hit a two-run home run off of Mike Schwimer in the 7th.

After the game the Phillies demoted left-handed reliever Raul Valdes to AAA Lehigh Valley. Valdes had the lowest ERA out of all Phillies pitchers at 2.13. In 11 games he pitched 12 and 2/3rds innings, walked one and struck out 13. The opposition only batted .163 against him. The Phillies also designated infielder Pete Orr for assignment, which opens a spot on the 40-man roster. Sources reported the Phillies are going to call up AAA right-handed reliever B.J. Rosenberg. Rosenberg, 26, has appeared in 11 Games for Lehigh Valley and pitched 20 and 2/3rds innings. He walked 6, struck out 26, and finished with a 1.74 ERA. Opponents are batting .263 against him. He was not on the 40-man roster which is why the Phillies had to designate Orr.

The two teams will play again Saturday at 4:05 PM. Vance Worley (3-2, 3.38 ERA, 48 IP, 8 Starts) will start for the Phillies (29-31, 5th Place). The Orioles (32-26, 3rd Place) will counter with Tommy Hunter (2-3, 5.59 ERA, 58 IP, 10 Starts).

Utley, Martinez Injured; Galvis Opening Day Second Baseman

Today was a very rough day for the Phillies.

The Phillies announced today that Second Baseman Chase Utley will start the season on the DL for the 2nd consecutive year. Utley’s chronic knee issue has not gotten better and it seems like he has lost cartilage. Bones are rubbing against bones. Cartilage does not grow back. It will be a serious concern going forward and there is no time table for his return. He probably won’t be the same player when he returns either.

Oh, and this was all before Michael Martinez broke his foot in a game against the Orioles.

The Phillies also confirmed that top shortstop prospect Freddy Galvis will be the Opening Day Second Baseman. Galvis has been one of the bright spots for the Phillies in Spring Training, batting .282/.311/.462 with a .773 OPS. In 16 games, Galvis has gone 11 for 39 with 1 HR, 11 RBI, 2 Triples, and 6 Runs Scored. He has only struck out 3 times, walked twice and stolen one base.

Just last December did the signing of Jimmy Rollins block Galvis for the foreseeable future at short, and there was talk he could be used as a trade chip. Funny how things work out.

 

Phillies Release Willis, Pineiro

The Phillies have announced that they released pitchers Dontrelle Willis and Joel Pineiro.

Both Willis and Pineiro were attempting comebacks. Willis was planned to assume a LOOGY role on the Phillies after falling from grace as a Starter. Willis pitched 2.2 innings over 3 appearances, going 1-1 with a 16.87 ERA. He gave up 5 Earned Runs on 5 hits, walked 4 and struck out none. To be fair, lefties only went 1-4 against him with no walks but his utter ineffectiveness against righties combined with injury concerns led the Phillies to release him. Willis will only get $100K out of the $800K on his contract.

Pineiro pitched in 3 games, logging 6 innings and going 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA. He gave up 3 earned runs on 7 hits, walked 2 and struck out 3. Pineiro looked to be having an alright Spring and was a good option as a 7th option at Starter but concerns over the health of his shoulder led to his release.

Best of luck to Willis and Pineiro in their future endeavors.

2012 Phillies Predictions Part One: The Rotation

This is part one of a four part series where I will be detailing my predictions for the upcoming Phillies season. I’ll run through the roster player by player posting my opinion on them and a statistical estimation of their production in 2012. Thanks for reading.

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At the age of 34, Roy Halladay put together the best season of his hall-of-fame career, posting career bests in numerous categories, including ERA, Runs, Earned Runs, Home Runs Allowed, Strikeouts, Strikeouts per 9, and Home Runs per 9. His FIP was a career low 2.20. According to FanGraphs, Roy Halladay was worth over $36 million last year. Unbelievable. If you look at his statistics, Halladay is actually getting better with age. Expect that trend to continue in 2012. Though the NL East has gotten tougher, which should mean a lower win total for the team than last year, make no mistake: The 2012 Phillies are a better team than their 2011 incarnation. The Bench is exponentially better than it was last year, the Bullpen has been improved, a full season of Raul Ibanez and a healthy Chase Utley should give the lineup a boost despite Ryan Howard’s initial absence, and the Rotation should be on par with its’ performance in 2011. Halladay is closer to his illusive World Series Ring than ever before, and the fact that he’s surrounded by perhaps the most talented group of guys in his career, should give him a huge boost, not that he would need it. It may be a bit much to expect the same level of performance out of Halladay in 2012, but until he proves otherwise, the Phillies should expect amazing production from him again.

22-7, 2.36 ERA, 32 GS, 8 CG, 2 SHO, 229 IP, 33 BB, 225 K, 8 WAR

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Much like his rotation mate Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee also put together arguably the best season of his career in 2011.  He posted career highs in ERA, Shutouts, Innings, Runs, Earned Runs, and Strikeouts. He also joined a very exclusive club, putting together months (June and August) that have only been matched by Walter Johnson and Bob Gibson in magnitude. That said, he was a bit inconsistent. It appears his historically low 18 walk total in 2010 may have been an abnormality, as his 42 walks in 2011 are more in line with his career norms. He is also similar to Halladay in that it appears he’s getting better with age. Both Halladay and Lee rely on control more than speed, tendencies that lead to pitchers being effective for years past their prime. Unless he can somehow manage to find more historic months in him, Lee probably won’t be as amazing as he was in 2011. However, by no means does that mean he won’t be one of the best in the game.

21-8, 2.48 ERA, 32 GS, 6 CG, 3 SHO, 232 IP, 39 BB, 235 K, 6.5 WAR

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With his impending Free Agency looming, Cole Hamels will certainly be one of the biggest storylines of the 2012 Phillies. Entering his age 28 season, Cole Hamels, one of the best and youngest southpaws in baseball, needs to be resigned. If the Phillies let Hamels get to Free Agency, he will walk. Ruben needs to get to work on an extension now. A recurring theme throughout the rotation seems to be that 2011 was the best season of their career. Cole Hamels is no exception. Hamels posted career highs in ERA, Complete Games, Home Runs Allowed, Walks per 9, Strikeouts per Walk, Home Runs per 9, Batting Average Against, and WHIP. Something of note however is that Hamels’ BABIP- .255- was extremely low. He was very lucky in 2011. 2012 is a contract year however, and Hamels is looking for a big payday. Hamels’ camp wants a similar deal to what Cliff Lee received. 2012 will be a big year. If Hamels’ BABIP regresses to his career norms, this could prove beneficial to the Phillies, at least financially. I wouldn’t expect an extension to occur until a bit further into the season, as the extension of Hamels would likely seal the fate of Phillies’ Center Fielder Shane Victorino, a fellow free agent-to-be. A decision of this magnitude takes time.

20-9, 2.85 ERA, 32 GS, 4 CG, 1 SHO, 221 IP, 48 BB, 200 K, 5 WAR

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Joe Blanton missed most of the season with throwing arm issues in 2011. He finished to the tune of an ERA over 5, and was all-around horrible. How is it possible that I believe Blanton will be a surprise player in 2012? The key here is what Blanton did when he returned…he dominated, albeit in a small sample size. Blanton pitched 7 innings in his return in September, and only allowed 2 runs on 7 hits. He struck out 11 batters, a little under half of those he faced. On top of that, he pitched a scoreless, hitless inning in his lone playoff appearance, during the Phillies loss in Game 4 of the NLDS. Blanton has also stated that he feels the best that he’s been since his Oakland days where he pitched pretty darn well, to a tune of an ERA around 4. Blanton has attributed this “best feeling of his life” to the fact that he has changed his mechanics when he came back from his injury. He did have a very good September after he returned, so refined mechanics could definitely be the reason for that. A bounce back year from Big Joe would be great for the Phillies in that he may finally be worth a big chunk of his $8.5 million salary, and possibly even a chip at the trade deadline. Put Blanton down as a comeback player candidate.

12-12, 3.97 ERA, 30 GS, 1 CG, 0 SHO, 185 IP, 51 BB, 153 K, 2.1 WAR

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Vance Worley is a very peculiar player. He was never a top prospect in the Phillies system, and yet managed to dominate when he was called up. Most did not know who Vance Worley was prior to 2011, though you can be damn sure everybody knows who ‘the Vanimal’ is now. Worley finished 3rd in the 2011 Rookie of the Year voting, getting beaten out by the Braves’ duo of Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel. Aided by his amazing 2-seam fastball, of which his called strike percentage was one of the highest in the majors, Worley finished with an 11-3 record, 131.2 Innings through 21 starts, 119 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.01. Worley contributed 2.5 WAR, and FanGraphs calculated his worth at $11.2 million. Not bad for league minimum. The biggest question has been whether Vance will be a victim of the infamous ‘sophomore slump’, which afflicts major leaguers in their second full year in the bigs. There will more than likely be some regression in Worley’s statistics, no doubt about it, but will it be as dramatic as sabermatrics believe? A big contributor to his success has been his 2-seam fastball, and if he can build around that pitch, which has been compared to that of Greg Maddux by some (a bit early for that don’t you think?) Worley can definitely become a serious asset in the future.

15-6, 3.45 ERA, 32 GS, 2 CG, 1 SHO, 175 IP, 64 BB, 157 K, 2.9 WAR

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The Phillies rotation looks to have another fantastic season in 2012, potentially the final season with the three headed monster at the top of the rotation. Hamels is a free agent after this season, and he’s looking for a contract similar to the one Cliff Lee received from the Phillies in December, 2010. Do not forget about Roy Oswalt. Oswalt remains unsigned and is looking like he’ll sign mid season ala Pedro Martinez in 2009. If a market for Blanton develops, it is possible a mid season reunion with Oswalt could be in the cards. Don’t count on it, but keep that in the back of your mind.

Phillies, Hamels Extension Talks Progressing

According to CSNPhilly’s Jim Salisbury, contract negotiations between the Phillies and Starting Pitcher Cole Hamels are heating up. Hamels’ agent John Boggs will be in Clearwater all week to negotiate. Boggs said that a deal by the end of the week is not likely, though was optimistic for a deal in the future.

Boggs reiterated that there would be no deadline for extension talks. Cole Hamels, 28, will be a free agent at season’s end, highlighting a starting pitching class that includes San Francisco’s Matt Cain and Milwaukee’s Zack Greinke.

Oswalt to Sign Midseason

Roy Oswalt will not sign with a team this offseason. Instead, Roy will wait until June or July to sign with a team ala Pedro Martinez in 2009. Oswalt did not have any offers on the board he liked, as the Rangers didn’t want him and the Cardinals were only willing to give him $5 million.

Former teammate Lance Berkman, currently with the Cardinals, told reporters that he believed that the reason Oswalt hadn’t signed was a “money thing” and that nobody offered him enough to convince him to leave his home in Weir, Mississippi. This move may pay off for Oswalt, as the demand for starters will be much higher around the trade deadline when teams are looking to patch holes as they prepare to go down the final stretch.

If the Phillies endure a few painful injuries this season, reuniting with Oswalt may become reality. After all, the Phillies have done it before.

Phillies were Mystery Team for AJ Burnett

UPDATE, February 19th: Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the Phillies were close to sending SP Joe Blanton to the Anaheim Angels for Outfielder Bobby Abreu, a former Phillie. The Phillies then planned on trading Abreu to the New York Yankees for SP AJ Burnett. The deal probably would have brought flashbacks to many fans, as the Phillies traded Abreu to the Yankees for four minor leaguers in 2006. None of them panned out. The Phillies believed that Burnett was better than Blanton and, having two years left on his contract, would provide a bit of a safety net if a Hamels extension did not work out. If this is true it shows that the Phillies are still actively attempting to find a suitor for Blanton.

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UPDATE, February 18th: Recent reports has surfaced that state that the Phillies were attempting to orchestrate a three team trade that would have sent Burnett to Philadelphia and Blanton to a third team. The Phillies believed that Burnett would be better than Blanton. The Phillies were unable to find a taker for Blanton, and thus the deal did not go down.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Starter AJ Burnett and $20 million from the New York Yankees for two prospects yesterday in a salary dump. However, as is typical these days, there was reportedly a mystery team involved towards the very end.

Once again, that mystery team was the Philadelphia Phillies.

Baffling, I know. Buster Olney reported that the Phillies were the mystery team in the Burnett talks, though the Phillies needed to unload Joe Blanton before they could make the move. Perhaps the Pirates would have been interested.

If the Phillies could have gotten a similar deal on Burnett that the Pirates did, giving up two middling prospects and only taking on $13 million, and they managed to trade Blanton, that would’ve freed up $2 million for potential uses later, which could be the difference between standing pat and making a big move at the trading deadline. Just goes to show that even on the eve of Spring Training, the Phillies are still attempting some unorthodox moves to make the team better.

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