A cheat sheet on what to expect from the Phillies' new left-hander.
If you’re like me, you rarely watch the American League and know little about the Phillies new left-hander. The first thing to know is that he’s not overpowering. Lee’s game revolves around efficiency and excellent command of a vast array of pitches. Don’t expect Lee to ring up a ridiculous number of strikeouts. His fastball sits between 88-92 mph and he doesn’t have what could be defined as a trademark pitch, the way Cole Hamels is known for his change-up. What makes him unique from the other lean lefties in the rotation is the spot-on command of his breaking stuff, a plus curve and slider he’ll use to miss bats. One criticism of the move was the idea of adding another lefty to the rotation, but over his career, his platoon splits have been reasonably even, although right-handed hitters are seeing him better this season. Last season, he led the league in ERA (2.54), ERA+ (175), BB/9 (1.4) and HR/9 (0.5), an enormous improvement over a disastrous 2007 season, which included a minor league demotion. Therein lies the real difference between Lee and Roy Halladay: the lack of sustained excellence and the risk of reverting back to old habits.
Left-hander Joe Savery, 23, the Phillies first overall pick in the 2007 draft, was 12-4 with a 4.41 ERA for the Reading Phillies and leads the Eastern League in wins. Quietly having a good season through June, pitching to a 10-1 record and 3.08 ERA, he hit a wall in July, going 2-3 with a 8.46 ERA. Asked about his struggling southpaw, R-Phils skipper Steve Roadcap told the Reading Eagle recently “Command, command, command.”
The Dodgers are hoping their under-the-radar, low-cost add-on of lefty reliever George Sherrill is enough to counteract the Phillies’ splashy addition of Cliff Lee.
“I keep hearing how the Lee deal makes the Phils the favorite to win the NL pennant, but I say look out if they face the Dodgers this time around. George Sherrill gives them an extremely effective right-left combo at the back end of their pen, and one the Phillies would be highly susceptible to if they had to face LA in a post-season series. I don't often find myself saying this, but I agree strongly with Sam Donnellon when he says that Sherrill is the guy the Phillies perhaps should have spent more time targeting, and that the back end of their bullpen is more likely than not to do them in. It's now four months into the season: Lidge still sucks, Madson has proven himself to not be a viable backup option, and I surely hope they aren't counting on Myers or Martinez to be options in those roles down the stretch. The Phillies have one of the best teams in the league, no doubt. But their division makes them look better than they are. I don't look at them as having a decisive edge over anyone other divisional leader.” - RSB
“Sherrill would be an upgrade from Romero and could step in as closer should Lidge continue to flop. The Dodgers got him for a couple of C-level prospects. But we can't have more spending, can we?” - clout
Things got chippy by the Bay as the Phillies lost to the able Giants. Meanwhile, 4 p.m. marks the end of the non-waiver trade period. Are the Phillies done dealing?
As Cliff Lee watched from the dugout, the reigning Cy Young winner probably had second thoughts on whether his new team was as good as everyone said they were. Watching the man he’ll quite possibly replace in the rotation, Rodrigo Lopez, surrender seven runs and a pair of walks in only four innings, he also watched a series of costly defensive misplays, leading to four unearned runs. While Charlie Manuel has yet to make a final decision, pitching coach Rich Dubee told reporters, unofficially, that J.A. Happ will pitch Wednesday, signaling a possible bullpen assignment for the 33-year-old right-hander, whose situation was already sticky with the looming presence of Pedro Martinez.
Lee will debut tonight, six hours after the non-waiver trade deadline. By then, we’ll know whether Ruben Amaro Jr. has closed the book on making any more moves. Lost in all the hubbub is the fact the Phils have lost two ugly games in a row, a reminder that with over two months to go, there’s still plenty more to prove.
Ben Francisco, part of the two-for-four deal you might have heard about, starts in center field when the Phils open a four-game series against the Giants. First pitch is ... 10:15 ET?
Seriously dudes, the extra minutes make all the difference in being able to stay conscious for this. Thanks a lot. In other news, Cliff Lee will start tomorrow's game, which will be on normal rest, contrary to the misinformation I fed you in the previous post. Actually, try to forget the previous post ever happened, along with the very first season of Beerleaguer. Thx. In all seriousness, this is a rather big litmus test for the Phillies against one of only a handful of clubs remaining on the schedule that actually scare you. This is big opportunity to see how the new-look Phillies stack up.
The Phillies have released tonight's game notes and have updated the pitching probables on their Web site for the next four games: Rodrigo Lopez goes tonight, Joe Blanton pitches Friday, Jamie Moyer pitches Saturday against Tim Lincecum in what would have been Cliff Lee's regular turn, and Cole Hamels pitches Sunday. The Phillies are off on Monday. This can only mean one thing: Lee has been traded for Roy Halladay.
The Phillies have reportedly optioned outfielder John Mayberry Jr. and reliever Steven Register to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to make room for the arrival of Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco.
Beerleaguer: Nothing out of the ordinary here. Some readers were hoping Eric Bruntlett would be the one to go, but Francisco takes away any useful purpose for Mayberry, who was hitting .189. Register pitched two mop-up innings in that 14-5 win over St. Louis, leaving no impression. The bigger question is which starter goes to the pen, and which day Lee gets his first start.
The Phillies will make room for newly acquired starter Cliff Lee today, which will likely mean a bullpen assignment for either Rodrigo Lopez or J.A. Happ. Happ may be the correct call.
Poor Happ can’t catch a break. Relegated to the ’pen when Chan Ho Park broke camp as the fifth starter, now, he could be pushed aside once again for a pitcher who, ironically, has a higher ERA and just as many wins. While Lopez has pitched in a bullpen before, Happ’s young arm showed very well in the late frames early in the season, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA, without so much as an inning of preparation. The dilemma, of course, is he has been just as good in the rotation. Check out this resume: Coming into last night’s game, among all National League pitchers, he was first in road ERA (1.97). Eight of his 12 starts have been quality starts, including a complete-game shutout. Opponents are batting just .222 against him, and he’s been especially good at locking down runners in scoring position (10-83 w/RISP).
So why move him? To me, it starts with his young arm, which will allow him to bounce back quicker than someone like Lopez. Jamie Moyer and Pedro Martinez are not options. He’s a better bet at this point to chew up innings, and has a better shot to miss a bat in a critical spot. Second, no one knows Happ better than the Phillies, and their protective handling suggests there will come a time – perhaps during this second-half turn against the National League – that opponents will finally solve the young lefty. Has there been a pitcher scouted more heavily than Happ these last couple of weeks?
It may be unfair, but there’s only one way to look at it: By moving Happ, a short-staffed ‘pen gets its best possible upgrade, while the starting surplus takes a minimal hit.
Notes: Yesterday set the Beerleaguer record for daily visits, shattering the 24-hour period around the World Series clincher by a full 17 percent. In other news, right-hander Scott Mathieson has been promoted to Double-A Reading.
An electric day for the Phillies ended quietly when Yusmeiro Petit, who hadn't won since 2008, matched a career-high eight strikeouts and retired 13-straight at one point, handing the Phils just their sixth loss in July.
J.A. Happ took the hard luck loss in a quality start and could be the hard-luck loser when the Phillies decide how to make room for newly acquired left-hander Cliff Lee, set to join the club today. Meanwhile, Shane Victorino, taken out in the seventh inning, is questionable for today's game after suffering a knee contusion diving for a ball in the outfield. Victorino, who has been the Phillies' hottest hitter, told writers there is no fracture, only serious soreness. With the loss, the Phillies' lead in the East dwindles to six games over the Marlins, who were winners over the Braves.
Critics say the Phils came up small and couldn’t catch the big fish, but J.P. Ricciardi’s demands for Roy Halladay were outrageous compared to the package they built for Cleveland’s top hurler and all-purpose outfielder.
Beerleaguer: Halladay may have been worth every penny, but in the end, Lee, the reigning AL Cy Young winner, will be more than enough for a Phillies team rolling at 58-40. Ultimately, the Phils would be elated to receive just a couple post-season wins from their new lefty, something Lee, who is 12-2 against the National League, and Halladay alike could deliver easily. Or not, since luck plays the biggest part.
Disappointed in getting the second-fiddle? Recall that the Phils “settled” for Joe Blanton last season, who was the only one left standing after Shane Victorino fell the giant C.C. Sabathia, and Rich Harden and the Cubs went quietly in the other division series. Lee holds a $9 million club option for next season, so the Phils also avoid the free agent rat race that suckers many teams into making disastrous deals for starting pitching. His addition also impacts many facets of the rotation, from the number of starts for Jamie Moyer, to the future of veterans like Pedro Martinez and Rodrigo Lopez. Those details are still unclear, and it's possible the Phillies are not done dealing. The Phillies still hold a ton of chips. A ton.
Meanwhile, the Phils made a significant upgrade to their bench, acquiring that elusive right-handed bench bat they’ve been seeking since winter. Although he’s unproven as a pinch hitter, Ben Francisco, 27, is a sound defender hitting .250/.336/.422 with 10 homers and 13 stolen bases in 341 plate appearances this season. In other words, he hasn’t exactly been collecting dust the way John Mayberry and Eric Bruntlett have and is much better than either one; he’ll be ready to contribute immediately and should help preserve Raul Ibanez, plus he’s been a hot hitter of late. He’s arbitration eligible forever, too, which means the Phils could flip him if need be.
The prospects the Phils managed to keep may be the most appealing part of this trade, and in this writer’s opinion, it starts and ends with their big outfielders: Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill enigmas, they’re polished power and speed producers with a chance to refuel the Phillies’ lineup with impact talent once the current roster’s well runs dry. The Phillies’ brass may be celebrating Kyle Drabek’s stay most. The 21-year-old righty has handled his Double-A promotion will star-like poise and has moved to the head of the pack among pitchers in the Phillies’ chain. He's a future Major League pitcher. The Phillies know it, and so do the Blue Jays. As for J.A. Happ, he may be added to a suddenly-thin bullpen, a role he embraced earlier this season.
Turnin to the package sent to Cleveland, 18-year-old Jason Knapp was considered by some scouts to be the best in the Phillies’ farm and anchors this particular deal. Knapp throws in the high-90s, but has been sidelined with shoulder soreness. Meanwhile, shortstop Jason Donald and catcher Lou Marson are nice position prospects, but not the kind of players who win titles. Donald is blocked at shortstop and had his best season in 2008 as an older prospect in Double-A. Marson lacks power, but most importantly, a glove, which is what the offense-rich Phillies value most behind home plate. The Indians may have received their best buy-low prize in Carlos Carrasco, a big, physical right-hander considered by many to be the top prospect in their system less than a year ago. Confidence remains a one of the main knocks on the Venezuelan right-hander, but his future still appears bright despite a so-so season.
Game chat: Use this thread to discuss the trade and tonight’s series finale with the Diamondbacks. If there’s any new information, you’re on your own. I’m off to a concert.
Beerleaguer readers and national writers alike are celebrating Ruben Amaro's stunning trade for the reigning ALCy Young winner, plus an outfielder, while securing the bulk of their high-ceiling prospects.
“Wholesale approval for this deal. They didn't need Halliday so badly that they needed to give up their primary pitching and positional prospects to get him. This trade makes perfect sense for the Phillies, even though Lee/Francisco didn't come cheaply. This was the right move to make. The only question is, what happens to Pedro Martinez?” – RSB
“That's a fantastic coup for Amaro if true. To do it without losing Taylor, Brown & Drabek is tremendous. ... Ben Francisco is a solid defensive outfielder with fair power, decent speed, doesn't walk or strikeout much and has a career .810 OPS vs. LHP. He'll replace Mayberry. Now if only we could replace Bruntlett.” - clout
“Stunned, frankly. From everything we've read about the Phillies, it seems the four pieces they value the most right now are in some order, Kyle Drabek, Dominic Brown, J.A. Happ and Michael Taylor. The Indians didn't get any of them. They got one high-upside guy (Knapp), and he's in low Class A and has some shoulder fatigue. The rest of the guys are solid regulars at best--they're not stars. Lee is very affordable for next season, and the AL Central is a very winnable division. I don't like this trade at all for the Indians. From the Phillies' standpoint, this is a great deal, to hold on to the young guys you want and get a frontline starter. I'd rather have Halladay than Lee, but I'd rather give up this package for Lee than meet J.P. Ricciardi's reported demands for Halladay.” - ESPN writer Jim Callis
According to FoxSports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Phillies have reached agreement on a 4-for-2 deal that would send 2008 American League Cy Young winner Cliff Lee and 27-year-old right-handed hitting outfielder Ben Francisco from Cleveland to Philadelphia in exchange for a package of four prospects, centered around 18-year-old touted right-hander Jason Knapp, catcher Lou Marson, infielder Jason Donald and top pitching prospect Carlos Carrasco. The deal is pending physical exams and does not involve cash, according to Rosenthal's source. [Link]
FoxSports analyst Ken Rosenthal chimes in with the Cliff Lee package he's hearing, which would include 18-year-old right-hander Jason Knapp, right-hander Carlos Carrasco, shortstop Jason Donald and catcher Lou Marson, according to his major-league source. From Rosenthal's piece "Knapp, who does not turn 19 until Aug. 31, is currently sidelined with shoulder stiffness, but one scout says his upside is greater than (Kyle) Drabek's, calling the 6-foot-5, 215-pound righty a "Halladay clone." [Link]
Sources for Jayson Stark say the Phillies and Indians have been negotiating a number of packages for 2008 Cy Young winner Cliff Lee.
One package is believed to include Carlos Carrasco, who has been scratched from this morning's start in Lehigh Valley, along with an unidentified position prospect and Class-A pitching prospects Jason Knapp and Trevor May. According to Stark, "Phillies officials have continued to tell other clubs they believe they can make a deal for Lee without giving up either their top pitching prospect, Kyle Drabek, or their top position-player prospect, outfielder Dominic Brown." Stark's latest report echos other suggestions that talks between the Phillies and Jays over Roy Halladay have reached a standstill.
Lee, 30, is 7-9 with a 3.14 ERA and a 2.37 ERA in July. The left-hander makes $5.75 million this season, holds an $8 million club option for 2010 and will be a free agent in 2011.
Right-hander Carlos Carrasco was scratched from today's 11 a.m. start in Lehigh Valley, while Jason Donald and Lou Marson are being held out of the IronPigs' starting lineup. Michael Taylor remains in the line-up and bats fifth. No official reason has been given. More coming ...
The Phillies are in their greatest position since the early ’80s, a perfect state that abruptly ended when they started dealing away their youth.
The morning after the Phillies improve to an untouchable 58-40, we speak of the unspeakable names of Ryne Sandberg and others and remember the huge cliff the Phils fell from and canyon walls they couldn’t scale until 28 years later. Of all the people who’ve weighed in on the Roy Halladay rumors, I finally read the one opinion that counts more than most, that of the Beerleaguer Senior Correspondent, who issued a sage warning that history often repeats itself: “Halladay ... tough call. Joe Blanton was the right move last year, yet I remember the Ryne Sandberg trade, the Fergie Jenkins trade - two Hall of Famers. Amaro must be shrewd. Don't wanna give up the farm. There have been so many pitching busts – Schmidt, Zito – it’s a hell of a tough call for a GM.”
Indeed. I’m willing to bet the choices made these next three days will trump any made during Amaro’s tenure as GM. It's part of the price he must pay for inheriting world champions. No matter which side you butter your bread, the fact remains: If he follows through with a ground-shaking trade before Friday's deadline, he will be attempting to upgrade a situation, from top to bottom, that is already somewhere close to perfect.
Cole Hamels outdueled Dan Haren, pitching eight crisp innings while punching out nine, as the Phillies grabbed game two over the D-Backs.
Summary: Showing signs of turning the corner lately, Hamels put it all together for one of his best outings of the season, challenging hitters with first-pitch strikes, mixing his fastball/changeup and staying away from the middle of the plate. Meanwhile, the offense chased Haren with patient at bats, burning him for 117 pitches over five innings. The Phils also capitalized on some poor Diamondbacks' defense for the second night in a row. Shane Victorino continued his torrid July by blasting his eighth homer of the season. Handed a comfortable 4-1 lead in the ninth, Brad Lidge let up a two-run Mark Reynolds homer for another dicey save by the Phillies' lost closer. With the win, the defending champs (58-40) moved to 19-5 in July and 31-15 on the road. They hold a seven-game lead over the second-place Marlins.
Beerleaguer: Up front, Hamels' composure was a sight for sore eyes. At the back, Lidge hasn't had the feel all season and remains the Phillies' most pressing, least mentioned concern. Nevertheless, after winning 10 straight, I expected this team to let up, especially out on the road, yet here they are, building another winning streak. They're relentless.
For the second year in a row, Brett Myers has a chance to become the Phillies’ best mid-season pickup.
That was the phrased uttered about Myers last season when a minor league demotion turned the scuffling right-hander into a new man. Now, the free-agent-to-be, who underwent June 4 surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip, will throw a bullpen session Thursday and has targeted a mid-August return, likely as a member of the bullpen. If it happens, it will be the third time in as many seasons that Myers has been repurposed between the rotation and bullpen, and if it works as well as it did in 2007, when Myers helped rescue a butchered bullpen, the payoff could be huge for a Phillies’ 'pen limping through a rash of injuries and ineffective pitching by Brad Lidge, who replaced Myers as closer before the 2008 season. Myers, who turns 29 next month, recorded 21 saves in ’07 and memorably recorded the division-clinching out under late-summer shadows in the final game of the season.
Hot gun: In response to my earlier piece on Kyle Drabke, R-Phils beat writer Mike Drago writes “the scoreboard radar gun at FirstEnergy Stadium is about 2 mph faster than the ‘official’ gun the Phillies' pitchers use to monitor their staff. This is a new gun this year. The old one was right on the mark; it was so good, in fact, that many scouts often used to put their guns away and just relied on the board.”
Notes: Pedro Martinez will pitch a bullpen session in Lehigh Valley today at 4:30 p.m. ... Tony Viner, president of Rogers Media, the division of Rogers Communications responsible for the Blue Jays, told the Canadien Press Tuesday that spending is being brought in line with revenues in an effort to control costs. Roy Halladay is owed roughly $22 million through 2010.
SI's Tom Verducci weighs in on the latest, citing a scout who depicted a "tug of war" between the Phillies' brass, with senior advisor Pat Gillick and manager Charlie Manuel pushing to win now with Roy Halladay, while GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and other player development personnel are reluctant to move top prospects. Verducci's source also suggests the Jays have no interest in Triple-A right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who was offered in the Phillies' counter-proposal, and doesn't consider J.A. Happ a dealmaker for Halladay.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears that the Blue Jays insist on receiving Kyle Drabek because they consider Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ (7-1, 2.97 ERA) a middle-to-back-of-the-rotation starter. The Jays reportedly opened negotiations with the Phils by offering Roy Halladay for Drabek, Happ and Clearwater outfielder Dominic Brown, but may relent if the Phillies give up Drabek, according to the report. Jays’ scouts watched as Drabek collected his seventh win last night in Reading. Today is the day of J.P. Ricciardi’s self-made deadline, but everyone close to the action believes negotiations will go down to the wire.
In front of scouts from the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians, top-rated right-hander Kyle Drabek throws seven good innings of two-run ball in a victory over the Sea Dogs. (Photo Jeremy Drey: Reading Eagle)
Beerleaguer: I had a chance to watch Drabek’s night, and afterward, the coveted young right-hander supported my opinion that it wasn’t his best outing overall despite a solid baseline. "I'd say (his performance was) pretty good," Drabek told Rich Scarcella of the Reading Eagle. "Early in the game they were hitting everything I was throwing. Luckily it was to people. I thought my changeup was good for me and I thought I had good command of my fastball." Portland appeared to be looking for fastballs early in the count and were connecting hard, collecting seven hits including four for extra bases. Drabek’s fastball ranged from 93-96, hitting 98 mph once (Reading's radar gun can be flaky) and striking out the final batter with low 96-mph heat. For more on Drabek’s night, and the impact of Michael Taylor’s promotion on a scuffling and suddenly punchless Reading club, click here and here.
Summary: Jamie Moyer (10-7) escaped big-time trouble in the early innings and somehow stretched a shutout through 6 2-3 innings, while Ryan Howard delivered his 26th homer of the season, as the Phillies won their 18th game in July, improved to 30-15 on the road and pushed their lead to seven games over the idle Braves and Marlins in the National League East. Moyer and the Phils appeared to be headed for a long night, but the Diamondbacks couldn't convert golden opportunities with runners on base. Meanwhile, the Phillies capitalized on mistakes by the Diamondbacks' defense, taking control of the middle frames. Later on, the D-Backs made a game of it, scoring twice off Ryan Madson in the eighth, including a Mark Reynolds home run. But in the ninth, Brad Lidge worked a vintage 1-2-3 to preserve the win in a non-save situation.
Quick quiz: What do Matt Stairs, Eric Bruntlett and John Mayberry have in common? Answer: They're each 1-for-July.
Final quickie before we shift gears toward tonight’s game and start of the seven-game road trip (just as the Phillies’ home record leveled off, should we expect their unreal road record to do the same?). I’m not one to archive articles, but for a time, I kept this piece by Jayson Stark handy. I believe it was from 2006, but it could have just as easily been from 2005 or even 2007. The premise with the wide gap between the Phillies’ best and worst players on the roster, and it was because of this, in the mind of one scout, that the Phils couldn’t get over the hump.
One of the reasons why the Phils went the distance last season was because they made great strides in closing said gap. For example, pitchers like Chad Durbin and Clay Condrey, roles filled in a previous lifetime by Brian Sanches and Rick White, packed a formidable middle-inning punch. In addition, the bench could be counted on to make consistent contact.
In other words, the reservists are getting a little thin. In fact, I can’t remember a Phillies’ team that relied on its starting nine so heavily. Now, that’s a real credit to the starting nine, which may be the best in baseball and deserve heaps of credit for the Phillies' 56-40 mark, but it also speaks volumes about their subs. The summary deck says everything you need to know about Stairs, Bruntlett and Mayberry lately. The bullpen, depleted by injury, now features Steve Register, Tyler Walker and Kyle Kendrick, who’s never been a reliever in his life.
These may be minor issues today, but they'll be magnified in October if the situation can't improve.
Feet dragging on the part of the Phillies to jettison young talent mirrors the approach of other clubs, including large-market contenders.
The times they are a’changin, and if you want proof, check out this passage courtesy of MLBTradeRumors. “The Yankees will not part with prospects and take on salary, so they're showing no signs of interest in Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.” These are the Yankees, right? A team that holds a slim 2.5-game edge over the hated Red Sox in the AL East? It just goes to show what's hot and what's not in Major League Baseball. Homegrown talent and defense are red-hot, just to name two. Not surprisingly, they're both major reasons why the Phils are where they are today, and why the Phils may be hesitant to trade away too much of their future. According to most reports, the Phillies and Blue Jays remain far apart in negotiations for Roy Halladay.
Minor transactions: Right-hander Tyson Brummett, a non-prospect, was promoted to pitching-thin Lehigh Valley. The IronPigs are trying to cope with a rash of promotions to the big club. Brummett started the season in Reading’s rotation and went 2-8, 5.09 before being moved to the bullpen. In other recent moves, right-hander Edgar Garcia has surfaced after months of visa issues. The young Dominican was activated Sunday and assigned to Clearwater.
The Cardinals made the biggest deadline push so far, trading for Matt Holliday, who went 7-for-11 this weekend. The Phillies pushed back.
Bombs by Jimmy Rollins (looking strong), Chase Utley (not tiring) Ryan Howard (the best is yet to come) and Raul Ibanez (still going) powered this juggernaut offense in a 9-2 rubber match victory over the Cardinals. Nine runs, man; the Phils are scoring in their sleep. I mentioned the home runs. One almost forgets that Pedro Feliz added another multi-hit game; he's hitting .298. And then there's sizzling-hot Shane Victorino, who extended his latest hitting streak to eight games and is hitting .320 on the season, which leads Utley and Ibanez by 15 points.
Is Victorino this team's MVP? I'm starting to feel the same way about Shane as I did about Jimmy in 2007. If you're looking for a reason why the Phillies turned on the jets in July, look no further than the Flyin' Hawaiian, who's hitting .402/.476/.565 for anAlbert-esque 1.041 OPS.
The latest: With so much hittin', who needs Kentucky Joe Blanton to go eight innings and punch out six? As it turns out, the Phillies may need to "settle" for Blanton as the right-handed compliment to Cole Hamels. Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi told FoxSports' Ken Rosenthal that the odds of trading Roy Halladay are very slim. The Blue Jays reportedly rejected the Phillies counter-offer of J.A. Happ, Michael Taylor, Carlos Carrasco and Jason Donald. FoxSports also reported that the Dodgers are in serious discussions about Cliff Lee, who was scouted by the Phillies yesterday. Elsewhere, Pedro Martinez pitched a rain-shortened rehab start in Clearwater. Pedro told Comcast he "feels great."
After the Phillies reportedly rejected the Blue Jays' opening proposal,
sources tell FoxSports Ken Rosenthal that the Angels have received a
list from Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi. Meanwhile, the Phillies continue to monitor other front-line pitching options besides Roy Halladay.
According to Rosenthal's source, Ricciardi has asked the Angels for a four-player package in exchange for ace right-hander Roy Halladay (11-3, 2.62): left-handed starter Joe Saunders, third baseman/shortstop Brandon Wood, shortstop Erick Aybar and either outfield prospect Peter Bourjos, left-hander Trevor Reckling or right-hander Sean O'Sullivan.
The Phils reportedly rejected the Jays opening offer, which included J.A. Happ, Kyle Drabek and Dominic Brown. At least one report suggest the Phils would be willing to part with either Happ or Drabek, but not both. Meanwhile, the latest from the Philadelphia Inquirer suggests the Phillies are "trying to steer the Blue Jays toward a package led by pitcher Carlos Carrasco and infielder Jason Donald." Neither prospect has had a particularly good season, although Carrasco's ceiling is thought to be as high as any pitcher in the Phillies' chain.
Multiple sources, including ESPN, report that the Phils and Jays are still far apart and a deal is not expected to occur this weekend. Said one executive in reference to the Phillies, "They are not the only game in town," while another report called the Happ-Drabek-Brown offer a fair return for Halladay. “Neither of those guys is ever going to be what Halladay is,” a source told ESPN’s Jayson Stark in reference to Happ and Drabek. “They're prospects, and Halladay is Halladay; he's the best. If Happ and Drabek are not both in the deal, it's not going to happen."
Meanwhile, the Phillies appear to be covering all their bases and will scout Indians ace Cliff Lee (6-9, 3.17) today. The 2008 Cy Young winner is 2-2 with a 2.32 ERA over his last four starts. They also watched Jarrod Washburn (8-6, 2.71) pitch a seven-inning shutout Thursday against the Tigers. The 34 year old is a red-hot 4-0 with a 0.61 ERA in his last four starts. The Mariners have fallen off the pace in the AL West.
Game chat: The Phillies go for their sixth-straight home series win today against the Cardinals. On the mound, the bulldog, Joe Blanton (4.24) brings a 4-1 mark and 2.32 ERA over his last 10 starts to the mound against Todd Wellemeyer (5.68), who has struggled for nearly two months. The Phils hold a commanding 6.5-game lead over the Marlins and Braves, who lost yesterday. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
Jimmy Rollins' grand slam opened the flood gates for the Phillies, who unloaded for 11 runs in the sixth and seventh innings, returning to their winning ways with a 14-6 win over the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park.
Rollins' slam tied a team club record for grand slams in a season (via Lauber) and led to a career-high five-RBI afternoon for the Phillies' shortstop (via Lauber), who has been rolling along since his epic 0-for-28. Shane Victorino also homered and reached base all five times, knocking in four runs of his own. Rodrigo Lopez battled through six innings, but did enough to earn his third win of the season.
Before the game, Clay Condrey was placed on the disabled list with a left oblique strain and Andrew Carpenter was optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley. To fill their spots on the roster, Steven Register and Kyle Kendrick were recalled from Lehigh Valley. Register, 26, who was claimed off waivers by the Phillies on May 20, last appeared in the Majors in 2008 with Colorado. He had a 2.88 ERA with Lehigh Valley before being recalled. He surrended a run in two innings of mop-up work this afternoon.
Other needs, like the bullpen and bench, could be addressed if the Phillies surrender the prize prospects the Blue Jays desire.
If you listened to my morning show with 610's Brian Startare, you heard Brian's pitch for the Jays to dampen the blow of gutting the Phillies' farm system by kicking in veteran pieces to flesh out some areas of need. Undervalued infielder Marco Scutaro, who bats from the right side, comes immediately to mind, as do grizzled vet Kevin Millar, right-hander Jason Frasor, who will be a free agent in 2011, and left-hander Scott Downs, who is midway through a rather lucrative three-year deal. The idea for the Jays being they might be able to get more of what they want for those players as part of a Phillies package than piecemeal through individual trades. The question becomes whether the price would become even more astronomical for the Phillies. (Reader Brad C. notes that Scutaro will become a Type A free agent).
While a Halladay deal loomes, the Phillies are running out of time to decide whether action needs to be taken to upgrade the bullpen, which lost Chad Durbin and J.C. Romero to injury this week and witnessed another discouraging performance by closer Brad Lidge.
Meanwhile, infielder Eric Bruntlett continues his descent into baseball's abyss, now hitting a comical .129/.202/.192. Scutaro would be a night-and-day upgrade, while Millar seems to be the type of player they might be able to land after the non-waiver deadline, a la Matt Stairs, that is if the Halladay negotiations end on a positive note. Other bench bats worth tracking outside of Toronto include Baltimore's Ty Wigginton and Washington's Josh Willingham.
Cardinals 8, Phillies 1: Only a few notes from a forgettable night of baseball. J.A. Happ pitched better than his baseline, getting burned by some bleeps and bloops for a four-spot in the sixth. Puerto Rico Joel Piniero pitched his game, lots of grounders and strikes to keep the Phillies at bay. The Matt Holliday trade made an immediate difference for St. Louis; Holliday went 4-for-5 and suddenly the Cards look very dangerous indeed. Imagine how the Phillies would look with Halladay.
Andy Martino breaks the first significant report via his blog that the Phils and Blue Jays are taking steps toward a deal that would send Roy Halladay to Philadelphia, according to sources for the paper. It would take tonight's starter, J.A. Happ, top right-hander Kyle Drabke and Baseball America's No. 1 Phillies prospect Dominic Brown to get it done. Martino reports that the two sides have spoken within the past 24 hours. Beerleaguer: That's a very tall order indeed, but Halladay is a once-in-a-lifetime commodity who commands this kind of bounty. If there was a deal-breaker for me, it would be the inclusion of Brown. Give us your thoughts on the report, and the game, right here.
Newly traded outfielder Matt Holliday is in Tony LaRussa's lineup tonight when the Cardinals pay a weekend visit to Citizens Bank Park. First pitch is 7:05. Meanwhile, deadline mania gets hot and heavy with rumors that Ruben Amaro and J.P. Ricciardi have become BFFs.
The day in rampant Halladay speculation: Where to begin. Ah yes: Twitter. In a viral tweet that spread twice as fast as the Kendrick-Willingham outbreak of 7-21, ESPN's Buster Olney, who wrote - for my money - the definitive outline on why the Phillies and Blue Jays match up perfectly and why there's no better time for the Jays to deal their stud right-hander, allegedly reportedly supposedly told ESPN 950 that the long-rumored deal that would send Halladay to Philadelphia will happen, and when it does, it will include Kyle Drabek. On the contrary, Johnathan Mayo of MLB Network tweeted an hour ago that the deal is "nowhere near being done," responding to what was believed to be an earlier report from MLB XM and MLB Network that the two sides reached an agreement, which would include not only Drabek, but possibly tonight's starter J.A. Happ and Dominic Brown. The New York Post went so far as to publish a blog entry announcing "Report: Phillies on the verge of getting Halladay."
Lineups are posted. Happ tries to stay perfect against a new-look Cardinals lineup that features Matt Holliday batting clean-up behind Albert Pujols. The Phillies roll with the usual suspects against Joel Pineiro, who brings a sturdy 3.09 ERA into his start tonight.
Overheard on Twitter: "beerleaguer: Jays scout Ducey advises Ricciardi to deal him to Phils prior to Halladay trade so Phils can bundle him in later deal for Halladay."
The Phillies received seven good frames from Cole Hamels, while the offense delivered 14 hits, as the Phils posted a convincing, bounce-back victory over the Padres in Thursday's makeup game.
Jayson Werth and Pedro Feliz led the way offensively, going a combined 6-for-10, while Raul Ibanez knocked the wind from the Pads' sails for good with a two-run double in the fourth. Carlos Ruiz went yard for his fifth homer of the season. After yesterday's ugly loss, it was good to see the Phils rebound with their ace on the hill, who was mostly solid aside from a sloppy fourth. The Phils jumped to 15-2 in their last 17 to go 15 over .500, as they continue to toy with the also-rans of the National League. ... In other news, Pedro Martinez made 60 pitches in a bullpen session. Lefty Sergio Escalona, who was called up to the Phillies several times this season, was sent from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to Double-A Reading. Reliever Pat Overholt replaces Escalona at Triple-A. Escalona started Tuesday's game for the IronPigs in place of Kyle Kendrick and allowed five runs in two innings.
Chad Durbin (strained right lat) and J.C. Romero (left forearm strain) will head to the 15-day disabled list, the team has announced.
Right-handed starter Andrew Carpenter has been recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, while right-hander Tyler Walker, who was recently up with the club, had his contract selected from the IronPigs. Carpenter, who is 8-2 with a 2.75 ERA in 16 starts (17 games) for Lehigh Valley, figures to fill a long relief role for the time being. Durbin was busted up for three runs in the seventh innings of yesterday’s game. Romero hasn’t pitched since July 19.
Beerleaguer: Amazing how things can be going so well one minute and be flipped upside-down the next. Nevertheless, while significant, the hot-handed Carpenter and the veteran Walker have a shot to hold it down. The Romero loss hurts, but Scott Eyre has handled the role very well before.
What the Phillies need now are deep outings, starting tonight with Cole Hamels.
Right-hander Scott Mathieson, whose young career was derailed by three elbow surgeries, is on the comeback trail.
Mathieson, 25, pitched another scoreless inning yesterday in his third appearance with Class-A Clearwater. The right-hander, who was developed as a starter and made eight starts for the Phillies in the 2006 season, probably has his best shot to reemerge as a reliever. A hard-thrower, he’s reportedly touching the mid-to-high 90s and has not allowed a run in 10 relief innings between the GCL and FSL. ... Speaking of the land of the lost, what became of that Antonio Bastardo guy, who went on the DL June 30 and hasn’t been mentioned since? And what happened to prospect Edgar Garcia, a darkhorse right-hander who split last season between Clearwater and Reading? Last I read, visa problems kept him from returning to the United States ...
Rumors: The Toronto Sun reports the Jays could potentially throw in Marco Scutaro, Jason Frasor, Scott Downs or Brian Tallet to a deal involving Roy Halladay. ... Ken Rosenthal writes the Phillies, Rays, Brewers and Dodgers are in on 2008 Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, who has a 6-9 record, 103/30 K/BB and 3.17 ERA.
Critics argue that 46-year-old Jamie Moyer's performance is worse than pitchers like Adam Eaton and Kyle Kendrick, who were ousted from the rotation in 2008. Defenders call those comparisons unfair and point toward steady improvements since the start of the season.
"Adam Eaton : Last pitched July 27th, with a 5.80 ERA. Jamie Moyer : At July 22nd, has a 5.65 ERA. He has rebounded from his early season catastrophe, but not completely - only 2 out of his last 5 starts have been QS, which is hardly a high bar to clear. Getting rid of ineffective starters last year was one of the main reasons we made the playoffs... the Phillies shouldn't get complacent now." - Daxe X
"Moyer has actually been getting better as the season continues, not worse (unlike Eaton and KK, thus making that comparison lame-brained.) Including today's disaster, Moyer's numbers for the past 3 months are: May 1-4, 8.01; June 2-1, 4.80; July 3-1, 4.24. It seems to me that unless Moyer reverses that trend these posters are going to be what they almost always are: Wrong." - clout
"There are $10M or so reasons why Moyer's days are a Phils' starter aren't numbered. That is what they are likely going to owe him next season if he gives them 180 IP and 30 GS. At 150 IP and 23 GS, his base next year is $7M. If he hits 180 IP and 30 GS, his base will be $10M next year so yeah the Phils actually have plenty of incentive to pull Moyer from the rotation, but I can't imagine that would go over well with him, teammates, or probably even Cholly" - MG
Notes: In front of Blue Jays scouts, Kyle Drabek threw eight innings and allowed just two runs on six hits. He struck out seven and walked one and at one point retired 13 consecutive batters for his sixth win. In hot stove news, J.P. Ricciardi told ESPN's Jayson Stark that he expects Roy Halladay talks to really heat up next week.... On a related front, top Colorado prospect Jhoulys Chacin was scratched from his start last night "as a precaution for possible, future organizational moves," according to a report. The Rox are losely linked to Halladay, but are believed to have more interest in Chad Qualls, who is on the Phillies' radar.
Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi told ESPN.com that his men planned on watching Phillies standout Kyle Drabek in his start tonight against Altoona. Right now, the R-Phils and Curve are locked in a rain delay. Drabek (5-1, 3.25) is seeking his sixth win. The 21-year-old right-hander is considered one of the Phillies' untouchable prospects.
Sometimes it’s better to be a working schlub and miss games like these.
The previous thread tells the grim tale in gory detail, as the Phils failed in every sense of the word, losing to the Cubs 10-5 and reading the final rites to the 10-game win streak. Lousy pitching, shaky defense and poor execution with runners on base have been unfamiliar terms in July, but they made a chilling return today in South Philly. Most of the daggers were thrown at the Phillies’ bullpen, where Chad Durbin couldn’t retire a single batter in a ruinous, three-run seventh. Later, Brad Lidge needed to be rescued in the ninth. One reader writes: “I really hope those Chad Qualls rumors are true because 2009 Brad Lidge is, quite simply, a basket case. I don't know if he's injured or it's in his head, but I do know that, if this were a contest for single worst closer of 2009, he would have lapped the field three times by now.”
With their sights set on 11-straight wins, Jamie Moyer (9-6, 5.58) and the Phillies try to close out the Carlos Zambrano (6-4, 3.36) and the Cubs.
Facts about the winning streak (via the pregame notes): Elias Sports Bureau reports that the Phillies became the first team in 17 years to win their last five games before the All-Star break and their first five games after it. It's also the longest by a defending World Series champion since the 1971 Orioles won 11 consecutive games. It's the Phillies' longest streak since winning 13 in a row in 1991 During the streak, the Phils have posted a 2.41 ERA (26 ER, 97.0 IP) while holding opponents to a .197 (69-351) batting average. Notes: Lineups are posted. Greg Dobbs replaces Raul Ibanez in left field, Paul Bako starts at catcher. In breaking hot-stove news, Adam LaRoche of the Pirates has been acquired by the Red Sox. Details coming.
Charlie Manuel benched Jimmy Rollins June 25 and called out his club the following night. Since then, the Phillies have gone 16-4, while J-Roll has hit .348/.432/.539.
What happens inside the confines of the Phillies’ clubhouse, and furthermore, inside the players’ psyches, is the hardest part to put into words, but we’ll give it our best shot. On June 26, after the Phillies were a no-show against Jays’ hurler Ricky Romero, the Phillies’ skipper asked his players to take a look in the mirror. Six days later, on a return flight from Atlanta, the Phils actually did it. Now, one could point to many reasons for the resurgence – the poor quality of competition, the intrinsic talent and character that comes with being defending champions, or even the confidence boost from sending five players to the All-Star game. But the fact is, when pushed by an otherwise hands-off boss, his team responded.
Following a seven-inning beauty by Joe Blanton, the Phillies received six brilliant innings from the bullpen, keeping the pitcher's duel knotted at 1-1 long enough for someone to win it, which is exactly what Jayson Werth did in the 13th, depositing it into the left-field seats for a walk-off, three-run homer, giving the hometown nine their 10th win in a row. Tonight featured some of the best pitching you'll ever see at Citizens Bank Park, but nobody was better than Chan Ho Park, who lashed Chicago with an executioner's blend of breaking balls and fastballs, striking out five in three spotless frames. On a night when their pitchers didn't allow a single walk, and the 3-4-5 hitters couldn't manage a single hit, the Phils showcased the multifaceted muscle that earned them the title of baseball's best team a year ago.
A year ago, the Cubs were believed to have made the bigger deadline acquisition when they picked up Rich Harden from Oakland, while the Phillies settled for lesser teammate Joe Blanton. A year and a championship ring later, the first-place Phils are still getting the better end of the deal. The former A's toe the slab tonight as the Cubs and Phils continue their series at Citizens Bank Park. First pitch is 7:05. Charlie Manuel rolls with his standard lineup in hopes of capturing the Phillies 10th win in a row.
Kyle Kendrick thought he was traded to Japan before the start of the 2008 season, and if he read today's Twitter feeds, he might have thought he was being shipped to an even worse place, the Washington Nationals. Turns out, the 24-year-old right-hander will start tomorrow's game for Lehigh Valley after being unexpectedly scratched from today's start. Todd Zolecki, who spoke with Chuck Lamar, quoted the assistent GM saying the move had nothing to do with the trade deadline. Quipped one reader: "Kendrick can't even get himself properly traded."
Meanwhile, the Washington Nationals were reportedly scouting Lehigh Valley for a week, and there’s a new report suggesting the Phillies’ interest in right-handed outfielder Josh Willingham, who is hitting .284/.407/.539 with 15 homers and would more than fill the Phils’ need for bench help. Catcher Lou Marson is also out of today’s IronPigs lineup. Marson's omission could be a non-story, but Kendrick, who was abruptly removed and replaced by Sergio Escalona, seems curious indeed.
As the Phillies continue to expose the soft underbelly of the National League, one can’t help but wonder if they’re already poised for a repeat, without having to make a major move.
This offseason, Ruben Amaro took over the reins from Pat Gillick, who once earned the disparaging nickname ‘Stand Pat’ for his reluctance to pull the trigger at the trade deadline. Turns out, there’s a chance it could become the mentor’s most valuable lesson. In his first year at the helm, Amaro, at the center of the juiciest deadline gossip this season, is positioned better than any GM in baseball to set the baseball world on fire with a big acquisition. Roy Halladay is a temptation so real he can taste it, but is he being lured by baseball's forbidden fruit - a veteran pitcher at his peak? As the run-up to July 31 reaches a fever pitch, the urgency to make changes has never been less. The Phillies have won nine in a row to build a commanding 6.5-game lead in the division. The lineup is crammed with killers. The starting pitching has stabilized to the point where it’s become something of a strength. The bullpen, decimated during interleague play, has regained its footing. And the farm system is arguably deeper than at any point this decade.
Behind another quality start by Rodrigo Lopez, the Phils piled on the Cubs, including homers by Raul Ibanez, Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard, running their win streak to nine, their once-horrible home record to .500 and their overall mark, which stood just two games over .500 on July 3, to 52-38.
Beerleaguer: Obviously, this is one, sizzling-hot squad right now, matching their longest win streak since the 2006 season. It starts with the pitching, which is how this whole situation got started. The quality start parade continues. I don't know what they're expecting from Pedro Martinez, but Lopez is creating a tough act to follow, winning another tonight for his second quality start in three chances, going six, making pitches and giving up a run. Realistically, that's what I'd expect from Pedro if everything goes 100 percent to plan. Talk about a nice signing; Lopez, a former 15-game winner, was plucked from the scrap pile on a minor league deal after contemplating a return to the Mexican League. Chad Durbin had a great night, too, pitching a mop-up role he seems suited to fill. But Ruiz and this killer offense get tonight's game ball. There's nowhere for the opposing pitcher to hide when they're seeing the ball this well.
Watch: Courtesy of Red Bull, here is your all-access pass to J-Roll's crib. [Link]