Schwimer Shipped Off With Being Out Of Favor And A Bullpen Glut

Phils acquire first baseman Charles for Schwimer

 

By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com | 02/23/2013 6:31 PM ET

 

CLEARWATER, Fla. — There is more to the Michael Schwimer trade than just a glut of relief pitchers in Phillies camp.

 

Michael Schwimer

Michael Schwimer (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

 

The Phillies announced Saturday that they traded Schwimer to the Toronto Blue Jays for Minor League first baseman Art Charles. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said they shipped Schwimer to Toronto because they had depth in the bullpen, they needed to anticipate future roster moves and they needed power at the Minor League level. But Schwimer had fallen out of favor with the organization after he disputed the Phillies’ decision to send him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in August, claiming he was injured, although there also had been other issues.

 

It might be more accurate to call this trade addition by subtraction.

 

“He’s a great kid,” said Amaro, when asked if last season’s dispute sparked the trade. “There’s nothing wrong with Schwim.”

 

Schwimer said he agreed, but added one caveat.

 

“The Phillies want to win, period, so they’re not going to let any petty differences affect them wanting to win,” he said. “So, in my opinion, I think that had absolutely zero effect.”

 

English: Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phill...

Cole Hamels

 

Major League Baseball rules prevent a team from sending a player to the Minor Leagues while injured. The Phillies optioned Schwimer to Lehigh Valley on Aug. 23. He said he was hurt and should have been placed on the disabled list, but the Phillies disagreed. Schwimer didn’t report to the team immediately as he sought a second opinion. And while no formal grievance has been filed, Schwimer said, “As far as I’m concerned it’s an open issue. Nothing has been filed. Nothing has been done. But it’s still definitely an open issue.”

 

“There’s a lot of things I can’t get into with that,” he added. “What I will say was there was definitely a disconnect in communication from what I … that’s all I’m going to say. It was nothing personal against them, it was nothing personal against me. As a young player, you really don’t know how to handle certain things, and in their opinion I handled things the wrong way, and in my opinion they handled things … it was just a communication difference.”

 

Schwimer also got into trouble earlier in the season when he tweeted roster moves before they became official. And while there was a personality conflict at times, Schwimer was highly complimentary to the organization Saturday.

 

“This is a business,” Schwimer said. “Everybody has to do what they think will make the team better. I respect their decision completely. I absolutely loved my time with the Phillies. They drafted me in 2008, called me up to the big leagues and … if I wasn’t a Phillie I would never have met my wife, so there’s a lot of life things and a lot of both on and off the field things that would never have happened if I wasn’t a Philadelphia Phillie. I loved the teammates and the team. I hope we meet in the World Series. It’s been a great time and a great ride.”

 

Even with a plethora of relievers in camp, it is unusual to trade a pitcher like Schwimer, who has plenty of potential. He had a 7.56 ERA through nine appearances last season, but a 3.46 ERA in his final 26 appearances. He also has options remaining, which makes him valuable.

 

“It’s an arm that should pitch in the big leagues,” pitching coach Rich Dubee said. “He’s got plenty of talent to pitch in the big leagues. He’s got to get some presence. He’s got to get some composure on the mound. He’s got to understand who he is and what he is as a pitcher. But he’s got to stick to doing things the right way instead of trying to be too macho at times and coming out of his delivery.”

 

Asked if he felt like he needed to make this trade now, Amaro said, “No, we didn’t have to. We could have waited, but we felt like it was the right thing to do right now for us.”

 

Charles, 22, hit .236 with 15 doubles, four triples, 13 home runs, 34 RBIs and a .909 OPS combined with Rookie level Bluefield and Class A Vancouver.

 

“Charles is a guy that has got big pop,” Amaro said. “Whether he is going to be a Major League hitter at some point, we don’t know. But we know he has a lot of power and is a pretty decent athlete. He’s a big kid, and we’ll see — a lot of home runs, a lot of strikeouts, a lot of walks. We’ll see. We’re taking a chance on a guy.”

 

Hamels feeling urge to accept leadership role

 

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Nobody has said a word to Cole Hamels about Opening Day, which is fine with him.

 

Pitching the season opener would be nice, but …

 

“I’ve never really thought about it,” he said after pitching two scoreless innings Saturday in the Phillies’ Grapefruit League opener against Houston at Bright House Field. “It’s one game, one appearance and then you’re back into the normal baseball atmosphere. I’ve never really looked at it as this big sort of ordeal. I’ve always valued the playoffs. When you have to lead off the playoff game and a series, I think that’s pretty important. I think that’s kind of where it’s at. If you do get that honor, you just go out and stick to business and try to win a ballgame.”

 

Hamels is expected to start Opening Day on April 1, but that is more than a month away. Saturday simply represented the first step toward what Hamels hopes is a late run into October. That is what he is preparing for, and that is what is on his mind.

 

It is why he said he declined to participate in the World Baseball Classic.

 

“I don’t think it’s the smartest thing for pitchers to do,” he said. “Ultimately, I think a lot of the pitchers have the right idea, too. You don’t see any of the big-time guys up there. I think ultimately our goal is to win a World Series, not the WBC. That’s something I’m always going to keep on track, that’s first and foremost — winning the World Series. I’m going to do everything I can for the Phillies and this organization and my teammates.”

 

So Hamels also acknowledged he could step into more of a leadership role this season. Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay said earlier this week it’s Hamels’ time to start Opening Day. He also said it’s time for him to become more vocal as a leader. Those comments came before closer Jonathan Papelbon said he hadn’t seen any leadership in the clubhouse since he has been here.

 

“I’m almost 30, so I should probably kick it in gear with the leadership role,” Hamels said. “I have been here for a long time and I’ve seen some leaders leave, like Pat [Burrell], [Jamie] Moyer and Jayson Werth and Aaron Rowand — those guys were big-time leaders. You can’t expect new guys to come in and lead a team. They have to feel it out. I agree with Pap. Last year, I wasn’t fulfilling my end of the bargain either. We are all guilty. We all have to step up and take a role and a presence in this team and get back to what we’re capable of doing, which is winning.”

 

Hamels used to talk about throwing perfect games and winning Cy Young Awards, but that is on the back burner. He said he sees a sense of urgency in the clubhouse this spring as some players sense the window of opportunity to win closing.

 

So the Cy Young Award? Eh, that would be a nice bonus.

 

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say it would be nice to have one,” he said. “I would trade Cy Youngs for World Series rings any day of the week, and I think [Cliff Lee and Halladay] would, too. That’s the reason why we play baseball — to win championships, not a plaque to put on the wall.”

 

Utley steps right up in game action, feels ‘perfect’

 

CLEARWATER, Fla. — It had been a couple years of setbacks and soreness, but Chase Utley is finally back on the field.

 

He played three innings Saturday in the Phillies’ Grapefruit League opener against the Houston Astros at Bright House Field. It was his first Spring Training game since 2010 because of problems with chronically injured knees. Utley went 1-for-2 with one RBI, ripping the first pitch he saw from Astros right-hander Lucas Harrell up the middle in the first inning to score a run in the 8-3 loss.

 

“It was a good first step,” Utley said.

 

Utley isn’t sure how much he will play this spring or if he will be on a routine schedule like other players in camp, but he will not play Sunday against the Tigers in Lakeland. He is expected back in the lineup Monday against the Tigers in Clearwater.

 

“To be honest, I forgot what a normal Spring Training schedule is,” he said. “No, what Charlie [Manuel] and I have planned, there will be plenty of games under my belt. So far so good. Things are progressing well. … The last couple of Spring Trainings I was just trying to figure out a way to get on the field, and that didn’t work. This year, the stuff I did in the offseason has worked so far. Hopefully it will give me a chance to not only know what I need to do to get on the field but to actually make some progressions while playing.”

 

But the biggest question is: no pain in the knees?

 

“I feel good,” he said. “Perfect.”

 

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

 

Phils and Baseball 2013 Now In Session With Spring Training Play

Utley, Hamels come out sharp in Phils’ spring opener

 

Second baseman notches RBI in first at-bat; starter tosses two shutout innings

 

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros opened their Grapefruit League schedules Saturday with a game at Bright House Field.

 

It was the Astros’ first game in the American League.

 

Spring training

 

It also was Phillies second baseman Chase Utley’s first Spring Training game since 2010 because of knee injuries. He ripped a single up the middle on the first pitch he saw from Astros right-hander Lucas Harrell in the first inning to score the Phillies’ first run in an 8-3 loss.

 

The Astros took a 3-2 lead in the fourth, when Nate Freiman — who had two RBIs — and Carlos Corporan each singled to knock in runs.

 

Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels threw two scoreless innings. Harrell allowed four hits, two runs and one walk in two innings.

 

“Physically, I feel really strong,” Hamels said.

 

Cole Hamels pitching a complete game shutout v...

 

“I was just mainly trying to locate,” said Harrell, who could be the Astros’ Opening Day starter. “I didn’t locate very well, and the results showed that. A couple of times I made good pitches and got a lot of ground balls, which was a plus. I was pulling off on my front side a little bit, and a few pitches were pretty flat. Then I started making [pitches in] the second inning when I went back out to make sure my front shoulder was closed. Just trying to work [at keeping] the ball down and work the sinker.”

 

Robbie Grossman notched his first of two RBIs with a single, and Freiman added his second RBI in a two-run Astros fifth before Brandon Barnes clubbed a solo home run in the seventh.

 

Second baseman Pete Orr mashed the Phillies’ first home run of the spring, a solo shot in the eighth.

 

The Phillies committed four errors.

 

Up next for Phillies: Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay will make his Grapefruit League debut Sunday against the Tigers in Lakeland at 1:05 p.m. ET, live on Gameday Audio. Halladay is trying to bounce back from a disappointing 2012 season and says a revamped offseason training program has him moving in the right direction. Sunday will be his first true test in finding out if that program worked.

 

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

 

 

Baseball America’s Top 10 Phillies Prospects

2013 Philadelphia Phillies Top 10 Prospects

By Matt Forman
December 17, 2012

Baseball America’s Top 10 Prospects

Lists are based on projections of a player’s long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven’t exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible.

Scouting reports for the Top 10 Prospects  Premium (How to subscribe)
Pre-Order the 2013 Prospect Handbook
30 scouting reports on every team
TOP TEN
PROSPECTS
1. Jesse Biddle, lhp
2. Roman Quinn, ss
3. Tommy Joseph, c
4. Jon Pettibone, rhp
5. Adam Morgan, lhp
6. Ethan Martin, rhp
7. Cody Asche, 3b
8. Maikel Franco, 3b
9. Darin Ruf, 1b/of
10. Carlos Tocci, of
BEST
TOOLS
Best Hitter for Average Cody Asche
Best Power Hitter Darin Ruf
Best Strike Zone Discipline Darin Ruf
Fastest Baserunner Roman Quinn
Best Athlete Roman Quinn
Best Fastball Kenny Giles
Best Curveball Jesse Biddle
Best Slider Adam Morgan
Best Changeup Jon Pettibone
Best Control Jon Pettibone
Best Defensive Catcher Sebastian Valle
Best Defensive Infielder Cesar Hernandez
Best Infield Arm Maikel Franco
Best Defensive OF Tyson Gillies
Best Outfield Arm Kyrell Hudson
PROJECTED 2016
LINEUP
Catcher Tommy Joseph
First Base Ryan Howard
Second Base Chase Utley
Third Base Cody Asche
Shortstop Roman Quinn
Left Field Darin Ruf
Center Field Ben Revere
Right Field Domonic Brown
No. 1 Starter Cole Hamels
No. 2 Starter Cliff Lee
No. 3 Starter Roy Halladay
No. 4 Starter Jesse Biddle
No. 5 Starter Jonathan Pettibone
Closer Jonathan Papelbon
TOP PROSPECTS
OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Pos 2012 Org
2003 Gavin Floyd, rhp White Sox
2004 Cole Hamels, lhp Phillies
2005 Ryan Howard, 1b Phillies
2006 Cole Hamels, lhp Phillies
2007 Carlos Carrasco, rhp Indians
2008 Carlos Carrasco, rhp Indians
2009 Domonic Brown, of Phillies
2010 Domonic Brown, of Phillies
2011 Domonic Brown, of Phillies
2012 Trevor May, rhp Phillies
TOP DRAFT PICKS
OF THE DECADE
Year Player, Pos 2012 Org
2003 Tim Moss, 2B (3rd round) Out of baseball
2004 Greg Golson, OF Yankees
2005 Mike Costanzo, 3B (2nd round) Reds
2006 Kyle Drabek, RHP/SS Blue Jays
2007 Joe Savery, LHP Phillies
2008 Anthony Hewitt, SS Phillies
2009 Kelly Dugan, OF Phillies
2010 Jesse Biddle, LHP Phillies
2011 Larry Greene, OF Phillies
2012 Shane Watson, RHP Phillies
LARGEST BONUSES
IN CLUB HISTORY
Gavin Floyd, 2001 $4,200,000
Pat Burrell, 1998 $3,150,000
Brett Myers, 1999 $2,050,000
Cole Hamels, 2002 $2,000,000
Chase Utley, 2000 $1,780,000
PHILLIES
LINKS
Phillies Team Page
Phillies Top 10 Scouting Reports  Premium
Last Year’s Phillies Top 10 Prospects
2012 Draft: Phillies
2012 Draft Report Cards: Philadelphia Phillies Premium
Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
Pre-Order the 2013 Prospect Handbook
Philadelphia Phillies

For different reasons, the Phillies’ last two seasons have ended in disappointment. In 2011, the playoff run that had become an annual expectation in Philadelphia ended too early. In 2012, there was no postseason baseball in Philadelphia at all, for the first time in six years.

The Phillies expected their season to start slowly because of lingering injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, but it never really got on its projected course, at least until it was too late. The Phillies finished 81-81, their worst record since 2002, and needed a late-season blitz just to break even after falling 14 games under .500 at one point. Philadelphia lost several more players for significant time to injuries, including Jose Contreras, Freddy Galvis, Roy Halladay, Placido Polanco, Mike Stutes and Vance Worley.

As a result, the Phillies were sellers on the trade market for the first time since 2006. One year after acquiring Hunter Pence, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. shipped him to the Giants for Nate Schierholtz and a pair of prospects (catcher Tommy Joseph and righthander Seth Rosin). Amaro also sent Joe Blanton and Shane Victorino to the Dodgers in separate deals for Josh Lindblom and righthanders Ethan Martin and Ryan O’Sullivan.

The big league struggles gave Philadelphia a chance to evaluate its system, as eight rookies debuted in the majors, the most since it had 15 in 1996. Along with the unexpected development of a few prospects, that ensured the last two months of the season weren’t completely irrelevant.

Once considered an organization player, first baseman/outfielder Darin Ruf blasted 20 homers in Double-A in August to tie Sammy Sosa’s pro record for a single month, then hit three more during a September callup. Tyler Cloyd, a soft-tossing righty who’s short on stuff but strong on pitching sense, made his major league debut in August and won two of his six starts. Longtime minor league veteran Eric Kratz showed some pop, while Phillippe Aumont flashed his plus stuff out of the bullpen. In varying capacities, they all figure to contribute in 2013.

Meanwhile, the Phillies’ .500 finish secured them a higher first-round pick than any in recent memory, as long as they don’t sign a free agent who requires compensation. They’re slated to select 16th, their highest selection since they took Gavin Floyd fourth overall in 2001.

Philadelphia has stuck with its philosophy of drafting high-upside athletes, with scouting director Marti Wolever preferring lefthanded pitching and speed. That’s reflected on this list, which begins with a southpaw (Jesse Biddle) and a fleet-footed shortstop (Roman Quinn). Quinn is one of several members of a talented 2011 draft class who took a big step forward in their first full pro seasons, a group that also included lefthander Adam Morgan, third baseman Cody Asche and flamethrowing reliever Kenny Giles.

Most of the Phillies’ best prospects are at least a year or two away from being ready for Citizens Bank Park, so Amaro swung two trades for veteran offensive help in December. He acquired Ben Revere from the Twins for Vance Worley and enigmatic righthander Trevor May, then dispatched Lindblom and righty Lisalverto Bonilla to get Michael Young from the Rangers.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the Phillies, who will return several significant players from their 2007-11 National League East championship clubs in 2013. If they can stay healthy—certainly not a guarantee given the age of many of the players—their season could have a happier ending.

Phils Playoff Chances Heading Into Halfway Point

How Many Wins Will the Phillies Need to Make the Playoffs?

June 21, 2012, 2:10 pm
By Andrew Kulp  (email)
The700Level.com
The Daily News ran a column this morning that set out to answer that very question. David Murphy did the leg work, and based on results from previous years, he concluded the Phillies need to reach the 88-win markto qualify for the postseason.The reasoning is simple. In each full season since the Wild Card was adopted in 1995, the club that would have earned the newly invented second WC spot finished with at least 88 wins on all but two out of 16 occasions.

In practice, the path to get there is not nearly so simple. With a record of 33-37, in order for the Phils to reach 88 wins, they need to go 55-37 the rest of the way — and even that might not be enough. Nine times, or more than half, the runner-up’s win total actually eclipsed 88.

Murphy seems to be operating under the assumption the Phillies won’t win the NL East, a conclusion we’ve more or less drawn on our own. Regardless, sneaking in through the back door doesn’t diagram much easier.

The plan he sets out would require Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Vance Worley to revert to their 2011 performances, when the club combined to go 39-17 over their last 56 combined starts. So far this season, the Phils are 11-3 when Hamels starts, but 7-14 when Lee or Worley are pitching. Lee and Worley have also missed games due to injury.

That’s an optimistic projection, though clearly achievable. Plus Roy Halladaywill eventually return, which should help prop up the rest of the rotation, and actually lessen the load on the other three.Yet you can see how staggering a hole the Phillies are in when you break it down like that. A team that has been hovering around or below .500 for the majority of the year likely needs to win at close to a .600 clip for the next three months — and they’re still missing players.

Think they have it in them?

———————————————————
Related Articles…

Philadelphia Phillies: How Chase Utley‘s Return Impacts Team’s Playoff Chances

By

 (Featured Columnist) on June 22, 2012

Picture25_crop_exact

The result of Thursday night’s Philadelphia Phillies game, a 4-1 loss to theColorado Rockies, pretty much sums up how the entire season has been going.

Citizen’s Bank Park, a place that boasts loud and passionate fans, used to be a place that other teams dreaded to play in. The home-field advantage was never more obvious than when the Phils took the field at their stadium in the heart of their beloved city. In 2012, however, it has just been a place where the Phillies play their home games. Nothing much is special about it, no added advantage is obvious. The team isn’t winning any more games at home. They aren’t winning games period.

Nothing has been easy for the Phils this season. Whether it has been the injuries to key members of the team, uncharacteristic errors in the field, a lack of success against other teams’ bullpens or just an inability to score with runners on base with less than two outs, the championship formula this team has had in the past few years is not there.

Morale is down and frustration is obvious. It is on the faces of the players, the dumbfounded looks of the manager and the disappointment from the fans.

This team needs something, well a lot of things. It needs to get help in the bullpen. It needs to get its ace and sluggers off of the DL. It needs its other ace to find a way to win a game. It needs to score more runs. It needs to make less errors, both mental and on the score sheet. It needs to take action, to play inspired baseball. Most importantly, this team needs to get its swagger, its confidence, its personality back.

Most of what the Phils need, most of what I described, is embodied in the heart and soul of one player. He is someone who doesn’t shy away from a challenge, someone who plays with grit and passion, someone who is a leader. He may have arthritic knees but that doesn’t change the fact that when healthy, he can really smack the cover off of a baseball.

Will Chase Utley’s return make the Phils a better team?

No, one player is not enough to solve their problems.Yes, Utley will help this team make up ground in the East.It depends on how his knees are for the rest of the season.Submit Vote vote to see results

If you haven’t figured it out, the person I am referring to is All-Star second baseman Chase Utley.

Having yet to face major league pitching and the wear and tear of major league fielding, Utley is close to making his 2012 debut. In fact, according to a recent report via AOL Sporting News, Utley could be back before the calendar turns to July.

While Utley’s return has been long anticipated, at this point in the season, one has to wonder if it will be enough or if the Phils have already dug themselves a hole too deep to climb out of.

Even then, a bigger question arises. When Utley comes back, how will he be? Will he go back to how he was pre-2011? Will he be able to play back-to-back games? Will his knees hold up for the rest of the season?

With all of these questions and so far, not enough information to create the answers, it is hard to predict how Utley’s return will impact the team’s chances at a sixth consecutive playoff berth. If Utley is healthy, however, and returns to the form he has had in the best years of his career, it would not be surprising to see the Phillies once again atop the NL East.

On the field, Utley brings solid defensive skills. He has never been perfect in the field but it is something he has invested time and energy in improving. With the bat, Utley has offensive prowess. His quick swing enables him to get the barrel on the ball and helps him get around on pitches. He grinds out each at-bat and is rarely ever an easy out.

144812412_crop_340x234
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Something else that the Phillies desperately need is situational hitting and when at his best, Utley does this as well as anyone else in the game. With a runner on second, nobody out, such as in Thursday’s game when Ty Wigginton led off the inning with a double, Utley knows what he has to do and more often than not executes.

In addition to what Utley offers with his bat and his glove, depending on his knees, he can also be a threat on the bases. Although not the fastest, Utley has also had good career numbers in base stealing percentage. Just like every other aspect of his game, he works so hard at it and as a result, when he does run, he picks his moments, and more often than not, he chooses them wisely.

In the dugout, in the clubhouse, in the locker room and on the field, Chase Utley is a leader. For someone who keeps his life relatively under wraps in terms of the media, Utley has proven himself to be a vital part of who the team is. Much of the confidence, swagger and personality this team alludes comes from the way Utley plays the game. The younger players on the team imitate him and the older players respect him.

If Jimmy Rollins is the fire and Ryan Howard is the heart of the line up, Chase Utley is obviously the soul. Without its heart and soul, Rollins’ fire is just an extinguishing flame. It goes without saying that with Utley back, this team will start to get some of its morale back. Rollins’ flame, which has been starting to light up, will catch fire. Led by Rollins and Utley, the rest of this offense will catch fire too, just in time for a late playoff push in the heat of the summer months.

So even though the Chase Utley Phillies fans will see is still in question, what isn’t in question is what he means to this team. So much of Utley’s value is not measured in a box score. It is in the intangibles he exudes just when he takes the field. For the Phils, getting Utley back will impact their playoff chances and could very well make them a playoff team again.

No matter what, though, the Phillies will be an interesting story to watch as the final, pivotal months of the season are underway.

Dumb & Dumber- Meet Mr. Hamels

by Charles (Chuck) Oliver aka Bloggo Schloggo

DUMB…

Cole Hamels plunks rookie sensation Bryce Harper. It was the first each had faced each other. No history or animosity between them. Harper goes to first base. He immediately gets back at Hamels by catching the Phillies sleeping and goes all the way from first to third on a short single to the outfield. Then what does he do? Steals home while Hamels throws to first to keep the guy at first from getting a big lead and possibly steal second. That’s how you get even- by your performance on the field of play. Hamels isn’t “old school”, Harper is. The kid plays with the abandon of Pete Rose or Ty Cobb. That’s old school. Later in the game Hamels gets plunked in the leg to add insult to injury.

Cole Hamels pitching a complete game shutout v...

DUMBER…

Cole Hamels pitched a great 8 innings and promptly tells the press after the game he hit Harper intentionally. Duh really?

I had a lot of respect for Hamels before this dumb and dumber incident. I didn’t think for one minute he was throwing at Harper. I thought Hamels was attempting to throw inside and the ball got away from him. There was no reason to plunk Harper.

Let’s face it – all contact sports are under scrutiny as we learn more about concussions and the life long damage they can incur including brain damage, depression and even suicide,

Bryce Harper

As we learn more we change the rules of the game as we have witnesses especially in hockey and football. There is nothing wrong with rough play and hard contact in the course of a contest. Intentionally trying to injure a player is dead wrong. I’ve seen things happen on rinks, gridirons and diamonds that if they took place on the streets you would go to jail for those acts of violence. I’m talking felony assault and battery with intent to harm or injure. If you threw a rock or baseball at somebodies head at 90 mph and knocked them out you might find yourself facing attempted murder charges or assault with a deadly weapon.

We live and learn and as we do we make changes. Those changes are what we call progress. I can remember Roger Clemens intentionally beaning Mike Piazza and knocking him unconscious. He could have killed him. On another occasion he threw a bat at him. I wouldn’t mind seeing Clemens getting locked up for lying to congress under oath about his steroid use. He’s a bum as far as I’m concerned.

Roger Clemens pitching for the Houston Astros,...

There is enough violence in this world and it has no business on the field of play. What kind of message are we sending to our kids?

The wrap is that Hamels got a 5 day suspension which means he really won’t miss a start he’ll just be moved back a day. Also a fine I’m sure he can well afford.

He hurt the team no doubt about it. With the Phillies struggling as they are it’s the last thing they need. The Nationals are in first place and will meet the Phils about 15 or so more times this season. When they meet there will be pre-game warnings issued for sure. Hamels has succeeded in putting the entire pitching staff at a disadvantage. Do they alter their pitching so as not to pitch too far inside?

I believe Hamels wasn’t trying to injure Harper and I’m glad he didn’t throw at him above the shoulders. That being said hitting him in the back a little more to the left could have possibly caused a spinal injury. There is no place in baseball, a family friendly sport for 90 mph bean balls. That wasn’t the case here. But in future meetings things could get ugly and the last thing we need is a bean ball war. If you want to prove yourself do it by excelling on the field the old fashioned way with hard work, hustle and talent.

I love the Phillies and love watching Cole Hamels pitching one of his gems and will continue to do so. It’s time for the Phils and Hamels to get the house in order and concentrate on winning ball games and reclaiming their rightful place at the top of their division.

ONE MORE NOTE…

The Phillies bonehead move in the off season was letting Wilson Valdez go. Sure Freddy Galvis is a pretty good defensive player but sporting the .180 batting average he has is strictly minor league material. The guy has been nothing less than a rally killer. Valdez is a money player that is a clutch hitter and can play 2nd, shortstop and 3rd. Even pitch in a pinch. The Phils probably would have 2 or 3 wins more with Valdez. Dumb move Amaro.

Are The Phils Headed For The Geriatric Ward?

Philadelphia Phillies: We aren’t dead yet

PHILLY LIVE APRIL 26, 2012

Philadelphia Phillies: We aren’t dead yet

They’re old. They’re broken down. They’re done.

The Philadelphia Phillies listened to the ridicule all month, as if their AARP cards are waiting in their mailbox, with retirement papers on the way.

“People keep talking about how old we are (30.8 average, second oldest in the major leagues) and how our window is about to close,” general manager Ruben Amaro says. “Maybe I’m delusional, but I really don’t think we’re old. We’re certainly not as old as other people think.

“I don’t believe our careers are over by any means.”

The Phillies might not be the same superpower that won five consecutive National League East titles, but after their 7-2 victory Wednesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, they’re proving they’re not ready to surrender the throne.

The Phillies scored 20 runs in their last 19 innings against the Diamondbacks, and instead of answering questions about whether the end is near, they left town talking as if they’ve finally found themselves.

“The window closes every year, doesn’t it?” says Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, 33. “We’ve had a long window, not as long as the (New York) Yankees or (Atlanta) Braves in their day, but the window closes every year because you have new personnel.

Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Am...

Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr

“It’s different because of our personnel and the injuries we’ve had, but what makes it a lot different is that the reality is different than the perception. We may have to do things differently now, but we’re going to show the outside world that we still have plenty left in the tank.”

The Phillies, for years the Broad Street Bullies of the NL, suddenly look emaciated next to their former selves. They entered Wednesday having scored the third-fewest runs in baseball, and their 12 homers were three more than Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp. They also had drawn the second-fewest walks, with two NL teams grounding into more double plays.

“We’re going to hear about our offense all year, but it’s going to be a different kind of offense that people are used to seeing,” leadoff hitter Juan Pierre said. “We’re not going to be sitting back hitting home runs. We’re going to scrape and scrap.”

They exemplified their sleeker selves Wednesday by amassing 13 hits (11 singles and two doubles).

The Phillies simply have no choice. They are without two-time home-run champ Ryan Howard (torn Achilles) for likely another month. All-Star second baseman Chase Utley (knee) still has no timetable for his return. They’re without 2008 Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee, too.

“Every team has issues,” Amaro says. “Guys have to adjust.”

Rollins, normally the leadoff hitter, has two extra-base hits and three RBI as the No. 3 hitter. Right fielder Hunter Pence, normally the fifth-place hitter, has three hits in his last 24 at-bats as the cleanup hitter. And the Phillies are waiting for outfielder-first baseman John Mayberry Jr. (.200, two RBI) to simply hit.

“We have to keep plugging away and not get frustrated,” says starter Cole Hamels (3-1), who gave up four hits and two runs in eight innings and drove in two runs Wednesday. “We’re trying to play a different game now. Really, I think it’s just a matter of time.”

And when that time comes, the Phillies defiantly say, look out.

“We got knocked down,” Pence says. “We’ve got to keep getting back. And hopefully we get on a roll and start knocking other people down.”
– Copyright 2012 USA TODAY

 

Phils By The Numbers Through April 26

2012 Philadelphia Phillies   Batting, Pitching, & Fielding Statistics

9-10, 4th place in NL East (Schedule and Results)
View League Standings and Leaders

Manager: Charlie Manuel (9-10)
Scored 63 runs, Allowed 62 runs. Pythagorean W-L: 10-9

Ballparks: Citizens Bank Park · Attendance: 272,692 (1st of 16)
Park Factors  Over 100 favors batters, under 100 favors pitchers.
multi-year: 
Batting – 103, Pitching – 101 · one-year: Batting – 107, Pitching – 107

Carlos Ruiz

Carlos Ruiz

BATTING

Rk Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG
1 C Carlos Ruiz 53 6 16 3 0 2 5 0 3 6 .302 .328 .472
2 1B Ty Wigginton 46 8 14 3 0 1 6 0 5 11 .304 .365 .435
3 2B Freddy Galvis# 60 4 12 4 0 1 5 0 3 10 .200 .238 .317
4 SS Jimmy Rollins# 70 8 16 2 0 0 3 4 4 15 .229 .267 .257
5 3B Placido Polanco 59 6 14 2 0 0 2 0 4 7 .237 .297 .271
6 LF Juan Pierre* 59 6 20 0 1 0 4 3 2 2 .339 .361 .373
7 CF Shane Victorino# 75 10 19 1 0 4 8 6 6 9 .253 .309 .427
8 RF Hunter Pence 71 10 19 2 0 3 11 2 4 18 .268 .316 .423
Rk Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG
9 UT John Mayberry 45 0 9 2 0 0 2 0 0 14 .200 .200 .244
10 UT Laynce Nix* 23 3 8 4 0 1 6 0 2 7 .348 .400 .652
11 1B Jim Thome* 17 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 10 .118 .211 .118
12 C Brian Schneider* 15 1 4 0 0 0 1 0 1 3 .267 .313 .267
13 2B Pete Orr* 15 1 4 2 1 0 3 0 0 4 .267 .267 .533
Rk Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG
14 P Roy Halladay 11 0 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 5 .273 .273 .273
15 P Cole Hamels* 10 0 3 1 0 0 2 0 0 3 .300 .300 .400
16 P Vance Worley 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 .000 .000 .000
17 P Cliff Lee* 6 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333
18 P Joe Blanton 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .200 .000
19 P Kyle Kendrick 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000
20 P David Herndon 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000
21 P Michael Stutes 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
22 P Joe Savery* 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
23 P Antonio Bastardo 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
24 P Chad Qualls 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
25 P Michael Schwimer 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
26 P Jose Contreras 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
27 P Jonathan Papelbon 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Team Totals 650 63 165 26 2 12 59 15 37 132 .254 .294 .355
Rank in 16 NL teams 5 14 5 15 13 11 4 15 10 6 14 12
Rk Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG
Cliff Lee pitching for the first time as a mem...

Cliff Lee

PITCHING

Rk Pos W L W-L% ERA G SV IP H ER BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9
1 SP Roy Halladay 3 1 .750 1.50 4 0 30.0 19 5 8 19 0.900 2.4 5.7
2 SP Cole Hamels* 3 1 .750 2.73 4 0 26.1 24 8 3 30 1.025 1.0 10.3
3 SP Vance Worley 2 1 .667 2.16 4 0 25.0 22 6 9 27 1.240 3.2 9.7
4 SP Cliff Lee* 0 1 .000 1.96 3 0 23.0 14 5 2 18 0.696 0.8 7.0
5 SP Joe Blanton 1 3 .250 4.34 4 0 18.2 23 9 3 7 1.393 1.4 3.4
Rk Pos W L W-L% ERA G SV IP H ER BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9
6 CL Jonathan Papelbon 0 0 1.13 8 6 8.0 6 1 2 7 1.000 2.3 7.9
7 RP Kyle Kendrick 0 1 .000 9.39 5 0 7.2 15 8 4 3 2.478 4.7 3.5
8 RP Chad Qualls 0 0 1.29 7 0 7.0 4 1 2 4 0.857 2.6 5.1
9 RP Michael Stutes 0 0 6.35 6 0 5.2 7 4 4 5 1.941 6.4 7.9
10 RP Antonio Bastardo* 0 1 .000 3.86 5 0 2.1 3 1 2 5 2.143 7.7 19.3
Rk Pos W L W-L% ERA G SV IP H ER BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9
11 Joe Savery* 0 0 1.59 4 0 5.2 2 1 1 1 0.529 1.6 1.6
12 David Herndon 0 1 .000 3.18 4 0 5.2 7 2 1 7 1.412 1.6 11.1
13 Jose Contreras 0 0 10.13 3 0 2.2 4 3 2 2 2.250 6.8 6.8
14 Michael Schwimer 0 0 0.00 1 0 1.0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.0 0.0
Team Totals 9 10 .474 2.88 19 6 168.2 150 54 43 135 1.144 2.3 7.2
Rank in 16 NL teams 7 5 4 6 8 7 4 2 10
Rk Pos W L W-L% ERA G SV IP H ER BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9

Field view from the 300 level 03:28, 11 March ...

FIELDING

G Ch PO A E DP Fld% RF/9 RF/G PB WP CS PO Pos. Summary
Antonio Bastardo 5 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 0 0 P
Joe Blanton 4 6 1 4 1 0 .833 2.41 1.25 2 0 P
Jose Contreras 3 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 0 0 P
Freddy Galvis 19 99 30 68 1 14 .990 5.74 4.67 2B-SS
Roy Halladay 4 5 3 2 0 0 1.000 1.50 1.25 0 0 P
Cole Hamels 4 8 2 5 1 0 .875 2.39 1.75 3 2 P
David Herndon 4 2 1 1 0 0 1.000 3.18 0.50 0 0 P
Kyle Kendrick 5 1 0 1 0 0 1.000 1.17 0.20 0 0 P
Cliff Lee 3 2 1 1 0 1 1.000 0.78 0.67 0 0 P
John Mayberry 17 48 46 2 0 3 1.000 4.55 2.82 LF-1B-RF
Laynce Nix 7 50 46 3 1 6 .980 9.59 6.13 1B-LF
Pete Orr 4 14 3 10 1 2 .929 4.81 3.25 2B
Jonathan Papelbon 8 3 1 2 0 0 1.000 3.38 0.38 0 0 P
Hunter Pence 18 29 29 0 0 0 1.000 1.62 1.61 RF
Juan Pierre 14 18 18 0 0 0 1.000 1.53 1.29 LF
Placido Polanco 17 43 11 32 0 2 1.000 2.95 2.53 3B
Chad Qualls 7 2 1 1 0 0 1.000 2.57 0.29 0 0 P
Jimmy Rollins 19 73 23 49 1 15 .986 4.07 3.79 SS
Carlos Ruiz 17 118 107 11 0 2 1.000 8.19 6.94 1 1 6 0 C
Joe Savery 4 1 0 0 1 0 .000 0.00 0.00 0 0 P
Brian Schneider 5 36 30 6 0 0 1.000 8.31 7.20 0 1 1 0 C
Michael Schwimer 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 0 0 P
Michael Stutes 6 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 0 0 P
Jim Thome 3 32 29 2 1 3 .969 12.13 10.33 1B
Shane Victorino 19 44 43 1 0 1 1.000 2.35 2.32 CF
Ty Wigginton 15 94 79 13 2 9 .979 7.35 5.11 1B-3B
Vance Worley 4 8 2 6 0 1 1.000 2.88 2.00 2 0 P
Team Totals 19 736 506 220 10 59 .986 4.30 3.00 1 2 7 2
Rank in 16 NL teams 14 3 1
G Ch PO A E DP Fld% RF/9 RF/G PB WP CS PO Pos. Summary

Win Probability

PA BtRuns BtWins Plays WPA WPA+ WPA- WPA/LI Clutch REW boLI RE24/boLI PHlev
Joe Blanton 6 -0.8 -0.1 6 -0.1 0.0 -0.1 -0.1 0.0 -0.1 0.76 -1.0
Freddy Galvis# 65 -4.1 -0.4 65 -0.5 0.8 -1.3 -0.5 -0.0 -0.5 1.01 -4.9
Roy Halladay 12 -0.8 -0.1 12 -0.0 0.1 -0.2 -0.0 0.0 -0.1 1.00 -0.6
Cole Hamels* 11 -0.1 -0.0 11 0.0 0.1 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.1 0.84 -0.1
David Herndon 1 -0.3 -0.0 1 -0.0 0.0 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0 0.86 -0.3
Kyle Kendrick 1 -0.3 -0.0 1 -0.0 0.0 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0 1.17 -0.3
Cliff Lee* 7 -0.2 -0.0 8 -0.1 0.1 -0.1 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0 0.76 -0.2
John Mayberry 45 -4.9 -0.5 45 -0.6 0.4 -1.0 -0.6 -0.1 -0.7 1.01 -5.6 1.09
Laynce Nix* 25 2.7 0.3 25 0.0 0.6 -0.6 0.2 -0.1 0.2 1.03 2.0 1.21
Pete Orr* 15 0.2 0.0 15 -0.1 0.1 -0.2 -0.1 0.0 0.1 0.93 -0.0 0.11
Hunter Pence 76 -0.2 -0.0 78 0.2 1.6 -1.3 -0.0 0.3 -0.0 1.00 -0.6
Juan Pierre* 61 -0.1 -0.0 69 0.2 1.1 -0.9 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.94 0.4 0.86
Placido Polanco 65 -3.4 -0.3 66 -0.2 0.7 -0.9 -0.2 -0.0 -0.0 0.87 -1.0 0.61
Jimmy Rollins# 76 -5.3 -0.5 85 -0.1 1.0 -1.2 -0.3 0.2 -0.3 0.94 -3.6
Carlos Ruiz 58 1.3 0.1 59 -0.2 0.6 -0.9 0.0 -0.3 -0.2 0.98 -0.4 0.26
Brian Schneider* 16 -0.8 -0.1 16 -0.2 0.2 -0.4 -0.1 -0.0 -0.1 1.08 -1.3
Jim Thome* 19 -2.5 -0.3 19 -0.5 0.1 -0.7 -0.3 -0.2 -0.4 0.99 -2.6 1.59
Shane Victorino# 82 -0.4 -0.0 87 -0.0 1.1 -1.1 0.2 -0.2 0.2 0.95 1.0
Ty Wigginton 52 1.5 0.2 52 -0.0 0.7 -0.7 0.1 -0.1 0.4 0.89 1.2 0.97
Vance Worley 9 -2.5 -0.3 9 -0.2 0.0 -0.2 -0.2 0.0 -0.2 0.73 -2.3
League Average
Team Total 702 -20.9 -2.2 729 -2.4 9.5 -11.9 -2.0 -0.5 -1.4 0.95 -20.5 1.12
PA BtRuns BtWins Plays WPA WPA+ WPA- WPA/LI Clutch REW boLI RE24/boLI PHlev

Team Batting Ratios

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/27/2012.
PA HR% SO% BB% XBH% X/H% SO/BB AB/SO AB/HR AB/RBI GB/FB GO/AO
Joe Blanton 6 0.0% 16.7% 16.7% 0.0% 1.00 4.0
Freddy Galvis# 65 1.5% 15.4% 4.6% 7.7% 42% 3.33 6.0 60.0 12.0 0.68 1.32
Roy Halladay 12 0.0% 41.7% 0.0% 0.0% 0% 2.2 11.0 2.00
Cole Hamels* 11 0.0% 27.3% 0.0% 9.1% 33% 3.3 5.0 1.33 4.00
David Herndon 1 0.0% 100.0% 0.0% 0.0% 1.0
Kyle Kendrick 1 0.0% 100.0% 0.0% 0.0% 1.0
Cliff Lee* 7 0.0% 14.3% 0.0% 0.0% 0% 6.0 0.25 1.00
John Mayberry 45 0.0% 31.1% 0.0% 4.4% 22% 3.2 22.5 0.72 0.71
Laynce Nix* 25 4.0% 28.0% 8.0% 20.0% 63% 3.50 3.3 23.0 3.8 0.67 2.33
Pete Orr* 15 0.0% 26.7% 0.0% 20.0% 75% 3.8 5.0 1.20 2.50
Hunter Pence 76 4.0% 23.7% 5.3% 6.6% 26% 4.50 3.9 23.7 6.5 1.30 1.64
Juan Pierre* 61 0.0% 3.3% 3.3% 1.6% 5% 1.00 29.5 14.8 1.20 1.85
Placido Polanco 65 0.0% 10.8% 6.2% 3.1% 14% 1.75 8.4 29.5 1.00 1.38
Jimmy Rollins# 76 0.0% 19.7% 5.3% 2.6% 13% 3.75 4.7 23.3 0.83 1.00
Carlos Ruiz 58 3.5% 10.3% 5.2% 8.6% 31% 2.00 8.8 26.5 10.6 0.81 1.27
Brian Schneider* 16 0.0% 18.8% 6.3% 0.0% 0% 3.00 5.0 15.0 1.00 1.50
Jim Thome* 19 0.0% 52.6% 10.5% 0.0% 0% 5.00 1.7 0.75 0.67
Shane Victorino# 82 4.9% 11.0% 7.3% 6.1% 26% 1.50 8.3 18.8 9.4 0.67 0.92
Ty Wigginton 52 1.9% 21.2% 9.6% 7.7% 29% 2.20 4.2 46.0 7.7 0.71 0.57
Vance Worley 9 0.0% 44.4% 0.0% 0.0% 2.3
League Average 2.2% 19.8% 8.3% 7.2% 33% 2.37 4.5 40.8 8.9 0.87 1.19
Team Total 702 1.7% 18.8% 5.3% 5.7% 24% 3.57 4.9 54.2 11.0 0.90 1.29
PA HR% SO% BB% XBH% X/H% SO/BB AB/SO AB/HR AB/RBI GB/FB GO/AO
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/27/2012.

Phils Win 1st Spring Exhibition Over FSU 6-1

Phils’ first taste of game action is win over FSU

Luna homers as part of five-run seventh for Philadelphia

By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
CLEARWATER, Fla. — A five-run seventh inning broke open a close game against Florida State University as the Phillies took a 6-1 victory in their opening contest of the spring.
Florida State University College of Motion Pic...

FSU Campus

The Phillies used Wednesday’s exhibition against the college team as an opportunity to get a look at some of their younger arms in camp.

Austin Hyatt is 25, but he still qualifies as young.

He started the game and struck out three in two perfect innings at Bright House Field.

“I’m one of the few starters whose first time it is in camp, I guess one of the younger guys, so I was happy to be called upon,” Hyatt said.

English: Philadelphia Phillies minor leaguer J...

Joe Savery

Hyatt went 12-6 with a 3.86 ERA at Double-A Reading last season, making the Eastern League All-Star team in the process. Hyatt needs more seasoning in the Minor Leagues, and there certainly is no need to rush him with a big league rotation that includes Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley and Joe Blanton.

Jake Diekman, Jeremy Horst, Michael Schwimer, Joe Savery, Phillippe Aumont and B.J. Rosenberg each threw a scoreless inning, for the Phils, who were paced on offense by Hector Luna (1-for-1, HR, two RBIs, walk) and Tyson Gillies (1-for-2, two runs, RBI, stolen base).

Hunter Pence doubled in his spring debut, while Pete Orr and Tuffy Gosewisch also recorded two-base hits.

Hyatt said he plans to soak in everything possible while he is in big league camp.

“I try to sit back and listen, pick up some things here and there,” Hyatt said. “But the guys, they make you feel welcome at the same time, so it’s not as intimidating as it may seem. It’s an honor to be around them.”

Hyatt is hoping to open the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, and continue the progress he made last season.

“It definitely gets more exciting when you get closer,” he said. “It’s what you kind of work your way up the Minors for, to get closer, so yeah, I realize if you pitch well for a season, you could be there. It is nice to think about.”

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Oswalt Back? Utley Rebound? Charlie Looking For Bats Crushing Balls

Oswalt remains unsigned; Philly return possible

By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Roy Oswalt remains a free agent, and his agent said Thursday that Oswalt might wait to sign until later in the season.

Don’t be surprised if the Phillies make a run at him, if they need him.

Roy Oswalt

While there are multiple reports Oswalt’s top two choices are the Cardinals and Rangers, a source told MLB.com on Thursday that Oswalt also is very interested in returning to Philadelphia. It is not a stretch to think that if something happens to one of the Phils’ starters that Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. would sign Oswalt as a replacement.


Hitting foremost on Manuel’s mind this spring

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Charlie Manuel is setting a clear tone for his hitters in Spring Training.

The Phillies manager talked with Jimmy Rollins for more than 15 minutes in his office Thursday, on the eve of the team’s first full-squad workout Friday.

“We talked about how we wanted to play, we talked some about hitting,” Manuel said. “It was good. Jimmy’s always been a good student as far as knowing how to play the game and all about the game, and I felt like before we got going here that I would want to sit down and talk to him.”

Manuel wants his team to take a better approach at the plate, and he wants his hitters to talk more about their hitting during the season. He hopes that will help the Phillies avoid the postseason offensive slumps that played a big role in ending their last two seasons.

“I want to talk to all of our guys,” Manuel said. “I want our guys to talk about hitting. I want guys like Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins and [Ryan] Howard and [Shane] Victorino … I want to have more talk about hitting, talking about getting good balls to hit, not giving away at-bats, things like that.

“With our pitching and everything like that, we need to score the runs that we’re supposed to score. If we have a guy on third base with less than two outs early in the game, we need to score one run. If we have two guys on, we need to make sure we score one run, instead of a guy standing there maybe trying to bust the game open.”

Manuel also confirmed Rollins will be his leadoff hitter this season, which is not a surprise.

Utley has utmost confidence he’ll bounce back

By Todd Zolecki

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies saved arguably the biggest storyline for last.

Almost every day since Spring Training started, the Phillies sent a different player to the media room at Bright House Field for a news conference. Jonathan Papelbon spoke last Friday about leaving the Red Sox and joining the Phillies. Cole Hamels talked Monday about his impending free agency. Roy Halladay spoke Tuesday about his continued pursuit of a World Series championship and his (embellished) encounter with an anaconda on the Amazon River. Ryan Howard talked Wednesday about his recovery from left Achilles surgery.

Chase Utley spoke Thursday.

Chase Utley rounding the bases after hitting a...

Utley could mean the most to the Phillies’ success in 2012. He certainly seems to be the most intriguing player to watch. While Howard’s recovery is important, he might not feel completely like himself until next season. And while Hamels’ future with the Phillies is key, Utley is trying to bounce back from the worst season of his career while playing with a chronic right knee condition.

If Utley bounces back this season, it would be a tremendous boost to the lineup and make the Phillies feel a little better about their future.

If he’s unable to bounce back, it could signal a premature end to one of the best second basemen of his generation.

Naturally, Utley likes his chances of turning around his career.

“I think I can overcome this without a doubt,” Utley said. “I have pride in how I play and the way I play and that’s not going to change.”

But pride can’t overcome an unhealthy body. Utley missed the first 46 games last season because of a chronic knee condition. Utley avoided surgery, which could have ended his career, but he could not keep his legs strong through the rest of the season. The result? He hit just .259 with 11 home runs, 44 RBIs and a .769 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 398 at-bats. Utley showed little of the power he had in the past. His .769 OPS was his worst since his rookie season in 2003.

It was a precipitous fall for Utley. He had a .915 OPS as a first-time everyday second baseman in 2005. It went to .906 in ’06, .976 in ’07, .915 in ’08, .905 in ’09 and .832 in ’10 before dipping under .800 last season.

Utley said he is confident he can return to his All-Star form.

“It feels significantly better,” he said. “Last year, it was very uncomfortable, especially the first week [of Spring Training]. Right now, I think I’m in a good place. The goal for me is to kind of stay in the same place and improve in small increments and not try to irritate it to the point where I’d have to slow down. So we’ll see how it goes.”

Utley changed his offseason workout routine, incorporating more stretching and manual therapy and not as much weightlifting. He tried to make his legs stronger without putting as much strain and pounding on his knees.

“This offseason, I was able to strengthen them, maybe not quite as much as in the past, but they’re definitely stronger than they were going into last year,” Utley said. “My goal now is to maintain that. Ideally, it would be nice to make them stronger, but at the same time, I have to keep them loose and take it easy.”

Utley will have a lighter workload this spring. Fewer hours on the field, maybe fewer games. The whole idea is keeping him as fresh and strong as possible for the season. And even then, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Utley won’t play more than 150 games this season.

“It’s something I’m always going to have to monitor, forever, to be honest,” Utley said of his knee. “But I think I have a game plan put together that I’m able to overcome it. But again, it’s something I’m going to have to deal with on a daily basis, and I’m willing to put the effort into making sure it’s OK.”

Utley struggled so much last season that Manuel finally pulled him from the No. 3 spot in the lineup. It’s likely Utley opens the season back in that spot, but Manuel might be forced to pull him again if he can’t knock in runs like he has in the past.

“It’s always frustrating when you’re not playing well,” Utley said. “Even when I am playing well, I’m still not satisfied. You still have to have that drive on a daily basis and try to figure out ways to help the team win.”

Utley had a chance to help his team in the ninth inning in Game 5 of the National League Division Series. He flied out to the warning track, momentarily giving Phillies fans in the ballpark hope that the team might tie the game.

Utley acknowledged there were a few balls last season that he thought he squared up, but couldn’t drive like he had in the past because of his weaker legs.

“I tried not to let it affect me mentally,” he said. “Once you think about it mentally, it’s going to change your approach and make you even more frustrated. And that’s something you don’t want to be. I tried to put it behind me. I tried to take every game the same way, try to find a way to win. Where that’s hitting a home run, getting on base, drawing a walk, getting hit by a pitch, those are the things I try to do on a daily basis.”

His ability to do all those things with regularity will play big in the Phillies’ success in 2012.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

1 Year, $15 Million For Hamels

Hamels agrees to $15M deal, avoids arbitration

Phils remain interested in working out long-term contract with lefty

By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA — Consider this a placeholder for something potentially bigger.

The Phillies and Cole Hamels on Tuesday agreed to a one-year, $15 million contract, which allowed them to avoid salary arbitration. The deal also allows them to focus on a possible multiyear extension before Hamels becomes a free agent following the 2012 season.

Cole Hamels pitching a complete game shutout v...

“We have cost certainty and the player has cost certainty,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “Now we can go from there. This doesn’t preclude us from doing a long-term deal. We can negotiate with Cole from today through the end of November, and then beyond that to get a multiyear deal done. Just because we have a one-year deal in place doesn’t mean we can’t do something long term. As far as Cole beyond 2012, that’s something that’s still very much open for discussion.”

Hamels is line for a major payday, but how large remains to be seen. But think Cliff Lee more than Jered Weaver.

Weaver signed a five-year, $85 million contract extension last summer with the Los Angeles Angels, but Weaver bypassed free agency partly because he wanted to stay in Southern California and play for his hometown team. Weaver and Hamels have remarkably similar career statistics, so it is easy to think Hamels might be paid in that range: Hamels is 77-54 with a 3.39 ERA in 181 career appearances. He has a 1.141 WHIP and averages 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings. Weaver is 82-47 with a 3.31 ERA in 171 career appearances. He has a 1.165 WHIP and averages 7.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

But John Boggs, Hamels’ agent, on Tuesday called the Weaver deal a “non-starter” in negotiations.

Cole Hamels 20:52, 16 November 2007 . . Old ma...

“It would be natural to look at that as a comparison,” Boggs said. “Jered signed for his own personal reasons — and I applaud him for that — but it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to follow the same standard. Everybody is different. For Jered to sign there, it doesn’t mean that’s the template we’re going to follow.”

Lee signed a five-year, $120 million contract with the Phils in December 2010. That certainly seems to be a better measuring stick for Hamels.

“Absolutely,” Boggs said. “If you’re this close to free agency, you start to make comparables of what you have the potential of making as a free agent.”

Lee signed his deal at 32. Hamels is 28. It stands to reason Hamels will be looking for a contract worth $20 million or more per season.

But there is genuine interest on both sides to reach an agreement. Finalizing Hamels’ 2012 contract could be the first step.

“The goal was to get that out of the way,” Boggs said. “I’m sure down the road we’ll have a conversation about moving forward. We plan on keeping the discussions open. It’s a process.”

Boggs said he hasn’t talked to Hamels about setting any potential deadline regarding negotiations, which some players have done in the past.

“At the end of the day, we really don’t have any concrete game plan as far as how long we are going to plan on discussing this,” Boggs said. “That will be decided at some point shortly, or as we get into the process. But there’s definitely a desire to stay. At the end of the day, it really depends on the value we place on Cole, and hopefully it coincides with the value the Phillies place on Cole. That’s the reason you have a negotiation. From a basic desire, yes, he’d be more than happy to stay there. He knows the Phillies. He’s homegrown. That’s what we’ll attempt to do, but sometimes things don’t work out if we can’t agree on the value.”

Philadelphia on Tuesday also avoided salary arbitration with infielder Wilson Valdez, who agreed to a one-year, $930,000 contract.

Outfielder Hunter Pence is the only Phillies player still eligible for salary arbitration, although an agreement can be reached up until the moment the team and player are supposed to meet with arbiters.

Asked if he thinks they will avoid arbitration with Pence, Amaro said, “I have no idea. We stay cautiously optimistic.”

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Related articles