Phils Sign OF Delmon Young To 1 Year Deal

Phillies sign Delmon Young to deal for one year

Right-handed slugging outfielder was ALCS MVP last year, had 108 RBIs in 2010

By Todd Zolecki / | 01/22/2013 2:56 PM ET

Delmon Young comes up clutch for the Tigers during the ALCS with four go-ahead hits against the Yankees

PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies found a right-handed-hitting corner outfielder with power.

But this one comes with baggage.

The Phillies and free agent Delmon Young agreed Tuesday to a one-year contract worth $750,000 plus potential performance bonuses. The signing screams low-risk, high-reward for the Phillies. Young, who is 27, earned 2012 American League Championship Series MVP honors with the Detroit Tigers and hit .267 with 18 home runs and 74 RBIs in the regular season. He also had a career-high 112 RBIs in 2010 with the Minnesota Twins and has a career .824 OPS against left-handed pitchers.

But Young also has battled consistency issues on the field and has had several notable off-the-field problems, including an April arrest in New York on a second-degree aggravated harassment charge. Police said an intoxicated Young hurled anti-Semitic slurs at four men, and Major League Baseball suspended him for seven days as a result.

He was suspended twice in his Minor League career, for three games in 2005 for making contact with an umpire and for 50 games in 2006 for flinging a bat at an umpire.

However, the Phillies are comfortable with the risks, especially considering they made only a one-year commitment to him.

If Young plays well, the Phillies could have a productive corner outfielder at a remarkable bargain.

If he causes problems, well, the Phillies always can cut him loose without taking a significant payroll hit.

“Delmon is an experienced Major League bat who will add some depth to our relatively inexperienced outfield and another layer of competition for playing time there as well,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.

The Phillies had been looking for a corner outfielder since the beginning of the offseason. But how much outfield can Young play? And how effectively? He played just 31 games in the outfield last season, appearing in 113 games as Detroit’s designated hitter.

Young, listed at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, has had conditioning issues in the past, and last season he played with bone spurs in his ankle. He had surgery to remove the spurs in November and is expected to be ready for Spring Training.

Young’s arrival creates an interesting outfield situation for the Phillies. Ben Revere will be the team’s everyday center fielder. Young presumably will take one of the corner outfield spots, potentially as an everyday player. That could result in Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. sharing time in the other corner spot with Laynce Nix a reserve and Darin Ruf possibly opening the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley to get more seasoning.

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

Delmon Damarcus Young

Position: Leftfielder
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 3″, Weight: 240 lb.

Born: September 141985 in Birmingham, AL (Age 27)
High School: Adolfo Camarillo HS (Camarillo, CA)
 by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 1st round (1st pick) of the 2003 amateur draft.
Signed September 8, 2003. (All Transactions)
Debut: August 29, 2006 (Age 20)
Teams (by GP): Twins/DevilRays/Tigers 2006-2012
2013 Contract Status: Free Agent (details) [*]
Service Time (01/2013): 6.034, Free Agent: 2013 [*], Agents: Arn Tellem [*]
Relatives: Brother of Dmitri Young

2006 TBD 30 126 16 40 9 1 3 10 1 24 .317 .336 .476
2007 TBD 162 645 65 186 38 0 13 93 26 127 .288 .316 .408
2008 MIN 152 575 80 167 28 4 10 69 35 105 .290 .336 .405
2009 MIN 108 395 50 112 16 2 12 60 12 92 .284 .308 .425
2010 MIN 153 570 77 170 46 1 21 112 28 81 .298 .333 .493
2011 TOT 124 473 54 127 21 1 12 64 23 85 .268 .302 .393
2011 MIN 84 305 26 81 16 0 4 32 18 55 .266 .305 .357
2011 DET 40 168 28 46 5 1 8 32 5 30 .274 .298 .458
2012 DET 151 574 54 153 27 1 18 74 20 112 .267 .296 .411
7 Yrs 880 3358 396 955 185 10 89 482 145 626 .284 .317 .425
162 Game Avg. 162 618 73 176 34 2 16 89 27 115 .284 .317 .425
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 1/22/2013.


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.

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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 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
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
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
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
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 Team Page
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2012 Draft: Phillies
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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 Land Set Up Man Adams & Starter Lannan

Phils reach agreement with reliever Adams

Deal is for two years, $12 million, with vesting option

By Todd Zolecki /

PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies have found their setup man. confirmed the Phillies have agreed to a two-year, $12 million contract with right-hander Mike Adams.

The deal has a vesting option for 2015. If Adams makes 120 appearances in 2013-14 — with 60 appearances in 2014 — the contract vests for $6.5 million. Or if he makes 65 appearances in 2014 it vests for $6 million. The Phillies also have a club option for $6 million, if Adams doesn’t hit those marks.

The deal is pending a physical.

Pitcher Mike Adams of the San Diego Padres

Pitcher Mike Adams

Adams, 34, went 5-3 with a 3.27 ERA in 61 appearances last season with the Rangers. In eight seasons with the Brewers, Padres and Rangers, Adams is 18-15 with a 2.28 ERA in 358 appearances. He has a 1.98 ERA over the past five seasons, which is third lowest of any reliever in baseball with at least 153 innings pitched.

Adams had surgery in October for thoracic outlet syndrome. It is a condition in which a rib bone presses against a nerve, causing pain and numbness in the arm. reported in October that Adams is expected to be ready for Spring Training, although that remains to be seen.

KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi, Texas, first reported late Friday night the Phillies had agreed to terms with the reliever.


Phillies agree to one-year deal with Lannan

By Todd Zolecki /

PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies not only found their setup man this weekend, they also found their fifth starter.

Sources told that the Phillies have agreed to terms with right-hander Mike Adams to be their setup man and left-hander John Lannan to be their fifth starter. first reported the Lannan deal. CBS Sports reported Lannan has agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million contract.

The deals are pending physicals.

Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles May ...

John Lannan

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., recently said the club was looking for a low-risk, high-reward starter to replace Vance Worley, who the Phillies shipped to Minnesota in the Ben Revere trade. Lannan seems to fit the bill.

Lannan, 28, is 42-52 with a 4.01 ERA in 134 starts in his career, which he has spent entirely with the Nationals. But Lannan, who has started twice for the Nationals on Opening Day, became expendable in a stacked Washington rotation.

Lannan is a ground-ball pitcher, which could help him at Citizens Bank Park, although he has a 6.49 ERA in eight career starts in Philadelphia.

But the Phillies wanted a veteran presence to fill out the back of the rotation, which includes Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick.

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

Related articles

Phils Land CF Revere At Winter Meetings

Phils new centerfielder,,,

  • Full Name: Ben Daniel Revere
  • Born: 5/3/1988 in Atlanta, GA  Bats/Throws: L/R HT: 5’9′ WT: 170 Debut: 9/7/2010 College: N/A

Phils get Revere from Twins for Worley, May
By Todd Zolecki /

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Phillies will not leave the Winter Meetings empty handed.

They have acquired center fielder Ben Revere in a trade with the Minnesota Twins. Right-hander Vance Worley and right-handed pitching prospect Trevor May are headed to Minnesota in the deal.

“Ben is an outstanding, young, controllable center fielder who fits nicely with our club,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement.

Revere hit .294 with 13 doubles, six triples, 32 RBIs, 40 stolen bases and 70 runs scored in 511 at-bats last season. He also carried a .333 on-base percentage and a .342 slugging percentage.

“Based on what’s available, [the Phillies] did all right,” one high-ranking American League executive said Thursday. “[Revere is] a solid average player. That’s how I look at him. He’s above average defensively. He can run. My biggest question, considering his size [5-foot-9, 170 pounds], is if he can play 145, 150 games. But he puts the ball in play better than I thought he would.” reported early Thursday that the Phillies had targeted Revere as an option in center field. Things clearly picked up, with Amaro and Pat Gillick holding separate conversations this morning with Twins general manager Terry Ryan.

The Phillies lose Worley, who projected to be their fourth or fifth starter. They also lost May, who was listed as their No. 2 overall prospect.

Because Revere is not yet eligible for salary arbitration, he comes relatively cheap, which would seem to allow the Phillies to continue to pursue a desperately needed corner outfielder with power. They are deep in negotiations with the Rangers for infielder Michael Young, who would play third base if he accepted a trade.

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


SEASON 124 511 70 150 175 13 6 0 32 29 0 54 40 9 .294 .333 .342
MLB Totals 254 989 127 275 319 22 11 0 64 57 1 100 74 19 .278 .319 .323
Minors Totals 403 1584 240 517 640 50 29 5 158 122 3 143 160 56 .326 .383 .404
BATTING Regular Season Career Stats

2010 MIN AL MLB 13 28 1 5 5 0 0 0 2 2 0 5 0 1 .179 .233 .179
2011 MIN AL MLB 117 450 56 120 139 9 5 0 30 26 1 41 34 9 .267 .310 .309
2012 MIN AL MLB 124 511 70 150 175 13 6 0 32 29 0 54 40 9 .294 .333 .342
MLB Totals MLB 254 989 127 275 319 22 11 0 64 57 1 100 74 19 .278 .319 .323
Awards and Honors
  • 6/2011: Minnesota (AL)
  • 2010: Minnesota (AL)
  • 2010: Peo Saguaros (AFL)
  • 2010: New Britain (EAS)
  • 2010: New Britain (EAS)
  • 2010: New Britain (EAS)
  • 5/24/2010: New Britain (EAS)
  • 2009: Fort Myers (FSL)
  • 2009: Fort Myers (FSL)
  • 5/18/2009: Fort Myers (FSL)
  • 2008: Beloit (MID)
  • 2008: Beloit (MID)
  • 2008: Beloit (MID)
  • 2008: Beloit (MID)
  • 2008: Beloit (MID)


Are The Phils Headed For The Geriatric Ward?

Philadelphia Phillies: We aren’t dead yet


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


Guess What?

Football season is officially over.

By Bloggo Schloggo (Charles Oliver)

It was a good Super Bowl game yesterday. Not a great one but a good one. Madonna put on a great half-time show. I was glad the 53 year old showed some good taste and judgement. She wasn’t scantily clad and kept the sexual gyrations to a minimum considering Super Bowls are supposed to be family friendly extravaganzas. There were no wardrobe malfunctions.


The Skipper (Charley Manuel) looking to the future.

Brady and Manning acquitted themselves well on the field of play I thought. Each playing well enough to win. The game could have gone either way. The clock deemed the Patriots as second best and the Giants champions in the end.

To think that during the regular season the Eagles whupped the G-men twice leaves one to wonder how the season may have played out had Vick not missed so much time due to injuries. Hell even the lowly Deadskins beat the New Yorkers.

The Giants got hot at the end of the season when it counts most. That being said I tip my hat to them achieving what a couple months ago looked unachievable <– I know that’s not a real word but it works here for these purposes.

Anyway now that football is over until next September it’s time to zone in on the national pastime. Although many would argue that the NFL has replaced the MLB with that description. For me it’s full speed ahead baseball mode. Time to focus on spring training only a month away (can you believe that?). Also it’s time to start considering fantasy baseball line-ups.

The sun gets a little higher in the sky and the hours of daylight are increasing with each passing day. Time to sharpen up the pencils and clean off the keyboard. Two months from today a voice shouts, “Play ball!”. With that we begin another journey of 162 games through spring, summer and fall. Dreams of the playoffs and world series. Will 2012 bring the Phillies back to the position of World Champions? Can they win 102 games again? With the improved Marlins and Nationals I seriously doubt they can win 102 again but, I feel they have a really good shot at going all the way. Like time decided the Super Bowl, time will tell what fortunes lie ahead for the Phils. 


The 5 Best Things About Citizens Bank Park

By Kyle Yahn (Contributor)


Since its opening season, in 2004, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has completely changed the face of the Phillies organization.

In 2003, the Phillies ranked 24th in the MLB in attendance. After the inception of Citizens Bank Park in 2004, they rose all the way to fourth. The Phillies have now led all of baseball in attendance for the past three seasons. They are now working on a 204-game sellout streak going into the 2012 season. The stadium sells out every single night, and the atmosphere is perpetually electric.

Not only does this state-of-the-art, $336 million stadium draw in massive crowds, but it supplies them with everything that a baseball fan could possibly dream of.

The Philadelphia Phillies have created a model of success for other teams to follow in Major League Baseball. Over the past decade, they have gone from the basement of the National League to a perennial powerhouse. This turnaround all began with the introduction of the baseball paradise that is Citizens Bank Park

The Views


There is not a bad seat in the entire stadium. Whether in the nosebleeds or right behind home plate, the fans are always right on top of the action.

This is great, considering the majority of the 43,647 seats are filled on a regular basis. In fact, in the 2011 season, the Philadelphia Phillies averaged an attendance capacity of 104.1 percent.

Those extra 4.1 percent may be some of the most exciting places to be anyway. With the atmosphere of the ballpark and the fans who inhabit it, standing room only seats can be just as fulfilling as front row seats.

And if you miss any of the action, just take a look at the recently installed and massive 40′ x 70′ LED scoreboard in left field—the largest in the National League.

The Bullpens


There couldn’t be a more perfect feature to a baseball stadium than the bullpens at Citizens Bank Park.

These are especially fun to be around when a rival team is in town, as the visitors’ bullpen lies within ample heckling distance of the Philly faithful. Philadelphia sports fans are notorious for their passion and um…providing a comforting environment for opposing players and fans.

However, the bullpens in Citizens Bank Park aren’t only good for taunting opposing pitchers. If you’re sitting in the point of right center field (seen in the image), the Phillies staff is only a few feet away. I myself have had a conversation or two with Rich Dubee, the Phillies pitching coach, when seated in this area.

It’s a truly unique experience, and that’s why these bullpens are one of the greatest features of Citizens Bank Park.

The Food


The food at Citizens Bank Park is incredible.

There’s the classic Philly lineup in center field, with Tony Luke’s, Campo’s and Planet Hoagie, and there are several places to get ballpark classics like burgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, cracker jacks and soft pretzels scattered throughout the concourse.

And of course, there are a myriad of locations to get some ice cold refreshment.

However, my personal favorite has to be Chickie’s & Pete’s crab fries. These Old Bay-covered french fries—dipped in cheese sauce of course—are the epitome of baseball bliss. Unfortunately, the line never ceases to cost you at least a half an inning.

They are worth the wait.

The Atmosphere


Mix together consistent sellouts and the spirit of the Phillies fan base, and out comes undeniably the best atmosphere in Major League Baseball.

It’s difficult to express in words the kind of feeling Citizens Bank Park gives off. You have to experience it to truly understand.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, over the past two years, and as I walk around these stadiums, there is a dullness that never even remotely appears in Citizens Bank Park.

From Game 1 to Game 162, the Phillies fans are always in full support of their team. This is something that is rare and special in the game of baseball, and is what gives Citizens Bank Park the greatest atmosphere in the world to watch a baseball game.

125602730_display_image Len Redkoles/Getty Images

Love em’ or hate em,’ there’s no way around it. Philadelphia Phillies fans are the best in the game.

Their passion, faithfulness and knowledge of the game set them apart from all other baseball fans.

Phillies fans endeared themselves to the world during Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN after their reaction to Osama Bin Laden‘s death in May of 2011.

The Phillies fan base can be described in a few simple adjectives: rowdy, obnoxious, rude, fickle, unforgiving and perfect.

Big moves by Nats, Marlins put heat on Phillies

Free-agent deals could reshape balance of power in NL East

By Mark Bowman  /

When Cliff Lee returned to Philadelphia, there was a sense the Phillies’ reign at the top of the National League East standings might last as long as he, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels stayed together in the same starting rotation.

Roy Halladay

One year later, Philadelphia still proudly possesses its Big Three. But with the Marlins and Nationals making significant improvements over the past couple months, the Phillies will enter 2012 knowing the Braves are not the only legitimate threat between them and their sixth consecutive NL East crown.

“Day in and day out, you have to say it’s the best division in baseball,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told “The consistent play within the division is amazing. Atlanta should be better. The Marlins definitely have gotten better with [Jose] Reyes and Josh Johnson will be back. Washington will be very competitive.”

The Phillies made one significant decision in retaining veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins, but that move alone may not be enough to keep Philadelphia atop the division given the new look the Marlins have committed to this offseason.

As they prepare to move into their new stadium with their new, always-entertaining manager, Ozzie Guillen, the Marlins further enhanced the excitement surrounding their club with the signings of shortstop Jose Reyes, closer Heath Bell and veteran starting pitcher Mark Buehrle.

To further bolster their pitching staff, the Marlins opened 2012 by acquiring Carlos Zambrano from the Cubs. Along with making the clubhouse even more interesting, Zambrano has the potential to significantly improve a starting rotation that will once again be anchored by Johnson.

Ozzie Guillén managed the White Sox from 2004 ...

While proving aggressive on both the trade and free-agent markets, the once “low-revenue” Marlins were also in pursuit of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. The club’s efforts appear to demonstrate that it is committed to the kind of successful product necessary to avoid the attendance issues that existed in their previous stadium.

“Ozzie and [president of baseball operations] Larry [Beinfest] think this team is a playoff team today,” said Marlins president David Samson. “All sorts of stuff has to happen to win it. We just have to make it.”

With the assets gained from this year’s free-agent market, the Marlins provided themselves reason to believe they can immediately compete against the Phillies, and against the improvements the Braves and Nationals both expect to make over the next few years with their prized young players and prospects.

The core of the Nationals’ future is centered around Bryce Harper, one of the most highly touted prospects in the game’s history, and Stephen Strasburg. Now more than a year removed from Tommy John surgery, the right-handed Strasburg is prepared to legitimize himself as one of the game’s elite starters.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson finished 2011 excited about the contributions Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann could provide the club’s rotation for many years to come. Two days before Christmas, the Nats’ skipper received yet another gift in the form of talented 26-year-old left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who was acquired from the A’s to further solidify Washington’s starting rotation.

Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmerman

“Gonzalez brings a presence in our rotation,” Nationals general manger Mike Rizzo said. “He has had success. He has been a workhorse. He is very young; he just turned 26. He has accomplished a lot of things before his 26th birthday. It gives us a young core of starting pitchers at the Major League level that is in the realm of something that we never had here before.”With the acquisition of Gonzalez and the healthy return of Adam LaRoche, the Nationals are seemingly on the path they envisioned when they signed outfielder Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million contract last winter.

The Braves have thus far chosen to essentially stay on the same path that led them to game’s fourth-best record through this past August. An epic September collapse prevented the club from reaching the playoffs for a second straight year but also gave general manager Frank Wren some motivation entering this offseason.

But instead of trading Julio Teheran or any of his other highly regarded pitching prospects, Wren has remained patient in his attempt to upgrade his lineup with a power-hitting outfielder. There is a chance he could still cross this item off his wish list by trading Jair Jurrjens or Martin Prado.

Yet as of Jan. 1, the Braves still had not received the kind of offer they had hoped for in exchange for Jurrjens or Prado. Wren’s only significant move this offseason was to create $5 million of payroll flexibility by trading Derek Lowe and a portion of his burdensome contract.

“We have a good club,” Wren said.  “I keep going back, and I’ll stand by this, on Aug. 26, we had the fourth-best record in all of baseball. Our team didn’t get bad in 30 days. Our team went through a bad streak in 30 days. We have a good team.”

Baseball, Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies...

The Phillies also believe they can build on their 2011 success by staying active in the marketplace.  The defending NL East champs signed closer Jonathan Papelbon away from the Red Sox to account for Ryan Madson’s departure via free agency. In addition, Philadelphia signed Ty Wigginton and Jim Thome to strengthen its bench and compensate for the absence of Ryan Howard, who will likely miss at least all of April recovering from a ruptured left Achilles’ tendon.

When Howard returns, he’ll be reunited with Rollins, his longtime teammate who tested the free-agent market before re-signing with the Phillies in December. They’ll once again be part of a strong lineup assigned to support Halladay, Lee and Hamels.

“I like our club a lot,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “I think we’re one of the best clubs in the National League. And that’s our job, to make sure we’re contenders every year. And I think with the club we have now, barring injury, we’ll be there.”

Though Roy Oswalt is poised to depart the heralded Philadelphia rotation via free agency this winter, the Phillies still seem to be the favorites to win the NL East. However, they certainly do not appear to be the overwhelming favorites they were at this point last year.

“Everybody is getting better in that division,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “The Phillies are the Phillies. The Marlins are getting better. Washington is getting … dangerous. They’re getting close. They’ve got some good players. Your expectations are we should be in the playoffs. It’s a tough division.”

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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