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.

 

MLB’s #1 Ranked Prospects Of 2012

Number 1 Ranked Prospects by Position

Carolina League

CATCHER- Toronto Blue Jays
Travis d’Arnaud Rank: 1 Status: Disabled 7-Day ETA: 2013 Position: C Age: 23, DOB: 02/10/1989 Bats: R, Throws: R Height: 6′ 2″, Weight: 195 Drafted: 2007, 1st (37)

When Toronto traded Roy Halladay to Philadelphia, d’Arnaud may not have been the top prospect in the deal, but he might end up being the best. He has terrific all-around skills that surpass those of current young big league catcher J.P. Arencibia. He started truly fulfilling his offensive potential in 2011, showing the ability to hit for both average and power. Behind the plate, d’Arnaud is agile and athletic, and he has plenty of arm to help control the running game. A torn thumb ligament suffered while playing for Team USA isn’t an issue, and he started the Triple-A season on schedule, but he’ll miss a large chunk of the season after a torn ligament in his left knee landed him on the disabled list in late June.

1ST BASE- Chicago Cubs (Currently with club)
Anthony Rizzo Rank: 1 ETA: 2012 Position: 1B Age: 22, DOB: 08/08/1989 Bats: L, Throws: L Height: 6′ 3″, Weight: 220 Drafted: 2007, 6th (204)
Rizzo’s big league debut in 2011 may not have gone very well, but that didn’t mean his left-handed bat wasn’t still in high demand. Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer, who helped draft Rizzo in Boston and then traded for him while the GM in San Diego, acquired him in Chicago during the offseason. A solid defender at first, it’s Rizzo’s power bat (51 homers and 200-plus RBIs over the past two seasons in the Minors) that is his calling card. Look for him to make some adjustments and hit the big leagues in 2012. He started the year in Triple-A and was called up on June 26.
2ND BASE- San Diego Padres
Cory Spangenberg Rank: 1 Status: Disabled 7-Day ETA: 2013 Position: 2B Age: 21, DOB: 03/16/1991 Bats: L, Throws: R Height: 6′ 0″, Weight: 185 Drafted: 2011, 1st (10)
Spangenberg became a great example of the benefits of signing early, getting out and racking up 330 plate appearances while many of his fellow first-rounders were sitting around and waiting to sign. He also showed reports of his ability to hit were spot on, as he put up impressive numbers in average and on-base percentage. He also has plus speed that will allow him to continue to steal bases. He’s already made the move to second base full time and should be just fine there. He’s on the fast track already and to see him in Double-A at some point in 2012 seems very reasonable. Spangenberg was placed on the disabled list on June 22 with concussion-like symptoms, after being hit on the side of the head.
3RD BASE- Colorado Rockies
Nolan Arenado Rank: 1 Tulsa Drillers (AA) ETA: 2013Position: 3B Age: 21, DOB: 04/16/1991 Bats: R, Throws: R Height: 6′ 1″, Weight: 205 Drafted: 2009, 2nd (59)
Some players get knocked unfairly because of their surroundings. It’s not Arenado’s fault he played in the hitting-friendly California League and then the equally cozy Arizona Fall League in 2011. He deserves credit for raking in both places. He led the Minors in RBIs with 122 and struck out just 53 times all season. Arenado won the AFL MVP award, finishing among the leaders in a host of offensive categories. He should hit for average and will be a run-producer even if he doesn’t hit a ton of homers. There was concern about his defense at third, but he’s worked to improve and those worries are gone. It might not be too long before Arenado is spotted in Coors Field.
SHORTSTOP- Baltimore Orioles
Manny Machado Rank: 1 Bowie Baysox (AA) ETA: 2013 Position: SS Age: 20, DOB: 07/06/1992 Bats: R, Throws: R Height: 6′ 3″, Weight: 185 Drafted: 2010, 1st (3)
Machado was the first high school player taken in the 2010 Draft, and for good reason. Although his first full season had its ups and downs, including dealing with a knee injury that forced him out of action for a month, he did get promoted and went to the Futures Game. Machado is right where he should be defensively, playing solid shortstop despite his size. The time away from the field did show in his hitting a bit once he was up in the Carolina League, as he needs to improve his approach at the plate. That will come in time and Machado should hit for average and some power.
OUTFIELD- Kansas City Royals
Bubba Starling Rank: 1 Burlington Royals (R) ETA: 2015 Position: OF Age: 19, DOB: 08/03/1992 Bats: R, Throws: R Height: 6′ 4″, Weight: 180 Drafted: 2011, 1st (5)
As top athletes go, there are few in baseball better than Starling. Kansas City signed him away from a scholarship to quarterback at the University of Nebraska and Starling has all five tools in his toolbox. He has plus speed that should allow him to both steal bases and play an outstanding center field. His strong throwing arm is a plus defensively as well. He has excellent raw power and has shown enough pure hitting skills where there’s confidence he’ll tap into that power consistently and hit for average as well. It might take him a little time to put it all together, but the payoff could be huge.
LH Pitcher- New York Yankees
Manny Banuelos Rank: 1 Status: Disabled 7-Day ETA: 2012Position: LHP Age: 21, DOB: 03/13/1991 Bats: L, Throws: L Height: 5′ 11″, Weight: 200 Signed: March 30, 2008
The stuff is definitely there for Banuelos to be successful at the Major League level. All he has to do is learn how to harness it more consistently. He has three pitches that can be above-average or better with his fastball, curve and changeup. He’s struck out 9.2 batters per nine innings throughout his Minor League career and his pure stuff has gotten better in recent years, so that should continue. His command is what’s holding him back. He walked nearly five batters every nine innings in 2011 and often didn’t command his fastball well within the strike zone. He’s shown the ability to do it and once he finds consistency, he could be ready to help out full time.
RH Pitcher- Atlanta Braves
Julio Teheran Rank: 1 Gwinnett Braves (AAA) ETA: 2012 Position: RHP Age: 21, DOB: 01/27/1991 Bats: R, Throws: R Height: 6′ 2″, Weight: 175 Signed: July 2, 2007
Teheran was at the lowest full-season rung, the South Atlantic League, at the beginning of 2010. He made his Major League debut a year later in May, and spent more time in Atlanta in September 2011. In between callups, Teheran was dominant in Triple-A, using outstanding stuff and mound presence to excel. He has three above-average-or-better offerings with his fastball, curve and changeup, and commands them all well. He’ll be just 21 for all of the 2012 season and should continue to add strength to his frame. The Braves have a ton of good young pitching, and Teheran has a chance to lead them all. He made a spot start for the Braves in early June.

Arizona Fall League

Lidge Setting Up Shop In DC For The Nats

Nats bring Lidge on board with one-year deal

 By Bill Ladson / MLB.com

WASHINGTON — The Nationals agreed to terms with reliever Brad Lidge on a one-year contract Thursday.

Brad Lidge

Brad Lidge by afagen

Lidge will join a bullpen that includes right-handers Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. Besides providing leadership to a bunch of young relievers, Lidge will probably be one of the team’s setup men.

Lidge has spent the past four seasons with the Phillies. Last year, Lidge spent time on the disabled list because of shoulder problems. When he returned to action, Lidge appeared in 25 games and had a 1.40 ERA.

As recently as 2008, Lidge was one of the best closers in baseball, helping the Phillies win their first World Series title since 1980.

Tyler Clippard

Tyler Clippard

 

Lidge started his Major League career with the Astros in 2002. He has saved 223 games with an 3.44 ERA during his career, and his best season was in ’08, when he saved 41 games and had a 1.95 ERA.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Drew Storen

Drew Storen