Phillies Notes: Burnett, Amaro, Tomas, Kendrick

Following a tough start on Tuesday night, A.J. Burnett sounded as if retirement was on his mind when asked by reporters if he planned to pitch in 2015.   “I have no idea.  Probably not, but we’ll see,” Burnett told the media, including Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer.  As Narducci notes, Burnett’s comments could be stemming from frustration given how both he and the Phillies have struggled this season, so it’s too early to assume Burnett is hanging up his glove.  Narducci also cites Burnett’s competitive nature and his increasingly pricey player option for 2015 as reasons why the veteran righty won’t want to end his career quite yet.

Here’s some more from the City of Brotherly Love…

  • In a radio interview with Mike Missanelli of 97.5FM radio yesterday, ESPN’s Jayson Stark said he wasn’t surprised that team president David Montgomery recently gave GM Ruben Amaro a vote of confidence but Stark feels no decision has been made about Amaro’s future yet.  The Phillies’ other owners could get involved, and the anti-Amaro sentiment amongst the team’s fans could also play a role.  “They are certainly going to make changes in the organization.  There’s a lot of rumors swirling about all sorts of stuff below Ruben,” Stark said.  With just one left year on Amaro’s contract, if the Phillies decide to keep him, Stark wonders if the GM could actually receive an extension in order to avoid lame-duck status.  (Hat tip to Peter Mucha of Philly.com for the partial transcript of Stark’s interview.)
  • “There are indications” the Phillies will make a strong play for Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury reports.  Tomas is expected to become eligible to sign this offseason, and the recently-defected outfielder is considered to be an intriguing power prospect.
  • Burnett retiring would only make the Phillies’ offseason need for starting pitching all the more dire, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.  The Phillies could have as many as three rotation spots to fill given Cliff Lee‘s injury issues, Burnett’s uncertain status and pending free agency for Kyle Kendrick and Jerome Williams.  Lawrence predicts the Phils will target mid-tier starters this winter given how much payroll space is already tied up by Lee and Cole Hamels.
  • Speaking of Kendrick, the right-hander recently discussed his free agency in general terms with reporters, including MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki.  Kendrick isn’t sure if he’ll remain in Philadelphia, saying “I want to go where whoever wants me. That’s where I want to go. If it’s here, great. If they want me. You want to go somewhere where you’re wanted. We’ll see. I don’t know.”
  • Ken Giles looks like a closer of the future for the Phillies, and ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) suggests that that the team could take the bold step of installing Giles as the closer right now.  The switch could also prevent Jonathan Papelbon from reaching his $13MM vesting option for 2016, which would help increase Papelbon’s trade value.  Olney notes that Papelbon could easily file a grievance over the situation, though I’d argue that given Papelbon’s past comments about wanting to play for a contender, he might begrudgingly go along with the move if it helps get him out of Philadelphia.


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38 Comments on "Phillies Notes: Burnett, Amaro, Tomas, Kendrick"


NotCanon
1 year 10 days ago

Papelbon could file a grievance, but are we sure he’d win that? His comments, the fact that this season’s a lost cause, plus knowing that 2016 (the option year) is really the only year the team has even a chance to be legitimate contenders (barring major horse-trading this off-season) would all seem to indicate that giving Giles a shot in the 9th-inning role this season is a good move.

As an added bonus to both team and player, it would help showcase Papelbon’s talents a bit more, since the Phillies don’t end up in save situations all that often. That, in turn, would make his trade to a legitimate contender either this month or in the off-season more likely by virtue of raising his value.

KJ4realz
1 year 10 days ago

If he was struggling this year, I’d say he has no chance at winning.

Be it that he’s having a great season he could make a case.

It’d be tricky though because the Phillies would be doing it for many reasons which would include not allowing his option to vest. Others would obviously be the club is not contending and all other clubs try and have their potential young replacements get work so that’s what the Phillies would be mainly doing.

NotCanon
1 year 10 days ago

It also doesn’t hurt their case that, as great as Papelbon has been, Giles has actually been better.

1 year 10 days ago

He’s having an elite year. I don’t see how taking him out of the closer role showcases his talents more. The grievance would argue that the move would be monetary and there’s a good case for that. Papelbon isn’t the reason they’re losing games. A switch doesn’t really help the team.

NotCanon
1 year 10 days ago

It showcases his talents more because it lets him throw more innings, thus proving that he’s not just having a fluke season. He’s got 30 saves with 52.1 IP. Ken Giles, who’s only been up since 6/12, has already thrown 29.1. Your 8th-inning pitcher will always throw more innings than your closer because you go to him even in close-but-down situations (which the Phillies find themselves in fairly frequently) instead of merely save situations (which the Phillies don’t find themselves in very frequently).

I agree that Papelbon isn’t the reason they’re losing games, and that a switch doesn’t help the team this year, but the argument is that it also doesn’t hurt the team this year, and it lets them find out if Giles is able to be a closer in the future (such as, in the event of a trade of either player, or if Papelbon’s option doesn’t vest, or even just thinking about 2017).

NotCanon
1 year 10 days ago

Also, while Papelbon’s been great this year, Giles has actually been better. Hence they could argue that they’re just going with the best reliever at closer.

Papelbon’s got an argument, but I don’t think it’s anywhere near a given that he wins if he files a grievance.

1 year 10 days ago

We know that Papelbon is a good pitcher though. Having him throw more innings doesn’t really change anything.

What it would do is cause a clubhouse mess, making a team less likely to want to trade for a guy who’s creating a nuisance.

NotCanon
1 year 10 days ago

Eh. Papelbon’s already been a nuisance in the media, saying dumb stuff only as often as he opens his mouth. His in-house reputation is better (at least among the rest of the BP), and – unless he thinks he can win his grievance – he really has nothing to gain by getting more vocal about things.

Also, we know he’s a good pitcher, but he’s doing better this year than he has since 2006 despite a reduction in velocity and K rate (BB rate is roughly in line with career avg), and by a pretty wide margin. If a team thinks that’s replicable, they may be more willing to take on his salary (possibly guaranteeing his option) if they think they’re getting a 200-250 ERA+ guy rather than a 125-175.

1 year 10 days ago

It’s not really about gaining anything. He’d be angry and rightfully so. He’s a top ten closer right now. You don’t remove him unless you’re trading him.

There’s also the fact that he’d be sitting in the bullpen brooding for the whole game with Giles, which could be disastrous. Baseball is a mental game.

NotCanon
1 year 10 days ago

There’s some argument to be made there, but I think it’s probably overblown. I wouldn’t think that they flat-out say “Giles is closer now,” but they could put him in maybe every third save situation “just to toss him in the fire and see how he does.” Especially if they give Papelbon a few end-of-game appearances in non-save situations (since that helps his option).

Mike1L
1 year 10 days ago

I really think Papelbon would win that type of grievance. He was hired as a closer, he’s performing at a high level, and the switch would appear to be financially motivated. This would be comparable to sitting or platooning a hitter with a vesting option with a .300/.400/.500 slash line

NotCanon
1 year 10 days ago

No, he’d still be pitching, he just wouldn’t be closing. He’d probably even be pitching more innings, and potentially finishing more games (which is what his option is based on).

It’s more like taking your .900 OPS slugger and moving him from 4th in the lineup to 3rd, when he has a vesting option based on RBI. In theory it should lead to fewer RBI, since statistically he probably won’t come to the plate with as many runners on… But that could be cancelled out by being (slightly) more likely to get an extra PA every game, and being guaranteed to hit in the first.

Phillyfan425
1 year 10 days ago

His vesting option is tied to games finished. He’s still performing well above average. No matter how much of a nuisance he is, the MLBPA would still probably back him on this – because it could set a precedent that you can sit players who have vesting options just because you don’t want to pay them the vesting option you agreed to.

NotCanon
1 year 10 days ago

The MLBPA would back him regardless, that’s their job, it’s just a matter of whether he’d actually win the suit. If finance is ruled to be the only reasonable motivator in this instance then yes, he’d win. However, as indicated, there are a number of (potentially) mitigating factors – not the least of which is that Giles has actually been better by conventional and advanced metrics (in an admittedly small sample size).

The fact that his option is tied to games finished, rather than saves, actually makes the move less of an issue vis-a-vis vesting, since they need a reliever in the 9th more often than they have a save situation in the 9th.

Phillyfan425
1 year 10 days ago

Sorry. What I meant was that the MLBPA will put a lot of force behind backing him. Like I said – it’s not about Pap, specifically. It’s about setting the precedent that a team can just “sit” a guy because they don’t want his option to vest – no matter his performance. The reason it’s games finished and not saves is because (I’m almost positive) the MLBPA got vesting options out of the based on performance stats (W, SV, K for pitchers).
And as far as Giles goes, he’s been better (barely and in a SSS), but what happens if he starts to struggle (or god forbid, gets hurt). Do they then pass over Pap? If their “justification” is that it is a results oriented decision, you are living on a tightrope.

Bob
1 year 10 days ago

Papelbon would light clubhouse on fire. However I dont think he would win a grievance because the argument for Giles is legitimant.

FromDuke2Joc
1 year 10 days ago

More K’s, less BB’s, lower ERA, better GB%, and more MPH on his heater. Giles would seem like the better option at closer to me. That’s without mentioning that nasty Slider, which is his best pitch in the few games I’ve seen him in.

davengmusic
1 year 10 days ago

I like that Jerome Williams is a future rotation uncertainty here. He’s more of a current rotation uncertainty, everywhere, all the time.

Pei Kang
1 year 10 days ago

I always felt J Williams was a decent enough average MLB pitcher, surprised he didn’t latch on sooner with a big league club, considering all the injuries suffered by almost every team…

Ron Loreski
1 year 10 days ago

Once AJ Pierzynski finally retires, Pappelbon will finally have the top spot on my list of least favorite players. I find it impossible to root for him anymore.

indybucfan
1 year 10 days ago

Okay A.J. Favre!

Paulie Corleone
1 year 10 days ago

Sorry AJ, I don’t feel bad for you. You chased the extra dollar signs to be on a basement ball club. Trust me Phils fans, he’s not going to leave a dollar on the table. He’ll be back next year.

stl_cards16
1 year 10 days ago

Let Giles stay in the 8th inning. It will keep his arbitration prices down for when the Phillies are ready to contend.

First Bleed
1 year 10 days ago

Agree. I think people tend to forget that RP gets loads of money in arbitration if they have Saves – regardless of other performances. Unless Philly pulls a ‘Sean Doolittle’ and extend him before he is a Closer – then make him the Closer after to save money.

evanwins
1 year 10 days ago

Your argument doesn’t make sense. Would they pay more than Papelbon is owed?

rct
1 year 10 days ago

If he were successful as a closer, Giles would have three Arb years plus then could command a high FA salary. Closers make a lot more in arbitration than middle relievers.

Papelbon needs 60 more games finished to vest his option (or 55 in 2015), which is about what he averages for his career. One or two DL stints could prevent him from getting there. Ideally, the Phillies would start next season with Giles as the closer and then reinstall Papelbon in like June, but neither Papelbon nor the MLBPA would allow that. It’s basically a roll of the dice either way: keep Papelbon as closer and he probably vests or install Giles and probably pay more money later.

wkkortas
1 year 10 days ago

Hamlet was more decisive than A.J.

vtadave
1 year 10 days ago

Pretty sure Papelbon will wind up on the Dodgers. They don’t want to deal top prospects, so they’ll claim him and deal a PTBNL and take on the cash.

NotCanon
1 year 10 days ago

Claim him? He’s already passed through waivers, so that’s not really possible anymore.

vtadave
1 year 10 days ago

Ooops….

Jaysfan1994
1 year 10 days ago

Perfectly reasonable expectation except that other GM’s know that RAJ’s demands are outrageous which is why nobody put a claim on one of the game’s most dominate closers.

youngcy
1 year 10 days ago

Tomas is going to be better, than Castillo. There was a reason the Cuban National team dropped Castillo, and had Tomas starting in the WBC.
Kid is like a young Despaigne.

brian310
1 year 10 days ago

I want the White Sox to go after him and the Japanese pitcher Maeda

Rally Weimaraner
1 year 10 days ago

Ortiz will demand a new contract and Burnett will hint at retirement for at least a couple more seasons.

Jaysfan1994
1 year 10 days ago

The Marlins will also deny their intentions of trading Giancarlo Stanton.

vtadave
1 year 10 days ago

These message boards would crash if Ruben received an extension.

flyerzfan12
flyerzfan12
1 year 10 days ago

I’d much prefer Tomas to Castillo especially when considering the age of the 2 players. Not that Castillo is that old (especially by Phillies standards), but again presuming it takes at least a couple of years to turn this thing around and that’s being optimistic, Castillo would already be 30. Tomas is definitely the better fit in my eyes, so naturally the Phils will grab Castillo.

Sampsonite168
1 year 10 days ago

Strange to go to Burnett’s BR page and see that, for a pitcher that’s been around as long as he has been and has the numbers he has put up, does not have a single accolade in the Awards section.