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Maikel Franco Rumors
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. offered a frank assessment of his team’s offense to reporters, including CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury: “I didn’t anticipate our guys being this poor. Because they are. They are this poor. We think that they’re better. But they haven’t shown it. So at some point we’re going to have to make some changes.”
More from Salisbury’s piece, and some other Phillies-related notes…
- Amaro listed Darin Ruf, Grady Sizemore and Freddy Galvis as possible players who could be recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, and he wouldn’t rule out top prospect Maikel Franco either. When referring to Franco, he noted that Franco can also play first base, indicating perhaps that the struggling Ryan Howard could see his playing time diminish.
- Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reminds that last season, one of the reasons Amaro gave for not wanting to shop Jonathan Papelbon was a lack of a clear replacement. That excuse is no longer valid, Gelb writes, due to the emergence of Ken Giles. The 23-year-old Giles has dominated Major League hitters in his first 11 2/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits and three walks with 17 strikeouts. Papelbon, who is pitching as well as he ever has in a Phillies uniform, could be moved if the Phils kick in $13MM to cover his potential vesting option, Gelb opines.
- ESPN’s Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required) feels that the Orioles are the most logical landing place for A.J. Burnett in a trade. Bowden writes that while Pittsburgh and Cleveland make some sense, both are long shots. He also speculates on what it would cost each team to acquire Burnett.
- Cliff Lee is now slated to return after the All-Star break because one of his rehab outings was delayed by rain, according to a report from ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Stark has previously reported that rival clubs expect the Phillies to aggressively shop Lee upon his return, though with a July 19 return target, he’d only have roughly three starts to impress.
Just five games stand between the first-place Braves and the last-place Phillies in the current NL East standings. Here’s the latest out of baseball’s tightest division…
- The Braves announced that they have called up second base prospect Tommy La Stella, though no corresponding move has been announced. However, a source has indicated to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman that Dan Uggla is remaining with the team rather than being released or designated for assignment to create room for La Stella. The 25-year-old La Stella hit .293/.384/.359 in 198 Triple-A plate appearances this season and ranked as Atlanta’s No. 7 prospect per MLB.com and No. 9 prospect per Baseball America.
- There’s no telling how long Phillies ace Cliff Lee will be sidelined until he’s reevaluated today, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tells Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. “It could be up to a month, it could be a month and a half, it could be three weeks,” said Amaro. “I have no idea when the guy is going to be ready to pitch … I have no timetable until he’s up and throwing again.”
- Amaro also tells Lawrence that top third base prospect Maikel Franco was considered as an option when Cody Asche was injured, but ultimately, Franco simply isn’t ready for the Majors yet. “Offensively, he’s made some adjustments, he’s made some improvements better than in the earlier part of the season, but he’s not really going on all cylinders now. We’re still contemplating it. We’ll see how it goes.”
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes that Mets GM Sandy Alderson thought he’d be working with a bigger payroll when he took the job, though Alderson would never admit to that himself. Martino adds that the mood around the Mets is tense these days, due to speculation about Terry Collins’ job security (which he says is not justified) and the post-firing comments from hitting coach Dave Hudgens.
Josh Beckett, who has undergone surgeries for thoracic outlet syndrome and a torn meniscus in his left knee within the past 10 months, tossed his first career no-hitter and MLB’s first of the season as he and the Dodgers shutout the Phillies 6-0. Beckett struck out Chase Utley looking on his career-high 128th pitch for the 24th no-hitter in Dodgers’ history and the first for the franchise since Hideo Nomo 18 years ago. This is also the first time the Phillies have been no-hit since the Cardinals’ Bob Forsch turned the trick in 1978 and the first time they have been held hitless in Philadelphia since the Montreal Expos’ Bill Stoneman did so at Connie Mack Stadium in 1969. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki noted on Twitter the Phillies have now been shutout five times in their last ten home games and six times in their last 18 games overall.
In other news and notes involving the Phillies and baseball’s East divisions:
- Could offensive help be on the way for the Phillies in the form of top prospect third baseman Maikel Franco? GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters, including Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, it is a possibility. “We’ll see whether it’s the right thing for us and the right thing for him,” said Amaro. “We’ll kick it around.” Franco, ranked as the game’s 17th best prospect by Baseball America and 23rd by MLB.com, is hitting .301 in May with an OPS of .871.
- In the wake of Prince Fielder‘s season-ending neck injury, the Rangers have inquired about Nationals first baseman Tyler Moore, a baseball source tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. The source indicated to Ladson nothing is serious and Moore is one of many first baseman in which the Rangers have an interest.
- Johan Santana has a June 1 opt-out in his minor league deal with the Orioles, but Executive Vice President Dan Duquette says that date is not a concern, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. “That’s open for discussion,” Duquette said. “It’s a fluid situation.” Santana remains in extended Spring Training and has not pitched more than four innings in an outing, but Duquette says the 35-year-old left-hander “is making good progress, he is throwing his pitches.“
In his latest notes column, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports quotes one rival executive that said Cardinals GM John Mozeliak “realizes he has more talent than anyone else — and he’s reluctant to get rid of it.” (That reluctance is illustrated by Mozeliak’s comments to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as the GM told him that external changes aren’t much of a consideration at this time.) Rosenthal looks at some of the recent improvements in the Cardinals’ offense and echoes Goold’s initial report that patience seems the likely route for St. Louis at this point.
More trade-, draft- and prospect-related highlights from a lengthy piece that also looks at slow starts in the AL East and a surprising start from the Twins…
- The Yankees have better pitching depth than many realize, Rosenthal opines, noting that Adam Warren could be moved into the rotation when Shawn Kelley is healthy again. He also points to a quartet of hard-throwing relievers at Triple-A — Diego Moreno, Jose Ramirez, Danny Burawa and Branden Pinder. A trade is still something the Yanks will likely explore, but despite the aforementioned depth, the team likely doesn’t have the firepower to land someone like Cliff Lee, in Rosenthal’s eyes. They have little more to offer than relief help and high-end catching talent and could be competing with at least two other AL East teams in the Orioles and Blue Jays.
- David Phelps wasn’t the Yankees‘ priority when scouting director Damon Oppenheimer went to see Notre Dame play prior to the 2008 draft. Oppenheimer was scouting Phelps’ teammate Kyle Weiland, but Phelps impressed him with his competitiveness, prompting Oppenheimer to push for him in the 14th round, which looks to be a nice bargain pickup six years later.
- The Phillies are having internal discussions about moving Cody Asche to the outfield in 2015 in order to clear room on the 25-man roster for top prospect Maikel Franco at third base. Though Rosenthal doesn’t mention this, that does raise the question of what will become of Domonic Brown, the team’s left fielder who is once again struggling after what looked to be a breakout 2013 season.
- Rosenthal hears that NC State shortstop Trea Turner is drawing interest from teams in the No. 6-10 range of the upcoming draft. The fleet-footed shortstop also has pop in his bat (he’s second in the ACC in homers), but some scouts wonder if he can stick at shortstop. Rosenthal points out that both the Mariners (No. 6) and the Mets (No. 10) have needs at shortstop heading into a draft that is light on college shortstops.
- Analysts from the Pirates and Marlins made the same comment to Rosenthal in the past week: the most useful data regarding defensive shifts comes from where hitters put the ball in play against a team’s own pitchers. The Marlins aren’t particularly focused where batters hit the ball against soft-tossers, due to the flamethrowing nature of their rotation. Likewise, the Pirates’ shifts are based largely on batted ball data against Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton.