Philadelphia Phillies Rumors

Injury Notes: Anderson, Moore, Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox

Needless to say, the season has gotten of to a rough start in terms of injury news. Offering some hope, perhaps, Baseball America's J.J. Cooper writes (answering a reader question) that two-time Tommy John patients have a better track record of recovery than is perhaps commonly thought. Here's the latest on a few situations around the league that have (or could have had) hot stove implications:

  • Rockies starter Brett Anderson is expected to be out for a lengthy stretch with a broken index finger, as he will need four to six weeks to recover before rehabbing, according to Thomas Harding of (via Twitter). The 26-year-old, who has had more than his share of injury troubles in recent campaigns, will undergo surgery to have pins inserted in the finger, according to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (via Twitter). Anderson was a major offseason acquisition for the Rockies, coming over in exchange for one-time top prospect Drew Pomeranz, who has been working out of the pen for the Athletics this year. Fortunately for Colorado, the team appears to have enough in-house options to cover in the meantime.
  • Rays starter Matt Moore played catch today as he and the team assess whether the young lefty can avoid Tommy John surgery, according to a report from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times"Actually [trainer Ron Porterfield] said he threw okay," said manager Joe Maddon, "but I'm waiting to hear back from him what the final analysis is. Nothing yet. [Porterfield] said he turned it loose a little bit too, so we'll see. That was probably a good test for him. The word pain was not used. [Porterfield] told me he actually threw the ball pretty good."
  • For the Phillies, starter A.J. Burnett intends to pitch through a hernia, and the team will finally welcome back reliever Mike Adams from the DL in the coming days, Jim Salisbury of reports. Adams was a major free agent addition last year, but threw only 25 innings of 3.96 ERA ball last year before going down to a labrum and rotator cuff tear. Adams' contract contains a $6MM club option for 2015 that would vest if he throws 60 innings this year, but that provision will be voided if he is not available on Opening Day next year because of the shoulder issues (since they arose before the end of the 2014 season).
  • With the Yankees dealing with multiple injuries and uncertainty in the infield, the obvious question is whether the team will revisit the possibility of signing Stephen Drew. John Harper of the New York Daily News argues that the team should do just that, noting that Drew can upgrade up the middle this year while providing value in any future years he signs on for. But Wallace Mathews of reports cites a source who says that there is "no way" the team will sign Drew or fellow free agent Kendrys Morales.
  • Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia got good news today, as he learned that his left wrist issues do not appear to be serious, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reported on Twitter. As fellow Herald reporter Scott Lauber reported later this afternoon, an MRI showed no structural damage that would warrant concern. The team has confirmed the reports while adding that closer Koji Uehara has no structural damage in his shoulder, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal tweets.

Phillies Outright Brad Lincoln

The Phillies have announced that they've outrighted pitcher Brad Lincoln. The move clears space on the Phillies' active roster for Jonathan Pettibone.

Lincoln, 28, has a career 4.74 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 222 1/3 innings in the big leagues. He came up as a starter with the Pirates, then briefly established himself as a reliever in Pittsburgh before heading to Toronto for Travis Snider. The Blue Jays shipped him to Philadelphia in December for catcher Erik Kratz and minor-leaguer Rob Rasmussen. Lincoln pitched just two outings for the Phillies, allowing three runs in a two-inning stint against the Brewers April 8.

Rangers Return Rule 5 Pick Seth Rosin To Phillies

Rule 5 Draft pick Seth Rosin has cleared waivers after being designated for assignment by the Rangers and been returned to the Phillies, both teams announced. Rosin will report to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Rosin, 25, was selected by the Mets with the 10th pick in the Rule 5 Draft last December and promptly traded to the Dodgers for cash considerations. The Rangers then claimed the right-hander off waivers from the Dodgers before designating him for assignment in order to clear a roster spot for Kevin Kouzmanoff (a move that was likely necessitated by a relatively minor injury to Adrian Beltre).

The former fourth-round pick has a 4.00 career ERA in the minor leagues to go along with solid ratios of 8.3 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. Prior to his selection in the Rule 5 Draft, Rosin had never appeared in a game above the Double-A level.

Joel Hanrahan To Work Out For Teams Next Week

Free agent closer Joel Hanrahan will host a showcase for teams next week, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). In a second tweet, Crasnick lists the Mets, Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Rockies, Royals, Athletics, Red Sox and Rays as teams that are believed to have interest in Hanrahan. He adds that somewhat curiously, he hasn't heard much buzz on the Tigers or Phillies being interested, though that could always change.

The 32-year-old Hanrahan underwent Tommy John surgery and also had his flexor tendon repaired and bone chips in his elbow removed on May 16 of last season. He opened the year as Boston's closer after being acquired in an offseason trade that sent Mark Melancon to the Pirates, but he allowed eight runs on 10 hits (four homers) and six walks with just five strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings for the Red Sox before landing on the disabled list.

Prior to that season, Hanrahan had averaged 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings over a five-year stretch between the Nationals and Pirates. The Bucs acquired Hanrahan and Lastings Milledge from the Nats in a deal that sent Sean Burnett and Nyjer Morgan to Washington, and Hanrahan blossomed into a two-time All-Star closer with Pittsburgh. Always one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the game, Hanrahan's 96.5 mph average fastball from his 2011-13 peak ranked seventh in the game among qualified relievers.

Minor Moves: Ciriaco, Mazzaro, Bixler, Accardo

The day's minor moves:

  • The Royals have assigned infielder Pedro Ciriaco to Triple-A after he cleared outright waivers, tweets Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Ciriaco, 28, will have to wait in the minors for another big league opportunity to open with Kansas City's middle infield. The club just called up Johnny Giavotella to fill in for injured second baseman Omar Infante, who is expected to return to action soon without a DL trip.
  • Pirates reliever Vin Mazzaro has accepted an outright assignment from the team to Triple-A, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune (via Twitter). That is a good result for a Pittsburgh club that had expected to lose the 27-year-old righty, who was an effective piece for them last year.
  • Utility man Brian Bixler has been released by the Phillies, according to the International League transactions page. Bixler, 31, had been playing with the Phils' Triple-A affiliate. He last appeared in the bigs in 2012 with the Astros.
  • The independent ball Atlantic League has made two notable additions today, according to Chris Cotillo of (Twitter links). Right-hander Jeremy Accardo, an eight-year MLB veteran, has inked with the Long Island Ducks. And shortly after being released by the Red Sox, 29-year-old outfielder Scott Cousins has joined the Camden Riversharks.
  • The Dodgers have outrighted Mike Baxter, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to Triple-A, according to the PCL transactions page. The outfielder was designated for assignment to create 40-man space for another DFA'd player in Colt Hynes. Baxter, 29, struggled at the MLB level last year, but had a strong 2012 campaign (.263/.365/.413 in 211 plate appearances).
  • With this move, only four players are left in DFA limbo: Seth Rosin (Rangers, Rule 5), Pedro Ciriaco (Royals), Hector Noesi (Mariners), and Jeremy Jeffress (Blue Jays). As always, you can track DFA situations past and present using MLBTR's DFA Tracker.

Minor Moves: Rapada, Gimenez, Cabrera, Taylor

We'll keep track of the day's minor moves here:

  • The Mariners have signed lefty Clay Rapada and added him to the roster at Triple-A Tacoma, according to Rainiers announce Mike Curto (on Twitter). Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune first reported (via Twitter) that Rapada was working out for the team. The left-hander has a 4.06 ERA in 94 big league innings but has never been able to hold down a consistent big league job despite dominant numbers against left-handed hitters; Rapada has held lefties to a minuscule .164/.255/.231 batting line in his career. However, righties have roughed him up at a .345/.464/.611 clip.
  • Catcher Chris Gimenez has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Round Rock, according to the Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant (Twitter link). Gimenez, who has been outrighted previously, has 72 hours to accept or reject the assignment. He was claimed off waivers by the Rangers last week but quickly designated for assignment when the club promoted Daniel McCutchen to the Majors.
  • The Cubs have outrighted reliever Alberto Cabrera to Triple-A after he cleared waivers, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). The 25-year-old righty was designated on Saturday. 
  • Outfielder Michael Taylor has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A, tweets Chris Cotillo of The 28-year-old will take up residence in Sacramento for the fifth straight year since joining the Oakland organization.
  • Brian Bogusevic has accepted an outright assignment from the Marlins, reports Cotillo (via Twitter). Bogusevic, a 30-year-old outfielder who was acquired over the offseason for Justin Ruggiano, could have elected free agency since he has previously been outrighted.
  • The Red Sox have released outfielder Scott Cousins, Cotillo also tweets. Cousins, 29, has seen bit action in parts of four MLB seasons. The news was first reported yesterday by Mike Andrews of SoxProspects (via Twitter). According to Andrews, longtime minor leaguer Juan Carlos Linares was also among the players cut loose from the Boston system.
  • Pitcher Armando Galarraga is working on securing a visa after receiving an offer from the Taiwanese club Brother Elephants, his agent tells Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Cotillo tweeted earlier this morning that the former big leaguer was close to a deal to move to Taiwan. In 542 career MLB innings, Galarraga has a 4.78 ERA  with 5.7 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9.
  • Outfielder Dave Sappelt has been released by the Phillies, tweets Cotillo. Sappelt himself said on Twitter that he appreciates the club carrying him while undergoing offseason surgery. The 27-year-old has seen limited action in three big league seasons.
  • The Astros have outrighted reliever Raul Valdes to Triple-A, according to the PCL transactions page. Though he lacks an extensive MLB track record at age 36, Valdes still has an intriguing recent stat line and looks to be a good bet to see time in Houston at some point. His ERA was a ghastly 7.46 last year, but he put up 9.5 K/9 (against just 2.1 BB/9), good for a 3.10 SIERA. Valdes posted numbers more line with those peripherals in 2012 and even during limited action this spring.
  • Likewise, Hiroyuki Nakajima has been outrighted to the top affiliate of the Athletics, also via the PCL transactions page. The move is not surprising, given that Nakajima had only been added to the 40-man in the first place to fill it up to allow for the team to designate Taylor for assignment, according to a report from John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group (via Twitter).

Steve Adams contributed to this post.

Offseason In Review: Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies brought in more veterans to supplement an already-aging core, and it is fair to wonder if the club is chasing good money after bad.

Major League Signings

Notable Minor League Signings
Trades and Claims 
  • None
Notable Losses
Needs Addressed
Before addressing its roster, the Phillies set about formalizing what had already been expected: namely, that Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg would take over as the skipper after serving as interim manager for the tail end of 2013. Guaranteeing Sandberg three years, the club made a clear commitment to his efforts to increase the hustle of a veteran-laden ballclub.
In off-the-field matters, the organization wrapped up a substantial new TV deal that figures to provide it $2.5B (and more) in revenue over the next 25 years. As I explained shortly thereafter, that deal should allow the club to maintain its place among the game's highest-revenue clubs, though it does not promise to advance the Phils beyond the other upper-echelon clubs.
Turning to the club's player assets, as I wrote back in October, Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro Jr. faced a clear set of priorities, in the sense of roster areas where an MLB-ready player was needed. The club entered the offseason in the market for a corner outfielder, catcher, a couple of starters, and perhaps an arm for the bullpen.
Amaro tackled that list head on. He acted quickly to lock up a rejuvenated Byrd to play right field and to re-sign the longtime backstop Ruiz, plugging the two glaring holes in the everyday lineup. Having already decided to tender a contract to starter Kyle Kendrick, Amaro then rounded out the rotation by picking up a bounceback candidate in Hernandez and jumping on the opportunity to sign the aging-but-excellent Burnett. With several minor league signings to build out the team's bench options, the club wrapped up a straightforward offseason that -- on its face -- addressed most of the team's needs.
Questions Remaining
According to the thinking of Amaro, the big question facing this ballclub is simply the health of key players like Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley. "If the club we believe is going to break camp is able to stay on the field, we're a contending team," Amaro said. "My job is for us to try to be a contending team every year. Our payroll should allow us to do that. We had a couple of crappy years because we couldn't get guys on the field and couldn't get the performances we're accustomed to. Doc Halladay not being healthy crushed us. It's not his fault. It's just part of the game. When it happens to guys you are counting on with huge contracts, you can't just buy your way out with mediocre players."
But is that really the case? Those three have been relatively healthy over the spring, with each getting at least 46 plate appearances in Grapefruit League action. Other expensive, older players like Ruiz, Byrd, Cliff Lee, and Jonathan Papelbon have not suffered any injury issues, while costly setup man Mike Adams seems to be progressing well in his return from injury.  
Nevertheless, questions persist. It remains difficult to see where the team will make up the production deficit that left it only about halfway to the WAR total posted by the lowest-level playoff teams in 2013.
To some extent, the continued uncertainty is due to bad luck, with injuries striking at the portion of the roster that was not considered most susceptible. One of the team's few seemingly sure things, co-ace Cole Hamels, has struggled to get off the ground in the spring. The so-far disappointing Cuban signee Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, along with important younger arms like Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin, have suffered shoulder problems as well. Various ailments have cropped up amongst some younger bench options like Darin Ruf and Freddy Galvis.
Of course, some share of the blame here must also go to the organization's general lack of depth. While the bullpen looks to be in decent shape, the paper-thin starting depth has left the club looking to O'Sullivan, Manship, and David Buchanan as possible rotation candidates. The bullpen includes out-of-nowhere youngster Mario Hollands. And the team was looking at filling out its bench with names like Abreu (the 40-year-old version) and Brignac (lifetime .221/.262/.311 hitter) before settling on Gwynn and dealing for Nix for the final slots.
Even if the once-great core of Howard, Rollins, Utley, and Ruiz finds the fountain of youth, and even if Byrd and Burnett can somehow maintain their own late-career surges at 37 and 36 years of age, respectively, it still is not clear that this team has the pieces to be a contender. Even the more promising, younger big leaguers have unanswered questions, ranging from Domonic Brown's defense to Ben Revere's ability to get on base.
The real question entering the offseason was never just about the health of guys who once led Philly to a World Series. And it was never about what positions on the field needed additions, which was obvious enough. Instead, the offseason posed the question of how those open slots would be filled.
As I wrote at the outset, the organization appeared to face a tough choice between aggressively buying or aggressively selling. Choosing once again to supplement its veteran core without changing the team's trajectory, I suggested, carried a significant risk of fielding an expensive, injury-prone, low-ceiling ballclub.
The decisions that were ultimately made -- adding mostly mid-level free agents in their mid-to-late thirties on relatively short-term deals -- carry precisely the risk that I noted. The club is carrying a record payroll. It is already riddled with injuries (and, more importantly, largely lacks the upper-level minor league talent to cover for those injuries), all before those players most susceptible have entered the grind of the season.  And projection systems and scouts alike have been down on the Phillies all spring.
One could say that the biggest question for the Phillies in 2014 is whether they can somehow find the fountain of youth that seems necessary to get prime-level production from their many post-prime (albeit still-talented) players. But it may be that the true question facing Philadelphia is simply when it will begin to sell off pieces. 
Amaro seems to appreciate that the time may come for a teardown -- he said recently that, if the team does not win, he will need to "figur[e] out what's the transition move." But it is eminently arguable both that the team should already have some plan in place, and that the point for action has already been reached. (When asked if he ha a "disaster plan" in place, Amaro said his "thought process is to stay positive," while acknowledging that, "we also can't be so blinded to the fact that if this doesn't work out we're going to have to make some tough decisions.")
To be fair, the Phillies are already said to have tried and failed to move Papelbon and Rollins. The latter has once again become the subject of some trade speculation after apparently landing in Sandberg's just-constructed doghouse. And the trades of Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino show that Amaro is willing to deal away veteran talent. (Of course, those may or may not have been the right pieces to move. In the above-cited piece, Amaro said he would "probably not" handle things differently in retrospect and explained that he believes "they were more solid complementary players than superstars.")
But as things stand, several of the team's contracts seem completely immovable, others would require Philly to eat significant chunks of the future outlay, and virtually all are complicated by the generous no-trade protection that the team included. If Amaro finally comes around to what many observers have suggested -- looking to offload some of the club's worst contracts for whatever prospects and/or salary relief he can find -- it may be difficult for him to find much value at all in return.
Deal of Note
It is difficult to choose a single deal to highlight, because essentially all of the Phillies' offseason moves seem predicated on roughly the same idea of adding support pieces to an existing core. But the Ruiz deal comes with the most risk (and, in some ways, the most upside). A brief scroll through MLBTR's list of catcher contracts of three or more years reveals that none of those players were anywhere near Ruiz's age (35) when they inked their deals. And Ruiz is coming off of a clear down year, with concerns ranging from health to performance.
But the real issue is not how this deal will look if it does not pan out, but how it will look even if it does. Will the 2016 Phillies have a need for a 37-year-old Ruiz? 
The Ruiz contract marries Amaro's commitment to the players most closely tied to the Phils' former glory and his recent tact of spending large but not monumental sums of money on aging complementary pieces. Last year, of course, Adams and Michael Young were the two key additions, along with the younger Revere, with Lannan, Delmon Young, and Chad Durbin all getting guaranteed deals as well. While Byrd and, especially, Burnett are much more significant upgrades, the rest of the roster is all a year older now.
It remains to be seen whether the club can make one or two more runs at glory, but it seems a near certainty that the longer it waits to reload -- instead spending cash and adding players to try to field a winner -- the more painful that process will be.
It is hard to argue with Amaro's core thesis: "My job is for us to try to be a contending team every year. Our payroll should allow us to do that." Whatever else one may say about the embattled GM, he (and, perhaps more importantly, team ownership) have shown every willingness to plunk down serious coin to deliver a winner. One result, of course, was a great run of division titles and a championship.
But the World Series win came in 2008, and the last division title was had in 2011. The NL East belongs now to the Nationals and Braves, with the Marlins and Mets both showing signs of future health. Philadelphia is caught in the middle, and seems to have ground to make up after only recently delving into modern analytics.
Fortunes can change quickly, of course, and the Phillies have the financial clout to effect a quick turnaround. But what model are they following? Last year's Red Sox had already taken a heavy dose of pain in dealing away their big contracts. This year's Yankees spent an immense amount of money in an effort to buy their way out of their own declining roster logjam, locking up nine players at an average annual value of $16.24MM. Philadelphia signed five players for eight total years at an AAV of just $7.95MM, with the average age of those player-seasons falling just shy of 36.
Until the Phils choose a strategy that offers a clear path forward, the organization faces the risk of a continued slide not only in the standings but also in the attendance rankings. The difficulty, of course, comes in deciding upon that strategy. The Cubs' recent experience shows that a full rebuild can be quite painful, even for a team with resources.
So, what should the Phillies have done this past offseasion and what is the path forward? I won't claim to know the answers to either question. It could be that there is little value to be had in shipping out the team's most undesirable contracts and that the team's recent commitments won't hamstring future spending. But I can't help but feel that a more decisive direction would have better served the club. Trading Lee, Utley, and/or Rollins while foregoing Byrd, Ruiz, and/or Burnett might have brought back some young talent and built up the organizational war chest to be an opportunistic buyer of high-priced, somewhat younger players. Alternatively, adding a longer-term, impactful free agent or two (players like Brian McCann, Shin-Soo Choo, and Matt Garza would have been fits) might have made the team a likelier contender in the near-term. Either way, the club would be headed somewhere; as presently constituted, it seems stuck in neutral while carrying the league's third-highest payroll.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Phillies Release, Re-Sign Ronny Cedeno

SUNDAY: The Phillies tweeted they have re-signed Cedeno to a minor league deal and have assigned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

TUESDAY: The Phillies have released infielder Ronny Cedeno, the club announced. Cedeno had looked to be a decent bet to make the roster, especially with Freddy Galvis shelved to start the season. 

The 31-year-old spent last season with the Padres and Astros, putting up a combined .242/.287/.330 line in 288 plate appearances. It is probably fair to say that is a good approximation of his true talent, as both Cedeno's career line (.246/.289/.354) and his spring line (.182/.250/.273 in 24 plate appearances) are to much the same effect. Defensive metrics have never been big fans of Cedeno's work in the field, and his numbers took a downturn last year. At short, where he spent most of his time, Cedeno was graded at -7.6 UZR and -5 DRS in only 627 2/3 innings.

With the news, the Opening Day odds increase for Cesar Hernandez and Reid Brignac, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes on Twitter.

Added To The 40-Man Roster: Saturday

Between now and Opening Day, several minor league signees will win jobs with their clubs and earn 40-man roster spots. Here are today's additions:

  • The Angels have purchased the contract of infielder Ian StewartBill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. The former top prospect, now 28, was brought in on a minor league contract in January.
  • Ryan Rowland-Smith will make the Diamondbacks' Opening Day roster, GM Kevin Towers disclosed (via Steve Gilbert of Rowland-Smith was in camp on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old hasn't pitched in the majors since 2010 but was excellent last year for Boston's Triple-A club.
  • The Giants announced that right-hander J.C. Gutierrez and infielder Brandon Hicks have been chosen for the Opening Day roster. Hicks had been competing with rookie Ehire Adrianza for a backup infield job, but both have made the team.
  • The Braves announced via press release that pitchers Gus Schlosser and Ian Thomas have been added to the Opening Day roster.
  • Reds manager Bryan Price announced that reliever Trevor Bell and outfielder Roger Bernadina have made the club's Opening Day roster, according to a tweet from the team's Triple-A affiliate. Bell hasn't pitched in the majors since 2011, but threw very well this spring in 8 2/3 innings.
  • The Mets are set to add Omar Quintanilla to their Opening Day roster, tweets Adam Rubin of Quintanilla figures to serve as the back-up at short. He rejoined the club on a minor league deal after being non-tendered.
  • Xavier Nady will break camp with the Padres, tweets AJ Cassavell of, and thus will be added to the 40-man roster. The 35-year-old had a solid spring, and will fill in while Kyle Blanks and Cameron Maybin work back from injury. 
  • The Tigers have purchased the contract of Tyler Collins, the club announced. The 23-year-old, left-handed-hitting outfielder has not played above the Double-A level, but now grabs an Opening Day roster spot for a Detroit club that is without Andy Dirks to start the year. In 530 plate appearances at Double-A last year, Collins put up a .240/.323/.438 line with 21 home runs (and 122 strikeouts against 51 walks).
  • The Rangers will add minor league free agent Daniel McCutchen to the roster, according to a tweet from his representatives at Sosnick Cobbe Sports. Texas will need to add the reliever to the 40-man roster in order to activate him.
  • Yangervis Solarte will make the Yankees Opening Day roster, tweets Bryan Hoch of Fellow utility infielder Eduardo Nunez, meanwhile, will be optioned to Triple-A to start the year. Solarte earned the position after a torrid spring.
  • The Phillies have announced their Opening Day roster, which includes three players -- Tony Gwynn Jr., Mario Hollands, and Jeff Manship -- who must be added to the 40-man. Meanwhile, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez has been put on the 60-day DL to create roster space while infielder Reid Brignac and reliever Shawn Camp have been reassigned to Triple-A, reports's Todd Zolecki (Twitter links).
  • The Athletics have selected the contract of infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima and optioned him to Triple-A, according to the MLB transactions page. After failing to see MLB action in the first year of his two-year, $6.5MM deal with Oakland, Nakajima was outrighted and ultimately re-signed to a minor league deal.

Aaron Steen contributed to this post.

NL Notes: Montreal, Phillies, Epstein, Kottaras, Braves

Baseball was back in Montreal yesterday, with the Mets and Blue Jays squaring off at old Olympic Stadium. Of course, its former occupant -- the Expos -- now plays its games in Washington, DC. It is good to see the ballpark filled once again with fans donning caps featuring the team's classic logo. Jared Diamond and Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal take a look at the latest on the possibility of baseball landing back in Montreal on a more permanent basis. Here are some notes from the National League:

  • The Phillies are easing into their use of analytics, as a supplement to traditional scouting writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. But statistical analysis has already informed several decisions, such as the signing of Roberto Hernandez. "Our scouts and our analytics people looked at the middle-of-the-road, back-end starters," said GM Ruben Amaro Jr., "and we felt like he would be a good choice for us." Philadelphia likes his ground-ball rate and believes his sky-high HR/FB% will come back down to earth. The team also hopes to join the trend of utilizing shifts.
  • In a lengthy profile of Cubs president of baseball ops Theo Epstein, ESPN The Magazine's Tim Keown writes that the 40-year-old is full of optimism about his organization's direction. One key change in Chicago has been the flow of information, which has been modernized under Epstein's direction. "The currency of the draft is information," Epstein says. "Scouting information, statistical information, makeup information, medical information. In each of those buckets, we have to drill deeper if we want to have an advantage." And while some of the strategic maneuvering to secure draft picks is now no longer possible, Epstein says that does not change the other key input in acquiring young talent. "Now you're left only with how well you can scout," he says. "It's gone from strategy and scouting to just scouting."
  • One veteran that the Cubs probably had higher hopes for is catcher George Kottaras, who was released on Wednesday. The 30-year-old has a handful of suitors, tweets Chris Cotillo of, and is trying to decide on the best opportunity.
  • The Braves are not only hoping to do something new with their planned ballpark, by building it in conjunction with a mixed-use development, but will buck the trend of putting new baseball parks downtown, writes Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The piece offers a nice discussion of the preliminary plans, which include designing the park's exterior in a "transparent" manner that will allow it to remain integrated into the overall development project.

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