Philadelphia Phillies Rumors
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 MLBDailyDish.com, 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.
The Phillies have acquired infielder Jayson Nix from the Rays for cash considerations and have added him to the team's 40-man roster, the club announced. The club further announced that it had informed Reid Brignac that he would not make the club.
Nix, 31, spent last year with the Yankees, taking 303 trips to the plate for New York. He ended up with a .236/.308/.311 triple-slash. In parts of six MLB seasons, Nix has a lifetime .218/.290/.358 line.
Diamondbacks reliever David Hernandez has a torn UCL and may require Tommy John surgery, Hernandez's agent Jason Hoffman tells FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link). Hernandez is getting a second opinion but if the original diagnosis is confirmed, the right-hander will miss the entire 2014 season. Since coming to Arizona in December 2010 as part of the Mark Reynolds trade, Hernandez has posted a 3.42 ERA, 3.17 K/BB and 10.8 K/9, though he struggled a bit last season due to an inflated home run rate. Losing Hernandez would further hurt the Arizona pitching staff, which also lost Patrick Corbin to an UCL tear earlier this month.
Here are some more notes about pitchers whose roster status is in question...
- Francisco Cordero has been told by the Red Sox that he isn't making the Opening Day roster, so the veteran reliever is now deciding whether to go to Triple-A Pawtucket or leave for another team, WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports. While Cordero doesn't officially have an opt-out clause in his minor league deal with the Sox, the two sides have an agreement that Cordero would be released if he finds a job elsewhere.
- Colby Lewis can opt out of his minor league deal with the Rangers on April 10, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports. Lewis was brought back on a minors contract after missing the entire 2013 season recovering from hip-resurfacing surgery, and the Rangers have been easing him back into action during Spring Training.
- If the Phillies are in need of another 40-man roster spot, GM Ruben Amaro said that Miguel Alfred Gonzalez could end up on the 60-day DL, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Gonzalez was officially placed on the 15-day DL (backdated to March 21) today due to tendinitis in his right shoulder.
The 40-year-old joined the Phillies on a minor league deal after a strong run through the Venezuelan Winter League. He had agreed to push back the date on his opt-out clause with the team to Sunday, but the Phils decided to let him pursue an alternative opportunity after deciding that he would not make the Opening Day roster. Abreu has a .244/.404/.366 line in 52 spring plate appearances, his first in a big league uniform since 2012.
Here's the latest from the City Of Brotherly Love...
- Bobby Abreu is looking for a Major League opportunity with another team, ESPN's Jayson Stark reports. Abreu was told earlier today that he wasn't going to make the Phillies' Opening Day roster and thus it seems like just a matter of time before Abreu opts out of his minor league deal with the team. The veteran outfielder has until Sunday to do so, as Abreu and the Phils agreed to push his opt-out date to the 31st.
- The Phillies aren't in on Cesar Izturis, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reports (via Twitter). Izturis opted out of his minor league deal with the Astros on Monday after being told he wasn't going to make Houston's Opening Day roster. Philadelphia is in the market for a utility infielder who can play shortstop, as Freddy Galvis to a MRSA infection, Kevin Frandsen opted out of his contract after being outrighted and the club released Ronny Cedeno.
- With so many talented young arms filling the major and minor league rotations of the other four NL East teams, "one wonders if the Phillies aren’t years from serious contention," Peter Gammons writes in his latest piece for GammonsDaily.com. The Phillies' thin farm system has put them behind their division rivals in terms of developing young talent, and Gammons feels it will be "a far, far more difficult climb for the Phillies than when they were assembling that extraordinary 2007-2012 team."
We'll keep tabs on the day's minor moves right here:
- The Diamondbacks signed Aaron Cunningham to a minor league deal earlier this week. The 27-year-old outfielder posted a .628 OPS over 501 PA with the Indians, Padres and A's from 2008-12 and spent last season playing with the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate. Cunningham was released by the Cubs two weeks ago after he signed a minor league contract with them in November.
- The Orioles released veteran right-hander Luis Vizcaino from their minor league camp, MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski reports. Vizcaino last appeared in the majors in 2009 and didn't play any professional baseball from 2010-12 before posting a 1.40 ERA over 45 relief innings for Yucatan of the Mexican League in 2013. The O's signed Vizcaino to a minor league deal in January.
- The Astros have released Peter Moylan, the pitcher himself tweets. Last week, it was reported that Moylan had a UCL tear. He was to meet Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion this week. Moylan, 35, pitched 15 1/3 innings for the Dodgers last season. He has a career 2.80 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 276 innings, most of them with the Braves.
- The Phillies have released reliever Michael Stutes, the club announced. Already outrighted off of the club's 40-man roster, Philadelphia has now parted with a once-promising arm at just 27 years of age. After a solid 2011 rookie year in which he threw 62 innings of 3.63 ERA ball, Stutes struggled with arm issues. Last year, he posted a 4.58 ERA with 4.6 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 17 2/3 big league innings.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk and Charlie Wilmoth also contributed to this post.
When the Rangers face the Quintana Roo Tigers of the Mexican League in Texas Thursday night, former Yankees hurler Amauri Sanit will be the opposing pitcher. As Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News notes, the 34-year-old left Cuba in 2006, then spent two years in Central America before signing with the Yankees. He signed with the Yankees in 2008, then spent several years making his way through the minors, partially as a closer, before pitching in four games with the Yankees in 2011. He ended up with Quintana Roo in 2012, and after two seasons there, he'll be back in the United States, pitching against a big-league team. Here are more notes from throughout the big leagues.
- The Phillies have announced that veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu will not make their team out of spring training. GM Ruben Amaro says that Abreu is still with the Phillies organization and is "weighing his options," MLB.com's Todd Zolecki tweets. Abreu, 40, hit .263/.429/.395 this spring, but he struggled defensively, and he hasn't appeared in the big leagues since 2012 with the Angels and Dodgers.
- Infielder Jamey Carroll was released by the Nationals yesterday, but the veteran infielder would like to keep playing, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. Carroll, 40, hit .211/.267/.251 in 249 plate appearances with the Twins and Royals last season.
The Royals made an odd move Tuesday, claiming Rule 5 pick Patrick Schuster from the Padres and designating outfielder Carlos Peguero for assignment. As Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star notes, the Royals did not give Schuster a locker, and manager Ned Yost said he had not talked to GM Dayton Moore about Schuster. McCullough thinks the move was about Peguero -- the Royals would like to keep Peguero, and they may feel ten days from now, by which time the season will have begun, is a good time to sneak him through waivers. To designate Peguero for assignment, the Royals needed to claim someone else, and Schuster just happened to be available. It doesn't sound like he'll be with the Royals long. Here are more notes from around baseball.
- Lefty Randy Wolf release by the Mariners was triggered by Wolf's annoyance at the Mariners' insistence on a 45-day advance-consent release, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes. Such a clause would have allowed the Mariners to drop Wolf during the first several weeks of the season and only pay a prorated portion of his big-league salary. "I principally objected to that because we negotiated in good faith in February on a very team-friendly contract," says Wolf. Wolf would have broken camp with the team if he had been willing to sign the release. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik says he wanted the clause in case Wolf, who did not pitch at all in 2013 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, did not perform well. Dutton reports that many sources within baseball say that clauses like the one Mariners wanted Wolf to sign are not unusual.
- FOX Sports' Jon Morosi, however, asks (via Twitter) whether the Yankees, for example, would have let a member of their projected starting rotation depart over a clause like this. Probably not, Morosi suggests, saying that the Mariners' decision to release Wolf "sends the wrong message."
- The Astros object to the Associated Press' calculation of their payroll, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The AP lists their payroll as $45MM, lowest in the Majors, just behind that of the Marlins. "Outside accounting methods are estimates and don’t accurately reflect total payroll costs," says GM Jeff Luhnow. Drellich notes that the AP's calculation does not seem to include a $5.5MM payout to the Pirates for Wandy Rodriguez, for example.
- Freddy Galvis' MRSA infection has the Phillies interested in finding an extra reserve infielder who can play shortstop, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. That could mean adding an infielder who isn't currently with the team. Galvis hopes to return to baseball activities in around a week, but he will start the season on the disabled list, and starting shortstop Jimmy Rollins, meanwhile, might need a day or two off in April when his wife has a baby. In the meantime, the Phillies will look for alternatives. "We’re still looking inside and outside the organization as far as filling that role," says GM Ruben Amaro Jr. "But we have candidates. We have guys internally and there are some guys we’re looking at outside the organization as well." Reid Brignac, an NRI in Phillies spring training, might be a possibility.
The Phillies have agreed with outfielder Bobby Abreu to push back his opt-out date from tomorrow until this coming Sunday, reports CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury (via Twitter). The move, of course, was designed to give the team more time to evaluate its options with regard to Abreu, who has been out with shoulder soreness.
Abreu, 40, has posted a .257/.422/.400 triple-slash in 45 plate appearances this spring. With multiple injury situations and several players who can play the infield or outfield, the Phillies' roster situation is somewhat difficult to pin down. But it appears that, at this point, it could come down to either Abreu or Tony Gwynn Jr. as the team's left-handed-hitting outfield reserve.
TUESDAY: Frandsen has elected to forego his salary and become a free agent, the team announced.
SUNDAY: The Phillies have outrighted infielder Kevin Frandsen to Triple-A, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Frandsen has 72 hours to either accept the assignment or reject the move and become a free agent. If the 31-year-old elects free agency, he will forfeit the guaranteed $900K salary agreed to last December when he signed a one-year deal to avoid arbitration, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter).
"We're in a situation now with many of the injuries that have happened and the things that have occurred this spring to try and create some roster space for us," Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "That's what we've done. We still think he can be a valuable part of our club. But he's competing. Just like he was before, he continues to compete for a job on the bench."
The Phillies now have 37 players on their 40-man roster, so they "can add him back" if necessary, according to assistant GM Scott Proefrock. Zolecki notes such a scenario is unusual.
Frandsen has spent the past two seasons with the Phillies slashing .280/.333/.389 during his time in Philadelphia, including a .234/.296/.341 mark in 278 plate appearances (119 games) in 2013. Frandsen spent time at every infield position, except shortstop, last year.
Frandsen is a lifetime .259/.316/.359 hitter during his seven-year MLB career with the Giants, Angels, and Phillies.