Tag: Cliff Lee

Cliff Lee Injury: Updates on Phillies Pitcher’s Flexor Strain and Return

The Philadelphia Phillies are hanging around in the crowded National League East, but looming news concerning starting pitcher Cliff Lee‘s elbow could soon change that.    

CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury and the Philly Inquirer‘s Matt Gelb provide the details: 

CSN’s Jim Salisbury announced Tuesday evening that Lee will go on the disabled list:

We obviously won’t be able to know anything for sure until the MRI results are in, but whenever you have “elbow discomfort” and “ace pitcher” in the same train of thought, there is potential for a devastating blow.

In his 13th season in the bigs, Lee’s numbers have been subpar compared to the last six seasons. Still, Lee at his worst is something most pitchers would gladly accept—3.18 ERA, 1.279 WHIP and 2.63 FIP, per baseball-reference.com. Moreover, while he’s been hit a little harder than usual, his 6.78 strikeout-to-walk ratio is still sparkling. 

Cole Hamels has been dominant over his last two trips to the bump, while A.J. Burnett and Kyle Kendrick have enjoyed solid seasons, so the Phils aren’t completely bare in the starting rotation. Still, a significant injury to their ace would be potentially calamitous. 

As Rotoworld’s Drew Silva noted, the potential affect goes beyond just on-the-diamond results, too:

Losing a stud so shortly after Jose Fernandez’s injury would also serve as yet another blow to baseball in general, so hopefully the MRI produces encouraging results. 

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MLB Trade Rumors: Updates on Jeff Samardzija, Cliff Lee and More

At this point of the MLB season, it’s all about spring training as players get tuned up for 2014 in Arizona and Florida.

While trades during spring training are pretty rare, the MLB trade rumor mill is still alive with a few rumblings that involve a couple of starters and other players that could have big impacts this season.

Here’s a look at the latest buzz from around the league on the trade front.


RHP Jeff Samardzija

The Chicago Cubs don’t have many bright spots on their roster to start the 2014 season.

After going 66-96 last year in the competitive National League Central, the Cubs essentially stood pat during this past offseason and didn’t make many major moves.

That leaves right-hander Jeff Samardzija as arguably the top player on the team, for a franchise that is trying to develop its minor league system under general manager Theo Epstein. While it’s a smart way to build an organization, Samardzija might not have enough time to wait around to see top prospects like Kris Bryant and Javier Baez make major impacts with the Cubs.

He has two years of club control left on his contract, which makes him an attractive trade candidate, and the Cubs might be spurred to move him now while the rebuilding phase continues under first-year manager Rick Renteria. Reports surfaced earlier in the offseason about stalled extension talks between Samardzija and the Cubs, but nothing much has come up recently.

While Samardzija is expected to start the season in the Windy City, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times cited MLB sources who said the righty could be shipped out before he makes his Opening Day start for the Cubs.

But teams including Texas and Toronto still have starting pitching needs. And two more industry sources said they believe ­Samardzija could be traded before the season starts.

‘I would be surprised,’ said Samardzija, who started Opening Day for the Cubs last year. ‘From what it sounds like, we’re going head over heels for this season with this team. Rick’s made it very clear that we’re here to win, which I love.

‘I love to hear him talk about his excitement for winning. Not development. Obviously, development’s part of it, but Rick’s No. 1 goal is winning, and me and him are 100 percent on the same page when it comes to that. We want to win. We want to win here. And we want to win now.’

Samardzija‘s spring outings have reportedly been heavily attended by scouts, adding more fuel to the trade rumors that have surrounded him all offseason. While he sounds like he’s keeping a level head about the situation, this seems like a matter of when and not if.

In 2013, his second full season as a starter, Samardzija topped the 200-innings-pitched mark (213.2) and 200-strikeout mark (214) while going 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA, 91 ERA+ and 1.35 WHIP. According to Wittenmyer, an MLB team executive labeled Samardzija a “monster in the making,” and he’ll surely have suitors lined up for his services whenever the Cubs make him available.


LHP Cliff Lee

There aren’t many players that Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro can trade away from this high-priced, underperforming roster, but southpaw Cliff Lee is one of them.

Even though he is owed $50 million combined the next two years and potentially $77.5 million over the next three, Lee’s consistent production over the course of his career might make him worth the investment to a contending big-market team.

Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com gave his take on Lee’s situation heading into 2014.

Lee has been the subject of trade rumors each of the last two seasons, but Phillies management, hoping for one more run at a championship, has hung on to him.

If the 2014 Phillies aren’t positioned to make that run in July, this might end up being the season that management pulls the trigger on Lee.

That’s the conventional wisdom around baseball. Lee’s salary, though still huge, will be more manageable in July and his value, provided he’s healthy and effective, will be strong because a contending team can have him for two Octobers -– and maybe three if option for 2016 kicks in.

Could a team like the Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Yankees add Lee by the trading deadline? It certainly seems conceivable.

Lee didn’t show any signs of slowing down in 2013 when he turned 35, going 14-8 with a 2.87 ERA, 133 ERA+, 1.01 WHIP and 222 strikeouts in 222.2 innings of work.

While his age might scare some teams off right now, he can convince them otherwise with a strong start to the season. The Phillies figure to have a tough shot to contend against the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals in the National League East, so they might as well get some salary relief while they can, even it means trading away a front-line starter like Lee.


Arizona Diamondbacks

General manager Kevin Towers has been busy for the D-backs this offseason, as he traded away three prospects to get two players who figure to play key roles on the 2014 squad while also signing veteran right-hander Bronson Arroyo to a two-year, $23.5 million deal.

But Towers might not be done wheelin‘ and dealin‘ just yet.

Towers’ decision to deal young right-hander Tyler Skaggs and outfielder Adam Eaton away in order to acquire one-dimensional slugger Mark Trumbo was met with some criticism, but Trumbo should provide some nice power along with MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup. In the other major trade of the offseason, the Diamondbacks acquired closer candidate Addison Reed for third base prospect Matt Davidson.

According to Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic, Towers is at least entertaining the thought of trading away one of his club’s shortstops.

‘It’s been pretty quiet of late,’ General Manager Kevin Towers said of the trade market. ‘With Stephen Drew still out there right now, I haven’t had much trade discussions.’

But Towers didn’t shoot down the idea of a trade. In fact, he spelled out what the Diamondbacks probably would be looking for in return if they were going to trade one of their shortstops.

‘For us, it would have to be the right deal,’ Towers said. ‘Our biggest needs in our system are catching. If it’s the right, top-notch catching prospect. Someone we could have right behind (Miguel Montero). More of an upper-level guy. Maybe a top, upper-end starter. We have a lot of bullpen depth, infielders. Maybe an outfielder, but probably more catching and Double-A, Triple-A type starter.’

Towers spelled out a possible trade scenario, as his club currently has two MLB-caliber shortstops in Chris Owings and Didi Gregorius battling it out for the starting job, along with MLB veteran backup Cliff Pennington.

Piecoro labeled the New York Mets, Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Red Sox as teams that could be potential trade partners, so we’ll keep an eye on this situation as spring training unfolds.

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Best Potential Trade Packages and Landing Spots for Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels

The Philadelphia Phillies rebuild, it would appear, is on.

Following a lengthy stretch of success during which they won five straight National League East division crowns and the 2008 World Series title, the Phillies have stumbled the past two seasons, falling to .500 in 2012 and 73-89 last year—their worst mark since 2000.

With many of their key core players from that period now well into their 30s, like Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, or dealing with injury issues, like Ryan Howard, the Phillies are a franchise that, in the past year, has gone from teetering on the brink of needing a rebuild to becoming unquestionably desperate for one.

And so general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is looking to cash in his trade chips.

Just a few days after reminding everyone that highly paid closer Jonathan Papelbon remains available, the Phillies have made it known that they they are also ready and willing to talk about trading one—or both—of their ace left-handers, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.

There’s reason to wonder whether this approach will stick, though, seeing as how Amaro told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, “Our goal is to add, not to subtract.” There’s also the fact that Philadelphia re-signed catcher Carlos Ruiz and brought in outfielder Marlon Byrd already this offseason.

At the same time, though, there are reports that indicate even young outfielder Domonic Brown might be on the block, as Zolecki noted. While Papelbon doesn’t have much trade value at all—$26 million guaranteed through 2015 for a one-inning pitcher will do that—Lee and Hamels fall on the other end of the spectrum.

As two legitimate No. 1 starters who have continued to perform at or near that level for the past several seasons, either of the two southpaws should be able to net Philadelphia the kind of return the team needs. Should Amaro Jr. decide, once and for all, to go that route.

Speaking of needs, the Phillies could use a few things.

Like an impact infielder at either shortstop or third base, where Rollins is getting old and 2013 rookie Cody Asche remains unproven.

Or an upgrade in the outfield, particularly in center, where Ben Revere is more of a fringy starter who could fit better as a backup.

Or bullpen arms with upside to help address the late innings, whether Papelbon stays around as the closer or not.

Or rotation depth, as Lee, Hamels and righty Kyle Kendrick are the only locks for the 2014 five-man at the moment.

Most of all, though, Philadelphia needs youth, depth and cheaper contracts, especially since so much money is tied up in Howard, Papelbon, Lee and Hamels, among others.

That’s one of the factors to consider in valuing Lee and Hamels on the trade market. For Lee, we’re talking about a 35-year-old who is guaranteed $62.5 million through 2015, along with a $27.5 million club option for 2016. Hamels, meanwhile, is a soon-to-be 30-year-old with at least $118.5 million coming his way through 2018, plus a $20 million club option for 2019. In other words, any inquiring team likely will be a contender that can fit an extra $22-25 million into its budget for the next few years.

While those prices might seem a bit overwhelming, both Lee and Hamels still would be highly sought after given their sustained production and durability. For teams who have been honing in on other top starters who are rumored trade targets, like David Price, Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija, as well as free agents like Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and Matt Garza, the chance to land a Lee or a Hamels adds a couple more names to a growing list of appealing arms.

Here, then, is a rundown of the teams that could match up well with the Phillies in a trade for one of their two front-liners.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Would Cliff Lee-Matt Kemp Trade Make Sense?

Now that baseball is in the thick of the winter meetings, rumors and potential signings and trades will be heard out the wazoo. Plenty will be going around throughout the next two days or so, and Bleacher Report’s Adam Wells has done a fantastic job of keeping track of them so far.

Among the rumors involving the Philadelphia Phillies are that closer Jonathan Papelbon is being shopped, as is young outfielder Domonic Brown. These came to light thanks to tweets from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan, respectively.

However, the most intriguing Phillies rumor emerged on Tuesday when ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted the following concerning the Phillies’ pitching staff:


Considering that the Phillies are still seemingly immersed in a “win-now” mode, it’s strange that they’re contemplating trading the two most reliable cogs of the team, let alone the rotation. What makes this even weirder is that it completely contradicts the signings of Marlon Byrd and Carlos Ruiz. Then again, so does the notion that Domonic Brown could be dealt. So what is the Phillies’ strategy, exactly?

It’s becoming more and more apparent that the Phillies may not have one. But they’re not wrong for listening to potential deals. It’s simply due diligence, though ESPN’s Jayson Stark provided an interesting update on the Lee/Hamels front not too long after Olney‘s tweet: 

The prospects of a deal under those circumstances are slim to none. It’s pretty clear that that’s the case. But have the Phillies considered a deal in which established major leaguers, not minor league prospects, are the return?

That possibility lingers in only a few instances. It would involve two high-priced stars being swapped for one another, with each filling holes for the two teams involved. That’s not so easy to find.

However, one instance in which this is a possibility is with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers, who have been connected to Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price, per CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, are hesitant to trade away top prospects in their barren farm system to get him. This tidbit comes from Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.

Where does that leave the Dodgers? It means that they’re still likely interested in acquiring an ace starter, though they would prefer to give up pieces on the major league team as opposed to within the minors. This is where they could match up in a trade with the Phillies.

Hernandez of the L.A. Times provides even more information, this time coming from Kemp’s agent, Dave Stewart. Stewart believes that Kemp is likely to be traded, even with six years and $130 million remaining on Kemp’s extension signed before the 2012 season.

That’s a hefty price to pay for Kemp, who’s been meddled with injury woes since signing the deal. Such a drawback may not appeal to the Phillies. But the ability to upgrade at a position of need while dealing away another large contract? It’s at least thought-provoking.

The Dodgers want Price, a left-handed ace with two years of team control left. Is Cliff Lee not the same caliber of a pitcher, with two guaranteed years left on his deal and is a southpaw ace?

There is a difference, and that’s cost. Price is still arbitration-eligible, so his salaries will spike from year to year, yet still remain below those of Lee. Lee has two years and $62.5 million guaranteed on his contract, though he could earn $15 million more if his 2016 vesting option kicks in.

The perk to Lee, though, is knowing his cost and knowing that he’s got that potential third year of control left. That may be appealing to the Dodgers if they seek longer commitment than two years, since Price will more likely than not pursue free agency as one of the top starters on the market after the 2015 season.

Kemp appeals to Philadelphia because he’s still a top-flight player when he’s healthy. He’s right-handed and has power, which would be even greater at Citizens Bank Park. His defense is extraordinary. And he’s flashed speed on the basepaths to the point that he nearly achieved a 40-40 season in 2011.

But the kicker? Kemp’s only 29 years old. Lee is 35. For a Phillies team looking to get younger, it doesn’t get any better than this.

The good news with Kemp’s deal as well is that it’s not back-loaded like Lee’s. According to Cot’s, Kemp makes a consistent $21.5 million for each of the last four years of his deal, whereas Lee makes $25 million in 2014 and 2015, with the potential to make $27.5 million as a 37-year-old in 2016.

Per season, Kemp’s average annual value would actually be $4 million less on the Phillies’ payroll than Lee’s, providing some slight wiggle room under the luxury tax. The Phillies wouldn’t have to eat any of Lee’s contract, which is what they’re looking for in any deal involving him. And they’d be receiving an All-Star center fielder who’s a game-changer when on the field.

This trade would have some ramifications on the rest of the Phillies’ outfield, of course. It would mean that Ben Revere would likely be a fourth outfielder, a role which doesn’t utilize his speed enough. In that regard, it isn’t the most practical trade, unless Revere was shipped off with Lee. Given that the Dodgers have an outfield conundrum as well, though, that’s unlikely to happen.

Such matters can be resolved later, though. In many ways, a Lee-Kemp swap makes a ton of sense. But will it happen? Probably not, unless Phillies and Dodgers general managers Ruben Amaro Jr. and Ned Colletti get creative. But given that Prince Fielder and Ian Kinsler were traded for one another this offseason, nothing can be ruled out.

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MLB Rumors: Examining the Hottest Potential Deals as Deadline Nears

Rumors and speculation are at the forefront of the Major League Baseball world this week, as the July 31,  non-waiver trade deadline approaches on 4 p.m. ET Wednesday. 

Every team, good or bad, has a specific plan that they want to execute this time of year. If you are a bad or disappointing team, you want to look toward 2014 and beyond by trading aging players and expiring contracts to replenish your system. 

On the flip side, the teams that really drive the deadline are contenders. Those that have identified their flaws, carried out plenty of scouting, and preparing offers they hope will satisfy the other general managers. 

If only things were that simple. Right now, what we get is a lot of whispers from around the league that will end up being nothing more than that. Bringing in a second wild-card team to each league has given more hope to franchises that otherwise would be planning their offseason moves. 

As we look at all the latest news and rumors coming out, here are our thoughts on what is being said. 

4 p.m. ET

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Phillies Trade Rumors: Latest Info on Players Who Might Be Dealt

The Philadelphia Phillies have lost eight games in a row. They have slipped to 11.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. There’s no question, then, they should be in selling mode.

Teams around the majors still in contention have begun to inquire about the availability of a few Phillies players, since there are still several talented players throughout the roster that can help some good teams get over the hump and make a serious postseason push.

Here’s the latest on those players who Philly might consider dealing before the deadline.


Cliff Lee Is Coveted

Per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Cliff Lee is on the wish list of a few contenders, but the Boston Red Sox may be at the front of the pack. He’s owed $70 million through 2015, which includes a $12.5 million buyout for 2016.

It is clear to see why teams fancy Lee. He’s 10-4 this season with an ERA of 3.05. He’s pitched over 200 innings each of the last three seasons and is on pace to equal that again this season.

Perhaps more appealing is Lee’s stellar work in the postseason. Even with an uncharacteristically bad postseason showing in 2011, Lee is still 7-3 with an ERA of 2.52 in the second season.

These qualities may even have the Phillies considering holding on to Lee for another run next year. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki tweeted:

With information flying in all directions, it’s anyone’s guess what happens with Lee at this point. But one thing is for sure: if Lee does get moved, Philadelphia would like see a huge return.


Michael Young’s No-Trade Clause Is a Major Hurdle

Even if the Phillies desperately wanted to move Young, his no-trade clause is an issue. Per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Young is only willing to go back to the Texas Rangers or possibly to the Boston Red Sox.

That significantly handicaps the Phillies in a deal, thus it seems unlikely Young moves on—unless he has a change of heart.

The veteran infielder is having another steady season at the plate, and without many quality third basemen available, Young’s situation is going to be a key storyline through Wednesday.


Kevin Frandsen Drawing Interest

The Kansas City Royals have won six in a row, and that surge may have them thinking wild card. Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports that the Royals may have some interest in Frandsen to play second base.

He’s hitting .280 with three home runs in 118 at-bats this season.

The Royals are now at .500, and while a run at the wild card still seems a bit of a long shot, Frandsen could be an upgrade at second over Chris Getz who is hitting .209 this season.


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Assembling Perfect Cliff Lee Trade Packages for Top 5 Suitors

Although the Phillies are reportedly willing to entertain offers for Cliff Lee, they’re asking for the farm in return.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is asking for three or four top prospects in return for Lee, as well as the assumption of the remainder of his contract.

Given that information, there are only a few organizations with both the financial flexibility and depth on the farm to make a run at the 34-year-old left-hander. And while it’s increasingly doubtful that any team would be willing to part with such a significant portion of its future under those circumstances, there are several clubs expected to at least kick the tires over the next 24 hours.

Here’s a look at five teams capable of putting together a loaded prospect package to land Cliff Lee before Wednesday’s deadline.

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2013 MLB Trade Deadline: Key Moves Philadelphia Phillies Could and Should Make

As the 2013 Major League Baseball trade deadline is just over 24 hours away, the Philadelphia Phillies have several key decisions to make about some core players on their roster. 

About two weeks ago, the Phillies found themselves in pretty good position to make a postseason run, as they were within shouting distance of the Atlanta Braves and the National League East lead. 

However, two weeks and an eight game losing streak later, the Phils are a whopping 11.5 games behind the Braves, as well as nine games back of the Cincinnati Reds for a Wild Card spot. 

With an aging and injury-plagued roster, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has some major decisions to make within the next day that may decide the future of his organization.

Superstars such as Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon and Michael Young may wind up on the trading block throughout Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon. 

With that said, let’s take a look at three possible deals that Philadelphia could and should make by Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET. 


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Phillies’ Signing of Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez Means Cliff Lee Not Going Anywhere

Cuban-born pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez may not have pitched a single inning in Major League Baseball, but he could be the missing link the Philadelphia Phillies have been looking for.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the Phillies have inked Gonzalez to a six-year, $48 million contract, with an option for a seventh year at $11 millionbringing the total value to $59 million. That represents the largest international signing ever.

The Phillies obviously thought that Gonzalez was worth it, outbidding the Boston Red Sox and several other teams.

For teams who may have thought they might have a shot at landing Phillies starter Cliff Lee, they could now be very disappointed.

Gonzalez is considered to be a pitcher who’s already ready for the majors and may just need a couple of minor league starts to acclimate himself.

The Phillies are five games under .500 and a full 10 games out of a wild-card spot in the National League, but this is clearly a signing that indicates Philadelphia is at least looking at a postseason berth in 2014, if not this season.

According to Passan, Gonzalez has a solid four-pitch repertoire that recently impressed just about every scout who attended workouts in Mexico.


Re-Tooling, Not Rebuilding

In recent weeks, the Phillies’ fate as either a buyer or seller has been discussed ad nauseum. Several weeks ago, general manager Ruben Amaro gave every indication that he simply wasn’t interested in offering up players like Lee, despite the team’s mediocre start to the season.

However, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN wrote on Friday that several teams were interested in Lee, and that Amaro was at least listening.

Via Crasnick: 

I never put any real absolutes on anything. Although we don’t have any desire to move a guy like that because we view him as someone who will be key to our future, I am a businessperson as well and I’ll be a good listener.

That could have been nothing but a smokescreen.

The acquisition of Gonzalez gives the Phillies a solid foursome along with Lee, Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick. That doesn’t even include Roy Halladay, who has a $20 million option for next season that will likely be declined. That doesn’t mean that Halladay couldn’t come back for much less, however.

Think of that for a starting five, if Halladay comes back healthy.

It simply doesn’t sound like a team that’s going be selling off any of its pitching parts anytime soon.


Future Television Money Means Phillies Can Keep Playing With Big Boys

The Phillies can’t necessarily cry poor-mouth—they have the third-highest payroll, according to USA Today. But they aren’t blessed with a TV deal quite like the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers, either.

That could be changing very soon.

The Phillies could be in line for a TV deal that nets them somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 billion. That’s certainly enough to continue paying the likes of Lee, Halladay, Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon and now Gonzalez. 

That’s a whole lot of incentive for the Phillies to have traveled to Tijuana last month to watch Gonzalez pitch. And it’s a lot of incentive to sign him and keep everyone else as well.

Let’s face it—the Phillies have some issues. Injuries have decimated their bullpen, with Jeremy Horst and Mike Adams now out for the season. Ryan Howard is likely out until at least late August with a torn meniscus. Their best power hitter, Domonic Brown, just hit the seven-day disabled list with a concussion, and Chase Utley isn’t getting any younger. 

It’s a stretch to think the Phillies have a snowball’s chance in hell of making the postseason this year. 

But with a rotation that boasts of Lee, Hamels, Gonzalez, Kendrick and Halladay, the 2014 season is all of a sudden looking a whole lot brighter. And the Phillies will have the benefit of a potential $5 billion TV deal that can help cushion the financial blow.

So, to the teams that are currently salivating at the thought of Cliff Lee helping their drive for postseason glory this season, they might have to consider Plan B.

Could Amaro still consider dealing Lee? He said it himself: He’s a businessman. He’ll at least listen. He’d be a fool to turn down a deal that completely overwhelmed him. But it would absolutely have to be a slam-dunk type deal to convince Amaro that Lee needs to be moved.

He has a pitcher in Gonzalez who could very well be the missing link for next season, and who could potentially help in 2013 as well. He has a possible TV deal that will keep the Phillies in the black for quite a while. 

That’s a whole lot of hope. And for teams pining away for Lee, it’s a lot of heartache as well. 


Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.

Feel free to talk baseball with Doug anytime on Twitter.


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Philadelphia Phillies: State of the Franchise at the 2013 Season’s 100-Game Mark

The Philadelphia Phillies are not managed by Bill Parcells, but they are the living embodiment of one of the former National Football League coach’s most famous truisms.

“You are what your record says you are” is a phrase tough guy wannabes and other unpleasant people like to throw around with great self-satisfaction to point up the shortcomings of everyone but them.

I really dislike people who break this old chestnut out every time somebody else makes a mistake or three. Which, I guess, makes it all the more galling that I am applying it to the 2013 Phillies.

It really fits, though.

Until Matt Harvey abused the Phillies on Sunday afternoon, the Phillies were an even 49-49 on the season.

In 2012, the Phillies went 81-81.

You do not need to be a mathematics major to see that the Phillies played 260 games in a bit more than a season and a half and won exactly half of them.

The Phillies’ record, then, says they are a .500 franchise. And you know what?

So does their roster.

The Phillies have about half of an outfield.

Domonic Brown is set to be a fixture in left field. Ben Revere has shown flashes of exciting promise, but his .324 lifetime on-base percentage does not suggest he will ever be more than an adequate leadoff man.

Delmon Young has hit decently and fielded pretty poorly, i.e., he is exactly what he was advertised to be.

The Phillies have about half of an infield.

Jimmy Rollins is having a pretty nondescript campaign by his standards. Chase Utley has been resurgent when he has played. And there ends the good news in the infield.

Ryan Howard is featured in every “worst contract in baseball history” piece the blogosphere can pump out. Michael Young is at the top of every “first Phillie likely to be traded” list (H/T Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports).

The Phillies have about half of a starting rotation.

Cliff Lee is an All-Star and shows no signs of slowing down. Cole Hamels has been a hot mess for most of 2013, but it is probably too soon to say he cannot regain ace form in 2014 and beyond.

As an aside, though, the Parcells quote absolutely applies to Hamels this season. His earned run average is over four and he is 4-12. His WHIP this season is a full tenth higher than his career average in that statistical category. He is what he is right now.

After Lee and Hamels, the Phillies have a whole lot of “meh” at the back end of the rotation. Kyle Kendrick is trying as hard as he can, but he will never be confused with an ace.

Jonathan Pettibone, John Lannan and the others pitching on days four and five are only placeholders until better options come along.

The only places you cannot say the Phillies have half a roster are in the bullpen and on the bench.

Because in those areas, the Phillies have much, much less than glass-half-full situations.

The Mike Adams signing can fairly be called a loss. As such, the Phillies are back to handing the ball to the likes of Jake Diekman, Justin De Fratus and Antonio Bastardo in the late innings, hoping none of them burst into flames trying to get the game to the suddenly iffy Jonathan Papelbon.

And you can’t make me talk about the Phillies’ bench options (beyond Kevin Frandsen, who has been really good) so I won’t.

Besides, if you want to watch the Phillies’ bench, based on the team’s injury problems you can just watch the game from the first inning on—John Mayberry, Jr. and Darin Ruf would be, at best, bench players for most contending teams.

Despite all of the foregoing, the Phillies continue to cling desperately to their .500 record and their dwindling hopes of stealing a playoff spot in an underwhelming National League.

As last year showed, though, .500 becomes less of an accomplishment and more of a burden with each game that falls off the schedule.

The primary bit of good news for the Phillies going forward is what promises to be a wild shedding of salary soon after the season ends on September 29 in Atlanta.

Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, Michael Young and Carlos Ruiz will all fall off the books, freeing up about $46 million ($10 million of Young’s salary in 2013 is being eaten by the Texas Rangers.)

If the Phillies decide to sell Papelbon before the trade deadline, that would be another $13 million saved next season.

So in truth, the future for the Phillies looks quite a bit brighter than the present. For one thing, the National League East is not exactly populated with dominant teams in the way of the 1927 New York Yankees or the Big Red Machine. 

Brown, Revere, Lee and Hamels are a reasonably solid core to build around, prospects like Maikel Franco and Jesse Biddle are in the pipeline and the team should have a lot of money to spend next winter.

Getting to that promised time, though, might feel interminable as the 2013 team trudges toward another Even Steven season likely to end without a playoff run.

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