Tag: Philadelphia

Biggest Winners and Losers from Dodgers Offseason

There’s less than three months remaining until Opening Day, and the Los Angeles Dodgers look decidedly different than they did at the beginning of the offseason.

For starters, the front office was stripped down and replaced with a new regime headed by president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi.

The metrics-minded duo wasted little time revamping the roster, trading away several popular players in an effort to improve the team in less noticeable ways while saving money and replenishing the farm system.

Los Angeles also saw other players walk away, either for a lucrative deal elsewhere in free agency or simply because they were no longer wanted.

It has been one of the busiest winters for the Dodgers in recent years, and there’s still time for more moves to be made before the regular season begins. For now, though, here are the winners and losers from the first three months of the team’s offseason.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Thanks to Ruben Amaro Jr., the End Is Near

The Philadelphia Phillies have not had a losing season since 2002, when they finished 80-81. The last ten seasons have provided the faithful fan base in Philadelphia with more things to cheer about than to jeer about. Unfortunately though, the end is near. 

It wasn’t the farcical Mayan Apocalypse that dashed the hopes of Phillies fans everywhere. No. It was the mismanagement of a roster and farm system that will cause the destruction of arguably the best decade of baseball in this franchise’s history. 

Who is to blame?

People will easily point fingers at the players. Most notably, Ryan Howard’s disappointing lack of production along with an additional projected decrease as his salary increases through the next several years is causing flack among Phillies fans.

Despite all this, Howard is not to blame.

Charlie Manuel developed a reputation for being a manager who knows how to instruct and correct batting issues from the get-go. It is sad to say, but one of the problems with the Phillies has been the ability to hit effectively and drive in runs on a consistent basis in recent years.

Still, managers in baseball are the most innocuous figureheads in professional sports. They matter much less than head coaches in the NFL and NBA.

The problem resides with the front office.

On November 3, 2008, Ruben Amaro Jr. succeeded Pat Gillick as the general manager of the Phillies, directly after the Phillies won the 2008 World Series. Since then, a series of gaffes and questionable transactions have compounded the problems for the Phillies, diminishing their relevance in not only their specific division, the National League East, but the entire National League as well.


On April 26, 2010, less than two years after his promotion to GM, Amaro Jr. signed the soon-to-be 31-year-old first baseman Ryan Howard to a 5-year, $125 million contract extension. The deal called for a club option on the sixth year. 

Despite holding the single-season HR record for a Phillie as well as many other records, Howard’s production is on the decline. Coming off an Achilles tear, Howard struggled mightily last season. Some believe that Howard should regain his ability to produce at an elite level in 2013, while others dismiss him as an oft-injured slugger prone to striking out who can’t play defense and is on the decline.

Whichever way you see him, Howard is definitely a controversial piece to the puzzle of where things went wrong with Amaro Jr.

Amaro Jr. does deserve some credit. Despite selling the best prospects in the farm system and spending cash hand over fist, Amaro Jr. has amassed talent in the form of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Hunter Pence, Roy Oswalt and Jonathan Papelbon.

While these names are enticing, their deals probably are not. Take Papelbon, for example. He was given the richest contract in history for a reliever. The problem is that a deal worth $60 million for a pitcher who is tasked with attaining three outs per game is asinine.

Especially when the money could have been used to give the rest of the bullpen or 25-man roster more depth.

2013 will be a telling year for Amaro Jr. He will either look like a genius or possibly lose his job. He deserves to be knocked hard for acquiring, then trading away Gio Gonzalez. He also shipped Chris Singleton out of the organization.

Meanwhile, many fans are disheartened at the lack of talented acquisitions during the 2012-13 off-season.

Ben Revere? John Lannan? Both guys are nice players, but Revere has one of the highest ground ball rates in baseball while Lannan is extremely ordinary on the hill. Meanwhile, fan favorite Vance Worley—a man who, when healthy, is an extremely effective young pitcher—was shipped out of town.

The Phillies have thus far failed to secure a deal for the likes of Justin Upton, Jason Kubel or Dexter Fowler.

2013 will speak volumes for what Amaro Jr. has done for the Phillies franchise. The roster is the least talented of any roster the Phillies have had since 2005, which is why this is the year where Amaro Jr.’s legacy will be shaped.

As to whether or not he has a job as GM in Philadelphia come October, that remains anyone’s guess.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Shane Victorino: Impact He Would Have on 2013 San Francisco Giants

Whether or not the San Francisco Giants are able to re-sign center fielder Angel Pagan, the team is lacking in outfield depth.  With a free-agent market full of big-name outfielders (Josh Hamilton, Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn), the Giants have several options.  

The Los Angeles DodgersShane Victorino is the best fit for San Francisco.  

The Giants were successful in 2012 for a variety of reasons, two of which included their ability to manufacture runs and their unique team chemistry.  Victorino would not only contribute to, but would also ultimately strengthen, this style of play.  

These are only a few of the reasons the Giants should take a good look at the Flyin’ Hawaiian.

San Francisco hitters may not be the most patient at the plate, but they do make a lot of contact. Second baseman Marco Scutaro led all of MLB with a 92.5 percent contact rate, and fellow G-men in the lineup followed closely.  

Shane Victorino possesses an impressive contact rate of his own.  He put the bat on the ball 86.8 percent of the time in 2012.  He is not afraid to swing and put the ball in play, which is an attribute complemented by the rest of the Giants’ lineup.  

In addition, Victorino only struck out 12 percent of the time and maintained a nine percent walk rate. While he doesn’t leave the bat on his shoulders often, he is no free swinger.

If the Phillies successfully sign Angel Pagan to a four-year deal, an offer reported by Ken Rosenthal via Fox Sports, Victorino would make a fine replacement in the leadoff spot.  After all, the Flyin’ Hawaiian didn’t get his nickname for nothing. 

Last season, Victorino swiped 39 bases for Philadelphia and Los Angeles while only getting caught six times.  He makes things happen on the base paths.  The Giants need a guy who can not only get on base, but who can put himself into scoring position and give Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey more RBI opportunities.  This is a lineup that doesn’t hit a lot of long balls, but that can hit safely consistently.  More baserunners means more value to every line-drive single.  

Put Pagan back into the equation, and Victorino would be equally effective batting fifth or sixth in the order.  He muscled 29 doubles last season, equal to his career average.

Along with their strategy of manufacturing runs, the Giants thrive on their ability and willingness to play as a team.  Victorino has an excellent clubhouse reputation and has already played with right fielder Hunter Pence while the pair covered the outfield grass in Philadelphia together.  He is a team guy with the right intangibles to fit right in in San Francisco. 

Not to mention, Victorino’s defense has been exceptional enough to earn three Gold Gloves.  

As an added bonus, Victorino played for the Dodgers last season with the knowledge of his role as a “rent-a-player.”  His time with Los Angeles was basically his opportunity to showcase his talents to other teams as his free agency approached.  While he ultimately underperformed, batting only .245, imagine the poetic justice of Victorino punishing the Dodgers for providing him with a clearly temporary home?  

Looking at Victorino as a serious option for the Giants in 2013 is not to give up on Angel Pagan.  But Victorino could potentially pick up the slack.  Ideally, Victorino would be a welcome reinforcement in a Pence-Pagan San Francisco outfield.  Either way, the switch-hitting center fielder should be under strong consideration among the powers-that-be in the Giants’ front office.  

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Philadelphia Phillies Should Consider Shutting Down Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard’s highly anticipated return following his devastating Achilles tear was the talk across Philadelphia for quite sometime, but once Howard took to the field, it was clear that he was not same player he once was. The injury has definitely left a hitch in Ryan’s step and the Phillies are left with a player they owe a lot of money to in the coming years. $20 million in 2013 and $25 million from 2014-2016 and a 2017 $23 million club option with a $10 million buyout. 

Is Ryan Howard really going to be the difference maker in whether or not the Phillies will make the playoffs in 2012? Probably not. The Phillies should protect their investment, let him sit the remainder of the season and get a head start on rehab for 2013.

Since Howard’s return, he has struggled immensely to make solid, consistent contact. Through 227 at-bats, he is batting a career low .225 with 85 strikeouts. He’s even worse against lefties, hitting just .163. His WAR (wins above replacement), is a -1.0, which in laymen’s sabermetric terms means he is doing more harm than good for the Phillies in 2012.

Also, Ryan has appeared limited in his ability to play first base. His range and mobility are both suffering from the injury and it is costing the Phillies outs. 

Is there any really upside to letting him play at 75%?

Doesn’t seem like it, but if the Phillies somehow pull off a miracle and make the playoffs, by all means, they should let him play. That doesn’t mean he should be playing as much as he has been. Days off are critical to helping muscles heal and by his performance he could use the rest.

The Phillies also brought up Darin Ruf who still hasn’t had a chance to start one game. So much for seeing what you have for next year. They could also have the right-handed hitting Ty Wigginton or John Mayberry spell Ryan at first base against lefties if they are not comfortable with Ruf. Both hit lefties very well, a lot better than Ryan’s .163 mark this season.

Don’t get me wrong, this year is important and there still is a fraction of a chance the Phillies make the playoffs. The fact is that the Phillies owe Ryan Howard a ton of money. Next year, the year after that, and the year after that are much more important than a pipe dream playoff push.

Let’s hear what everyone else thinks.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Cardinals Trade Rumors: 5 Potential Deals to Shore Up St. Louis Bullpen

Last night against the Miami Marlins the Cardinals came back to win a game in which they trailed in the eighth inning for the first time this season. They were 0-26 in those situations until Monday night.

However, the Redbirds’ bullpen tried their best to punt the game to the Marlins in the seventh as Fernando Salas got just one out while allowing runners to reach second and third. Scatter-armed Eduardo Sanchez followed and walked three men in a row—the first intentionally with the other two coming Rick Ankiel-style.

The Cardinal relievers walked eight batters on the night in 10 innings.

Fortunately for St. Louis, Heath Bell and the Marlins’ bullpen have had continuing struggles of their own and blew a four-run lead in the ninth (but at least they forced the Cards to, you know—hit the ball).

Jason Motte was fortunate that Jose Reyes’ scorching liner to center was right at outfielder Shane Robinson to end a strange night of baseball.

While we give manager Mike Matheny and GM John Mozeliak a moment to wipe their brows, let’s look at five trades that would immediately help the Cardinals’ stressed bullpen.

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Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Reasons to Believe the Phillies Can Still Take NL East

At the quarter pole of the 2012 season, the Philadelphia Phillies find themselves in unfamiliar territory—staring up at the rest of the National League East.  And while the Phightins are off to their slowest start in the last five years, there’s still reason to believe Philadelphia can claim its sixth consecutive division crown.  

Here are five good reasons to believe.

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Philadelphia Sports: Best Sports Quotes in Philly History

Philadelphia has had its fair share of interesting athletes throughout the years. Along with interesting characters, Philly sports figures have also been known for their infamous quotes.

Whether it was directly after a loss, or a miraculous fourth down reception or at a World Series parade, some Philly sports stars really knew how to blow a gasket or pump up a crowd.

No matter if it’s the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, 76ers or Big 5 basketball, these quotes will definitely bring back some memories.

So without further ado and/or eloquence, here are the best/most ridiculous/most passionate quotes in Philadelphia sports history.

Warning: Some quotes have rather distasteful language

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The 5 Best Things About Citizens Bank Park

Since its opening season, in 2004, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has completely changed the face of the Phillies organization.

In 2003, the Phillies ranked 24th in the MLB in attendance. After the inception of Citizens Bank Park in 2004, they rose all the way to fourth. The Phillies have now led all of baseball in attendance for the past three seasons. They are now working on a 204-game sellout streak going into the 2012 season. The stadium sells out every single night, and the atmosphere is perpetually electric.

Not only does this state-of-the-art, $336 million stadium draw in massive crowds, but it supplies them with everything that a baseball fan could possibly dream of. 

The Philadelphia Phillies have created a model of success for other teams to follow in Major League Baseball. Over the past decade, they have gone from the basement of the National League to a perennial powerhouse. This turnaround all began with the introduction of the baseball paradise that is Citizens Bank Park

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Philadelphia Phillies: 11 J-Roll Moments from Jimmy Rollins

The show goes on in Philadelphia. Jimmy Rollins will be back after signing a three-year deal with the Phillies, along with a vesting option for a possible fourth year.

Rollins, No. 11, will make a reported $11 million annually for the contract to play with the team he’s been the starting shortstop the past 11 years.

So what can we expect from J-Roll the next few years? Maybe some more J-Roll moments. He’s had many already.

Here are the 11 greatest moments of the Phils $11 million/year shortstop, from the past 11 years. 

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Jimmy Rollins Signs 3-Year Deal with Philadelphia Phillies

Jimmy Rollins has agreed to a three-year deal with the Phillies, according to Jerry Crasnick of espn.com. The deal is said to be worth around $33 million with a fourth-year vesting option, according to Jim Salisbury of csnphilly.com. 

The Milwaukee Brewers were among other teams who were in the running for Rollins, but Crasnick himself stated, “Brewers made an offer, but he ultimately wanted to stay home.”

Rollins, who is 33 years old, hit .268 with 16 HR and 63 RBI last season. He has spent his entire career in Philadelphia, and Phillies fans will be satisfied to see him stay put.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

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