The Phillies will officially begin their defense of their World Series title tomorrow, as pitchers and catchers will officially report at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. Although the team is, for the most part, already set, there will still be some battles for spots on the team. Among them will be, who will be the fifth starter and who will be taking up residence in the bullpen between J.A. Happ, Kyle Kendrick, Chan Ho Park, and prospect Carlos Carrasco; who will be playing back-up to Carlos Ruiz behind the plate, Chris Coste or Ronny Paulino; and lastly, who will be playing second base, if Chase Utley is not ready by opening day, April 5, Eric Bruntlett or prospect/rookie Jason Donald, or someone else. Other questions to be answered will include: will Raul Ibanez be the improvement to the departed fan favorite Pat Burrell that everyone keep saying that he is; will the Phillies be able to get lefty Will Ohman to replace J.C. Romero during his 50 games suspension, or will they be able to find someone in-house; will they be able to get Nomar Garciaparra to sign on the dotted line to become their right-handed bat off the bench to compliment left-hander Greg Dobbs, or will they be able to do it with left-handers Matt Stairs and Geoff Jenkins; will the afformentioned Utley actually be ready to start at second base on opening day, or will the Phils tell him to give his right hip the rest that they think it will need for him to be fully ready; will Pedro Feliz’s back be ready to let him play during the spring; will the Phils be able to get somebody to take Adam Eaton off their hands, or will they just let him go; and lastly, will anyone among the invitees be able to get a job with the main team, or will they be spending the season in the minors or with another MLB team.
Those are the questions. They should all be answered by the time the Phillies will start their title defense at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday night, April 5, against the Atlanta Braves.
Me, I can’t wait to find out the answers. 🙂
All eight Phils who are eligible for arbitration have just filed, including Ryan Howard, 2008 NLCS and WS MVP Cole Hamel and Shane Victorino. All players must now tell the Phils how much they think they’re worth by this upcoming Tuesday, and any of those that don’t come to a quick decision with the ballclub, will have their case sent to a panel of three arbitrators for February 1-21.
In my opinion, I believe that except for maybe Howard, the players and the Phils will quickly settled their monetary differences and sign contracts for the next several seasons. With Howard, if last year is any indication, the team may decide to try their luck again with arbitration. While I think this might end up being another bad move on management’s part, I can see their point because of Howard’s low batting average and the large number of strikeouts he has made, in spite of his ability to knock in runs and hit home runs. But, I will say this, if the Phillies’ front office stiff Hamel, after asking him to pitch a full season without an injury, which he did, by helping the team win it all in the post-season, by not giving him a several seasons contract, then they will only have themselves to blame if he decides to try free agency the first chance he gets. Hey, front office, listen up, lock him in, now!!!!
Also, in an Alden Gonzalez article that was posted recently on Phillies.com, J.A. Happ has said that he is ready to compete for the last spot in the Phillies’ starting rotation, as he goes up against Chan Ho Park, Kyle Kendrick, and prospect Carlos Carrasco, among others for that spot.
I wish Happ luck on getting the spot. But if he doesn’t, I’m sure he will continue what he was doing at Lehigh Valley, while waiting to be called back if something goes wrong with one of the starters on the main squad.
First, some good news. The Phillies yesterday made it official as they signed reliever Chan Ho Park, formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers, to a one-year, $2.5 million dollars contract, to pitch for the Phils in 2009, after having past his physical. The right hander, who will be fighting for the fifth spot in the Phillies’ starting rotation with Kyle Kendrick, J.A. Happ, and minor leaguer Carlos Carrasco, but will more than likely be coming out of the bullpen, has pitched in 378 games, and starting in 280 of them, in a 15 years career as a major leaguer, with a record of 117 wins and 92 loses with an ERA of 4.34. For the 2008 Dodgers, he has appeared in 54 games, all but 5 of them coming out of the bullpen, going 4-4 on the year with a 3.40 ERA.
Later that day, the Phillies signed righthanded second baseman Marcus Giles to a minor league contract, with an invite to spring training, for $600,000. Although signed by the Colorado Rockies in 2008, he was released by them before the start of the 2008 season. His last full season in the majors was in 2007, where he played for the San Diego Padres for 116 games, going 96 for 420 for a .229 average, knocking in 39 RBIs on 19 2Bs, 3 3Bs and 4 HRs, while scoring 52 runs. In three years in the majors, he has a career batting average of .277, knocking in 333 RBIs on 187 2Bs, 16 3Bs and 76 HRs, while scoring 468 runs. Giles will more than likely, if he makes the team in spring training, be used as the second baseman while Chase Utley continues to recover from hip surgery, and then be used as insurance at second base and their right handed bat off of the bench after Utley’s return.
Now, the bad news. J.C. Romero has been suspended by MLB for the first 50 games of the season for violating the league’s drug policy, inspite of the fact that he has done nothing wrong, while doing every thing that he could to avoid violating the policy, as he took an over-the-counter supplement, bought from a Cherry Hill GNC, that contain traces of a substance that is on the MLB’s do not take policy. My opinion is that this is just flat-out bogus.
Other folks elsewhere have already commented on this, and I’m just going to give my two cents. I consider Romero the victim of bad advice, being told that the new product that he had bought over-the-counter from GNC was at the time okay to take, as the player’s association has told him that everything bought from a nutrition store like GNC was okay, as well as being told by three different nutritionists that it was safe to use, but never being informed that there was actually an illegal substance in it, according to the Center for Drug Free Sports. He only realized that something was wrong when he was told that he had tested positive during a drug test done on him on Aug. 26 in Sept., before, if the time line is correct, being informed that he has failed again on September 19. Romero took immediate action, and stop taking all of his supplements, not know which one has caused the positive reading, thus rating a negative when he was tested again on October 1, before the playoffs, so that whatever was that was in his system has finally passed through. But, he was at the time offered a deal by major league baseball: Admit that you was wrong in taking it and take a 25 games suspension, effective immediately, or, take your chances with arbitration, lose and get a 50 games suspension. Romero, who honestly believe that he has done nothing wrong (as would anyone who is following this very carefully, and without any bias), told them no on the plea, and decided to take his chances with an arbitrator. Sadly, the arbitrator found in favor of MLB, and Romero is now out for 50 games.
This whole thing would be funny, if not for the fact that Romero had done everything he could to not be in this present situation, as he kept asking if the product was safe to use, as did the Yankees’ Sergio Mitre, who also bought an over-the-counter product from GNC, that has also gotten him into hot water, with the same results, and are both now being penalized, and having their good names dragged through the mud because of other people’s mistakes, because these same people have been burned by the steroid era of the 90s and the reaction from the U.S. Congress a few years back. (Yeah, yeah, I know a few of you out there are saying sour grapes, but please read all of the articles on this, before making knee jerk reactions. It took me over a day before I’d decided to write about this, and it was only after reading several articles and seeing the reactions to it on several other blogs, and, for the most part, I am reading that people, in general, think that the two of them are both getting a raw deal.) Yeah, you heard me. This is the MLB trying to tell Congress and the public, see, see, we’re cleaning up our act. Sorry, guys, but for you to convince me, you need to do a whole lot better than this, when it doesn’t look that you’re trying to kiss up to the U.S. Congress. You guys are pathetic.
Anyway, I’m hoping that the Phillies will take advantage of the situation. How? Remember people, Romero will be gone for 50 games, plus how many games he might miss trying to get back into the swing of things, if the Phillies don’t have him pitching in their minor league system to get himself ready. Romero will thus be fresh and ready to go when the second half grind start. I feel sorry for the batters JC’ll be facing if he decides to use it as an opportunity to defend his honor by taking it out on them for the rest of the year. 🙂
During the 2 pm progress report on Chase Utley’s right hip, Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro announced that the Phillies have re-signed veteran pitcher Jamie Moyer to a new two-year contract. The 22 years veteran went 16-7 for the Phils in 33 starts, with a 3.71 ERA in 2008, being the team leader in wins. In a two plus month period, from June 6 to August 21, he would give up three earned runs or less to opposing team. The soon to be 47 years old, has a record of 246-185 in 637 games (548 starts) with a 4.19 ERA, tied for 47th place on the all-time Major League wins list, while being presently third among active starters, with the recent retirement of Mike Mussina of the Yankees and Greg Maddux of the Padres/Dodgers. Since joining the Phillies in mid-2006, he has gone 35-21 with a 4.33 ERA in 74 starts, with the team going 46-28 (.622) in his starts, while pitching the divisional pennant clinchers in both 2007 and 2008, and having a good start in Game 3 of the World Series which the Phillies would win in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the ninth.
Moyer’s re-signing means that the first four spots in the Phils’ starting rotation (Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Joe Blanton, Moyer) is now set, with the fifth and final spot now being an audition between Kyle Kendrick, J.A. Happ, prospect Carlos Carrasco and Chan Ho Park. Whether the Phils will continue to go after free agent Derek Lowe after signing Moyer and Park is a good question, especially when they should be looking out for a right handed power bat to help counter balance their recent signing of Raul Ibanez, and the obvious departure of Pat Burrell, to counter the presently loaded left-handed power of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. But such a signing would serve notice to the rest of the National League East, after the Mets’ signing of free agent closer Francisco Rodriguez and their trade with Cleveland for J.J. Putz to be Rodriguez’s set-up man to better their weak bullpen, that the Phillies will be looking to repeat as the National League Champions with a very strong starting rotation.
The Phillies continue contract talks with 22 years veteran Jamie Moyer, trying to nail him in with a two-year, about $15 Million dollars deal, partly explaining why the Phillies were still in Las Vegas, beside getting ready to sign Raul Ibanez. Talks between the Phils and Moyer has in fact increased since their signing of former Seattle Mariners outfielder Ibanez has all but ended the possibility of the Phillies resigning their free agent left fielder, Pat Burrell. If Moyer does resign with the team, it would mean a starting roster consisting of Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Joe Blanton and Moyer, with the fifth spot to be fought over between Kyle Kendrick, J.A. Happ, minor leaguer Carlos Carrasco, and Adam Eaton.
Correction, the battle for the final spot in the starting rotation has increased by one as former Dodgers Chan Ho Park has agreed to a one-year contract with the Phillies for $2.5 Million dollars, with bonuses that could push it up to $5 Million. With Park’s signing, the Phillies have added depth to the bullpen, while also adding another possible starter in the fight for the fifth and final spot in the rotation, if Moyer resigns with the ballclub. The 15 years veteran last year went 4-4 wiith a 3.40 ERA in 54 games with the Dodgers.
Hopefully this latest move will help the Phillies as they continue to see if they can get either Moyer or free agent Derek Lowe.