…the team’s all here.
All of the position players have decided to come to Clearwater earlier than the official Saturday date when they are suppose to report. To me, that means that they are all eager to get started, which brings a big smile to my face.
The news that has come out of camp, so far, is that the Phils plan to have Wilson Valdez work out some in centerfield, so that they can use him there during the season, as well as at second, third and short. Sounds like a good idea to me, since they are obviously planning to optimize the use of their bench players so that they can insert them anywhere on the field in the late innings, if they aren’t using them as pinch hitters, or intend to give their starters a few days off to rest.
Raul Ibanez has come to camp in good shape, having worked out during the off-season, showing himself prepared to play a full season without injury, thereby helping the ballclub both with the bat, and in the field.
Dom Brown is prepared to get the right fielder job while admitting that he had played poorly in the Domnican Winter League, and that he has no excuse for that. In fact, he hopes that it’ll help motivate him in his fight for the right field position. He has also mentioned that while he was in Clearwater earlier this year, that batting coach Greg Gross has helped him to correct his swing, to get rid of the kinks that had developed while he was on the bench during the last month or so of the 2010 regular season, figuring it’ll help him out.
Lastly, Chase Utley, when asked if he would take the opportunity to speak with Hall of Famer Ryan Sandberg, the Phils’ new manager for their Triple-A team (Lehigh Valley), said that he planned to pick his brains. In fact, the pair had already spoken with each other, and Sandberg has said that he is impressed with Utley’s work ethic. I hope that the pair’s talking will help Utley bounce back from what happened last season.
Yesterday, MLB.com announced who they consider to be Major League Baseball’s top 50 prospects. Among the fifty were two players in the Phillies’ farm system: Dom Brown, who came in at number 4 and Jonathan Singleton, who came in at 30.
Dom Brown, who is expected to join the team during spring training, to serve as part of a platoon in right field with Ben Francisco, to replace the just departed Jayson Werth, spent part of 2010 playing the outfield for both Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He batted .327, with an on-base percentage of .391 and a .589 slugging percentage, in 389 at-bats, as he hit 22 2Bs, 4 3Bs, 20 HRs and 68 RBIs for the two farm teams, before joining the major league ballclub during the summer after Shane Victorino got hurt. With limited playing time, as he stay with the ballclub through the playoffs, he batted .210 with 3 2Bs, 2 HRs and 13 RBIs in 62 at-bats, showing at the same time both his potential and his rawness. The Phils sent him to the Dominican Winter League to give him the at-bats he did not get while riding the bench during the last two months of the regular season, but he was sent home after struggling at the plate. So, he will be out to prove himself during spring training, to prove that he deserves to be with the big league ballclub.
Jonathan Singleton, who landed at number 30, spent the year playing for Class-A Lakewood, playing first base, as he went .290/.393/.479, hitting 25 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 14 HRs and 77 RBIs. As he shows potential, Singleton is being converted into an outfielder, as the Phils last season signed Ryan Howard to a five-year, $125-million contracts, which will start in 2012, meaning that he likely will not be able to join the ballclub playing that position. If he is able to show that he can play the outfield, Singleton should have a much better chance getting into the big league, hopefully as a Phil.
It seems that several things had occurred as far as the Phils are concerned.
First, on December 2, the Phils tendered contracts to outfielder Ben Francisco and pitcher Kyle Kendrick to keep them from becoming free agents. Kyle Kendrick will likely be fighting with Vance Worley for the fifth starter’s spot during spring training, while Francisco will be involved in a platoon situation with Dom Brown, as…
on the following Sunday, December 5, it was announced that Jayson Werth had signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Washington Nationals. Although he was expected to leave, Jayson’s signing with another team within the NL East came as a complete surprise to everyone, including Phils manager Charlie Manuel, as everyone had expected him to sign with an AL team, like the Red Sox or the Tigers. Well, Jayson, congrats on the money, but be prepared for a lot of boos, after being given some respectful cheers the first time you come to town in a Nat uniform. (The Nats? I hope you know what you’re doing Jayson.) As for the Phils’ compensation in draft picks, they will get a player in the draft between the first and second rounds, and then a player from the second round, as the Nats’ first round pick did not fall among the first 15 players of the draft.
The next day, December 6, the Hall of Fame Expansion Era Committee announced that it had elected ex-Phil General Manager Pat Gillick (2005-2008) to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Gillick, who was also the GM for the Blue Jays, who won World Series Championships in 1992-1993, to go along with the Phils’ 2008 World Series Championship, as well as being the GM for both the Baltimore Orioles and the Seattle Mariners, in 27 years as a GM, had 11 teams enter the post-season.
The next day, December 7, it was announced that journalist Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News (also formerly on the Philadelphia Bulletin) will receive the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from the BBWAA, for 50 years of meritorious contributions to baseball writing. He will be given the award during the induction ceremonies at Cooperstown, NY, on July 25, 2011.
Then, on December 8, the Phils announced that they had signed former Cardinal relief pitcher Dennys Reyes to a one year deal for $1.1 million, with a $1.35 million option for 2012. Reyes, who has pitched in the major leagues for fourteen seasons out of the bullpen, will be joining his eleventh team when he joins the Phils, as he finished 2010 with a 3-1 record with an ERA of 3.55, as he pitched in 59 games, with a save, as he struck out 25 batters, while walking 21. The Phils will likely be using him as their left handed specialist out of the bullpen, to compliment Antonio Bastardo.
On the 9th, the Phils took three players in the Rule 5 Draft, with the first one, Michael Martinez, an infielder, coming from the Nats organization, via their Syracuse Triple-A affiliate. Phils’ GM Ruben Amaro Jr. jokingly commented that picking him up was the Phils way of getting back at the Nats for taking Jayson. (I just hope the last laugh ain’t on the Phils with this one.) The Phils would also pick up Chris Frey from the Rockies organization and Justin Friend from the A’s in the minor league part of the Rule 5 Draft. I guess it’ll be a while before we see if any of these guys pan out with the Phils.
Also during the week, the Phils brought Dom Brown back from the Dominican League, as they did not think that he was getting the seasoning that they thought he would need to be ready for spring training. Instead, they plan to do it during spring training itself, to get him ready for the regular season.
Lastly, the Phils had announced on Saturday that shortstop Jimmy Rollins had on Thursday undergone minor surgery on his left wrist. They also announced that he should be able to participate in spring training next year.