and it’s been mainly because I’d been cleaning up my apartment. Don’t ask, other than that I’d mainly been cleaning up a lot of dust.
Anyway, in Phils’ related news, before yesterday, was the Phils’ announcement that Ryan Howard (left Achilles tendon) had been cleared by doctors, and that he can start doing baseball related activities within six weeks. That’s good news, but I hope that he’ll take his time and, if it means that he won’t be ready until mid-to-late May, so be it. I just hope that he’ll be able to recover his pop when he is back, since most of his power will be based on how well he’ll be able to push off his legs when he hits the ball. I’m just glad he’s a first baseman, so that he won’t be doing a lot of moving around trying to get balls hits in his direction. Jose Contreras (right elbow) has also been cleared so that he can start a throwing program today to get ready for Spring Training, while Cole Hamels (surgery to remove bodies from his left elbow) is throwing and says he’s feeling fine, while Placido Polanco and Hunter Pence (sports hernia surgery) both say that they should be 100% by the start of Spring Training. That’s sounds like good news all around.
Other news is that the Phils have decided to release John Bowker, who went 0 for 13 in 12 games for the Phils after being picked up in a trade with the Pirates late in 2011. Bowker will be trying to continue his baseball career in Japan. Good luck, John, but at your performance as a Phil, I am not sad to see you go.
The Phils have tendered contracts to the four players on the team who are still arbitration eligible after they had traded Ben Francisco to the Blue Jays: Cole Hamels, Hunter Pence, Kyle Kendrick and Wilson Vladez. Although it is expected that all four will receive an increase in salary whether they accept the proffered contracts, or go through arbitration, most of the fanbase would prefer that the Phils give multi-year contracts to both Hamels and Pence, especially Hamels, to keep them with the team for a while. As for Kendrick and Valdez, the two have shown their worth as insurance policies in case somebody gets hurt (although Kendrick had also shown that he can be a very good asset in the bullpen).
While this is going on, there has been reports that the Phils have signed to a one-year contract, pending him passing a physical, left-hander Dontrelle Willis. Willis, a former Rookie of the Year (2003 with the Marlins), pitched for the Reds last season, going 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 13 starts. Being mostly a starter during his nine-years career with the Marlins, the Tigers, the D-backs and the Reds, Willis had complied a record of 72-69 with an ERA of 4.17, as he had appeared in 205 games, all but three as a starter. The Phils, if he passes the physical, will more than likely be using him out of the bullpen as a left-handed specialist, and a spot-starter, as a kind of compliment to Kendrick, since there is really no way that he will be able to make the rotation, especially with his issues with his control.
Hopefully, the signing of Willis will end up being a good move for the Phils for next season.
Earlier today, the Phils have traded outfielder Ben Francisco to the Toronto Blue Jays for minor league reliever Frank Gailey.
Francisco, who was part of the deal with the Indians that originally brought Cliff Lee to the Phils in late July 2009, appeared in 225 games for the Phils from 2009-2011, mainly as their fourth outfielder, although for the first couple of months of 2011 he was the team’s starting right fielder, until he was put back on the bench before the Phils eventually traded with the Astros for Hunter Pence. In those games, he batted .259, having 136 hits including 32 doubles,1 triple and 17 home runs, while knocking in 75 RBIs. He also appeared in 17 post-season games, including the 2009 World Series, where he had an overall batting average of .105, with 2 hits in 19 at-bats, which includes his dramatic three-run home run in the third game of the 2011 National League Divisional Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, which gave the Phils a temporary 2-1 series lead, before finally falling to the eventual World Series champs in five games.
Gailey, a native Philadelphian, had pitched a combine 5-6 with a 3.41 ERA in 45 appearances for Class-A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire in the Blue Jays’ farm system. In his minor league career, overall, Gailey is 23-15 with a 2.45 ERA in 175 appearances.
Wish you luck with the Blue Jays, Ben, and thanks for what you did while you was here. Welcome to the organization, Frank. Hope you’ll be able to work your way to the main club.
The Phils have announced that they had just concluded a trade with the Colorado Rockies, getting Ty Wigginton for either a player to be named later or cash. Wigginton, who has played first base, third base, left and right field in his career, will most likely be the team’s main right-handed bat off of the bench, to compliment Jim Thome, whom the Phils had recently resigned.
Wigginton, who played for the Rockies in 2011, had also played for the Mets, the Pirates, the Rays, the Astros and the Orioles since 2002, appeared in 130 games, batting .242 in 401 at-bats, getting 97 hits, including 21 doubles, 2 triples and 15 home runs. He had also knocked in 47 runs while scoring 52.
It is more than likely that during Ryan Howard’s absense, as he recovers from his injuries, that Wigginton might be sharing first base duties with John Mayberry, Jr. and Jim Thome, and might also play a bit of third base to give Placido Polanco some useful time off both before and after Howard’s return to the line-up.
This might be a good move for the Phils over-all, since Wigginton can cover several bases during the upcoming season.
Jim Thome, who had played first base for the Phils from 2003-2005, before being traded to the White Sox after the 2005 season, allowing Ryan Howard to become the everyday first baseman, will return to the Phils as he signed a one-year contract worth $1.25 million dollars, to become mainly the left-handed bat off the bench, although expected to play a few games at first base early in the 2012 season as Howard recovers from his Achilles tendon injury, pending a physical.
During his three seasons with the Phils, ‘Gentleman Jim’ Thome help to make the Phils a contender as he had 333 hits, including 96 home runs, 65 doubles and 4 triples, while knocking in 266 runs while scoring 234. He also walked 260 times. Last season, as he played for both the Twins and the Indians, he hit a combined .256 batting average, with 71 hits, including 15 home runs and 16 doubles, as he knocked in 50 runs, while scoring 32 runs. Breaking into the majors with the Indians in 1991, Thome has a career total of 2287 hits, which includes 604 home runs, 444 doubles and 26 triples, knocking in1674 RBIs, for a career batting average of .277.
Welcome back, Jim. Hopefully you’re the left-handed bench bat that the team presently need once Howard comes back from his injury.
During the ballgame, but announced afterwards, the Phils announced that they have finally gotten their man. The Phils had finally completed a deal with the Astros, getting right handed outfielder Hunter Pence, while sending to Houston pitching prospects Jarred Cosart and Josh Zeid and first base prospect Jonathan Singleton, with a fourth player to be named later. Pence, who will most likely be playing in right field, is presently batting .309, with 11 home runs and 62 RBIs, along with a .356 on-base percentage and a .472 slugging percentage.
Pence, who is expected to be the right handed bat that the Phils have been looking for all year, especially to protect Ryan Howard by batting in the fifth spot, will be under the Phils’ control for both the 2012 and 2013 seasons, as well as this year.
The Phils are expecting Pence to appear in time for tomorrow night’s game, as he was pulled out of the Astros-Brewers game in Milwaukee in the fifth inning, saying goodbye to his teammates.
Welcome to the team, Hunter. I hope that you are what we have been looking for all season in the corner outfield, especially during the playoffs in October.
In a move that came completely out of the blue, the Phils have just signed free agent Cliff Lee to a five-year, $120 million contract, with a vesting option for a sixth year, beating the New York Yankees, who had offered Lee a six-year deal worth $135 million, with a vesting option for a seventh year, and the Texas Rangers, who had offered him a six-year deal worth $138 million, and with a vesting option for a seventh season. With this move, Lee returns to Philadelphia, after having been traded by the Phils to the Seattle Mariners, almost a year ago, giving the Phils a starting rotation that now have four aces (Lee, NL Cy Young Award Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels), that will be haunting the NL, especially the NL East, for at least a year (depending on whether Hamels will be resigned after the season, and if Oswalt decides not to retire after 2012.).
Lee, in 2010, as he pitched for first the Mariners, then the Rangers, went 12-9 with an ERA of 3.18, as he started in 28 games, pitching 212.1 innings, throwing seven complete games, including a shut out, as he struck out 185 batters, while walking only eighteen during the season. In the post-season, he helped pitched the Rangers into their first World Series appearance, before falling to the 2010 World Champions San Francisco Giants, as he went 3-2 overall for the Rangers.
The Phils will more than likely have to trade someone(s) to help them better afford their move. There is already rumors flying around that they have been trying to ship off Joe Blanton and or Raul Ibanez as a salary dump, with them willing to pay for part of Blanton’s salary to move him. I do not know if any of them is true, but, if they need to move someone, it should be Kyle Kendrick, not Blanton. After all, Blanton has been a bit more consistant, pitching wise, than has Kendrick, and he would be a lot better backup to the now Big Four than might Kendrick. Whatever does happen, I hope Ruben will know what he’s doing, although there does seem to be some method to his madness.