Salisbury: Chase Utley, Phillies discussing extension?

CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury suggests that the Phillies and second baseman Chase Utley are working on a contract extension. There is nothing concrete and neither side has given any indication that there have, indeed, been extension talks. Salisbury cites anonymous sources and uses some circumstantial evidence that point to it.

To wit:

• A person with knowledge of the situation says the Phillies have had recent talks with Utley’s representation about a contract extension.

• Word in well-placed baseball circles is that the Phillies are not listening to trade offers for Utley.

• The decision to broaden second-base prospect Cesar Hernandez’ utility skills by having him play some outfield shouldn’t be underestimated, especially upon further review of the comment that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. made to CSNPhilly.com on Sunday.

“If we’re fortunate enough to keep Chase in our uniform, which we hope to do, Cesar becomes a utility piece,” Amaro said Sunday.

• In the same conversation, Amaro was asked point blank if he’d begun to speak with Utley’s representation about an extension.

“We wouldn’t discuss it even if we did,” he said.

He didn’t say no. Amaro isn’t always forthcoming when it comes to matters of negotiations, but he has a way of shooting down the ridiculous. He didn’t shoot this one down.

An extension is the only way the Phillies can justify not trading Utley within the next week. They fell to 49-52 with a brutal loss last night to the Cardinals. Entering the night, Baseball Prospectus gave the Phillies a four percent chance to make the playoffs, three percent to win the NL East specifically. Comparatively, the Braves were 92 percent to win the division and the Nationals five percent. If the Phillies aren’t sellers — particularly at this point, in a seller’s market — then their standards for contention are remarkably lax.

Hopefully, we’ll be seeing Michael Young, Delmon Young, Carlos Ruiz, and Jonathan Papelbon made available quite soon.

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64 comments

  1. Matt

    July 25, 2013 09:16 AM

    My fingers are going to be crossed for awhile

  2. Kevin

    July 25, 2013 09:24 AM

    Interesting that you list Delmon Young. Does he even have any value to a AL team as a DH?

  3. Pencilfish

    July 25, 2013 09:40 AM

    How come the Nationals have a higher chance to make the playoffs? They are playing worse than the Phillies by a wide margin, even though they don’t have as many injuries (Halladay, Howard, Revere, etc).

    Speaking of last night’s game, JMJ demonstrated why he should be on the bench when Revere comes back. In the top of the 5th inning, Charlie uses John McDonald (utility IF) to pinch-hit for Lannan with 2 on and 1 out while trailing 4-1. McDonald bounced into a double play. Who knows how JMJ would have done there, but he certainly has more power than an utility IF. Then, in the bottom of the inning with the Phillies trailing 6-1, bases loaded and 2 outs, JMJ makes an ill-advised dive to catch a fly ball, missing it by 10 ft. The single turned into a triple, the bases were cleared and the game was effectively over (trailing 9-1).

  4. Pencilfish

    July 25, 2013 09:47 AM

    If RAJ re-signs Utley, it says two things: 1) Utley sells tickets, and 2) RAJ plans to contend in 2014.

    If the Phillies plan to field a competitive team in 2014, then Lee should be off the market (now and in the off-season), and the Phillies will be going hard after some FA this winter.

    This could also be the beginning of the Charlie Manuel farewell tour.

  5. Richard

    July 25, 2013 09:57 AM

    Pencilfish – the Nationals chances of making the playoffs are better than the Phillies in part because of their less dreadful run differential (which is one of the components in the calculation), but also probably because their players are projected to be better this season going forward.

  6. adam_s

    July 25, 2013 10:06 AM

    @BB
    Think pittsburgh would take Papelbon off our hands now that they lost their closer for a little while?

  7. schmenkman

    July 25, 2013 10:27 AM

    @Pencilfish, it was certainly a horrible decision by JMJ to go for that catch, but with two outs and the runners going it was probably only the difference between 8-1 and 9-1.

  8. Phillie697

    July 25, 2013 10:34 AM

    @Pencilfish,

    What Richard said about run differential. Funny thing about numbers. They have no emotions and don’t care about “trends” and “streaks”, which never had any statistical proof that they exist.

  9. Phillie697

    July 25, 2013 10:35 AM

    On a team that plays Delmon Young as a starter, we don’t get to talk about the viability of playing JMJ on the field.

  10. Pencilfish

    July 25, 2013 10:41 AM

    schmenkman,

    How the official scorer called it a triple is beyond me, too. It should have been a single and a error.

  11. Pencilfish

    July 25, 2013 10:49 AM

    Phillie 697,

    “On a team that plays Delmon Young as a starter, we don’t get to talk about the viability of playing JMJ on the field.”

    Okay, I will mark on my calendar and wait till DY is gone as a starter, and then we can talk about JMJ’s correct role: pinch-hitter and occasional spot starter. Never thought I would miss Revere. RAJ stole him from the Twins.

  12. Ted Kennedy

    July 25, 2013 11:20 AM

    Watch it Pencilfish! Don’t mention anything good about the Phillies, or else you are an FO apologist and an RAJ defender.

  13. Joecatz

    July 25, 2013 11:42 AM

    The perfect deadline:

    1. Extend utley
    2. Keep lee
    3. Sign Gonzalez
    4. Trade papelbon, young, Ruiz
    5 shop Delmon, Kendrick/lannan

    If a Brian Wilson signing happens in there it’s not the end of the world.

    But that’s a B+ to A+ deadline depending on return.

  14. BeezNutz

    July 25, 2013 12:00 PM

    @joecatz

    you dont want Kendrick back? Im hoping they bring him back, depending on money obviously. Guy’s a solid bottom of the rotation guy and should not break the bank.

    Also, they cannot sign Utley to anything longer than 2 years. Sorry

  15. Dristone

    July 25, 2013 12:00 PM

    @697:

    Statistics are the basis for defining trends…

  16. Joecatz

    July 25, 2013 12:12 PM

    Thats assuming they sign gonzales

    Kendrick will make between 7 and 10mm in arbitration next year. Ruben hates arbitration. So that means figure a 3 year joe Blanton like deal.

    Kendrick is EXACTLY the SP they should be shopping right now because his replacement value vs expected salary is easily replaced and restructured in the offseason.

    Biddle/Morgan/Pettibone can fill two rotation slots.

    Lee, hamels, Gonzalez two of the young guys is a 60-64mm rotation.

    Hamels, lee, Kendrick, lannan and one of those guys is a 62-70mm rotation.

    One of Kendrick or lannan is not back next year IMO.

  17. Phillie697

    July 25, 2013 12:21 PM

    @Dristone,

    No, actually. People use statistics to define trends. Whether those trends actually exist or not is in the eyes of the beholder, not in the statistics themselves.

  18. Phillie697

    July 25, 2013 12:25 PM

    @Pencilfish,

    As long as Delmon Young is still on this team and starting, JMJ should always has the excuse of, “I should be playing out there instead of him.”

    Case in point, if we don’t have Delmon Young, and we play JMJ out there instead. Revere gets hurt, and we move JMJ to center (since we have to), and JMJ does what he did that you pointed out. Will you still make the same comments you made, that Revere > JMJ? On this team, that shouldn’t even BE a comparison between those two to begin with.

  19. Pencilfish

    July 25, 2013 12:26 PM

    Ted Kennedy,

    Thanks for the reminder, but most people are reasonable and can simply agree to disagree. The bad apples don’t detract from the mostly insightful analyses found on this blog. Dealing with disagreeable people (but staying focused on the issues) is part of my day job. This is like an extra workout.

  20. hk

    July 25, 2013 12:45 PM

    Pencilfish,

    Why do you continue to insist that a player with a career .365 wOBA vs. LHP’s who has also shown to be a good defensive RF would be better served getting 80 PA’s as a PH, most likely 1/2 of which would come vs. RHP’s as opposed to a platoon RH getting 280 PA’s almost all of which would come vs. LHP’s. That Schierholtz / Mayberry platoon for ~$2M combined that Bill Baer proposed last off-season looks better and better by the day, especially compared to the production that the team has actually received and projects to receive from RF this season for comparable money.

  21. Bdawkbdawk

    July 25, 2013 01:29 PM

    @ Phillie697

    “Whether those trends actually exist or not is in the eyes of the beholder?”

    What are you talking about? Of course trends exist statistically. Causation is open to scrutiny. A trend is right there in the data.

  22. Phillie697

    July 25, 2013 02:45 PM

    @Bdawkbdawk,

    Is three straight games of something happening a “trend”? Ten? 100? There is a reason why we talk about small-sample size, but for each person, what constitutes SSS is different. It’s all up to interpretation, and not in the data themselves.

  23. Ginner207

    July 25, 2013 02:50 PM

    What Gonzalez are you guys talking about? Gio?

  24. LTG

    July 25, 2013 03:02 PM

    That something is susceptible to multiple plausible interpretations does not entail that the the correct interpretation (or the plausible ones) is up to each person. Nor does it entail that there is no single correct interpretation. There are standards of interpretation between mere subjectivity and empiricism (“in the data itself”).

  25. Phillie697

    July 25, 2013 03:05 PM

    @joecatz,

    Unfortunately, if you want my honest opinion, I think we are going to end up with both of our nightmares. That is, nobody significant gets traded, i.e. your “missing the opportunity to cash in AND THEN not make the playoffs.”

    Of course, the Tigers might kick the crap out of us and make us 10 games out. I’m rooting for that to happen, per MB’s suggested method.

    Also, what are the chances we trade Lee to the Braves now that Hudson is hurt? ROFLMAO.

  26. Phillie697

    July 25, 2013 03:12 PM

    @LTG,

    Please define the statistical and objective definition of “trends” and “streaks” then. That might be a bit difficult considering that there is no statistical proof that they actually exist in baseball.

  27. Bdawkbdawk

    July 25, 2013 03:27 PM

    @ Phillie697

    No, the positive or negative relationship between the values of two data sets is a trend. So you eating a few chipotle burritos and getting indigestion is a trend. It’s in the statistics. What we call this trend or what we think the significance of this trend is, is up for debate.

    Regarding whether run-differential is an accurate predictor of future performance, well, smarter people than I claim that it is. But aside from the champs and the dregs of the league, it seems pretty arbitrary.Do teams often care about the magnitude of their wins or losses? It doesn’t seem like they make in-game personnel decisions as if they do. I’d be more receptive to a win/ loss bracketing system where you compare the number of blowouts for vs against and then factor that in to a “close game” run differential system.

  28. Ginner207

    July 25, 2013 03:37 PM

    @Phillie697

    I appreciate the link, thanks man.

  29. Phillie697

    July 25, 2013 03:41 PM

    @Bdawkbdawk,

    That’s fine, except there are people who get paid to make predictions, i.e. Cool Standings, and then those, like you, who attack those predictions but provide no alternatives, mainly because you don’t want to believe that Phillies’ playoff odds are that low. Those people have to base their predictions on SOMETHING. You can argue all you want about how arbitrary run-differential is, but it’s SOMETHING. What else do you want them to base it on? Magic 8 Ball?

  30. Phillie697

    July 25, 2013 03:47 PM

    Remember, blow outs often times signify how dominant/weak a team is. This is why the Pythagorean formula based on run-differential have had a pretty high correlation to win-loss record. If there are statistically-relevant data that show that teams not caring about how much they win or lose affect the way they play those games, no one has been able to find them. TEAMS might not care about how much they lose or win by, but prediction systems don’t, and shouldn’t, take “feelings” into account.

    And there is a perfectly reasonable, non-statistical explanation for that too if you want it: Baseball might be a team sport still, it is probably the most individualist sport of all the team sports; just because your team is up 10-1 doesn’t mean you, as a pitcher, wants to go out there and give up 5 more runs (you’ll still win right?), or that you as a hitter will just go up there and watch 9 pitches go by and take 3 Ks because it don’t matter anymore.

  31. Bdawkbdawk

    July 25, 2013 04:12 PM

    @Phillie697

    Come on man, try to stick with me. I critiqued the system and proposed (what I think) might be a better approach.

    “TEAMS might not care about how much they lose or win by, but prediction systems don’t, and shouldn’t, take “feelings” into account.”

    You mistake my point. I wasn’t talking about “feelings” I was talking about decisions. Like decisions to have a longer hook on struggling pitchers, or putting in below average “innings eaters”, so you can save your best arms.

    I recognize that the Pythagorean formula based on run differential has a decently high correlation to win-loss record in the macro sense. And I’ve allowed for this too when I said it does a good job distinguishing the champs from the dregs. But if we are talking about 1 team towards the middle of the league, i don’t think that it has particularly good predictive value. Especially in comparison to the approach I outlined.

    I think the Phillies are in a tough spot regardless.

  32. LTG

    July 25, 2013 04:14 PM

    A trend is a pattern through many events whose recurrence can be reliably projected over a given period of time to continue according to underlying but not necessarily known causes.

    A streak is a series of similar events that are notable because they are rarely seen in such a series.

    That these concepts (especially ‘trend’) are misapplied (e.g., Pitcher X has an 0-3 record and a 7.50 ERA against Team Y in 5 games) does not indicate mere subjectivity.

  33. LTG

    July 25, 2013 04:20 PM

    Who said concepts are supposed to be defined statistically? That numbers are used to measure the phenomena does not mean that are to be used to define the concepts used to analyze the phenomena. Not everything objective is quantifiable. And not everything susceptible of being true is objective.

    I’m sure one could translate my wordy definitions into formal mathematics. Even reliability can be turned into a threshold calculation. But what would be gained besides the ability to plug it into a spreadsheet?

  34. Pencilfish

    July 25, 2013 04:29 PM

    hk,

    I should explain that I expect the Phillies to find an everyday RF this winter. In that case, the OF would be Brown, Revere and the new RF. Mayberry should be the 4th OF and pinch-hitter. When we were down 4-1 with 1 out and 2 on in the top of the 5th inning yesterday, Manuel sent McDonald to pinch-hit. That’s like sending Mini-Mart out there. Imagine if we had Mayberry instead. Yes, it is only 60 AB’s/yr, but we could have used 1 AB yesterday.

    I am not allergic to platoons, but it weakens the bench. If you can propose a platoon that doesn’t weaken the bench and gives better performance/$ than a regular RF, then I would consider.

  35. WayneKerrins

    July 25, 2013 04:53 PM

    Lots of numerate types on here, lots of angst over a mill or two.
    Could one of the cognoscenti estimate how much the attendance drop has/will hurt us this season? And, if we blow the team up, what another 80 plus games with at least 20% less arses on seats will next year?

  36. Dan K.

    July 25, 2013 05:55 PM

    @Wayne,

    The attendance drop hurts for sure, but with the upcoming T.V. deal, the team is not going to be hurting for money. With that in mind, they are better served blowing up the team if it means future sustained success; that is KEEPING fans in the seats instead of luring them back just to have them leave again when the team completely falls apart.

  37. Phillie697

    July 26, 2013 12:08 AM

    @LTG,

    Stick to baseball here, LOL. That’s all I was confining it to, since we are talking about baseball statistics.

    @Pencilfish,

    Well, if you’re talking about the off-season, yes, we should probably get someone better than JMJ. Curious though, we could have GOTTEN someone better than JMJ this PAST off-season. But we went with… Douchbag Young.

  38. Kevin H

    July 26, 2013 12:54 AM

    Be forewarned that the regional TV ‘windfall’ is far from a sure thing. A lot can happen in a couple of years and any substantial increase for the Phillies would be tied to the success of Fox Sports 1, which is a fairly risky proposition. ESPN kind of snuck in as a pioneer getting broad carriage and monthly carriage fees far out of whack with how few viewers they draw on a normal day. A new sports network isn’t going to get those type of monthly fees and may have trouble staying off of a sports tier.

    As of now, it is my understanding Fox is trying to negotiate an ESPN-type deal with Directv, Dish, and Time Warner. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them fail in that endeavor and to have the whole thing unravel and be short-lived. The majority of viewers on the big carriers are non-sports fans (three of the top 12 cable programs this week were airings of “Teen Beach Movie” with “Liv and Maddie,” “Rizzoli and Isles”, and “Major Crimes” making the top 5 with the HR derby in there too) and there have been complaints over the high carriage fee ESPN charges and pressure in congress to allow al a carte programming, so it’s hard to see how carriers would negotiate a similar, additional deal for rival to ESPN when they already feel heat for ESPN’s sweetheart deal from the majority of their customers.

    The fundamental truth that is regularly overlooked by those dreaming of new major sports endeavors is that sports fans in almost any place in the world that isn’t in dire poverty are already very well served. There isn’t ‘empty’ space out there for rival leagues, new major sports, or perhaps a rival to ESPN. The speculation is interesting and it could play out, but I cringe when I regularly read people cashing those checks that may never come.

  39. WayneKerrins

    July 26, 2013 05:30 AM

    @ Dan K
    I get the bigger picture although the TV deal nirvana isn’t a given. I don’t get the column/reply inches expended on whether a 1 or 2 mill deal was financially robust. The revenue line on our club is on the wrong trajectory and the short and long term corollaries of this are far more concerning to me.

  40. Pencilfish

    July 26, 2013 09:43 AM

    Phillie697,

    “Curious though, we could have GOTTEN someone better than JMJ this PAST off-season”

    Who? If you previously mentioned someone based on pre-2013 performance, then I missed it. I’m on record saying we shouldn’t have traded Pence away, but that seemed a salary dump to accommodate Hamels’ extension. This off-season, we will have significant budget flexibility to address it.

  41. Pencilfish

    July 26, 2013 10:09 AM

    Kevin H,

    It was rumored the Padres earn $75M/yr from the new deal it signed in 2010. The Astros earn 80M/yr. The pre-Pujols Angels signed a deal worth ~150M/yr. In contrast, I found a report saying the Phillies earned 24M in 2010.
    This does NOT include TV ad sales during broadcasts. The Phillies get to keep profits from ad sales (no idea how much that is).

    FoxSports has local broadcast rights to about half of MLB already. It bought a share in the Yankees YES Network, but it couldn’t get in on the RedSox or Mets. It is rumored to be looking to expand its footprint on the East Coast, and the Phillies conveniently have a contract expiring in 2015. Even if only Comcast bids on the Phillies, I would be incredibly disappointed if we earn less than $150M/yr on the new deal, including the ad sales.

  42. Phillie697

    July 26, 2013 11:36 AM

    @Pencilfish,

    This off-season we had the cap space to sign Swisher, but chose not to. He ended up signing a very reasonable deal. No one would have yelled at RAJ for anything if he signed Swisher to that deal. The deal that was floating around that Swisher wanted, no, but that’s not the deal he ended up getting.

    Of course, it’s not an ideal deal either, but it’s certainly an alternative to Douchbag Young; just his defense alone would have made Phillies game infinitely more watchable than having to watch Douchbag play defense. The fact that they didn’t push to the limit of cap space this season is the primary reason why I think they’re not about to do so next season, so that “financial advantage” people talk about so much might not be as large as people think.

  43. schmenkman

    July 26, 2013 12:04 PM

    697, to flesh out the two alternatives you posed:

    1) Swisher at 5/70 for his age 32-36 seasons

    vs.

    2) Young 1yr/3.5M
    + Ruf or trade or FA for 2014-on
    + JP Crawford

  44. Phillie697

    July 26, 2013 12:25 PM

    1. Young is costing us games, and he gets paid $3.5M to do so. For 2013 he’s going to cost this team overall about the same as Swisher at $11M.

    2. Exactly what would be the difference in signing a FA in 2014 vs. 2013, especially when the interm gap is filled by… Douchbag Young?

    3. You DO know J.P. Crawford is 18 right? By the time he’s ready, if we signed Swisher, that contract would be expiring already.

  45. Phillie697

    July 26, 2013 12:27 PM

    That said, like I said, I don’t think that’s the best way to solve that problem either. It’s just STILL better than what RAJ chose to do.

  46. schmenkman

    July 26, 2013 12:46 PM

    697, if the Phillies signed Swisher, there wouldn’t be a Crawford (1st round pick forfeited).

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