Phillies Willing to Trade Ken Giles

Yesterday, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Phillies have made closer Ken Giles available in a trade. GM Matt Klentak confirmed Heyman’s report, per Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News.

Giles is 25 years old, under team control through 2020, and has put up back-to-back stellar seasons. That teams might be interested, and that the Phillies would make him available, should come as no surprise. As Heyman points out, the free agent market for relievers is notoriously weak, which has prompted the trade market to perk up. The Reds are expected to make Aroldis Chapman available, as are the Padres with Craig Kimbrel, the Nationals with Jonathan Papelbon, and others.

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2015 Phillies Report Card: Ryne Sandberg

He wanted to win. I sat down to write my final report card and tasked myself with the following: find one positive thing to say about Ryne Sandberg‘s managerial tenure. The negatives of his stint as a Phillies manager are copious enough to fill an entire (boring, depressing, and unreadable) book, but from time to time our dialogue on baseball devolves into black-and-white Hot Takes. I know my own analysis of Sandberg has been more than a little Hot Take-y at times, so I give you this: He wanted to win. He really, really wanted to win. Unfortunately, that was never his job in Philadelphia.

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Free Agent Pitching Targets for the Phillies

Despite having made several headlines in recent months as the front office has molted, the Phillies portend to have a relatively quiet off-season. Nearly all of their trade candidates have already been moved — Cole Hamels to Texas, Chase Utley to Los Angeles, Jonathan Papelbon to Washington. Many roster spots are now spoken for by younger, less-proven players and the next stage of the Phillies’ rebuilding process is to help these players develop into major league-caliber players.

It is enticing to pore over the list of free agents and envision many of them donning Phillies red pinstripes, but the David Prices, Zack Greinkes, and Jason Heywards of the world will be getting their contracts elsewhere. The Phillies, as has been common for them over the past couple of years, will be hunting for bargains — inexpensive, risk-free targets not to star, but instead to support their youth.

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2015 Phillies Report Card: Pete Mackanin

The first half of the Phillies’ season was remarkably poor, considering their intent when the schedule kicked off at home against the Red Sox was to lose as often as possible. Chase Utley suffered an ankle injury, performed poorly for two and a half months, then landed on the disabled list for a month and a half. The veteran pitchers the Phillies slotted into the rotation neither pitched well nor deep into games. Carlos Ruiz became a shadow of his former self.

What was most stunning among all of that, however, was the erosion of clubhouse camaraderie under manager Ryne Sandberg. Former shortstop Jimmy Rollins criticized Sandberg’s inability to communicate effectively with his players. Former reliever Justin De Fratus said his transition to a mop-up reliever was something that wasn’t communicated to him. Sandberg was repeatedly flouted by his pitchers, most notably Cole Hamels.

Near the end of June, with the Phillies sitting on a 26-48 record, an impromptu press was called. Some speculated that GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. had finally been axed; others thought it was a trade announcement potentially involving Hamels. To the surprise of everyone — including close friend Larry Bowa — Sandberg announced he was stepping down from his post. Bench coach Pete Mackanin was named the interim skipper. Mackanin has never been a full-time manager but had been an interim manager twice before with the Pirates in 2005 and the Reds in 2007.

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2015 Phillies Report Card: Adam Morgan

There’s a neighborhood here in Washington, D.C. called Adams Morgan. There’s a bar there called Madam’s Organ. Clever, I know. A band I was in played open mic there once, circa 1999. We were in town for a gig at a private art show, where an artist who was trying to sell some of her pieces rented out a small space for an afternoon. The band was asked to dress all in black. It felt like a funeral when she sold literally zero works of art that afternoon. We all helped her pack up her things and she went off into whatever was next for an artist who couldn’t sell one single work in an afternoon.

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2015 Phillies Report Card: Aaron Harang

Seventy-eight starting pitchers threw enough innings in 2015 to qualify for the MLB ERA title, from Yordano Ventura and Erasmo Ramirez, squeaking in with 163.1 innings, to Clayton Kershaw, leading the league with 232.2 innings. Only one of those 78 finished the season with the Philadelphia Phillies, and it wasn’t Cole Hamels, who was traded to the Texas Rangers in a franchise-altering deadline deal. Let’s talk about Aaron Harang.

He led all Phillies hurlers in innings pitched (172.1), games started (29), and batters faced (748), and allowed the most hits (189), runs (100), earned runs (93), homers (26), and walks (51). Among those aforementioned 78 starters, Harang was 74th with 0.8 fWAR. Now, WAR isn’t an infallible statistic that explains everything about a player, but it does provide helpful context for comparing players. In this case, Harang was good enough to pitch the requisite number of innings, but finished among the bottom five in fWAR, ERA (74th), ERA- (77th), FIP (78th), xFIP (77th), SIERA (77th), and K% (74th). Somewhat admirably, he ate the innings the Phillies paid him to eat when they signed him to a one-year, $5 million deal last winter.

Because you’ve heard enough about Jerome Williams and Sean O’Sullivan, and because the story’s not much different for Harang, let’s get to some numerology, at your request. Continue reading…

2015 Phillies Report Card: Hector Neris

After having already written about Dalier Hinojosa and Luis Garcia, I’m really out of interesting things to say about the Phillies’ army of interchangeable middle relievers, except to say that maybe it gives a pretty good picture of how this season went when so many of the team’s big contributors were middle relievers without much of a major league track record to speak of.

And that was pretty much where I say with Hector Neris, until I realized that he’s actually the best relief pitcher in baseball.

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Looking Back on the Cliff Lee Era

The Phillies officially ended the Cliff Lee era in Philadelphia on Tuesday, buying out the lefty’s contract for $12.5 million rather than picking up his club option for $27.5 million. As Justin Klugh pointed out at The Good Phight, that transaction has become something of a joke, as many have responded with a joke to the effect of “they’re paying him an obscene amount of money not to pitch”. In reality, they’re simply saving themselves $15 million.

Lee may be 37 years old, but if his elbow hadn’t died, the Phillies most likely pick up that option if for no other reason than to hopefully flip him for younger players at the trade deadline. Alas.

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