Ken Rosenthal: Phillies’ Off-Season A “Major Fail”

In his latest column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal made the argument that the Phillies needed to make more moves over the off-season, describing their winter as a “major fail”. He notes that the San Diego Padres made an aggressive offer to the Phillies for starter Cole Hamels before signing James Shields to a four-year, $75 million contract. Rosenthal says the Phillies “need to face reality”. He went on, saying, “The Phillies refuse to accept that they might not get exactly what they want.”

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Remaining Free Agents Who May Be Of Interest To The Phillies

Now that James Shields’ requests of his realtor are more specific than “I need a new home somewhere in North America”, the list of remaining free agents is finally looking sparse. Pitchers and catchers will report next week and the majority of major leaguers know whether they’re bound for the Grapefruit League or the Cactus League, but a few interesting players still remain unsigned. Although the self-proclaimed rebuilding Phillies have been largely quiet in the free agent market this winter, they still lack roster depth in a few areas that may be worth fortifying. Here are a few free agents still likely to be signed to major league deals that may be on their wish list:

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Ruben Amaro “Covets” Andrew Cashner

Last week, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported that GM Ruben Amaro “covets” San Diego Padres starter Andrew Cashner, a relevant piece of information as the Padres are one of the handful of clubs still actively pursuing Cole Hamels. The Padres are also one of the few teams who have the minor league talent the Phillies are looking for, including a top catching prospect in Austin Hedges.

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Why Talent Is The Sticking Point In Papelbon Trade Talks

A recurring theme in Phillies analysis over the past year or two has been that Ruben Amaro‘s unrealistic demands in trade negotiations have prevented him from making deals. I like to think his ability to move Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd, and even Antonio Bastardo for well-regarded returns this winter has put a bit of a dent in that common assumption, but it may be a reputation Amaro is unable to shake as long as Cole Hamels and (if healthy) Cliff Lee remain Phillies. Never mind the fact that standard negotiating practice dictates that you start with a high asking price or that the one thing Amaro absolutely cannot do is fail to secure the best available return if he trades Hamels, his one elite trade chip.

While I find this particular criticism to be overstated and misguided, I do understand it. Patience is boring. Action is exciting. There is one topic for which the “Amaro’s asking price is too high” critique is unequivocally meaningless though: Jonathan Papelbon trade rumors.

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Gertrude and Anatoli

December 21, 2315
Somewhere Near the ruins of Cherry Hill, Federated Union of North America

Dearest Gertrude,

I write to you knowing that in all probability, you will never lay eyes on this letter. The ion storms coursing overhead leave streaks of lighting as piercing blue as your eyes and as breathtakingly beautiful as your face, and they too imprison me in a state I may never escape. Long have I regretted the actions I took that allowed The Event to separate us, and my guilt is only assuaged by the fact that I was able to love you, and you me, for what time we had together.

I write to you because I learned something today that shows, in clear terms, how nothing changes in this world. Carlos Tocci is the Phillies’ eighth-best prospect. Civilizations have risen and fallen, the Moon  revolves around the Earth and the hoverships glide lazily from here to there, and Carlos Tocci is still 19 years old and slugging .280 in the low minors.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 2: Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Well, that was unexpected. At the beginning of the season, do baseball players consciously plan on playing every day? Do elementary school kids decide in September that they’re going to have 100% attendance that year? I foolishly thought I would start my own Baumann/Ripken streak and rattle off weekly Crashbags. Hey, maybe I still can. But it’s not as easy as running in the ball from the 1-yard line on second down with Marshawn Lynch.

Baseball season is currently wiping the sleep out of its eyes and deciding whether to hit snooze again, or maybe think about getting out of bed. There’s a tastefully small amount of the offseason left. The Best Shape of His Life stories are stacking up, and the stack is getting bigger each day. Before you know it, it’ll be time to hit the back fields in Clearwater. So let’s get to work.

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Phillies Sign Chad Billingsley to a One-Year Deal

The Phillies announced on Twitter that they’ve signed pitcher Chad Billingsley to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that Billingsley’s contract includes performance incentives which can bring his salary all the way up to $8 million. To make room for Billingsley on the 40-man roster, they designated Cesar Jimenez for assignment.

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jpc

Keith Law Loves J.P. Crawford

I love J.P. Crawford, too, but it was still a pleasant (if not major) surprise to see one of our guys in the Top 10 of a major Top Prospect list for the first time since Dom Brown was rated #1 in BA’s mid-season just before his initial call-up to the big leagues. Law ranked Crawford #7 overall today, when he released his Top 100 prospects list, (FYI – it’s behind the paywall at ESPN). He cites what many have been listing as excellent reasons for ranking Crawford so high – his bat and power showing a little more than most expected when he was drafted, and his continuing abilities in the field.

I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see Crawford in someone else’s Top 10, but Law has been high man on J.P. for a while, including immediately after the 2013 draft, when he praised the Phils’ draft and Crawford in particular. Figure the 20-year-old shortstop is pretty easily a consensus Top 20 prospect when all the major publications are done ranking for the year. He’s earned it in games as well as in the eyes of scouts, after putting up wOBAs of .378 and .352 in Lakewood (A-) and Clearwater (A+), with wRC+ of 132 and 119, respectively. All this while being one of the younger position players in the Sally League, and the youngest qualified bat in the Florida State League after his promotion.

For good measure, Law also ranked Aaron Nola #57 on his 51-100 list, citing his high floor and excellent command, but he left Maikel Franco off entirely. If you’ve been paying attention to sentiment around the game, the latter should not be a huge surprise. I expect Nola to make every Top 100 list this off-season, and Franco to make many of the other major lists. The only other Phillie I could see sneaking onto a Top 100 list would be Roman Quinn, based on his stellar Arizona Fall League, but don’t hold your breath.

Photo credit to Ken Inness/MiLB.com