Jonathan Papelbon’s Vesting Option Acting As Trade Deterrent

With a pair of scoreless innings pitched ahead of Wednesday’s walk-off win in the 10th inning, Jonathan Papelbon was credited with another game finished. He’s now 15 away from 100 combined games finished between 2014 and ’15. Once he reaches that threshold, his $13 million option for the 2016 season vests. With 33 through the Phillies’ first 97 games, he’s averaging one approximately every three games. 15 more over the remaining 65 games comes out to one every four games, so it’s an inevitability that Papelbon will get there, barring a serious injury.

The trade deadline is fast approaching, and Papelbon has repeatedly told the media how badly he wants out of Philadelphia, to play for a contending team. Papelbon has had a terrific season, getting the save in all 16 opportunities with a 1.63 ERA and a 39/8 K/BB ratio in 38 2/3 innings. He would be an upgrade for any team that might acquire him.

Only one problem: that vesting option is a “sticking point” in trade negotiations, per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. He says the Phillies don’t have any traction on a potential Papelbon deal.

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Happy Aaron Nola Day!

Aaron Nola is set to make his major league debut tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays, opposing Nate Karns. As expected, Nola progressed quickly through the Phillies’ minor league system since he was taken in the first round, seventh overall, in the 2014 draft out of Louisiana State University. It has taken the 22-year-old a little over a year since entering professional baseball to make his major league debut.

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The Inevitable Cesar Hernandez Slump Has Begun

A couple of weeks ago, I discussed GM Ruben Amaro, Jr.’s comments with which he pronounced Cesar Hernandez the heir to the throne of Chase Utley, sidelined with an ankle injury, at second base. Along with the plain old disrespect to Utley it showed, Amaro’s confidence in Hernandez relied a great deal on a three-week-long hot streak that was never going to last.

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The Importance of Making Deadline Deals

With two weeks left until the July 31 trade deadline, the Phillies are expected to generate some activity as they have a handful of players who would benefit contending players. Getting rid of established veterans in return for younger players with upside is a rote part of any rebuilding process. However, the Phillies aren’t under equal amounts of stress to trade each and every player. They very well could head into August with certain players untraded and be A-okay with it. Let’s run through those trade pieces and judge the importance of getting rid of them.

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Did Maikel Franco Make the Right Call?

The Phillies lost in embarrassing fashion on Friday night to the San Francisco Giants, 15-2. Cole Hamels allowed nine runs in 3 1/3 innings, the worst start of his career, while the Phillies weren’t able to capitalize on any of the opportunities they had against Madison Bumgarner. After getting shut out in back-to-back games by Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, it was hard to suffer a more demoralizing loss, but that’s exactly what happened at AT&T Park.

Lost in the hubbub of Hamels’ awful start, the Giants eruption of offense, and Justin De Fratus throwing 54 pitches over multiple innings again was a play that occurred in the bottom of the first inning. Hamels allowed three consecutive singles to load the bases with nobody out. Facing the ever-dangerous Buster Posey, Hamels was able to get the former Rookie of the Year and MVP Award winner to hit a ground ball to third baseman Maikel Franco. Franco had the choice of throwing home in the hopes of starting a 5-2-3 double play, but he opted to throw to second baseman Cesar Hernandez to turn a 5-4-3 double play.

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Graph of the Intermittent Time Period

We haven’t done one of these in a while, which I guess is why I call it an “intermittent time period”. Cole Hamels starts for the Phillies tonight in San Francisco opposite Madison Bumgarner. The Phillies are on their heels after back-to-back shutouts at the hands of Dodgers starters Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, which really isn’t anything to be embarrassed about. They could be shut out for a third consecutive game against Bumgarner, which would mean Hamels isn’t likely to get any run support. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.

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Lame Duck GM Ruben Amaro, Jr., Salting the Earth

If one takes a job as the general manager of a baseball team and performs poorly, he likely will be able to find work again. A good GM could have poor results during a tenure for any number of reasons, so no one is going to immediately close the door on someone with job experience. Furthermore, a GM could learn from his past mistakes and become better at his job moving forward. Or he can work in another capacity, either with the same team or elsewhere. It’s hard to screw yourself out of future employment.

But, by golly, is Ruben Amaro, Jr. doing it. His tenure as GM of the Phillies has been wracked by bad trades and poor contracts, leading to the absolute cratering of a team that reached back-to-back World Series as recently as 2009. That, as much as we might hate to admit it, is defensible. The biggest mistakes Amaro has made at the helm of the Phillies have been with his mouth.

Let’s recap:

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