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Category Archives: Josh Hamilton

Phillies In Talks With Cubs; Interested in a Brown-for-Soriano Swap

CBS’ Jon Heyman reported that the Phillies are in talks with the Chicago Cubs about 36-year-old outfielder Alfonso Soriano.

The Phillies would send Domonic Brown to Chicago for Soriano, and the Cubs would have to pay a significant amount of Soriano’s salary.

The Cubs are willing to pay up to $26 million of the $36 million owed to Soriano for the remaining two years on his contract.

Last season, Soriano hit .262 with 32 homers and 108 RBIs.

Soriano comes as an alternative if they can’t sign Cody Ross, the most economical choice among free agents. Nick Swisher and Josh Hamilton are a little pricier.

Phillies in serious talks for Michael Young

IF Michael Young (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

IF Michael Young (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

UPDATE — According Jon Heyman of CBSSports, the Phillies are moving closer to a deal for Michael Young.

Heyman indicates that the Texas Rangers would need to pay $10 million of the $16 million that is owed to Young.

It sounds as though Young is heavily considering waiving his no-trade clause. Plus, the Rangers want to unload some older players and free up as much salary as possible in order to re-sign Josh Hamilton or land Zack Greinke.

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According to Comcast Sportsnet’s Jim Salisbury, multiple sources say that the Phillies are in serious negotiations with the Texas Rangers for third baseman Michael Young.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News added that the talks are in an advanced stage and working towards a deal.

Young has spent his entire 12-year career with the Rangers and does have a no-trade clause in his contract. The third baseman is also signed for the 2013 season at a $16 million price tag.

It does sound as though Young could waive his no-trade clause because he knows that the Rangers are trying to get younger. If a deal is reached, it’s expected that the Phillies would want to perform a physical on Young before finalizing a trade.

Texas is likely going to have to eat nearly half of Young’s $16 million salary.

In 2012, Young hit .267 with eight home runs and 67 RBIs with a .682 OPS. This is just a year removed from leading the American League in hitting (.338) with 11 home runs and 106 RBIs.

We’ll have more on this story as it develops.

Phillies CF Options Get Thinner As Angel Pagan Signs With Giants

The San Francisco Giants have inked free agent Angel Pagan to a four-year deal, according to Fox’s Ken Rosenthal.

Pagan is the second legitimate center fielder the Phillies were interested in that signed with a different team. B.J. Upton signed with the Braves last week.

Rosenthal reported on Friday that the Phillies and Giants were the front runners to sign Pagan.

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Olney: Phillies “OK” With Hamilton’s Salary, Not Years; Interested in Ross

Free agency hasn’t even started yet and things have already been off to a wonderful start. (That’s a fake account, by the way.)

The Phillies are interested in Josh Hamilton, but are turned off by the years. Buster Olney reported that the Phillies are “OK” with Hamilton’s annual salary demands, but are concerned with how many years.

Hamilton is looking to get a contract of at least seven years, a little risky for a 31-year-old with past drug and alcohol problems.

Olney also tweeted the Phillies are talking to free agent Cody Ross, who in 2010 killed the Phillies in the NLCS.

The stage is set: Cardinals to face Rangers in World Series

One team has unfinished business to settle.

The other has destiny on it’s side.

On Wednesday, those two teams will meet in the 2011 Fall Classic. The St. Louis Cardinals, who capped off a miraculous September run to steal the Wild Card from the Atlanta Braves. They will host the Texas Rangers, who are playing in their second straight World Series.

St. Louis is the first Wild Card team since the 2006 Detroit Tigers to have home field advantage in the World Series. The 2004 Boston Red Sox are the last Wild Card team to host the World Series and win it. The latter knows a little bit about miracles, especially when the comeback against the New York Yankees in the ALCS and the end of an 86-year curse were complete with a sweeping of the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series.

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Phils lucky to have replacements for Brown, Utley

The Phillies have yet to see Chase Utley out on the field in a Spring Training game and it's uncertain when they will again. (Yong Kim/PhillyInquirer)

Domonic Brown broke two things in his first at bat against the Pirates on Saturday. One was his hitless streak; the other was his right hand.

X-Rays showed that the hook of his hamate bone is fractured which means Brown will most likely need surgery. This puts Brown out for four to six weeks and means he will definitely not win the starting job for right fielder.

Brown’s injury wasn’t the only bad news on Saturday. Yesterday morning, Chase Utley talked about the severity of his knee injury and the cortisone shot the second baseman received on Friday.

Although Utley’s injury appears to just be patellar tendinitis, something Utley has even had in the past, there were concerns on the lack of progress Utley has been making and how long Utley will be out with the injury.

“I don’t think at this point I’d be much help to our team or to myself,” Utley told the Inquirer, “But the goal is to get this better. There’s still three weeks left in spring training and probably 190 games left in the season.”

If last season can be any indication on what Utley can be dealing with, the news is not good. A’s outfielder Ryan Sweeney had to get season ending surgery in July and Milton Bradley had to get season ending surgery in August. If you are optimistic, Josh Hamilton played through the injury and won AL MVP.

Outfielder Ben Francisco celebrates with Juan Samuel after his homer against Pittsburgh on Saturday. He looks to be the replacement for Dom Brown. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

With Brown out of the lineup for up to six weeks, and Utley being out indefinitely, the question becomes, who will replace them?

Brown’s replacement shouldn’t be too hard to find. Ben Francisco – he was arguably winning the right fielder starting job even before Brown’s injury – has had a great Spring thus far.

Francisco has 8 hits in 19 at bats so far (don’t hurt yourself kids that’s a .421 batting average) and these aren’t just singles either. Francisco has two doubles, a triple, and two home runs.

Francisco isn’t the only outfielder batting in the .400’s. Delwyn Young, who was with the Pirates last year, has 7 hits in 17 at bats which is good enough for a .412 average. John Mayberry, Jr. is also having a good spring. He is batting a solid .294 with a double, a homerun, and two walks.

Unfortunately if Ibanez keeps hitting the way he his hitting, (which is essentially not hitting at all) the Phillies may need to look for more outfielders. Ibanez only has 3 hits in 17 at bats.
Finding a replacement for Utley shouldn’t be too difficult either.

As mentioned above, Delwyn Young is hitting great right now. Luckily for the Phillies he can play second base too. Last year Young played in the outfield, at second, and at third base. Being able to play third is great for the Phillies too because it gives the Phillies the option to let Placido Polanco play second base. As most of you know, Polanco played second base during his first stint here with the Phillies. Polanco is batting .267 this spring, but Polanco is one of the game’s most consistent hitters. He is a lifetime .303 hitter. If Polanco is asked to play second, there would be little to no drop at all as far as average goes.

As we learned last year with the injury to Jimmy Rollins, Wilson ValDOES can do anything. Literally anything. Not only is Valdez having a great spring with a .417 average, but he can play short stop, second base, outfield, and probably pitch too.

Moral of the story? No need to panic just yet. It looks like this team is deeper then we originally thought, and the Phillies should be ok for a short period of time. If both injuries, especially the Utley injury become a season long injury, we might have a problem.

That problem of course is not with finding someone in the Phillies organization to play second or play outfield, but the problem will be having to listen to Michael Young trade rumors all summer.

Offseason Winners and Losers

Winners

Texas Rangers - Despite losing Cliff Lee, the Rangers still had a very successful offseason. They made a big splash by inking Adrian Beltre to a six-year contract. Beltre brings substantial power – along with a good glove – to a lineup that already includes Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. The three sluggers should combine to hit over 75 home runs in a very weak American League West division. They also added former Angels catcher Mike Napoli in a trade. Naploi is one of the better catchers in the game and is quite an offensive threat as well. He’s a guy that can hit 25-plus home runs. Napoli along with Hamilton, Cruz, and Beltre gives the Rangers a very powerful offense that should run away with the division crown.

They also bolstered their pitching in a few areas. They added veteran lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes to a one year contract. Rhodes spent 2010 with the Cincinnati Reds going 4-4 with a 2.29 ERA in 69 appearances. He was an All-Star last season and is joining an already talented bullpen that includes closer Neftali Feliz, Darren Oliver, and Darren O’Day. All three pitcher had sub-3.00 ERAs last season and Rhodes just solidifies the Rangers’ bullpen even more. They also took a chance on often-injured starter Brandon Webb. Webb hasn’t really been the same since he won the Cy Young in 2006. He missed almost all of the past two seasons with a devastating right shoulder injury. Webb could turn out to a bargain if he can stay healthy. In his career, Webb boasts an 87-62 record with a 3.29 ERA in eight seasons with the Diamondbacks. He has a great sinker that allows him to be very successful. There is little risk for adding Webb to the Rangers’ staff and if he stays healthy and performs, he could make Rangers fans forget all about Cliff Lee.

Philadelphia Phillies - It’s been made perfectly clear in the past that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is not afraid to make a big splash. This offseason was no different. The Phillies landed Philadelphia’s favorite son Cliff Lee in a deal that no one in baseball saw coming. Lee signed with the Phillies for less money than he would’ve made in New York or Texas. Lee now gives the Phillies four aces in their starting rotation. Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, and Lee could make up the greatest starting rotation of all time. Each has the potential to win 20 games this season and should help the Phillies run away with the National League East division.

The Phillies also resigned relievers Jose Contreras and J.C. Romero. The bullpen should be fairly strong this season but it will all hinge on the success of closer Brad Lidge. Lidge was rocky in parts of the 2010 season and has been far from perfect since his magical season in 2008. He recorded a 1-1 record with 2.96 ERA and notched 27 saves. There were moments when Lidge looked like his 2008 self and there were others when he looked like a lost cause. One that specifically comes to mind is a walk-off three run home run by Ryan Zimmerman to beat the Phillies on the road. If Lidge can shut the door in the ninth inning, the Phillies’ bullpen should be very good in 2011.

Boston Red Sox -The Red Sox arguably had the best offseason in baseball. They added Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to their lineup and could be the team to beat in the American League this season. I believe this is the year that the Red Sox win the American League East and can give the Yankees some trouble. Gonzalez should thrive at Fenway Park and could use the Green Monster to his advantage. He hit 33 doubles last season and that number should be significantly higher playing in Boston this year. Hitting in a lineup with Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz, Gonzalez gives Boston one of the better power-hitting teams in the majors. Crawford brings significant speed to the lineup as well. He can get on base and swipe bases and really sets the table for the power-hitting portion of the Red Sox lineup. I think both players are well worth adding for Boston and should have them in the driver’s seat in their division.

Losers

New York Yankees – Before the offseason even began, most baseball experts thought it was a foregone conclusion that Cliff Lee would sign with the Yankees. Unfortunately for the Yankees, not everybody can be bought. Lee left millions of dollars on the table and signed with the Phillies. This left the Yankees with no Plan B. Their number one priority this offseason was to sign Lee. When that failed, Zack Greinke was still available and could’ve been had in a trade. However, they passed up that chance and decided to stick with the rotation that they had in place. Even if Andy Pettitte resigns in the Bronx, this offseason was a complete and utter disaster for the Yankees. They were supposed to be the team that made the big splash in the division and put on a claim on the American League crown. However the Red Sox ended up going all out and adding a few All-Stars.

They did improve their already strong bullpen by adding Rafael Soriano – spending almost $12 million a season on a set-up man – and Pedro Feliciano. They were able to resign Derek Jeter which was tense for a few weeks. Russell Martin and Andruw Jones also will be making their way to New York this season. But the area of need was clearly starting pitching and it was simply not addressed. CC Sabathia is a great pitcher and will be a 20-game winner this year. But what do the Bronx Bombers have after their ace? AJ Burnett and Phil Hughes. That doesn’t exactly strike fear throughout baseball.

Washington Nationals – The Nationals made the shocking signing of the offseason when they inked Jayson Werth to a 7-year contract worth a total of $126 million. Werth left the Phillies for the money. That is the only way to look at it. The Nationals do have some nice pieces but it will be years before they can able to be relevant in the National League. Werth took this contract because it was likely the largest one he would see in free agency. It just makes little sense for the Nationals to throw all that money at Werth and they won’t even be competing anytime soon. They’re throwing $126 million at a guy who is over 30 years old already and has never even driven in 100 runs in a season. This move may have made more sense if they had held onto Adam Dunn. But Dunn signed with the White Sox and Washington replaced him with Adam LaRoche. The Nationals improved a little bit but they certainly didn’t need to throw that kind of money at a guy like Werth.

Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays subtracted a significant amount of talent during the offseason. They traded starter Matt Garza to the Chicago Cubs for prospects. They lost relievers Rafael Soriano, Joaquin Benoit, and Grant Balfour to other teams via free agency. Their only significant signings were Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez who were both signed to one-year contracts. They can help the Rays somewhat and will help improve the lineup. But after losing all the pitching that they did, they didn’t do much of anything to make up for those losses. Garza was one of the starters that threw a no-hitter last season. He also was very strong during their World Series run in 2008. The bullpen is now very weak and their offense is getting worse. I just don’t see how the Rays can compete this season.

EDITORS NOTE (John Russo): I disagree with calling the Rays losers. Yes they lost some key players but they filled those holes with Damon and Ramirez who I think will be complete bargains. They have dominated the AL East their entire careers and coming back to that division and playing 81 games in a park they dominated plus 18 in Yankee and Fenway combined, expect Ramirez and Damon to keep the Rays in the pennant race. Their pitching is still strong and very young. David Price will have an unbelievable season in 2011.

With the Yankees being a weak team in my opinion, look for Tampa to be that gnat in the Red Sox ears this season.

His Bat Got Papi

Another night of “Back, Back, Back’s” and Joe Morgan’s stupidity has concluded. David Ortiz, the nicest guy to ever do steroids, was victorious over the player he mentored, Hanley Ramirez. Big Papi blasted 11 home runs in the final round as Ramirez managed five. Ortiz was also the first Red Sox player to win the Derby in it’s 26th year.

Ortiz was the true winner of the Derby, hitting the most total homers with 32. Both he and Ramirez went into the finals round with 21 homers so there was going to be a real winner and not an instance like two years ago with Josh Hamilton.

Corey Hart (13 total) and Miguel Cabrera (12) were the other two players to move onto the second round. Matt Holliday (5), Nick Swisher (4), Vernon Wells (3), and Chris Young (1) were the other four contestants. Hart in the first round and Ortiz in the second round hit the most home runs in a single round with 13 dingers.

Not a single Phillies player participated in the derby this year, a first in six years. In the past six, Jim Thome, Bobby Abreu, Ryan Howard, and Chase Utley all participated in the event with Abreu and Howard each winning one. Howard was interviewed by Morgan and Chris Berman and marveled out the feel of Mickey Mantle’s bat that was being auctioned off later that night.

The 81st All-Star game will air tomorrow at 8:00 p.m ET. Howard will be the DH and Roy Halladay will not pitch more than one inning said Charlie Manuel.

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