A longtime Philly killer is coming to town. The Phillies signed Brian Schneider on Tuesday to a two-year, $2.75 million contract as a backup catcher for Carlos Ruiz. Schneider will reportedly make $1.25 million in 2010 and $1.5 million in 2011. Schneider spent his first eight years with the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals organization and the last two seasons with the New York Mets. He hit .218 with three home runs and 24 RBIs in 59 games last season with the Mets. In 10 seasons he is a career .251 hitter.
This is a homecoming of sorts for Schneider, who attended Northampton High School outside of Allentown. He apparantly turned down other offers with more playing time, but he said he wants to play for a winner. I guess the Phillies found the best way to keep him from hurting us: put him on your side.
It didn't take Ruben Amaro long to replace Pedro Feliz. The Phillies signed Placido Polanco today to a three-year, $18 million contract, with a mutual option for a fourth year. He played four seasons with the Phils from 2002-2005 and he is back again. Polanco won two Gold Gloves over the past two seasons at second base as has played 322 games at third (but only 9 games since 2004) and should be an adequate fielder.
Polanco hit .285 with 10 home runs and 72 RBIs in 618 at-bats last season with Detroit. He hit .341 in 2007 and .307 in '08. Overall, Polanco is a career .303 hitter.
Polanco is also a terrific contact hitter, only striking out struck once every 14.7 plate appearances in 2009, making him the second hardest batter to strikeout in the Majors. Amaro also liked the fact that he adds versatility at second base to give Chase Utley a rest every now and then.
This looks like a good move for the Phillies and should make them better. He is obviously an upgrade offensively over Pedro Feliz, who hit .259 for the Phillies over the last two season. Also, one of the Phillies problems is that they strike out too much and this will give some stability to the lineup. It is also an improvement over the bad at-bats by Feliz. Pedro swung at the first pitch like his life depended on it and at times it seemed as if he was trying to hit into double plays. Polanco will give professional at-bats and put the Phils in a better position to keep rallies going.
But...he is not Chone Figgins. As much as I would like to applaud the Phillies for this signing, I wanted Chone Figgins. Not that Figgins is an MVP, but he is a younger and faster version of Polanco. Figgins hit .291 last year with 5 HR, 54 RBI, 101 walks, a .395 on-base percentage and 42 stolen bases. At 32 heading into next season, he will be two years younger than Polanco.
However, it appeared that Figgins was looking for a long-term contract. Given the big contracts on our team, that just might not have been possible. Therefore, I think Polanco was the best option out there. Let's see what we get next year.
Ruben Amaro has made quick work of signing bench players. He added the final piece by signing former Marlin Ross Gload to a two-year contract.
Gload is a 33 year old left-handed batter who hit .261 with six home runs and 30 RBIs in 230 at-bats last season with the Marlins and hit .318 as a pinch-hitter. He is a career .283 hitter with a .328 on-base percentage and a .408 slugging percentage in his eight-year career which included tours with the Cubs, Rockies, White Sox, Royals and Marlins.
Gload will likely get the majority of his playing time in the outfield. He played 41 games at first base, 10 games in the outfield, and even pitched an inning in 2009. In his career he has played 102 games combined in right and left field and 362 games at first. That gives the Phils a bench that includes outfielder Ben Francisco, catcher Brian Schneider, infielders Greg Dobbs and Juan Castro, and now Gload.
One thing seems pretty clear right now: the Phillies will get Roy Halladay and give up Cliff Lee. The rest of the story...only time will tell.
What we are hearing right now is that in addition to Lee, the Phillies will likely also send Kyle Drabeck and Dom Brown or Michael Taylor and possibly another player to the Toronto Blue Jays. Both teams like Brown, which might be a big part of the equation. It appears that all of the Phillies prospects will go to Toronto and all of Seattle's prospects will go to the Phillies. One of Seattle's prospects that is rumored to come to Philly is Phillippe Aumont, one of their top right-handed pitching prospects.
Reports are that Halladay will get a three-year extension (through the 2013 season) with at least $60 million guaranteed and vesting options to push the deal even further. Toronto may also give the Phillies $6 million dollars to help pay for Halladay's $15.75 million dollar salary this year.
This is a bit of a puzzling deal, but obviously the Phillies realized that they would not be able to re-sign Cliff Lee. As much as I am sure we all wanted Lee to stay, Halladay is admittedly the better pitcher and we look to be getting a discount on the deal. Let's just wait to see exactly what happens before making any judgments.
The Phillies have finally made the blockbuster deal of the offseason by trading Cliff Lee and acquiring Roy Halladay. In the first of what was actually two separate deals, the Phillies traded minor league right-hander Kyle Drabek, outfielder Michael Taylor and catcher Travis d'Arnaud to the Toronto Blue Jays for Roy Halladay. The second deal sent Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners for right-handers Phillippe Aumont and JC Ramirez and outfielder Tyson Gillies. Toronto flipped Taylor to Oakland for prospect Brett Wallace.
Halladay agreed to a three-year, $60 million contract extension with the Phillies that includes a $20 million vesting option for a fourth season. The Phillies got their man. They had been eyeing Roy Halladay for some time now and he was willing to sign for a relatively cheap price.
The Phillies just signed the best pitcher in baseball to a three year deal. Yet the big question Phillies fans have is, "why trade Cliff Lee?"
In the press conference, Ruben Amaro kept saying that they traded Lee because they needed the prospects. If that is the case, then this is a terrific deal that makes a whole lot of sense. Trading Cliff Lee basically gives us back the prospects we lost by trading for Halladay.
But I don't buy the prospect response. The more likely reason is simple: money. The ownership appears to have set $140 million as their budgetary limit, meaning that we could not afford Cliff Lee's $9 million salary. Lee also made it clear that he wanted to test the free agency market, and maybe they decided that a deal was not possible and needed to part ways. However, if the Phillies could bite suck up the $9 million (which is a steal for a pitcher like Lee) and are not able to re-sign him, they will get two first round draft picks anyway. And if you can work a deal, that gives them a front line rotation of Halladay and Lee. Oh well, it would have been nice.
Just don't forget that we just signed the best pitcher in baseball. Most baseball people say Halladay is a better pitcher than Cliff Lee and we were able to sign him for three years and keep the farm system healthy.
I will take that.
But it would have been nice to have both...
Cliff decided to let everyone know his feelings about the big trade for Roy Halladay. He was not happy. A clearly emotional Cliff Lee called into 97.5 The Fanatic, during his vacation no less, to give his side.
He said that he was shocked that he was traded, because the Phillies had told his agent not to listen to what he was hearing and that they were all rumors. The next day Cliff Lee was traded.
When asked about the negotiations, Lee said there were none. He said that each side gave an offer, but there were no negotiations beyond that. Additionally, he denied that he was looking for a CC Sabathia type deal. He mentioned several times that his was the most fun he had in his career and he fully hoped and expected to finish his career with the Phillies.
"At first I didn't believe it," Lee said. "I thought we were working out an extension with the Phillies. I thought I would spend the rest of my career there."
Cliff Lee's comments have been troubling to many fans. Most of us assumed by Lee's previous comments that he was looking for nothing less than a huge Sabathia deal, so this comes as a big surprise. And the fact that the Phillies did not even entertain the idea of keeping Cliff Lee here long-term is troubling.
If he really did want to remain in Philadelphia, would it be such a terrible deal to keep him here for another season and see what happens? Worst case scenario, you get a Cy Young winner for a dirt cheap $9 million and two first round draft picks if you can't re-sign him.
Cliff Lee was a guy who pitched his heart out for this team and almost single handedly won the World Series for us. And HE WANTED TO BE HERE! But the Phillies ownership was so dead set on keeping their budget down that they let him walk. That is tough to swallow.
As we turn the page to 2010, we turn our attention to the Phillies Assistant General Manager Scott Proefrock. Since Pat Gillick left and Ruben Amaro took the GM role, Scott Proefrock has flown under the radar a bit.
Scott Proefrock grew up in Massachusetts and graduated from Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School in 1978. Having never played professional baseball like Ruben Amaro, Proefrock took a different route. After high school, he attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he received a master's degree in sports management from the Isenberg School of Management in 1988. If that is not enough, Proefrock is a Certified Public Accountant, as well.
He began his front office career working in baseball operations with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1989-1990, working under Chuck Lamar. He also worked under Lamar in his next two positions in baseball operations with the Atlanta Braves from 1991-1995 and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from 1995-2005. Prior to joining the Phillies last year, he worked for the Baltimore Orioles from 2005-2008.
He joined the Phillies on November 16, 2008 joining Benny Looper and Chuck LaMar as assistant GMs under Ruben Amaro Jr. Proefrock told the UMass Sport Management Alumni Newspaper, "I enjoyed my time in Baltimore and learned a great deal from one of the best executives in the game, Andy MacPhail. But when Ruben Amaro, Jr. asked the Orioles for permission to interview me for the position of Assistant General Manager with the Phillies, it was an opportunity I could not pass up."
With the Phillies, Proefrock handled 10 arbitration prior to last season. He also planted the seed in the head of Ruben Amaro to sign Pedro Martinez. He has been no-doubt busy this off season dealing with the trade and signing of Roy Halladay.
It looks like the Phillies might be close to a deal with right-handed reliever Danys Baez. CSNPhilly.com reported that the Phils had reached a deal with a right-handed reliever, but it is unsure who that pitcher is. Phillies.com believes Danys Baez is that reliever. Baez was 4-6 with the Baltimore Orioles last season with a 4.02 ERA in 59 appearances with the O's last season.
Chan Ho Park is unlikely to return to the Phillies. No official word has been given, but Ruben Amaro has said he does not expect Park to return. That's official enough to me. The Phillies were in talks with Chan Ho, but they have not gotten anywhere in the negotiations. It also does not appear likely that John Smoltz is an option, as the Phillies are worried about his durability.
According to mlb.com, the Houston Astros might be interested in Brett Myers. With a chance of losing closer Jose Valverde and setup man LaTroy Hawkins to free agency, the Astros might look to help fill their bullpen with Myers. Myers went 4-3 with a 4.84 ERA in 18 games last season for the Phillies and missed most of the year after undergoing hip surgery. Houston is also considering form Met J.J. Putz.
Mlbtraderumors.com is claiming that the Minnesota Twins may be targeting Brett Myers. In addition to Myers, the Twins also have eyes on Jarrod Washburn, Jon Garland, and Doug Davis.
It has been slightly over a year since Ruben Amaro took the reigns as General Manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. That, in addition to the recent blockbuster Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee trade, makes now an appropriate time to evaluate the job Ruben Amaro has done as GM of the Phils.
How about we look at the clearly good moves and bad moves first before examining some of the smaller items that you may not remember. Good news first, Ruben? Sure, why not.
FIRST Cliff Lee Trade (don't worry, we will get to the second one later)
This was easily the best move of Ruben Amaro's young career as GM. His first smart move was passing on Roy Halladay, because the Blue Jays were asking way too much for him. Secondly, the Phillies could not have asked for anything more out of Cliff Lee. He was terrific in the regular season and may have turned in the most dominant post-season performance ever, or at least since, well, Cole Hamels in 2008. But the beauty of the deal is what he gave up for Cliff Lee: practically nothing. Carlos Carrasco was once the pride of the organization, but dropped significantly and was not much of a loss. Jason Knapp, Jason Donald, and Lou Marson were marginal talents. And to get Ben Francisco in the mix along with Lee makes for an outstanding trade.
Replacing Pat Burrell with Raul Ibanez.
In one of his first moves as GM, Ruben Amaro got rid of a guy who became a beloved figure in this town and brought in a veteran most of us never heard of in Raul Ibanez, actually signing him to a more expensive contract than Burrell got. Ibanez quickly became a fan favorite, had a terrific first half, made the all-star team (which Burrell never did), and after recovering from a mid-season injury helped the club in the playoffs.
Signing Pedro Martinez.
This was a very questionable move at first, but Pedro was better than advertised. In 9 games with the Phillies, he went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA, pitched 7 shutout innings in the NLDS, and was given the ball in game 6 of the World Series. Not bad.
Signing Rodrigo Lopez.
You might not remember, but Lopez started 5 games for the Phillies and filled in nicely when we had some problems with the rotation. He went 3-1 in his starts with a 3.62 ERA.
Releasing Adam Eaton and Geoff Jenkins.
These were the right moves for obvious reasons. We need to give credit here to the ownership for allowing Ruben to dump two big salaries, and it certainly paid dividends for the team.
Now the not so good moves:
First, Ruben Amaro traded catching prospect Jason Jaramillo to the Pirates for Ronny Paulino, who he then traded for Jack Taschner. With Chris Coste as a legitimate backup for Carlos Ruiz, it didn't make much sense to bring in Paulino, who was known for not being much of a team player. We basically ended up giving Jaramillo away for nothing since we kept Coste anyway. We will consider releasing Coste and acquiring Bako as a wash. Jack Taschner was just another lefty arm in the bullpen.
Pat Gillick brought in Bruntlett, but Ruben Amaro kept him. I realize Bruntlett can play many positions and has some speed, but he CANNOT HIT. He hit .171, let's leave it at that. Also Miguel Cairo. The only reason that he made the post-season roster is that there was nobody better.
THE HALLADAY TRADE
As I have mentioned many times before in previous articles, I do not like this move. I like the first part of the trade where we got Halladay, but I HATE getting rid of Cliff Lee. Just hate it. We cannot necessarily place all of the blame on Ruben for this, because it was very likely motivated by the owners. But it is possible that he just loved Halladay and would do anything to get him. We may never know...
Signing Jamie Moyer to a two year contract.
I will admit that I liked re-signing Moyer at the time, but I am not the GM. Moyer was not effective as a starter and his salary this year might have played a big part in why we could not retain Cliff Lee.
Replacing Pedro Feliz with Placido Polanco
This move makes sense for many reasons. Feliz was a dead weight in the lineup with little power and a poor approach at the plate. Polanco never strikes out and will give the good at-bats we need in a power hitting lineup like we have. We will no doubt miss the glove of Feliz, who was a solid as they get at third. Polanco is not young and has not played third base in a while, but he should fit in nicely.
Chan Ho Park
Bringing in Chan Ho Park ended up being a pretty good move, but this will not go in the good move pile because of how things began. Ruben was true to his word that he would give him a chance to compete for the fifth starter spot. Park did pitch well in spring training, but JA Happ was also good and in hindsight he should have won the job. Park was terrible as a starter and was clearly the wrong move. But Chan Ho was decent as a reliever and was a great addition to the bullpen.
Placing Brad Lidge on the 15-day disabled list.
Brad Lidge's problems this season are very well documented. I think letting Lidge sit out was a good move and maybe part of the reason why he was fairly effective in the playoffs.
During his tenure, Ruben signed Greg Dobbs to a two-year contract and Hamels and Madson to three-year contracts.
He signed Juan Castro and Ross Gload as bench players this off-season and allowed Brett Myers, Matt Stairs, Clay Condrey, and Eric Bruntlett to become free agents elsewhere.
Overall Grade: A-
We cannot hold the Roy Halladay deal against Ruben Amaro at this point until we see how it plays out. Otherwise, the Phillies appear to be a better team heading into 2010 than they were following the World Championship. He made terrific moves bringing in Cliff Lee and Raul Ibanez, but he was a bit lacking in regards to the bench and the bullpen. Not too bad for a rookie season.
The Phillies have added another arm to the bullpen in the name of Danys Baez. It has been reported that the Phillies have signed the right-hander Danys Baez to a two year contract, pending a physical. 32-year-old Baez went 4-6 with a 4.02 ERA in 59 appearances last season with the Baltimore Orioles. His career record is 39-46 with a 4.04 ERA and he has 114 career saves. Prior to the Orioles, Baez spent three years with the Cleveland Indians where he was a starter in 2002 and two years with the Tampa Bay Rays in which he notched a career-high 41 in 2005. He was 0-6 with a 6.44 ERA in 53 appearances with the Orioles in 2008.
Baez will join a bullpen of Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero and Chad Durbin, leaving two spots to be filled. The signing of Baez means that Chan Ho Park is all but gone. One of the spots might be filled by Scott Eyre, but Todd Zolecki is claiming that the Phillies will only offer him a minor league contract. After the season, Eyre said basically that he would return wearing Phillies red, or not at all, so we will see what happens with this story.
Ruben Amaro had mentioned a while ago that he would not be opposed to allowing young guys like Sergio Escalona and Antonio Bastardo to pitch in the bullpen. That might end up being the case.