Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Phillies again turn to Braves for scouting direction

The Phillies had to find a replacement for fired director of amateur scouting Marti Wolever, even though the general manager is on unstable ground, the team president is serving in an interim role and the ownership group has unavoidable shifts in control to address in the near future.
As they had done the last time the team had to fill this front-office opening from outside the organization, the Phillies turned to the Atlanta Braves for the hire.
Johnny Almaraz, who had been the Braves' director of international scouting for the last five seasons, was hired as Wolever's replacement Wednesday. Almaraz, 49, has spent a quarter-century in the scouting realm, the first 16 years as a member of the Cincinnati Reds' scouting department following a brief minor-league career as a pitcher in the Reds' organization.
Almaraz spent three years running the Braves' Dominican Baseball Academy before receiving his promotion to head Atlanta's international scouting. During his years in the scouting field, Almaraz received credit for the Reds drafting and/or signing the likes of Johnny Cueto and Adam Dunn, and the Braves getting pitcher Julio Teheran.
His biggest move since taking his latest role with the Braves was the signing of shortstop prospect Edward Salcedo to a $1.6 million bonus in 2010. Salcedo, 23, has struggled at the plate as a pro and was forced to move to third base, then the outfield in the middle of this past season. Playing for Triple-A Gwinnett in 2014, he batted just .212 with 10 homers in 110 games and committed 16 errors in 47 games at third before being sent to right field, where he made eight more errors in 48 games. Almaraz could be bailed out of that clunker by a lower-profile signing he made that year, Jose Peraza. Peraza, a 20-year-old second baseman, got $350,000 from the Braves in 2010 and seems to have high-end leadoff-hitting skills. He batted .339 with 60 stolen bases in 110 games between High-A Lynchburg and Double-A Mississippi in 2014.
Almaraz joins a Phillies organization reeling after back-to-back 89-loss seasons despite spending $350 million in payroll those two years. G.M. Ruben Amaro Jr. remains on the job, although he hasn't received a contract extension and his deal ends at the end of the 2015 season. Team president David Montgomery stepped down while he continues a difficult battle with cancer that cost him part of his jaw earlier this year. Pat Gillick, who was the general manager when the Phillies won the 2008 World Series, is filling in as team president until either Montgomery returns or a permanent replacement is hired.
Wolever, who was fired late last month, had been the in-house successor of Mike Arbuckle as the man in charge of the Phillies' draft. Arbuckle, who had received much of the credit for reviving a minor-league system in disarray in the early 1990s, was hired away from the Braves in 1992 to serve that role. Arbuckle was the odd-assistant G.M. out when the Phillies decided to hire Amaro instead of him as Gillick's successor. He joined the Royals' front office in 2009. Kansas City reached the postseason for the first time since 1985 this year, swept the Angels in the American League Division Series and are facing the Orioles in the ALCS.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

2015 Phillies Schedule

Here is the unofficial schedule for 2015 for the Phillies. Subject to mild tweaks, but all in all this should be dates for all the games.

April

6, 8-9 vs. Boston
10-12 vs. Washington
13-15 @ New York Mets
16-19 @ Washington
21-23 vs. Miami
24-26 vs. Atlanta
27-30 @ St. Louis

May

1-3 @ Miami
4-6 @ Atlanta
8-10 vs. New York Mets
11-14 vs. Pittsburgh
15-17 vs. Arizona
18-21 @ Colorado
22-24 @ Washington
25-27 @ New York Mets
29-31 vs. Colorado

June

2-4 vs. Cincinnati
5-7 vs. San Francisco
8-10 @ Cincinnati
12-14 @ Pittsburgh
15-16 @ Baltimore
17-18 vs. Baltimore
19-21 vs. St. Louis
22-24 @ New York Yankees
26-28 vs. Washington
29-30 vs. Milwaukee

July

1-2 vs. Milwaukee
3-5 @ Atlanta
6-9 @ L.A. Dodgers
10-12 @ San Francisco
13-16 All-Star Break
17-19 vs. Miami
21-23 vs. Tampa Bay
24-26 @ Chicago Cubs
28-29 @ Toronto
30-31 vs. Atlanta

August

1-2 vs. Atlanta
4-6 vs. L.A. Dodgers
7-9 @ San Diego
10-12 @ Arizona
14-16 @ Milwaukee
18-19 vs. Toronto
20-23 @ Miami
24-27 vs. New York Mets
28-30 vs. San Diego
31 @ New York Mets

September

1-2 @ New York Mets
4-6 @ Boston
7-9 vs. Atlanta
10-13 vs. Chicago Cubs
14-16 vs. Washington
18-20 @ Atlanta
22-24 @ Miami
25-27 @ Washington
29-30 vs. New York Mets

October
1 vs. New York Mets
2-4 vs. Miami

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Jonathan Papelbon won't be picky about which contender welcomes him




For the third straight night the final three outs of the Phillies' win were delivered by Jonathan Papelbon, who has 22 saves, a 1.24 ERA, a 0.853 WHIP and hasn't allowed a long ball all year.
Those are dominating closer numbers, the type that more than a few contending teams could use as they try to patch their spotty bullpens. A year ago no one wanted to touch Papelbon, who had two years remaining on a four-year, $50 million contract.
You would think a healthy hip and a return to dominance would change that thinking. Papelbon certainly hopes it has.





"Of course, what kind of question is that?" the quippy closer queried when asked if he wants contenders to come calling for him. "Some guys want to stay on a losing team? That's mind-boggling to me. I think that's a no-brainer."
It isn't to every player (see: Jimmy Rollins), but at least Papelbon is honest about his desire to find a path back to October baseball as soon as possible. The right-hander nodded his head in affirmation when asked if he would waive his no-trade clause for pretty much any contender who wanted to make a deal to land him.
Papelbon didn't have any insight into any possible landing spots. He knows Detroit could use his help. Pittsburgh and Anaheim also are scrambling for ninth-inning consistency.
"My gut hasn’t told me anything," he said about where he will land. "I go day by day. Whatever happens, I cross that bridge when I get to it … I don’t have that crystal 8-ball."
Although Papelbon has made it plain that he would like to leave a team that is an also-ran for a third straight season, there are things about the Phillies he would miss.
"You know, I came here for a reason," he said. "But I'm with a group of guys in the bullpen that can do very special things in the future. I've been waiting for that, you know what I mean? It's fun to be a part of that, it really is. We are there finally with our bullpen. So that aspect of it would kind of suck to leave. But at the same time, winning is the cure-all of cure-alls.
"One word explains it all -- inconsistent. It's just the way we've been all year."

Monday, July 7, 2014

Amaro: Phillies 'are this poor,' changes are imminent


MILWAUKEE -- The general manager is ready to do some shaking up to the Phillies.
While that could include a flurry of trades in the next three weeks, Ruben Amaro Jr. made it plain Monday afternoon that dealing players away isn't the only way to shake up an offense that has been an embarrassment for most of the season.
"What more can you say other than we are not swinging the bats very well," Amaro said. "I didn't anticipate our guys being this poor -- because they are, they are this poor.
"So at some point we're going to have to make some changes."
Amaro didn't do much to mask which players he considers on notice. Domonic Brown, Ben Revere and, yes, even Ryan Howard are on the verge of finding their way to the bench.
"Some guys, once they are ready to play, may be factors for us," Amaro said.
Topping the list of "some guys" are outfielder Grady Sizemore and outfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf. Sizemore has been hitting well for Triple-A Lehigh Valley since the Phillies signed him to a minor-league deal, and he could be in Phillies pinstripes by the weekend. Ruf, who suffered a fractured wrist five weeks ago, made his second start for Lehigh Valley Monday and could be ready for a return to Philly after the All-Star break. Freddy Galvis (broken clavicle) also could get a shot to salvage what has been an injury-plagued wreck of a year.
However, the most interesting topic broached by Amaro was the status of prospect Maikel Franco. The 21-year-old, who has been struggling at Triple-A for much of the first three months, had nine hits, including four extra-base knocks, in 18 at-bats in four games July 2-5.
Amaro practically begged Franco to keep hitting that stride and give him a reason to promote the prospect.
"He's swinging the bat well," Amaro said. "Hey, listen, I'm looking for people who can swing the bat, because we're not doing it here. It he gets to the point where he starts swinging the bat consistently, he's a guy who could be in play."
And although Franco is a solid fielding third baseman, Amaro mentioned the other infield corner -- the one occupied by Howard (.177, one RBI in last 17 games) -- as an option.
"He could play first base, too," Amaro said of Franco. "If we're going to make changes, we make changes to get better."