Phillies Person of the Year 2014

Jimmy Rollins is the Phillies 2014 Person of the Year

After years covering politics, faith, and society in general here at my website, I switched to strictly baseball, the Phillies this year in particular. In that previous incarnation, I annually honored an American of the Year at the end of each calendar year.

With the changed emphasis, this year I will begin honoring a Philadelphia Phillies organizational Person of the Year with this most recently completed 2014 season. The Person of the Year honor can go to anyone in the organization, major or minor leagues, for an outstanding performance, act, or work, or for career achievements.
The recipient of the first-ever Phillies Person of the Year honor is shortstop Jimmy Rollins. In being so named, JRoll was selected ahead of worthy nominees in Major League 2nd baseman Chase Utley and starting pitcher Cole Hamels, and minor league shortstop J.P. Crawford.
If anyone would feel that there is any amount of nostalgia in making this pick, you would be absolutely correct. Jimmy Rollins was the central figure on the Phillies roster for more than a decade. He is a legitimate franchise icon. But there is more to this selection than simple nostalgia. 
In the 2014 season, Jimmy had a strong bounce-back year. He cracked 15 homers, drove in 55 runs, scored 78 times, and stole 28 bases. His OPS+ of 101 was in line with the very best seasons in the prime years of his career, outside of his 2007 MVP season.
Defensively, Jimmy may not be at his peak, when he won 4 Gold Gloves, including one as recently as 2012. But he was outstanding yet again at one of the toughest positions on the diamond. The 35-year old registered a .988 Fielding Percentage, tied for 2nd best in his career, and his UZR was 2nd in all of baseball
He also had a career-defining moment this past season. OnSaturday afternoon, June 14th at Citizens Bank Park, the Phils were leading the Chicago Cubs by 4-3. Rollins led off the bottom of the 5th inning against Cubs righty Edwin Jackson with a clean line-drive base hit to rightfield.
The hit was the 2,235th of his career, which broke Mike Schmidt’s franchise career record that stood for a quarter-century. Schmidt had broken the old record of 2,217 which Rich Ashburn had set decades earlier. Ashburn broke the record of 2.213 set by Ed Delahanty, a record that also stood for decades.
At the time, JRoll stated “I was raised here, professionally…played every single game in a Phillies uniform…it’s something that I want to share with the people of Philadelphia.
All three of Schmidt, Ashburn, and Delahanty are now enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. There will one day be a strong case for Jimmy Rollins to be enshrined there in Cooperstown, New York as well. But before that time comes, Jimmy will likely finish out his career in another uniform.
Rollins completed his big year with a trade. As the first major move in breaking up the ‘Glory Era’ core of players, he was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In return the Phillies acquired pitching prospects Tom Windle and Zach Eflin. While it’s too soon to know how they will pan out, they immediately become Top 5 organizational prospects. 
So even in leaving after 15 seasons, Jimmy Rollins contributed to the Phillies future, possibly in a substantive way. As he left, he gave an exclusive interview to CSN Phillies insider Jim Salisbury. 
In that series, JRoll spoke on those ‘Glory Years’: “For us, it was a five-year window where everybody was peaking and pushing each other and we had this camaraderie that you can’t explain.
Jimmy Rollins may have peaked with his 2007 NL Most Valuable Player award and the 2008 World Series victory. But for the better part of 15 seasons he was the driving force in the Phillies lineup. He was the one who pushed. He was the one who fostered the clubhouse camaraderie.
For both his excellent 2014 season in the twilight of his career, in what appears to be his Phillies finale, and for all that he has meant to this team for a decade and a half, Jimmy Rollins is the 2014 Philadelphia Phillies Person of the Year.



2004 – Pat Tillman
2005 – Bill O’Reilly
2006 – Rev. Billy Graham
2007 – P/O Chuck Cassidy (for the American police officer)
2008 – George W. Bush
2009 – Glenn Beck
2010 – Ron Paul
2011 – Seal Team 6
2012 – Michael Phelps
2013 – Ted Cruz

TO VIEW all articles relating to the previous ‘American of the Year‘ award honorees, simply click on that below ‘Label’

Brett Myers: Backwoods Rebel

Brett Myers has released a 5-song country music EP
Fans of the Philadelphia Phillies remember Brett Myers as a key starting pitcher during the 2000’s, especially with the 2008 World Series champions, or as the closer for the 2007 NL East champions.
But most fans of the team have likely lost contact with the sometimes controversial righthander since he signed as a free agent with the Houston Astros following the 2009 season. 
Well, Brett Myers has resurfaced in recent days in a somewhat surprising role: country singer. Myers has released his debut EP “Backwoods Rebel“, a nickname which also happens to be a part of his Twitter handle @BackWoodRebel39.
In the 5-song set, Myers sings mostly about a pair of country classic topics: drinking and women. 
I Need a Drink“, “Black Creek“, “Chasing Tail“, “Beer Hand Strong“, and his first single “Kegerator” pretty much sum up the selections in their titles alone.
While the topics are simplistic and foster the good ol’ boy stereotype, fact is that this is not a bad initial effort. If a recording career in the country genre is something that the now 34-year old ex-hurler is hoping to pursue, he may have something.
A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Myers has long fostered a countrified image. During the 2008 season, he and fellow rotation mate Joe Blanton were frequently spotted in the clubhouse wearing red “Redneck Wrecking Crew” t-shirts.
Brett Myers
For folks who already are fond of making fun of country music and it’s lifestyle, you’ll probably hear terms like “hillbilly“, “yokel“, and that same “redneck” tossed around in disparaging tones.
There may even be “wife beater” references to the ugly incident back in August of 2006 when Myers, a former boxer, allegedly beat his wife Kim on the streets of Boston while the Phils were there on a road trip.
Myers and his wife, who bailed him out and stood by him following that Boston incident, appear to have put the ugly past behind them, and continue to raise two young children together.
Brett and Kim Myers celebrated winning a World Series together. They have enjoyed a pro baseball lifestyle that earned him almost $60 million in total salary over 11 seasons. Whether they can survive his attempts at a music career remains to be seen.

Face of the Phillies 2015

Chase has been Phils ‘Face of the Franchise’ last two years
The MLB Network is beginning the process of selecting its 3rd annual “Face of MLB” with the selection of each club’s “Face of the Franchise” nominee.
By following certain hashtags on Twitter, fans do the selecting of which of their team’s stars will represent them in the overall competition.
So far, the network has completed the process for 10 teams. Already selected for their clubs are the following:
Blue Jays – Jose Bautista, Braves – Freddie Freeman, Padres – Seth Smith, Pirates – Andrew McCutchen, Reds – Todd Frazier, Dodgers – Clayton Kershaw, Twins – Joe Mauer, Tigers – Miguel Cabrera, Angels – Mike Trout, White Sox – Chris Sale. 
The Phillies will be one of the final teams for fans to vote on, likely due to the anticipated transitions in the roster this off-season. Fans of the club should be following @FS_TBOH.
As with all developments related to the team we will be keeping you updated. We’ll announce when the voting starts, and give updates during the process, finishing with the announcement of the nominee. 
Once all nominees are selected from each of the 30 clubs, they are positioned in a ‘March Madness’ style bracket. In each pairing, baseball fans will then be asked to vote for their favorites, and voting will continue until a final overall ‘Face of MLB 2015′ is selected.
In both 2013 and 2014, the Phillies nominee was 2nd baseman Chase Utley. In 2013, Utley was upset in the first round by DBacks catcher Miguel Montero. Last year, Utley defeated Rays 3rd baseman Evan Longoria in the first round, but then was dumped by Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez in the 2nd round. 
The 2013 winner was Cincinnati Reds 1st baseman Joey Votto, who had upset Derek Jeter in the semi-finals and then defeated Matt Kemp in the final vote. The 2014 winner was New York Mets 3rd baseman David Wright, who edged out underdog Eric Sogard of the Oakland A’s.
Wright receives a first-round bye as the defending ‘Face of MLB’, as does the nominee of the World Series-winning San Francisco Giants. That San Francisco nominee has not yet been determined.
Face of MLB
The Phillies eventual 2015 nominee will be pitted in a first-round matchup with the nominee from the Washington Nationals. This could be a tough matchup, with the Nats popularity high. Their fans will be active on social media, so it will be up to Phillies fans to really get behind our candidate.
So who should be the 2015 “Face of the Phillies” in the upcoming vote? By any reasonable measure, if voting is taken seriously, there are two clear candidates: the 2-time defending nominee Chase Utley, and starting pitcher Cole Hamels.
TBOH will be getting behind one of these two players. We’re looking for YOUR input. Let us know who you feel should be the competition nominee, Utley or Hamels. Whomever gets the most support in the coming days will get our backing.
So what do you think? Who do you feel should be the 2015 “Face of the Phillies”, representing the team in this fun MLB Network voting process? Stop by the@FS_TBOH site at Twitter and add your voice.

Chooch on the Block

Carlos Ruiz is another veteran on the trade blocks
A month from now, Carlos Ruiz, the beloved fan favorite Phillies catcher known as “Chooch”, will turn 36 years old. He is the least discussed member of the club’s ‘Glory Era’ aging stars in public trade talks. So, is Chooch on the trade block?
Let’s first look at what he has to offer. What would any team that might need a catcher find attractive about the Phillies veteran?
Despite playing the most difficult, physically demanding position on the field, Ruiz has been healthy and reliable. Since his first full season in 2007, Ruiz reached at least 370 plate appearances in 7 of 8 years.
He has, in fact, gone over 400 plate appearances 5 times, including in 4 of the last 5 seasons. Yes, Chooch is turning 36. But he is healthy, strong, and remains one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. 
Based on FanGraphs values which were looked at this past season, based themselves on fWAR value, Ruiz was the 6th-most valuable catcher in the game behind elite names like Brian McCann, Yadier Molina, Buster Posey, Russell Martin, and Miguel Montero.
Not only that, but the same FanGraphs chart showed that Ruiz was the absolute best at providing value-for-salary. His 2014 salary of $8.5 million will continue in both 2015 and 2016. The contract contains a further $4.5 million option for 2017, with an inexpensive $500k buyout should his age 38 season not look promising.
So what a team would be getting is an experienced, World-Series winning, playoff tested, healthy backstop with top-of-the-charts defensive skills. They are getting cost certainty at the position for at least two years. They are also getting a good guy in the locker room who is a natural with the fan base.
On the negative side, an acquiring team would be getting a player whose best offensive days are clearly behind him. From 2010-2012, Ruiz hit a cumulative .303 with a .388 on-base percentage, and had 161 rbi during that period. But in the last two years he has hit just .268 and .252 with just 11 homers and 68 rbi combined.
Still, Ruiz is not without offensive value. Known for producing clutch hits, his experience level certainly means that he will never wilt in big games, especially in the postseason. Also, his batting eye has always been and remains strong. He had a .347 on-base percentage in 2014, pretty much in line with his already high career average in that category.
Ruiz had a blemish put on his record when he was suspended for the first 25 games of the 2013 season for using a banned substance. However, it turned out that substance was Adderall, which he was taking for ADHD. He subsequently received a medical exemption allowing him to legally take the substance in the 2014 season.
We’ve established that an acquiring team would get a still-valuable, experienced, veteran catcher who could still handle the starting workload. He would also work great as part of a catching tandem or platoon. So who needs a catcher?
The Pittsburgh Pirates seem to be one obvious team needing a strong catcher. They lost Martin, and still have playoff aspirations. Are they really prepared to go with any of Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart, or Tony Sanchez? Having traded Montero, who will the DBacks go with? Is there any doubt that Chooch is better than anything the Dodgers have currently?
Over in the American League, a player of Ruiz caliber would certainly help contending teams like the Angels, Red Sox, Mariners, and Rays all better at the position, and could help a rebounding club like the Rangers. While these teams have options, in many cases they are either young and unproven, or have defensive holes in their games.
Carlos Ruiz is not going to bring back a premium price. The Phils would be fortunate to even pickup a very young teenager with developmental potential. They would then have to turn the starting catcher job over to Cameron Rupp, in all likelihood, and maybe sign some veteran, low-priced option that comes on the market as a backup.
We all know that the Phillies are trying to unload their aging, higher-salaried players. While Ruiz’ salary is not exorbitant, the club would certainly be willing to take those $16+ million off their books for the next couple years.
The chances of a trade are 50/50 at this point. And if Carlos Ruiz is back behind the plate as the Phillies starting catcher in 2015, even in 2016, the fans would certainly not be upset with the friendly, smiling familiar Chooch face still around as the rest of his old teammates ride off into the sunset. His turn is coming soon enough.

Cole Hamels Turns 31 Years Old

Hamels remains in the prime years of his career
Phillies lefty ace Cole Hamels turns 31 years old today. He has pitched in the better part of 9 big league seasons now. He has never suffered any serious injury. In short, Cole Hamels is in his prime.
Taken by the Phils with the 17th overall pick in the 2002 MLB Draft, Hamels reached the Majors 4 years later at age 22.
In those ensuing 9 seasons, Hamels has put together a remarkable record. He is 108-83 with a 3.27 ERA and 1.142 WHIP for his career.
Perhaps just as importantly as his excellence, he has been healthy and dominant. He has pitched 1,801.1 innings with a 1,707-453 K/BB ratio.
Hamels has exceeded the 180 innings pitched mark in every one of his 8 full seasons, and has gone over the 200 inning mark in 7 of the 8 years. In the year he missed, he threw 193.2 innings.
The lefty is currently working with a 7-year, $159 million contract that began running in 2012. It takes him through the 2018 season at $23.5 million per year, with a 2019 option for $20 million more. 
In today’s MLB world, in what has become an $8+ billion industry, and where cost certainty is cherished by all organizations, Hamels contract is absolutely in line with his age, experience, record, talent, and health.
After almost 13 years, will this be Cole Hamels final birthday celebrated as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies organization?
Only time will tell on that count. But one thing is certain: Hamels clearly is still in his prime. Signed for 4-5 more years, years which his history suggests he should remain elite, he should be dealt only if the return is also prime.