Phillies and Rays talking trade as the MLB non-waiver deadline approaches

Ramos is a two-time all-star
As the 2018 MLB trade deadline fast approaches, trades are being finalized and the rumor mills are really starting to heat up. 
The Philadelphia Phillies, linked to a number of players in recent days, are expected to be active as the afternoon rolls along.
It is believed that general manager Matt Klentak is looking to bolster the bullpen, as well as trying to find players who might improve the overall team defense.
Breaking reports on Tuesday afternoon had the Phillies “deep into talks” with the Tampa Bay Rays involving catcher Wilson Ramos
The first rumblings of this item came across Twitter from Yahoo reporter Jeff Passan:
That was followed moments later by MLB Network insider Joel Sherman, who stated that the Phillies are looking to upgrade their defense at both the catcher and shortstop positions:
Wilson Ramos will be traded b4 the deadline, sources say. @Ken_Rosenthal says are talking seriously. Heard that Phils are concentrating on defensive upgrades at catcher and SS (TB has Hechavarria too).
Ramos will turn 31 years old on August 10, and is now in his ninth big league season. He is currently on the 10-day disabled list with a hamstring injury which is not expected to sideline him for long.
Ramos was originally signed as a teenager out of Venezuela by the Minnesota Twins more than a decade ago. He made his MLB debut with Minnesota in 2010, but was traded to the Washington Nationals at the trade deadline that year for reliever Matt Capps.
After parts of seven seasons with the Nationals, Ramos became a free agent. He signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal with Tampa Bay on December 12, 2016 and will become a free agent again in the coming off-season.

The Phillies have also been considered as one of the possible destinations for pitcher Chris Archer of Tampa Bay. 
It is possible that Klentak will be exploring a price to land a package that includes Archer, Ramos, and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from the Rays.

Phillies have found it tough to win at Fenway Park in recent years

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Fenway Park during Red Sox 4-1 series victory over Phillies in 1915 World Series

Major League Baseball has been doing this Inter-league stuff in the regular season for just over two decades now. The Phillies and American League’s Boston Red Sox will face off as a pair of first place teams over the next two nights at Fenway Park in Boston.

Fenway Park is particularly famous to opposing fans due to its huge left field wall. The “Green Monster” stands 37.2 feet tall and is just 310 feet from home plate. For the Phillies, it has been the stuff of nightmares.
The Phillies have visited Fenway Park on 10 separate occasions over the last 21 seasons prior to this one. Those visits have seen the two club square off in 28 regular season games in Boston. The Phillies have walked out a winner just nine times. That’s a miserable .321 winning percentage.
Things weren’t so bad in the early years of Inter-league play. The host Bosox swept the Phillies in the first-ever three game series at Fenway Park back in 1997.
But over the next seven seasons between 1998-2004, the Phillies captured six of the 11 games spanning four series. In one memorable game on June 9, 2001 the Phillies beat Boston’s Hall of Fame ace Pedro Martinez 5-2 behind the pitching of Omar Daal.
However, since the Red Sox ended their “Curse of the Bambino” by winning the 2004 World Series, things have not been good for the Phillies. The Red Sox swept a three-game series between the two clubs in 2006 and have gone 11-2 against the Phillies under the backdrop of their Green Monster over the last five series between the teams in Boston.
A year ago, the Red Sox pulled off a pair of dramatic walkoff victories against the Phillies at Fenway. That gives Boston five straight victories over the Phillies at Fenway Park entering tonight’s contest.
After losing three of four to the last-place Cincinnati Reds over this past weekend, the Phillies cannot afford to get swept in Boston. A loss tonight would make it four defeats in a row, something that the team has experienced just twice all season in pushing to the top of the NL East. They have yet to drop five in a row.
If the Phillies are going to come back home for their big Alumni Weekend still in first place, they are likely going to have to figure out a way to beat the Boston Red Sox in front of the Green Monster. That will be even tougher this year. Boston’s record of 74-33 is the best in baseball.

In Hall of Fame acceptance speech, Thome thanks Manuel, recalls time with Phillies

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Thome (R) recognized contributions of his mentor Manuel (L) at the Hall of Fame

When the time came this afternoon for Jim Thome‘s turn to be formally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, it was no surprise to learn that it would his mentor, friend, and former manager Charlie Manuel who would be doing the introductions.

By way of a pre-recorded video, the now 74-year-old former skipper heaped praise on the man whom he managed with both the Cleveland Indians and the Phillies.
Every time he walked up to the plate he was dangerous,” began Manuel. The two are both Phillies Wall of Famers. Now the pupil has surpassed the teacher and reached the pinnacle of individual achievement in his profession.
Manuel went on to recall the circumstances when they first met, and the characteristics that attracted him to the young power hitter.

“As far as meeting him the first time, I wanta say it was in spring of ’89. Jimmy was young. He was shy. He was really tentative about what he did, ya know. He wanted to do the right thing. Jimmy was one of the most dedicated guys as far as listenin’. And coachable? I tell people all the time, with Jimmy Thome, he really thinks that you helped him. But Jimmy Thome helped me too. You know, just bein’ who he was, and bein’ dedicated like he was.”


“He hit so much, I don’t think I can explain to you how much he hit.”

Manager Charlie Manuel reflects on the career of ‘s own Jim Thome, ahead of his speech.

There has clearly always been a special bond between the two men. In Cleveland, Manuel was the hitting coach as the Indians won the AL Central Division crown in each of Thome’s first five full seasons from 1995-99.
Manuel would become the manager of the Indians in 2000 but was fired in July of 2002 over a contract dispute. Thome would leave as a free agent that following off-season, signing with the Phillies.
In 2005, the two men would experience an all-too-short reunion when Manuel was hired as the Phillies new skipper. However, Thome would suffer through an injury-marred first half. By June 30, his season was over. Into the breach would stop a new slugger, Ryan Howard, who would win the NL Rookie of the Year Award that season. Thome’s days in Philly were numbered.
Following that 2005 campaign, Thome was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Aaron Rowand and two pitchers, one of whom would be Gio Gonzalez.
Manuel would go on to guide the Phillies to five consecutive NL East crowns, back-to-back National League pennants, and the 2008 World Series championship.

In his acceptance speech, Thome remembered

“When I was writing my speech, I was overwhelmed as I reflected on the number of people who have helped shape my career. The first person will come as no surprise. From the moment I met Charlie Manuel as a wide-eyed kid in the Gulf Coast League, I knew this was someone I could connect with instantly. Charlie took a scrappy young kid who was anxious to hit a million home runs, and actually encouraged those dreams. He told me that I could hit as many home runs as I wanted to. From day one in that dugout in Kissimmee, he always believed in me. Chuck, I’ll never forget the day you called me into your office in Scranton. You had this idea that I could benefit from what Roy Hobbs was doing. Little did I know, that day in Pennsylvania would change everything for me. From that day on, all we did was work, work, and work some more.”

Thome’s voice then began to crack and tremble perceptibly as he finished his thanks to his mentor. “You know that I wouldn’t be standing here today without you. Thank you for everything.
Thome then pointed a finger at Manuel adding “But most of all, thank you for your loyalty.” The skipper returned the gesture with a nod, clearly emotional behind dark black sunglasses.
After Thome had recounted his days in Cleveland, he quickly moved to his time in Philadelphia.

“Cleveland is where my career was born, but Philadelphia is where I had to grow up fast. I needed every single tool in my toolbox in Philly. The city welcomed me with open arms from the moment the electricians met us, wearing our hard hats. The fans couldn’t have been better. Larry Bowa was the manager and he was tough as nails. He pushed me and our team to a whole new level. Thanks Bo, and the front office in Philly, first class all the way. David Montgomery, Bill Giles, alongside of Ed Wade and Ruben Amaro Jr. They made my time there so meaningful.”

Thome also gave a special shout out to former Phillies trainer Jeff Cooper for a program that helped Thome manage a recurring back problem.
There was a large contingent of Phillies fans on hand in the crowd, an acknowledgment that his affection for the City of Brotherly Love is fully reciprocated.
Jim Thome is a class act, and he demonstrated that again today at Cooperstown. His special relationship with both Manuel and the Phillies organization was on full display as he joined the pantheon of the game’s greats.

Phillies Wall of Famer Jim Thome inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame

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Thome delivers his acceptance speech in Cooperstown, New York

 

On Sunday afternoon, retired Philadelphia Phillies star first baseman Jim Thome finds himself officially enshrined among baseball’s immortals.

Also inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame are five more superstars: Vladimir GuerreroTrevor HoffmanChipper JonesJack Morris, and Alan Trammell.
Even though Thome played just four of his 22 big league seasons with the Phillies, his impact on the organization was considered so great that he has previously been enshrined on the club’s Wall of Fame.
Last summer, Thome joined Mike Lieberthal (2012) as the only players enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame who appeared in a majority of their seasons with the club during the 2000’s but who had not played with the 2008 World Series team.
Thome signed with the Phillies as a free agent following the 2002 campaign. By that time, he had become one of the most feared sluggers in the game. As a member of the Cleveland Indians, Thome had been a three-time American League all-star, a Silver Slugger winner, and a perennial MVP candidate.
The Phillies team that Thome was joining for the 2003 season was not dissimilar to the current 2018 team. After years of losing, the Phillies had spent a few seasons rebuilding and retooling their roster.
Thome was signed to become the new Phillies first baseman and help the team step up to contending status. He was also brought in to provide a drawing card as Veteran’s Stadium closed in 2003 and Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004.
In his first season, the team’s final year after 33 seasons at The Vet, Thome led the National League with 47 home runs. He finished fourth in the NL MVP vote that year for a Phillies team that led the NL Wildcard race before collapsing to lose seven of their last eight games.
The following year, Thome made the National League all-star team for what would be the lone time in his career. He banged another 42 home runs that season, finishing among the top 20 in NL MVP voting. Among the many highlights were the 400th home run of his career, which he banged in front of the home fans in South Philly.
He would be honored following that 2004 season with the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award given to a player who best exemplifies strong character both on and off the field.
That Phillies team turned it on down the stretch this time, finishing the season with a 21-8 record after September 1. But again, it wasn’t enough to land a playoff berth.
His third season with the Phillies would prove to be abbreviated. It would also lead directly to a change that would have reverberations for the Phillies ultimate fortunes, and for the rest of his own career.
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Young slugger Howard would finally replace
the injured Thome for good in July 2005

In that 2005 campaign, Thome suffered a pair of injuries. He was driven to the disabled list first by a lower back strain, and then again by a bout with elbow tendinitis. Meanwhile, a 25-year-old first baseman named Ryan Howard was blasting moon shots in the minor leagues and pushing for playing time.
Thome would play his final game of the 2005 season on June 30. It would be his final game with the Phillies as well. At least for the next seven years.
As Thome finished up the end of his three-year, $36 million-dollar contract with three months on the disabled list, Howard stepped into the starting lineup.
The young slugger immediately became a star, bashing 22 home runs, 21 of those after Thome’s season was finished. Howard captured the NL Rookie of the Year honors, beginning a magnificent career in Philly during which he became “The Big Piece” and helped lead the 2008 team to their World Series championship.
Thome signed as a free agent with the Chicago White Sox. He would bounce back strong, blasting 42 home runs in 2006 with the Chisox and becoming an AL all-star. He would play in parts of four seasons with Chicago before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers at age 38 in 2009.
With Los Angeles in 2009, Thome would once again see his career intersect with the Phillies, this time as a postseason opponent. He actually received a pair of plate appearances as the Dodgers and Phillies battled in the 2009 National League Championship Series.
Thome drew a walk off J.A. Happ in the bottom of the sixth inning of a Phillies 8-6 victory in the NLCS Game One. He would be immediately replaced by a pinch-runner who also had previous Phillies ties, pitcher Randy Wolf.
In Game Two, a 2-1 comeback victory for Los Angeles, Thome rapped a pinch-hit single off Scott Eyre. He was again removed for a pinch-runner. But that hit came in the midst of a two-run Dodgers rally that gave them the victory and tied the series.
Thome would then play for five different organizations over his final four seasons, including returns to both the Indians and Phillies.
He would slam five final homers in a Phillies uniform over 71 plate appearances during the first few months of the disappointing 2012 campaign. That season would prove to be the swan song for a long era of winning baseball at Citizens Bank Park.
As the team floundered, the 41-year-old Thome was dealt to the Baltimore Orioles on June 30, 2012 for a pair of nondescript minor league prospects. He would retire after finishing up that season in Baltimore.
Over part of four seasons in red pinstripes, Thome recorded a .260/.384/.541 slash line. He blasted 101 home runs, banged 42 doubles, knocked in 281 runs, and scored 243 times.

 

 

Today’s a special day for a very special guy.

Congratulations to Jim Thome on his induction into the @baseballhall today!

For his full 22-year career, Thome blasted 612 home runs. That places him eighth on the all-time Major League Baseball home run leader board. He finished up with 1,699 RBI and 1,583 runs scored. Thome also walked 1,747 times in his career.

 

Though his time in Philadelphia was relatively brief, it was also undoubtedly memorable and influential. He helped the organization in the early-mid 2000’s emerge from a decade of losing and ushered in an exciting new era of winning baseball at a beautiful new ballpark. Today, Thome takes his rightful place among the most memorable players in the history of the game.

Velasquez, Eflin take mound for key weekend outings in Cincinnati

Eflin needs to show he is back to June form
The host Cincinnati Reds dumped the Philadelphia Phillies by a 6-4 final score on Friday night at Great American Ball Park.
With the win, the Reds have managed a split of the first two games of this four-game long weekend series with the Phillies.
Despite the defeat, the Phillies remain 2.5 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the National League East Division standings. The Braves were shut down at home by Clayton Kershaw on Friday, dropping a 4-1 decision to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In gaining the split to this point in the series, the Reds have faced the bottom of the Phillies pitching rotation options. On Thursday night the Phils dipped into their minor league depth for Ranger Suarez. The lefty made his big league debut a winning one.
Last night it was the struggling Nick Pivetta who suffered the loss. Pivetta has been a true head-scratcher this season. There is no question about his stuff. After striking out a dozen Reds batters on Friday night, he now possesses a tremendous 134/32 K:BB ratio over 107.2 innings.
However, Pivetta also surrendered a pair of home runs which resulted in five earned runs scored against him. That lifted his ERA on the season to the 4.85 mark in what was his second straight poor outing since the MLB All-Star Game break.
With those two back-end starting pitching efforts in the rear-view mirror and the club still in first place, these next two games to end the weekend series become pivotal for the Phillies.
Saturday’s match-up will feature a pair of interesting pitchers taking the mound. For the Phillies it will be Vince Velasquez looking to extend what has been the most successful string of starts in his career. The Reds send out Matt Harvey, who moved to Cincinnati and has been largely effective after being dumped by the New York Mets.
Velasquez has pitched into the sixth inning in nine of his last 12 starts and has gotten to the seventh inning on five occasions during that period. He has allowed just 49 hits over 67.1 innings with an 80/24 K:BB ratio during that time.
The knock on Velasquez over the first few years of his career was that he couldn’t get deep into his starts. If this recent stretch of performances is indicative of what’s to come, the 26-year-old will silence those who have felt that his best role would come with a move to the bullpen.
After Velasquez shut down the San Diego Padres last Sunday, manager Gabe Kapler was quoted by Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia on the keys to his pitcher’s increased effectiveness:

“That was as good as he’s been all year. The tempo, the pace and the energy levels were right on. It’s the combination of keeping his rhythm and his pace but not losing control of his body…When he gets runners on base, he’s done a really good job of holding runners on…he does a great job holding the baseball. As a runner at first base, you have difficulty timing your jumps and before you know it, your body shuts down naturally. Across the board, I think he’s been an exceptional athlete for us on the mound.”

For the series finale on Sunday it will be Zach Eflin taking the mound for the Phillies. Though his overall numbers look fine, Eflin struggled mightily in his most recent outing this past Monday night. The Dodgers got to him for three home runs, knocking him out in the third inning.

Eflin had been bothered by a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand prior to the all-star break. That poor performance against the Dodgers marked just his second start in nearly three weeks. This will be an important opportunity for the 24-year-old right-hander to show that he is healthy, and that the club can count on him down the stretch.
Following a big month of June, Eflin was quoted by Matt Breen of Philly.com on his emergence: “I always felt that I belonged here regardless of how I had thrown. That’s the feeling I always had. But to go out there and put up a very good month is definitely rewarding.
To this point, the Phillies have not made a deal to bring in a more veteran arm to help the pitching rotation. Cole Hamels went to the Chicago Cubs. J.A. Happ went to the New York Yankees. With just days to go before the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31, there have still been rumors linking the club with Chris Archer.
Whether or not Matt Klentak makes a move to bolster that rotation, the performances of both Velasquez and Eflin over the next two months are likely to be keys for this young Phillies ball club. It begins as this weekend ends, with the team a winner once again, and two emerging starting pitchers trying to help keep it that way.