Tag Archives: Antonio Bastardo

Phillies improved but still missing a strong lefty arm in bullpen

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Paredes signed as a free agent and has pitched well this spring

The best Phillies teams of the last half-century, a period of time in which bullpen usage has become more and more critical in Major League Baseball, have featured strong left-handers helping the team get through the late innings and close out tight ball games.

Most famous of all was the late screwballer and Phillies Wall of Famer Tug McGraw. The popular Tugger blew a fastball past Willie Wilson of the Kansas City Royals to close out the 1980 World Series.
That 1980 team also got 40 appearances from Kevin Saucier and dealt for veteran southpaw Sparky Lyle, who was a tremendous help during the push to the NL East crown in September.

Three years later, the ‘Wheeze Kids’ reached the World Series with a trio of lefties in McGraw, Al Holland and May trade acquisition Willie Hernandez.
In 1993, a surprising Phillies club captured another National League pennant with lefty Mitch Williams as their closer. That club also featured left-hander David West coming out of the bullpen to appear in a staff-high 76 games.
The Phillies emerged in the early 21st century from years of losing, beginning a run of more than a decade as a postseason contender. Lefty Rheal Cormier was a key member of the bullpen during the entirety of the first-half of that decade. Veteran Dan Plesac joined him to close out the Veteran’s Stadium years in 2002-03.

Wall of Famer Tug McGraw pitched for the Phillies from 1975-84 and closed out the 1980 World Series.
For the 2004 season and the opening of Citizens Bank Park the Phillies acquired lefty closer Billy Wagner. For the next two seasons, fans became electrified at each 100 mph fastball that blazed from the diminutive fireballer’s left arm.
As the Phillies team of that mid-2000’s era tried to step up from near-miss contender to actual playoff team, a June 2007 trade brought in left-hander J.C. Romero via trade. He would spend much of the next five years helping the Phillies become a champion, earning a pair of wins in the 2008 World Series.
Scott Eyre was acquired in a 2008 August waiver trade and became a key situational left-hander out of Charlie Manuel‘s bullpen for two straight Phillies pennant-winning teams.
When the 2011 Phillies set a franchise record with a 102-win regular season the bullpen contributions of young left-hander Antonio Bastardo were crucial.
During this recently completed off-season the Phillies management and ownership checked off a number of boxes in helping push the club back to contending status. But those checks came mostly in the positional lineup as the team added outfielders Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen, shortstop Jean Segura and catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Those were fantastic additions to be sure. But many felt that the team could really use both a veteran starting left-handed pitcher and a strong bullpen left-hander to really fill out a true championship contender.

The proven bullpen lefty was out there in free agency if they wanted him. But on January 11, Zack Britton surprised many by choosing to return to the New York Yankees. He’ll have a chance to win championships with the Bronx Bombers and is being paid $13 million per season. Many felt that he would leave for a chance to close, which he will not get in New York, at least not in the short-term.
Now more than halfway through the 2019 Grapefruit League season the Phillies have a group of southpaws battling for a chance to come out of Gabe Kapler‘s bullpen when the regular season begins.
There are currently five lefty relievers still with the club. Adam Morgan is the lone holdover from last season. Trade acquisitions James Pazos and Jose Alvarez and non-roster invitees Edward Paredes and Jeremy Bleich also remain. Here is a look at a few of their key numbers entering Saint Patrick’s Day:
Morgan and Paredes were clearly the most effective of the group heading into the Sunday game in Clearwater against the Yankees. The 29-year-old Morgan has been with the organization since his selection in the third round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. He remains under club control through arbitration over the next two years.
Paredes signed as a free agent with the Phillies back on January 11. The 32-year-old has pitched in 15 games across the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched in 10 minor league seasons with the Dodgers, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and Cleveland Indians. Paredes has also pitched for 10 years during the off-season in his native Dominican Republic.

Edward Paredes is a 10-year minor league veteran who appeared in 15 games with the Dodgers in 2017-18. (Th3TruthPhotos/WikiCommons)
Paredes has an 11:2 K/BB over 6.1 innings, allowing four hits and no earned runs. Morgan brought an 8:1 K/BB ratio over 5.2 innings during which he allowed just one earned run and four hits into Sunday. That production had to give the club hope.
Unfortunately, Morgan looked bad on Sunday. He surrendered four runs, three of those earned, on three hits and a walk while also committing an error over 1.1 innings. Morgan hurt himself, throwing away a dribbler back to the mound with one out in the top of the 7th inning. Troy Tulowitzki followed with a long two-run homer onto the roof of the Tiki Bar in left at Spectrum Field on a hanging curve ball.
You can pretty much count on the Phillies bullpen having a half-dozen right-handers on Opening Day: Seranthony DominguezDavid RobertsonHector NerisPat NeshekJuan NicasioEdubray Ramos. Depending on whether the club wants to carry a seven or eight-man pen to open the season, that leaves room for one or two more relievers.
Things can certainly change based on injuries and late performances, as Morgan’s implosion today demonstrated perfectly. As things stand right now you have to like the chances of Paredes, a long-shot when camp opened in February, lining up for introductions at Citizens Bank Park on March 28.

Can the 2018 Eagles do what the 2009 Phillies could not?

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Despite Utley’s heroics the Phillies fell just short in repeat world title attempt

Tonight is the 2018 NFL season opener between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons. That would be the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, by the way. Those words still look and sound so glorious, do they not?

The Birds and their fans will celebrate their title one final time with the raising of the first-ever Super Bowl banner at Lincoln Financial Field this evening. But after that, the game will begin. The football calendar will officially turn to a new season.
In that new 2018 season the Eagles will be defending an NFL championship for the fourth time in franchise history. It marks just the second time in the last 35 years that a Philadelphia major pro sports team will attempt to repeat as a champion.
Philly fans remember well the last time it happened Just nine years ago the Philadelphia Phillies played the 2009 season as defending champions of Major League Baseball.
The long playoff run and Fall Classic triumph had been punctuated by a Halloween parade around City Hall and down Broad Street to Citizens Bank Park.
The Eagles experienced pretty much the same thing. A long playoff run, early February Super Bowl, parade this time up Broad Street from the stadium area and out the Ben Franklin Parkway to the Art Museum.
There was a shorter than normal off-season as the Phillies did the banquet and awards circuit that winter and then returned to Clearwater for spring training in February 2009. The Eagles had a month shorter off-season as well. While the Birds and their coaching staff were prepping for the Patriots, the rest of the NFL was already getting a jump on 2018 preparations.
As far as personnel were concerned, the 2009 Phillies returned largely the same cast of lead characters who had won the crown. The only change among starting position players came with Raul Ibanez replacing Pat Burrell as the left fielder.
On the mound, the biggest change at the start was that young lefty J.A. Happ stepped into the starting rotation in place of the Kyle Kendrick and Adam Eaton combination from the previous year.

Lee arrived at the July 2009 trade deadline to provide a needed shot in the arm.
Those Phillies had to make a big injury adjustment when Brett Myers hit the DL for three months in late May. You probably won’t recall that they gave Antonio Bastardo five June starts, or that they signed Rodrigo Lopez and plugged him in for five July starts. But you will recall that they traded for Cliff Lee and signed Pedro Martinez in July, bolstering the rotation for August and beyond.
There was a World Series hangover at the beginning of the season. Six weeks in, the Phillies went through a stretch in which they lost six of eight games. On Friday, May 15, the 2009 Phillies woke up with a 16-16 record. And then it all changed.
Following that mid-May rough stretch, the Phillies went on a five-game winning streak. It began a stretch that saw the club capture 19 of their next 26, moving them to a season-best twelve games over the .500 mark and to a four-game lead in the NL East.
And then the bottom seemed to again drop out. A loss on Friday, June 12 began a horrendous stretch in which the club dropped 11 of 13 games. Despite falling to just three games over .500 they remained atop the division, but barely. With just a half-game lead, they once again turned things around.
From June 27 to the MLB All-Star Game break the Phillies went 11-4, hitting the break with their lead back up to four games. They didn’t let up when play resumed, winning their first five. It kicked off a 10-2 run that pushed their record overall to 58-40 and stretched their division lead out to seven games.

Though the team would drop eight of the next 11 contests, Lee had arrived to inject some life – not to mention a stopper to the rotation. He got the win in two of the three victories during that rough stretch.
The rest of the way, those 2009 Phillies were never seriously challenged within the division. Charlie Manuel‘s squad clinched a third straight NL East crown with a 10-3 romp over the Houston Astros at Citizens Bank Park on September 30 and then coasted through the final four games.
In the NLDS the Phillies faced a real challenge from the Colorado Rockies but fought them off in four tough games. Then for a second straight season, the club overcame the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS in five games.
For the first time in history the Phillies returned to the World Series for a second consecutive year. That is exactly what the Eagles will be trying to accomplish. It’s a tough road. There were ups and downs along the way. But the Phillies had the best team in the NL, and they proved it over the course of the long season and two tough playoff series.
The 2018 Philadelphia Eagles look very similar. The Birds are again one of the strongest teams in football, but there will be challenges along the way. They will take some hard shots. They might even go into a losing stretch of games.
But given health from most of the key players, there is no reason that in the end their talent cannot take them back for a shot at a repeat. The Phillies had that shot and came up just short.
In that 2009 World Series the Phillies ran into a talented and experienced New York Yankees squad. They even handed the Yanks a 6-1 thrashing in the opener at Yankee Stadium.
But New York got a gutsy performance from A.J. Burnett in Game Two to even the series, then out-slugged the Phillies to take two of three at Citizens Bank Park. Up by three games to two, the Yankees put the series away with a convincing 7-3 victory in Game Six back in the Bronx.
Thinking back on it, that World Series defeat was disheartening. The Phillies were no longer the world champions. But they were still a strong ball club. They would get a couple more serious shots at another ring. Though they came up short, it was a magnificent run.
This is what looms ahead for these Philadelphia Eagles. They are the champions, but there are other talented teams out there. The Eagles look right now to be the best team in the NFC East. Get into the playoffs, have Carson Wentz and most of the supporting cast healthy, and anything can happen.
The 2009 Philadelphia Phillies showed that repeating as a champion is not an easy task, even for a supremely talented team. But just because those Phillies came up short doesn’t mean this Eagles team will. It’s about fighting through a long season and earning a shot in the playoffs.
That’s all these Birds and the fans should be looking at right now. The game in front of them. The season ahead of them. Get that playoff spot and take a shot in January at the repeat. Fly Eagles, fly!

Phillies 2016 Closer Options

With the trade of Ken Giles to Houston, the Philadelphia Phillies have a few options for the 2016 closer role.

Giles was always considered the heir apparent to Jonathan Papelbon, took over that role when the veteran was dealt to the Washington Nationals at the trade deadline this past season, and succeeded as most evaluators believed he would.
In fact, Giles was so impressive as both a setup man and in the closer role that he became easily the team’s most valuable remaining trade piece following the deals involving Papelbon and ace Cole Hamels.
Now that he is gone, the closer role would appear to be wide open. While that is likely to remain the case when the club reports to Clearwater for spring training, there is a clear frontrunner to fill the role.
Yesterday, on the same day that Giles talks were heating up and the deal being finalized, the Phils announced the signing of free agent David Hernandez to a one-year contract. 
That contract reportedly included incentives based on games finished. So it would appear that GM Matt Klentak was already thinking contingency plans with the Hernandez signing.

Hernandez has finished 84 games during his career, registering 19 Saves along the way. During the 2011 season, the righthander served as the Arizona Diamondbacks primary closer for a time, and at one stretch in July he recorded seven Saves in a 13-game stretch.
Other candidates would include Luis Garcia, who finished 25 games over the last three seasons with the Phillies, including a pair of Saves this past season. 
Edubray Ramos turns 23 years old next week, and has 19 Saves on his resume in the Phils minor league system, 18 of those over the last two seasons.
Alec Asher could turn out to be an option. The 24-year old righty who was part of the package received from Texas in return for Hamels did not enjoy success in a seven-game audition with the Phillies. 
Asher allowed 42 hits, including eight home runs, across 29 innings, with a 16/10 K:BB ratio in his big league starting debut, and is much more likely to end up in the bullpen.
James Russell, who turns 30 years old in January, was signed as a free agent in November. He has finished 70 games across parts of six big league seasons, mostly with the Chicago Cubs, and has four Saves on his record. 
However, it is more likely that the Phillies will want to use Russell as a late-inning left-hander in the 7th and 8th innings.
One dark-horse candidate could be newcomer Frank Herrmann.  The big righty finished out 32 games over the 2010-12 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, has a 2010 Save on his big league resume, and registered 8 Saves with AAA Columbus in 2012. 
The 31-year old Herrmann signed as a free agent back in November after pitching in the LA Angels and Pittsburgh Pirates minor league systems over the last couple of years.
The Phillies also have a ton of talented arms percolating at the AA and AAA levels in the minor leagues, any of whom could develop into the closer role. 
Those possibilities could include Zach EflinRicardo PintoBen LivelyNick Pivetta, and Alberto Tirado . However, those are all longterm possibilities, and all but Tirado should remain in the rotation in the 2016 season.
It also remains a possibility that the club could sign an inexpensive free agent who might be looking at a short-term deal to better establish their own market. 
Pitchers such as Jonathan BroxtonMatt Albers, and even former Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo could be possibilities, should Klentak decide to take the free agent route.
While Hernandez is certainly the leading candidate, the Phillies 2016 closer role is no longer etched in stone. 
“100-Miles Giles” will be helping the Astros chase an AL West crown and a World Series berth. His former teammates will be searching for his replacement, at least in the short-term.

Antonio Bastardo Traded to Pirates

Antonio Bastardo was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates
The Philadelphia Phillies have traded relief pitcher Antonio Bastardo to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Bucs minor league left-hander Joely Rodriguez.
As GM Ruben Amaro continues to dismantle what we here at TBOH have come to call the “Glory Era” roster, the players who helped win the 5-straight NL East crowns, back-to-back NL Pennants, and the 2008 World Series continue to move.
Bastardo came up in 2009, and despite pitching just 6 regular season games he got to make an appearance in each of the NLDS and NLCS that year. He would further pitch in the postseason for both the 2010 and 2011 Phillies.
Just this afternoon at the Phillies blog TBOH, I published an article titled “Antonio Bastardo a Hot Commodity” which specifically noted the recent Pittsburgh interest in the lefty. I knew he was ‘hot’, just not exactly how hot.
In 2011, his first full season in the big leagues, Antonio Bastardo was lights-out as a setup man for a team that won a franchise-record 102 games. That year he pitched in 58 innings over 64 games in which he allowed just 28 hits. That year he struck out 70 batters while walking only 26. 
Since then, Bastardo may have never reached that same shutdown level, but he has added three more excellent seasons on to his career resume. He consistently gives up fewer hits and strikes out more hitters than innings pitched.
Coming to the Phillies is Joely Rodriguez, a lefty who just turned 23 years old a few weeks ago. He has been used almost exclusively as a starting pitcher in the Bucs organization through 6 years, beginning as a 17-year old.
The Phillies might see him as a bullpen piece in the future. Before the 2014 season, Baseball America had him as the #30 prospect in the Pittsburgh organization, speculating that he might move to the pen.

Phillies 2014 Winter Meetings Preview

Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings take place this week
As baseball’s Winter Meetings get underway this week in San Diego, the conferences, trade shows, and banquets will be a sideshow for the main event. That main event will be taking place in meetings behind closed doors, and in numerous phone conversations.
Player movement is what the average fan cares about, and Phillies fans are no exception. GM Ruben Amaro met with the Phillies front office staff last week in preparation for what could be a huge week in the team’s history. Or what could be a big nothing bust.
Amaro was asked to speculate on a possible trade of Cole Hamels. His response was telling, not just for Hamels, around whom trade rumors and speculation have swirled for weeks, but for any possible moves by the club. 
As reported by Ryan Lawrence at Philly.com, Amaro stated: “I really can’t speculate. I don’t believe in speculation. I believe in reality.
Actually, I have to say that this is one of the few statements made in recent months by the GM with which I am in complete agreement. I’ve never been big on wild speculation, and am more interested in reporting on and evaluating factual information and real events.
But with the Philadelphia Phillies these days, all we have is speculation. There is a publicly stated goal of getting younger, shedding salary, and moving on from the great 2003-12 decade of excellence.
This week, Amaro will continue to talk with rival GM’s, hoping to get back at least a couple of strong, young prospects in exchange for proven veterans, hoping to take the first steps forward in that rebuilding program. 
Here is a look at a handful of the names on the Phillies trade block that are most likely to get moved this week:
MARLON BYRD: there has reportedly been a lot of interest in the Phillies 37-year old outfielder. He is signed for a relatively inexpensive $8 million next year, and a 2016 option at another $8 million vests if he reaches just 463 plate appearances. Healthy the last two years, he has set career highs with 24 and then 25 homeruns.
JONATHAN PAPELBON: there is interest, but the Phils would likely need to eat an unknown portion of his contract. That deal is for $13 million next season, still expensive for a closer, even in the current market. And there is an option for another $13 million which vests if he reaches just 48 Games Finished, a mark he has surpassed in all of his full seasons.
LH reliever Antonio Bastardo is very marketable
ANTONIO BASTARDO: he may be the single most marketable player the Phillies control. Just offered arbitration, it is likely that the 29-year old lefty reliever will make between $2.5-3 million next season. He is in the prime of his career, is healthy, is left-handed, and he strikes hitters out. 
COLE HAMELS: any deal for Hamels will be complicated. He is a true Ace, a lefty, in his prime, and signed longterm at market value for his talent and experience level. You will need just the right combo of a team in contention, money to spend, and with multiple big prospects to give up. There are teams fitting the bill perfectly: Dodgers, Red Sox, Cubs. All of them have been in rumors. More possible, such as the Cardinals, Angels and Giants. There is no rush, and if the exact right offer doesn’t come along, Hamels would become a big target again in the 2015 season at the trade deadline. The decision of free agents like Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, and James Shields may directly impact a Hamels deal.
JIMMY ROLLINS: don’t be surprised if a couple of teams jump up on the Phils all-time Hits leader. The shortstop has been a franchise icon for more than a decade. He can still play shortstop at a high level, and he still produces at the plate. But having just turned 36, the only way he waives his no-trade clause is for a perceived winner. The Dodgers and Yankees might fit the bill. He has already reportedly turned down a possible deal to the Mets, signaling he wants to win in 2015 if he leaves.
BEN REVERE: the Phils really don’t want to deal him. Revere is just 26 and goes to arbitration for the first time. He should be affordable, and a late-season ankle injury is reportedly healed. He hit .306 last year with 49 steals. And he is a really nice guy, the type fans will grown to love. All of which just makes him more marketable too.
THE FIELD: the team is on record as saying that anyone is gettable, but that is not likely true. Young players like Ken Giles and Maikel Franco are part of the future and going nowhere. The team would indeed trade Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz and Domonic Brown. But age or price or injury or production concerns make any deals involving these players unlikely. But you never know what another team might like, and Amaro will listen to anything. 
Amaro gave this nugget to reporters over the weekend “I’m actually probably optimistic about what’s been going on, dialogue-wise, some of the things we’ve discussed externally and internally. It’s been a very, very active communication market so far…there’s been a lot of dialogue in a variety of areas.”
That is saying a very little in a whole lot of words, and I think that’s just how Amaro likes it. The Phillies will be quiet until they aren’t. Until then, a great deal of speculation will swirl around the club during these Winter Meetings. That’s all it will be, even from the “insiders” crowd.