Tag Archives: Carlos Santana

Boston Red Sox add former Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph

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Back from Korea, Tommy Joseph signs with Bosox

The Boston Red Sox have announced the signing of Tommy Joseph, the Phillies former first baseman. Joseph had played in Korea earlier this season with little success before receiving his release.

Joseph, who turned 28-years-old just three weeks ago, was a second round draft pick of the San Francisco Giants back in 2009 out of high school in his native Arizona.
At the July 2012 trade deadline, Joseph was sent to the Phillies along with pitching prospect Seth Rosin and outfielder Nate Schierholtz in exchange for outfielder Hunter Pence.
From a Phillies perspective, Joseph was the centerpiece of that deal. A catcher at the time of the trade, he never developed in the way they hoped.
Joseph finally reached Philadelphia in May 2016 as a first baseman. For most of that season as well as the 2017 campaign, he was the Phillies starter at the position. He appeared in 227 games at first base and another pair as a Designated Hitter.
After slashing just .247/.297/.460 with 43 home runs, 86 extra-base hits, and 116 RBIs, Joseph lost his playing time in September 2017 to Rhys Hoskins. When the Phillies signed Carlos Santana as a free agent that December, the writing was on the wall. Joseph was released during spring training of 2018.
The Texas Rangers picked him up off waivers, and Joseph spent last season split between the Double-A and Triple-A levels in the Texas farm system.

For this 2019 season, Joseph signed a $1 million deal with LG Twins of the KBO in Korea. However, he produced with just an OPS of .758 over 217 plate appearances, far below the league average of .866 for foreign players. The Twins replaced Joseph by signing Carlos Peguero, who had experience playing in both Major League Baseball and in Japan.

Joseph was released from his deal, and returned to the United States. The Red Sox have assigned him to Triple-A Pawtucket, and barring injuries he will likely remain there, possibly hoping for a September promotion when rosters are expanded.

Future murky for Aaron Altherr entering the 2019 season

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Aaron Altherr’s future role with Phillies is up-in-the-air entering 2019

Fans of the Philadelphia Phillies have been focused on potential changes to the starting lineup for the 2019 season for obvious reasons. A team that hopes to become a contender had problems both producing runs and playing defense a year ago, yet battled for the division lead into September.

The club began to make improvents in the outfield with the December free agent signing of veteran Andrew McCutchen. Slotting the 32-year-old former National League Most Valuable Player into left field allowed the Phillies to switch Rhys Hoskins back to his more comfortable position at first base.
The specter of Bryce Harper also continues to hang over the incumbent outfielder mix. If the Phillies are successful in their pursuit of the free agent superstar, he and ‘Cutch’ would be everyday starters on the outfield corners for the Phillies for the next three years, the length of McCutchen’s contract.
Whether the team actually lands Harper or not, this is going to be a pivotal season at the start of a defining period in the career of one of those outfielders, Aaron Altherr.
Signed for the upcoming 2019 campaign at $1.35 million, Altherr cannot become a free agent until after the 2021 season. Unless he is traded or released, he is going to be with the Phillies for the next three years. Having turned 28-years-old last month, Altherr is due to be with the Phillies through what will be the prime years of his career.

Though he only actually lived there for the first six months of his life, Altherr is one of the few European-born players in Major League Baseball. He was born in Landstuhl, Germany to a mother serving in the U.S. Air Force and a father who was a professional soccer player.
The Phillies selected Altherr as an 18-year-old in the ninth round of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft out of an Arizona high school. Following the 2010 season he was ranked among the Phillies top ten prospects by Baseball America.
Altherr spent the next three years rising incrementally through the Phillies farm system, spending the entire 2012 season with Low-A Lakewood and the entirety of 2013 with High-A Clearwater.
By the time he arrived at Double-A Reading for the 2014 season the big-league Phillies were still trying to transition from the popular, successful core group of players who had been consistent winners in the previous decade.
Altherr didn’t have a great year at Reading, slashing just .236/.287/.399 over 120 games. But his 14 homers, 43 extra-base hits, 12 stolen bases and solid play in center field demonstrated athleticism that the team’s decision-makers at the time saw as potentially valuable.
That summer, Altherr received his first looks at life in the Majors when he appeared in two games. On June 16 in Atlanta he was called on to pinch-hit for reliever Mario Hollands in the top of the 12th inning of a 1-1 tie with the host Braves. His first big-league plate appearance saw Altherr face right-hander Anthony Valvaro and resulted in his making the final out of the inning by flying out to center field.
On July 3 in Miami, Altherr got his first start. He played the entire game that evening and took an 0-4 collar. It would be his last taste of life in ‘The Show ‘for more than a year. Playing well over the first four-and-a-half months of 2015 with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, he earned another shot in mid-August back in Philly.
It was on August 19, 2015 against the Toronto Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park that Altherr finally recorded his first big-league hit. With two outs in the bottom of the first inning, Altherr drilled a double to left field off veteran southpaw Mark Buehrle to score Darin Ruf. For the rest of that season, Altherr would be the Phillies starting left fielder.
Over the next couple of seasons, Altherr struggled to become a reliable, everyday starting outfielder for a Phillies team that had gone into full rebuild mode and had dropped to the bottom of the National League. He missed the first half of the 2016 season due to surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist and struggled on his return.
The 2017 campaign seemed to be a possible breakout one. He missed a month with a hamstring injury in late-summer, but still finished with solid numbers. That year he slashed .272/.340/.516 and produced 19 homers, 65 RBI, and 48 extra-base hits over 412 plate appearances.
In December 2017 the Phillies made one of the most perplexing free agent signings in their history when they inked veteran Carlos Santana to play first base. That signing would have ripple effects on Altherr. With Hoskins moved out left field, it left Altherr as part of a right field platoon with Nick Williams.
Altherr struggled with the new role and was even sent back to Lehigh Valley for the entire month of August. He would slash just .181/.295/.333 with eight homers and 20 extra-base hits over 285 plate appearances scattered across 105 games with the Phillies last season.
It would appear that if Altherr stays with the Phillies for the 2019 season, the best he can hope for is to again platoon with Williams in right field. It’s a tough spot to be in for a player who just two seasons ago looked like he might be breaking through as a legitimate starting outfielder.

The puzzling acquisition of Santana to play first base sent Altherr into a 2018 platoon. (Ian D’Andrea/Flickr)
Now imagine that Harper actually signs with the Phillies. What then for Altherr – or the talented 25-year-old Williams for that matter? Odubel Herrera is signed for the long-term in center field and Roman Quinn, who turns just 26-years-old in May, is as talented as any of the holdovers.
Altherr will play this entire season at age 28 in what should be the prime of his career. If healthy, and if he can accept the role, he could prove an extremely valuable bench player. Still athletic, he could serve as a backup at all three outfield positions. He would also provide some potential pop and speed off the bench as both a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner.
When he was demoted last summer following his lengthy funk, Altherr was quoted by Tom Housenick at The Morning Call on the difficulty that he was having transitioning from having been an everyday player in 2017 to a platoon-bench role in 2018:
In my heart, I wanted to be down here to get at-bats. It’s tough to get up there and pinch hit. It’s not something I’m not used to, for sure. Once I’ve got my confidence, I can do that.
If Altherr still harbors any dreams of becoming a regular starting player in Major League Baseball, short of catastrophic injuries to the rest of the Phillies outfield mix, a trade would appear to be his best personal option. If Harper signs, someone from among the Altherr, Williams and Quinn group would almost assuredly become trade bait during spring training.
One thing that is certain is that with free agency still three years away, where he plays is largely out of Altherr’s control. What he does control is his own physical and mental preparation. Be ready in both regards for the possibility of being a bench player or platoon outfielder in Philly, or even a starter should injuries or a trade come to pass.

His ability to prepare well and produce in the opportunities that he is given this coming season could define the rest of his career, whether that continues with the Phillies or winds up in another organization.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Aaron Altherr enters a defining period for his career

2018 was a year of ups and downs for the Philadelphia Phillies

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Aaron Nola broke out to become the Phillies 2018 top story

It’s New Year’s Eve, and as the sand runs out in the hourglass of the year 2018, this would be a good time to take a look back on the year as it played out for the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Phillies entered the calendar year of 2018 with the echoes of their successes in the previous decade, successes which had spilled over to the first years of the present decade, growing fainter and fainter.
After finishing in last place in the National League East Division standings in three of the previous four seasons, the Phillies began putting a roster together they hoped would begin reversing that trend early in January.
On January 3, the Phillies invited 10 non-roster players and newly signed free agents to spring training. Among those players were Pedro Florimon, who would appear in 50 games during the regular season, and Mitch Walding, who would appear in the first 13 games of his big-league career.
Before the month of January was out, eight more non-roster players or new free agent additions would also receive invitations to join the Phillies in Clearwater. Among those were Scott Kingery, who would end up as the Phillies starting shortstop for much of the coming season.
Once spring training got underway, changes to the roster continued to shed the players who had contributed as regulars during the recent losing history when Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp were each designated for assignment during March.
The Phillies made a big, late free agent addition on March 12 when the club came to agreement on three-year contract with Jake Arrieta. The 32-year-old right-hander had won the 2015 NL Cy Young Award and would bring a much-needed veteran presence to the team’s rotation.

2018 SEASON OPENS WITH HOPE

As the season opened, the club had little hope. Most fans would have considered a .500 finish during a season in which young players made strides towards the future as a positive step forward. But the club played well early, bolting out to a 14-7 mark over the first three weeks.
A hot stretch in early May pushed the Phillies record up to 29-20 and into first place in the division on May 26. However, the club began to slump at that point, losing seven of eight games to open the month of June. They continued to fight, and at the MLB All-Star Game break the Phillies were 53-42 and back in first place by a half-game.
That All-Star break was a fun one for Phillies fans, with starting pitcher Aaron Nola rewarded for a phenomenal first half by being named to the National League squad for the first time.
Nola would prove the best individual story of the season, going 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA and 0.975 WHIP. He allowed just 149 hits over 212.1 innings with 224 strikeouts. For that performance, Nola would finish third in the NL Cy Young Award voting.
Outfielder Rhys Hoskins was named as one of the sluggers to perform in the annual Home Run Derby. Hoskins was an underdog and matched up against Milwaukee Brewers powerful first baseman Jesus Aguilar in the opening round. The Phillies young star found his groove and upset Aguilar by 17-12.
Hoskins turned it up a notch in a second-round matchup with Max Muncy of the Los Angeles Dodgers, blasting 20 homers. But Muncy powered up himself, rallying for a 21-20 victory.
The Phillies came out of the break playing uneven baseball, going 6-6 over the last two weeks of July. However, a five-game winning streak as the calendar turned to August left them a season-best 15 games over the .500 mark. Their 63-48 record had the Phillies 1.5 games up in the standings and had fans talking about a possible unexpected return to the postseason.
There were warning signs, if you were willing to look beyond the wins and focus on overall performance. Poor team defense. Players being used out of position. A lineup that was failing to produce on a consistent basis. Somehow the Phillies were winning despite poor statistics.
Many felt that the winning couldn’t possibly be sustained without an infusion of impact talent at the trade deadline. The Phillies were linked to a number of big names, the biggest being Baltimore Orioles superstar Manny Machado. It was rumored that Machado wanted to play shortstop, a position of need for the Phillies.
Such talent would not arrive, as Phillies management seemed to continually settle for second-tier additions such as shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, first baseman Justin Bour, reliever Aaron Loup, and catcher Wilson Ramos. The latter was actually injured at the time of his acquisition. None of the additions would help.
The pitching that had kept the club on top began to fray at the edges. The Phillies began to slump as those poor statistics began to show up in the results.
From August 8 through the end of the regular season the Phillies would collapse to the tune of a 16-32 record. They made one more attempt to bring in an aging difference maker, but Jose Bautista became just one more poor addition to the mix. They would tumble down the standings to a third-place finish and a sixth consecutive losing season.

STUPID OFF-SEASON

The off-season began with hope. The Phillies had as much money to spend as any team, more than most. Their owner, John Middleton, even said that he was willing to be “a little bit stupid” in spending that money on free agents.
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak pulled off a trade with the Seattle Mariners in early December, ridding the club of the contract and lineup albatross of Carlos Santana and bringing back a legitimate big-league shortstop in Jean Segura. Longtime top prospect J.P. Crawford was also sent to Seattle in that deal.
On December 12, the first of that “stupid money” began to be spent in free agency when former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen was signed to a three-year, $50 million contract.
However, the big targets that Phillies fans had been looking forward to for months, Machado and outfielder Bryce Harper, have not yet been lured to Philadelphia as the calendar prepares to turn to 2019. Of course, they haven’t signed elsewhere yet either, so hope remains that one or the other could choose to play their future home games at Citizens Bank Park.
That’s basically where we stand at present. It was a year of ups and downs for the Philadelphia Phillies. It was also a year in which the Philadelphia Eagles won the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history, and in which the Philadelphia 76ers emerged as one of the most exciting young teams in the NBA.
Competing for the disposable dollars of Philadelphia sports fans is getting harder. The Phillies have not yet done much to excite that fan base into believing they can become a legitimate contender in the near future, let alone for the 2019 season. There is still time for the team. What there is not is much time left in the year 2018.
As this piece publishes my clock is reading almost 9:00pm EST here in the City of Brotherly Love. Parties are underway. Thousands of Mummers are preparing to march in a huge parade tomorrow. None of us knows what the 2019 season will hold for the Phillies, but whatever that may be, I am sure that I speak for everyone here at Phillies Nation in wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!

Phillies off-season moves will mean goodbyes for some current position players

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Altherr, Franco, Herrera (L-R) among current Phillies who could be gone in 2019

Most of the talk during this current Major League Baseball off-season where the Philadelphia Phillies has been concerned has revolved around new players coming to the team.

A new shortstop was brought in via trade in Jean Segura. A new corner outfielder signed in Andrew McCutchen. A couple of new bullpen pieces in left-hander James Pazos and right-hander Juan Nicasio.
In the deal with the Seattle Mariners that saw Segura, Pazos, and Nicasio all arrive, two holdover infielders left in Carlos Santana and J.P. Crawford. That deal made room for the return of Rhys Hoskins as the everyday first baseman.
But a number of Phillies position players remain on the roster in limbo. Moves still to be made could well determine the immediate future for each of them.
The Phillies are one of the finalists for the services of infielder Manny Machado. If he chooses to play his home games at Citizens Bank Park for most of the next decade, that could have an effect on Maikel FrancoScott Kingery, and Cesar Hernandez.
If Machado comes and agrees to play third base, then Segura is at shortstop. Hernandez, if not traded himself, would then open spring training as the starting second baseman with Kingery as a super-utility player. If Hernandez is dealt, Kingery starts at second base.
In that scenario, Franco is clearly out. The Phillies would be aggressively shopping the 26-year-old prior to or during spring training.
Franco could survive, if Machado insists on shortstop and the Phillies slide Segura over to second base. If that happens, then it would likely be Hernandez who is shipped out before the season. The team could also decide to play Kingery every day at third base. Then we are back to Franco leaving town.
In the outfield the Phillies are one of the finalists for Bryce Harper. The likelihood is that they will see what happens first with Machado. If they land him, then they probably drop out of the Harper bidding. If the miss out on Machado, the Phillies may then become even bolder in trying to land Harper.

Franco and Hernandez could be joining their former Phillies infield mate Galvis in soon wearing a different uniform.
So, let’s say Machado chooses the New York Yankees or Chicago White Sox. And then let’s say the Phillies are able to outbid the Los Angeles Dodgers and other for Harper’s services. Then what happens in the outfield? Two of the three starting spots would be taken by him and McCutchen.
That would leave a glut of holdover outfielders scrambling for a final starting berth, or for the opportunity to become part of a platoon. Those players would be Odubel HerreraAaron AltherrNick Williams, and Roman Quinn.
The Phillies would probably be best served playing Harper in right and McCutchen in left, with Quinn playing center field in between them. However, Quinn’s injury history may always prove a question mark. That might make Herrera the lead option in the short term.
Such a scenario likely puts Williams and Altherr on the trade blocks, though the latter could prove to be a valuable bench player. The 25-year-old Williams has the skills to start in the big-leagues and deserves that opportunity, so he is most likely to be traded.
Of course, the Phillies might not land either Machado or Harper. That still wouldn’t mean they are done in the free agent market. There remain other options that would require spending far less “stupid” money.
They could turn their attention on the infield to a shorter term option such as Troy Tulowitzki at third base. Then we are likely back to the Franco-on-the-block situation. In the outfield, maybe someone like A.J. Pollock, and then the outfield is back to being overcrowded.
If the Phillies are able to add no one else to their starting position player mix for the 2019 season, things could still get interesting. If Hernandez says, he is likely entering his final season in a Phillies uniform, with Kingery taking over at second base by 2020 at the latest.

In the outfield, McCutchen becomes the new left fielder. You are probably then back to a Williams-Altherr platoon of sorts in right field, with Herrera and Quinn battling for center field time. Franco would remain the third baseman, unless the Phillies receive a good offer for him, making Kingery the third base starter.
One thing seems certain: the Phillies are far from done, and their current position player mix is likely to be shaken up on a couple of fronts before spring training ends, possibly before it even arrives.
Franco, Hernandez, Altherr, Williams, Quinn, Herrera. Some combination of those players is likely to be playing in another uniform during the 2019 season.

Phillies meeting with free agent Manny Machado goes well

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Machado met with Phillies brass on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park

It was a grey, rain-swept afternoon in the Philadelphia area. But the local professional baseball team did everything they could to paint a picture of a bright and sunny future with the organization for one of baseball’s highest-profile free agents.’

Whether Manny Machado ultimately decides to put his signature on a long-term contract with the Phillies remains to be seen. But his meeting with club officials this afternoon appeared to go very well.
Per a Tweet from Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Machado stated that his vist to Citizens Bank Park was “pretty awesome” and that he “learned a lot about the organization” during the four-hour Phillies presentation.

The visit began in a bit of a disjointed fashion. In addition to the cold, damp afternoon weather the reception on arrival at the South Philly ballpark seemed oddly uncomfortable.
Machado pulled up in a silver SUV right around 12 noon on the Pattison Avenue side of the ballpark, and stepped out, accompanied by his wife and agent.
He was briefly accosted by a local electrician, 57-year-old Tom Cudeyro, hearkening back to the electrician’s union members whose welcome to Jim Thome some 16 years ago helped encourage the slugger to sign with the Phillies as a free agent back then.
Machado obliged the fan with a photo, and then as the player moved away towards the building Cudeyro yelled “Super Bowl champs! World Series here! Do the right thing and sign! Get the money!
On approaching the door to the building with his entourage, Machado pulled on the door handle and it wouldn’t give. Our potential $350 million dollar superstar was was momentarily locked out of his proposed new home.
After what seemed like an awkward few seconds, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak finally showed up to open the door with a “Hey, Manny!” The player responded “What’s up?” and Klentak finally invited Machado and his group inside. Waiting just inside along with Klentak was manager Gabe Kapler.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia stated that present at the formal meeting overlooking the field were “…Klentak, Kapler, managing partner John Middleton, club president Andy MacPhail, assistant general manager Ned Rice, hitting coach John Mallee and bench coach Rob Thomson.
As that meeting took place, Machado’s picture was displayed on the huge media board out in left field, with the player adorned in Phillies red pinstripes. Scott Lauber of Philly.com Tweeted out a picture of the board taken from outside the ballpark.
The Phillies went after Machado via the trade route back in the summer when he was still a member of the Baltimore Orioles and the Phillies were still battling for the NL East crown. The Los Angeles Dodgers apparently offered more, and the Orioles sent Machado to the west coast. The Dodgers went on to the World Series, while the Phillies faded out of contention.
Despite their disheartening 17-34 collapse over the final six weeks of the 2018 season, the Phillies improved by 14 games in the standings this year. If the club could do the same next season, they would finish with 94 wins. That would likely be enough for at least an NL Wildcard playoff berth.

If Machado (R) signs with the Phillies he would join McCutchen (L) in a completely re-tooled 2019 lineup. (Photo: Keith Allison)
The Phillies are apparently one of three finalists for Machado. The 26-year-old Florida native had a similar visit yesterday with his boyhood dream team, the New York Yankees. Earlier in the week the dark-horse Chicago White Sox also made their own sales pitch.
Klentak has already made moves to better the lineup this off-season. He brought in former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen to play an outfield corner, traded for Jean Segura to become the new shortstop, and dumped Carlos Santana to allow Rhys Hoskins a return to first base.
If he can convince Machado to play third base next to Segura for the next few seasons, the Phillies would have significantly upgraded the left side of their infield. They would also have taken a massive step towards returning to the playoffs, making the first ‘Red October’ in eight years a genuine possibility in the 2019 season.
Based on his comments, it would appear that the Phillies overcame the awkwardness of the star’s arrival at their front door to make a positive first impression. Tonight at what is sure to be a swank dinner in an impressive location, they will try to put the icing on the cake.
Machado is scheduled to spend the night in town, and then fly home in the morning. It would not be at all surprising to find he and his wife Yainee meeting with agent Dan Lozano of MVP Sports Group this weekend.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised to have a Christmas Eve announcement of a deal with one of this week’s three finalists. That deal should come in at roughly 10 years and $350 or so dollars.
The two teams which lose out, especially if those are the Phillies and White Sox, will then likely turn their efforts towards this year’s other big free agent prize, Bryce Harper. If either of those two teams is the winner on Machado, don’t be surprised if they also continue to pursue the superstar outfielder as well.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Manny Machado says his meeting with Phillies was ‘pretty awesome’