Tag Archives: Jamie Moyer

Game Preview and Notes: Braves at Phillies 3/30/2019

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Nick Pivetta takes the mound for the Phillies 

It would be hard to top the performance put on by the Philadelphia Phillies on Opening Day. And yet, incredibly, there still remains room for improvement with this team as they prepare to welcome fans back to South Philly for game two of 162 on Saturday afternoon.

The Phillies (1-0) crushed the defending National League Eastern Division champion Atlanta Braves (0-1) by a 10-4 score on Thursday afternoon. The sellout crowd of 44,469 watched their heroes power their way to victory by driving three home runs, one each from Andrew McCutchen (in his first official Phillies plate appearance), Maikel Franco and Rhys Hoskins.
Those 10 runs marked the most scored by the club on Opening Day since the 2014 team out-slugged the Texas Rangers by 14-10 at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Phillies had never treated a home opener crowd at Citizens Bank Park to a double-digit display such as that in the prior 15-year history of the ballpark.
To find the last Phillies double-digit scoring spree in a home opener you would have to go all the way back to April 12, 1991 at Veteran’s Stadium when Lenny DykstraDarren Daulton and John Kruk powered the Phillies to an 11-4 victory over the Saint Louis Cardinals. On that Friday night they knocked the Cards lefty starter out after two innings, touching him for five runs and seven hits. That pitcher’s name? Jamie Moyer.
So, how can the Phillies improve on that performance? For one, despite the power display they only managed seven total hits, taking advantage of six walks from the Braves hurlers. Newcomers Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto each went hitless at 0-3 in their debut with the team.
On the mound, while Aaron Nola was dominant at times he also walked five batters himself. He was followed to the mound by Hector Neris and David Robertson, who each threw an inning and combined to allow three earned runs on four hits and a walk while striking out no one.

SATURDAY OPPOSITION LINEUP and PREVIEW

The Phillies will face a rookie hurler making just his second big-league start on Saturday. No matter the makeup of any particular year’s club, the team has historically struggled against such arms. It would be great to see them pick him apart this afternoon.
On the mound for the Phillies will be Nick Pivetta, the darling of sabermetricians and one of this year’s popular breakout player picks by national media. Consistent solid outings from the 26-year-old right-hander will be just as important to the success of this year’s team as the new, high-powered offense.
Over the course of a 162-game regular season schedule there are going to be plenty of good days and bad days. The very best teams in baseball are going to lose around 60 games or so. You won’t always be at your best, and even when you are there is another team on the field trying to win as well, one that might be playing well itself.
This is a far deeper and more talented ball club than took the field last season. As we prepare for the second game of a long season it remains important for fans not to get too high or too low with every single game, streak or slump. But the excitement surrounding this Philadelphia Phillies ball club is wholly warranted.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

  • Pivetta (2018: 7-14, 4.77 ERA) vs. Bryse Wilson (2018: 1-0, 6.43 ERA)
  • Pivetta career stats vs. Braves: 8 GS, 4-1 with a 2.72 ERA
  • Wilson career stats vs. Phillies: n/a

PHILLIES NUGGETS PRE-GAME NOTES

  • In 29 career games on the Citizens Bank Park mound, Pivetta has a .249 batting average against. The righty has surrendered 143 hits over 151.1 innings with a 184/43 K:BB ratio. He has also been touched for 28 home runs.
  • Wilson was a fourth round pick by the Braves in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft. The right-hander will be making just his fourth big-league appearance, his second start. Won his only other starting assignment last August 20 at Pittsburgh, going five shutout innings allowing three hits with five strikeouts and three walks. Became youngest pitcher to ever win a 1-0 game in their big-league debut. Currently Atlanta’s #7 ranked prospect.
  • Harper has slashed .276/.393/.515 over 113 career games vs Atlanta. His 25 homers against the Braves are his most vs any MLB opponent.
  • Nick Markakis has slashed .294/.400/.471 vs Pivetta and is the only Braves current batter to hit a home run off him.
  • Following Sunday afternoon’s game the Phillies have an off-day on Monday before heading to Washington for the Nationals home opener on Tuesday. A quick two-game set will mark Harper’s first trip back to D.C., where he played his first seven seasons. Should make for an, uh, interesting couple of games. Club then returns for a six-game homestandwhich wraps with another three vs Washington.

SATURDAY’S PROGRAMMING INFORMATION

  • First Pitch: 4:05 p.m.
  • Location: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA
  • TV: FS1, NBCSP+
  • Pre-game special: NBCSP+ at 2PM: “Signing Harper”, well-made breakdown on the Phillies off-season process
  • Radio: SportsRadio WIP, WTTM 1680 (Spanish)

Some potential nominees for the 2019 Phillies Wall of Fame honors

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Manny Trillo of the 1980 World Series champs is a legit Wall of Fame candidate

Approximately one month from now the Philadelphia Phillies will announce the 2019 honoree who will be enshrined on the franchise Wall of Fame this coming summer.

Last year for the very first time the team honored two individuals, and in a rare occurrence, Phillies fans had no say in either selection. One of those was Pat Gillick, who has served for 14 years as general manager, president, and senior advisor. Gillick was the first “executive inductee” to the Wall of Fame.
The other honored a year ago was former pitcher Roy Halladay, who had died suddenly and tragically in Florida back in November 2017 while piloting his private plane. Publicly released ballots seem to reveal that ‘Doc’ is also about to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame this coming summer.
Those two joined the manager of the 2008 World Series champions, Charlie Manuel (2014), the organization’s all-time greatest pitcher Steve Carlton (1989), and the greatest player in Phillies history, Mike Schmidt (1990) in becoming the only individuals honored without fan voting as part of the process.
The Phillies had honored no one in the prior summer of 2017. That year, Pete Rose had been scheduled to be enshrined on the Wall of Fame. In early-August, less than two weeks before that was to take place, the club cancelled the ceremony after Rose became embroiled in controversy surrounding allegations that he had sex with a minor while a player with the Cincinnati Reds back in the 1970’s.
Otherwise, the Phillies have honored one individual each year other than 1983. That year an entire “Centennial Team” was named and celebrated in honor of the 100th anniversary of the franchise.
Odds are that one individual will be honored when next month’s announcement is made, so who might that be? One thing that should be obvious is that with an increasing number of worthy individuals now retiring from the 2008 world championship team, we are going to see many of those players enshrined in the coming years.

PARADE TO THE WALL COULD CONTINUE FOR ’08 CHAMPS

Already on the Wall of Fame from that team, joining general manager Gillick and manager Manuel, is outfielder Pat Burrell. The Phillies already have individual ceremonies scheduled for this summer to honor Jimmy RollinsRyan Howard, and Chase Utley due to the announcement of their formal retirements as players.
If the honor goes to another member of those 2008 World Series champions this time around, the leading candidates would be Shane VictorinoCarlos RuizJayson WerthBrad Lidge, and Jamie Moyer. The favorite might be Victorino after the popular Flyin’ Hawaiian was fetted just last season at Citizens Bank Park upon his formal retirement from baseball.
But the Phillies could also take another tack, choosing to honor some other worthy individuals before beginning what should prove to become a veritable parade to the Wall of Fame for a half-dozen or more of those 2008 players during the decade of the 2020’s.
If the club chooses through their own selection, or through a fan vote, or some combination to honor someone other than a 2008 player, who might be a few worthy candidates to consider?

NINE POTENTIAL NON-2008 WALL CONTENDERS

Baker has been Phillies PA announcer
for nearly a half-century
(Phillygd1/WikiCommons)

Before getting into the players, there is one non-player who absolutely deserves consideration. That would be 72-year-old public address announcer Dan Baker.

A native of Philadelphia, Baker became the PA announcer for Phillies games at Veteran’s Stadium beginning with its second season in 1972. His voice has now greeted, entertained, and informed generations of fans over nearly a half-century at both ‘The Vet’ and Citizens Bank Park.
There are eight former Phillies players who, in my opinion, deserve at least some measure of consideration for the Wall of Fame, and who are not associated with the 2008 world championship team. They are: Fred LuderusBobby WineRon ReedManny TrilloScott RolenBobby AbreuCliff Lee, and Rose.
Luderus was the Phillies starting first baseman, one of the best in all of baseball during the ‘Dead Ball Era’ of the 1910’s. I have previously championed his cause in a pair of pieces when he was nominated for the Wall of Fame back in 2016 and the previous year.
Now 80 years of age, Wine was the Phillies starting shortstop for much of the 1960’s, winning the 1963 National League Gold Glove Award at the position. After retiring from baseball, Wine joined the Phillies coaching staff. He remained a valuable coach under four managers during the club’s rise to power, serving from July 1972 through the 1983 NL pennant-winning campaign.
Reed already had a dozen big-league seasons under his belt when he joined the Phillies in a January 1975 trade from the Saint Louis Cardinals. Over the next 10 seasons, the tall right-hander became one of the most effective relief pitchers in club history, going 57-38 with 90 Saves and allowing 702 hits over 809 innings. He registered a 3.06 ERA over 458 games with the club, including nine starts. Reed further appeared in 21 postseason games, and recorded a Save in Game One of the 1980 World Series.
Trillo, now 68-years-old, originally signed with the Phillies as an amateur free agent in January 1968 but was left unprotected and was lost to the Oakland A’s in the Rule 5 Draft in December 1969.
He returned to the club as part of an eight-player swap with the Chicago Cubs in February 1979 and became a vital key over the next four years. Trillo won three Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers, appeared in three MLB All-Star games, and was the MVP of the dramatic 1980 National League Championship Series.

Abreu was an offensive machine as the Phillies grew from late-90’s also-ran to mid-00’s contender (Rdikeman/WikiCommons)
Rolen is 43-years-old and is now the director of player development for the University of Indiana Hoosiers collegiate baseball program. He was the Phillies second round pick in the 1993 MLB Amateur Draft out of high school in Indiana.
Rolen broke into the big-leagues in 1996 and became the 1997 NL Rookie of the Year. He then won four Gold Glove Awards at third base over the next five years and was also an NL All-Star and Silver Slugger winner in 2002, his final year with the club.
Abreu was just 23-years-old when he joined the Phillies in a November 1997 trade with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He became an immediate starter with the Phillies, and over nine seasons was a key performer as the club rose from also-ran to contender.
Abreu, now 44, was a 2x NL All-Star, a 2004 Silver Slugger winner, and a 2005 Gold Glove Award winner. He also won the 2005 Home Run Derby at the MLB All-Star festivities. For seven straight seasons he was a 20/20 player, including two 30/30 campaigns.
The 40-year-old Lee is easily the most well-known of these candidates to current Phillies fans. He was already an AL Cy Young Award winner when he arrived from the Cleveland Indians in July 2009 as part of a six-player deal.
After he led the Phillies back to the World Series that October, GM Ruben Amaro dealt him away on the same December 2009 day that Halladay was acquired. But Lee chose to return when the became a free agent a year later, and was part of the 2011 ‘Four Aces’ starting rotation that led the Phillies to a franchise-record 102 regular season victories.
Over parts of five seasons with the club, Lee put together a 48-34 record with a 2.94 ERA, 2.85 FIP, and 1.089 WHIP. He allowed 777 hits over 827.1 innings with an incredible 6.56 K:BB ratio. Lee was also a 2x NL All-Star with the club, and finished top six in the NL Cy Young Award voting.
And then there is Rose. As with the Baseball Hall of Fame, on playing credentials alone he is worthy of the Phillies Wall of Fame. He was the first-ever big Phillies free agent signing in December 1978 and was an NL All-Star each of the next four years with the club.
Rose won the 1981 NL Silver Slugger at first base, received NL MVP votes twice including a top ten finish in that 1981 campaign, and has been credited with pushing the Phillies over the hump to the 1980 world championship.
As for the allegations of statutory rape, Rose continues to deny them. Would the Phillies ever re-open his Wall of Fame case during this current “Me Too” movement era? Despite America supposedly being an innocent-until-proven-guilty country, that is likely a longshot.
Will the 2008 World Series championship team continue to be honored with another member getting a plaque on the Phillies Wall of Fame later this summer? Will one of the worthy non-2008 players finally find their way on to the Wall of Fame? Will fans even get a say in this year’s selection process? Those questions will be answered in the coming weeks.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as As Phillies prepare to honor a parade of 2008 players, who else deserves the Wall of Fame?

Cliff Lee: he never wanted to leave Phillies in the first place

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Cliff Lee came and went in 2009 and came back in 2010

During what all fans of the Philadelphia Phillies have been led to believe will be one of the most significant off-season periods ever for the franchise, I’ve been taking a look back at the team’s ‘Hot Stove’ history.

So far we have recalled the signings of Pete Rose (1978), Jose Mesa(2000), and Jim Thome (2002) in free agency. We have also revisited key off-season trades: the 1981 three-way deal that resulted in Lonnie Smith leaving and Bo Diaz arriving, the 1982 trade of future Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, and the trading away of Thome.
Probably the most recent important Phillies move during a Hot Stove season came in the middle of December back in 2010. It was then that general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. began trying to reverse a huge prior mistake from exactly one year earlier. Both decisions were among the most influential during the 2009-11 period when the club was trying to get back to the World Series.
Those two moves involved a left-handed starting pitcher named Cliff Lee. His pro career had begun after he was drafted three times. Lee finally signed after being selected by the Montreal Expos with their fourth round selection in the 2000 MLB Amateur Draft.
In June 2002, Lee was dealt to the Cleveland Indians as part of a four-prospect package that also included Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips in an overall six-player deal that brought starting pitcher Bartolo Colon to Montreal.

LEE DEVELOPS INTO AN ACE

In Cleveland’s minor league system, Lee showed enough with Buffalo of the Triple-A International League that he was given a two-start cup of coffee with the Indians in September 2002. He went 10.1 innings allowing just six hits over those two outings.
Lee won the 2008 AL Cy Young Award with Cleveland
After beginning the 2003 season back at Triple-A, Lee received a spot start with Cleveland in late June. Then in mid-August he was called to the big-leagues for good. Lee would enter the Tribe’s starting rotation and remain there for the next six years.
Lee would develop into one of the top starting pitchers in the game, culminating in a memorable 2008 season. While the Phillies were driving towards their first World Series crown in nearly three decades, Lee was putting together a Cy Young Award-winning season in Cleveland.
In that 2008 campaign, Lee went 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA and 1.110 WHIP. He also had a fabulous 170/34 K:BB ratio over 223.1 innings across 31 starts. In addition to the Cy Young honors, he was an AL All-Star for the first time, and even received AL MVP votes.
Lee was scheduled to become a free agent after the 2010 season, and it became obvious that the Indians would not be able to get him to sign a contract extension. Looking at a rebuilding situation, Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro decided to find a deal for him a year early.

LEE ACQUIRED BY CHAMPS IN-SEASON

As defending World Series champions, the Phillies were struggling to open up a lead in a tight NL East race in July 2009. A big reason was that the team’s starting pitching was looking a bit fragile.
Cole Hamels, the hero of the prior season, appeared to be going through a World Series hangover campaign. Brett Myers struggled the entire year with injuries. At age 46, Jamie Moyer was getting hit hard. Joe Blanton and rookie J.A. Happ were giving the club innings, but were not the kind of arms that a team looking to repeat as world champions wanted at the front of a rotation.
On July 15, the Phillies signed 37-year-old veteran Pedro Martinez, who had been sitting out the season to that point. It was going to take Martinez a few weeks to get into pitching shape, and in fact he would not join the team’s starting rotation until August 12.
Amaro was still rumored to be hot after both Lee and Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay. Finally, just before the non-waiver trade deadline, Amaro and Shapiro reached a deal. The Phillies would acquire Lee in exchange for a four-prospect package led by pitcher Carlos Carrasco.
Cito Gaston was manager of the Blue Jays at the time. Once the Phillies had traded for Lee, it meant that Gaston was likely to keep his ace in Halladay. Jayson Stark at ESPN quoted Gaston after the Lee deal was announced: “Who knows? They may come back and get [Halladay], too. That’d be a pretty good staff there, wouldn’t it?” How prescient that comment would eventually prove.
The 30-year-old Lee was everything that the Phillies hoped, and more. Over a dozen starts he went 7-4 with a 74/10 K:BB ratio. Martinez went 5-1 over nine starts with a 37/8 K:BB ratio. The two veterans gave the rotation just the shot in the arm that it needed to push the club to its third straight NL East title.
In the 2009 postseason, Lee upped his game. He made two strong starts in a tough NLDS victory over the Colorado Rockies, then a brilliant start against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Three of the NLCS.
When Lee shut down the New York Yankees in Game One of the World Series, the Phillies appeared on their way to back-to-back championships. Alas, it was not to be. The team did win his next start in Game Five, but that only kept them alive. The Yanks would take the Fall Classic two nights later.

THE LEE HOT STOVE TRADE

After the season, Amaro resumed his pursuit of Halladay, who was scheduled to become a free agent following the 2010 season. On December 16, 2009 the Phillies acquired Halladay from Toronto in exchange for a three-prospect package.
Amaro had negotiated a four-year contract extension with the 32-year-old Halladay, who thought that he was joining Lee in the Phillies rotation. Instead, Amaro shocked everyone in the Phillies community by dealing away Lee just hours later.
The justification given by Amaro at the time was shaky from the start. He felt that Lee’s contract demands were unreasonable, and also claimed that the Phillies needed to re-stock their farm system after it had been depleted by that summer’s Lee trade and the Halladay aquistion.
However, the package that Amaro obtained from the Seattle Mariners that day of prospect pitchers Phillippe Aumontand J.C. Ramirez and young outfielder Tyson Gillies failed to convince anyone that it improved the organization to the same level as having Lee remain on the big-league pitching staff.
It would prove to be one of the worst trades in Phillies history. Our own Tim Kelly here at PN wrote in August 2018 about comments made by former outfielder Jayson Werth to a local radio station. Included among those revealing remarks were this quote:
…they [the Phillies] offered Cliff a contract at a marginal number, we’ll say. And then he counters at a reasonable counter, far less for what he ends up signing back for. Within that day, a day or two, Ruben freaks out, he can’t believe that they would ask for that type of money – which was under-market for Cliff – and trades him to Seattle. So he was traded to Seattle for a bag of balls and a couple Fungos.”

Halladay would enjoy a memorable 2010 season in which he would capture the National League Cy Young Award while tossing a Perfect Game and a playoff no-hitter. Hamels rebounded with a solid campaign. The rest of the rotation struggled, but Amaro swung a trade to bring in three-time NL All-Star and perennial Cy Young candidate Roy Oswalt from Houston.
The Phillies struggled much of that summer. But then from late August through late September the team went on an incredible run, winning 23 of 27 games to pull away to a fourth straight NL East title.
As for Lee, he would make just 13 starts for the Mariners. With the club struggling and with Lee still scheduled to become a free agent in the coming off-season he was shipped off to the Texas Rangers following a final start for Seattle on July 4.
At the time of that deal, Lee was 8-3 with a 2.34 ERA and had been selected to the AL All-Star team. He would attend the game not as a member of the Mariners, but instead wearing a Rangers cap.
Over the rest of the season in Texas, Lee would go just 4-6 with a 3.98 ERA. He did produce solid numbers otherwise, allowing 103 hits over 108.2 innings with a 96/12 K:BB ratio in 15 starts.
The Rangers won the AL West crown and the American League pennant, reaching the World Series. However, the Phillies were not there to great their former pitcher. Halladay, Werth, and the two-time defending NL champion Phillies had been beaten in six games in the 2010 NLCS by the San Francisco Giants.
San Francisco would then take out the Rangers in five games to capture the first World Series crown for the Giants franchise in 56 years. Lee was rocked in the opener of that Fall Classic in San Francisco. He then would also lose a pitcher’s duel to Tim Lincecum in the Game Five clincher at Texas.

THE LEE HOT STOVE FREE AGENT SIGNING

The off-season got underway following that 2010 campaign with Lee entering free agency for the first time in his career. A return to the Rangers was possible, but the New York Yankees were seen by most as the early and overwhelming favorites to land his services.
The Yankees had finished in second place in the AL East in 2010, a game behind the Tampa Bay Rays but had comfortably won what was the lone Wildcard berth available at that time. The Yanks then swept the Minnesota Twins 3-0 in the ALDS, but were beaten by Texas in six games in the ALCS. Adding Lee, and subtracting him from the Rangers, would likely push them to the top of the American League favorites list.
The Phillies were not seen to be a contender for Lee at first. They already had a rotation that would include Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt coming back in 2011. It was projected at that point that Blanton and Kyle Kendrick would make up the back of their rotation.
A formal contract offer was extended to Lee by the Yankees, one that would turn out to be the highest offer that he would receive. It wouldn’t be enough.
Shock waves rolled across the game on December 15, 2010 when, seemingly out of nowhere, it was announced that the Phillies and Lee had agreed to a five-year, $120 million contract. Lee would join Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt in what the baseball world would call the “Four Aces” rotation, one of the best in the history of the game.
In Philadelphia it became known as “Merry Cliffmas”, and Phillies fans were euphoric. They would have a dominating pitching rotation that would give their still-potent offensive attack a chance to win every single day.
Not only was Lee’s signing a surprise gift to Phillies fans, but he also won their hearts forever with what he said upon agreeing to the deal: “I never wanted to leave in the first place.” It turned out that Lee and his wife Kristen had enjoyed their brief 2009 time in Philly so much that returning was a relatively easy decision.
The Phillies of 2011 would not win every day, but it seemed like it at times. That club would set a franchise record with 102 regular season wins, leading the NL East from wire-to-wire and ultimately taking the division crown by 13 games.
Lee went 17-8 with a 2.40 ERA and was named as NL All-Star, finishing third in the NL Cy Young Award voting. Halladay went 19-6 with a 2.35 ERA and finished as the Cy Young runner-up. Hamels was 14-9 with a 2.79 ERA, finishing fifth in that Cy Young Award voting.
Oswalt won just nine games and struggled some with a 3.69 ERA. In fact, he wasn’t even one of the four most effective members of the rotation that year. Neither were Blanton or Kendrick. That status was provided by 23-year-old rookie Vance Worley, who surprised everyone with an 11-3 mark and 3.01 ERA over 25 games, 21 as a starter. Worley would finish third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
When the 2011 postseason opened, the Phillies were clear favorites to capture their second World Series title in four years. But in one of the most disheartening endings in franchise history, they were edged out in five games by the Saint Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.
Lee played a part in that loss. After the offense bailed out Halladay to take Game One, those same bats then provided Lee with an early 4-0 lead in Game Two. But the Cardinals then chipped away, scoring three runs in the top of the 4th inning and one each in the 6th and 7th, rallying for a 5-4 win to tie the series.
The Phillies took a 2-1 series lead behind a strong outing from Hamels in Game Three, but Saint Louis beat Oswalt in Game Four to once again tie the series.
In a decisive Game Five at Citizens Bank Park, a pitching battle for the ages took place. Halladay allowed just one run on six hits. It would be enough to win almost any game. But Saint Louis received an absolute gem from their starter, Chris Carpenter. He would shut the Phillies out on three hits in a complete game.
With two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning and the Cardinals clinging to a 1-0 lead, Saint Louis native Ryan Howard stepped in for the Phillies. On a 2-2 pitch, Carpenter’s 110th of the game, Howard topped a slow grounder to second base. As the final out was being recorded, the big slugger crumpled to the ground, having blown out his Achilles tendon.
It wasn’t obvious yet at that point, but history would show that the Phillies era of contention at the top of Major League Baseball would end with that play.
The 2012 Phillies struggled from the beginning but were still three games above the .500 mark and within 2.5 games of first place as June began. But the team would collapse under the weight of injuries.
Howard wouldn’t return until July and was never the same dominating slugger. Chase Utley wouldn’t begin his season until late June, and at age 33 was beginning his own slow decline. Both Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, the latter obtained just a year earlier to bolster that 2011 team, were traded away at the non-waiver deadline as Amaro threw in the towel.
Lee would pitch well in both 2012 and 2013 as the Phillies tried unsuccessfully to quickly rebuild. He went 14-8 with a 2.87 ERA, made the NL All-Star team, and finished sixth in National League Cy Young voting in the 2013 season. Incredibly, less than a year later his career would be over.
The 2014 season opened with Lee as the Phillies primary trade candidate. At 35-years-old he still had that season and then 2015 to go on his contract, with a $25 million salary owed both years. There was a $27.5 million club option or $12.5 million buyout for the 2016 season as well.
He began the year as the Opening Day starter. Over his first 10 starts through mid-May he went 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA and a 61/9 K:BB ratio in what seemed a typical Lee season. But following a May 18 win over the Cincinnati Reds he was placed on the disabled list with discomfort in his left pitching elbow.
The Phillies tried to bring him back as the non-waiver trade deadline approached, hoping to find a deal, but he was hit hard in two late July starts. Then on July 31, the exact date of the deadline, he was given a final chance to show that he was healthy and could help someone.
It appeared to observers that things had started out well that night at Nationals Park. Through 2.2 innings, Lee had allowed just one hit and walked no one, striking out four Washington Nationals batters. And then it ended, just that suddenly.
With two outs in the third inning, Lee delivered his first pitch to Denard Span and walked off the mound, tapping his left arm. It turned out that he had been experiencing discomfort while warming up before the game, and then when warming up before each inning. This time it wouldn’t go away.
‘It was there every throw and I just felt like if I kept throwing something was going to snap and I just wanted to make sure that didn’t happen,” Lee said per Sports Illustrated via the AP following that game.
He tried to come back for the 2015 season but was able to throw just two innings at spring training in Clearwater. Lee would spend that entire season on the disabled list after suffering a left common flexor tear. After the season ended the Phillies declined his option for 2016, and his career was over.
In February 2016, when it was becoming obvious that Lee would never pitch again, Grant Brisbee at SB Nation wrote a fantastic piece on the pitcher who he correctly called “one of the best pitchers of his generation.” In that piece, Brisbee described what it was like for a batter facing Lee:
Watching a pitcher move inside and out, up and down, is absolutely symphonic. But it’s even more entertaining to watch the hitters panic, knowing that the baseball can dart a foot away from the plate if it doesn’t bore right in on their damned thumbs. The hitter is acutely aware that the pitcher on the mound can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and there’s a split second to determine if the ball is going to hurt him, be hittable or be so unhittable that it will make him look like an idiot if he swings.
Over parts of five seasons with the Phillies, Lee recorded a 48-34 record with a 2.94 ERA, 1.089 WHIP, and 2.85 FIP. He yielded just 777 hits over 827.1 innings across 118 starts, surrendering just 80 home runs while registering a 21.6 WAR mark.
He also produced an other-worldly 813/124 K:BB ratio, made a pair of NL All-Star teams, and finished among the leaders in Cy Young voting twice. In his time with the Phillies, Lee led the National League in shutouts in 2011, and twice led the league in both the K/BB and BB/9 categories.
Cliff Lee was one of the most popular players on a team populated with those types of individuals, the greatest Phillies team to never win a world championship. That popularity has never waned.
His being traded away in December 2009 may have kept the 2010 Phillies from winning another World Series crown. But neither was his return as a free agent in December 2010 enough to make that happen for a record-setting Phillies team in 2011.
It remains possible that one day we’ll be watching Lee enjoy an induction ceremony to the Phillies Wall of Fame. For the millions of fans who packed Citizens Bank Park during the final years of that heyday, it would be a well-deserved honor.

Searching for a lefty rotation option, Dallas Keuchel could be perfect fit for Phillies

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Keuchel, a lefty, would bring Cy Young and world champion experience to the rotation

The last couple days are about to tick off the 2018 calendar and many fans of the Philadelphia Phillies remain underwhelmed by the team’s off-season moves thus far.

This Hot Stove season opened with the promise of a new impact bat for the middle of the order in either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. Those players remain available, and one could still land in Philadelphia.
For now the Phillies additions are Andrew McCutchen in left field and Jean Segura at shortstop. Also, the trade of Carlos Santana has freed up Rhys Hoskins to return to first base.
The lineup now feels more solid. Given health, there is reason to have confidence in both a more consistent offense as well as a more competent defense.
But without major improvement by incumbent players the lineup and bench are still probably not strong enough to overcome the defending National League East Division champion Atlanta Braves, or either the Washington Nationals or New York Mets.
Should they lose out on both Harper and Machado, many of those same underwhelmed fans would likely throw up their hands in surrender. However, the Phillies still have a reasonable chance to compete if they can improve their starting rotation.
In recent days the Phillies have been mentioned as being among the teams involved in trade discussions for Cleveland Indians right-handed ace Corey Kluber. But the team is believed to really want a strong left-handed option to add to the current all-righty mix.

MLB insider Jon Paul Morosi of MLB Network and Fox Sports stated today via his Twitter account that the Phillies are involved in negotiations for free agent left-hander Dallas Keuchel. The major holdup appears to be the club’s unwillingness to meet the player’s desire for a five-year contract.
Sources: pursuing Dallas Keuchel but thus far have been unwilling to meet Keuchel’s request of a 5-year contract. @MLB @MLBNetwork

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Keuchel will turn 31-years-old on New Year’s Day. While I am not usually a fan of handing out five-year deals to pitchers on the wrong side of age 30, he might actually be worth the stretch.
Neck woes cost Keuchel most of June and July 2017, but he has been otherwise physically reliable with no arm troubles. Keuchel won the 2015 AL Cy Young Award, has won the AL Gold Glove for pitchers in four of the last five seasons, and is a two-time American League all-star.
Keuchel has been at or above the 200-innings pitched mark three times over his five full seasons as a starting pitcher. He consistently delivers Quality Start efforts, something that is becoming increasingly valuable.
One knock on Keuchel is that he is a “soft-tosser”, generally pitching to contact as opposed to overpowering hitters. That could prove dangerous in a place such as Citizens Bank Park.
He succeeds as many similar “crafty” left-handers have in the past: solid control and smart pitching. Keuchel works off a four-seam fastball that rarely hits 90mph. But he mixes in a cutter, slider, sinker, and changeup. His excellent slider and sinker allow him to induce ground balls at a high rate.
Represented by super-agent Scott Boras, it was believed at the start of the off-season that it would take a five- or six-year deal at roughly $20 million average per season to land Keuchel’s services.
Such a deal would put him at right around the deals currently earned by pitchers such as Wei-Yin Chen and Jeff Samardzija. It would also put him right about where Cole Hamels, who is already 35-years-old, is currently earning.

Keuchel appears to be the kind of lefty pitcher who would age well, and who could have sustained success over the length of a five-year deal that would take him through his age 35 season. Remember, it was just a decade ago that the Phillies traded for a 43-year old Jamie Moyer. He delivered four solid seasons and was key starting pitcher on a world championship team.
Other teams believed to be looking closely at Keuchel are the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Angels, and Texas Rangers. Again, while I am not generally inclined to support such a deal, I think that Keuchel could be the exception that proves the rule. The kind of smart pitcher who ages well.
He may never win another Cy Young. But Keuchel could well eat 850 or more innings over the next five years at 32-33 starts per season. That would be worth the contract. It is something the Phillies should seriously consider.

Today’s Game Era nominates Charlie Manuel to their Hall of Fame ballot

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Manuel managed the Cleveland Indians and the Phillies to a combined 1,000 wins

The Baseball Hall of Fame “Today’s Game Era” committee announced their ballot today for individuals to be considered for enshrinement in the 2019 class at Cooperstown. Named as one of the 10 nominees was former Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.

Manuel served as manager of the Phillies from 2005 into the 2013 season. During that time, he guided the club to an overall 780-636 record, five NL East Division crowns, two National League pennants, and the 2008 World Series championship.
The Phillies were Manuel’s second big-league managerial stint. He had previously served as manager of the Cleveland Indians from 2000 into the 2002 season, compiling a 220-190 record. His 2001 Indians squad captured the American League Central Division crown.
That 2001 Cleveland squad was eliminated in five games by the Seattle Mariners after taking a 2-1 series lead. The Mariners tied that series, then won a dramatic Game 5 in Seattle behind the stellar pitching of Jamie Moyer, who ironically would become one of Manuel’s key starters during the 2008 championship run with the Phillies.
The Baseball Hall of Fame website page dedicated to the Today’s Game Era ballot describes Manuel’s career as follows:

Charlie Manuel managed for 12 seasons with the Indians and Phillies, winning 1,000 games. Manuel managed the Indians to the American League Central title in 2001 and the Phillies to National League East titles in five straight years from 2007-11, winning NL pennants in 2008 and 2009 and the World Series in 2008. In his 10 full seasons as a manager, Manuel led his team to a first or second place finish nine times. His .548 career winning percentage ranks 16th all-time among managers with at least 1,000 victories.

Manuel earned his big-league managerial opportunity thanks largely to his work as the Indians hitting instructor from 1994-99. During those years the Tribe, led by Manuel protege Jim Thome, paced the American League in runs scored three times and in home runs twice.
In 1999 under Manuel’s tutelage the Indians scored a franchise-record 1,009 runs. That team became the first in Major League Baseball in nearly a half-century to reach the 1,000 runs mark. He was then hired as the manager in Cleveland for the 2000 season.
Manuel was fired at mid-season of 2002 by Tribe management over a contract dispute. He was quickly scooped up by the Phillies organization as a special assistant to GM Ed Wade, and then hired as the manager to succeed Larry Bowa for the 2005 campaign.
His first Phillies squad missed the NL Wildcard by just a single game, and the 2006 team fell three games short after leading that NL Wildcard race with just a week left to play.
Coming out for the 2007 season, shortstop Jimmy Rollins proclaimed that the Phillies were the “team to beat” in the NL East despite the fact that the New York Mets were the division’s defending champions and a talented squad in their own right.
That 2007 Phillies team did indeed win the division over the Mets on the season’s final day after rallying from a seven-game deficit with just 17 to play. It was the first of five consecutive NL East Division crowns under Manuel.
Manuel was finally relieved of his managerial duties 120 games into the 2013 season with the club in fourth place at 53-67. Many felt he had been made a scapegoat for management’s failure to effectively transition the roster as the championship team of the 2007-11 era aged.
Manuel can be considered a longshot to actually be elected for enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame by the committee. He is one of just 64 managers in big-league history with 1,000 career victories, only 48 of whom, like him, also have a winning career managerial mark.
However, many of those ahead of him on the list have not been enshrined. Among those who have a winning record and who are either deceased or considered to be retired with their managerial wins in parentheses are: Lou Piniella (1,835), Jim Leyland (1,769), Ralph Houk (1,619), Davey Johnson (1,372), and Billy Martin (1,253).
Johnson and Piniella have both joined Manuel in being named to this current Today’s Game Era ballot for their work as managers.
Named to the ballot as players were Harold BainesAlbert BelleJoe CarterWill ClarkOrel Hershiser, and Lee SmithGeorge Steinbrenner was named for his work as the former owner of the New York Yankees and is the lone deceased candidate on the ballot.
Any candidate who receives votes on 75 percent of the ballots cast by the 16-member Today’s Game Era Committee will earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The results of that voting should be announced on December 9, 2018.
Should anyone be selected, they would be inducted in Cooperstown on July 21, 2019, along with electees who emerge from the 2019 Baseball Writers’ Association of America election, to be announced on January 22, 2019.
Whether or not Manuel is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, his unforgettable contributions to the Phillies organization have already been recognized. In 2014 he became the 36th person enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Charlie Manuel nominated for the Baseball Hall of Fame