November 2008

Arbitration Deadline

Offer arbitration or don’t.

That’s the decision the Phillies have to make by midnight Monday, the first day of the last month of the year.

Jamie Moyer, Pat Burrell, Flash Gordon and Rudy Seanez are free agents the Phillies need to consider making arbitration offers.

Jamie and Pat are type A free agents.  If the Phillies offer arbitration and they sign elsewhere, the Phillies receive a couple of draft picks next summer.  No arbitration offer means no compensation should they leave.  No arbitration offer doesn’t mean the Phillies can’t continue to negotiate with either or both.

Players offered arbitration have until Sunday, December 7, to accept.  Once a player accepts, he is under contract for 2009.  Both sides can negotiate a contract or let an arbitrator make the decision in early February.

It will be interesting to see if type A or type B free agents are offered contracts at Monday’s deadline.  Players not offered then become available with no strings attached, making them more attractive.

Last week I wrote that December 7 was the non-tender deadline.  That is in correct.  As just explained, December 7 is the deadline for players offered arbitration.

December 12 is the deadline for tendering contracts. Jayson Werth and Chad Durbin were both signed by the Phillies after they had been non-tendered by the Dodgers and Tigers, respectively.

The Hot Stove League is about to heat up. 




Trophy in Parade

Obviously, the players on the field deserve credit for winning the World Championship and bringing a World Series trophy to Philadelphia. 

The passion of the fans was also huge.  Citizens Bank Park was a house of electricity during October thanks to the fans.

With that in mind, the Phillies are taking the trophy to the fans.

Between now and into next season, the trophy will be doing a lot of traveling.  At some point, its home will be Citizens Bank Park.  We’re still working on details. 

Last Saturday, the trophy was at the Temple University football game across the street at Lincoln Financial Field, a very short road trip.  Fans were able to see it, take pictures and pose for photos in the Head House Plaza.  More photo ops occurred when it was taken to the field prior to the coin toss.  Phillie Phanatic, Hooter the Owl, cheerleaders and referees all surrounded the trophy.  Happy to report there was no roughing the trophy penalty flag.

Highlighting this week’s schedule is the Ikea Thanksgiving Day parade that will be televised by Channel 6 on Thursday. Joining the trophy on a float will be the Phillie Phanatic, Phillies ballgirls and Scott Palmer, our director of public affairs and a former talent on WPVI. 

Scott, keep an eye on Santa Claus.  It would make a great stocking stuffer for someone with really big feet.

Holiday shoppers at the Majestic Clubhouse Store at Citizens Bank Park will get to see the trophy during a special weekend sale on December 13 and 14.  Ho-Ho-Ho.

After the first of the year, the Phillies will announce a trophy tour schedule for the tri-state area.  Stay tuned to


Donald, Brown Shine

Home for Thanksgiving.

That’s the situation for several Phillies minor league players who were in the just completed Arizona Fall League and Hawaiian Winter League.  It has to be a bit difficult leaving Hawaii, I would imagine.  Must be the lure of a turkey dinner on Thursday.

Infielder Jason Donald, 25, and outfielder Dominc Brown, 21, put up the most impressive numbers.

Donald, playing for the Mesa Solar Sox, finished second in the AFL with a ,407 average.  Phoenix Desert Dogs outfielder, Eric Young Jr. (Rockies), won the batting title (.430).

Primarily a shortstop, Donald also played second and third at Mesa.  He started 7 games each at short and third and six at second.  He was among the league’s top four in doubles, total bases, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.

2008 has been some kind of year for Donald.  He was an All-Star at Reading (.307, 14 homers), was the starting shortstop for Team U. S. in the All-Star Futures Game, and led Team USA in hitting (.381) during the Summer Olympics. 

He won the Bill Giles Award in the minor league camp for “love and respect for the game, an outstanding work ethic and pride in being a member of the Phillies.”  He was also chosen as the AFL’s Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award. The award exemplifies unselfishness, hard work and leadership. 

Donald was selected by the Phillies in the third round of the 2006 first-year player draft out of the University of Arizona. 

Brown, a 2007 Bill Giles Award winner, led the HWL in hitting (.389) while playing for the Honolulu Sharks.  He was the leading hitter at Lakewood during the summer (.291 in 114 games).

A 6-foot-5, left-handed hitter and thrower, Brown was a 20th round selection out of Redan (GA) High School in the same draft as Donald.

Up-to-date Winter League stats are available on this site.




Meet Frank

Meet Frank Coppenbarger, our Director of Team Travel and Clubhouse Services.

Charter flights, hotels, buses, player tickets, uniforms, gloves, bats, balls, sun flower seeds….all of that comes under his umbrella.  Oh, he has others that help carry the umbrella because he’s not that talented.

He doesn’t miss a road trip, doesn’t miss a game.  Sometimes TV cameras will find a gray crew-cut fellow in the dugout.  Please be assured, he isn’t offering advice to Charlie Manuel.

Like the entire front office, he got to ride in the parade.  And, like everyone that did, he was overly touched, “The enormity of the celebration was really mind-boggling and just indescribable.”

OK, Frank, what have you done with your spare time since?

Spare time has been slim.  Over the last three weeks, he’s spent much of his time traveling: Toronto to look at a hotel for the team there next year, attend Pat Gillick’s induction into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame; back home; Las Vegas for a meeting of his counterparts, a convention of suppliers and vendors, checking out hotel needs for the entire organization for the winter meetings that will be held there the week of December 8; St. Louis for a wedding of a counterpart; Cooperstown, NY, to represent the Phillies at the opening of the Hall of Fame’s World Series exhibit and back home again.

His Citizens Bank Park office is located inside the main entrance to the Phillies clubhouse.  Anyone entering the clubhouse can see Frank working or sleeping at this desk.

Sleep hasn’t be the case: bills from the postseason (hotels, charter flights, buses), handling transportation for Ruben Amaro Jr.’s various interviews (staff and coaches), finalizing the 2009 spring training schedule, sending out bids to four airlines for charter flights in 2009, hotel contracts and bus schedules for next season and, along with his aides, ordering equipment.  In addition, Frank is a consultant for the World Baseball Classic which will have two games at Bright House Field next March.

One stack of postseason bills came to just under $20,000 for services that were never used. All that was in place after Game 5 of the World Series in case the Phillies had to return to St. Petersburg to continue the Fall Classic.  “We had six busses standing by and an airplane sitting at the Philadelphia airport.  We had hotel reservations in St. Pete. The entire traveling party had to bring their bags the clubhouse in case we had to leave after the game.  No one wanted to go back to Florida. We all know the happy ending,” he beamed.

Generally, the front office staff gets some time off after a season.  Then, work begins for the following year.  We lost a month of time, but believe me, no one is complaining.  Kelly Addario DiGiacomo, our receptionist, answers the phone, “World Champion Phillies.”  That says it all.


What Do You Do?

So, you want to be a GM?

Everyone thinks they can sign players, release players, trade players, spend money, negotiate with agents, tackle arbitration cases, appear on radio/TV, work in a beautiful office, watch hundreds of games and players.  Trades are simple, “We’ll trade you a box of pop corn for your gold watch.”  Grab a yellow pad, jot down 3-4 trades and let’s start the season.  Easy.

Sorry, folks, it isn’t that easy.

Ruben Amaro Jr.’s job took a potentially complicated turn today with the announcement that Chase and Pedro are having surgery.  The announcement will push Donovan McNabb off of tomorrow’s sports pages.

Total recovery for Chase may require 4 to 6 months, mostly dependant on what the arthroscopic surgery entails.  He could miss the start of the season.  No one really knows right now.  Pedro should be back for spring training.

With Eric Bruntlett and minor league infielder Jason Donald on the roster, they are on hand to fill in.  Donald has been a shortstop.  He spent time in the Arizona Fall League playing both second and third.  Today, he was chosen as the Arizona Fall League’s Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award. The award exemplifies unselfishness, hard work and leadership.  Plus, he has some definite baseball tools.

So, you are the GM?  What do you do? Panic isn’t an option.  Neither is signing Hall of Fame second baseman Ryan Sandberg, bringing back Manny Trillo or moving Carlos Ruiz back to second base, where he played as an amateur.

What’s on your yellow pad?

More Awards

Awards keep coming in for the Phillies.  No, they haven’t won the major awards (Cy Young, MVP, Manager) but other organizations are recognizing them.

Last week, the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame presented the Phillies with a Pride of Philly Award for their championship efforts last month.

Last night, the Philadelphia Sports Fans Choice Awards were dominated by the Phillies.  Two Pitcher of the Year honors were presented to Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge.  Cole was there to accept his award, Brad was on the phone from Colorado thanking everyone.

The Outstanding Team Achievement Award went to the Phillies.  Cole accepted that on behalf of the organization.

The MVP for Philadelphia athletes went to Ryan Howard, who, like Brad, accepted the award via telephone from Arizona.

Last night capped another event in the busy schedule of Cole and his wife, Heidi. 

Shane Victorino was honored by the Hawaii Winter Baseball League three days ago.  His event took place on the Les Murakami Stadium field prior to the Honolulu Sharks and Waikiki BeachBoys game.  The Flin” Hawaiian threw out the first pitch to Little Leaguer Pikai Winchester.  Can’t imagine how excited Pikai must have been.

Shane is hosting a fundraising golf tournament for the Alzheimer’s Association Aloha Chapter on Saturday.  Billed as “A Round to Remember”, the event will take place at the Maui Prince Makena Resort.  Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins will be among the celebrities along with Hawaii baseball natives Kurt Suzuki (Oakland catcher) and Brandon League (Toronto pitcher).

Ryan, J-Roll and Shane on a golf course?  Will highlights be on the Golf Channel or the Comedy Channel?

Shouldn’t make fun of the event because Alzheimer’s is close to Shane’s family.  “My mom’s mother passed away with Alzheimer’s a few years ago,’ said Shane in the Honolulu Advertiser. 

“She was struggling with Alzheimer’s and that was tough, so I felt I could give back.  And they needed help, so I spoke with some of the people with the chapter here in Hawaii,” he explained.

That’s another great quality of the World Champions.  They are champions on the field and in the community.  Pretty strong combination.


Office Staff Complete

Ruben Amaro Jr. has filled the last baseball administration office opening with the hiring of Scott Proefrock as assistant GM. Scott’s been involved in player development and scouting since 1989 with the Pirates, Braves, Rays and Orioles, where he’s been the Director of Baseball Administration the past three years. 

So, Ruben has surrounded himself with three assistants Scott, Benny Looper and Chuck LaMar.  LaMar was with the Phillies for the past season but his role has expanded.  And, Pat Gillick remains as a consultant. Lots of solid baseball background from which to draw. 

Still on the drawing board is rounding out Charlie Manuel’s coaching staff.  Ruben and his staff are in Clearwater where they are interviewing candidates.  Minor changes may be forthcoming in player development and scouting, too.  One change in player development came today with the reinstatement of Mike Compton as the Minor League Field Coordinator, replacing Bill Dancy, whose contract was not renewed.

Ruben also continues working on player issues.  The deadline for the 40-man winter roster is Thursday. 

Free agent hunting season has begun.  Ruben’s indicated adding pitching depth is the priority.  Pat Burrell has filed for free agency and he’s free to begin fielding offers. We’ve had discussions with Pat’s agents and that will continue. But, left field is an area that may need attention, too.

The entire free agent market may be a drawn-out process, according to various news reports.  Some of the free agents require compensation (giving up a first-round draft pick next summer).  That could change December 1, the last day for teams to offer salary arbitration to their former players who became free agents. 

There are some big-time free agents who will get big-time bucks.  That’s a given. 

The market can expand with the December 7 deadline for tendering contracts.  A new batch of players may be looking for jobs then. News reports also indicate payroll issues on several clubs may mean the market will be strung out through January.

Ruben’s also held initial trade discussions with several clubs.  Idea is to see if there is a fit for future discussion.  Other clubs have made moves.  More will follow.

Ruben and his staff will be at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, December 8-11.  Things will heat up there.  Agents will be parading their horses, ponies or donkeys.

It has been and will continue to be a news-filled offseason for the World Champions.




The MVP winner is…..

Who’ll win the MVP race?

It appears to be a three-horse race, first basemen Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols and outfielder Manny Ramirez.

Two writers from each NL city voted.  Ballots were due the day after the season ended.  Tomorrow at 2 p.m., we’ll know the answer.

Howard had the big month of September when it meant the most.  He put the team on his shoulders and led them to the Division title. 

Ramirez limped around Boston, got traded and carried the Dodgers to their Division title. 

Pujols put up awesome numbers all season but his Cardinals finished 11 ½ games behind the Cubs.

When Howard won in 2006, Pujols questioned that a player from a non-division winner should be an MVP. Well, he now faces that prospect.

The Phillies have won the last two, Howard and J-Roll.  Will it be a trifecta?

Chasing Silver

Chas Utley is dominating the Silver Slugger for offensive excellence among National League second basemen.

He’s won the award for the third consecutive season.  Only Mike Schmidt has won more of these awards for the Phillies.

Here’s a look at Silver Slugger Awards won by Phillies players:

Darren Daulton (1992)

First basemen
Pete Rose (1981)
Ryan Howard (2006)

Second basemen
Manny Trillo (1980)
Manny Trillo (1981)
Juan Samuel (1987)
Chase Utley (2006)
Chase Utley (2007)
Chase Utley (2008)

Jimmy Rollins (2007)

Third basemen
Mike Schmidt (1980)
Mike Schmidt (1981)
Mike Schmidt (1982)
Mike Schmidt (1983)
Mike Schmidt (1984)
Mike Schmidt (1986)

Lenny Dykstra (1993)
Bobby Abreu (2004)

Winter Ball

The last pitch for the World Champions was last month.  For a bunch of Phillies minor league players, baseball is still going on.

We have players in the Hawaiian League, Arizona Fall League, Puerto Rican Winter League, Venezuela Winter League, Mexican Winter League and Dominican Republic League.  Of all those leagues, please send me to Hawaii to scout!

For many years, finding stats from the winter leagues was like looking for a needle in a haystack.  With the internet, stats are now available and updated daily on this site: Winter League Baseball.

There’s also a blog from the Arizona Fall League.  Center fielder Quintin Berry has the latest Phillies AFL blog.