December 2014

Another Young Arm Added

RHP Lively

The remake continues and the parade of pitchers does the same.

Another young arm is now in Phillies pinstripes with today’s trade of Marlon Byrd to the Reds for RHP Ben Lively, who was their #6 prospect and minor league Player Of The Year.  Within minutes of the trade announcement, Lively sent the following tweet:

“Gonna miss all my boys from at the Reds, crazy how fast this game can change! Really excited to start a new chapter with the Phillies.”

He was drafted in the 26th round by Cleveland in 2010, went to Central Florida University and was selected by the Reds in the fourth round two summers ago.  After 0-4 in his first pro season, he was 13-7 between A and AA in 2014.

From the Cincinnati Reds minor league All-Stars story:

Right-handed starting pitcher — Ben Lively, Bakersfield (13 games), Pensacola (13 games): Lively was a fourth-round pick last year, and his 2014 campaign rocketed him to the No. 6 spot on’s rankings of the Reds system. The 22-year-old Florida native came out and dominated in the California League, putting up a 0.74 ERA through his first eight starts there. He struck out 10 in back-to-back April games, and whiffed 95 in 75 innings there.

“Obviously, Bakersfield, and the whole league, favors hitters. He neutralized opponents’ lineups and mixed his pitches well,” Reds director of player development Jeff Graupe said. “Any time you put up an ERA in the ones for the better part of two months, you go beyond what everyone could hope for, especially since we challenged him to go right into the Cal League and spend the whole year there.”

Lively forced a promotion, though. After making the big jump to Pensacola (AA), he had a 3.88 ERA and piled up 76 strikeouts in 72 innings. He walked 52 over the course of the whole season.

Since the season ended, the Phillies have acquired, in addition to Lively:
LHP Elvis Araujo (free agent), 23-year-old reliever
LHP Joely Rodriguez (trade), 23-year old starter
LHP Andy Oliver (Rule 5), 27-year-old reliever
LHP Tom Windle (trade), 22-year-old starter
RHP Zach Elfin (trade), 20-year-old starter

Building for the future is the theme.


Happy Holidays



Thanks, J-Roll


He was the leader, the table-setter, the lead-off hitter.  Now, he became the lead-off hitter in the rebuilding of the Phillies.  Officially, the greatest era in Phillies history came to an end with the trade of J-Roll to the Dodgers.

A generation of Phillies fans grew up with Rollins.  The longest tenured double play combination of Rollins and Chase Utley has ended, a major-league record 1,187 games.  They will never be forgotten.

Larry Bowa played in the first game at Veterans Stadium and helped build a World Championship club.  J-Roll did the same at Citizens Bank Park.

Alumni Weekend will take place in August 1-2.  While the return of many Alumni will create excitement, none will match the buzz when Rollins returns to Citizens Bank Park for the first time, August 4-5-6.  Tickets to individual games will go on sale starting February 19.  There will be a rush then for Rollins’ return.  TV ratings will soar when the Phillies play in Los Angeles on July 6-7-8-9, Rollins’ first series against his old club.

Someday, he’ll return and be inducted into the Wall of Fame.  Citizens Bank Park will be jumping that night. Whether he gets a plaque in Cooperstown remains to be seen.  But, he’s making a case for one.

Rollins leaves having the most hits and doubles in franchise history.  Pretty heavy stuff.  He’s as dominant in as many of the Phillies career hitting leaders as Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, the greatest player in Phillies history.  Is J-Roll #2?  Just think, both Schmidt and Rollins were drafted in the second round.

As a young prospect in the Phillies minor league system, Lee Elia, an instructor then, told Rollins he needs to learn to play a “little man’s game.”  Not surprising, Rollins responded, “I’m not a little man.”

5-foot-8 may not qualify as a “big” man.  But, Rollins put up big numbers, won big awards and contributed big in the community.  And, he came out with the statement that “we are the team to beat”, a big, bold comment.  But, he was right.

Jimmy, a big thanks for all the excitement you brought us.

J.P. Heads List


Baseball America has published the Phillies top 10 prospects.  Three of the 10 were drafted this past summer, # 2, 6 and 7.

1. J.P. Crawford, ss, left-handed hitter, turns 20 next month

2. Aaron Nola, rhp, LSU product, 21 years old
3. Maikel Franco, 3b/1b, power bat; 22 years old
4. Roman Quinn, of, switch-hitting speedster; age: 21
5. Carlos Tocci, of, just 19 years of age; 6th on this list a year ago
6. Aaron Brown, of, 22-year-old lefty swinger from Pepperdine
7. Matt Imhof, lhp, 21-year-old, 6-foot-5 lefty from Cal Poly
8. Jesmuel Valentin, 2b, 20-year-old switch-hitter acquired from Dodgers
9. Yoel Mecias, lhp, 21-year-old bouncing back from 2013 Tommy John surgery
10. Franklyn Kilome, rhp, 19-year-old, 6-foot-6 who made pro debut in 2014

Sticking with the same publication, J.J. Cooper has written a story about the Rule 5 draft, including a scouting report and odds at sticking with their new teams.  Here are his comments about INF/OF Odubel Herrera and LHP Andy Oliver:

Herrera Scouting Report: Originally signed out of Venezuela for $160,000, Herrera does two things well: he can hit and he has plus speed. After his stock dropped in 2013, Herrera bounced back in 2014, winning the Texas League batting title as a 22-year-old, batting .321/.373/.402 in 96 games. Herrera has good bat speed and a simple swing that helps him hit line drives to all fields. He doesn’t have much power though, hitting just two home runs with a swing that isn’t geared for loft. He’s played well this winter in the Venezuelan League, batting .374/.421/.565 with four home runs in 42 games, ranking first in the league in batting average, second in OBP and third in slugging. The question on Herrera is where he’s going to play. He improved his defense at second base in 2014, and managers voted him the TL’s Best Defensive Second Baseman in the BA Best Tools survey. He’s spent time in left field and this winter has been playing center, which is where the rebuilding Phillies plan to use him in spring training. A lefthanded hitter with a thick 5-foot-11, 200-pound frame, Herrera could become a player along the lines of Cubs infielder Luis Valbuena.
Chances To Stick: 50-50.
Oliver Scouting Report: Oliver signed with the Tigers for $1.495 million as a second-round pick in 2009, then reached the big league in 2010. He’s never been able to put it all together, struggling to throw strikes or discover a usable breaking ball, with the Tigers shipping him to the Pirates after the 2012 season for catcher Ramon Cabrera. Moved to the bullpen full time in 2014, Oliver still has a big fastball from the left side, sitting 92-96 mph. He struck out 12 batters per nine innings, but he also walked 6.6 per nine, just about in line with his career mark in the minors. Now 27, its unlikely Oliver will be able to suddenly figure out his control and secondary stuff.
Chances To Stick: Extremely Low.

Alumni Birthdays
The rest of this month
16: LHP Tom Gorman (57), OF Adolfo Phillips (73) . . . 19: OF Russell Branyan (39), 2B Tony Taylor (79) . . . 20: OF Oscar Gamble (65) . . . 21: RHP Roger McDowell (54) . . . 22: RHP Michael Jackson (50), OF Glen Wilson (56), OF Lonnie Smith (59), LHP Steve Carlton (70) . . . 23: RHP Brad Lidge (38) . . . 24: RHP Kevin Millwood (40) . . . 25: 2B Manny Trillo (64), RHP Jack Hamilton (76) . . . 26: OF Ron Stone (54) . . . 27: OF Tom Marsh (49), OF Byron Brown (72) . . . 29: INF Tomas Perez (41) . . . 31: OF Sil Campusano (49)

Phun Fact
Babe Ruth made his first ever World Series appearance as a pinch-hitter for the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning of Game #1, October 1, 1915, against the Phillies at Baker Bowl. Ironically, Ruth, playing for the Boston Braves, ended his career against the Phillies at Baker Bowl, May 30, 1935.  In each case, he grounded out to first base.


2 New Phillies

Back before Thanksgiving, all 30 major league clubs needed to file their 40-man winter rosters.  Players with six years of pro experience not on those rosters were then eligible for the Rule 5 draft.

Mike Ondo, Director, Professional Scouting, circulated the list of eligible Rule 5 players to all Phillies scouts.  A homework assignment, if you will.

Teams that make Rule 5 selections pay $50,000. That player must remain on a team’s 25-man roster all season or be offered back to his original club for $25,000.

With two open spots on the 40-man roster, the Phillies drafted two players, a 22-year-old infielder-outfielder, Odubel Herrera from the Texas organization and lefty reliever Andy Oliver, 27, taken from the Pittsburgh organization.

Herrera, a left-handed batter from Vanezuela, hit .315 between Myrtle Beach (A, Carolina League) and Frisco (AA, Texas League).  He was selected to the in-season Texas League All-Star team and again to the postseason team.  In six minor league seasons, he’s compiled a .294 average.  He doesn’t hit for much power, 98 career doubles, 27 triples, 12 homers and 128 stolen bases.


He’s played second base, shortstop, left field and center field. Jayson Stark tweeted he’ll be tried in center.


Oliver was a second-round Detroit pick in 2009.  He pitched briefly for the Tigers in the majors, 0-5 in 2010-11.  He was traded to the Pirates after the 2012 season and pitched the last two seasons in Indianapolis (AAA). He was a starter in 2013, 5-4, 4.05 ERA, 112 walks, 138 strikeouts and 124 innings.

He moved to the bullpen in 2014 and was lights out, 3-4, 2.53, 13 saves with 85 strikeouts in 64 innings.  He was an in-season AAA All-Star.

One thing is certain, both will be given plenty of exposure in spring training.

Rule 5 Draft

Annual Rule 5 draft will take place on Thursday morning, the final day of the winter meetings. Phillies roster is at 38, two under the 40-man limit for the off-season.  Look for the Phillies to make one or two selections on Thursday.

Over the years the Phillies have had success in this draft.  Among those who made an impact are C Clay Dalrymple (drafted in 1959), RHP Jack Baldshun (1960), 3B Dave Hollins (1989) and
OF Shane Victorino (2004).  Shane was selected by the Padres in 2002 and returned to the Dodgers. Phillies took him two years later. LHP Michael Mimbs (1994) won nine games in 1995 but went 3-12 in next two seasons.

Many were selected by the Phillies but never wore a pinstripe uniform in the majors.  Among those are INF Ed Crosby (1973), RHP Jay Tibbs (1983), LHP Jeff Tabaka (1988), LHP Travis Blackley (2007).

So Close
Golden Era committee announced on Monday that no one from the 10-player ballot would be inducted into the Hall of Fame next July.  Dick Allen and Tony Oliva missed by one vote; Jim Kaat, by two.  That’s tough to take.  No votes would be easier to digest.

Silver lining: Golden Era committee convenes in three years and Allen, Oliva and Kaat will again get another chance.

Johnny Almaraz, new Director, Amateur Scouting, has been traveling to visit with the staff and see players who were finishing their fall season . . . The MLB Rookie Career Development Program will take place January 8-11 in Leesburg, VA . . . The Phillies Career Development Program follows, January 13-16.

Alumni Birthdays
Today: OF Del Unser (70), LHP Darold Knowles (73) . . . Wednesday: 1B Jon Zuber (45), CH Doc Edwards (78) . . . Thursday: 1B Andy Tracy (41), RHP Bob Sebra (53) . . . Saturday: RHP Fergie Jenkins (72) . . . Monday: RHP Mike Proly (64), RHP Stan Bahnsen (70).

Who Are These Guys?
In Phillies history there have been a handful of position players who played only one game for them in the majors.  Find out who they are at

Phun Fact
The Phanatic Team completed 740 appearances in fiscal year of 2014.

Rumor Monger

Winter Meetings time. Part of baseball’s annual calendar starts Sunday in sunny San Diego, not exactly a winter place.

Baseball executives from the minor leagues and major leagues get together and part a week from today.  Yes, there are league meetings, athletic trainers meetings, PR meetings and the like.  It all starts at 8 a.m. Sunday with a meeting of the Baseball Hall of Fame committee voting on 10 Golden Era former players.  Dick Allen is among the 10.  That announcement will be made on Monday.

Gobs of media will be there but not to cover those-type meetings.  They are there to feed the rumor monger. What is a rumor monger? According to google: “a person who attempts to stir up or spread something that is usually petty or discreditable.”

GMs will set up shops in suites.  Phone calls to other clubs and lobby-scouring for other clubs has gone the way of dinosaurs. iPhones and iPads are the modes of communication now.  Instead of checking the media room for the latest press release, twitter feeds all that information in rapid-fire seconds.  Blink and you miss the latest twitter announcement or rumor.

ESPN, and The Baseball Network will have studios for non-stop reports.  All announcements are supposed to take place in a media room.  Announcements aren’t surprises anymore.  They are confirmations.

Agents will be there to peddle their free agents and will work the media to feed the rumor monger.

It is well known the Phillies are willing to talk about anybody on the team.  There are still a lot of free agents floating out there which will have an effect on how much Phillies action will take place. It may be February before we find out what the club looks like.  As Pat Gillick has said, patience.

The rumor monger will love Cole Hamels.  He’ll be going to team A… B……no C….no a mystery team…….now A is back in the mix…..but B is preparing a new approach….. C and D are now trying to work a three-team deal. All of that can take place in a matter of twitter minutes.

36 years ago tomorrow the Phillies made the biggest splash when they signed free agent Pete Rose to a four-year, $3.2 million contract which made him the highest paid athlete in team sports.  A $3.2 million contract is another dinosaur.



Cooperstown Bound?



Will another Phillies Alumnus land in Cooperstown?

Well, we’ll know soon.  Dick Allen is one of 10 on the Golden Era ballot.  A committee of 16 will do the voting.  75 percent of the votes is required for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  The announcement is next Monday at the winter meetings in San Diego.

The Baseball Writers Association of America will announce their decision on January 6.  Former Phillies on the ballot include Curt Schilling, Tom Gordon and Pedro Martinez.  Mike Piazza, a native of Norristown, is also on the ballot.

97 Schilling-H

Last Phillie to be inducted was Jim Bunning in 1996.  Allen and Bunning were teammates starting in 1964.  Richie Ashburn and Robin Roberts were mates on the Whiz Kids and two other Hall of Famers, Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt, were stars on the 1980 World Champions.

Alumni Notes
Jamie Moyer has decided not to return as a member of the Phillies television broadcast team.  Wanted to devote more time to his family who live in southern California.  Search is underway for a replacement.

OF Jack Mayo (89), a member of the 1950 Whiz Kids, died on August 19, a fact we learned last week.  The Whiz Kids are down to three living members: Curt Simmons, Bob Miller and Putsy Caballero.

Pitcher Don Grate, a member of the Phillies in 1945-46, died on November 22 in Miami Gardens, FL.  He was 91.

For the latest vintage Alumni image, check out the Peek at the Past photo at It is a classic.

Alumni Birthdays
Today: RHP Wayne Simpson (66) . . . Wednesday: RHP Chad Durbin (37), RHP Paul Byrd (44), C Clay Dalrymple (78) . . . Thursday: 2B Tadahito Iguchi (40) . . . Friday: RHP Scott Munninghoff (56) . . . Saturday: RHP Jose Contreras (43), RHP Steve Bedrosian (57), SS-CH-MGR-CH Larry Bowa (69) . . . Sunday: C Ozzie Virgil (58), OF Alex Johnson (72) . . . Monday: C Jeff Grotewold (49)

Book Signing
Looking for a $15.00 holiday gift?
Will be signing my book (These Walls Could Talk) during the Phillies Holiday Sale at the Majestic Clubhouse Store at Citizens Bank Park this Saturday.  I’ll be there between 2 and 3 p.m.  A perfect gift for someone you like or don’t like.

Phun Fact
Richie Ashburn holds the Phillies record for grounding into the fewest double plays in a season, 1, in 1948.  Strangely, he’s one of six players who share the club record for the most GIDP in a game, 3.