December 2015

Happy Holidays


 Citizens Bank Park has no season
 Why? The holidays are the reason

 Not a creature is stirring in the place
      Including the Phanatic in his locker space

 Pinstriped uniforms once hung with care
 But now the Phillies clubhouse is bare

 Up in the stands where fans cheer
 All is totally quiet to anyone’s ear

 A giant Christmas tree stands so tall
 Dwarfing Mike Schmidt’s statue and all

 While nestling in for a long winter’s nap
 One can visualize what will soon be on tap

 In a matter of weeks, boxes of gear
      Will head south for another year
 But, first let it be known
Players are at a place called home

 Celebrating with loved ones
 Especially, their little ones

 Come April players will once again roam
 In the place the Phillies call home
 But, for now, Phanta Claus’s call:
 “Happy Holidays to one and all!”

(Phillies Insider will take a holiday break until January 5)



Makeover Continues


Over the past year, the Phillies have acquired one catcher, four outfielders, and–are you ready–24 pitchers via trades, major league free agent signings and the Rule 5 draft.  (Waiver claims and minor league free agents aren’t included). Three of the 24 pitchers are no longer with the organization, Andy Oliver, Aaron Harang and Chad Billingsley.

Fourteen different pitchers started for the Phillies last season.  Six remain.  Matt Klentak’s plan was to add pitching depth at both the major league and minor league levels. Clearwater will be “Competition City” in spring training.

Roll the drums for a time-line review of the new faces and their ages:

December 10
Antonio Bastardo sent to the Pirates: LHP Joely Rodriguez (24).

December 19
Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers: RHP Zack Elfin (21) and LHP Tom Windle (23).

December 31
Marlon Byrd to the Giants:  RHP Ben Lively (24).

July 28
Jonathan Papelbon to the Nationals: RHP Nick Pivetta (22).

July 31
Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman to the Rangers: C Jorge Alfaro (22), LHP Matt Harrison (30), RHP Jake Thompson (21), RHP Jerad Eickhoff (25), RHP Alec Asher (24), OF Nick Williams (23).

July 31
Ben Revere to the Blue Jays: RHP Jimmy Cordero (24), RHP Alberto Triato (21).

August 19
Chase Utley to the Dodgers: RHP John Richy (23), INF-OF Darnell Sweeney (24).

November 11
Sam McWilliams to the Diamondbacks: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (29).

December 2
Signed free agent RHP David Hernandez (30).

December 12
David Whitehead to the Pirates: RHP Charlie Morton (32).

December 12
Ken Giles to the Astros: RHP Vincent Valasquez (23), LHP Brett Oberholtzer (26), RHP Mark Appel (24), RHP Thomas Eshelman (21), RHP Harold Arauz (20).

Rule 5 Draft: 2014 OF Odubel Herrera (23), LHP Andy Oliver (27) . . . 2015: OF Tyler Goeddel (23), LHP Daniel Stumpf (24).

Fifteen of’s Pipleline of the top 30 Phillies prospects were not with the organization a year ago.  Thirteen were acquired in trades and two were June draftees, OF Cornelius Randolph and 2B Scott Kingery.



Stop the Presses


There’s an old saying in baseball, “You can’t tell the players without a scorecard.”
Matt Klentak is driving the scorecard printer crazy… the presses; yo, stop; now run the presses; stop the presses.

At 10:35 a.m. last Saturday, veteran RH starter Charlie Morton was acquired from the Pirates for a Class A pitcher.  Needing a spot on the roster for Morton, reliever A. J. Achter was designated for assignment 21 days after being claimed on waivers from the Twins.  We hardly knew you A.J.


Two and a-half hours later the Giles to Houston trade was announced but it was different from the speculated one of last week. Needing another roster spot, reliever Dan Otero was designated for assignment 38 days after he was taken from the A’s on waivers.  We knew you longer, Dan….briefly longer.

The five-player anticipated Giles trade finished as a seven-player deal. Included were two guys named Arauz. Each hails from Panama.  They are not related.

From Houston
RH Vincent Valasquez, a 23-year-old with a 94.9 mph fast ball.  Minor league record: 26-14, 3.28 ERA, 6 saves, 296.2 innings, 101 walks, 354 strikeouts. He has started and relieved in the minors. Drafted by the Astros in the second round out of Pomona (CA) High School in 2010.  He was ranked as Houston’s 4th best prospectESPN’s Jayson Stark tweeted last week: “Just talked to an AL exec who thinks that if the Phillies shift Vincent Velasquez to the bullpen, he could be ‘just as good as (Ken) Giles’”.


RH Mark Appel, 24, a star at Stanford University was twice a first-round selection in the draft, eighth by the Pirates in 2012 and first overall by the Astros the next June.  This summer he was a teammate of Aaron Nola and J. P. Crawford in the Future’s game. He’s pegged as a quality three-pitch starter who hasn’t developed in two minor league seasons.  A change in scenery may be what Appel needs.  He’ll certainly join the ranks of young arms competing for a big league job or getting more experience in AAA.
He was Houston’s #2 prospect who’s now the Phillies #2.


LH Brett Oberholtzer, 26, and former star at William Penn High School in New Castle, DE. Major league record: 11-20, 3.94 ERA for 42 starts. Minor league record: 51-45, 3.86 ERA for 122 starts. Originally drafted by Atlanta in the 8th round out of Seminole (FL) Junior College in 2008.


RH Thomas Eshelman, 21.  He was Houston’s second-round selection this past June out  of Cal State-Fullerton where he set an NCAA record for fewest walks per 9 innings, 0.4, in his three-year career.  Between Rookie Ball and Class A: 0-1 for 4 starts, 4.35 ERA.  He’s listed 13th among Houston’s pipeline prospects.


Which Arauz?
Harold, 20, came to the Phillies.  His minor league numbers: 11-8, 3.54 ERA for 53 games (34 starts). He’s from Chiriqui, about 55 kilometers from Alanje, the hometown of INF Jonathan who went to the Astros.  He’s 17 and played in the Gulf Coast League this past year, .254 in 44 games, two home runs, 18 RBI. Harold is 6-foot-5.  Jonathan is five inches shorter.


Morton, 32, Jeremy Hellickson, 28, and Oberholzer are veteran starters, designed to take some pressure and innings away from the young arms. Morton and Hellickson are in their free agent season, more incentive to perform. If each is performing well at the July 31 trade deadline, they would be attractive to clubs in the races.

Chances are, more changes are on the way.


New Phillies

Meet the new Phillies:


Newest member of the bullpen is RH David Hernandez, a free agent the Phillies signed yesterday.  His last three seasons were spent in the Arizona bullpen. Because of Tommy John surgery he missed the entire 2014 season.  He returned to active duty this past June 7.  Over his last 12 appearances, he allowed five hits and three runs while striking out 11.  His workload coming off the surgery was 587 pitches in 40 appearances.  Most often arms that had TJ surgery are stronger the second year after surgery.

In six big league seasons, he has a 4.15 ERA with 414 strikeouts in 414.1 innings.  During his last three full seasons, he relieved in 74, 72, 62 games.

His arsenal: 94.3 mph fast ball, 78 slider and 84 change.  He was originally drafted by the Orioles in the 16th round in in the 2005 draft.  Andy MacPhail and Joe Jordan were with the Orioles at the time.

Rule 5 Draft
For the second straight year, the Phillies took a position player as their first selection in the annual Rule 5 Draft, 23-year-old outfielder Tyler Goeddel from the Tampa Bay Rays.  The right-handed hitter played in double-A ball last season: career-high .279 with 17 doubles, 10 triples, 12 homers, 72 RBI and 28 steals.  Included was a game in which he set a franchise record by hitting three homers in a game.


He was originally selected as a compensation selection by the Rays out of a California high school.  A brother, Eric, is a pitcher in the Mets system.

J. J. Cooper of Baseball America: “His bat seemed to take off somewhat this year after he moved from third base to the outfield. He’s an athletic, if a little slight-framed right-handed hitter with a smooth swing who is above-average in the corners and playable in center field. Goeddel is one of the more polished hitters available in this year’s Rule 5 draft.  Pros: Athleticism, youth, plate discipline, plus defense, power, and speed. Cons: Yet to reach Triple-A.”

Goeddel posted a tweet this afternoon: “So thankful for the opportunity the Phillies have given me. Excited to start this new chapter!!!”

For the second straight year, their second selection was a left-handed reliever, Daniel Stumpf, 24, from the Kansas City Royals.  Pitching in AA ball, he was 5-4, 3.57 EREA in 42 games. He struck out 76 batters in 70.2 innings while holding opponents to a .212 average, including a .167 mark against left-handed hitters.  He finished third in the Texas League in 2015 in both strikeouts per 9.0 innings (9.68) and opponents average.

00 Stumpf

Over his four-year minor league career, Stumpf is 20-23 in 118 games (34 starts) with a 3.21 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 306 strikeouts in 311.1 innings pitched.  He was originally selected by the Royals in the 9th round of the June 2012 draft out of San Jacinto Community College in Houston, TX.

Left-handed relievers are much in demand.  Andy Oliver was taken by the Phillies in the second round of the Rule 5 draft.

Goeddel and Stumpf must be kept on the Phillies 25-man roster all season or offered back to their respective clubs.

The Phillies spent $100,000 for two prospects in double-A ball.

(Will post again once the rumored Phillies-Astros trade has been announced).




Checking The List


Mike Ondo has his list and is checking it twice.

Mike is the Phillies’ Director of Professional Scouting.  His list consists of 15 names from which the Phillies may select in Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft that concludes this week’s Winter Meetings. As the result of their poor record this season, the Phillies have the #1 pick. Yesterday, the Phillies outrighted LHP Joely Rodriguez leaving three openings on the 40-man roster.

That list will be digested and digested leading up to Thursday morning.  Last minute calls to the pro scouting staff will be made to see if there is anything new on the names.  Matt Klentak, Andy MacPhail and Ondo will zero in on their selection….or selections.

Cost of selecting a player is $50,000. That’s pretty cheap in today’s world of multi-million dollar contracts.  The player must be kept on the 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the club from which he was selected for $25,000. The original club can pass which means the player can then be sent to the new team’s minor league teams.

Last year the Phillies plucked outfielder Odubel Herrera from the Texas Rangers when their turn came in the first round, eighth.  He hadn’t played about AA ball but turned into a gem.  Later, they took LHR Andy Oliver, the 14th and last selection.  He didn’t make the club out of spring training and eventually became a free agent.

Other Phillies selections that turned out go as far back as 1959 when C Clay Dalrymple was selected from the Milwaukee Braves. Add RHR Jack Baldschun (1960), 3B Dave Hollins (1989) and OF Shane Victorino (2004).

In 2006, the Phillies took three and none hung around, C Adam Donachie, RHP Jim Ed Warden and C Ryan Budde.  So, there are some duds.

Recent selections include RHP David Herndon (2009), INF Michael Martinez (2010), OF Ender Inciarte (2012) and RHP Kevin Munson (2013).

The Phillies also get first crack at players placed on waivers and so far they have picked up three relief pitchers and one outfielder.  They will also have the first pick in the summer draft in June and have the largest bonus pool available for international signings next July.

Thursday Post
Generally, this blog is posted early in the morning.  This Thursday, I’ll will wait until the draft has been concluded to provide an up-to-date report on the Phillies selection(s).

Winter Ball
C Jorge Alfaro (Venezuela), OF Dylan Cozens (Puerto Rico) and RHS Severino Gonzalez (Venezuela) are now playing winter ball.


Outfielder Added

GM Matt Klentak went the waiver wire route again on Wednesday, picking up right-handed hitting outfielder Peter Bourjos, 28, from the Cardinals.  Klentak knew Bourjas from their time together with the Angels. Bourjos was originally signed by the Angels before being dealt to St. Louis two years ago. The Phillies tried to trade for him before he went to St. Louis.

Bourjos gives the Phillies some veteran outfield depth.  Only three “pure” outfielders are on the roster, Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera and Roman Quinn although Cody Asche, Darnell Sweeney and Darin Ruf can play the outfield.

The Phillies also lost right-handed reliever Nefi Ogondo on waivers to Miami. In essence, Bourjos and Ogondo switched places on the roster which still has two more spaces before reaching the 40-man maximum.  Stay tuned.

Hot Stove League
“Hot stove league is a baseball-related term referring to the sport’s off-season. The phrase does not denote an actual league, but instead calls up images of baseball fans gathering around a hot stove during the cold winter months, discussing their favorite baseball teams and players,”

Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings begin Monday and run through next Thursday (December 10).  Baseball executives from all 30 major league teams and every minor league franchise are headed for Nashville, TN. Agents will also be there peddling their players.  No other sport can match baseball’s major off-season event.

Hundreds of media will be there, fueling social media, newspapers, websites and radio/TV.  There’ll be more tweets than a convention of sparrows.

The MLBNetwork will provide 35 hours of live coverage during five days. Programming starts at 8 p.m. (ET) this Sunday.

Five days of pouring coal on the hot stove.

The massive Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center is again hosting the meetings. The hotel features 2,881 rooms and 15 different restaurants.  The Phillies will occupy 39 rooms, including a suite for Klentak that will serve as the war room.

Years ago a large suite case was packed with large loose-leaf binders containing scouting reports on hundreds of players. Through technology that suite case has disappeared.  Lap tops and iPads now contain all the information including files of analytical summaries.

The Rule 5 draft is held on the last morning of the meetings next Thursday.  Mike Ondo, Director, Professional Scouting, has all the reports from his staff of pro scouts.
The list will be reviewed and reviewed as the Phillies have the first selection.  More about the Rule 5 draft in the next post next Tuesday.

More Free Agents
Teams had until midnight last night to tender contracts to players.  Some interesting names are now free.  To check the list, click on

New Alumni Feature
Part 2 in a series of the top five players in games played at each position in Phillies history has been posted at This part reveals to top five in games pitched for the Phillies.  You can probably guess who’s #1 but you will be surprised at #3. Well, I think you will be surprised.

Holiday Shopping


Nothing like launching the holiday shopping season this Saturday, December 5, at the Majestic Clubhouse Store in Citizens Bank Park. The guest list includes Phanta Claus, the Galapagos Gang, Charlie Manuel, Mickey Morandini, Tom McCarthy, Larry Andersen, Scott Franzke, Chris Wheeler and real, live reindeer.

Plus, a tour of the Phillies clubhouse that is decorated for the holidays. Oh, the tour is for people only, not reindeer. Sorry, Rudolph.

Seems like a bonanza for selfies. Hey, turn your selfie into your holiday card.

For complete details, visit

Third Waiver Claim

Right-handed reliever Michael Mariot, 27, was claimed on waivers by the Phillies from Kansas City, who designated him for assignment when finalizing the 40-man roster on November 20. He’s the third right-handed reliever the Phillies have added via waivers as Matt Klentak stock piles bullpen inventory.

Mariot’s career minor league numbers: 26-17, 3.34, 179 games (31 starts), 27 saves, 392 strikeouts, 118 walks in 420.2 innings. Included was the 2011 season for the Wilmington Blue Rocks. He was up and down with the Royals three times in 2014 and twice this past season while pitching in AAA for the Omaha Storm Chasers.  His career big league numbers: 1-0, 6.11 for 19 appearances.

Steve Adams of reported Mariot throws a fast ball (91-92 range), slider and change-up.

Mariot was a starter and reliever for three years at the University of Nebraska. He was drafted in the eighth round following his junior year in 2010.  The following draft, the Phillies selected one of his teammates in the fourth round, Cody Asche.

Did You Know?
Everybody knows the Phillies finished with the most losses in the majors last season, 99.

Their percentage was .389. Well, that is tops in 2015 among the four Philadelphia sports teams, Flyers, Eagles and 76ers.

This gem surfaced on the ComcastSportsnet Eagles post-game show on Thanksgiving.   Comment was made by Governor Ed Rendell, one of the four regulars on the show.

Sneak Preview
The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits is the title of my new book which will be available starting April 1, 2016, in book stores and on-line. Larry Andersen wrote a hilarious foreword. Publisher again is Triumph Books (

Spring training is a baseball ritual that takes place every February and March in the sunny south.  But, it wasn’t always that way.  According to available records, spring training for the Phillies from 1883-1901 took place in Philadelphia.  Through 1946, they bounced around, including three World War II years in which the government forced the team to train near home. But, in 1947, the Phillies supplanted the Cleveland Indians in Clearwater, FL, and they have been there ever since.  By now you may have guessed there’s a chapter on spring training and the Phillies three homes, Clearwater Athletic Field, Jack Russell Stadium and Bright House Field.