Chooch to Return
Jimmy Rollins returned to Citizens Bank Park with the Dodgers in 2015. Chase Utley, this past season with the Dodgers. Another popular icon from the Phillies 2008 World Champs will be back next season.
Carlos Ruiz (Miles Kennedy photo) is now a member of the Seattle Mariners, traded there by the Dodgers. Seattle has a two-game series at CBP next May 9 (7:05 p.m.) and May 10 (1:05 p.m.). Look for a Chooch Lovefest.
New Hitting Coach
From the dugout to the broadcasting booth and back to the dugout. That’s the path Matt Stairs took to become the Phillies new hitting coach. He spent 19 years in the major leagues followed by three years as an analyst on the Phillies telecasts.
In addition to his playing experience Stairs has been watching and analyzing Phillies hitters from the broadcast booth for the last three seasons. In other words, Matt isn’t coming in stone cold. He knows hitting, knows the young Phillies hitters, their plusses and minuses.
Stairs became a fan favorite when he hit a pinch, two-run homer to win NLCS Game 4 at Dodger Stadium in 2008 (Getty image). Among dramatic homers in Phillies history it ranks #2 to Dick Sisler’s three-run blast that won the 1950 pennant in Brooklyn.
Stairs Phun Facts
Holds major league record for most career pinch-hit home runs (23). He also holds baseball’s record for the most teams by a position player (12). (Technically, 13 teams but 12 franchises as he played for the Montreal Expos and Washington Nationals).
On April 12, 2009, Stairs’ game-winning home run against the Rockies in Denver was the last home run called by legendary broadcaster Harry Kalas, who died unexpectedly less than 24 hours later.
#1 Minor League System
Two years after finishing on the bottom of minor league systems, the Phillies earned the 2016 Best Farm System MiLBY Award by MiLB.com.
A series of trades since 2014, two very good summer drafts and key signings on the international front have provided the Phillies with depth of quality prospects in the minors. The system finished 482-348 for the best winning percentage (.581) among National League organizations and second in all of baseball to Seattle (.590).
The Phillies’ six domestic minor league teams combined to post a 3.34 ERA and a .262 team batting average in the regular season. Four reached the postseason with a fifth, Clearwater, just missing.
Phillies minor league players received one league MVP, one league Pitcher of the Year, one league Rookie of the Year, two Futures Game selections, four league Player of the Month Awards, 14 league Player of the Week honors and 28 different league All-Star Game selections.
New Bullpen Arm
Matt Klentak didn’t waste any time in making a move last week when he acquired veteran right-handed reliever Pat Neshek (Getty image) from Houston. Goal is to improve a bullpen that was 28th in baseball in ERA (5.01).
The 10-year veteran will pitch next season at 36 years of age. Last season with the Astros, 60 games, 2-2, 3.06 ERA, 0.94 WHIP. Was scoreless in 50 of 60 outings, working 1 inning or less 59 times. Finished tied for second on the club in holds (18).
His sidearm-style is very effective against right-handed hitters, holding them to a .184 career average. He features sinkers and sliders. An All-Star two years ago, Pat has postseason experience with the Twins, A’s, Cardinals and Astros.
Neshek’s contract for next season is $6.5 million which makes him the highest paid player on the club.
Over the course of the offseason, will preview young Phillies minor leaguers. How young? Well, they played in their teens during 2016.
2B Dan Brito . . . Age: 18 . . . B-L, T-R . . . 6-1, 155 . . . Signed as an international amateur free agent out of Puerto de Ordaz, VZ, by Carlos Salas, 7/17/14 . . . 2015: Began pro career with the Dominican Summer League Phillies; led all Phillies short-season minor leaguers in BB (35) . . . 2016: First year in the states playing for Gulf Coast League Phillies. Led club in runs (35), hits (54), triples (5) and walks (21) while batting .284. Ended season hitting .350 in last 10 games. Post-season All-Star Team . . . Participated in Florida Instructional League . . . 2-year totals: .276, 56 walks, 49 strikeouts in 107 games.
This Week GM Meetings, Scottsdale, AZ. (Matt Klentak, Ned Rice and Scott Proefrock) Today Free agency begins at midnight
Nov. 18 40-man roster deadline (8 p.m. ET)
Dec. 1 Basic agreement with players expires
Dec. 5-8 Winter Meetings, National Harbor, MD
Dec. 8 Rule 5 Draft
Feb. 14 Spring training starts
Mar. 20-22 World Baseball Classic championship
April 2 Season opener
Best Game 7 Line
“And it was suddenly possible to type a sentence that no living human has ever typed: The Chicago Cubs are the champions of baseball,” ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark.
November 8, 1933—Philadelphia votes to overturn the city’s “blue” laws which prohibited Sunday baseball dating back to 1794. The vote allowed the Phillies to play Sunday home games starting in 1934. (broadandpattison.com)
November 8, 2006—Ryan Howard is named MVP of the Japan All-Star series after hitting .558 with four home runs and eight RBI in five games. (broadandpattison.com)
By the way, Howard hit 11 home runs in spring training that year, 58 during the season and four in Japan. His W-2 for the year showed 73 home runs.