Posted on: July 6, 2010 1:14 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2010 2:51 pm

Could the Phillies be sellers?

Jayson Werth The Phillies aren't exactly running away with the National League East as many expected, but could they run away from the division with the results of this week?

A FOX Sports report quotes Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. as saying, "I could be buying and selling."

The Phillies have two more games against the division-leading Braves before a four-game series with the National League Central-leading Reds. At that point, the team could be nearing a decision whether to go for it this season or roll over.

After the All-Star break the Phillies have three games at Wrigley against the Cubs, four at St. Louis, four at home with Colorado, three at home against Arizona and three at the Nationals to lead up to the July 31 trading deadline. That's not exactly murderers' row, but with Chase Utley and Placido Polanco out, it's not exactly the World Champs of a couple of years ago.

If buyers, the Phillies would need at least one player to help make up for the slack of losing Utley and Polanco, plus a big-name starter.

However, the FOX report notes teams know how desperate the Phillies are and are asking for a lot in return for a player such as Ty Wigginton or Miguel Tejada.

If the Phillies decide to sell, Jayson Werth and his beard could be out of Philly. Werth, 31, is a free agent after the season, would be the top bat on the trade market.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: July 5, 2010 3:29 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2010 3:46 pm

Bench player Bloomquist attracting attention

Willie Bloomquist It's not often you hear of teams in demand for a backup player, but that's happened quite often so far in 2010.

The Red Sox, Phillies, Tigers, Yankees, among other teams, need backup infield help which is like music to the ears of a team such as the Royals, who have Willie Bloomquist as a viable backup.

Bloomquist has a leg up over other versatile backup infielders such as Ty Wigginton by virtue of the fact he's simply not as good as Wigginton. That's not to say Bloomquist is terrible -- he can play multiple positions adequately. His bat won't nab him any Silver Sluggers, but it's adequate enough for someone in his position. The case for Bloomquist is also bolstered by his speed. He stole 25 bases in 2009 over 486 plate appearances.

Despite the .243/.288/.392 line on the season, he's hitting .368 in the past six weeks with 38 at-bats to his name.

"I’m not advocating Willie going anywhere," manager Ned Yost told the Kansas City Star , finding Bloomquist too valuable. "I can’t tell you how valuable he is. He’s at the top of his position. I can’t think of another super-utility player who is as good as Willie outside of maybe Jamey Carroll [of the Dodgers].

"[Bloomquist] gives you a great at-bat," Yost continued. "You can pinch-run him. You can double-switch him. Once you get him in the game, you can move him around. There’s just so much you can do with a player like Willie."

Bloomquist is also very affordable as he would cost just $850,000 if acquired. It works both ways, however, as Kansas City wouldn't be desperate to deal the utility infielder for financial reasons. One thing that may push KC into swapping him is the fact he is a free agent after the year and won't bring back any draft-pick compensation.

"It’s kind of fun to hear you name [in trade rumors] once in a while," Bloomquist said of all the speculation. "It shows that people still know who you are. If there’s some interest in you, that’s not a bad thing. That means people like you, and you’re doing something right."

That's certainly true, if contending clubs with World Series aspirations are casting an eye towards Bloomquist.

One team to watch out for is the Red Sox. In years past, Boston has not had a true utilityman but has found Bill Hall working wonders for the squad this year. Manager Terry Francona has fallen in love with the flexibility Hall offers. With all the injuries suffered in Beantown, adding a second utilityman would free up a lot of pressure to bring up a specific player who can play a specific position. Even if Bloomquist doesn't end up in Boston, they figure to give him a call once free agency starts.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: July 1, 2010 7:42 pm

Could Jose Lopez end up with Phillies?

Jose Lopez With the Philadelphia Phillies losing second baseman Chase Utley and third baseman Placido Polanco, it's only natural that the Fightins would be attached to any second or third baseman on the market.

Today's name du jour is Seattle's Jose Lopez.

FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal notes that the Mariners are hopeful to move Lopez, and the Phillies may be a good fit especially as Phillies executive Benny Looper previously worked for Seattle. Such ties can oftentimes lead to deals.

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times also jumps in on the speculation amid reports that a Phillies scout was at the Mariners-Yankees game on Tuesday to watch Cliff Lee defeat New York in a complete game. However, as Baker points out, why exactly would Philadelphia need to scout Lee, who they dealt in the offseason?

More likely, he was there to see Lopez.

The 26-year-old is in the midst of his worst season since becoming a full-time starter. At .244/.271/.336, he's been one of the league's worst regulars as well, although he does seem to be climbing out of his funk with a mediocre .683 OPS in June.

Lopez' calling card is power as he has never been known to take a walk. His fielding is adequate, and that combined with power would represent a significant upgrade over retreads Juan Castro and Wilson Valdez for Philly. Lopez is also an impending free agent although there is a $4.5 million team option for 2011.

Second baseman Chase Utley is expected to be out at least six weeks, perhaps eight, after surgery to repair his right thumb as USA Today reports . Third baseman Placido Polanco will not require surgery on his sore elbow, but will still be out roughly a month as Todd Zolecki of MLB.com says . That's a lot of time for Philly to go without two of its better hitters and fielders. Lopez couldn't hope to replace either of them, but he could absolutely hold down the fort until both players return, and it would be tough to find someone else who could hold down the fort more adequately.

There is one such other person, however. Baltimore's Ty Wigginton is having one of his better seasons and as a utility player can play near every position on the diamond. The Phillies might even prefer Wigginton to Lopez because the club will have more chances to get Wigginton into the lineup thanks to him having played every position in the majors at least once save catcher and center field.

Whichever player -- if at all -- the Phillies chose to pursue, it's apparent they have to bring someone in the fold. Castro and Valdez simply won't cut it for a month.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: July 1, 2010 4:39 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2010 7:55 pm

Why doesn't C.B. Bucknor ever get suspended?

CB Bucknor Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is serving a one-game suspension Thursday night for making contact and arguing excessively with umpire C.B. Bucknor on Tuesday. Bucknor said that, while arguing balls and strikes, Manuel bumped the umpire's forehead with the brim of his cap.

Another casualty, another manager who couldn't contain himself. Seems to happen a lot around Bucknor.

I covered a game in 2002 in which Lou Piniella, a guy known for his eruptions, had one of his all-time classic meltdowns arguing with Bucknor.
"I go out there, and [Bucknor] has the nerve to have a smirk on his face, like he knew what he was doing all along. He's got that smirk, and I'm the one who will be penalized." "That smirk" is what gets under people's skin, and it's why so many arguments with him escalate. Where a good umpire works to calm situations and gives players and managers room to cool off in the heat of competition, Bucknor seems to incite them.

This is a particular problem because Bucknor is, by all estimations, the worst umpire in the majors. A poll of major league players said so way back in 2003. And again in 2006. And yet again a few weeks ago.

Former All-Star pitcher Curt Schilling said on his blog, in a post titled "Why C.B. Bucknor is not a good umpire" that you can tell a bad umpire by two characteristics: They are in constant spats with managers and players, and both hitters and pitchers complain about them.

Despite being so bad at his job in the eyes of the people in uniform, Bucknor not only keeps his job but gets plum assignments, including three playoff series and an All-Star Game.

The major-league umpiring system needs more transparency and accountability, and fewer smirking umpires.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Tags: Phillies
Posted on: July 1, 2010 2:21 pm

Surgery for Utley

A source told MLB.com that Phillies second baseman Chase Utley was scheduled for surgery Thursday to repair a torn thumb ligament. Utley injured the thumb on a headfirst slide Monday.

The expected recovery time for the injury is four to six weeks. Utley has been exceptionally durable, and is on the disabled list for just the second time in his eight-year career.

In Utley's absence, the Phillies will likely cover second base with some combination of Juan Castro, Wilson Valdez and Brian Bocock.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: July 1, 2010 12:25 pm

Teams lining up for Haren

Dan Haren While Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee are the marquee starting pitchers thought to be available at the deadline, it looks like plenty of teams are turning their attention toward the Diamondbacks' Dan Haren.

Various reports have listed the Yankees, Twins, Phillies, Nationals, Angels and Tigers as having interest in Haren, and Haren told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this week that "I'd like to play [in St. Louis] again."

Why all the attention for a guy with a 4.56 ERA and $29 million left on his contract for the next two years? For one thing, this season looks like an anomaly. Haren has given up a ton of hits this season, leading the National League at 131, but his high BABIP of .345 indicates he's having some bad luck with balls finding holes.

Haren is fifth among all active pitchers in fewest walks and hits per inning (WHIP) in his career, he's won a minimum of 14 games each of the past five years, and he's a workhorse -- 33 or more starts and at least 216 innings for five straight seasons.

Haren is pitching better lately, and his June ERA was 3.19 in six starts. He also figures to benefit from getting out of Arizona and off the worst pitching staff in baseball.

If Haren, 29, settles back into the consistency he's always shown, he'd be a nice pickup despite his contract. Oswalt is due at least $18 million for 2011 (including a $2 million buyout of a club option for 2012), and after this season Lee is going to get a contract that makes Haren's look like pocket change. 

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: June 29, 2010 9:42 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2010 9:57 pm

Lenny Dykstra admits PED usage

Lenny Dykstra Lenny Dykstra has admitted to using steroids, according to the New York Post .

"I was like a pioneer for that stuff ... The juice," Dykstra tells Randall Lane, who penned a book about the former MVP's financial troubles.

"I was like the very first to do that. Me and [Jose] Canseco," Dykstra notes. The admission comes in the book The Zeroes: My Misadventures in the Decade Wall Street Went Insane .

Dykstra, admitted the juicing to Lane while watching Roger Clemens testify before Congress in 2008, noting that he started using during his time in Philadelphia. He played five years with the Mets and won a World Series in 1986 before starting his Phillies career in 1989. He put together a .902 OPS for the 1993 team that won the NL pennant. Following that season, he signed a four-year, $24.9 million contract and immediately was beset by injuries.

"At first it wasn't even illegal," Dykstra says of buying performance enhancers. "Then, after a few years, I had to go to a doctor, and get a prescription. You know how I got my stuff? Just walking into a pharmacy, bro. It was as simple as that."

This is all typical Dykstra. Not only does he dope to put together strong seasons on the field, he swindles the Phillies out of $25 million then in his second career as a so-called financial expert, it eventually came to bear that even that career was built on a house of cards.

And now -- when admitting steroid usage suddenly becomes popular and Canseco gets credit for largely being considered the first user -- does he come out and try to snatch away some credit for himself, saying that he was "like the very first."

No one is lauding Canseco for being the first, or even for being the first to spill all the beans -- but at the very least, he's not as disingenuous as one Mr. Lenny Dykstra.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 29, 2010 6:56 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2010 1:21 am

Phillies release Taveras from minor-league team

Yet another team has discovered Willy Taveras isn't good at baseball.

The Phillies released the speedy outfielder from its Triple-A affiliate in Lehigh Valley (Pa.), where he was hitting .208/.255/.271 with nine stolen bases.

Philadelphia was Taveras' fourth organization since the start of 2010. Signed as a free agent in December of 2008 to a ridiculous two-year, $6.25 million contract, the Reds cut their losses in February, trading Taveras and utility player Adam Rosales to Oakland for Aaron Miles' bad contract.

The A's didn't even bother bringing Taveras to camp, releasing him on Feb. 9. But the Washington Nationals, who without Jim Bowden to blame it on, still seemed to covet former Reds and signed him on Feb. 15.

Taveras actually played in the big leagues this season, appearing in 27 games for the Nationals, hitting .200/.243/.257 with a stolen bases and was caught stealing twice.

The Nationals wised up in May and Philadelphia signed him earlier this month, before coming to the inevitable conclusion that he couldn't help their team win games.

Look for the Astros to come calling soon. Houston was rumored to have interest in Taveras since Oakland let him go and some people there must remember the promise he showed in 2005 when he was runner-up for Rookie of the Year to Ryan Howard.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
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