Oct 262010

October 26:

Philadelphia Phillies news and stories from around the web…

Werth, Amaro in same ballpark; can they get on same page?

October 26 Philadelphia Daily News:

“FROM THE SAME podium, 2 hours apart, two men did their best to frame the negotiations. First came the general manager, putting the onus on his free agents’ desires to remain with the club.

“It depends on how much they want to come back,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said.

Next came the free agent – one of five, but, by far, the most interesting – putting the onus on the club’s desire to allocate a chunk of its significant revenue toward retaining a significant piece of its lineup.

“The team has taken the necessary steps to create a winning atmosphere, and, hopefully, they’ll continue to do that,” Jayson Werth said. “Obviously, we know business is good in Philadelphia. They could probably sign whoever they want. Whether or not that’s me, we’ll have to wait and see.”

Of course, both sides realize the matter is far more complicated than any news conference talking point can capture. Werth, 31, has made it clear throughout the season he is open to re-signing with the Phillies. He reiterated yesterday that the relationship he has cultivated with the fans, particularly those seated closest to him as he manned rightfield over the past three seasons, is a special one. He said it will be difficult to replicate the chemistry he has felt with his teammates since signing with the Phillies as a little-known free agent in 2007. He talked about a meeting with Charlie Manuel and Pat Gillick at the beginning of his tenure, when he told them of his goal of becoming a fixture in the middle of the team’s batting order. And he talked about the shock he felt in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series when he watched the Giants’ Juan Uribe’s go-ahead home run slip over the top of the fence and hasten an end to a season in which the Phillies were heavy favorites to advance to their third straight World Series.

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Is Jayson Werth it?

October 26 Camden Courier-Post:

“Jayson Werth sat at a podium during a season-ending press conference Monday and attempted to answer questions about his future, but answers were tough to find for the soon-to-be free agent.

It seemed, he said, as if only a few moments had passed since Ryan Howard struck out looking with two runners on — and Werth in the on-deck circle — to end the Phillies‘ hopes of a third straight World Series berth.

It was too soon, Werth said, for him to think about his future and his impending free agency.

When it comes to specifics, few were offered by general manager Ruben Amaro, but the wheels are already turning. For him, the future is now.

The Phillies‘ offseason officially began Sunday, and in the coming weeks and months, the four-time National League East champions might make some big changes.

Werth’s status will be the most obvious question, but Amaro has a lot to do beyond answering that. These will be his top priorities:

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Tough choice: Big contract may not be Werth-while

October 26 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan:

“The Phillies got very lucky with Jayson Werth once. This time, luck isn’t going to have anything to do with it. Only money.

Werth was an injured former Dodgers prospect when the Phillies signed him in 2006. As his contract expires now, he is a 31-year-old at the peak of his powers and – more pertinent – the peak of his earning potential. There is every reason to believe he will be playing in Boston or New York or Chicago next season.

That means a couple of things. The Phillies have finally arrived at that moment when they have to make hard choices about the core of the team that came together and won a World Series in 2008. There have been departures of popular players already, but with asterisks. Pat Burrell was past his prime when his contract was up. Cliff Lee, as brilliant as he was, was with the team a scant five months. Pedro Feliz? Seriously?

The problem isn’t losing a player like Werth, who has been very good and has played a major role in the success of the last four seasons. The problem is replacing him. Outfielders who can hit are not scarce. Unfortunately, neither are outfielders who don’t hit, or hit one year but not the next.

You need only look across the outfield from Werth’s spot in right to see the potential pitfalls that lurk for general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. Raul Ibanez was Amaro’s first big move after succeeding Pat Gillick as GM, and it was a move that looked very astute for the first few months of the 2009 season.

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Werth’s last appearance as a Phillie?

October 26 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Jayson Werth dressed in all black, from his T-shirt to his shorts and the hat he wore backward on Monday. It was not an unfamiliar look for the quirky outfielder, and by no means was he sending a message that, say, this was a funeral for his Phillies career.

He drove to Citizens Bank Park, just as he’s done for the past four years. But this time there was no game, his only tasks were to pack up his locker, say goodbye to a few people before the off-season began, and meet with reporters to discuss his impending free agency.

“My drive in today,” Werth said, “I noticed all the leaves are changing. The leaves are falling. It’s the first time I’ve noticed anything like that. I had tunnel vision the whole time.”

Until now, Werth had his head down, playing for all of the years he lost to injury and marginalization as a young professional player. When he came to the Phillies in 2007, he met with then-general manager Pat Gillick, his assistant Ruben Amaro Jr., and manager Charlie Manuel in spring training. Gillick, who revived Werth’s career with a chance in Philadelphia, asked him what his goals were.

“I told him,” Werth recalled, “my goal is to earn an everyday job and hit in the middle of your order.”

“Really, that’s your goal?” Werth remembers Gillick asking.

“Four years later,” Werth said, “I’ve accomplished my goals.”

So what are the goals now?

“We’ll have to see,” he said.

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Halladay: Early finish to Phillies’ season ‘bittersweet’

October 26 Philadelphia Daily News:

“Roy Halladay’s postseason routine will be a little different this year.

When he was with Toronto, late part of October for Halladay meant resting and watching the World Series. He still will put his feet up, but now that his first taste of the postseason ended bitterly, the Phillies ace might watch something besides Joe Buck and Tim McCarver tomorrow night.

“I normally do watch [the World Series],” Halladay said yesterday, 2 days after the Phillies‘ season ended with a thud. “But I don’t know if I will this year. I think you’re still licking your wounds a little bit.”

The Phillies might develop sandpaper tongues in the time it takes to heal the damage done by the Giants, who finished off the lackluster Phillies on Saturday in six National League Championship Series games. Yesterday was locker-cleanout day, and those around talked about the stinging disappointment of not getting to the World Series after leading the major leagues with 97 regular-season wins and carrying a rotation poised to be one of the greats in baseball history.

Instead of hearing about preparations for a third consecutive World Series, the only sounds coming from the Phillies clubhouse was masking tape being pulled from its rolls and packed storage trunks being shut.

Riiiiipppp. Thump.

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Amaro the right man to fix what ails the Phillies

October 26 Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Smallwood:

“I THINK IT’S become obvious in my 16 years writing for the Daily News that I am not as reactionary as a lot of Philadelphia fans.

I prefer calm and measured reasoning to the over-the-top response fueled by emotion.

So with that in mind, I find it impossible to believe that because Ryan Howard looked at a third strike with two outs and two on that the Phillies instantly went from World Series favorites to underachieving bums who need to be scattered in the baseball wilderness.

Nothing’s wrong with being disappointed, even angry, that the Phillies came up short in the National League Championship Series.

But the emphasis now must be how to move forward in a positive direction.

And as the franchise moves into what might be a critical offseason, I think it will gain even more appreciation for general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

Considering how raw the wound still is, this might not be the most popular thing to say, but Amaro really has proved he knows what he’s doing.

He is one of the leading candidates for executive of the year.

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Phillies have no plans to negotiate an extension with Jimmy Rollins – yet

October 26 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Last off-season, the Phillies exercised their $8.5 million club option on Jimmy Rollins for the 2011 season. They did it on good faith, knowing they wanted their shortstop and one of the faces of the franchise back for another season even a year in advance.

There will be no such assurances this time around.

When asked if the team will begin negotiating on a possible contract extension for Rollins before next season, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. made it clear that’s not in his plans.

“I think we’ll probably let things, at this time, play out,” Amaro said.

Meaning the Phillies are concerned enough about Rollins’ production in the last few seasons to question whether he will be the starting shortstop in 2012. Rollins, who turns 32 at the end of November, will almost certainly go into 2011 playing for a contract.

It was a lost season for Rollins in 2010. He played in just 88 games while batting injuries to his right calf and hamstring. He posted career lows (over a full season) in just about every counting number, plus batting average (.243) and slugging percentage (.374).

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Before looking ahead, Halladay looks back

October 26 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“On Citizens Bank Park’s concourse level Monday afternoon, workmen were noisily moving leftover kegs of beer to their winter storage place.

Curiously, just as they were rolling out the barrels, Roy Halladay was recalling the barrel of fun he’d had in 2010.

The Phillies pitcher, having put the blues on the run by hopping to a contender after 12 flat years in Toronto, at last sated his thirst for a postseason experience. And two days after it ended with the club’s Game 6 loss in the National League Championship Series, he assessed his enjoyable first season here.

“It’s definitely the most fun I’ve ever had,” Halladay said. “It’s bittersweet because obviously the goals we had as a team, we came up short. That part’s tough. But what we accomplished as a team, it’s stuff I’ll never forget.

“The whole year was a dream come true for me, really. Obviously, I would have loved to win it all, but it’s hard to dwell on that after the year we had. There was so much good stuff that happened that, as time goes on, I think the good will outweigh the last night.”

The “good stuff” was six-pack staggering.

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