GM Amaro: Phillies have $15 million to spend on third base, pitching help

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amaro.jpgTalking to The News Journal’s Scott Lauber, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. on Wednesday listed third base and bullpen help as his top priorities this winter, adding that he didn’t expect his team’s payroll to exceed $140 million by much if any margin.
That doesn’t leave the Phillies with as much flexibility as anticipated. The Phillies already have $106.75 million committed to 12 players for 2009. Joe Blanton ($7 million), Shane Victorino ($5.5 million), Carlos Ruiz ($2.5 million), Chad Durbin ($2.5 million) and Ben Francisco ($1.5 million) figure to collect $19 million or so through arbitration, pushing the Phillies up to $125 million before anyone is acquired.
So, that leaves the Phillies about $15 million for six roster spots. On offense, they need a third baseman, a utilityman, a pinch-hitter if Matt Stairs doesn’t return and a backup catcher. They also want another setup man to put in front of Brad Lidge and a pitcher for rotation depth.
That modest limit would make it awfully difficult for them to bring in a Chone Figgins or a quality starter. Mark DeRosa, apparently their top pick for third base, would eat up at least $6 million of that in the first year of a two- or three-year deal. Garrett Atkins could come a little cheaper. A setup man like Brandon Lyon or LaTroy Hawkins will likely cost $4 million-$5 million. Fernando Rodney and Mike Gonzalez could be even more expensive.
Barring a surprising move to trade for a cheap third baseman, the Phillies won’t be going after the big names in free agency. They have some room to maneuver, but it’s doubtful that they’ll be too adventurous after back-to-back World Series appearances.

Umpire ejects Adrian Beltre for moving on-deck circle

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As far as ejections go, this is one of the stranger ones you’ll hear about. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre was ejected in the bottom of the eighth inning of a game his team trailed at the time 18-6. Beltre was a few feet away from the circle towards home plate and was asked by Marlins pitcher Drew Steckenrider to get into the circle. So rather than step a few feet back to his right, Beltre picked up the circle and dragged it to where he was. And that got him ejected by second base umpire Gerry Davis. Manager Jeff Banister was also ejected after having a word with Davis.

Here’s a video from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Beltre, by the way, went 3-for-3 with a walk, a pair of doubles, and a solo home run. He’s now four hits away from 3,000 for his career.

Video: Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford hits an inside-the-park grand slam

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Phillies shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford’s stock has fallen sharply this season. He had an abysmal first three months, batting .203/.321/.276 in 291 plate appearances. Baseball America rated him the 12th overall prospect in baseball going into the season and rated him No. 92 in their midseason top 100. It was bad.

Since the calendar turned to July, however, Crawford has been more like his normal self. In 92 at-bats this month entering Wednesday night’s action, he was hitting .300/.391/.650 with six home runs, 13 RBI, 18 runs scored, and a terrific 15/12 K/BB ratio.

Crawford padded his stats more on Wednesday night as he circled the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam. Via the IronPigs Twitter:

Crawford was actually dead-to-rights at home, but he fooled the catcher with a great late slide.

Crawford finished 1-for-3 with a walk along with the slam on the night as the IronPigs beat the Gwinnett Braves 8-2.