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.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”