The Phillies are old, but at least they have been mostly healthy for the majority of the 2014 season. Perhaps no stat better illustrates that than this one from the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb:
The Phillies, on Saturday, became just the second team since 1901 to have four 34-or-older players each accumulate 550 plate appearances. (The 2008 Yankees – Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, and Derek Jeter – also did it.) No major-league team has ever had four such players reach 600 plate appearances, a realistic milestone for these Phillies.
Those to reach the 550 plate appearance echelon include the three Phillies mainstays — Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard — as well as Marlon Byrd. Byrd also hit a home run on Saturday at Citi Field, setting a career-high with 25 on the season. It just so happened to be his 37th birthday as well.
According to Baseball Reference, the Phillies’ position players are 31 years old on average, nearly two full years ahead of the next-oldest team, the Dodgers at 29.4. As for pitchers, the Phillies’ 30.2 average is second behind the Giants at 31.8.
All four are under contract for at least the 2015 season. Byrd will earn $8 million and has a club option for $8 million 2016 that can become guaranteed by hitting a plate appearance threshold. Rollins guaranteed his $11 million option for 2015 in late July when he took his 1,100th plate appearance combined between 2013-14. Utley will earn $10 million next season before going year-to-year with $15 million vesting options between 2016-18. Howard will earn $25 million in 2015 and in ’16, and has a $23 million club option for ’17 that comes with a $10 million buyout.
The Tigers will promoted Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon to hitting coach for the 2017 season, according to a statement released by the team on Friday afternoon.
McClendon’s history with the Tigers is long and storied. After serving five seasons as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ hitting coach and manager, he got his start with Detroit in 2006 as a bullpen coach, then transitioned to hitting coach from 2007 through 2013. When the Tigers hired Brad Ausmus to replace former manager Jim Leyland, McClendon took the opportunity to break from the team and pursue another managerial position of his own with the Seattle Mariners, whom he guided to a 163-161 record between the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Following his departure from Seattle during the 2015 offseason, McClendon took a spot as skipper of the Tigers’ Triple-A club, managing the Toledo Mud Hens to a 68-76 finish in 2016. His return to the big league stage is accompanied by the hiring of assistant hitting coach Leon Durham, who previously served as the long-tenured hitting coach for Triple-A Toledo.
On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.
We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.
Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:
Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.
Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.
Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.