According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, the Phillies will activate right-hander Chad Billingsley from the 15-day disabled list to start Tuesday against the Braves in Atlanta.
Billingsley hasn’t pitched in the majors in over two years, as he underwent Tommy John surgery in April of 2013 and needed surgery last June to repair a torn flexor tendon in his elbow. The Phillies gave him a one-year, $1.5 million deal over the winter which could max out at $8 million with incentives.
Billingsley, 30, posted a 4.74 ERA with 16 strikeouts and six walks in 19 innings over four minor league rehab starts with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He owns a 3.65 ERA in his career, so he’s a fine gamble for rebuilding Philadelphia and could be flipped for a useful prospect at the trade deadline if he can show something close to his old form.
Billingsley will take the rotation spot of right-hander David Buchanan, who was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley today after posting an ugly 8.76 ERA and 12/15 K/BB ratio over his first five starts this season.
The Phillies and Cubs have been speculated as a potential match in a Cole Hamels trade, but the two sides could match up in a different deal. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times has the scoop:
Hoyer wouldn’t disclose any of the specific players the Cubs are looking to acquire or trade. But sources during the week said the Phillies are one of several teams that have asked about left-hander Travis Wood and could be a match for catcher Welington Castillo. The Cubs like lefty-hitting Phils outfielder Ben Revere.
Wood is a weird target for the Phillies, as he’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and won’t be around the next time the team will likely be competitive, but they’ll need someone to log innings in 2015. Granted, they’ll likely get a pitcher back if they end up dealing Hamels this offseason, but the rest of their projected rotation includes Cliff Lee (who made just 13 starts in 2014 due to a flexor pronator strain), David Buchanan, Jerome Williams, and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. That’s a questionable bunch. Wood turns 28 in February and posted an ugly 5.03 ERA and 146/76 K/BB ratio in 173 2/3 innings over 31 starts this past season.
It makes sense the Cubs will try to move Castillo now that he’s a backup to Miguel Montero, but it’s hard to see the Phillies as a fit for him unless they end up moving Carlos Ruiz. Ruiz, who turns 36 in January, is owed $8.5 million in each of the next two seasons while his $4.5 million club option for 2017 carries a $500,000 buyout. He has the ability to block deals to four teams.
Four players (Cole Hamels, Domonic Brown, David Buchanan, and Kyle Kendrick) have publicly criticized and/or disrespected Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg this month, but the skipper in his first full season insists it’s “not a big deal.”
In particular Sandberg tried to downplay Hamels leaving the mound before the manager got there to remove him during Tuesday’s game and then giving non-answers to reporters about the removal after 84 pitches, telling Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:
You know what, I gave him a verbal when I was about six feet from the grass, “Hey, we’re going to pick you up right here, Cole. Nice job.” So he thought that that was the release to let him go. I just clarified that with him. He was upset about the home run.
However, according to Salisbury “a person with knowledge of the situation said Sandberg was ticked off by what Hamels did.”
Philadelphia’s roster has a lot of veteran players who experienced a whole lot of success with the previous manager, Charlie Manuel, so being in last place with a near-rookie manager in a recipe for issues. That doesn’t preclude Sandberg from making things worse with his actions, of course, and at some point having near-daily meetings with players about their disrespecting the manager will be tough to brush off.