Tag: Ryan Howard

Ruben Amaro Jr.

Phillies could keep GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. beyond 2015


Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has been something of a lightning rod in recent years, getting most of the blame for the team’s fall from grace after the 2011 season. There were a number of poor decisions made under his leadership, including the Ryan Howard extension, the Cliff Lee trade to Seattle, separate trades to acquire Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence which depleted the minor league system, as well as some regrettable public comments with which he insulted Ryan Howard, showed he didn’t understand how OPS worked, and denigrated the value of walks.

The Phillies hit rock bottom earlier this year, when manager Ryne Sandberg quit suddenly due to an inability to effectively communicate with his players. Amaro named Pete Mackanin the interim manager, and the team has played much better and players have effusively praised Mackanin. Amaro also oversaw the overhauling of the Phillies’ minor league system, trading Jimmy Rollins during the off-season and executing trades of Jonathan Papelbon, Ben Revere, Cole Hamels, and Chase Utley. The Phillies now arguably have one of the five-best minor league systems in baseball.

And that may be reason enough for the Phillies to bring Amaro back for the 2016 season, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. Amaro’s contract expires after the season, but incoming team president Andy MacPhail — taking over for outgoing president Pat Gillick — may keep Amaro in the GM seat rather than find a new candidate from outside the organization.

Heyman does cite as potential external GM options J.J. Piccolo of the Royals, Matt Klentak of the Angels, and John Barr of the Giants.

The Tigers promote Dave Littlefield to vice president of player development

tigers logo

The Tigers are trying to keep as much of the front office as it was under Dave Dombrowski, but there are some minor changes afoot. Here’s one: former Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield has been promoted to vice president of player development.

Littlefield has been scouting for the past five years, this one for Detroit, the previous four for the Chicago Cubs. Earlier in his career he worked for the Tigers for a spell and was a Dombrowski protege, working in Montreal and Miami. He was, of course, more famously the GM of the Pirates for six seasons during which the club went a combined 421-549 (.434).

His time in Pittsburgh can be somewhat hard to assess in that a lot of the moves he was infamous for making likely were directed by an ownership who routinely looked to cut costs, but a lot of GMs have done just fine under such constraints. Littlefield? Eh, not so much. As a review of his tenure reminds us, he traded away Aramis Ramirez in a bad deal. He once was offered a young Ryan Howard in exchange for Kris Benson and nixed the idea. He did end up getting Jose Bautista for Benson, but that was before he was JOSE BAUTISTA. He signed a lot of guys like Jeromy Burnitz, Joe Randa, Raul Mondesi and Benito Santiago, Actually, it was worse: he didn’t sign guys like them, he signed those actual guys.

Which, no probably isn’t that important to his job in Detroit as he’s likely going to just have an enhanced role in scouting while Al Avila calls the shots. But it’s always fun to take a walk down memory lane when an old friend resurfaces, as many past GMs have lately. I mean, in a world where John Hart goes from unemployed ex-GM to part time TV analyst to the architect of a rebuild in the space of a couple of years, anything can happen.

Reminder: even though the trade deadline has passed, trades can still happen

James Shields

I write some variation on this post every year, mostly because there is always someone who asks why guys are still being talked about in trade rumors even though the “trade deadline” was July 31. So, let’s do this again, shall we?

July 31 is the non-waiver trade deadline. That means that clubs can just straight up trade dudes. Between now and August 31 clubs can trade dudes, but to do so they have to send them through waivers first. It works like this:

  • A team wishing to trade a player as of now will place him on revocable waivers. That means that the team can pull the player back off waivers if the player is claimed by another teams;
  • If the player is placed on waivers and goes unclaimed by every other team (i.e.  he “clears waivers”) he can be traded the same as he could have been before the July 31 deadline. He’d be eligible for the playoff roster and everything, as long as it was before the end of August;
  • If a player placed on waivers is claimed by another team, the team doing the waiving has a choice: they can pull him back (which is the “revocable” part of “revocable waivers”), keeping him as if nothing happened OR they can let the claiming team have him. If they do that, the claiming team is stuck with the player, including his current salary;
  • There is an order to the claiming process — teams with the worst record in the same league get to claim guys placed on waivers first, and then the choice cycles through the teams in the other league, worst record to best as well.

You often hear about big names with big salaries placed on waivers. They’re rarely claimed, however, because as noted above, the claiming team would be stuck with the salary. So, for example, the Phillies may place Ryan Howard on waivers. There is a low possibility anyone will claim him, of course, because even if a team wants Ryan Howard, they really don’t want that contract. This is why it’s not really news when someone reports that “so and so was placed on waivers.” People still act like it’s news for some reason, but it isn’t. People get bored easily.

Likewise, a team claiming someone isn’t really big news because teams often play games with the waiver process. For example, sometimes a team will claim a guy for the express purpose of NOT allowing him to clear waivers and thus be traded to a rival. For example, if a club puts a guy on waivers that the Astros REALLY want, the Angels — who have a worse record than the Astros and thus claiming priority — may put a claim on him to keep him from clearing and thus being traded to the Astros. There’s risk involved to the Angels of course in that the team placing the guy on waivers may not pull him back, thus sticking him with the Angels, but that’s the gamble involved.

So that’s what waiver trades are all about. Some waiver trades will happen. If they do, they will either involve (a) guys with not-so-great contracts, particularly starting pitchers; (b) guys coming back from an injury who represent something of a gamble; or (c) role players, bench bats and the like. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN has a post up today about some possible waiver trade candidates. I’d add a couple more to that list he leaves out — Howard, James Shields, and Matt Garza come to mind.

Anyway, if you take nothing else from this, take this one thing: generally ignore reports about guys being placed on waivers. Almost everyone is placed on waivers. It doesn’t matter, however, unless they clear.

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

David Ortiz

Red Sox 11, Tigers 1: David Ortiz had a monster game, hitting two homers and driving in seven. The game story says Ortiz was motivated by his emotional reaction to watching Pedro Martinez get inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier in the day. OK, we’ll go with that and not facing a struggling Shane Greene and one of the worst bullpens in baseball. In other news, last week it was reported that the Tigers would reassess whether they would be buyers or sellers after Sunday’s game. Well, you’ve played your Sunday game. Now, general manager Dombrowski of ours, I think it’s time you told your Don what everyone seems to know: this Tigers season is over.

Mets 3, Dodgers 2: Juan Uribe, acquired from the Braves Friday night, won the game with a walkoff single — which almost went out — in the 10th inning. Before that, however, the fans were treated to a duel between two of the game’s best pitchers in Zack Greinke and Jacob deGrom. Advantage: deGrom, as the Mets ace shut the Dodgers out into the eighth and struck out eight. Meanwhile, Greinke’s scoreless inning streak came to an end at 45 and two-thirds when deGrom knocked in a run on a fielder’s choice in the third. Here’s something weird: Jeurys Familia, who was trying for a four-out save, blew it. The weird part: it was his fourth blown save this year and the Mets have come back to win all four of them.

Angels 13, Rangers 7: Not sure what’s more impressive: Mike Trout hitting this grand slam or the fan catching it in his “Trout Net?”


Trout hit a solo homer in this one too and finished 4-for-4 with five driven in. He takes over the league lead in homers from teammate Albert Pujols. More importantly, the Angels end a three-game losing streak and regain first place over the Astros.

Giants 4, Athletics 3: By beating the A’s, Tim Hudson has now beaten every single team in baseball. Current team, anyway. I mean, he hasn’t beaten the original Buffalo Bisons, the Providence Grays or the Cincinnati Outlaw Reds, but that’s no slight on Hudson. He’s the 15th pitcher to do that. Matt Duffy hit a two-run homer in the first and drove in three runs to help Hudson’s cause.

White Sox 2, Indians 1: Carlos Rodon pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning helping the Chisox get the four-game sweep over a team I thought might turn things around after the All-Star break but, like, never mind. The Sox outscored the Indians 26-5 and never trailed in the series.

Orioles 5, Rays 2: Nolan Reimold had three hits and drove in two runs. Caleb Joseph hit a two-run homer. In five starts since coming back from Tommy John surgery, Matt Moore has yet to pitch longer than five innings. The Rays are skidding, having dropped eight of their last nine series.

Pirates 3, Nationals 1: Gerrit Cole won his 14th game — that leads the bigs — after allowing one run on seven hits in seven and two-thirds. According to the AP, Cole is the first Pittsburgh pitcher with 14 wins before August since Dock Ellis in 1971. Which is to say he is doing the do.

Royals 5, Astros 1: Last week Yordano Ventura was sent to the minors because he was lost and the Royals lost another pitcher in Jason Vargas due to Tommy John surgery. Last night they went to bed with Johnny Cueto on the team and Ventura having pitched seven innings of one-run ball against one of the best offenses in baseball. Not a bad turnaround.

Yankees 7, Twins 2: Nate Eovaldi won his tenth game, pitching into the ninth inning, and Chase Headley and Stephen Drew each homered. Headley drove in three. This a day after Alex Rodriguez hit three homers. Remember back in the winter when people wondered how those two would both work on this team? Haha, me neither.

Braves 3, Cardinals 2: Adonis Garcia broke the tie with a sixth inning homer. Which required me to go look up who in the hell Adonis Garcia was again. Sometimes it’s fun and enlightening when your team is rebuilding. Rookie Matt Wisler got the win and pitched well. Which was easier to do with Yadier Molina, Jhonny Peralta and Mark Reynolds taking the day off.

Phillies 11, Cubs 5: Man, not a great weekend for the Cubs. Not merely swept by the Phillies, but no-hit and blown out too. Aaron Nola got his first big league win and drove in a run and Ryan Howard homered for the second straight day. The Phillies have won eight of nine since the All-Star break. After the game Nola said “I’m just soaking as much as I can in right now and being a part of this is pretty amazing.” He’s talking about the 2015 Philadelphia Phillies, by the way.


Mariners 6, Blue Jays 5: Franklin Gutierrez hit a walkoff homer in the 10th. His comeback, a year after sitting out all year with a back condition, is pretty impressive so far. That’s his third homer in 19 games and he’s slugging .511. So good to see from a player who has been absolutely snakebitten with injuries and maladies. Of course this triple play was the highlight of the game:


Ezeiquel Carrera would’ve been safe if he didn’t fall off the bag. And otherwise he didn’t have a bad game — he robbed Mike Zunino of a home run and hit a solo homer of his own — but that one is gonna stick with him for a while.

Padres 3, Marlins 2: Justin Upton homered and Odrisamer Despaigne pitched six solid innings and the Padres win their third in a row and the fifth in the past eight games since the break. Have to figure they’re still sellers but winning does sort of mess up the narrative when it comes time to trade away everyone you just brought in to, you know, win.

Rockies 17, Reds 7: That thing about the Royals up above? The opposite for Cincinnati. They lost Johnny Cueto and then had their young pitcher get his rear end handed back to him. The Rockies hit five homers — two from Carlos Gonzalez — and had a ten-run third inning against Michael Lorenzen and Dylan Axlerod. Axlerod wore this one, giving up eight runs himself in an inning and a third.

Diamondbacks 3, Brewers 0: The Brewers were shut out by Dbacks pitchers for the second straight day. This day Jeremy Hellickson did the honors, tossing six shutout innings. Milwaukee scored just five runs in the four-game series.

Cole Hamels throws a no-hitter at Wrigley Field against the Cubs


Update #3 (6:43 PM EST): Hamels finished off his no-hitter, getting Addison Russell to ground out, struck out Dexter Fowler, then with a full count got Kris Bryant to fly out to Odubel Herrera in center field — making a ridiculous catch — on his 129th pitch of the afternoon.


Update #2 (6:26 PM EST): The Phillies tacked on two runs in the top of the eighth on a little league home run, pushing their lead to 5-0. Hamels doubled but was stranded. He went back out to the mound and brought his no-hitter into the ninth. He retired Starlin Castro and David Ross on fly balls (Odubel Herrera made a spectacular catch in left-center on the fly ball hit by Ross), then Schwarber grounded back to Hamels for a 1-3 putout. He’s thrown 112 pitches.


Update (6:06 PM EST): Hamels struck out the side in the seventh, retiring Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler, and Chris Denorfia on strikes to carry his no-hitter into the eighth inning. He now has 12 strikeouts and has thrown 99 pitches.


Phillies starter Cole Hamels, making what could be his final start for the team that drafted him, is absolutely dealing at Wrigley Field against the Cubs this Saturday evening. The lefty has yet to allow a hit through six innings. The only blemishes on his record are two walks: to Dexter Fowler to lead off the game and to Fowler again with two outs in the sixth. Hamels has struck out nine while throwing 85 pitches.

The Phillies gave Hamels three runs of support on a Ryan Howard three-run home run off of Jake Arrieta in the third inning.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark quoted an unnamed baseball executive on Friday, who said that Hamels’ start against the Cubs could be his most important for the Ruben Amaro , Jr. administration, despite having pitched in the World Series for the club in 2009. The Phillies are rebuilding and Hamels is by far the team’s most valuable trade asset.

Hamels entered the start with a 3.91 ERA and a 124/37 K/BB ratio in 119 2/3 innings.

We’ll keep you updated as Hamels attempts to keep the Cubs hitless over the final three innings. Hamels has never officially thrown a no-hitter, but was the starter on September 1 in Atlanta against the Braves last year when he banded together with Jake Diekman, Ken Giles, and Jonathan Papelbon to toss a combined no-hitter. The Cubs have baseball’s longest active streak of not being no-hit at 7,931 games, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax tossed a perfect game against them on September 9, 1965.