Fresh from the desk of Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Phillies are believed to have offered center fielder Angel Pagan a four year deal. The 31-year old Pagan hit .288/.331/.440 with eight homers and 29 steals in a bounce-back 2012. His 2012 line was just slightly better than his career line of .281/.333/.424. Pagan has seemingly emerged as the Phillies’ premier center field target as the team believes it can commit to Pagan and fill holes at third and in the bullpen. Rosenthal believes the Giants have also offered Pagan four years.
Analysis: Pagan’s 2012 was a bounce-back year from an out-of-the-ordinary extraordinary 2010 with the Mets. Pagan has faired well on the basepaths at a 78.98% success-rate and has played above-average defense in center for his career but really only three full and one half season under his belt with several partial seasons scattered across seven years. Four years is way too long of a commitment, in my opinion, for a player that has only had success in three seasons and is already 31.
According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the Phillies have non-tendered outfielder Nate Schierholtz and let him become a free agent. Schierholtz hit .273/.319/.379 in just 73 plate appearances last year after being acquired in the Hunter Pence trade. Schierholtz, 28, is a career .270/.319/.409 hitter with a plus arm in right field and has been worth about a Win Above Replacement level per year according to FanGraphs. Schierholtz made $1.3 million last year and likely would have seen a raise had the Phillies tendered an offer.
The move leaves the Phillies with 37 players on their 40 man roster which includes four outfielders who have played in the Majors (Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix, and Darin Ruf) and two that have not (Zach Collier and Tyson Gillies).
The groundbreaking ceremony for the new arena in Allentown was held Thursday, two weeks after the team announced that they'll be called the Lehigh Valley Phantoms after that new arena opens in the fall of 2014.
On hand for the ceremony were the dignitaries you see above: Phantoms co-owners Rob and Jim Brooks, Pennsylvania state Senator Pat Browne (R, 16th District), Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski (D), AHL President Dave Andrews and two members of your Philadelphia Flyers family, John Paddock and Paul Holmgren.
The groundbreaking actually took place months ago, as evidenced by the giant muddy hole at 7th and Hamilton Streets in downtown Allentown, but Wednesday's ceremony was part of a continued effort to get the team name in front of hockey fans in the Lehigh Valley.
The new arena will seat about 8,500 for Phantoms games, and according to the Allentown Morning Call, 1,700 season tickets have already been sold. The team will begin playing games at the arena at the start of the 2014-15 season. They had hoped to begin play there next season but legal and local political wrangling held up the construction of the building.
The Phantoms will almost certainly play in Glens Falls again next season, but for now a new lease at the Glens Falls Civic Center has not been signed for the 2013-14 season.
This is a topic I’ve been sitting on for sometime now, and one that has kind of faded over the past few weeks – that is, until Carlos Ruiz was nailed for using the banned substance Adderall and suspended 25 games by MLB.
Cheating to get ahead is as old as time. I’m sure bribery and unsavory tactics were used in ancient Roman times, just as they still are now. Capitol Hill is a sieve of backdoor trading and handshake deals. We could go on all day about what happens on Wall Street.
In baseball, attempting to play beyond the law of the game is commonplace. In the 20’s, Babe Ruth was thought to have injected himself with sheep testosterone for an added edge; not that he needed it.
During the era of Second World War, amphetamines became prevalent, given to troops to help them stay alert. Eventually, those drugs found their way into baseball. “Greenies” continued to be used through the 2000’s, as were the steroids and PED’s that were rampant in the 90’s. Canseco, Bonds, Clemens, Balco; we know the stories well.
It has hit the sport hard this season, with Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Galvis, Marlon Byrd, and now, Carlos Ruiz, all caught with banned substances or masking agents in their bloodstream. National League MVP Ryan Braun was found guilty in 2011, only to be freed – albeit with doubters still abound – after a positive test that was eventually thrown out due to a technicality.
It hits home harder now that we know Ruiz’s ridiculous season was aided by a drug that has the same effect as speed.
Knowing what we know – that drug use has been as much a part of the sport as the double play – my question is, should we care? Should we worry about players trying to give themselves a competitive edge?
Personally, I don’t. Would I rather the players do it the so-called “right way”? I guess, but what is the right way? It has always been skewed. Have we ever truly known the right way?
What we thought was the right way for 100-plus years was always tainted in some way. The media just wasn’t all over every move of every professional athlete enough to make it a worldwide story.
For those pushing the “think of the kids” argument, save it. Stopping, or attempting to stop, professionals from cheating is a noble idea, but one that hasn’t worked to date and probably won’t for the foreseeable future. Unless, of course, money is taken from their pockets.
And that’s what it all comes down to, the almighty dollar. Do you blame a guy like Melky Cabrera using PED’s to try and make himself millions of dollars? It’s hard to do.
Cabrera was a middling player making $5 million per season. If you were making a modest salary for your profession and were given a way to possibly make 10 times more, setting yourself and your family up for a lifetime, would you take the risk? The Melkman did, and most of us would do the same.
Getting caught brings Cabrera back to square one, making $5 million a season and likely dancing from team to team. He’s still a serviceable player, a decent outfielder, and one that will continue to make a few million per season. But he took the chance at a 50 game suspension for a huge windfall. He fell short, but it was a risk worth taking.
It’s also sad that all MLB players will be guilty before proven as such. We’ll never really know what goes on behind the closed doors in the clubhouse, but we’ll have to assume cheating is happening. You’d be naïve not to.
Let’s say you’re a guy like Erik Kratz, a catcher who has been on the cusp of busting through to the major leagues. Do you take? Those around him are and have been. And the difference is big-time major league dollars, trips on chartered flights, and five-star hotels rooms over bus rides through middle America, breakfast buffets at the Motel 6, and, above all, the minor league money he’s been making for a decade.
How about Freddy Galvis? So close to being a major part of the Phillies on a full-time basis was enough for him to turn to a metabolite of Clostebol, a performance-enhancing drug that violates the league’s banned substance program.
In the end, I’m not sure I care what goes on because I’m loathe to believe it can change. We’re being entertained and when were we more entertained than in the 90’s when McGwire and Sosa were going head-to-head with 500-foot homers.
Just as entertainers in Hollywood call up their plastic surgeons to keep them in the game looking stronger than ever (although I’d argue Joan Rivers looks more like a corpse), professional athletes are doing the same.
I know, I know, some of the drugs baseball players are using are illegal, whereas a tummy tuck and facelift are not. But the reasons are one in the same; money and fame.
I’m not saying that MLB should not try to clean up the game, but I guess I just don’t mind what happens anymore because it’s going to continue to happen, whether I like it or not. Basically, I’ve given up hope that all MLB players will do things the right way. Ruth did it, McGwire did it, Galvis did, someone else will in the future, too.
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers-related news and notes...
* The top five players under 25 on each Atlantic Division team: [NHLNumbers.com]
* Follow up to yesterday's article on the Forbes figures, with two more datapoints: [mc79hockey.com]
* A website offering amateur radio broadcasts to sync with your viewing of games: [LetMeHearYa.com]
Nats Acquire Span
The biggest news in baseball today is the Nationals’ acquisition of center fielder Denard Span. Span, 28, has two years, $11.25 million left on his contract and a $9 million team option for 2015. The Nationals parted with 2011 first-round pick, right-hander Alex Meyer for Span. Span is a career .284/.357/.389 hitter and a plus defender in center.
The trade for Span narrows the Phillies’ options, however, it also takes a potential destination off the table for the other free agent center fielders. With the Giants still the favorite for Angel Pagan until further notice, it appears that the Phillies may have their pick between Michael Bourn, Josh Hamilton, Shane Victorino, non-tender candidate Andres Torres, and others as free agents and the Yankees’ Curtis Granderson and Rockies’ Dexter Fowler as trade targets. The teams still seeking center fielders is believed to be narrowed to the Phillies, Reds, Red Sox, Indians, Marlins, and Rays, although it is believed that of those teams, only the Phillies, Reds, and Red Sox have money to spend.
Upton Offered $20 Million Less By Phils
The Phillies reportedly came in second place in the B.J. Upton bidding war. The Phils’ offer of five years, $55 million was topped by over $20 million by the Braves according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman.
Trade Falls Through
The Phillies/Astros deal to bring Wilton Lopez to Philadelphia has reportedly fallen through. Per Jim Salisbury of CSN, the Phillies have “put on the breaks” on the trade and the two rumors include that the Astros have drummed up interest from other teams and that something related to Lopez’s physical may have turned the Phils’ interest sour. Todd Zolecki was the first to report that the trade looked unlikely and it was learned (ESPN Insider) that the deal was thought to include pitcher Tyler Cloyd and catcher Sebastian Valle, who is among the best position-player prospects in the Phillies’ system.
Chan Ho Park, member of the 2009 Phillies World Series team, will retire at age 39. Park was the first Korean-born player to reach the Major Leagues. Park spent 2011 and 2012 pitching in Korea and Japan and last pitched in the Majors for the Pirates. My favorite Park memory? The game in early 2009 where he and Johan Santana took dueling no-hitters into the sixth. Park took his longer (5.2 IP) but lost 1-0.
This post has been a collaboration with Daniel Smith, a fellow baseball and poker fan.
While baseball has been the American pastime for over 100 years, there is another game that has been growing in popularity over the last decade. Much like baseball, it is simple to learn but also very difficult to master. This game is poker.
Anyone that has been a fan of baseball for more than 20 years or anyone that follows the Los Angeles Dodgers knows pitching great and Cherry Hill High School East grad Orel Hersheiser. Hersheiser was as well known for his friendly demeanor away from the field as he was for his pitching dominance on the field.
Upon retirement, Hersheiser took up the game of poker but many were no aware of this fact. That changed in 2008 when Hersheiser was invited to be a celebrity participant in the NBC National Heads-Up Championship. Celebrity players are really a gimmick that the event used to boost ratings, but Hersheiser didn’t come to be a gimmick player, but instead he came to win.
Hersheiser took the skills that he learned in baseball and applied them to the game of poker. Those skills include keen focus, attention to details, the ability to change your strategy based on your opponent and even the situation, and stamina to withstand the long hours at the table.
Hersheiser surprised everyone by not just winning his first round match-up, but then he proceeded to navigate his way through the field of 64 players to reach the Elite Eight of the event. Hersheiser just narrowly missed making the final four of the tournament and finished the event in 5th place.
After a long career that included a victory in the 1988 World Series, Orel Hersheiser proved that he had the ability to hang with the big boys of poker. Hersheiser is not the only baseball player to try their hand at poker. New York Yankees shortstop Alex Rodriguez is a known poker player as is retired Oakland A’s slugger Jose Canseco.
The World Series of Poker broadcasts in 2003 began a poker boom in this country that has caught the attention of many Americans, and that includes Major League Baseball players. Both baseball and poker have amazing similarities that not only include those mentioned earlier, but both games are considered a bit of a grind. Baseball games and poker games can go for long periods of time without any activity to speak of and then explode into moments of action and drama that gets the fans on their feet and cheering for their favorite players.
With the growing popularity of the game of poker, there is little surprise that baseball players are taking up the game. It is a great way to keep competitive in-between games and for those that have retired, it is a way to take the skills they learned on the diamond and apply them to another game and remain competitive. While poker will likely not surpass baseball as the national pastime, it very well could become the preferred alternative to baseball.