Although it was a disappointing season for the Phillies, I hope you will agree it was a great year for Phillies Nation. We welcomed Ryan and Eric to the writing team, officially registered our charity, debuted Phillies Nation TV on air in Allentown and the Lehigh Valley, passed 250,000 Likes on Facebook and served up over 5 million pageviews on PhilliesNation.com.
We have plenty more in store for 2013 including our Wiffadelphia charity wiffleball tournament, a Spring Training road trip, Philly Sports quizzo at bars around the region and Phillies Nation TV will be back for Season 3 with new features and distribution.
As we anticipate the new year, take a moment to review the top 10 most viewed posts on PhilliesNation.com in 2012. As you can tell, the Phillies front-office generated more interest than the players on the diamond. Have a Happy New Year!
- What Trading Pence to the Giants Would Mean by Ian on July 30
- Lee Claimed Off Waivers by Pat on August 3
- Report: Phillies Talked with Cleveland About Cabrera by Pat on December 11
- July 16 Trade Rumor Round-Up: Victorino, Hamels, Rollins by Ian on July 16
- Revere the First Step to a Successful Offseason? by Corey on December 6
- Updated 2012 Phillies Roster and Payroll Projections by Pat on several occasions prior to the season
- Rosenthal: D’backs Attempting Blockbuster for SP by Corey on July 31
- Phillies Rumors: Lee, Blanton, Pierre by Pat on July 30
- Report: Phillies Close to Acquiring Michael Young? by Corey on December 6
- Phils Have Enough Money, Space to Land Ross by Ian on December 15
Before the 2012 season even began, Phillies fans were worried about the 2012-2013 offseason. Cole Hamels was due to enter free agency, which raised a lot of questions about the season. Would be traded mid-season? Would he be locked up? Would he become a free agent and sign with our rivals? Ruben Amaro Jr. addressed this issue in late-July.
On July 25, the Phillies and Cole Hamels agreed to a six-year, $144 million contract extension.
The deal probably looks better with the moves that have occurred around baseball this offseason. Hamels may have set the market early, but it can be easily argued that the negotiations would be pretty intense if he waited for free agency. His price value would have definitely increased. The Phillies signed him at the right time.
It will be great to have Hamels in red pinstripes for the next six years, at least. He has been excellent thus far, and hopefully he can continue that for years to come.
Minor League Ball released their list of the Top 20 Phillies’ Prospects. For those unfamiliar with Minor League Ball, it is run by John Sickels, who was Bill James‘ research assistant from 1993 to 1996 and was ESPN’s Minor League Baseball Analyst from 1996-2005. Sickels was among the first national pundits to give Darin Ruf the seal of approval as a Major League-quality hitter (on August 16, 2012) and has a pretty strong familiarity with the Phillies organization. His list of Phillies’ prospects differs a bit from the Baseball America Top 10, with Sickels seemingly favoring potential slightly more than Minor League body of work.
Sickels list is interesting for not who is on it but for whom is omitted. In Sickels’ opinion, the Phillies have a very deep body of players who will become Major League regulars in their ranks, with Biddle the only true standout. Considering that, some of the omissions are quite surprising, as quite a few players who were once thought to have high ceilings seem to have come back to earth. Luckily for the Phillies, Sickels likes a lot of the players acquired at this year’s trade deadline.
Biddle Takes the Top Spot, Quinn Third
Germantown Friends’ Jesse Biddle was Sickels’ number one, just as he was in Baseball America’s list. Sickels’ lists Biddle as a B+ prospect, which on his scale, means you can essentially pen him in to see Major League work and expect to see something more than a regular out of him. Sickels’ says of Biddle: “Good bet to be a mid-rotation starter, if not more.”
Baseball America’s choice for number two, shortstop Roman Quinn, debuts on Sickels’ list at number three, stating “Blazing speed and knows how to use it well, needs more defensive polish and a better grasp of the strike zone to be a full-scale leadoff hitter, but the 80-speed covers a lot of problems and ensures the Phils will give him plenty of time.”
Ruf Gets More Strong Praise
Ruf opened up many eyes last year and the late bloomer tag seems to be taking hold. Ruf’s consistence high performance since being drafted in the 20th round in 2009 has Sickels placing him at seventh, two higher than Baseball America. Sickels starts out his review of Ruf with “I believe in the bat. Defense and age 26 keep him from elite prospect status, doesn’t have further projection, but that’s OK since he’s already good.” Sickels was sold on Ruf heading into 2013 as a 10-15 HR role player before his late 2012 and Winter Ball outbursts. Sickels says of Ruf: “I thought he was more of a .260, 10-15-homer role player bat, but I can see him as a .280, 20-25 homer guy now.
“The Phillies Have Really, Really Deep Pitching Ranks
In addition to Biddle, the Phillies have five pitchers who rank at a B- or higher.
One of the biggest contrasts of Sickels list compared to Baseball America’s is the positioning of left-handed pitcher Adam Morgan. Sickels ranked Morgan at number 2, stating “This guy deserves more attention. Stuff kicked up a notch from college, into the low-90s, and he already knew how to throw strikes and locate his secondary pitches. Can also be a mid-rotation starter.”
Sickels ranked RHP Jonathan Pettibone at number five, putting his ceiling at “durable inning-eating number four starter to me.” Sickels has LHP Ethan Martin at eight, “Upper-rotation stuff, but if command remains shaky he’s more of a number four, or a reliever. Still high upside,” and 2012 supplemental picks RHPs Shane Watson and Mitch Gueller as B-s as well. Sickels states that both Watson and Gueller have #2-3 starter potential, stating Watson has a more refined approach while Gueller is more athletic.
Two Third Basemen in Top Ten, Two Catchers in Top 20
Cody Asche and Mikael Franco ranked sixth and ninth respectively, with Sickels liking Asche’s defense and “sweet swing” and stating Franco is “making progress”. Sickels believes catcher Tommy Joseph can be an everyday regular but does with good defense but is not sold on his power while Sebastian Valle is a C+ prospect who Sickels believes needs a full year at Triple-A. Valle is struggling in the Mexican Winter League with a .193 average in 30 games.
Two Relievers on 40-Man on List
Phillippe Aumont and Justin De Fratus appear on the list at 13 and 17 respectively, with Sickels believing that Aumont will get a full run in the Phils’ ‘pen this year despite control issues and that De Fratus may see time this year or next with the club. Joining Aumont and De Fratus from the bullpen side includes righty Kenny Giles, who can hit 100 MPH, at 14, and Kevin Brady, swing man out of Clemson at 16, who Sickels sees a breakthrough candidate. Lefties Austin Wright, 15, and Hoby Milner, 20, are two pitchers who Sickels sees as quick risers should they move to the bullpen.
2011′s number one pick, outfielder Larry Greene, was given a C+ grade but left off of the Top 20. The same applies for toolsy outfielder Carlos Tocci, RHP Julio Rodriguez, and RHP Seth Rosin. Complete omissions include RHP Brody Colvin and OFs Tyson Gillies, Aaron Altherr, Leandro Castro, and Jiwan James, who Sickels believes is a “lost cause”.
It may have only been roughly half a year thanks to the ongoing NHL lockout, but the hockey part of 2012 has been another damn entertaining one in Philadelphia Flyers land. Using both BSH traffic numbers and our hearts as a barometer, let's look at the top 10 Flyers stories of the year:
And now, the list:
10. Paul Holmgren supposedly goes after every big free agent ... again.
As is customary, Paul Holmgren broke out his giant cojones on July 1 and made offers to ... well, just about everybody. Zach Parise was in contact with the Flyers (and apparently offered $110 million). Ryan Suter was in contact with the Flyers. They dipped their toe in the Rick Nash trade waters. It didn't work out and we settled for Ruslan Fedotenko, Michael Leighton and Bruno Gervais, but Homer tried. As usual.
9. Eric Lindros makes his triumphant return.
He's back, guys. Lindros officially reconciled with the team on the last day of 2011 when he played in the Winter Classic Alumni Game, but I'm still including this as a story of 2012. He was inducted into the Philly Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, he practiced with the team before they played in game in Toronto in 2012, and all seems right with the world. Well, until he gets inducted into the big Hall in Toronto.
8. Ilya Bryzgalov is a cosmonaut.
It's not just the "HOLY CRAP HE'S ACTUALLY A COSMONAUT" part, though. Ilya Bryzgalov being crazy is absolutely one of the biggest stories of the hockey year, whether he's getting lost in the woods, going on a franchise-record shutout streak or talking about the end of the lockout in Russia. Or going to space camp.
Oh, yeah, remember that? James van Riemsdyk isn't a Flyer anymore, and Brayden's older brother is our third defenseman ... or fourth defenseman ... or fifth defenseman. We'll see how that goes.
6. Mark Howe, forever a Flyer.
The Flyers have only retired five numbers in their history, and they did it once in 2012. Mark Howe is one of the best defensemen to ever play in Philadelphia. He played more games for the Flyers than any other club, and he honed his craft on the Spectrum ice in orange and black. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame late in 2011, and the Flyers properly honored him back in March by raising his No. 2 to the rafters forever.
5. The fucking lockout, man.
Empty Wells Fargo Center picture is never not sad. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
4. The Flyers finally reclaim the Pennsylvania hockey crown.
The Penguins had claimed the throne as the top hockey team in the Commonwealth for the last several years, but in one of the most bizarre and ridiculously entertaining playoff series in recent memory, the Flyers soundly dispatched the Pens from their perch with a mix of roller coaster games, come-from-behind wins and a penchant for pushing the Pens into thug mode.
Seriously, that last part could be the story in and of itself. Penguins fans are always on their high-horse about playing the game the right way or whatever, and the Flyers are always the dirty ones. Welp, this happened in 2012. And this and this.
But most importantly, the Flyers are just a better hockey team. That was proven on the ice in 2012. Looking forward to more of this in 2013:
3. The Winter Classic comes to Philadelphia.
The NHL's marquee event came to the City of Brotherly Love on January 2, and the game was the most successful Winter Classic to date. Citizens Bank Park sold out three times over the course of Winter Classic week -- once on New Year's Eve 2011 for the Alumni Game, once for the Winter Classic and later in the week for an AHL game between the Adirondack Phantoms and Hershey Bears.
The City of Philadelphia put on the best Winter Classic show to date. We'll probably get a chance to one-up ourselves in like ... what, five years? (heh)
2. Ed Neary didn't actually beat up a guy, but Dennis Veteri did.
Unfortunately, this was without-a-doubt a top story of 2012. It may not have had any on-ice impact, but when some punk kid from Northeast Philly decided to make an idiot comment on Facebook claiming he beat up a pair of Rangers fans after the Winter Classic, it made national and even international headlines. Our story was linked on the front page of CNN.com. They talked about the site on Inside Edition.
It was bizarre, and it's still our highest-trafficked story ever.
Philadelphia Police quickly realized it wasn't Ed Neary who committed the crime, and some fine police work by detectives ultimately led to the arrest and conviction of Dennis Veteri, a Glassboro resident. But the stain the entire mishap put on Philadelphia and Flyers fans -- as if we needed that stain darkened any further -- and put us on the map yet again in a way we're ashamed of.
1. Shea Weber signs an offer sheet with the Flyers.
The Flyers probably made the biggest free agency splash of the last ... I don't know, decade or so ... back on July 19 when they signed Nashville Predators RFA defenseman Shea Weber to an offer sheet. A 14-year, $100 million offer sheet. It was a bold move to try and fix the massive hole that remains on the Flyers blueline, and they front-loaded the deal in a way they hoped would prevent Nashville from matching.
Ultimately, though, the Preds just couldn't let two superstars walk away in one summer, and general manager David Poile did indeed match the contract.
So he'll be in Nashville for 14 years now, not Philadelphia. And about those problems on defense...
Last season with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, Kelly Dugan put together a solid season in which he batted .300 while slugging 12 homers and driving in 60 runs in 117 games as a 21-year-old in the South Atlantic League. Primarily an outfielder, Dugan spent time at first base to assist with recovery from leg and ankle issues during the early portion of the season.
Overall, in his minor league career, Dugan has posted a .292 batting average in 237 games. He was the Phillies’ top draft selection back in 2009 (2nd round) out of Notre Dame High School in California.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Kelly about his off-season workout routine, what his film director dad Dennis has in store for the movie-going public and plenty more. Read ahead to check out that full interview.
- What is your workout routine like lately and how much time off from hitting do you take during the off-season?
I took about a month and a half off. I pretty much follow the program that the Phillies have set in place. I have a trainer and I follow the program. And I have a (batting) cage at my house and I’ve been working with an ex-Dodger, Reggie Smith. We’ve been hitting together here in the off-season. I regularly have some other minor league players over, Cody Decker and Jeremy Rodriguez, they come over here at the house and we take some hacks.
- So, you’re working with players from others organizations. Are those guys you’ve played with in high school or against in the pro’s?
Well, Jeremy played at my rival high school, Crespi High School, out here in California. Jeff Suppan used to play there. And we’re all hitting with Reggie and getting things going right now.
- Typically, guys out of Class A Advanced or Double A, which are the two levels ahead of where you played last season Class A Lakewood, might have a chance to play in fall/winter leagues like the Arizona Fall League, or in the Caribbean. Is that potentially something you look forward to, in the coming seasons?
Yeah. And I think that would be a great opportunity. I just hope, right now, I can build on last year and continue the momentum from that season and stay healthy and, you know, hopefully, after the season, I have to be mentally prepared to play in the fall, for a month, or so. We’ll see. I’ll be mentally ready for (something like that) next year. I’m looking forward to it, if I get the opportunity.
- Other than hitting and working out, what do you stay busy with, either as a hobby or for fun, to occupy yourself during the off-season?
To be honest, I don’t do much. I do some pilates. I do running. But, I’m an exercise geek. I like to switch it up a lot and do the stairs one day…but I don’t do a whole lot. I like to take little vacations. Over Christmas, we’re in Yosemite, with my family and my girlfriend, to do some hiking and holiday stuff.
I love watching movies, ’cause my dad is a director, so I go to the movies a lot. We definitely try to get to the theater as much as we can.
- You mentioned your dad there. Is he working on anything during the off-season that you can visit the set for, or anything like that?
Well, right now, he’s got a movie coming out in the summer and he’s working on it. It’s Grown Ups 2, they’re doing the sequel to Grown Ups. So, that’ll be coming out next summer. I think they’re mostly in the editing room, right now. They were shooting during last season, because it’s a summer movie. Everyone’s excited and it looks really good.
- That sounds really good. Now, heading toward next year, as spring training approaches, when do you estimate your arrival to Florida for the spring? Do you normally go down there early?
I like to get there a little bit early and get adjusted, because of the time difference and I like to get there a couple days early. I haven’t put a date on it yet, but that’s usually, what I do.
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers-related news and notes...
* Penalties are still a problem for the Phantoms, specifically stick infractions: [The Saratogian]
* In a battle between Reading and Trenton, the Royals won 3-2 on Friday: [Flyers Faithful]
* The following night, the Royals beat the Titans by the same score on Saturday: [The Checking Line]
* On the media experience at the Three Rivers Classic: [Thank You Terry]
* Former Flyers prospect Mike Ratchuk made the highlight reel with this shootout goal: [Puck Daddy]
* Puck Daddy alternative awards for 2012 hockey: [Puck Daddy]
* And the top-10 players of 2012, with Claude Giroux making the top-5: [Puck Daddy]
* Is the NHL trying to expand to 20 playoff teams? [mc79hockey]
* First half grades for teams from the Hockey East: [Western College Hockey Blog]