Changing of the Guard in Philadelphia: Charlie Manuel Out

It was announced today that Charlie Manuel is out as the manager of the Phillies.

It was announced today that Charlie Manuel is out as the manager of the Phillies.

Charlie Manuel is out as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. Manuel managed almost nine seasons in Philadelphia and set a franchise record for wins. He coached the team to five consecutive division titles and two World Series appearances with one win.

Manuel and General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr are characterizing this as an understanding from both sides.

Regardless of the circumstances, Manuel will never again wear his #41 Phillies jersey at Citizen’s Bank Park.

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Phillies Ink Chase Utley to a Two-Year Extension

Chase Utley is batting .277 this season for the Phillies.

Chase Utley is batting .277 this season for the Phillies.

When the July trade deadline rolled around for Major League Baseball, Chase Utley was one of the many names people expected the Phillies to dangle. Those speculations did not come to fruition as General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. characterized Utley as a “Phillie for life.”

CSNPhilly first reported that the two sides had agreed to a contract extension last night during the Phillies lost to the Cubs. Utley did not start in that game. Reportedly the two sides agreed upon a two year extension worth around $27 million with at least one option.

The move shows the organization’s commitment to Utley, but it undoubtedly comes with some risks.

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Papelbon ‘Didn’t Come Here for This’

Could Jonathan Papelbon's second season in Philadelphia be his last?

Could Jonathan Papelbon’s second season in Philadelphia be his last?

On Sunday before the Phillies 12-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers, closer Jonathan Papelbon sat down Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Papelbon is undeniably one of Philadelphia’s more outspoken athletes and despite his short time with the team, he does not seem shy about making his opinions known.

Papelbon told Zolecki that he “definitely didn’t come here for this,” in response to the team’s recent play.

The comments come as the team is in the midst of an  8-game losing streak that may signal the end of the team’s postseason hopes for 2013.

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Hold or Fold for the Phillies?

Can Ruben Amaro Jr. swing a deal to get the Phillies in contention?

Can Ruben Amaro Jr. swing a deal to get the Phillies in contention?

It is just under three weeks until the MLB non-waiver trade deadline and rumors are swirling all around the Phillies’ clubhouse. With the team currently sitting at 45-47, it is hard to definitively peg them as buyers or sellers at this point.

Should a team that appears to have a quickly closing window blow things up now, or try to search for the missing piece(s) that could give them one more run at a World Series title?

That question will soon be answered because it is safe to say that after July 31, this Phillies roster should look somewhat different.

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Saving The Sinking Ship- How To Save The Philadelphia Phillies- PART I

Thirty-seven wins; Fifty losses. Last place. The ship is sinking. Your Philadelphia Phillies, our Fightin’ Phils, are on their death-bed and Ruben Amaro Jr. must decide wether or not to pull the plug. While you might think there still is a chance, try to look forward. Would you rather watch them put up a fight, only to come up short or start preparing for next year? I think it’s time to start clearing house for next season, but not to rebuild; but to reload. The Phillies can get younger, have a star-studded lineup, a decent bullpen, and Cole Hamels in the rotation in 2013. However, it won’t come without making sacrifices. Here is how they do it:

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What do Philly Fans Want for Christmas?

Philadelphia fans have a lot to wish for this holiday season.

Tis the season to be jolly…

It’s the time of year when we all grab a pen and paper (or maybe an iPad) and make out our list to Santa Claus as we all hope for that special gift to be under the tree come Christmas morning. I came home this afternoon and noticed my parents making their annual inconspicuous trek out the door, failing to mention to anyone exactly where they were headed. They’ve dropped their share of hints to the point where my brother ended up making up a list for “Santa” and needless to say, that list is gone. I’m not trying to let the cat out of the bag for any of my readers who haven’t heard the news so lets move on.

The list itself made me wonder something. What are Philadelphia sports fans hoping that Santa brings them on Christmas morning?

There have been a few early gifts for Philly sports enthusiasts. The Sixers are back in action and thumped the Washington Wizards in their first preseason game last Friday. The Eagles defeated the New York Jets Sunday to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Flyers will be the hosts of this year’s Winter Classic at Citizen’s Bank Park and their star Claude Giroux has returned to practice following a concussion (Story via CSNPhilly). And of course, the Phillies re-signed Jimmy Rollins to a deal that will keep him in red pinstripes for three to four more seasons. But let’s be realistic. Philadelphia fans are hard to please so there’s a good chance there’s more on the list.

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He’s Back: Phillies Ink Jimmy Rollins to Three Year Deal

Jimmy Rollins is a .272 career hitter with 170 homeruns.

He has been Ruben Amaro Jr.’s top priority for the last few weeks now. Amaro has set a precedent as General Manager of the Phillies of always getting his man. He kept that trend going Saturday as news broke that the Phillies had re-signed Jimmy Rollins to a three year deal worth $33 million with a vesting option for a fourth season in Philadelphia.
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Debate of the “Face”: Why Jimmy Rollins is the “PHace” of the Phillies

J-Roll is clearly the "PHace" of this team.

So I got caught up in a debate with my good friend and fellow BLS writer Mark Whited (all the result of a facebook post). We were discussing Jimmy Rollins tweet about the fans not being loud enough in Game 2. I was pro J-roll and he was con. He argued that Chase Utley is the “face” of the Phils while I argued that it was Jimmy. He posted his argument on BLS, and here is mine. Check them out, and let us know who wins.

It was 2001. This Phillies franchise that we all know and love today was mired in a state of mediocre baseball. Winning was an oddity. Fans were nowhere to be found. Mentioning winning and the Phillies in the same sentence was like mentioning Andy Reid and smart coaching in the same sentence today…pointless. The only good thing about that time was the Phillies found their “PHACE”.

Enter James Calvin Rollins. 2001 was the shortstops rookie season. He was called up to the big club known for his stellar defense and his hot bat. He did not dissapoint. In 2001, he finished third in rookie of the year voting while swiping a league leading 46 bases. And by the way, he was an All Star. The only Phillie to make it.

Rollins followed up in 2002 by making a second consecutive All Star team as the starting shortstop. In 2004, Rollins recorded his third career quadruple double. For you non baseball statisticians, thats double digits in homers, doubles, triples, and stolen bags.

He followed up in the next season with another quadruple double and a 36 game hitting streak. In 2006 he set the team record for homeruns by a SS with 25.

I can sit here and pad my debate with stats (I’ll probably get back to that later), but let’s talk about why J-Roll is the “PHace” of the Phillies.

“The Mets had a chance to win the World Series last year. Last year is over. I think we are the team to beat in the NL East, finally.” -Jimmy Rollins, 2007

There were hints for a few seasons that the Phils were getting close. But this was different. Someone stepped up and said it. Jimmy Rollins’ statement did not come off as cocky. Oh no, it was confidence. And on that day four years ago, the mentality of the Phillies changed. They were reborn. Since he made that statement, they have undeniably been not only the team to beat in the NL East, but in all of Major League Baseball.

Anyone can make a prediction right? I can sit here and predict that the Eagles will never win a Super Bowl under Andy Reid. Just because you say it, doesn’t mean it will happen. (Although, that probably will).

Anyway, Rollins backed up his prediction by leading the Phillies to the 2007 NL East championship while also winning the NL MVP Award. That’s leadership. And the five consecutive crowns that have followed have been because Rollins is the face of this team. Plug another SS in his spot. Reyes, Ramirez, Jeter, doesn’t matter. None of them would connect with this team like him.

Sure, he’s had his battles with the fans, but the fans love that. The fans want that fiery connection. What relationship doesn’t have bumps in the road? If it exists I sure haven’t found it yet. Ummm, sorry, I’m getting a little off topic here. Let’s get back. He calls the fans out when he sees that they need it. We may get angered when he does it but who doesn’t get upset when they get called out. I know I do.

The major reason that Rollins is the face of this franchise is simple. He takes the criticism and the spotlight and a “PHace” has to do that. For everything that Utley brings on the field, he does not connect with the fans…good or bad. Rollins is visible and that means hearing the good when the Phils succeed and the bad when they don’t. Rollins may come across as attention grabbing but that’s because he is on a team with players like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Chase Utley who do not like attention. Rollins is doing them a service. Part of being the “PHace” of the best team in baseball is taking attention off your teammates to let them perform. I love Utley’s game but there is a reason why he received a demotion in the lineup. His scrappy play is hurting him…bad.

Haha, “PHaces” of franchises have commercials like this…classic.

Last but not least. I want to thank Mark for coming up with the idea for this debate. I think I speak for both of us when I say one of the joys of doing what we do is debating sports with people who REALLY know what they’re talking about.

Debate of the “Face”: Why Chase Utley is the “Face” of the Phillies

Career Stats: .290 AVG, 188 HR, 694 RBI

Yesterday, while watching the Phillies beat the Cardinals, a debate started between myself and fellow BLS writer Ray Boyd. We were arguing our case for who we thought was the “face” of the Philadelphia Phillies. Ray believes that Jimmy Rollins is the face of the franchise, and Ray makes a good case for Rollins. But, that is for tomorrow. Today, I will be making my case for Chase Utley; the “face” of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Chase Utley, the 15th overall pick in the 2000 amature draft, made his Major League debut on April 3, 2003. He didn’t have a hit that day, striking out as a pitch-hitter. His first hit, however, was a big one; a grandslam. By 2005, at age 26, Utley was the Phillies starting second baseman.

Since Utley became a part of the everyday line-up, the Phillies have won five NL East titles, two NL Championships, and one World Series. As for his personal accolades, he is a five-time All-Star. But, why does this make him the “face” of the franchise?

First off, I have to give my definition of what it means to hold this title. In my opinion, the player has to have been a part of the team for at least 5 years. The player also has to be instrimental in the teams sucess. Also included in my definition, the player has to be feared by the rest of the league; resented by the rival team’s fans. This is not for the reason you hate the player. You just wish that player were a part of your team because of what he brings, and the fact that he is part of the other team makes you cringe in fear. Players like Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, David Wright, and Miguel Cabrera bring about that effect; players like Chase Utley.

Yes Mac, he is a power-hitting second baseman and for the NL, that is rare.

A commonality between all of the players listed above is that they hit for average and power, Utley included. Though, the past 2 years, Utley hasn’t been the same hitter. He has, however, been the same player. He will still take a pitch to the body, dive for a grounder, bolt down to first after hitting a routine-grounder; the definition of a true baseball player. As I write this article, Chase Utley just knocked-in a run, stretching what would have been a double for anyone else into a triple. If I had to give an example of his style of play, well, there you go.

His style of play has made him a leader. Since his addition to the line-up, the Phillies have played a different style of baseball; winning baseball. He has had many clutch hits, as well as many clutch plays. Coined “the Man” by Harry Kalas, Utley has been just that for 9 years and counting.

Eagles vs Phillies. Eagles Acquire Asomugha and Phillies nab Pence

Nnamdi Asomugha signed a 5 year $60 million deal with the Eagles.

Tonight the biggest matchup in Philly has not been between the Phillies and an out-of-town opponent. It has been between the Eagles and the Phillies. Both franchises have acquired players that will put the teams in positions to perhaps do some big things in the immediate future.

This afternoon, Twitter, Facebook and pretty much every smart phone in the tri state area, exploded with the news that the Eagles somehow maneuvered themselves into the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes, that seemed monopolized by the Cowboys and Jets, and were able to sign the most coveted free agent to a 5 year $60 million dollar deal with $25 million guaranteed. Asomugha signing with the Eagles is a clear-cut sign that the franchise feels ready to compete right now and are going all in on winning a Superbowl this year. Asomugha puts them into a position where they can either boast the best trio of corner backs in the league with Asomugha, Samuel and Cromartie or the team can look to trade Samuel to acquire another piece that they need perhaps at linebacker.

Hunter Pence is coming to Philadelphia in a 4 for 1 deal.

While news was being made in Bethlehem at a press conference with Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid and GM Howie Roseman, which was conspicuously scheduled at the same time as the start of the Phillies game, Phillies’ GM, Ruben Amaro Jr, was planning his next move. As the Phillies were racking up runs left and right against Pittsburgh news broke that Hunter Pence was acquired by the Phillies for Singleton, Cosart and two players to be named. The Phillies are acquiring the right handed bat that many think they so desperately need to balance the lineup and to position them to compete with the impressive pitching staff in San Francisco. The move shows the aggressive nature of Ruben Amaro Jr. who even with the best record in the league, knows that he cannot allow a minor hole in the lineup to hold this team up from winning a World Series. The crafty Amaro was able to pull off the deal without dealing away either Vance Worley or Domonic Brown and Pence was attractive due to the fact that they control him beyond this season. If there were any doubts about whether or not this was a World Series team before this move, there should be no doubts now.

Ruben Amaro Jr has gotten Charlie Manuel the right-handed bat he wanted.

These two major moves on the same day is a testament to the promising era of Philly sports we are currently in. Realistically, the city has three teams within reach of a championship run. The Phillies are there. With this acquisition, it is championship or bust for the Phillies. Nothing short will do. The Eagles are all of a sudden one of the deepest and most athletic teams in the NFC and they are in an interesting position to continue adding to this team. The Flyers have undergone major changes but judging by the way last season ended, they were warranted and it seems like they still view themselves as viable contenders. The only team without a title in their sights is the Sixers but that is not to say that they are not headed in the right direction because they certainly are. Smile Philly. A city that was once seen as a destination that no player wanted to play for, is now becoming a premiere destination for many sports. Look at the players recently acquired the last few years for Philly teams; Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence, Ilya Bryzgalov, Chris Pronger, Danny Briere, Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, Asante Samuel. The bottom line is that all of a sudden, Philly is an attractive destination and it will be interesting to see how long that lasts.

Head Coach Andy Reid and Eagles GM Howie Roseman kept negotiations with Asomugha quiet until the deal was announced.

Tonight was the battle of the GM’s in Philly and these moves were two aggressive moves made by two aggressive franchises.