The Phillies announced on Thursday that they will offer contracts for the 2011 season to both OF Ben Francisco and pitcher Kyle Kendrick. Francisco and Kendrick are the team’s only two remaining players who are eligible for salary arbitration.
There was no doubt that the Phils would offer Francisco a contract as he could fit largely into the team’s outfield plans for 2011. If free-agent Jayson Werth signs elsewhere, as many industry insiders expect, Francisco could be part of a rightfield platoon with rookie Domonic Brown. Francisco is a right-handed hitter; Brown hits left-handed though neither have played full-time in the majors.
Team Shopping List Includes Pitching, Pitching and Werth’s Replacement – or if possible… Werth
If Werth signs elsewhere, it is possible that the Phils will look to add another platoon-type right-handed hitter to their outfield mix. Jeff Francouer and Matt Diaz are both possibilities. Francoeur was let go by Texas after the World Series, and the Braves announced that they will not tender Diaz a contract by Thursday’s midnight deadline, making him a free agent. Diaz is a career .335 hitter against left-handed pitching. He made $2.55 million in 2010. Other free agent names bandied about include Manny Ramirez, Carlos Quentin, Vladimir Guerrero and Paul Konerko, but it is unlikely that the Phillies would offer a lot of money for any of these players. If they were to spend money, it is likely they would have offered Jayson Werth more than the 3-year $55 million deal which was rejected.
As a righthanded hitter capable of playing both corner outfield positions, Diaz could be a nice fit for the Phillies. He lives near Charlie Manuel in Winter Haven, Fla., and has a great relationship with the Phillies’ manager.
Diaz, who’ll be 33 in March, also has an impressive career resumé, albeit mostly as a part-time player. An eight-year veteran, he is a career .301 hitter with 43 home runs and 192 RBIs. He hit above .300 during three of his five seasons with the Braves, and in 735 career at-bats against lefthanded pitching Diaz has a .335 average with 29 home runs and 100 RBIs. He is also responsible for felling a fan at CBP September 21. Said fan wearing a red spandex suit and mask ran on to the field in the seventh inning. While the team’s security guards struggled to bring him down, they received help from then-Braves left fielder Matt Diaz—who knocked the fan down himself with a sweeping leg kick. What’s even funnier is how Diaz described the incident. Here’s a post-game quote from an article on ESPN.com:
“I saw this idiot coming right at me,” Diaz said. “I figured he’d be better off getting tripped than Tased. I wanted to spear him so bad, but I didn’t want to hurt him or get hurt.”
Ben Francisco, 29, hit .285 with 6 HR, 18 RBIs and a combined on-base and slugging percentage of .901 against left-handed pitching in 2010. He will be in line for a raise from the $470,000 he made last season. John Mayberry, Jr. is also expected to share the workload as a right-handed bat off the bench.
After some internal debate, the Phillies resolved to tender Kyle Kendrick a contract. The Phils don’t have much depth at the back end of their starting rotation, so Kendrick had that working in his favor. The 26-year-old right-hander went 11-10 with a 4.73 ERA while making 31 starts in 2010 and is 35-24 in his career. He will enter spring training as the top candidate for the No. 5 starter’s job. Right-hander Vance Worley is also expected to compete for that job, and the Phils are looking to add some veteran starting pitching depth, as well. With Winter Meetings coming upthis week, all available names should be discussed. Fausto Carmona is one of a cavalcade of names that are possible but the Phillies are not likely to go after big names like Cliff Lee or Jake Peavy. Jon Garland is already off the table as is Javier Vasquez. John Maine is an inexpensive free agent option as are Erik Bedard, Dave Bush, Chris Capuano, Justin Duchsherer, Jeff Francis, Dana Eveland, Rich Harden, Scott Olsen, Carl Pavano and Ben Sheets not to mention former Phils Kris Benson, Kevin Milwood, Rodrigo Lopez. The disparity in price for each othese varies but it is more likely that the Phillies would grab a couple of the non-marquee names instead of one big name. So expect Capuano, Bush or Olsen rather than Francis or Harden. Kendrick made $480,000 in 2010.
The Phils’ offseason priority remains adding bullpen help. They had shown interest in lefty Hisanori Takahashi, but he is reportedly close to signing with the Angels. Pedro Feliciano and Brian Fuentes remain very real possibilities. Free-agent Arthur Rhodes could also interest the Phils despite the fact that they basically ran Rhodes out of town on a rail due to ineffectiveness. Another lefty to watch could be George Sherrill, who is not expected to receive a contract offer from the Dodgers by Thursday night’s deadline. The Phils have had interest in Sherrill in the past but his price tag has been prohibitive. Chris Capuano is a possible discounted lefthander who would be available as a starter or reliever along with the aforementioned Bush, Francis or right-handed John Maine.
One thing that is certain is that 48-year-old Jamie Moyer will not be returning. Moyer recently underwent Tommy John surgery and plans to make a comeback in 2012 at the age of 49. Satchell Paige and Phil Niekro could not be reached for comment.
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org