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Report: Phillies accidentally traded prospect to Astros in Hunter Pence deal

Domingo-Santana-AstrosIf the Philadelphia Phillies knew they would be this terrible for the past few years, they likely never would have traded a handful of prospects to the Houston Astros for Hunter Pence in 2011. According to Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle, they most definitely would not have traded outfielder Domingo Santana.

Santana, 22, is currently batting .292 in Triple-A. He had a .498 slugging percentage with 20 home runs in Double-A last year, so he obviously has tremendous potential. Considering they supposedly traded him by mistake, I’m sure the Phillies would love to have Santana back.

Less than two months after they picked George Springer from the University of Connecticut, the Astros sent Pence and cash to the Phillies on July 29, 2011, for Cosart, Singleton, Zeid and a player to be named, which ended up being Santana. In spring training, a Phillies official admitted that Santana wasn’t actually supposed to be on the list that was given to the Astros to pick from to satisfy the final piece on Aug. 15, 2011.

The Phillies held onto Pence for less than two seasons before shipping him off to the San Francisco Giants. To make matters worse, their trade with the Astros also included Jon Singleton. We all saw how his MLB debut went earlier this week. Simply put, it’s not a fun time to be a Phillies fan.

H/T Eye on Baseball

Ryan Howard: Phillies have played very well this year

Ryan-HowardThe Philadelphia Phillies have started the season 3-6 and are in last place in the NL East. Considering they finished the 2013 season with a 73-89 record, very few people are surprised. One person isn’t discouraged by the slow start, however. A certain optimist actually thinks the Phillies are playing well. You know him as Ryan Howard.

“In all actuality we’ve actually played very well this year,” Howard said Thursday before the Phillies lost yet again, per Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. “I disagree with everybody else. Our record doesn’t necessarily reflect that right now, but, you know, we’ve played well. We had three real bad games. So the only thing to do is go out there and try to win again.”

Have the Phillies simply been victims of a series of bad breaks? As Lawrence noted, they have committed seven errors in the past four games. Philadelphia is batting .263 as a team, which isn’t horrible. Howard, who currently owns what many have called the worst contract in baseball, is hitting right where we all expected him to — .200 with one homer and three RBI. He has one hit in his last 18 at-bats.

Is it time to panic? Of course not. We’re nine games into a 162-game season. That said, the Phillies have gone straight downhill since they won 102 games in 2011. Their roster is filled with aging superstars who can’t stay healthy and just don’t seem to have it anymore. If Howard wants to pretend the 2013 Phillies have a bright future, that’s certainly his prerogative.

H/T Hardball Talk 

Report: Phillies ratted out Oregon State’s Ben Wetzler to NCAA for using an agent

Ben-Wetzler-Oregon-StateThe Philadelphia Phillies reportedly ratted out Oregon State pitcher Ben Wetzler, who they drafted in the fifth round of the MLB Draft last June, to the NCAA after they claim he used an agent. The NCAA forbids players from hiring agents and returning to college athletics, though the practice is extremely common among college baseball players.

Wetzler decided he wanted to return for his senior season at Oregon State after being drafted by the Phillies. According to Aaron Fitt of Baseball America, the lefthander is currently waiting for the NCAA to determine if he is eligible after receiving word that he violated the “no agent” rule. Sources told Baseball America that the Phillies ratted him out.

Fitt said that the assumption is that the Phillies were angry after Wetzler decided to return to school rather than signing with the team. While it remains unclear if Wetzler actually did use an agent, we do know that it is common practice for players to “illegally” consult agents and ultimately decide to return to school. It is rare for an MLB team to report that to the NCAA.

As Fitt noted, the rule needs to be changed. These players are 18, 19 and 20 years old in some instances and are not equipped to make financial decisions of that magnitude on their own. One agent reportedly told Fitt that there will be “repercussions” for the Phillies if they indeed sold out Wetzler.

“As of today, Phillies are out,” the agent said. “Phillies are not getting into any more of our households. We’re shutting down all communications.”

The Phillies have chosen not to comment on the report.

Turning Wetzler in would be childish. Plenty of players are drafted in the early rounds and choose to return to school. That’s the nature of the beast, and other teams seem to handle it without trying to ruin a player’s future.

H/T Hardball Talk
Photo via Twitter/Ben Wetzler

Charlie Manuel reportedly out as Philadelphia Phillies manager

charlie-manuelThe Philadelphia Phillies and Charlie Manuel are reportedly parting ways. The team announced at a press conference on Friday afternoon that a managerial change is being made. Ryne Sandberg will take over for the remainder of the season on an interim basis. The news was first reported by CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury.

This is Manuel’s ninth season as manager of the Phillies. He is the winningest manager in team history and led Philadelphia to its first World Series win in 28 years back in 2008. He was the longest-tenured manager in Major League Baseball behind Mike Scioscia of the Los Angeles Angels and Ron Gardenhire of the Minnesota Twins.

The Phillies are currently 53-67 after finishing 81-81 in 2012. The team is going through a transitional period and has dealt with a plethora of injuries, so it makes sense that their 69-year-old manager will not be sticking around. However, it does come as a surprise that Manuel is leaving in the middle of a season.

Sandberg has been mentioned as a managerial candidate for several openings over the past couple of seasons, so this will give the Phillies a chance to evaluate him. He’ll be coaching for his job the rest of the way.

Jonathan Papelbon: Phillies need to blow up their team like Red Sox did

Jonathan-Papelbon-rips-Red-SoxJonathan Papelbon has not recorded a save since July 11, and most of that has to do with how badly the Philadelphia Phillies have struggled. A 12-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Sunday was the eighth straight for the Phillies, who have fallen out of playoff contention and appear unlikely to climb back in.

After the most recent loss, Papelbon told reporters he believes the team needs to make some drastic changes.

“I definitely didn’t come here for this,” he said, via MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. “It’s going to take, in my opinion, a lot. And in my opinion, I think it’s going to have to be something very similar to what the Red Sox went through a couple years ago. From top to bottom.”

The Boston Red Sox parted ways with their general manager, manager and several key players and now find themselves with the best record in baseball. However, it rarely works that magically. It takes a team like the Los Angeles Dodgers to take on a huge chunk of salary, which is something the Phillies would need as well.

“That’s part of the business,” Papelbon continued. “If you want to go in a different direction and I’m not a piece of that puzzle, so be it. This is a job. There are no feelings in this game. I left. Carl [Crawford] left. [Josh] Beckett left. Adrian [Gonzalez] left. Now look at them.”

Papelbon is in the second year of a four-year, $50 million contract and has not exactly been lights out, so he would be very difficult to move. The same is true for Ryan Howard and the more than $75 million he has remaining on his contract. Pap even hinted that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. deserves to be fired.

“If I don’t do my job right, they’re going to find somebody else,” he said. “How is that different than the rest of the organization?”

Boston scored big time when it was able to get the Dodgers to take on some horrible contracts. The Phillies may be forced to simply ride it out for a while, whether Papelbon likes it or not.

Phillies OF Darin Ruf has ball pop out of glove over the fence for a home run (Video)

Darin-Ruf-errorPhiladelphia Phillies outfielder Darin Ruf showed some promising pop when he appeared in several MLB games down the stretch last season, but the scouting report on him says that his defense needs improvement. Minor league players have nightmares about making that one bonehead play in spring training that could keep them off the major league roster, and that nightmare may have become a reality for Ruf on Monday afternoon.

During the second inning of a 17-10 loss to the Atlanta Braves, Ruff backpedaled for what appeared to be a routine fly ball that he was going to be able to snag on the warning track. Instead, he jumped awkwardly and the ball popped out of his glove and landed over the fence for a home run.

Spring training may not matter to us, but it certainly matters to the guy who is a converted first baseman trying to prove he can be a viable outfielder. It wasn’t the first embarrassing flub for the Phillies this year, but the Hooters ballgirl can afford it more than Ruf can. The good news is he’s only 26. At least there’s still time.

Video via The Outside Corner

Jonathan Papelbon on Phillies: ‘I haven’t seen any leadership’

Thanks in large part to unfortunate injuries, the Philadelphia Phillies had an extremely disappointing season in 2012. On paper, Philadelphia looked like the best team in the league prior to the season. With pitching that included Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels as starters and closer Jonathan Papelbon at the back end of the bullpen, the Phillies were picked by many to win it all.

What followed was an 81-81 season in which Philadelphia finished 17 games behind the NL East champion Washington Nationals. They missed the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. According to Papelbon, a lack of leadership has been an issue.

“Since I’ve been here I haven’t seen any leadership,” he told Mandy Housenick of the Allentown Morning Call (via NJ.com). “Every good team that I’ve been a part of has had a good core group of veterans and an influx of a good group of young guys and I think that’s a recipe for success. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean we’re going to have success. In my opinion, this team has way more to lose than to prove. I think a lot of guys on this team have proved a lot. But I think this year if we don’t go out and do what we’re capable of and supposed to do, then we have a lot more to lose.”

Ryan Howard played in just 71 games last season. Chase Utley was only able to play in 83. Those two guys have been the core of the Phillies’ lineup, so having them for only half a season crippled the team. Philadelphia will need better luck with injuries in 2013 to be successful. Papelbon also feels they need more guys to step up and lead the team, starting with himself.

“I felt like I could have been a little bit better leader than what I was, and I held back at some times,” the closer said.

He certainly didn’t hold it back when he was blasting the umpires, so perhaps Pap needs to do a better job of channeling his emotions. The Phillies can still be dangerous. Like any other team, they simply need some good fortune.

Fist pound to Hardball Talk
Photo credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE