Season Preview: Third Base

In their 120 year history, the Phillies have never had a position player as good as third baseman Michael Jack Schmidt.  In his 18-years in the MLB, all spent in Philadelphia, Schmidt went to 12 All-Star games, won the title of Most Valuable Player three times, won ten Gold Gloves, six Silver Sluggers, and hit 548 home runs, a number that is still the most for any third baseman, and 15th most by any player, regardless of position.  Just to further prove his dominance, Schmidt was voted into the Major League Baseball Hall-of-Fame in 1995 with a resounding 96.5 percent approval rate by the BBWAA.

But now, just 23 years after Schmidt retired, third base seems to be the Phillies’ major weakness, not having a stable, consistent player at the hot corner since Scott Rolen left the team in the middle of 2002.  And though he has contributed to the Phillies’ offense, with current third baseman Placido Polanco, the only thing that seems consistent is injury. Continue reading

Season Preview: Second Base

He’s been one of the cornerstones of the Phillies offense since 2005.  He’s been a fan-favorite, not afraid to say what’s on his mind, even if it isn’t exactly “appropriate” to say on television.  But quite frankly, the past two years he’s been nothing but average.

Five-time all-star Chase Utley was once a guy who won four straight Silver Slugger awards, constantly hit 30 home runs and 100 RBIs, and was able to hit five home runs in a losing World Series effort.  But now, Utley is a frequently injured, sub .260 batter that, despite still showing flashes and streaks of brilliance, simply lacks the consistency to be considered an elite second baseman. Continue reading

Guest Post from Minor-League Outfielder Brian Gump

So in case you missed it earlier this year, minor league reporter Bryan Sheehan has been

Photo Credit: Jeffcrupper.com

interviewing all sorts of Phillies prospects, including top prospects like Trevor May.  However, one minor-leaguer, 2011 Clearwater Thresher Brian Gump, liked us enough to come back and write some guest posts.  So without further ado, here are Gump’s thoughts on Spring Training.

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Pierre or Podsednik? The battle for fifth

There are going to be many story lines and players out to prove their worth in Spring Training this year, but one of the battles I’m most interested in watching will be the one between Scott Podsednik and Juan Pierre for the fifth outfielder position.

photo via Yong Kim, Philly.com

There are many similarities between the two players, from their style of play to their former teams (both have played for the Chicago White Sox and LA Dodgers), and eight years ago they were both amazing speedsters.

Since then, though, they have both been a bit flawed. Podsednik, now 35, played in just 34 games, splitting time between the Phillies’ and Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate. His play was limited by an injured foot, which doesn’t seem to be a problem for him heading into the 2012 camp. Pierre, 34, did play 158 games in the MLB for Chicago (AL) last year, but he had just a .279 average and was caught stealing a league-leading 17 times. His stolen base numbers dropped to a career low 27, and his UZR (a stat that values defense better than fielding percentage) was -9.2, which is worse than Domonic Brown’s -7.0 in 2011.

So who’s the better fit for the end of the Phillies bench? After the jump we’ll take a look at each category, putting Podsednik and Pierre head-to-head in hitting, fielding and baserunning. Continue reading

Ranking Each of the Phillies’ 8 Spring Invitees

In the last two days, the Phillies have signed eight players to minor league contracts, all including invitations to next year’s Spring Training. Now, looking at the list it is kind of hard to make sense of it all, so here’s ranking, in order of importance, of each of the eight signings.

Remember this guy? He's back!

1. Tuffy Gosewisch, Catcher. He’s been with the team all his career (since 2005), and he’s a great minor league backstop. But, he’s not just meant for the minors. Even though Brian Schneider re-signed, taking away the MLB back-up spot, Tuffy still has a great shot at making the big league roster. If he makes it this year, it will probably be as an injury replacement for Schneider or Carlos Ruiz, but Tuffy is a serious contender for the starting job a few years down the road. (here’s a story on Life After Chooch that features Tuffy).

2. Pete Orr, Utility. Orr is ranked so high because he has already proven that he can play at the Major League level. He played 46 games for the Phillies in 2011, and while his average was a Michael Martinez-like .219, he is a well known hand around the clubhouse. Even though I groan every time I hear that Orr is starting for the Phillies as an injury replacement, he’s played well enough to stay around.

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