Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Phils add Dontrelle Willis

The D-Train will run through Citizen's Bank Park in 2012.

The Phillies agreed to a one-year contract with left handed pitcher, Dontrelle Willis worth less than $1 million plus incentives.

It's a classic low risk, high reward situation. Willis posted double digit wins for the Marlins from 2003-2007 before struggling mightily over parts of four seasons with Detroit, Arizona and Cincinnati. He was 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA last season for the Reds. In his first season with the Tigers, he was 0-2 with a 9.38 ERA.

The Phillies plan to use him as an addition left handed reliever out of the bullpen. Lefties bat just .127 against Willis last season.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Phils trade Francisco to Toronto for reliever

The Phillies shipped Ben Francisco to the Toronto Blue Jays this afternoon for minor league left-handed relief pitcher Frank Gailey.

The Philadelphia native is 23-15 with a .245 ERA in 175 career appearances in the minors.

Francisco fell a long way in a short period of time with the Phillies. After winning the opening day left fielder position last year, he quickly dropped further and further down Charlie Manuel's bench. With John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix now expected to occupy left field together and a few more additions to the bench, there was no room for Benny.

Francisco hit .259 in parts of three seasons with the Phils with 17 home runs and 75 RBI. The biggest moment in his Phillies' career came in Game 3 of this season's NLDS when his pinch-hit, three-run shot lifted the Phillies over the Cardinals and gave them what appeared to be a stranglehold on the series.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rollins' return could be imminent

It appears the Phillies and Jimmy Rollins are close to agreeing on a new contract.

The Milwaukee Brewers, thought to be the Phillies' top competition for the shortstop, have apparently backed out because they were told it wasn't worth their time. The Brewers believe Rollins is close to signing with the Phillies.

Ruben Amaro Jr. played it cool, responding "That's good news, I guess. I haven't heard that yet. I hope it's true."

Most sources expect the Phillies back down from Aramis Ramirez if they're able to re-sign Rollins. Ramirez is thought to be more of a backup plan.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Phils add Nix, linked to Ramirez

Things are heating up around baseball.

The Phillies have agreed to a two-year deal with nine-year veteran Laynce Nix in what will likely be a platoon situation with John Mayberry Jr. in left field.

Nix spent last season with Washinton, batting .250 with 16 home runs (a career high), 44 RBI, 15 doubles, 23 walks and 82 strikeouts with an OBP of .299. He's a career .244 hitter. Nix is a bit of a down grade from Raul Ibanez, but comes at a much lower price.

They've also been linked to having serious interest in free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez.

Meanwhile, the Miami Marlins have made the biggest splash of the off-season, first signing closer Heath Bell and then agreeing on a six-year deal with superstar Jose Reyes. Hanley Ramirez is expected to move to third base, not become trade bait.

The Nix move isn't likely to get fans too excited. He's not exactly what the team needed. Yet another left handed batter who hits for a low average and a low on base percentage. The signing all but secures Ibanez's departure from pinstripes, and also likely means the team's pursuit of Michael Cuddyer has ended.

This is the first off-season in quite some time that the Phillies have made a series of questionable moves. Starting with handing a major contract to Jonathan Papelbon, to the signings of veterans past their prime: Jim Thome, Ty Wigginton and now Nix. Of course, Thome was a great signing, but the others remain to be seen.