Latest on Hamilton, Youk, Bourn, Frandsen

The Phillies are reportedly quietly in the mix for Hamilton. Photo: AP

A lot of news from the the national beat writers within the last 24 hours. Per MLB Trade Rumors, Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Phillies are among those interested in Josh Hamilton. The Texas Rangers reportedly capped their max offer at three years and a longer pact is certainly to be desired by the 2010 AL MVP. Hamilton, who earlier this week was named a finalist for the 2012 AL MVP, had a career high 43 home runs for the Rangers but struck out a career high 25.5% of the time had a relative bounce-back year from an injury-marked 2011. Still no signs as to what Hamilton would desire per year or how many years he is looking for, but Rosenthal noted that two industry sources that the Phillies are quietly lurking in the background. That sentence gives me flashbacks to the Winter of 2010.

Rosenthal reported earlier today that Kevin Youkilis is drawing interest from the Phils, White Sox, and Dodgers. The White Sox have bought out Youkilis’s option but remain strong contenders to re-sign the former All-Star. Youkilis turns 34 in 2013 and hit a career low .235/.336/.409 in 2012 with 19 HR. While Hamilton admittedly intrigues me, Youkilis is an easy pass. After averaging 4.35 WAR his first six full seasons, the Greek God of Walks posted a career worst 1.3 WAR last season with his triple-slash in an at-best downward trend but at worst free-fall.

If the Phillies are left out in the cold for Hamilton, they could always turn to Nick Swisher. Swisher is reportedly receiving offers from several teams, including the Phillies, in the three years, $11-13 million per year range. Jon Heyman says the Rangers, Mariners, Orioles, Phillies, Giants, Braves, and Nationals are among those interested. Swisher has been absolutely solid and a borderline All-Star for the last several seasons. He will turn 33 in 2013 but has remained remarkably consistent with above average defense in left and right. $11-13 million per year is a lot but Swisher’s power likely would translate well from Yankee Stadium to CBP.

Yesterday, Michael Bourn officially rejected the Braves’ qualifying offer. Bourn is now a free agent and is being targeted by the Nationals, Reds, Red Sox, and Phillies. A Bourn return to Philly would satisfy their undeniable need for a lead-off hitter, but many, including MLB Trade Rumors, believe that Bourn is likely to sign with the Nationals and that he would be significantly more expensive than Swisher. Bourn turns 30 this September and the old adage is that the first thing to go in baseball is speed. A five year commitment no matter what the money scares me regarding Bourn and I would stay away.

Finally, Kevin Frandsen avoided arbitration this week and inked a deal for $800K with incentives that could push his salary over $1.2 million for 2012. In 55 games, Frandsen hit .338/.383/.451 filling in for an injured Placido Polanco. Frandsen helped the Phils second-half turnaround and it is nice to see him rewarded. The Phillies have not made decisions on their other two arbitration eligible players, Antonio Bastardo and Nate Schierholtz, but Schierholtz is believed to be a non-tender candidate, particularly should the Phillies sign a free agent outfielder.

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  1. Jaron B

    November 10, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Speaking of $800k & arbitration, what’re the Phillies’ projected payroll #s?

    • c schreiber

      November 11, 2012 at 2:29 pm

      When the Red Sox sign their 3rd string Catcher (Ross) for 2 yrs for $6.2 Million , how is Fransen (per story) rewarded at $800, 000 when he’ll (at this moment) be starting????

      • schmenkman

        November 11, 2012 at 7:35 pm

        Because that’s the prevailing market rate for each one.

  2. Lefty

    November 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Is it just me or does anyone else notice that since the Cliff Lee signing, the Phillies are mentioned as “potential suitors” for nearly every high profile FA ?

    IMO- What these guys (Heyman, Rosenthal et al), do is lazy journalism at best. Yet… myself included, we hang on every word, because they’re all we have this time of year.

    And 1/100 of the time they get lucky and catch one right. I wish someone kept their “batting averages” !

    • George

      November 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm

      I pretty much agree, although I don’t hang on every word.

      This early in the offseason, probably every team is talking to the better players just to see what the potential cost might be, especially if that team has a particular need.

      My own feeling is that the Phils would only be interested in Hamilton if they can get him short-term. They just can’t afford another $120 million contract, but might be able to squeeze out enough to cover 2-3 years. Swisher would be the better option, at least in terms of budget, although I wonder about those 3 years $11-13 million figures being thrown around.

      I disagree that Youk is an easy pass. He’s no great shakes anymore, but he still might be better than Frandsen, and could also fill in at 1st. I’d probably just go with Frandsen, but Youk for one year, if he’s cheap, wouldn’t be the end of the world.

      I’d certainly steer clear of Bourn, even though I don’t fully agree that speed goes first. Bourn will simply want too many years and too much money, because his agent is Scott Boar-Ass.

      • Lefty

        November 10, 2012 at 4:53 pm

        My feeling is that if Hamilton was going to accept a short term deal, he’d probably stay in Texas, but I think he’s a big enough star that someone will give him 5 years and then live to regret it. I’d love Nick Swisher at the right price, but he was once quoted as saying he wanted a “Jayson Werth like” deal.

        Youkilis is certainly better than Frandsen who I’m not that high on, but again, at what price? I also am not that excited about Cody Asche, the guy many are assuming will be ready for third base in 2014. From what little I’ve seen, he seems a bit over rated, I hope I’m wrong about that.

        As far as Bourn, we’re in agreement. And there is only one Bor-ass client (that I know about, I don’t know all players agents) that I’d be mildly interested in seeing in a Phils uniform next season, but don’t think it would ever happen, and that’s Ryan Madson.(assuming surgery was successful)

      • Jeff Michael

        November 11, 2012 at 9:59 am

        Lefty sed:

        “I’d love Nick Swisher at the right price, but he was once quoted as saying he wanted a ‘Jayson Werth like’ deal.”

        We’re not Werthy! We’re not Werthy!

    • George

      November 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      From what I’ve read, Madson will not quite be ready by the first of the year.


    November 10, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    How good is Amaro as a general manager? This year will tell the story. Amaro really hasn’t won anything on his own, just followed the coattails of Gillick. Is Amaro a decent general manager capable of building a team, or just an over-eager trader who depletes his best minor-;league prospects for big names with little upside? This year will really tell the tale and should be critical to Amaro’s future in Philly.

    • George

      November 10, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      I really can’t agree. Amaro did make trades for Lee and Halladay, two players with termendous upside, but didn’t exactly give up a lot for either. Oswalt wasn’t a great move, and he paid way too much for Pence. But he has also made several moves that were the opposite of depleting the farm system for big names with little upside. How about, for instance, trading a washed up utility man (Valdez) for a talented reliever, or ridding two players who wouldn’t be back and actually getting decent return? How about Thome for Lino, or at least getting some of the Pence price back with Joseph?

      You can’t tell me he hasn’t won anything on his own when he’s the one who got Lee and Martinez in 2009, Halladay in 2010, Lee again in 1011. Without that pitching, I doubt if the Phils would have won the division the four straight years after Gillick left.

      This year will be a challenge, for sure, but with a slim free agent market I wouldn’t expect miracles, and I think it’d be unfair to base his record solely on what happens for 2013.

      • hk

        November 11, 2012 at 8:07 am


        The first Lee trade (from Cleveland) was great, but was almost entirely undone by the second one (to Seattle). When you think about the fact that the Phils traded Lee, who was set to make $9M in 2010 and who claimed he was willing to sign an extension for Halladay-like money (let’s say $100M for 2011-15), you see that they got no Lee in 2010 plus 5 years of him at $120M instead of 6 years of Lee at ~$109M. Further, one of the reasons that they traded Lee after acquiring Halladay was that RAJ had unnecessarily given the then 45 year old Jamie Moyer a two year contract extension after the 2008 season. If the team did not owe Moyer $8M for 2010, they could have kept Lee for $9M. If you take this further, having Lee and Halladay (and not Moyer) in the rotation probably would have allowed them to avoid trading for Oswalt (and maybe have Anthony Gose poised to be the CF of the future).

        As far as getting Halladay is concerned, yes that was a good trade. However, when you consider that RAJ was one of the only GM’s in the game with an open checkbook during his first 3 years in the job* and that Halladay wanted to come to the Phillies, he had a lot of leverage on his side in that deal.

        Yes, RAJ kept the team atop the standings from 2009-2011 (three years, not four as you stated), but he did so by gutting the farm system, which was top 5 in MLB when he took over and spending money in an environment where no one else was spending*. He also stuck the team with some long-term contracts that look to get ugly towards their ends. If you ask me, 2012 was his best season as GM since, as you note, he turned some aging and/or costly assets into prospects like Lino and Joseph. I hope the future brings more of 2012 RAJ than 2008-2011 RAJ.

        * The 2008 World Series coincided with the banking / mortgage crisis and TARP bailout. According to Cot’s, over the following three years, the Phillies payroll increased by 67% while the average payroll of the other 29 teams increased by less than 2%.

      • Lefty

        November 11, 2012 at 9:55 am

        Bart, George, and hk-
        I think it’s safe to say there is enough bias on either side of the Amaro years that it’s pretty easy to make cases on both sides. It’s easy to point out what he has done well- haven’t seen a mention about the Hamels extension yet, which most people wanted. I’m certain by the length of time it took to get that done, that it was no an easy process. And it’s easy to point to his mistakes- haven’t seen mention of either of his rule 5 picks yet which didn’t end so well.

        But if we put every microscopic move aside, I think what we end up with is a pretty average performance by the GM. Some good things. some bad. That puts him right in with most of the rest of the GM’s in the game.

        You want to call Brian Sabean a genius for winning 2 out of 3 WS? Not so fast, he’s made plenty mistakes too. (Zito, Rowand)

        Billy Beane? Where has his genius been the ten years between 02 and 12?

        I guess that’s my point, that so, so much- of this job is being timely or lucky, but they all make mistakes. IMO- RA Jr. is an average GM- Average meaning he’s good- not horrible, not great. He’s better than some, he’s right in the middle of the pack. Maybe it’s his turn to be lucky this off season and everything he touches turns to gold, it could happen.

        My only complaint is his open admission that he does not value analytics as much as I’d like him to, I think it would help him and his staff to evaluate players and their worth better. But we could have far worse. One last thing, he gets hammered regularly here for the Howard contract, I’m not so sure anymore that it was a bad move. Looking at Fielder and Pujols?Heck, just think about what Votto might make someday.

      • Lefty

        November 11, 2012 at 11:36 am

        Man I’m getting old, I forgot that Votto already signed that extension for 263 million dollars, but think about it- compared to Howard’s 125 and the fact that they pay Votto until 2023? He only played 111 games THIS year, there so many things that can go wrong with 13 year contracts! At least RA Jr didn’t saddle us with that. Votto will be 38 at the end of his deal, Howard will be 36. If you want to say Votto is the better player, fine, but he will go through the inevitable decline all players go through.

      • George

        November 11, 2012 at 11:41 am

        Say all you will about the Lee trade to Seattle. But please, back your statements up with iron-clad facts. Something like inner-office memos between Amaro and ownership, actual conversations between Lee’s agent and the Phils, or recorded conversations of actual front office meetings about it.

        I’ve never griped about the Lee trade because I simply don’t and can’t know what actually went down. I’m wasn’t there. Were you?

      • hk

        November 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm

        No, I wasn’t privy to the front office conversations that led to the Lee trade. But knowing their rationale or not has no impact on the fact that it was a bad trade that has to be considered as part of RAJ’s record.

    • George

      November 11, 2012 at 11:27 am

      Lefty, I’d certainly agree with much of what you say here. That’s why I took major exception to Mr. Shart’s argument that Amaro has done nothing toward a winning team.

      I didn’t mention the Hamels contract, because that, unfortunately, would only bring out more negative people saying he shouldn’t have waited so long.

      The truth of the matter is that we, as fans, are not privy to information that the front office has. We can’t know exactly what went on in things like trading Lee away or how much negotiation with Hamels may have been done before he decided not to test the market.

      Big contracts seem to be the nature of today’s game, and there’s not a GM alive who is going to get all of them right. (check out Heath Bell, Vernon Welles, Jason Bay, Barry Zito, or ARod for just a few examples) Amaro has made some errors, but in his defense, he made them while trying to keep together a winning team, and until this year, those moves have paid off.

      As far as analytics go, just because he may not use them as much as some people would like doesn’t mean he doesn’t use them at all. I also wonder how much he really meant by that statement; remember, this is the man who called the Valdez trade “foolish.”

      • Lefty

        November 11, 2012 at 11:56 am

        We’re in general agreement then. I can only speak for myself, as worried as I was about the Hamels situation, but in the end, I admire the apparent tenacity and perseverance it took to get that done under a lot of public pressure. I think it may be looked at as his best achievement when all is said and done.

        I’m quite certain he and his staff use some analytics. And it’s not a major complaint, it’s just a general feel I get that he hasn’t embraced the importance of analytics, and seems to “brush them off” a bit.. He mentions it 3 times here. Tell me if you think I’m reading/hearing it wrong.

        1:08 Unfortunately I got to face those guys, and there wasn’t a lot of analytics to that.
        2:58 How do the Phillies use baseball analytics Ruben- After a long pause- “You know As far analytics are concerned, I , um , were a team that probably leans on scouting part of things more than anything else.
        3:31 We’re probably one of those clubs that will err on the side of our scouts and what they see in their hearts and their heads and their eyes.

        Again, I’m not tearing him a new one, he says many sharp things in this interview. I just wish he would have expressed that he has embraced the analytical part of the process a little more, that’s all.

      • George

        November 11, 2012 at 5:30 pm

        How can anyone possibly say that the rationale for a trade has no impact? If you need to clear salary, that’s rationale. If you need to rebuild the farm, that’s also rationale. If you just don’t like a guy, if he wants too much money, if you feel he’s not going to help are, or if you think you might get something more usable in return are all rationale. It’s also quite possible that Amaro had very little to do with the trade, and that it was ownership that forced the move with threats of Amaro losing his position. That, sir, is also rationale.

        And if you had no access to the front office thinking, you don’t have one clue about what the rationale could have been.

        I asked you to back up your statements. I didn’t ask for the same exact diatribe based solely on your own opinion. You haven’t shown me one scrap of actual evidence proving that conditions were as you claim.

      • hk

        November 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm


        Are you saying that, since we’re not privy to the front office’s rationale behind moves, we cannot assess them? Why is the Lee trade different from any other move? Have you ever assessed any of his moves (good or bad)? Did you have inside information on the front office’s rationale? We don’t know what the rationale was behind the Howard extension. Maybe ownership insisted that RAJ lock up and significantly overpay Howard two years before he was eligible to be a free agent. Does that mean RAJ is absolved of blame. If it makes you happy, I’ll say that the Phillies management made a bad trade in trading away one year of $9M Cliff Lee for 3 middling prospects.

    • George

      November 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm


      Really, about the only thing I can maybe see some non-analytical thinking is the final statement. It seems to me, he isn’t saying much at all in the first two statements. Obviously, if you’ve faced guys enough, you’re going to know a lot about what they can do, and analyzing should be more in the form of HOW they do it. It’s pretty easy to tell the talent of a Chase Utley aws opposed to the talent of a MiniMart.

      His second statement about leaning on the scouting part could merely mean that they’re looking at stats, but make the final decision by watching a player repeatedly, talking to that player to determine attitude, etc. It’s been a rare occurence when the Phils have signed someone like Milton Bradley, who had good stats but was a nightmare in every other respect, or even a Josh Hamilton, who spent the earlier part of his career abusing various drugs.

      The thing I try to bear in mind is that although scouts are human and make bad judgements, the stats are only numbers, and can’t always tell anything about the true personality and perseverence of a player. It’s a tradeoff, and although Amaro may go toward the “eye test” more than some other GMs, but I think there are GMs who maybe lean too far toward the stats. Your own earlier statement about Billy Beane,” Where has his genius been the ten years between 02 and 12?” sums up what I am saying. He’s the ultimate analytics guy.

      To put it simply: “There is more than one way to skin a cat.”

      • Lefty

        November 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm

        There truly is more than one way, and I still believe in the good old eye test- most of us in our mid 50’s are. I just hope he is not closed minded to it, that’s all.

        BTW- as an aside from your earlier comment- guess who declared himself a free agent the other day ? Mr. Valdez from the “foolish” trade.

  4. CS

    November 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    I’d like to see the Phillies go after Youk for his plate maturity and expierence as a MLB third baseman. Josh would be as amazing as signing Lee, and with the way the Dodgers are buying the world we have to stay with them.

    • joecatz

      November 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm

      Youklis hasn’t played more than 136 games since 2008. In 2010, he played just 102, in 2011 he played just 120 and 122 last year.

      when he WAS playing 145 games, he was doing the bulk of that at 1B.

      theres no coincidence that his decline in staying on the field coincided with Boston making him their full time 3B instead of 1B.

      He’s played more than 63 games at 3B in a season twice. The last two years. No thanks.

      • EricL

        November 11, 2012 at 10:39 pm

        Yeah, I’d much rather poach Wright from the moribund Mets.

  5. Jeff T

    November 10, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    I’d prefer we sign Pagan over Upton (we save the pick), platoon Schierholtz and JMay at one corner and give Dom the other corner. I wouldn’t mind Youk on an incentive laden contract for 2 years max.


    • Ken Bland

      November 11, 2012 at 8:26 am

      People often talk about potential acquisitions with what seems little consideration of stumbling blocks. Just as 1 recent example, opinions were offered on Tori Hunter recently. At least he’s a free agent, meaning you omit having to make a trade, and people based their views on his skill set, age, and anticipated compensation. Fact is, he’s a Texan by birth, a lifelong American Leaguer and has never played on the East Coast. It’s not impossible, of course, maybe he wants a change, but realistically, aside from a real overpay to offset some of those perceived blocks, he’s an unrealistic candidate. Worth touching base with? Sure.

      Here’s a similar situation for Angel Pagan on the liklihood scale. Not that I’m well versed on the Giants farm or other possible pertinent factors, but I can’t think of a more likely situation where a guy is gonna return to his current club. The motivation to defend, seemingly plenty of funds off as attentive a community as there is now in baseball, a great sports town and city to live in. It may be there, but you have to find something I don’t see to attract him to the Phils. Particularly since it’s not too likely the Phils would overpay on him versus what competitive offers would yield from clubs with more financial freedom.

      Skill wise, on the whole, you might be right to side with Pagan. It’s pretty close. Upton might be more athletic, and I suspect would be more expensive to sign. And while the ballclub should be excited about either option, it’d strike me as shocking if Pagan’s a Phillies next year.

      You could turn around and ask me if the Giants were so hot to extend him, why hasn’t it been done, and I couldn’t answer that. But I sill think he reups with the San Fransisco club.

  6. bacardipr

    November 10, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Not big on Youklis and his low BA. I understand they arent many options. Isnt this guy aging and injury prone. Exactly what the blogs balk about time in and time out.

    • hk

      November 11, 2012 at 9:06 am

      Yes, his BA was down last year, but what do you think of his OBP (career more than last year)? After all, OBP is much more highly correlated to run scoring than BA is.

      Yes, he’s aging. Aren’t we all? He’ll be 34 on Opening Day, which is not old if he’s signed to a 1 year deal or 1 year deal with a team option.

      Yes, he’s also injury prone, but that could work to the team’s advantage if it reduces the cost in dollars and years to sign him.

      At 1 year and ~$5M, it would seem like a worthwhile signing. At more guaranteed years or dollars, I would take a pass.

      • rc

        November 11, 2012 at 1:57 pm

        Youk is high risk, high reward. They should keep an eye on the market for him, the risk is especially high because he probably isn’t an every day 3b anymore but maybe you strike gold for a year which is what we need with Asche a year away. His batting numbers are not the problem given our need at 3B if he’s playing.

        I think also batting numbers across MLB are down so you have to adjust for that. Youk has the numbers to be an upgrade here IF he’s playing. Thing is though you don’t want to give him more than a year at 5 million at most in case he’s on the DL.

  7. Bobby Q.

    November 11, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Sign BJ Upton. Then Trade for Justin Upton. See whats left in $$ tank and look at what Swisher is asking for or if he is still even available. You’d be set at that point in the OF with 2 right handed bats and a lefty in Domonic Brown (if not part of the J. Upton trade). Sign Pierre if that is the case to leadoff. Use the rest of the money on your middle relief. Give Frandsen a shot at third knowing you have an up anf coming 3B option a year or two away in the minors. Next look at signing J. Upton long term as he is only 25 years old.

    • rc

      November 11, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      Phils need to explore every possibility before they surrender that draft pick, players like BJ Upton, Swisher, Hamilton, Bourn all QO’ed.

      Need to look at Pagan, Hunter, Victorino, Ross first.

      I even hate the idea of Ross but Swisher has been a terrible postseason player in 11 series in his career and we all know Ross postseason against us. So given you have to give up the pick , give him a deal and he’s just about to turn 32, I’m not big on Swisher.

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