Phillies

Vince Velasquez is subject of serious trade talks between Phillies, Rangers

Vince Velasquez is subject of serious trade talks between Phillies, Rangers

ATLANTA — Seven months after he was acquired from the Houston Astros and anointed a key piece in the Phillies’ rebuild, pitcher Vince Velasquez could be on the move again.

The Phillies and Texas Rangers are “pretty deep” in trade discussions involving Velasquez, a major league source told CSNPhilly.com on Friday night (see story).

The Rangers’ interest in Velasquez was reported by Jon Morosi of MLB Network earlier in the week and essentially confirmed when three Rangers scouts, including Scott Littlefield, one of that club’s top talent evaluators, showed up at Turner Field for Velasquez’s start against the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

Velasquez delivered a solid but unspectacular performance in a 2-1 loss to the Braves, but he still has the qualities that attracted the Phillies to him last winter. He’s just 24 years old and has a power arm that has produced a 3.32 ERA in 18 starts. He has the upside to pitch at or near the top of a rotation if his development goes in the right direction and he stays healthy. That is a legitimate concern because he had Tommy John surgery as a young minor leaguer and spent time on the disabled list earlier this season with a biceps strain.

The question now is: where will Velasquez continue his development? Philadelphia? Texas? Somewhere else?

Clearly, the Phillies’ big wintertime acquisition is in play as Monday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline approaches.

Manager Pete Mackanin said he knows nothing of the front office’s trade plans, but he offered his opinion on trading a young pitcher like Velasquez.

“Our whole goal was to get young pitchers because they’re the most expensive commodity and if you can develop young pitchers like him and have four or five of those guys, then you’re ahead of the game,” Mackanin said. “But at the same time, at least as far as I’m concerned, I’ll listen to any offers. If you get three guys that are really good looking prospects because pitching is such a commodity, I’m sure you have to consider it.”

With the Rangers' scouts looking on, Velasquez pitched six innings and gave up seven hits and two runs. He walked two and struck out five. His fastball reached 96 mph, proving that his stuff is good. Mackanin, however, said he thought Velasquez relied too much on his off-speed stuff instead of his power fastball.

“It was unusual to me the way he pitched,” Mackanin said. “It was almost like a finesse pitcher instead of a power pitcher. I’m not arguing with it because he did a good job, but he made me a little nervous here and there. I like the 16 strikeouts.”

That, of course, was a reference to Velasquez’s 16-strikeout complete game win over the Padres on April 14. Could anyone have imagined that he'd be the subject of trade talks 3½ months later?

Velasquez said he was aware of the trade buzz surrounding him and unbothered by it. He’s been down this road before. He said he would not be disappointed if he were traded because he understands baseball is a business.

“At first when I got traded from the Astros it was kind of tough for me, but you have to move on and make the best of what you've got,” Velasquez said. “If things happen, just let it happen. If I go to another team, then I've got to make the best of what I've got there. There's a lot of things that are in the future. I don't know what to expect is what I'm saying. Again, all I can do is live in the present and live another day tomorrow. If something happens, something happens. I've got to make the best of what you've got today.

“It's just one of those things I can't control. I had to fight, had to battle for a spot here in Philadelphia and I'm very thankful for the opportunity and everything. Again, I've still got to keep working hard and make the best of what I've got.”

Any team looking to acquire Velasquez would have to pay a steep price. In addition to having talent and upside, he won’t be eligible for salary arbitration until after the 2018 season and free agency until after the 2021 season.

The Phillies have a good knowledge of Texas’ deep farm system having scouted it extensively — and plucked from it — in making the deal for Cole Hamels a year ago. Are the Phillies about to fuel their rebuild with more talent from the Texas system? Stay tuned.

Velasquez isn’t the only Phillies starter who could move. Several teams remain interested in Jeremy Hellickson (see story), who is scheduled to pitch against Atlanta on Saturday night. The Rangers, in fact, have some interest in Hellickson as a fallback option if they don’t get a pitcher elsewhere. Velasquez is not the only pitcher the Rangers have on their radar, but from a Phillies’ perspective, he is certainly the most interesting.

Joe Girardi has been throwing down in the kitchen during time off

Joe Girardi has been throwing down in the kitchen during time off

With no baseball games to manage, Joe Girardi is leaning into one of his biggest hobbies.

"I love to cook so I've kinda broadened what I cook," Girardi told Mike Missanelli late last week. "I've been making this Nutella pizza, the simplest thing to make."

Qué?

"You just buy the dough that's pre-made," the skipper said. "You cook it for about seven, eight minutes at 450 (degrees), then you pull it out and you put the Nutella on it and you put strawberries or bananas, whatever you like, and a little powdered sugar and it's a great dessert. 

"The kids absolutely love it. That has been my new thing."

Kind of like a crepe — there's sweet and there's savory. Depending on how much Nutella you slather on there, you're looking at about 500 to 600 calories for one piece and 60 to 70% of your daily sugar intake. Every calorie matters during such a sedentary period! I am not proud to say I gained six pounds in the first three weeks of the quarantine.

Girardi, like practically everyone else, is making the most of the extra family time he's getting with his 20-year-old daughter Serena, 18-year-old son Dante and 13-year old daughter Lena. 

"I find myself cooking every night," Girardi said. "I think I've picked up from a restaurant one time. I love to cook so it works out and my wife loves to clean up so it works even better."

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The best Philly products we've gotten home delivered during self-quarantine

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The700Level

The best Philly products we've gotten home delivered during self-quarantine

This would have been the weekend many of us visited Citizens Bank Park to get our first fill of spring baseball of the season. There’s nothing quite like strolling Ashburn Alley and smelling the sausages grilling and seeing that bright green grass for the first time in months.

I’m really missing a classic hot dog and cold beer at the ball park. But with the absence of some pleasures, many of us around town have had a little extra cash in our pockets and have been getting some of our favorite things delivered right to our homes.

Here’s a list of some of the best things I and a few of my NBC Sports Philadelphia coworkers have gotten delivered over the past few weeks from some of our favorite Philly spots. All caveats about tipping extremely generously and handling your goods in a responsible manner apply.

1. Rival Bros. coffee — listen, I could have put beer first, but honestly a good cup a coffee in the morning is the start to what kind of day we’re going to have. Rival Bros. happens to be my local coffee shop and they ship which I am incredibly thankful for. ReAnimator and Ultimo are two other great local options.

2. Tired Hands beer (or Forest and Main on Saturdays) — Delicious craft beer delivered to your door. Not everything about being stuck at home is so bad. There are obviously dozens of local craft beer spots around town you can hit up, I just happen to go with these two to start. At the end of these long days, a nice heady pint can do wonders.

3. Fresh meat from Reading Terminal Market — I’m honestly not sure how this works, but my wife ordered some fantastic meat from a service called Mercato where they’ll shop the market for you. You can even get cookies or a nice baguette delivered. Guess who is making short ribs tonight?

4. Cheese from Di Bruno Bros. — Again, you can get a ton of stuff delivered from Di Brunos online shop. Treat yourself to some Piave or aged Gouda this weekend and you’ll be a little happier at home. They’ll even ship pretty far, so you can also send people you’re thinking about a nice gift basket. My parents out in the burbs are going to enjoy a nice cheese plate this weekend.

5. Federal Donuts -- Fresh donuts at your door will not only cheer up anyone you're stuck in a house with but you can eat as many as you like because it's a sin to let a donut go to waste.

6. Philadelphia Distilling -- With PA Wine and Spirits shops closed and their website barely usable, go direct to the distiller who will ship to your home in Pennsylvania for $10. A dirty martini can cheer the wife up pretty quickly. Also good for helping you fall asleep during these stressful times.

7. A new hoodie and sweatpants — Gotta be comfy 24-7 and this is the time for elastic waistbands to truly shine. If you’re looking for a local shop, give Lapstone & Hammer a visit. Ben Simmons rocks it.

Here are some of the best things my NBC Sports Philadelphia coworkers have had delivered:

Anthony’s Coffee and Chocolates -- If you’ve ever walked through the Italian Market and followed your heart, as well as nose, in to the glorious place that is Anthony’s, you know that going into that store physically is a religious experience. They have some of the best chocolate in the city, and luckily they deliver, so I’ve still gotten my fix. The bad part is now being trapped inside with an overwhelming amount of chocolate and no one to eat it but myself. -Erin Dunne

Famous 4th Street Deli -- What's better than corned beef piled highonrye bread slathered in swiss cheese, thousand island, and cole slaw? Nothing. So support local business  and get a Famous 4th St. "super reuben." -Ashley Hall

Termini Bros. -- We placed an order from Termini Brothers Bakery for ourselves and also as a gift to send our family. Zeppole for us and assorted Italian cookies for my family. Everybody is a bit happier when they have Italian pastries. -Amy Fadool

Barcelona Wine Bar -- Without the ability to drink cocktails on their gorgeous Passyunk patio, I have turned to getting their extremely convenient cocktail kits, loaves of fresh baked bread, and cheese selection to go, which you can pair with the half-priced bottles of wine deal they are offering. I sat very close to a house plant while enjoying my “Guns n’ Roses” cocktail kit. -Erin Dunne

Art Supplies -- Like many, I’ve had a bunch of extra time on my hands — and when I get bored — I get crafty. I’ve ordered so much art supplies, a small elementary school could probably be stocked for a month. From new paints and brushes to markers and even 2,000 popsicle sticks. Why do I need 2,000 popsicle sticks? I’m still trying to figure that out … I’ll just say I saw a concept on TikTok and want to attempt to execute it. It’s been fun tapping back into this side of my life, since I’m normally too busy for it. I’m excited to see what I can create next, including some Philly-teams-inspired art. -Brooke Destra