B.J. Upton, Thought to Be Phillies Target in Free Agency, Signs with Atlanta

B.J. Upton, Thought to Be Phillies Target in Free Agency, Signs with Atlanta

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A big-name centerfielder is officially off the free agent
market. Former Tampa Bay Ray B.J. Upton is headed to the NL East, but he won’t
be wearing red pinstripes. The 28 year old has reportedly agreed to a five-year
contract worth $75 million with the Atlanta Braves. Looks like we’ll have
plenty of opportunities to see exactly what the Phillies are missing.

A few weeks back at the GM meetings, our man Jim Salisbury
reported centerfielder B.J. Upton was the Phillies’ “main focus” in free agency
this winter. If that was in fact the case, it’s not been like Ruben Amaro Jr.
to lose his man in recent years, yet that appears to be exactly what happened
here.

The deal with the Bravos works out to $15 million annually,
which is a steep price to pay for a player whose numbers have been in decline
for awhile. Upton is coming off of his worst season in many respects, batting
.246 with a .298 on-base percentage. However, he did set a personal best with
28 home runs, and is still a tremendous athlete.

I was never fully on board with the idea of Upton as the Phillies’
centerfielder myself. The declining numbers were worrisome, and while they
could use another right-handed bat with some power, he’s a perennial top-10 in
strikeouts as well, which always seems to be an ongoing struggle in their
lineup.

Then again, Upton certainly would have been an upgrade over…
whoever the centerfielder is right now. He certainly doesn't hurt the Braves.

The good news is there are still several options on the
table. Who knows, maybe the answer happens to be on his way out of Atlanta in
the form of former Phillie Michael Bourn. That’s just an idea though. Where
does the front office go from here?

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Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

If healthy, Ryan Howard is expected to start all three games in the Phillies' final series of the season Sept. 2-4 at home against the Mets.

He might also start the entire Braves series.

The Phillies' final six games are all against right-handed starting pitchers: Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Josh Collmenter in Atlanta; Robert Gsellman, Bartolo Colon and Noah Syndergaard with the Mets. That could mean six starts for Howard before his time with the Phillies expires.

Howard's batting average has been below .200 for practically the entire season, but he's been much better since the All-Star break, hitting .259/.325/.598 with 11 homers, five doubles and 25 RBIs in 123 plate appearances (see game notes). He went 0 for 6 in his last two starts but homered in each of his two previous starts to reach 23 for the third year in a row.

Here's the Phillies' full lineup Tuesday against Teheran:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Roman Quinn, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Aaron Altherr, RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

Matt Kemp is out of the Braves' lineup.

1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Adonis Garcia, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Tyler Flowers, C
6. Jace Peterson, 2B
7. Dansby Swanson, SS
8. Mallex Smith, LF
9. Julio Teheran, P

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Howie Roseman makes complete 180 with latest roster move

Howie Roseman makes complete 180 with latest roster move

Howie Roseman solidified his hold on Executive of the Year Tuesday when he re-signed guard Darrell Greene to the practice squad and released JaCorey Shepherd from the practice squad. Shepherd was signed on Wednesday when Greene was previously released.

The Eagles were undefeated with Shepherd on the practice squad this year.

But they're also undefeated with Greene on the practice squad.

Roseman did not return messages requesting comment about Shepherd's seven-day stint with the Eagles.

Once Roseman realized he had actually NOT signed Lito Sheppard, the deal was voided.

The Eagles don't play this coming weekend so we were hard-pressed for any actual news.