Archive for March, 2011

Luis, Luis, oh, baby, me gotta go

The roster for opening day appears to be set, Luis Castillo is gone and the Phils will start their quest for a championship with an offense that includes Wilson Valdez, Pete Orr, Michael Martinez and John Mayberry.

Castillo was released yesterday.

It’s hard not to be at least a little discouraged about the offense and the surprising, to me at least, release of Castillo. Castillo sure seems to have bigger upside for 2011 than any of Valdez, Orr or Martinez. Valdez, who looks to be the everyday second baseman for the Phils for long time, has a career line of 240/289/326, turns 33 in May and never had 150 plate appearances in a season coming into last year.

Yesterday the Phils lost to the Pirates, falling 4-1 to end their spring with a 21-14 mark.

Hamels started and allowed two runs on four hits over three innings. He ends the spring with a 6.67 ERA and a 1.41 ratio in seven starts. Pedro Alvarez hit a two-run homer off of him — Hamels allowed six in 27 innings, which is a lot too many. Allowing home runs at that rate, you would allow about 44.4 over 200 innings.

Blanton also pitched in the game, allowing a run on four hits over three innings. 3.19 ERA and a 1.19 ratio for Blanton, who walked just four in 31 innings.

Kendrick threw a scoreless inning and Juan Perez and Bastardo combined to pitch the ninth, with Perez charged with a run on three hits before Bastardo got the last out of the frame.

The Phils had two hits in the game, a triple by Orr and a single by Rollins. It’s the fifth triple of the spring for Orr.

Martinez went 0-for-2 to drop his line to 233/250/356 in 73 at-bats. I don’t understand what he did to make the team. He must be one electric defensive player.

Mayberry 0-for-1 and Delwyn Young 0-for-2.

Halladay faces Brett Myers tomorrow in a game that counts.

The opening day roster for the Phillies looks like it will include 13 hitters and 12 pitchers.

Hitters: Ruiz, Howard, Valdez, Rollins, Polanco, Ibanez, Victorino, Francisco, Schneider, Gload, Martinez, Mayberry and Orr.

Pitchers: Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels, Blanton, Madson, Contreras, Baez, Herndon, Kendrick, Romero and Bastardo.

Young is the guy who looked like he had a real chance but didn’t make the team. He started strong, but ended spring with a 258/303/389 line in 62 at-bats.

Rollins will bat third for the Phillies with Victorino hitting leadoff. Over the last two seasons, Rollins has hit 248/304/406 in 1,119 plate appearances.

Jose, can you see us out of this mess?

Tuesday’s MRI “revealed a small tear in the posterior rotator cuff of Lidge’s right shoulder” and Lidge will be shut down for three to six weeks.

That doesn’t mean you should be looking for Lidge to pitch with the Phils in three to six weeks. It means he won’t be throwing at all for 3-6 weeks. This suggests we should be looking for him in the second half of the season.

This article from the Phillies web site says that Contreras is Manuel’s choice to start the year as closer. I’m going to be surprised if that works. I’m also going to be surprised if Madson doesn’t get some save chances early in the year.

Madson is the best pitcher in the bullpen for the Phillies. It would be a mistake not to have him pitching in the most important situations.

The Phils beat the Pirates 8-5 last night.

Oswalt got the start and didn’t pitch well, allowing five runs on five hits and four walks over five innings, giving him a 6.11 ERA and a 1.42 ratio in five starts this spring. He has also allowed four runs in 17 2/3 innings that were unearned. So he hasn’t pitched well.

Romero, Herndon, Bastardo and Madson combined to throw four scoreless innings after Oswalt left in which they allowed two hits and a walk. Herndon threw 1 2/3 innings in the game, but threw just 20 pitches.

Michael Stutes pitched the ninth. He struck out the first two batters he faced before walking Neil Walker, then struck Andrew McCutchen out swinging to end the game. In seven spring appearances he has an 0.82 ERA and an 0.55 ratio. He’s struck out 14 in 11 innings and opponents are hitting .108 against him. So he’s pitching well.

Francisco went 1-for-4 with his fifth spring home run. Castillo was 2-for-4 with a stolen base an RBI. He’s 6-for-23 (.261) with four walks since joining the Phils. I think he makes the team.

Mayberry 1-for-1 to up his line to 299/356/597 in 67 at-bats. Martinez 0-for-1, he’s hitting .239 and on-basing .257. Don’t let people go telling you he had a good spring (at least not with the bat). Young was 0-for-1 and is at 267/313/350. Orr started the game at third and went 1-for-3. He’s at 273/286/491 in 55 at-bats.

Polanco didn’t start the game. He says his elbow is still sore and expects to play today.

Hamels starts this afternoon in the final spring game for the Phils.

The Phillies have removed Matt Rizzotti from the 40-man roster to make room for, well, someone. Castillo is my guess.

Update: Will Jose Contreras be able to go back-to-back days for the Phils this year? No idea. But he sure was fantastic when he did it in 2010.

There were 19 games in which Contreras appeared in 2010 when he had pitched the previous day. Here are his numbers in those games:

19 16 2/3 8 4 19 0.54 0.72

Those numbers include the two times in which he threw three days in a row. Contreras pitched May 8, 9 and 10 and also on August 24, 25 and 26. On May 10 and August 26 combined, he threw two scoreless innings and allowed one hit.

On May 10 he pitched for the third day in a row in part because Lidge had a sore elbow. On August 26 he only threw five pitches in the game.

So if there’s no problem with the results, the thing you might want to worry about is how seldom it happened that the Phils called on Contreras to go three days in a row. By comparison, from August 14 to August 31 of 2010, the Phils called on Madson to pitch on August 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29 and 31. That’s three days in a row twice in a seven-day period. He would also pitch on Septmember 6, 7 and 8. He was great, too. Between August 14 and Septmeber 8, Madson made 18 appearances for the Phils in which he threw to a 1.02 ERA and an 0.74 ratio while striking out 24 in 17 2/3 innings.

All about the Benjamin

Ben Francisco put an exclamation point on his fantastic spring training yesterday, hitting a three-run homer as the Phils topped the Astros 7-6 to end their Grapefruit League schedule. Francisco came into camp looking to show he could be the everyday guy in right field for the Phils this season and pounded the ball, posting a 385/467/677 line over 65 at-bats. His 1.144 OPS was the best among Phillies that got at least 10 plate appearances.

Ben Francisco’s full name is Louis Ben Francisco. So, when you get right down to it, it’s really not all about the Benjamin (unless it’s all about someone else).

Nate Bump got the start for the Phillies in the game and allowed a run on eight hits and a walk over five innings. Baez walked one in a scoreless sixth and Contreras got one out in the seventh before Derrick Loop (really!) took over for him. Loop, Michael Sisco and Ebelin Lugo finished out the game for the Phils. They combined to allow five runs in 2 2/3 innings, with Lugo and Loop both charged with runs and Cisco throwing a scoreless frame.

Contreras threw just one pitch in the game because the mound was wet due to heavy rain.

Victorino 2-for-3 and drove in a pair of runs.

Castillo was 1-for-2 with a double and a walk. 4-for-19 (.211) with four walks with the Phils, Martinez 0-for-1. Young 0-for-1. Mayberry 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Gload was the DH in his continuing effort to demonstrate he’s not a right fielder.

The Phils went 20-13 in official spring games and will play the Pirates tonight and Wednesday in Citizens Bank Park. Oswalt is expected to start. Hamels will start on Wednesday with Blanton likely to throw a few innings in relief.

Utley says his goal is to be back by the All-Star break. Amaro says he won’t go on the 60-day DL.

The article linked above says that Michael Stutes will be with the team for the two games with the Pirates, but isn’t likely to start the year with the Phils.

This says the Phillies have signed Kevin Frandsen to a minor league deal. The righty Frandsen has played every position in the majors except catcher and center field, posting a 243/302/335 career line over 626 plate appearances. He turns 29 in May.

Halladay cheer

Not much went right for the Phillies this spring, but Roy Halladay sure is amazing. After another solid outing yesterday, Halladay has now made five spring starts in which he’s thrown to an 0.42 ERA with an 0.92 ratio. Opponents have hit .182 against him.

He started yesterday and the Phils beat the Braves, 6-1. They are 19-13 in official spring games.

Halladay went three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and no walks while striking out three. Contreras also threw a perfect inning in the game. He’s pitched to a 2.00 ERA and an 0.78 ratio this spring. In nine innings he’s allowed seven hits and hasn’t walked a batter. Michael Schwimer, BJ Rosenberg and Jordan Ellis pitched the rest of the game for the Phils and combined to go five innings, allowing a run on three hits and four walks.

Ibanez and Howard both homered in the game for the Phils, the fourth of the spring for Ibanez and the fifth for Howard. Polanco played third base and led off. He went 0-for-2 with a walk and is at 171/244/195 in 41 at-bats this spring.

Castillo played second and went 0-for-3. He’s 3-for-17 (.176) with three walks with the Phils and 244/333/244 in 45 at-bats between the Phils and Mets combined. If your batting average and slugging percentage are the same, it means you don’t have an extra-base hit. Castillo is 11-for-45 with 11 singles.

Mayberry was 1-for-2. 302/362/619 in 63 at-bats.

Victorino is hitting .306 after going 2-for-3. Francisco’s line is at 387/472/645 after he went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.

Martinez went 0-for-2 to drop his spring line to 246/264/377 in 69 at-bats. Orr was 0-for-1 and is at 275/275/490. Young 0-for-1 and hitting 276/323/362 in 58 at-bats.

Saturday split squads of Phils played the Blue Jays and Tigers and both lost, falling to Toronto 7-6 and 3-1 to the Detroit.

Kendrick started the game against Toronto and went 4 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits to raise his spring ERA to 4.67. He’s allowed just one walk in 17 1/3 innings, but opponents have hit .282 against him. Juan Perez and Michael Stutes threw scoreless frames in the game and Madson was charged with a run in 2/3 of an inning to up his spring ERA to 3.27. Jason Grilli and Chance Chapman threw the last two innings, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk.

Castillo went 2-for-4 with a walk in the game. Ruiz was 1-for-2 with a home run, two walks and three RBI. Young started in left and went 0-for-4, leaving five men on base. Francisco was 2-for-4 with a double.

Ryan Feierabend started the other game and pitched well, allowing a run over five innings. Bastardo followed him with 1 2/3 scoreless frames. Herndon pitched the last 1 1/3 innings, allowing a two-run homer to Deik Scram with two outs in the eighth to break a 1-1 tie.

Mayberry was 1-for-4 with a bloop double. Schneider 2-for-3 and drove in the only run for the Phils, raising his spring average to .290. Orr 1-for-4. Martinez 0-for-4. The Phillies started Martinez and Valdez at short and second and hit them first and second in the order. If they ever do that in a game that matters even a tiny, little bit, you should quit your job and devote yourself to protesting outside their offices round-the-clock. Or, if not that, be kinda irritated.

On Friday the Phils beat the Braves 3-1.

Blanton started the game for the Phils and was great, allowing four singles and a double over six shutout innings to drop his spring ERA to 3.21. He has a 1.18 ratio and has allowed just four walks in 28 innings.

Baez followed Blanton and allowed a run on a double and a single. Madson and Contreras each threw a scoreless frame.

Castillo had has first hit with the Phils, going 1-for-2 with two walks. Rollins was 2-for-3 with a two-run homer in the first. Orr 0-for-2, Martinez 0-for-1, Barfield 0-for-1, Mayberry 1-for-1. Young was 0-for-1 with a walk.

Nate Bump will start against the Astros this afternoon. The Phils will play the Pirates on Tuesday and Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park and open the regular season against the Astros on Friday afternoon.

The Phils optioned Mathieson and Zagurski to Triple-A on Saturday, which leaves them with seven relievers in camp. They are: Madson, Contreras, Baez, Kendrick, Herndon, Romero and Bastardo. The linked article suggests the Phils may still have moves to make before opening day.

They also reassigned Barfield, along with Tuffy Gosewisch and Dane Sardinha, to the minors. Barfield hit 271/302/375 in 48 at-bats with the Phils this spring.

Lidge will have an MRI tomorrow.

This says that the bench is Gload, Schneider, Mayberry, and Martinez with Castillo, Orr or Young getting the last spot. Castillo is my guess. I am going to be happily stunned if keeping Martinez does not prove to be a large mistake. He didn’t have a good spring training. Not offensively at least. He’s on-basing .264.

Todd Zolecki guesses the Phils will name Jose Contreras the closer.

Closered down

Brad Lidge had yet another miserable outing in a miserable spring yesterday. After six spring outings, he’s now thrown to a 9.53 ERA and a 2.47 ratio, allowing ten hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings. He’s also hit two batters and given up a pair of home runs.

News this morning is that he will start the year on the DL.

The Twins beat the Phils 7-3 yesterday.

Hamels got the start and got hammered. He went 6 2/3 innings, allowing six runs on nine hits, five of which went for extra-bases. Minnesota scored three runs in the fourth on two doubles, a popup lost in the sun by Martinez at third and a solo homer. They added three more on a three-run homer by Delmon Young in the fifth.

After six spring starts, Hamels has a 6.75 ERA and a 1.42 ratio. He’s allowed five home runs in 24 innings. The only good news is that he’s struck out 23. Oh yeah, and that spring stats don’t matter at all.

After Hamels left, Baez and Romero each gave the Phils 2/3 of a scoreless inning. Lidge started the ninth and struck out the first two men he faced before allowing a solo homer to Dustin Martin. If you’re thinking you’ve never heard of Dustin Martin, there’s a good chance you’re right. Anyway, after Martin homered the Twins loaded the bases on a single and two walks and Zagurski came in to get the last out of the game. He did, dropping his spring ERA to 1.08.

Castillo was 0-for-4 and struck out twice, making him 0-for-8 in two games with the Phils. Ruiz went 2-for-3 in the game to raise his spring average to .176.

Martinez started at third and went 0-for-4. Orr 0-for-3. Barfield 0-for-1. Mayberry 1-for-1. Young 1-for-1 with an RBI.

Martinez’s line is down to 274/292/419 in 62 at-bats. Orr is at 295/295/545. He’s slugging .545 without a home run, but has four triples.

Gload started the game in right field and went 2-for-3. I’d say never say never, but it kinda seems like a good time to say never. I’m guessing never. Or if not never, not very often.

Gload had trouble with a ball off of the wall in yesterday’s game and had to be helped out by the center fielder (Pete Orr, of course, started the game in center for the Phils).

This says that Lidge will be shut down for the “unforeseen future.” This has more on Lidge’s status.

Neck check

Day one of the Luis Castillo experiment is over and the best news is that Roy Oswalt lived through it. Oswalt was hit in the neck with a line drive off the bat of Manny Ramirez in yesterday’s game, but was able to walk off the field on his own and appears to be okay. Castillo, meanwhile, went 0-for-4, hitting the ball hard once but lining out and handling two defensive chances at second.

Yesterday the Phils fell to the Rays, losing 4-1.

Oswalt started the game for the Phillies and went three innings, allowing three runs on four hits. He started the fourth and gave up a leadoff home run to Evan Longoria before Manny smashed a ball back to the mound that hit Oswalt near the right ear. He left the game and was replaced by David Herndon.

Oswalt has now made four starts in which he’s thrown to a 4.61 ERA with a 1.17 ratio. In 13 2/3 innings, he’s walked just one batter and struck out 13.

Herndon threw two scoreless innings and was followed by Mathieson and Bastardo. Each threw a scoreless inning, but Mathieson walked the bases loaded in the sixth. Madson pitched the ninth and allowed a run on two singles and a double.

Mathieson now has a 2.00 ERA and a 1.00 ratio after seven appearances. In nine innings he’s struck out nine and allowed just three hits, but walked six.

The guys in the bullpen have been rather impressive at preventing the long ball this spring. Baez, Herndon, Madson, Mathieson, Zagurski, Contreras, Romero and Bastardo have combined to throw 67 1/3 innings without allowing a home run. Lidge has allowed one in his five innings. Were the bullpen to have that kind of success at preventing home runs over the course of the regular season, they would wind up with some impressive numbers. In 2010, Phillies relievers allowed 37 homers over 421 innings, which would be about 6.4 over 72 1/3 innings.

Martinez was the only Phillie with more than one hit. He went 2-for-4 with two singles. Rollins was 1-for-3 with a double and Orr 1-for-3 with a triple. Barfield again played center and was 0-for-3. Young 1-for-1 and Mayberry 0-for-1.

Hamels faces the Twins today.

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