Archive for March, 2012

What’s the matter here? I mean, besides the obvious things

And by obvious things, what I have in mind is Utley and Howard topping out their combined Spring Training production by fielding ground balls while sitting in a chair. Stuff like that.

The Phillies can’t score in Spring Training, which wouldn’t matter at all except there’s a whole lot of fans out there worried they won’t be able to score when they start playing games where nobody is running laps in the outfield either.

As if on cue, the Phils got four hits yesterday, all singles, as they lost to Toronto 2-0 to drop to 9-10 in official Spring Training action. Over their last six games they’ve scored 16 runs, which is about 2.67 runs per game.

Cliff Lee started the game for the Phillies and pitched very well. He went six innings, allowing a run on five hits to drop his ERA to 3.45. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out seven.

Chad Qualls set Toronto down in order in the seventh, dropping his spring ERA to 5.40. Contreras pitched the eighth and allowed an unearned run. Travis Snider reached on an error by Podsednik in center with one out and Kelly Johnson followed that with a double to right that scored Snider. Contreras got the next two batters, dropping his ERA to 27.00 after two outings and 1 1/3 official innings.

The Phillies got one hit, a single by Ruiz, and two walks (Nix and Mayberry) over five shutout innings by Brandon Morrow. Ruiz was 2-for-3 on the day, upping his average to .478. Mayberry 1-for-2 with a walk to up his line to 224/283/306 in 49 at-bats.

Podsednik 0-for-1 with an error. Pierre 0-for-3 with a pickoff/caught stealing and left five men on base. His average is down to .257. He has stolen two bases this spring and been caught three times.

Galvis started at second and hit eighth, going 0-for-3 to drop his average to .255.

Miguel Abreu played three innings defensively at short, handling one grounder and going 0-for-1. He’s 1-for-3 with a single and an RBI at the plate so far. Just about anybody who can play short warrants attention for the Phils, but Abreu probably doesn’t have the bat to help the team no matter what he can do defensively. Abreu has a career 265/293/382 line in 2,811 minor league plate appearances. That’s not real inspiring, but he does top Freddy Galvis in all three categories (246/292/321 for Galvis). I’d say there’s just about no chance for Abreu, but it’s not that kind of thing anymore when it comes to middle infielders for the Phillies. Abreu and Galvis were born on the same day, November 14, with Abreu born five years earlier.

Abreu is also not a shortstop. He has primarily been a second baseman in the minors, making just four appearances at short over the 711 minor league games he has appeared in.

The Phillies play the Yankees this afternoon with Worley expected to pitch.

This suggests that Polanco could be back in the lineup within a few days.

The article linked above says that Thome played seven innings in a minor league game yesterday and things went well.

Guessing games

Today’s guess on who might start the year with the Phillies. And yeah, it’s a lot different from the last one.

Here are the hitters:

1 Carlos Ruiz
2 Brian Schneider
3 John Mayberry
4 Ty Wigginton
5 Freddy Galvis
6 Jimmy Rollins
7 Placido Polanco
8 Laynce Nix
9 Shane Victorino
10 Hunter Pence
11 Jim Thome

Changes since the January post are the removals of Utley and Valdez and the addition of Galvis.

It seems likely at this point that Utley, Howard and Martinez will start the year on the DL. It’s a little less clear where Domonic Brown will be, but as much as the Phillies need his bat my guess he’ll be somewhere learning how to catch fly balls.

One hitting spot needs to be filled by a backup infielder who can play short. If Rollins and Galvis both start, the Phils have nobody on the bench who can play shortstop. Polanco seems like he would be the choice in an emergency, but I’m guessing that wouldn’t take long to get real ugly. Pete Orr and Hector Luna are the players the Phillies have currently who could make the base case for being the utility guy, but both seem like they would be hard to carry if they can’t play shortstop.

Anyway, assuming 13 hitters, one of the two remaining spots will be taken by a utility guy. My guess is the Phils add one from outside the organization and it’s Pete Orr if they don’t.

The utility guy, could, of course, turn into the starting second baseman. That would presumably mean Galvis or Orr as the utility guy, advantage Galvis cause he can play short.

That leaves one hitter slot and I’m guessing Juan Pierre will take it, despite the fact that Lou Montanez and Scott Podsednik have both outplayed Pierre to this point in Spring Training. I think the Phils would be better off giving that spot to someone else, Brown or Podsednik especially. I don’t think they will. Brown is obviously the best choice offensively, but he has put the Phils in a tough spot by playing defense so awful it’s hard to put him on the field.

Here are the pitchers:

1 Roy Halladay
2 Cliff Lee
3 Cole Hamels
4 Joe Blanton
5 Vince Worley
6 Kyle Kendrick
7 Jonathan Papelbon
8 Antonio Bastardo
9 Chad Qualls
10 Michael Stutes

Herndon, Willis and Contreras are off that list from the previous version. Contreras surely has a spot if he does not start the year on the DL.

My guess is that Herndon would start the year in the pen if Contreras were on the DL and might even if Contreras did not.

Still no second lefty in the pen, what with Willis blowing up and being released. Raul Valdes looks to me like he should have a legit shot, though, having pitched very well in Spring Training so far. Joe Savery and Jake Diekman have also pitched well so far, but I’d guess they both start the year down.

Anyway, at this point my guess would be that the Phils carry 12 pitchers to start the year — the ten above plus two of Contreras, Herndon and Valdes. If I have to guess two I would go Herndon and Valdes with Contreras on the DL.

Injury roundup here.

Contreras is expected to pitch this afternoon as the Phils face Toronto.

Something old and something phew

Okay, maybe more than one thing phew.

Juan Pierre went 1-for-2 in yesterday’s game against Baltimore, raising his Spring Training batting average to .281. Thanks to five walks, which ties him for the team lead, Pierre is on-basing an impressive .378 so far.

That’s good news for Pierre, especially given that his role with the team would primarily be to try and get on base and more specifically to try and get on base against right-handed pitching.

It’s important to remember that Pierre has had years when he was a fantastic hitter against right-handed pitching. In 2001 he hit 337/383/435 against righties for the Rockies. In 2003 he played for the Fish and posted a 303/368/377 line against right-handed pitching. In 2004 it was 334/379/422.

The problem is, though, that most of his success against right-handed pitching came early in his career. Three of the last four years his numbers against righties are not good at all. In 2009, Pierre got 305 plate appearances against righties for the Dodgers and hit 304/347/389 against them. In the other three years, though, 2008, 2010 and 2011, Pierre has been pretty awful. In those three seasons combined, Pierre got 1,373 plate appearances against righties in which he hit just 264/308/318. Here’s what the numbers for Pierre against righties look like before and after the end of the 2005 season:

2005-2011 3243 279 322 354
Before 2005 2307 313 363 389

Against right-handed pitching, Pierre has hit for just about the same amount of power before and after the end of 2005. After 2005 his isolated power is .075 against righties and through the end of 2005 is was .076. His batting average is off about thirty points, though, and he has walked a lot less. Through the end of the 2005 season he had walked in about 6.7% of his plate appearances against righties. Since the end of 2005 he has walked in about 5.0%.

The Phillies beat Baltimore 4-1 yesterday.

Halladay started for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing a run on three hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out five, dropping his spring ERA to 6.59. Papelbon, Stutes and Herndon followed Halladay and each threw a scoreless inning. Herndon struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth to earn the save and push his ERA down to 2.25.

Galvis, Phillies second basemen of the present, hit leadoff for the Phils and played second. He went 1-for-5 with yet another triple, his second in two days. 273/300/477. He’s been really good so far. If you’re looking for predictions, though, if they set the over-under for his slugging percentage for the regular season at .477, take the under.

Martinez was 1-for-2 with a double, raising his average to .323. Speaking of taking the under, he’s now slugging .516 and on-basing .400. All of that’s going to matter a little less to the Phils in the short term given that Martinez’s right foot was broken yesterday when he was hit by a Jim Johnson pitch in the seventh inning. The linked article mentions Orlando Hudson and Maicer Izturis as players who might make sense for the Phils were they to try to bring in an infielder from outside the organization.

Sounds good to me.

Podsednik 1-for-1 to up his line to 389/463/528 in 36 at-bats. Pierre 1-for-2 with a single and hitting 281/378/281. Montanez started in left and went 0-for-4, but is still at 394/417/576 through 33 at-bats.

Pence (.292), Ruiz (.450) and Wigginton (.257) all were 2-for-3 for the Phils in the game.

Frandsen was 0-for-3 to drop his average to .156. He was reassigned after the game.

Pete Orr was 1-for-1 with an RBI in the game, upping his line to 290/361/367 in 31 at-bats. Hector Luna is hitting .281 after an 0-for-2 day. It would seem it would be tough for the Phillies to carry either of those players unless they think one of them can play short. Then again, if things continue at their current pace, those guys might be looking pretty good in about a week or so.

Erik Kratz homered in his only at-bat of the game for the Phils, upping his spring average to .353 (6-for-17).

The Phils don’t play today. That should help some. Toronto tomorrow afternoon.

This article on Utley’s knee problems doesn’t seem to be brimming with optimism that his return is imminent.

But can they play second?

There’s a lot going wrong for the Phils these days, but one thing going unexpectedly right is the performance they’ve gotten from left-handed relievers this Spring Training.

In yesterday’s game against Detroit, lefties out of the pen for the Phils combined to throw 5 2/3 scoreless innings in which they allowed three hits, no walks and struck out seven. It seemed like a good a time as any to check in on the lefty relievers in camp other than Bastardo.

Here’s what lefty relievers in camp have done in official Spring Training action so far:

IP ERA Ratio K
David Purcey 7 2.57 1.14 5
Raul Valdes 6 2/3 1.35 0.75 8
Joe Savery 5 1/3 0.00 0.94 7
Jeremy Horst 4 6.75 2.00 4
Pat Misch 4 2.25 1.75 3
Jake Diekman 4 0.00 0.75 8
Dontrelle Willis 2 2/3 16.87 3.38 0

Purcey has been good. Valdes, Savery and Diekman have been great.

It’s already clear that several of those guys are out of the running to start the year with the Phils. Willis has already been released and Misch assigned to minor league camp. Purcey and Horst were reassigned this morning.

The Phillies beat the Tigers 4-3 yesterday.

Scott Elarton started the game for the Phillies and was charged with three runs over 2 1/3 innings, pushing his Spring Training ERA to 6.10. Valdes followed Elarton, allowing a single over 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Savery was next and struck out three in two scoreless innings. Brian Sanches pitched the seventh, allowing a two-out double but keeping the Tigers off the board. He has a 4.50 ERA and a 1.67 ratio over six innings. Diekman threw a 1-2-3 eighth. Purcey allowed a double with two outs in the ninth, but got Austin Jackson on a ground ball to third to end the game.

Galvis had a two-run triple in a four-run fifth for the Phillies. He was 1-for-3 in the game and upped his line to 282/311/462 with a team-high ten RBI. Wigginton went 1-for-3 with a single and his hitting .219. Nix started in left and went 1-for-3.

The Phillies play Baltimore this afternoon with Halladay expected to pitch.

Chase Utley has left camp to see a specialist about his knees. It looks as if Freddy Galvis may see significant time at second base early in the season for the Phillies. Galvis has a career .292 on-base percentage in the minor leagues.

Jimmy Rollins fires up his own private uplifting quote machine yet again in this article, saying of Utley, “If he doesn’t play again that would be something horrible.”

Other in-house options for the Phillies at second would appear to include Martinez and Polanco, although Manuel points out in the article linked above that he’s having a lot of trouble keeping Polanco healthy at third.

The Phillies released Joel Piniero.

Past weekend edition

The Phillies played two games with the Blue Jays this weekend, winning one and losing one.

Toronto hammered the Phils 10-2 yesterday in a game memorable because Hamels and Contreras combined to allow nine runs in 3 2/3 innings.

Hamels got the start and didn’t fare well, allowing five runs on eight hits and no walks over 3 1/3 innings. Only four of the runs were earned thanks to a fourth-inning throwing error by Mayberry at first. Eight hits is a lot to allow in 3 1/3 innings — opponents are now hitting .322 against Hamels in official Spring Training action. His ERA is 3.86. Qualls followed Hamels and he pitched very well, facing six hitters and retiring five of them (the other reached on an error by Frandsen, his fourth). Contreras started the sixth and things didn’t go well. He faced five hitters, striking out one and allowing two singles, two doubles and a stolen base. After he left, Herndon promptly allowed a two-run homer to Jose Bautista, with one of the runs charged to Contreras and leaving Contreras with a 108.00 ERA after one official appearance. Herdon went 1 2/3 frames, allowing a run on two hits and upping his ERA to 2.57. Opponents have hit .310 against Herndon so far. Bastardo threw a scoreless eighth, allowing a single and a walk to the first two men he faced but keeping the Blue Jays off the board.

Montanez started in left and went 3-for-4 with a double, raising his line to a monster 448/452/655. Pierre was 1-for-1 to raise his average to .267. Podsednik 1-for-1 and has a 371/450/514 line.

Mayberry started at first, went 0-for-4 and left four men on base. 195/250/268.

Saturday the Phils beat the Blue Jays 4-3 in ten innings.

Worley got the start and threw four scoreless innings, dropping his Spring Training ERA to 1.80. Papelbon was next and allowed two hits, but kept Toronto off the board in his inning, also dropping his ERA to 1.80. Aumont pitched the sixth and was charged with a run on two hits and three stolen bases. Sanches threw a 1-2-3 seventh. Purcey pitched the eighth, allowing a leadoff homer to JP Arencibia before retiring the next three batters. His ERA is up to 3.00 with the run. Stutes surrendered a single and a home run in the ninth, pushing his ERA to 4.50. Raul Valdes set Toronto down in order in the top of the tenth, keeping his ERA at 0.00.

Luna was 2-for-2 and drove in two runs, including the game-winner in the bottom of the tenth when he singled home Podsednik. Podsednik was 1-for-1 with a walk and a double, raising his line to 353/436/500 with a team-high five extra-base hits (all doubles). Polanco was 1-for-1 to up his average to .529.

Polanco hurt the ring finger on his left hand on Saturday. The linked article suggests he will miss a few days. This says it is not broken.

Ryan Madson still seems to think the Phillies made an offer that may not have been made. Whatever happened, the Phillies would be a whole lot better off with Madson for one-year, $8.5 million than they are having signed Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million deal.

Jim Thome played first base in minor league games over the weekend. The linked article also says that Nix hopes to play today against Detroit. Scott Elarton will start that game.

At least it was Friday

The Phils played the Pirates on Friday, a couple of hours after releasing Dontrelle Willis. Pittsburgh won 3-2 to drop the Phils to 6-8 in official Spring Training action.

Lee got the start for the Phillies and allowed three runs on five hits and a walk over 4 2/3 innings, pushing his spring ERA to 4.66. Two of the runs he allowed came on homers, one to Starling Marte to lead off the bottom of the first and the other to Jake Fox. Kendrick followed Lee and he was fantastic, throwing 3 1/3 scoreless innings without allowing a hit (he hit one batter) while striking out five.

In his first three appearances, Kendrick has allowed four hits and no walks in 8 1/3 scoreless innings while striking out nine.

Pierre and Podsednik hit one and two in the order for the Phils with Pierre in right and Podsednik in center. Pierre was 0-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base and Podsednik 1-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base. Frandsen was 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Mayberry 0-for-3 to drop his average to .206. Montanez played left and went 1-for-4. He’s hitting .417.

Toronto on Saturday with Worley expected to pitch.

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