Archive for February, 2013

It happens every spring, but I don’t remember it always looking quite this ugly

The Phillies continued what’s been a pretty ugly start to spring training yesterday, making three more errors and allowing 12 runs as the Twins beat them 12-5. Justin De Fratus and BJ Rosenberg, each hoping to start the year in the bullpen for the Phils, combined to throw two innings in which they allowed six runs on seven hits and three walks.

Ben Revere had a nice day for the Phillies, going 2-for-4 with a pair of singles, stealing a base and scoring two runs. Domonic Brown is now 4-for-9 on the spring with a double, two home runs and two walks after going 1-for-2 with a double, two walks and three runs scored. Ruiz went 2-for-2 and drove in three runs. Mayberry had his first spring hit, a double, as he went 1-for-3 on the day. He’s 1-for-10 so far.

Frandsen was 2-for-4. He’s 5-for-13 with a double, a home run and a 1.077 OPS in the early going. Howard 1-for-2 with a walk. He’s still looking for his first home run, but is now 6-for-12 with two doubles and two walks.

Not as good a day for Galvis, who was 0-for-5, made an error and struck out twice. He also made a misplay late that was originally called an error and then called a hit. Ruf went 0-for-1 in a pinch-hitting opportunity and is still looking for his first official spring hit. He’s 0-for-9.

Ruf has been dealing with a sore throwing arm that has kept him out of the lineup.

Lannan started the game for the Phils, allowing a run on four singles and a walk over two innings. Adam Morgan followed Lannan and allowed a run on three singles in the third. He came back for the fourth and faced five hitters, getting two outs and allowing a double and a single while the other reached on a Galvis error. Morgan left with two down and men on the corners. Kyle Simon came in to pitch to Ryan Doumit and Doumit hit a three-run homer to right.

Bastardo and Mauricio Robles threw scoreless innings later in the game.

The sixth and seventh didn’t go well for the Phils. De Fratus started the sixth and had his second bad outing in two tries, allowing three runs on four hits, including a double, and a walk. He’s now allowed five runs on six hits over three innings in his two appearances.

Rosenberg also got hit hard, allowing three runs in the seventh. The first four men he faced reached base on a pair of walks, a double and an infield single. He allowed a two-run single with one out before getting a double-play to end the inning.

Like De Fratus, Rosenberg has two spring outings, both of which have been bad. He’s allowed six runs on eight hits and three walks over three innings. That’s a 3.67 ratio, which is not what you’re looking for.

You also want to avoid walking two of the first four men you face if it’s at all possible. In 2012 with the Phillies, Rosenberg walked 14 men in 25 innings while pitching to a 6.12 ERA.

The Phillies face the Braves this afternoon with Cole Hamels expected to pitch. Jake Diekman is also expected to throw in relief as he makes his case for a spot in the pen. He’s made one official appearance so far and allowed a run on a hit and a walk over one inning.


Not for Nuding the Phils would still be sadly winless

The Phillies won their first spring training game in four tries yesterday, topping the Yankees 4-3.

No Phillie had more than one hit in the game. Down 1-0 in the sixth, Rollins walked with one out and scored on a double by Frandsen to tie the game at 1-1. The Phils trailed 3-1 when they hit in the seventh. Brown hit a solo homer to cut the lead to 3-2. Cody Asche doubled with two outs and Tommy Joseph followed that with a two-run homer to left that put the Phils up to stay.

Brown’s homer was pretty and went real far. Look. Now if we can just get Zach Nuding to start 35 games or so for the Nats or Braves we should be all set.

Howard was 1-for-2 with a walk. Michael Young remains hitless after an 0-for-3, he’s 0-for-8 so far. Revere is 1-for-6 with an error on the spring after an 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Mayberry 0-for-7 with three strikeouts in the early going after going 0-for-1 with a strikeout yesterday.

Kendrick started the game for the Phils allowed a first-inning run on a double and a single. He threw a scoreless second and was followed by Aaron Cook, who tossed two scoreless frames.

Durbin, Cesar Jimenez and Horst all threw a scoreless inning. Horst started the ninth with a one-run lead and got the save. He gave up back-to-back hits with two outs and nobody on, putting runners on first and third, but got someone named Cito Culver, who is 20-years-old and slugged .283 at Single-A in 2012, on a fly ball to right to end the game. Culver was a first-round pick in 2010 draft, taken by the Yankees in that round ahead of some people you may have heard more about, like Taijuan Walker, Nick Castellanos, Chance Ruffin and Mike Olt.

Look for the Phillies to take Culver in the 2019 Rule V draft and give him 587 plate appearances as their starting shortstop. You heard it here first.

After Kendrick’s run in the first inning, the only other Phillie pitcher who was scored on in the game was Zach Miner. Miner threw a scoreless sixth. He returned for the seventh with the game tied at 1-1 and yielded a pair of runs on a one-out single that was followed by a home run.

Not a great day for Zachs. Miner and Nuding combined to go three innings in the game, allowing five earned runs on six hits, three of which were home runs.

Second official appearance for Miner. He’s allowed four runs, three of which are earned, on six hits over three innings.

Chase Utley was scratched from yesterday’s lineup due to wet weather conditions.

Delmon Young suggests that his ankle problems significantly impacted his performance during the last two season. That’s discussed in this blog post.

This suggests that Mike Adams could pitch tomorrow, which would be earlier than expected.

Lannan is expected to pitch this afternoon as the Phils face the Twins.


Papelbon lends his leadership skills to the Detroit offense

Unusual choice. The Phils got crushed yesterday in a game most memorable for Jonathan Papelbon’s outing. Papelbon was charged with six runs over two-thirds of an inning and surrendered monster three-run home run to Miguel Cabrera.

The Tigers won the game 10-1. The Phillies have lost two of three so far and played to a tie in the other.

The Phils didn’t have an extra-base hit in the game. Howard was the offensive MVP of the contest, going 2-for-2 with a sac fly to plate the team’s lone run. Josh Fields, Galvis and Betancourt had the other three singles. Darin Ruf went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and is 0-for-8 so far. Inciarte walked in his only chance and has a 1.000 on-base percentage and an OPS of 2.000 after four plate appearances (1-for-1 with three walks). He’s been on base four more times than Ruf and has one at-bat.

There’s no way they could carry Inciarte to start the season, I hear you cry? Oh, there’s a way. 324 plate appearances for Michael Martinez over the last two years. Freddy Galvis, John Mayberry, Ty Wigginton and Placido Polanco all started on opening day in 2012 and the Phillies gave Juan Pierre 439 plate appearances for the season. Wilson Valdez got 663 plate appearances for the Phils in 2010 and 2011 combined.

So there’s a way. Just while we’re talking about it, Yuniesky Betancourt is 3-for-6 in the early going.

Things started out well enough on the pitching side. Lee and Cloyd threw the first four innings with each tossing a pair of scoreless frames.

Aumont was the other Phillie pitcher who was good in the game. He started the seventh with the Phils down 8-1 and set the Tigers down in order.

Papelbon getting hammered was the big surprise for the day. He started the fifth and faced nine hitters, getting two outs and allowing six runs on two walks, three singles and a pair of home runs. The three-run homer that Cabrera hit was the second Papelbon had allowed in the frame and came with one out and men on first and second. It went unusually far. Alfredo Simon bailed Papelbon out, facing one batter and getting a ground out to end the frame.

Stutes made his spring debut in the sixth and allowed a pair of runs. He walked the leadoff man, got the next two, but then allowed a walk and a two-run triple.

Valdes gave up a run on back-to-back doubles in the eighth, then returned for the ninth and allowed another run on a solo homer.

In yesterday’s game, left-handed pitchers threw seven of the nine innings for Detroit. In those seven innings, the Phillies scored a run on four singles and three walks. This article points out the problems the Phils might have with lefties this year. They didn’t have a lot of success against righties in yesterday’s game, either. Detroit righties threw two scoreless innings in which they allowed one single and struck out two.

Kendrick is expected to pitch this afternoon when the Phils face the Yankees.


Play ball! Not especially well, but whatever!

The Phillies have played three games since the last post. They played an intrasquad game on Friday, Houston on Saturday and Detroit on Sunday.

Yesterday the Phils and Tigers played to a 5-5 tie in ten innings. Howard was 2-for-3 with a pair for doubles. Frandsen also had two hits, including a solo home run in the fourth inning. Domonic Brown got just one at-bat in the game, but hit a solo home run pinch-hitting for Ruf in the top of the eighth to tie the game at 5-5. Ruf was 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Pitching-wise, Halladay was the story of the game as he allowed one run on one hit, a solo homer by Victor Martinez, over two innings. Rodrigo Lopez threw three scoreless innings late in the game, striking out three. Bastardo, Savery and Justin Friend all tossed a scoreless inning. Savery got out of his inning with the help of a double-play after allowing two singles in the frame.

JC Ramirez and Diekman had less luck. Ramirez was charged with three runs in the fourth on a walk, two singles and a double. Diekman pitched the fifth and allowed a run. He gave up a leadoff walk and the pinch-runner came around to score on a two-out single after stealing second.

In 2012 with the Phillies, Diekman walked 20 in 27 1/3 innings.

On Saturday the Phils made four errors as they lost 8-3 to the Astros. Ruf’s was the most memorable, misplaying a single to allow an extra base, as his first chance to impress with his defense in left didn’t go so well. Kratz, Martinez and Revere also had errors in the game.

Pete Orr hit a solo home run for the Phils. Yuniesky Betancourt started at short and was the only Phillie with more than one hit. He went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles.

Hamels was rather impressive, throwing two shutout innings to start the game. He allowed just one hit, an infield single, and threw just ten pitches. Rosenberg was next and was hit hard, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk in two frames. Zach Miner allowed two runs on three hits in the fifth, only one of which was earned due to Revere’s error in center. Horst allowed a run over two innings and De Fratus was charged with single runs in both the eighth and the ninth, walking a batter early in both frames.

On Friday, Ruf was 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles and Brown 1-for-2 with a double in the intrasquad game. Lefty Adam Morgan also threw two scoreless frames.

Over two official spring training games, Ender Inciarte is 1-for-1 with a single and two walks. Ut oh. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The Phillies traded Michael Schwimer to the Blue Jays for first baseman Art Charles. Charles is 22 and hits left-handed. He’s spent three years in the low minors, hitting .239, but with a 101 walks and 28 home runs in 706 plate appearances. 239/358/482 so far in the minor leagues.

The Phillies signed 24-year-old left-handed hitting 1B/3B/LF Austin Gallagher to a minor league deal and released Andres Blanco. Gallagher hasn’t made it to Double-A yet, but has hit 285/360/430 over 2,173 plate appearances at various stops in the Dodgers organization. He will begin to serve a 50-game suspension for taking a banned substance on April 1.

Delmon Young will see a doctor this week in the hopes of being cleared for more activity.

The Phillies play the Tigers this afternoon with Cliff Lee expected to pitch.


Minor details

Even with Delmon Young likely to start the year on the DL, I’m still not sure we’re going to see Darin Ruf playing a whole lot of left field in 2013, unless he demonstrates real soon he can handle the position defensively. Given that Ryan Howard plays first and will for a while, I’m not sure there’s anywhere else for him to play.

Either way, Ruf got 37 plate appearances with the Phils in 2012 and walked in just two of them, a walk rate of 5.4%. So should we be worried that he’s going to continue to drag down the Phillie walk rate in left field in 2013?

I don’t think so. First, cause I’m still not sure how much we’re going to see Ruf in left field in 2013 and second because he’s likely to walk a lot more than 5.4% if he’s given enough chances to hit.

Here’s how Ruf’s walk rates at various levels compare to fellow corner outfield candidates Domonic Brown and John Mayberry:

Darin Ruf
Year & Age Level PA BB%
2009 (22) Rk/A- 201 8.5
2010 (23) A/A+ 547 8.6
2011 (24) A+ 554 10.1
2012 (25) AA 583 11.1
All minors - 1,885 9.8
@ AAA - 0 -
Majors MAJ 37 5.4
Domonic Brown
Year & Age Level PA BB%
2006 (18) Rk 131 9.2
2007 (19) A-/A+ 328 8.8
2008 (20) A 516 12.4
2009 (21) Rk/A+/AA 454 10.8
2010 (22) AA/AAA 389 9.5
2011 (23) A+/AAA 195 15.4
2012 (24) Rk/AAA 261 7.7
All minors - 2,274 10.6
@ AAA - 531 10.0
Majors MAJ 492 10.4
John Mayberry
2005 (21) A- 302 8.6
2006 (22) A 533 11.1
2007 (23) A+/AA 548 8.8
2008 (24) AA/AAA 565 6.0
2009 (25) AAA 358 9.5
2010 (26) AAA 547 7.1
2011 (27) AAA 122 4.1
All minors - 2,975 8.2
@ AAA - 1,502 7.2
Majors MAJ 848 7.4

Couple of things. First, Darin Ruf is old. He turned 26 in July. Mayberry is really old, but we’ve had time to get used to that. The Phils took Ruf out of Creighton University and he didn’t get his first minor league plate appearance until his age 22 season. In 2011, he had a very nice year at Clearwater, hitting 308/388/506, but did it during his age 24 season. Domonic Brown, on the other hand, was taken out of high school and had already been to Double-A (for 162 plate appearances) by the end of his age 21 season. Brown reached Triple-A during his age 22 season while Mayberry and Ruf were both in A-ball or lower during their age 22 year.

Mayberry played three years at Stanford before debuting in the Northwest league in his age 21 season.

Bottom line for me when you look at the walk rates for those three guys across all levels, Brown is going to walk the most of the three. I’d guess it will be close between Ruf and Mayberry, but I’d bet that when their careers are over, Ruf will have walked in a higher percentage of his plate appearances than Mayberry. Especially in the unlikely event that he keeps hitting 50 or so home runs a year.

Mike Schmidt seems more optimistic about Michael Young’s chances of being a first ballot Hall of Famer than I am.

Laynce Nix has a bone spur in his right foot. The linked article suggests he’s not expected to miss time as a result of the bone spur.

The Phillies play an intrasquad game today. They play the Astros on Saturday and the Tigers on Sunday.


Juan of the problems

In 2012, Phillie left fielders walked in about 6.3% of their plate appearances, which was the 15th-best walk rate in the 16 team NL. So what went wrong? Well, the Phillies gave about 80% of their plate appearances at the position to Juan Pierre and John Mayberry and those guys didn’t walk.

Here’s how the percentages of plate appearances and walks for the Phillie left fielders break down for 2012:

Player % of PA BB% as LF
Pierre 60.2 5.0
Mayberry 19.8 5.8
Brown 8.3 6.9
Nix 3.7 15.4
Wigginton 3.6 24.0
Ruf 3.0 4.8
Others (2) 1.3 0.0
All PHI LF 100 6.3
NL avg LF - 8.0

Juan Pierre just doesn’t walk and you shouldn’t expect him to. His career walk rate is 5.7% and he was around that mark while playing left field at the position last year.

Mayberry has been better at drawing walks than Pierre for his career, walking in about 7.4% of his chances, but walked in just 5.8% of his plate appearances while playing left field for the Phils in 2012.

Below them there’s some weird stuff with the guys who got a smaller number of plate appearances. The walk rate for the team would have been even worse had Wigginton and Nix not combined to bizarrely walk 10 times in their 51 plate appearances (about 19.6%). The left fielders other than Wigginton and Nix combined to walk in about 5.3% of their plate appearances for the Phils.

To the degree there’s good news on this front, it’s that Brown, and hopefully Ruf, are both likely to walk at much higher rates going forward than they did in their time playing left field for the Phillies in 2012.


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