Tag: Jason Donald

NiceLee done?

This says that the Phillies have “reached agreement with the Indians on a trade that would bring them left-hander Cliff Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco for Class A right-hander Jason Knapp, Class AAA right-hander Carlos Carrasco, shortstop Jason Donald and catcher Lou Marson” and that “the deal is pending a review of medical records.”

That would be very good news for the Phillies.

Ben Francisco is a right-handed outfielder who can play all three outfield positions. He turns 28 in October and has a career 261/332/437 line. He’s played regularly for the Indians this year and has posted a 250/336/422 line in 308 at-bats with ten home runs and 13 stolen bases.

He’s hitting 269/383/463 against left-handed pitching this year.

Lefty Cliff Lee turns 31 next month. He won the AL Cy Young in 2008 and is 7-9 with a 3.14 ERA and a 1.30 ratio in 2009.


For openers

Brett Myers faces Derek Lowe tomorrow night as the Phillies open their season against the Atlanta Braves.

Myers comes off a solid spring. In five starts he threw to a 3.52 ERA with a 1.26 ratio. He walked just six hitters in 23 innings, a rate of 2.34 per nine innings that’s better than his career mark of 3.15. He made two starts against the Braves in 2008 and was hit hard in both. He was hammered on May 14, allowing eight runs over 4 1/3 innings. On September 24 he also lasted just 4 1/3 and was charged with six runs. Overall he was 0-2 with a 10.38 ERA and a 2.77 ratio against Atlanta last season.

Chipper Jones and Brian McCann both have a lot of at-bats against Myers and have hit him hard. Chipper is 10-for-30 with three home runs against him (333/474/667). McCann 10-for-27 with four doubles and a home run (370/414/630). Martin Prado 3-for-3. Kelly Johnson just 3-for-17.

Lowe made one regular season start against the Phils in 2008. While with the Dodgers, he allowed three runs over 6 1/3 innings on August 11. Jimmy Rollins hit a seventh-inning triple off of Chan Ho Park in that game.

Lowe also started games one and four of the NLCS for Los Angeles and allowed four earned runs over 10 1/3 innings in the two starts combined. Lowe pitched very well in game one of the NLCS, but a Rafael Furcal error in the sixth was followed by a home run by Utley and another by Burrell. The Phils won that game 3-2. Game four featured a late home run by Matt Stairs off of Jonathan Broxton.

Lowe had a nice spring as well, making six starts with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.08 ratio. In 26 innings he walked just two.

The Phillies have a lot of ugly career numbers against Lowe. Feliz 5-for-23 (.217). Ibanez 2-for-19 (.105) with two home runs. Howard 2-for-16 (.125) with two singles. Rollins and Utley are among the exceptions. Rollins 6-for-20 (.300) with two doubles. Utley 5-for-14 with three doubles (.357).

The Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 at Citizens Bank Park last night. Jason Donald won it with a walk-off RBI single to right in the bottom of the ninth.

Blanton got the start and was very good yet again, allowing two runs on six hits. Again he didn’t get hurt by the walk — he struck out three and didn’t walk a batter. Durbin, Eyre, Madson and Lidge all pitched scoreless innings. None of those guys seem likely to pitch today given that the Phils play a game that counts tomorrow.

Werth was 2-for-3 with a double. Coste 0-for-3 with a walk. Bruntlett 0-for-2 and walked twice.

Burrell was 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI.

Cole Hamels is on the mound this afternoon as the Phils face the Rays again (Burrell homered off of him in the first).

I would like to point out that the money the Phillies have to pay Jenkins this season not to play is very similar to the amount they presumably would have had to pay to have Burrell on the team in ’09. The Phils owe Jenkins $6.75 million in salary plus a $1.25 million buyout for 2010. That’s $8 million. Burrell signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Rays. I think we’re going to miss Pat’s bat this year.

Update: 4/5 The Phils 25-man roster is set and includes Miguel Cairo. Miguel Cairo and Eric Bruntlett is too many backup infielders to have on your team that includes 13 hitters (too many by one).

Philliesflow maintains a Start Log, which is a record of the performances by starting pitchers on the squad. The ’09 version is ready for action. You can view the older Start Logs here.


Early but not often

The Phillies didn’t allow a lot of home runs last year — only five NL teams gave up fewer than the 160 they surrendered. They did give up a lot of home runs on the first pitch, though, only three NL teams gave up more. The percentage of the home runs that they did allow that came on the first pitch of plate appearances was also high compared to the rest of the league.

For the 16 NL teams, the chart below shows how many batters they faced last year, how many homers they allowed and how many of the those plate appearances and home runs took just one pitch:

Team Total PA Total HR 1-pitch PA % 1st-pitch
HR
%
CHI 6194 160 706 11.4 39 24.4
PHI 6229 160 778 12.5 35 21.9
SFG 6341 147 675 10.6 31 21.1
SDP 6286 165 740 11.8 34 20.6
HOU 6125 197 770 12.6 39 19.8
STL 6264 163 743 11.9 32 19.6
NYM 6338 163 721 11.4 32 19.6
WSN 6310 190 709 11.2 34 17.9
ARI 6119 147 749 12.2 26 17.7
LAD 6127 123 698 11.4 21 17.1
COL 6338 148 754 11.9 23 15.5
PIT 6528 176 801 12.3 27 15.3
MIL 6209 175 749 12.1 26 14.9
CIN 6352 201 661 10.4 28 13.9
FLA 6271 161 703 11.2 20 12.4
ATL 6244 156 685 11.0 17 10.9

The Phillies had the second-highest percentage of the home runs they allowed last year come on the first pitch, behind only the Cubs.

With the exception of the Braves, who had 11.0% of their plate appearances end in one pitch in 2008 but gave up just 10.9% of their homers on the first pitch, every NL gave up a higher percentage of their homers for the year on the first pitch than percentage of plate appearances that ended on the first pitch.

Of the 16 teams, only the Cubs and the Giants had a bigger difference between the percentage of home runs they allowed on the first pitch and the percentage of their plate appearances that ended on the first pitch than the Phillies.

By sheer numbers of home runs given up on the first pitch, the Cubs and Astros were the two teams that allowed more than the Phillies. They each surrendered 39 compared to 35 for the Phillies.

There’s a wide range between how frequently the teams allowed home runs on the year. The Braves allowed a home run on the first pitch least frequently — they faced 6,244 hitters and allowed 17 first pitch home runs. That’s one per 367.3 plate appearances. The Astros allowed them at the highest rate — 39 first pitch home runs surrendered to 6,125 batters or one per 157.1 batters. The Phillies rate of one per 178 plate appearances was third worst in the league behind Houston and Chicago (158.8).

I still don’t think any of this answers the question of whether or not this is a problem. The best pitch in baseball is strike one, as they say, and throwing strike one means throwing the ball over the plate one the first pitch. It’s easy to prevent first pitch home runs if you want — just never throw the ball near the plate. I think it could be the case that the benefit gained by consistently throwing strike one is more significant that negative consequences of giving up more first pitch home runs. Later this week a post will look at how often the Phils got ahead in the count on the first pitch instead of behind compared to the rest of the league.

The Phillies have played three games since the last post. They lost two and played the Cardinals to a tie on Friday, putting their spring record at 8-12.

Not a big couple of days for the bats. The Phils scored three runs in the three games.

Today the Red Sox beat them 3-0.

Myers got the start and allowed two runs on five hits and five walks over five innings. Mike Lowell hit a two-run homer off of him in the first to account for both runs he allowed. Durbin kept his spring ERA at 0.00 with a scoreless seventh.

Mayberry was 1-for-4 and left five men on base. He’s hitting .279 in spring training. Cairo was 0-for-3 to drop his average to .268. Ozuna is hitting .364 after a 1-for-3 day. Paulino down to .174 after an 0-for-1. Donald drew a walk but didn’t have an official at-bat in the game. He’s hitting .314.

On Saturday, Kendrick finally had a good outing but the Phils lost to the Twins 2-1.

Kendrick went five innings, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk. Just one of the hits went for extra-bases, a double by Michael Cuddyer. Condrey followed with two scoreless innings to drop his spring ERA to 1.23.

Chan Ho Park was expected to start the game, but did not due to the problems with his strained left hamstring. This says he will start Tuesday against Toronto.

Bruntlett hit a home run with two outs in the ninth for the Phillies’ only run. Cairo was 0-for-3 with a walk. Mayberry 2-for-4 with a double and a stolen base.

Friday the Phillies tied the Cardinals 2-2 in ten innings.

Carrasco got the start and went 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks. Both runs came on a two-run homer by Rick Ankiel in the third. Koplove threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing a single and a walk, keeping his ERA at 0.00. Durbin allowed two walks over 1 1/3 scoreless frames.

Paulino was 0-for-2 and struck out twice. Giles, Mayberry and Donald were all 0-for-1.

The Phillies play the Yankees tomorrow.

Jimmy Rollins is in the lineup as the DH tonight as the Phils play Japan in the World Baseball Classic. The winner of the game will play Korea in the finals. Korea beat Venezuela 10-2 to advance to the finals.

Philliesflow now has a Twitter page.


And not just that, but the hide-your-eyes per nine innings for Kendrick continues to skyrocket

Yesterday I mentioned that Chan Ho Park lowered his walk rate last year compared to his career numbers while pitching mostly in relief for LA. That’s a good sign, because overall relief pitchers tend to walk more hitters than starting pitcher.

Here’s how many walks per nine innings NL starters and relievers have issued over the past five seasons, along with the numbers for the Phillies:

bbper9.jpg

As you can see, the blue lines for the NL walk rates are pretty stable, with the relievers consistently walking more hitters than the starters. The lines for the Phillies flail about a little more. Phillies starters actually walked batters at a higher rate than their relievers in 2004 — that season the Phils relievers were outstanding at preventing walks, they had the third best rate in the NL, while the starting pitchers were closer to the league average.

Finally, the tremendous success of the 2008 bullpen wasn’t built on preventing walks. The ’08 pen actually walked batters at a rate slightly higher than the league average. They did manage to reduce the walk rate significantly from 2007, however.

Kyle Kendrick. Kyle Kendrick did not have a good day yesterday. He got bombed for the second straight outing as the Phils lost to the Braves 12-10. The Phillies are 4-7 in spring training.

Coming off a weak start on Friday where he was charged with four runs in 2 2/3 innings, Kendrick went three innings yesterday and allowed eight runs on ten hits and a walk. Over his last two starts he’s allowed 12 earned runs on 15 hits and a walk in 5 2/3 innings. That’s a 19.06 ERA and a 2.82 ratio.

Yesterday Clint Sammons hit two home runs off of him, a two-run homer in the second and a solo shot in the fourth. Kendrick started the fourth down 4-1 and failed to retire any of the four batters he faced in the inning before being pulled.

Kendrick is likely to get three more starts in spring training. But if he ever was in the driver seat for the fifth starter job he’s knocked himself way, way out of it and into a deep hole. To have a chance now he’s going to have to pitch a whole lot better than he has been and he’s also going to need Happ and Park, especially Park, to pitch worse.

Assuming that doesn’t happen, with Eyre as the sole lefty in the pen, unless the Phillies add another left-handed reliever before the start of the season I think Happ goes to the pen. That would make Park the fifth starter and open another (Park’s) spot in the bullpen. Gary Majewski, Dave Borkowski and Mike Koplove look to me to be the prime contenders for the extra spot in the pen if one opened. All three pitchers in the group have pitched well, but Koplove is the favorite in my eyes if one them makes the team. Majewski and Borkowski both pitched yesterday. Majewski was charged with two runs on three hits in an inning (only one of the runs was earned) to put his ERA at 1.29. Borkowski allowed a hit in a scoreless eighth to keep his official spring ERA at 0.00 — he’s allowed two hits in 3 2/3 innings this spring without walking a batter. He also threw a perfect inning against Team Canada last Wednesday, which doesn’t count towards his official stats.

Koplove, meanwhile, did not pitch yesterday but has tossed three innings without allowing a run or a hit. He has walked one.

Offensively, Mayberry homered again for the Phillies. He hit a solo shot in the fourth off of Jo-Jo Reyes and finished the day 2-for-3. Donald had another fantastic day as well, going 3-for-4 to raise his spring average to .379. Giles 0-for-2 with a walk. Cairo was 1-for-2 with a solo homer in the ninth.

Team USA lost to Venezuela yesterday, 5-3. Rollins was 0-for-4 with a walk and Victorino 1-for-2. It’s on to round two for the US team. They will play Puerto Rico on Saturday. Venezuela plays the Netherlands, also on Saturday.

Mexico beat Australia 16-1. Harman went 0-for-2. Drew Naylor got one out and was charged with three runs on two hits and a walk. Rodrigo Lopez pitched for Mexico in relief. He threw a perfect 1 1/3 innings, striking out two. Australia was eliminated with the loss. Harman went 3-for-9 with three singles and a walk in their three games. Naylor’s only action came against Mexico. Mexico plays Cuba today to determine the winner of Pool B, but both teams will advance to the second round and play either Japan (today’s winner) or Korea (today’s loser).

Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands 5-0 to win Pool D. Romero did not pitch.

Manuel talks about the possibility of keeping a veteran like Stairs or Cairo and letting Donald and Mayberry start the year in the minors in this article.

Feliz, Lidge and Durbin all played in an intrasquad game yesterday. The linked article also says that Manuel thinks Utley will play in a game next week.

The Phillies play Tampa Bay this afternoon. Happ is expected to pitch.


Not just that, but I don’t much care for the look in Anderson Hernandez’s eyes either

Earlier this week I mentioned the Marlins infield and the astonishing 29 home runs they got from four different infielders. Between all the hype given to Utley and Howard and Reyes and Wright, you might think the Mets or the Phillies have the best infield in the division. But, in 2008 at least, they didn’t. Arguably, the Marlins didn’t either.

If you look at the players from each team who got the most at-bats at each of the four infield positions in 2008, add up what they did and compare the total OPS for the five NL East teams, here’s how things look:

The Braves:


Player

AB

HR

BB

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS
M
Teixerira

381

20

65

.283

.390

.512

.902
K
Johnson

547

12

52

.287

.349

.446

.795
C
Jones

439

22

90

.364

.470

.574

1.044
Y
Escobar

514

10

59

.288

.366

.401

.766

Total

1881
64
266

.305

.392

.477

.869

The Marlins:


Player

AB

HR

BB

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS
M
Jacobs

477

32

36

.247

.299

.514

.812
D
Uggla

531

32

77

.260

.360

.514

.874
J
Cantu

628

29

40

.277

.327

.481

.808
H
Ramirez

589

33

92

.301

.400

.540

.940

Total

2225

126

245

.273

.349

.511

.861

The Mets:


Player

AB

HR

BB

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS
C
Delgado

598

38

72

.271

.353

.518

.871
L
Castillo

298
3
50

.245

.355

.305

.660
D
Wright

626

33

94

.302

.390

.534

.924
J
Reyes

668

16

66

.297

.358

.475

.833

Total

2210
90
282

.284

.365

.481

.846

The Phillies:


Player

AB

HR

BB

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS
R
Howard

610

48

81

.251

.339

.543

.881
C
Utley

607

33

64

.292

.380

.535

.915
P
Feliz

425

14

33

.249

.302

.402

.705
J
Rollins

556

11

58

.277

.349

.437

.786

Total

2198

106

236

.268

.346

.487

.833

And the Nats:


Player

AB

HR

BB

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS
A
Boone

232
6
18

.241

.299

.384

.683
F
Lopez

325
2
32

.234

.305

.314

.619
R
Zimmerman

428

14

31

.283

.333

.442

.774
C
Guzman

579
9
23

.316

.345

.440

.786

Total

1564
31
104

.279

.326

.406

.732

The Marlins gave a higher percentage of their defensive innings at the four infield positions to the players listed above than the Braves did. So if you compare what all players did while playing defensively at each of the infield positions (and not just the player who appeared their the most often), the Marlins wound up with a better OPS for the season:

Florida

Player

AB

HR

BB

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

All 1B

640

40

44

.253

.304

.506

.811

All 2B

602

33

78

.259

.351

.497

.848

All 3B

651

23

46

.270

.324

.438

.761

All SS

643

34

93

.303

.396

.530

.926

Total

2536

130

261

.272

.344

.493

.837

Atlanta

Player

AB

HR

BB

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

All 1B

616

24

93

.279

.378

.458

.836

All 2B

643

11

61

.288

.350

.440

.790

All 3B

623

24

96

.345

.431

.530

.961

All SS

656

11

65

.273

.343

.387

.730

Total

2538
70
315

.296

.376

.453

.828

If you’re wondering how Kelly Johnson can hit 12 home runs and the Braves’ second basemen combine to hit 11, it’s because Johnson hit one as a pinch-hitter and all other players who played second base for Atlanta in ’08 combined to hit zero.

Eric Hinske recalls facing Brad Lidge with the World Series on the line in this article. The same article also suggests that Mike Zagurski could be ready to join a minor league team in mid-April and Scott Mathieson around mid-August.

Pat the Bat will take the bus to face the Phils on Saturday.

The Phils played their first spring training game yesterday and got bombed by the Pirates, 8-2. Joe Bisenius and Scott Nestor combined to pitch two innings and allow seven runs, three of which came on a three-run homer by Shelby Ford off of Bisenius with two outs in the fourth. Mike Koplove is a guy fans should be watching — he struck out two in a perfect eighth. I think Koplove is a long shot to make the team out of spring training, but one scenario where it would be possible is if Park won the fifth starter job and Koplove took Park’s spot in the pen.

Offensively, Jeremy Slayden went 2-for-2 with a double, which was the only extra-base hit of the game for the Phils. If he was right-handed people would be getting rightfully geeked up. He’s not. Ibanez 1-for-2 with an RBI. Marcus Giles 0-for-2 and struck out twice. Jenkins was 1-for-1 with a walk — if you’re looking for places the Phillies can get better in 2009, one is by getting more offense out of Jenkins.

The Phils play Toronto today. JA Happ and Carlos Carrasco are among the Phillies scheduled to pitch.

Jason Donald will play third in today’s game, according to Todd Zolecki’s blog. If Utley is healthy, I think the Phillies would have to believe Donald can play third base for him to have much of a chance to make the opening day roster.

Ad: TicketCity has Phillies tickets for spring training and regular season games.


2009 a fourth time

The Phillies actually play a game today, so I thought it would be a good time to update my guess at who makes the opening day roster.

Not a whole lot has happened since my most recent guess, which came in mid-January:

  • The news about Utley’s health has largely been good. Multiple reports have suggested that he may be ready for the start of the regular season.
  • News about Pedro Feliz’s recovery from back injury has been less encouraging and his readiness for opening day is looking possible but not as sure as some had previously thought.
  • The Phillies signed utility man Miguel Cairo.

It’s very hard to know whether Utley or Feliz are going to be ready to go when the season starts. I’m going to guess they both will at this point. That would give the Phillies ten hitters on the team:


Player

Position
1
Ryan Howard

1B
2 Chase Utley
2B
3
Jimmy Rollins

SS
4
Pedro Feliz

3B
5
Shane Victorino

OF
6
Jayson Werth

OF
7
Raul Ibanez

OF
8
OF
9
Carlos Ruiz
C
10 C
11
Eric Bruntlett

UT
12
Greg Dobbs

3B/OF
13
UT
14

Three spots left. One has to go to a catcher and another to a fourth outfielder.

The top candidates for the three spots look to be Jason Donald, John Mayberry, Marcus Giles, Miguel Cairo, Ronny Paulino, Chris Coste, Matt Stairs and Geoff Jenkins.

Of the three spots one has to go to either Paulino or Coste. Jenkins is a strong front-runner for the second. I think Jenkins is on the team as the fourth outfielder, partly because he’s harder to trade than Stairs because of his contract. He is also far better defensively.

I’ve been saying I think Paulino is the second catcher all along, but my confidence is wavering. I will stick with Paulino, but I do think the chances that Coste makes the team improve as camp progresses without the Phillies adding a right-handed hitter. This article suggests that Coste is the front-runner over Paulino coming into camp.

If Coste were to be the second catcher behind Ruiz, it would solve one of the Phillies other problems in what to do with Coste. They could send him (or Paulino) to the minors, but I would guess they don’t want to. Coste as the backup catcher would presumably kill Paulino’s chances to make the team, but I’m less sure Paulino as the backup catcher would kill Coste’s chances. I think if Coste won the backup catcher spot it would open up the final spot for Giles, Donald or Cairo.

If the final hitter comes from the group above, my guess it would be Coste or Stairs. I don’t think it will, though. I will still guess the Phils make a trade, sending Stairs, or Stairs and Coste, to someone to bring back a right-handed hitter who will take the final hitting spot on the roster.

There are only so many things the Phils can do with Stairs, including putting him on the team, trading him or releasing him. Putting him on the team makes him a sluggish corner outfielder who is the sixth left-handed bat along with Utley, Howard, Ibanez, Jenkins, and Dobbs. Assuming they also will continue to play Bruntlett in the outfield, it would also make him their sixth outfielder. Releasing him, especially since one would think his $1 million contract would make him desirable to other teams, doesn’t seem that likely either. That seems to leave trading him.

If Feliz isn’t ready to go to start the year, my guess is the Phils would go with a Bruntlett/Dobbs platoon at third. It would open another spot on the roster, at least temporarily. I would guess Miguel Cairo, given his experience playing third as well as his ability to play multiple positions, might become a more attractive option for the Phils if that were the case.

Ten of the Phillies pitching spots are likely to be filled by these guys:


Player

Position
1
Cole Hamels (left)

SP
2
Brett Myers (right)

SP
3
Joe Blanton (right)

SP
4
Jamie Moyer (left)

SP
5
SP
6
Ryan Madson (right)
 RP
7
Chan Ho Park (right)

SP/RP
8
Clay Condrey (right)

RP
9
Scott Eyre (left)

RP
10
Chad Durbin (right)

RP
11  
RP
12
Brad Lidge (right)

CLOSER

Two spots left and my guess for each stays the same.

I like Kendrick to win the fifth starter job over Chan Ho Park, JA Happ and Carlos Carrasco. I think Park goes to the pen and Happ joins him as the second lefty along with Eyre.

I will be interested to see if the fifth starter job actually goes to the player of those four who pitches the best in spring training. I think the answer may be no. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem if it’s Happ or Carrasco who pitches the best. Carrasco can’t be too surprised if he starts the year in the minors at age 21 coming off a year when he threw to a 4.32 ERA at Double-A. I think Happ has a good chance to make the team anyway and should have known better than to be left-handed. But if Park, who clearly wants to start, out pitches Kendrick and doesn’t win the spot things could get interesting quickly.

Another possibility is that the Phils could trade Stairs (or, less likely, Jenkins or Coste) to bring in a second lefty. Or they could sign a left-handed reliever. In either of those cases, I think it would really make it a three-way duel for the fifth starter job between Happ, Kendrick and Park rather than Park and Kendrick battling it out.

So here’s my overall guess at this point:

Hitters (13): Howard, Utley, Rollins, Feliz, Ibanez, Victorino, Werth, Ruiz, Bruntlett, Dobbs, Paulino, Jenkins and a right-handed hitter not currently with the team.

Pitchers (12): Hamels, Myers, Blanton, Moyer, Kendrick, Madson, Happ, Condrey, Eyre, Durbin, Park, Lidge.

Dobbs would like the chance to hit against lefties. He has 55 plate appearances against lefties and 781 against righties for his career.

Victorino will not be playing in the World Baseball Classic.

Jason Donald will start at second base in today’s game against Pittsburgh. Moyer, Blanton, Scott Nestor, Joe Bisenius, Dave Borkowski, Mike Koplove and Jake Woods are expected to pitch for the Phils.


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