Tag: Kris Benson

Stat of the day

With the help of Baseball-Reference, here’s how many days each of the teams in the NL East has been in first place over the past three seasons (as defined by Baseball-Reference, this is the number of days a team both played and was in first at the end of the day):




NYM 140 158 0 298
ATL 29 2 100 131
WAS 0 0 53 53
FLA 2 0 29 31
PHI 4 0 2 6

Over the past three years, the Phils biggest lead in the division has been one game. The Phils haven’t spent a lot of the time with a piece of the division lead early thanks to their miserable starts — they went 10-14 in April in 2005 and 2006 and 11-14 in 2007.

During 2006 there was only one day when the Mets played a game and didn’t end the day at least tied for first place (it was after they lost their second game of the season on April 5, 2006). They also played three double-headers in ’06, which is why the 158 number isn’t higher.

Yesterday the Phillies lost to the Pirates 8-5 to drop to 4-9 in spring training.

JD Durbin got the start and came into the game having allowed four home runs in six spring innings. He didn’t give up a home run but got hit hard nonetheless. He went 3 1/3 innings and allowed five runs on eight hits and two walks. Six of the eight hits went for extra-bases, all doubles. Six is too many doubles to give up in 3 1/3 innings. Youman was next and he didn’t impress this time out, either. He went 2 1/3 and allowed two runs on a single and three walks. Condrey pitched a scoreless seventh, allowing one batter that he hit with a pitch. Gordon started the eighth with the Phils down 7-5 and gave up a leadoff double to super-prospect Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen would come around to score on a two-out single by Chris Gomez before Flash got the third out. On the day, Gordon was charged with one run on two hits in the inning, raising his spring ERA to 13.50. It’s not the spring ERA that matters so much as the fact he gets hammered every time he goes out.

Offensively the Phils got solo homers from Burrell, Feliz and Howard. Second of the spring for Burrell and Feliz, third for Howard. Chris Snelling had an RBI-double in his only at-bat, he’s hitting .235. Coste was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts to drop his average to .200. Helms was 1-for-1 with a single.

The Phillies do not play today and will face the Blue Jays tomorrow.

Lidge, Eaton and Benson all impressed yesterday.

Column about shortstop prospect Freddy Galvis here. Here’s hoping Rollins doesn’t go down, cause I’m not sure exactly how it would translate but a .507 OPS in the New York-Penn League doesn’t signal impending success at the major league level.

This says Shane Victorino is getting married next November.

Blackley and blue

After losing two games over the past two days the Phils are 4-7 in spring training.

Travis Blackley was the story of today’s game as the Phillies fell to Cleveland, 9-5. Blackley had a nice performance his first time out, his effort magnified by the struggles and back problems of thought-to-be fifth starter Adam Eaton. But he got hammered today, charged with five runs on four hits and four walks over 1 2/3 innings. Andy Gonzalez hit a three-run homer off of him in the second and Blackley didn’t make it out of the inning.

Condrey followed Blackley and allowed one hit in 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Savery was next and threw two innings. He walked three and allowed a double to Josh Barfield. He was charged with one run on the day. Outman went two innings and allowed three runs on a three-run blast by Ryan Garko, pushing his spring ERA to 9.45 with a 1.95 ratio after three appearances. Garko’s home run was the only hit that Outman allowed, but he walked two and hit two batters. Knotts pitched a scoreless eighth, allowing a double and a walk.

Helms was 0-for-2 for the Phils, dropping his average to .182 (4-for-22 with a double). Pascucci had a triple with the help of an oddly played ball by Jason Tyner in center for the Indians. Howard was 1-for-2 with a double and walk. He’s hitting 458/500/750 in 24 at-bats.

On Friday the Phillies lost to Tampa Bay 9-1.

Cole Hamels got the start for the Phils and allowed three runs on five hits and a walk, pushing his ERA to 12.60 after five spring training innings. Fabio Castro was next and he tossed three scoreless frames. I’d love to see Castro make the team as the second lefty out of the pen behind Romero. Carlos Carrasco was next and he got bombed, charged with six runs on 1 2/3 innings on five hits and four walks. Bisenius got the final out for the Phils to maintain his 0.00 ERA.

Offensively, Burrell drove in Bruntlett with a single in the sixth for the Phils only run. The Phils had just five hits and three walks on the day. Taguchi was 1-for-1 with a single, two walks and a stolen base.

You have to think that we’ll start to see less of Savery and Carrasco soon. They’ve thrown a lot of the innings early and I don’t think anyone really believes they have a chance to start the season with the team. Given Eaton’s struggles I think the Phils need to give those innings to guys they think might make the opening day roster.

Things apparently went well for Kris Benson as he faced minor leaguers this afternoon. This article suggests he still needs to get his velocity, which was in the upper-80s today, up.

The article linked above also says that Eaton had and MRI and CAT scan and the results will be known tomorrow.

I am not saying they are overrated; I am just saying that if Hanley Ramirez played in New York they would have to implement some sort of tithing system

I’m generally against anything that makes the Mets better offensively, but it might be worth it if it meant we got to see Mets’ fans have to bring a tenth of their goats, cows and comeliest women and leave them at the door of Hanley’s apartment.

Five teams in the NL East. This is what the player that played the most innings defensively at shortstop and the player that played the most innings defensively at third base did with the bat last year:







FLA Ramirez 639 .332 .386 .562 .948
FLA Cabrera 588 .320 .401 .565 .965
FLA Total 1227 .326 .393 .563 .956
ATL Renteria 494 .332 .390 .470 .860
ATL Chipper 513 .337 .425 .604 1.029
ATL Total 1007 .335 .408 .538 .947
NYM Reyes 681 .280 .354 .421 .775
NYM Wright 604 .325 .416 .546 .963
NYM Total 1285 .301 .384 .480 .864
PHI J-Roll 716 .296 .344 .531 .875
PHI Nunez 252 .234 .318 .282 .600
PHI Total 968 .280 .337 .466 .803
WAS Lopez 603 .245 .308 .352 .659
WAS Zimmerman 653 .266 .330 .458 .788
WAS Total 1256 .256 .319 .407 .726

Reyes and Wright are fantastic. Last year they were just less fantastic than the duo of Chipper and Renteria, though, and less fantastic than Miguel Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez. More fantastic than the offerings of the Phillies and the Nats. Reyes was almost inarguably the fourth-best hitting shortstop in the division and, well, there are only five teams in the division.

Hitting isn’t everything, of course. The chart above doesn’t account for the contribution through the stolen base. Or defense. Ramirez and Cabrera in particular pale in comparison defensively to Wright and Reyes.

The Phillies, meanwhile, were not fantastic. Their numbers look bad as they are and they are actually skewed positively for the Phils in the chart above. Because Rollins got so many more at-bats than Nunez his numbers are more heavily weighted, resulting in a higher OPS. At the same time, Lopez was miserable for the Nats at short last year while Guzman hit the ball well. So the Nats numbers are a bit lower than if they were actually reflecting the offense they got from the position rather than just from Lopez. If you use the numbers of all Phils’ third baseman and recalculate, and all the Nats’ shortstops, the Phils still post a .789 OPS, higher than the .769 for the Nats. But closer. And closer still when you consider that the Nationals play in a much worse place to hit.

So it’s nice to see that Reyes and Wright haven’t been dominating the division. Couple of problems, though, and they’re are spearheaded by these: Reyes and Wright are going to get better and the rest of the division is going to get worse. Of the guys who outpaced them in ’07, two of them, Cabrera and Renteria, now play in Detroit where their impact on the NL East is likely to be minimal.

In 2008, Yunel Escobar will replace Renteria at short for the Braves. He has just about zero chance at producing the offense that Renteria did last year (I would also guess he doesn’t have much chance to produce the offense that he produced last year, either). Chipper also arguably comes off his best season in the last eight, so the chances are good his numbers will be down. I think Reyes/Wright hit better than the Braves’ second and third combo in ’08.

The Fish, meanwhile, will replace Miguel Cabrera with a motley cast of characters. It’s kinda ugly but at the moment it looks like a combination of Dallas McPherson, Jose Castillo and Jorge Cantu. Ramirez’s numbers last year were other worldly — chances are good they’ll be down in ’08 as well.

Going into the season you’d have to pick Wright/Reyes to be the best duo of hitters. I’d go Chipper/Escobar behind them, but it’s close with the Marlins. Feliz and Rollins for the Phils and Zimmerman and Guzman for the Nats seems destined to drag up the rear in ’08 as well.

The Phillies played two games yesterday and are 4-4 in spring training after splitting the pair.

In one of the games they beat the Blue Jays 6-1.

Myers got the start for the Phils and pitched very well, allowing three hits over four shutout innings. He didn’t walk a hitter. Shane Youman followed Myers and tossed three scoreless frames, holding Detroit to two singles. Madson pitched the eighth and the ninth and allowed a run on two hits.

Utley was 1-for-3 with a double and drove in two runs. Ruiz was also 1-for-3 with a double and two RBI, he’s hitting .455 (5-for-11). Helms had two hits, going 2-for-3 with a double. Val Pascucci hit a solo home run in his only at-bat. Rollins was 1-for-2 to raise his average to .133.

In the other game the Phils lost to the Tigers 6-2.

JD Durbin got the start for the Phils and allowed three runs over four innings, all on solo home runs. Carlos Guillen got him twice and Magglio Ordonez hit the other one. Happ followed Durbin and allowed a run on two innings on two singles and a double. Condrey pitched the seventh and allowed another run on two singles and a double. Holdzkom pitched the eighth and allowed a run when walked the leadoff man, balked him to second and he came around to score on two sac flies.

Brandon Watson had two hits, including a double, for the Phils. Burrell went 0-for-3 to drop his average to .154. Snelling was 0-for-2 with a pair of walks, he’s hitting .167.

Phils play the Devil Rays today.

Kris Benson will pitch in a minor league game on Saturday.

Rowand doesn’t give an expletive where the Giants hit him.

This says that Lidge is still hopeful he can return by opening day. It also says that Rollins is not worried by his early slump.

The Mets’ Moises Alou will have hernia surgery today and will miss four to six weeks.

All due respect to Jet, but apparently you do need money when you look like that, honey

The Phillies and Kris Benson agreed to a minor league deal. This article suggests that Benson could make over $5 million this season.

Benson was taken by Pittsburgh with the first pick of the 1996 draft and has started 195 games with the Pirates, Mets and Orioles, throwing to a career 4.34 ERA with a 1.38 ratio.

A healthy Benson would be a huge boost to the Phillies. Here, for example, is how his career numbers compare to Brett Myers’:





Myers 192 143 923 4.34 1.35
Benson 195 195 1207.1 4.34 1.38

The difference, of course, is that Benson is almost six years older than Myers. The best year of his career will likely prove to be 2000 while the best year of Myers’ career is likely yet to come. Still, on a team with pitching woes as deep as the Phillies I have a hard time seeing the addition of Benson as anything but a gamble worth taking.

The article linked above suggests that he was recently throwing at about 60 to 70 percent, which means that his chances to win a job out of spring training are just about zero. You have to believe you’re going to see him before long for the Phils, though, given all the issues the team has after Myers and Hamels in the starting rotation.

Benson missed the 2001 season coming off of Tommy John surgery and all of 2007 with a torn rotator cuff. He last pitched on September 27, 2006 against the Yankees and had a miserable outing. He went just 2 2/3 innings and allowed eight earned runs, puffing his ERA from 4.49 to 4.82.

Benson made his debut with the Pirates in 1999 and for the first two years of his career was an extreme ground ball pitcher. When he returned from injury in 2002 he still got more of his outs on the ground than in the air, but the numbers weren’t nearly as dramatic as they had been in ’99 and ’00. Over the last three seasons he pitched he got about the same number of outs in the air as on the ground.

His strikeouts have generally trended downward over his career as well. In 2000 he struck out 184 batters in 217 2/3 innings, 7.61 per nine innings. The last year he pitched was 2006 — in that season he struck out 88 in 183 innings or 4.33 per nine innings, the lowest strikeout rate of his career.

In 2006 he also had a big problem with the long ball as his home run rate shot to the highest level of his career. In 183 innings with the Orioles in ’06 he allowed 33 home runs, which was the fourth most in the American League (it was also the only year of his career in the AL, which may help explain the increased home run rate).

And then there’s the lefties. Here’s what Benson has done in his career and 2006, the last year he pitched, against righties and against lefties:





Career v R 2703 .248 .300 .379 .679
Career v L 2496 .288 .364 .469 .833
’06 v R 382 .270 .313 .430 .743
’06 v L 399 .303 .370 .540 .910

Those numbers against lefties are a little scary. But it shouldn’t be lost on anyone either that the numbers against righties, particularly the career numbers, are tremendous.

This is almost inarguably a good move for the Phils. We’re not going to know for a long time how healthy Benson is. But whenever we do, if the answer is that he can get back to close to where he was before his injury there’s no question he can help the team. From Benson’s perspective, he gets a team with a chance to go far this season as well as a team that’s going to have a ton of opportunity for anyone who can pitch.

The Phillies are looking into their options around a team chiropractor, something that Cole Hamels has been suggesting for a while. No word about adding some sort of fashion consultant to prevent the kind of wardrobe malfunction like the one that led to Hamels starting a playoff game on a hot day in long sleeves, but check back often. It may just be that everyone is going to have to dress themselves. Adding a chiropractor, or at least making sure that the players have easy access to one, seems like a no-brainer to me given the amount invested in player salaries and the consequences of injuries.

Marcus Hayes calls Eaton a head case in this chat. If Eaton’s problems were primarily caused by mental and not physical problems, that would be good news. In the same chat he calls the Helms acquisition a joke and says he thinks that Travis Blackley will make the team.

Scott Mathieson says that the discomfort in his pitching elbow is not a big deal. Same article says that Zagurski thinks he’s a long shot to make the team and won’t start doing mound work till March 1. More on Zagurski here.

This says that Gordon and Lidge both looked good throwing yesterday.

Phils pen apparently looking to make up what it lacks in quality in bigness

Here’s the Phillies’ spring training roster.

This article says the Phillies’ are no closer to signing Kris Benson, but that adding Benson is far more likely than adding Lohse.

This reminds that Ruiz hit 17 home runs at Double-A in 2004 and 16 at Triple-A in 2005 and could see a boost in his power numbers this season. He also slugged .505 at Triple-A in 2006.

Charlie Manuel is losing weight and thinks the Phils could have a “big bullpen.” Assuming big is of the good family in this context, I’m not really seeing that one. But I hope he’s right. I do agree that the “freakin’ Mets” got better.

This article lists Mathieson, Castro, Blackley, Snelling and Rosario as five guys battling for a job this spring. My guess would be that Castro has the best shot of the guys in that group.

The Mets signed Tony Armas, Jr to a minor league contract.

Last man arbitrating

The Phillies and Eric Bruntlett avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $600,000 deal. Ryan Howard is the only remaining arbitration-eligible Phil.

The article linked above also says that the Phillies designated Anderson Garcia for assignment to make room for Feliz on the 40-man roster. Garcia made one appearance with the Phillies, which came in 2007. On July 7 in Colorado he started the seventh with the Phils down 5-3 and gave up two hits in 2/3 of an inning.

This article suggests that the Phils are “trying to get to the finish line” with Kris Benson and that today is an important day in the negotiations with Benson scheduled to pitch for other teams tomorrow.

Anibal Sanchez says he may be healthy enough to join the Marlins rotation around the All-Star break.

A reader sent an email suggesting more attention should be being given to all the home runs that Johan Santana gave up last year. I’m here to help. Last year Johan Santana led the AL in home runs allowed, surrendering 33. Not only that, if you look at his hits, walks and home runs allowed per nine innings over the past three years, things have been deteriorating:



2005 6.99 1.75 0.85
2006 7.16 1.81 0.92
2007 7.52 2.14 1.36

And if that’s not enough, last year he only finished fifth in Cy Young voting, which was his worst showing since 2003.

The next update to Philliesflow will be on Tuesday.

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