Phils and Baseball 2013 Now In Session With Spring Training Play

Utley, Hamels come out sharp in Phils’ spring opener

 

Second baseman notches RBI in first at-bat; starter tosses two shutout innings

 

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros opened their Grapefruit League schedules Saturday with a game at Bright House Field.

 

It was the Astros’ first game in the American League.

 

Spring training

 

It also was Phillies second baseman Chase Utley’s first Spring Training game since 2010 because of knee injuries. He ripped a single up the middle on the first pitch he saw from Astros right-hander Lucas Harrell in the first inning to score the Phillies’ first run in an 8-3 loss.

 

The Astros took a 3-2 lead in the fourth, when Nate Freiman — who had two RBIs — and Carlos Corporan each singled to knock in runs.

 

Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels threw two scoreless innings. Harrell allowed four hits, two runs and one walk in two innings.

 

“Physically, I feel really strong,” Hamels said.

 

Cole Hamels pitching a complete game shutout v...

 

“I was just mainly trying to locate,” said Harrell, who could be the Astros’ Opening Day starter. “I didn’t locate very well, and the results showed that. A couple of times I made good pitches and got a lot of ground balls, which was a plus. I was pulling off on my front side a little bit, and a few pitches were pretty flat. Then I started making [pitches in] the second inning when I went back out to make sure my front shoulder was closed. Just trying to work [at keeping] the ball down and work the sinker.”

 

Robbie Grossman notched his first of two RBIs with a single, and Freiman added his second RBI in a two-run Astros fifth before Brandon Barnes clubbed a solo home run in the seventh.

 

Second baseman Pete Orr mashed the Phillies’ first home run of the spring, a solo shot in the eighth.

 

The Phillies committed four errors.

 

Up next for Phillies: Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay will make his Grapefruit League debut Sunday against the Tigers in Lakeland at 1:05 p.m. ET, live on Gameday Audio. Halladay is trying to bounce back from a disappointing 2012 season and says a revamped offseason training program has him moving in the right direction. Sunday will be his first true test in finding out if that program worked.

 

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

 

 

Phils Land Set Up Man Adams & Starter Lannan

Phils reach agreement with reliever Adams

Deal is for two years, $12 million, with vesting option

By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies have found their setup man.

MLB.com confirmed the Phillies have agreed to a two-year, $12 million contract with right-hander Mike Adams.

The deal has a vesting option for 2015. If Adams makes 120 appearances in 2013-14 — with 60 appearances in 2014 — the contract vests for $6.5 million. Or if he makes 65 appearances in 2014 it vests for $6 million. The Phillies also have a club option for $6 million, if Adams doesn’t hit those marks.

The deal is pending a physical.

Pitcher Mike Adams of the San Diego Padres

Pitcher Mike Adams

Adams, 34, went 5-3 with a 3.27 ERA in 61 appearances last season with the Rangers. In eight seasons with the Brewers, Padres and Rangers, Adams is 18-15 with a 2.28 ERA in 358 appearances. He has a 1.98 ERA over the past five seasons, which is third lowest of any reliever in baseball with at least 153 innings pitched.

Adams had surgery in October for thoracic outlet syndrome. It is a condition in which a rib bone presses against a nerve, causing pain and numbness in the arm. MLB.com reported in October that Adams is expected to be ready for Spring Training, although that remains to be seen.

KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi, Texas, first reported late Friday night the Phillies had agreed to terms with the reliever.

 

Phillies agree to one-year deal with Lannan

By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies not only found their setup man this weekend, they also found their fifth starter.

Sources told MLB.com that the Phillies have agreed to terms with right-hander Mike Adams to be their setup man and left-hander John Lannan to be their fifth starter. CSNPhilly.com first reported the Lannan deal. CBS Sports reported Lannan has agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million contract.

The deals are pending physicals.

Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles May ...

John Lannan

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., recently said the club was looking for a low-risk, high-reward starter to replace Vance Worley, who the Phillies shipped to Minnesota in the Ben Revere trade. Lannan seems to fit the bill.

Lannan, 28, is 42-52 with a 4.01 ERA in 134 starts in his career, which he has spent entirely with the Nationals. But Lannan, who has started twice for the Nationals on Opening Day, became expendable in a stacked Washington rotation.

Lannan is a ground-ball pitcher, which could help him at Citizens Bank Park, although he has a 6.49 ERA in eight career starts in Philadelphia.

But the Phillies wanted a veteran presence to fill out the back of the rotation, which includes Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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3B, SS, 2B, OF Young Can Fill A Lot Of Holes On Any Given Day

Michael Brian Young is a Major League Baseball infielder for the Philadelphia Phillies. He has been named to Major League Baseball All-Star Game seven times. In 2005, he was the American League batting champion.

Born: October 19, 1976 (age 36), Covina
Nationality: American
Salary: 16 million USD (2012)
TeamTexas Rangers (#10 / First baseman)

Phillies’ deal for Young finally official

Veteran infielder ticketed to fill ballclub’s hole at third base

By Paul Hagen / MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA — It wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t quick, but the long-simmering deal that made Rangers icon Michael Young the Phillies’ new third baseman finally became official on Sunday.

With that, after a cautious start to the offseason, the Phils addressed their two most pressing offseason needs within a matter of days. They had also been seeking a center fielder, and checked that off the list as the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., were wrapping up on Thursday, with the deal that brought Ben Revere from the Twins for right-handers Vance Worley and Trevor May.

Young, 36, the Rangers’ all-time leader in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles and triples, had the right to veto any trade. However, staying in Texas would likely have meant a utility role and less playing time. With the Phillies, he’ll be penciled in as the everyday third baseman. Injuries to Placido Polanco meant the team had seven different players start at least one game at the hot corner in 2012: Polanco, Kevin Frandsen, Mike Fontenot, Ty Wigginton, Pete Orr, Michael Martinez and Hector Luna.

He’s a seven-time All-Star, who didn’t have his best offensive season in 2012. Young played in 156 games for the Rangers last season, batting .277 with eight homers, 67 RBIs and a .682 OPS.

“Clearly, this brings a wonderful package to what we’re trying to do here in Philadelphia,” said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. “One, he’s a very, very good ballplayer. He has a tremendous track record. He has all the elements we’re looking for.

“First of all, the make-up is extraordinary. He’s the ultimate team player. He knows how to play baseball. He’s a winning baseball player. He’s had the opportunity to be in big games in the playoffs, and he just fits real well. The fact that he hits right-handed helps balance our lineup out a little bit, as well. I just think all the elements he brings to the table for us are very, very positive.

“I think [having a down year is] just part of the process of being a Major League player. You don’t have a great year every year. But at the same time, even when his numbers aren’t extraordinary — and they were still pretty darn good last year, maybe better than anybody we had on our club — the fact of the matter is, he’s a professional hitter. Even when he’s not having productive hits, I know he’s the kind of guy who makes productive outs. So there’s a lot of pluses to this guy.”

“He made an adjustment in September and bounced back some [with a .361 batting average and .897 OPS in his last 20 games],” said Rangers general manager Jon Daniels. “We fully expect him to have a better offensive year than he did last year. He’ll be better in Philadelphia than he was last season. The opportunity for him to play third base in Philadelphia was more than we could promise here. As the Phillies pushed for Michael and we got comfortable with the return, we presented the option to Michael and his family for them to make the decision.”

The Phillies hope he can rebound, but are also trying to stabilize the third base — while giving Cody Asche, who played last season at Double-A Reading, more time to develop.

“This is a very tough situation,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He has always been my go-to guy in my six years here. He has always done a lot for me. He has been a leader for the organization on the field, in the clubhouse and in the community. He certainly will be missed.”

The Rangers received right-handed reliever Josh Lindblom and a Minor League pitcher, Lisalverto Bonilla in return. The guidelines of the trade were agreed to in Nashville, but it took days for Young to agree to waive his no-trade clause and for the Commissioner’s office to approve the money involved.

The Phillies will pay $5.5 million of the $16 million Young will make in the final year of his contract next season. In addition, the teams will split the additional $1.2 million that Young negotiated to accept the trade, in part to cover the difference in state income tax between Texas and Pennsylvania.

Lindblom 25, was acquired from the Dodgers along with Ethan Martin and a player to be named, which turned out to be Stefan Jarrin, for Shane Victorino at the Trade Deadline. He spent the remainder of the season with the Phillies, going 1-3 with a 4.63 ERA in 26 appearances.

Bonilla, 22, is an intriguing player. After being converted from starter to reliever, he pitched himself onto the Phillies’ radar this season. After starting the season at Class A Clearwater, he was promoted to Reading and was named to the Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star team. He was a combined 3-2 with a 1.55 ERA when he was picked for the Futures All-Star Game in Kansas City, and was ranked as the team’s No. 15 prospect by MLB.com.

However, he injured his right thumb while involved in what was reported as “horseplay” the night before that game and didn’t pitch again in ’12. He’s currently 1-4 with a 6.92 ERA in 15 games for the Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League.

“Lindblom was one of the guys who was very important for us when we traded Shane Victorino,” Amaro said. “I think, just by virtue of the fact that we didn’t have an eighth-inning guy, we put him in a position to pitch in the eighth. He may very well do that very proficiently at some point, but he’s probably not ready to do that quite yet. He’s probably more comfortable in the sixth and seventh [innings]. That may be his bailiwick. That may change moving forward. But we had to put him in a position he probably, frankly, wasn’t ready for. He had a tough time of it at times. But he’s a very good pitcher.

Michael Young Michael Young #10 of the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on August 27, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.

“As far as Bonilla goes, he has a tremendous arm. He’s still a little raw. Great [fastball-changeup] combination. He’s going to be a big league pitcher, and an effective one. There’s no question he’s going to be an effective big league pitcher. No question. Again, we feel like that’s one of the areas we’re dealing from a position of strength … so we felt like we were comfortable enough that to get this type of everyday player, this was the right thing for us.”

Now, Amaro will turn his attention to addressing other needs.

“Obviously, with the hole that was created by the move with Vance Worley to get Ben, we’re looking at the possibility of getting a little bit of depth there. [Tyler] Cloyd and [Jonathan] Pettibone will fight it out. Maybe Martin or somebody else will step up at some point. Or maybe even [Adam] Morgan.

“But we’ll probably look to add a low-risk, high-reward type of guy or somebody who’s come back from an injury or someone like that who can battle for that fifth spot. A lot of teams have had some success looking for that guy late in the season and finding that productive guy. So that’s one possibility. We’re still looking into the bullpen and trying add a veteran presence there, as well. And if we can do a little bit more for our outfield, we’ll consider that, as well.

“We’d love to add more home runs. But for me, again, it’s about production. If we can produce runs — and I know that Ben can and I know that Michael can — and we have to get production out of the middle of our lineup, the guys we’ve paid to produce those runs. If we can get complementary [contributions] from Ben and Michael and get the kind of production we expect out of Ryan [Howard] and Chase [Utley], I think we’re going to be fine.”

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Young will feel at home with Phillies

Veteran is joining a team filled with players who are all about winning

Richard JusticeBy Richard Justice

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is going to love Michael Young — and so will Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, etc. Young will fit nicely on a team that prides itself on playing the game right, on playing hard and on competing like crazy.

If that sounds like basic stuff, it is. At least it is for the good teams. And some teams do it better than others. When the Phillies were winning five straight National League East division championships between 2007 and 2011, they played with toughness and an edge.

Young plays that way, too. There are legitimate questions about how good he still is, about his power and defense and all the rest. But he did hit .277 and have 27 doubles in 2012 in his worst season in a decade. In terms of presence and being a good teammate, the Phillies simply couldn’t have found anyone better.

Young’s legacy with the Rangers should not be underestimated. First, he’s one of the most decent people you’ll never meet. It’s almost impossible to imagine anyone disliking Young.

He led the Rangers out of the Alex Rodriguez years — back to a clubhouse environment that was about 25 guys instead of one. He helped lead them back to winning, too, as Rangers general manager Jon Daniels began accumulating talent and doing his job better than almost anyone.

Along the way, Young became the face of the franchise and its most popular player. He was one of baseball’s best players for about seven years. Between 2004 and 2010, he averaged 18 home runs and 50 walks a season, while compiling an .819 OPS. He leaves the Rangers as a seven-time All-Star who twice finished in the Top 10 of American League Most Valuable Player balloting.

His numbers can’t be measured just in his play on the field. He was the leader of the Rangers, their spokesman and the guy who set a tone. When Yu Darvish joined the Rangers last offseason, some of us wondered how comfortable he’d be, given the cultural leap from Japan to Texas.

“He’ll be fine,” Young said. “Believe me, if you can’t get along with the guys in here, you’re the one with the problem.”

Young was a large reason for that environment. Third baseman Adrian Beltre probably took on more of a leadership mantle last season as Young’s play declined. But the Rangers probably don’t win back-to-back AL championships in 2010 and ’11 without Young’s contributions, both measured and otherwise.

Daniels had toyed with trading him twice before. Young had a tough time swallowing those discussions, and also the moves from second base to third to first. He always did what the Rangers believed was best for the team, but he didn’t always agree. He twice asked to be traded, but rescinded both demands and apologized to teammates for being a distraction.

When fans would criticize his defense, Young would say, “Well, I would have liked to have spent my entire career at one position, but those aren’t my decisions.”

Because Young was the face of the franchise, because his power declined dramatically the last two seasons — from 21 home runs in 2010 to 11 and eight the last two years — Young became the No. 1 target of criticism from fans on talk radio and blogs in Dallas-Fort Worth.

It’s always odd to see fans turn on some of the guys who’ve performed the best and attempted to do everything correctly. But Young never lashed out. If he was angry — and he surely was — he never showed it.

He has agreed to be traded to the Phillies, as Daniels is attempting a dramatic reshaping of the Rangers. Part of that reshaping is moving second baseman Ian Kinsler to first and inserting highly-regarded rookie Jurickson Profar at second.

Meanwhile, the Phillies have an opening at third base. It’s a no-risk move, since the Rangers are paying most of Young’s salary. Knowing how prideful Young is, there won’t be many more motivated players next season.

He’ll love Philadelphia because the ballpark will be filled and the clubhouse has a bunch of guys — Howard, Rollins, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley — who are accustomed to winning and know how to win.

That’s what Young has always been about, too. He had a terrific 13-year run with the Rangers. Regardless of what he does in this next chapter of his career, he’ll always be a Texas Ranger, one of its most popular and productive players ever. Here’s to another great season or two or three from one of the really good guys.

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MICHAEL YOUNG STATS SUMMARY

G AB R H TB 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG  
SEASON 156 611 79 169 226 27 3 8 67 33 70 2 2 .277 .312 .370
MLB Totals 1823 7399 1085 2230 3286 415 55 177 984 532 1152 89 30 .301 .347 .444
Minors Totals 524 2015 330 597 906 132 21 45 325 222 367 83 30 .296 .367 .450

Awards and Honors

MLB PLAYERS CHOICE MAN OF THE YEAR
2008: Texas (AL)
2011: Texas (AL)
ALL-STAR
2004: Texas (AL)
2005: Texas (AL)
2006: Texas (AL)
2007: Texas (AL)
2008: Texas (AL)
2009: Texas (AL)
2011: Texas (AL)
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
6/16/2002: Texas (AL)
8/24/2009: Texas (AL)
6/27/2011: Texas (AL)
RANGERS HEART AND HUSTLE AWARD
2006: Texas (AL)
2007: Texas (AL)
2009: Texas (AL)
2010: Texas (AL)
RANGERS MVP
2004: Texas (AL)
2005: Texas (AL)
2007: Texas (AL)
2009: Texas (AL)
RAWLINGS GOLD GLOVE
2008: Texas (AL)
RANGERS HAROLD MCKINNEY GOOD GUY AWARD
2003: Texas (AL)
RANGERS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
2001: Texas (AL)

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Phillies Insider

Larry Shenk, Vice President of Alumni Relations, shares his notes, quotes and anecdotes from the world of baseball.

One Streak Ends

Everything has an ending, except promises by politicians.

The longest sellout streak in NL history ended last night, 257 regular-season games since 7/7/09.  During the incredible streak, the Phillies averaged an amazing 45,082.  That’s a real tribute to passionate Phillies fans.  So, thanks, thanks, thanks.

Only streaks longer are 772 by the current Red Sox (Fenway capacity 37,493) and 455 by Cleveland, 1995-2001.

One streak that hasn’t ended is the Braves’ spell over the Phillies.  Atlanta made it seven in a row last night. Phillies haven’t beaten the Braves at Citizens Bank Park since 9/11/11. During the seven games, Atlanta has outscored the Phillies, 35-11.  Braves also have fewer errors, 7-0.

Down On The Farm

Lehigh Valley ended six straight games against Pawtucket with a 7-1 loss.  Two home game and then four in the road.  One of the strange schedule quirks.  2B Cesar Hernandez had half of LV’s 4 hits.  Since his promotion to AAA, he’s hitting .333.  Remember the name.

Reading and Clearwater were not scheduled.

Lakewood ended a 3-game losing streak by beating West Virginia, 8-5. 1B Brock Stassi, 3 hits, 4 RBI.  Win went to 19-year-old Lino Martinez (6-5), who matched his career high set a year ago at Williamsport.

Williamsport lost its fourth in a row to Connecticut, 7-1.  19-year-old SS Roman Quinn, single, 5th double, league-leading ninth triple and an RBI.

Gulf Coast League Phillies dropped their third straight, 4-2, to the Braves.  LV CF Derrick Mitchell, rehabbing in Clearwater, hit a home run. So, Atlanta defeated Philadelphia on the major league level and rookie league ball in the same day.

Alumni Weekend.

A Phillies tradition in which stars from the past return is right around the corner.  It starts with a Thursday noon luncheon for Seniors and ends on Sunday afternoon, when Alumni will surprise fans several times.  Check everything at http://www.phillies.com.alumni.

Posted on August 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm Permalink No

Out of the cellar

Weekend in review…………..

**By winning the series, the Phillies now have done that back-to-back which is good enough to get them out of the cellar.

**Shutout on Saturday night was the Phillies first at Citizens Bank Park since September 5, 2011.

**Doc’s win was his first since May 17.

**Cliff is winless in his last 10 starts at home.  But, back-to-back strong outings by Doc and Cliff bodes well for the future.

**Ryan’s walk-off single was the eighth of his career, most of anybody on the team.

**Five of the Phillies last six wins at home have come in their final at-bat.

**In this season of disbelief, yet another injury, Chooch, their most consistent player. The All-Star catcher could miss the rest of the season.

**Given an opportunity, Kratz has stepped up big time behind the plate.

**J-Roll moved into third place ahead of Larry Bowa for games played in Phillies history.  He trails only Richie Ashburn (1,794) and Mike Schmidt (2,404).  Sometime next week, Jimmy will pass Bowa for the most games played at shortstop in team history.

**Chase’s homer on Sunday was his 195th, tying former teammate Bobby Abreu for ninth place on the all-time list.  Dick Allen is eighth, 204.

Phlashback

Del Ennis became the second Phillie to reach 1,000 RBI 57 years ago. Check out http://www.phillies.com/alumni for a vintage photo of Del and three teammates acknowledging that accomplishment.

Posted on August 6, 2012 at 11:29 am Permalink No Comments

via Phillies Insider.

Amaro Busy Making Moves – Domonic Brown Recalled

Pence, Victorino Gone – Blanton Next?

Hunter Pence

Hunter Pence

“We are not rebuilding- we are retooling. It is my job to bring a contender every year.”

-Ruben Amaro Jr.

Bucs bolster bench, acquire Sanchez from Miami

Gaby Sanchez

Clint Hurdle has the veteran presence he’s sought for his bench. More»

Marlins send Mujica, Sanchez in separate deals

Gaby Sanchez

The Marlins made two deals as Tuesday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline approached, acquiring Minor League third baseman Zack Cox from the Cardinals for reliever Edward Mujica and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez from the Pirates for first baseman Gaby Sanchez. More»

 

Mujica comes to Cards in deal with Marlins

Edward Mujica

The Cardinals’ attempts to fortify their bullpen for the season’s final two months has led them to right-hander Edward Mujica, who the club acquired from the Marlins about an hour before Tuesday’s 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline. More»

Orioles, Phillies talking again about Blanton

With Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline approaching, talks between the Orioles and Phillies regarding pitcher Joe Blanton picked back up. More»

Atlanta addressed weaknesses at Deadline

Paul Maholm.

As Braves general manager Frank Wren spoke to media members just after midnight on Tuesday, he appeared relaxed and deservedly satisfied. One week after gaining the surprising revelation that Ryan Dempster was balking at the chance to come to Atlanta, Wren completed what he and many others view as a better deal. More»

Phils land Schierholtz, prospects

hunter pence

After sending Shane Victorino to the Dodgers, Philadelphia announced they have traded fellow outfielder Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants. The Phillies received catching prospect Tommy Joseph, outfielder Nate Schierholtz and Class A right-hander Seth Rosin in the deal. More»

Pence to the Giants for Schierholtz, prospects

Giants add Pence, send three to Phillies

hunter pence

The Phillies traded right fielder Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for outfielder Nate Schierholtz, catcher Tommy Joseph and right-hander Seth Rosin on Tuesday. The Phillies also sent cash considerations to the Giants. More»

Moves multiply as teams try to beat Deadline

Shane Victorino

We’re down to the final few hours before baseball’s non-waiver Trade Deadline, and trade talk dominates the game. Talk has given way to action, and the annual flurry of moves is well under way.More»

Cubs complete deal that sends Soto to Rangers

geovany soto

Geovany Soto moved up in the standings on Tuesday, traded by the Cubs to the Rangers for Minor League right-handed pitcher Jake Brigham and a player to be named or cash consideration. More»

Dodgers deal again, get Victorino from Phillies

Shane Victorino

The Dodgers added veteran outfielder and leadoff hitter Shane Victorino to their collection of stars in a trade with the Phillies for reliever Josh Lindblom and Minor League pitcher Ethan Martin on Tuesday.More»

Mariners trade League, Delabar in pair of deals

Brandon League

Right-hander Brandon League was dealt to the Dodgers for a pair of Minor Leaguers, while fellow reliever Steve Delabar was traded to the Blue Jays for outfielder Eric Thames. More»

 

Pirates acquire Snider from Blue Jays for Lincoln

The Pirates got into the non-waiver Trade Deadline eve action late Monday night, acquiring outfielder Travis Snider from the Blue Jays in exchange for versatile right-hander Brad Lincoln. More»

Courtesy MLB.com

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All Pieces In Place – It’s Time To Put Up Or Shut Up

Doc’s Return Marks Phils Return To Health

by Charles Oliver aka Bloggo Schloggo

Now that all the major pieces to the Phillies puzzle are back in place and healthy there are no excuses. It’s now or never time to make a strong run in the second half of the season for a chance at the post season. With the addition of a second wild card spot available this year the Phils still have a valid shot at competing in October. It’s going to be quite a chore and an uphill battle requiring lots of winning. Skipper Manuel has had a way of steering the team into playing it’s best baseball after the all-star game while running the Phillies show as recent history shows.

The Phillies logo during their 1950 World Seri...

The Phillies logo during their 1950 World Series year.

The Phils won 102 games last year and had the best record in baseball. This year they are going to have to play their hearts out with little room for error to win 88 games which is probably about what they’ll need to make it in as a wild card.

There has been a lot of chatter about the Phils being sellers before the trading deadline. I for one believe that would be a bad move. Especially dumping Cole Hamel who has been the teams most consistent starter this year. The team basically has the same starting line-up and starting pitching staff as last year which is an array of proven winners. With everyone back and active off the DL there is no reason why with the level of talent they that they have can’t find their way back to becoming consistent winners.

The main issues they now face are crawling out of the deep hole they dug for themselves in the first half of the season and the talent performing up to its capabilities.

As I write this the Phils have won 3 games in a row with Doc on the mound tonight against the Dodgers. Ryan Howard hit his 1st home run of the season last night. It was to left field which is a good sign anytime Howard is projecting his power to the opposite field. Halladay having a strong performance tonight and another Phils win could be the start of something good. Psychologically the club could get a major boost and start playing with the fire we’ve seen in recent past seasons when they were perennial division champs.

Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard

The Nationals aren’t going away and have proven they are for real. Catching and over taking them at this point is pretty much all but an impossibility. Stranger things have happened though. As we remember last season the Cardinals weren’t on anyone’s radar and we know what they did much to the chagrin of Phillies fans figuring the Phightins were on their way to another World Series and once again being world champions.

The Mets, Marlins and Braves also will have a large say in where the Phillies fortunes take them. It’s a tough division to find yourself 13 games off the pace and sitting in the cellar. The Phils are 10 games behind with an elimination number of 63 with 61 games left to make it as a wild card. There isn’t much wiggle room there. They are ranked 9th in the wild card standings.

The Phillies main weakness is not getting hits when it really counts. They are hitting the ball ranking 2nd only behind the Cardinals with 827 total hits. However they are ranked  6th and 7th in runs scored and RBIs – with 386 and 370 respectively. How many times have we seen runners in scoring position zero to two outs left standing there as an inning or game ends?

PHILLIES 2011 Post All-Star Break Hitting Stats

RK   G     AB    R     H     2B  3B HR SB

6th  977 2473 329 633  120 18  75  35

RBI  BB  SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS

316  232 467 35  13  .256 .323  .410 .733

PHILLIES 2011 Post All-Star Break Pitching Stats

RK    W  L  ERA   G   GS  SV  SVO    IP        H

12th  45 26 3.02  242  71   22   28     645.2  580

R   ER  HR  BB SO  AVG WHIP

234 217 57 178 593 .241   1.17

Post Script—–  Watching tonight’s game and Doc’s return to the mound. Ryan Howard took a 4 pitch walk. Batting .143 it was refreshing not to see the big guy swing at a pitch miles outside of the strike zone. Despite the homer last night he still looks uncomfortable at the plate as he did last season. Letting pitches he should cream float on by and swinging and lunging at pitches he couldn’t reach or hit with the side of a barn.

Through the first 5 innings Halladay has looked very good yielding 2 runs and having good command of his pitches. The Phils batters have managed but one run having left runners on second base in three innings against a rookie making his first MLB start named Fife. His performance thus far has not been Barney Fife like.

Hunter Pence

Hunter Pence

Howard walked again in the 6th. Maybe he should concentrate on walks and let Chooch take care of the clean up duties. Hunter Pence batting .224 with two outs and runners in scoring position punched a single out to Kemp and appeared to have scored Howard. The ump said he was out. It looked like Howard had got his hand on home plate before the tag. Having seen the replay it’s hard to tell. Whatever it was close but, just another zero on the scoreboard.

In the 8th Pence batted with the bases loaded, two out and hit a single up the middle scoring two. Ruiz was cut down sliding into 3rd to end the inning. The Phils had only 4 hits in the game before Pence’s timely two run single. Phils take the lead 3-2.

For the first time in their last 39 games trailing after 7 innings the Phillies turned it around and won the game. Another healthy sign. Papelbon got the save. That’s 4 wins in a row. They are doing what they have to do. Will their winning ways continue? It’s a mighty tough mountain to climb. Time will tell.

Phils Playoff Chances Heading Into Halfway Point

How Many Wins Will the Phillies Need to Make the Playoffs?

June 21, 2012, 2:10 pm
By Andrew Kulp  (email)
The700Level.com
The Daily News ran a column this morning that set out to answer that very question. David Murphy did the leg work, and based on results from previous years, he concluded the Phillies need to reach the 88-win markto qualify for the postseason.The reasoning is simple. In each full season since the Wild Card was adopted in 1995, the club that would have earned the newly invented second WC spot finished with at least 88 wins on all but two out of 16 occasions.

In practice, the path to get there is not nearly so simple. With a record of 33-37, in order for the Phils to reach 88 wins, they need to go 55-37 the rest of the way — and even that might not be enough. Nine times, or more than half, the runner-up’s win total actually eclipsed 88.

Murphy seems to be operating under the assumption the Phillies won’t win the NL East, a conclusion we’ve more or less drawn on our own. Regardless, sneaking in through the back door doesn’t diagram much easier.

The plan he sets out would require Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Vance Worley to revert to their 2011 performances, when the club combined to go 39-17 over their last 56 combined starts. So far this season, the Phils are 11-3 when Hamels starts, but 7-14 when Lee or Worley are pitching. Lee and Worley have also missed games due to injury.

That’s an optimistic projection, though clearly achievable. Plus Roy Halladaywill eventually return, which should help prop up the rest of the rotation, and actually lessen the load on the other three.Yet you can see how staggering a hole the Phillies are in when you break it down like that. A team that has been hovering around or below .500 for the majority of the year likely needs to win at close to a .600 clip for the next three months — and they’re still missing players.

Think they have it in them?

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Related Articles…

Philadelphia Phillies: How Chase Utley‘s Return Impacts Team’s Playoff Chances

By

 (Featured Columnist) on June 22, 2012

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The result of Thursday night’s Philadelphia Phillies game, a 4-1 loss to theColorado Rockies, pretty much sums up how the entire season has been going.

Citizen’s Bank Park, a place that boasts loud and passionate fans, used to be a place that other teams dreaded to play in. The home-field advantage was never more obvious than when the Phils took the field at their stadium in the heart of their beloved city. In 2012, however, it has just been a place where the Phillies play their home games. Nothing much is special about it, no added advantage is obvious. The team isn’t winning any more games at home. They aren’t winning games period.

Nothing has been easy for the Phils this season. Whether it has been the injuries to key members of the team, uncharacteristic errors in the field, a lack of success against other teams’ bullpens or just an inability to score with runners on base with less than two outs, the championship formula this team has had in the past few years is not there.

Morale is down and frustration is obvious. It is on the faces of the players, the dumbfounded looks of the manager and the disappointment from the fans.

This team needs something, well a lot of things. It needs to get help in the bullpen. It needs to get its ace and sluggers off of the DL. It needs its other ace to find a way to win a game. It needs to score more runs. It needs to make less errors, both mental and on the score sheet. It needs to take action, to play inspired baseball. Most importantly, this team needs to get its swagger, its confidence, its personality back.

Most of what the Phils need, most of what I described, is embodied in the heart and soul of one player. He is someone who doesn’t shy away from a challenge, someone who plays with grit and passion, someone who is a leader. He may have arthritic knees but that doesn’t change the fact that when healthy, he can really smack the cover off of a baseball.

Will Chase Utley’s return make the Phils a better team?

No, one player is not enough to solve their problems.Yes, Utley will help this team make up ground in the East.It depends on how his knees are for the rest of the season.Submit Vote vote to see results

If you haven’t figured it out, the person I am referring to is All-Star second baseman Chase Utley.

Having yet to face major league pitching and the wear and tear of major league fielding, Utley is close to making his 2012 debut. In fact, according to a recent report via AOL Sporting News, Utley could be back before the calendar turns to July.

While Utley’s return has been long anticipated, at this point in the season, one has to wonder if it will be enough or if the Phils have already dug themselves a hole too deep to climb out of.

Even then, a bigger question arises. When Utley comes back, how will he be? Will he go back to how he was pre-2011? Will he be able to play back-to-back games? Will his knees hold up for the rest of the season?

With all of these questions and so far, not enough information to create the answers, it is hard to predict how Utley’s return will impact the team’s chances at a sixth consecutive playoff berth. If Utley is healthy, however, and returns to the form he has had in the best years of his career, it would not be surprising to see the Phillies once again atop the NL East.

On the field, Utley brings solid defensive skills. He has never been perfect in the field but it is something he has invested time and energy in improving. With the bat, Utley has offensive prowess. His quick swing enables him to get the barrel on the ball and helps him get around on pitches. He grinds out each at-bat and is rarely ever an easy out.

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Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Something else that the Phillies desperately need is situational hitting and when at his best, Utley does this as well as anyone else in the game. With a runner on second, nobody out, such as in Thursday’s game when Ty Wigginton led off the inning with a double, Utley knows what he has to do and more often than not executes.

In addition to what Utley offers with his bat and his glove, depending on his knees, he can also be a threat on the bases. Although not the fastest, Utley has also had good career numbers in base stealing percentage. Just like every other aspect of his game, he works so hard at it and as a result, when he does run, he picks his moments, and more often than not, he chooses them wisely.

In the dugout, in the clubhouse, in the locker room and on the field, Chase Utley is a leader. For someone who keeps his life relatively under wraps in terms of the media, Utley has proven himself to be a vital part of who the team is. Much of the confidence, swagger and personality this team alludes comes from the way Utley plays the game. The younger players on the team imitate him and the older players respect him.

If Jimmy Rollins is the fire and Ryan Howard is the heart of the line up, Chase Utley is obviously the soul. Without its heart and soul, Rollins’ fire is just an extinguishing flame. It goes without saying that with Utley back, this team will start to get some of its morale back. Rollins’ flame, which has been starting to light up, will catch fire. Led by Rollins and Utley, the rest of this offense will catch fire too, just in time for a late playoff push in the heat of the summer months.

So even though the Chase Utley Phillies fans will see is still in question, what isn’t in question is what he means to this team. So much of Utley’s value is not measured in a box score. It is in the intangibles he exudes just when he takes the field. For the Phils, getting Utley back will impact their playoff chances and could very well make them a playoff team again.

No matter what, though, the Phillies will be an interesting story to watch as the final, pivotal months of the season are underway.

The Phillies Golden Age 2004 – 2012.. The Rise & Fall?

by bloggo schloggo aka charles oliver

A look into what we are witnessing as possibly the beginning of the end of what has to be considered historically as the Phillies finest 9 year run in their 130 years as a professional baseball club.

Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Am...

Some may argue that the Phillies run over the course between 1975 and 1983 was an equal if not better 9 year period of prowess.

Of course you may also consider the world possibly ending in December according to the Mayan Calendar followers.

  • Philadelphia Phillies (8868-9890 W-L, 1890 – 2012) – 2 World Championships, 7 Pennants, and 14 Playoff Appearances
  • Philadelphia Quakers (390-424 W-L, 1883 – 1889)
  • Overall (9258-10314 W-L, 1883 – 2012) – 2 World Championships, 7 Pennants, and 14 Playoff Appearances
A comparison of the two 9 year periods –

2004-2012

Rk Year W L WL% Finish Playoffs R RA BatAge PitchAge Top Player Managers
1 2012 21 22 .488 5th of 5 172 169 31.3 30.0 C.Ruiz (2.0) Charlie Manuel (21-22)
2 2011 102 60 .630 1st of 5 Lost LDS (3-2) 713 529 31.4 29.2 C.Lee (8.8) Charlie Manuel (102-60)
3 2010 97 65 .599 1st of 5 Lost NLCS (4-2) 772 640 31.8 31.1 R.Halladay (8.1) Charlie Manuel (97-65)
4 2009 93 69 .574 1st of 5 Lost WS (4-2) 820 709 31.3 31.2 C.Utley (7.9) Charlie Manuel (93-69)
5 2008 92 70 .568 1st of 5 Won WS (4-1) 799 680 30.1 30.6 C.Utley (9.0) Charlie Manuel (92-70)
6 2007 89 73 .549 1st of 5 Lost LDS (3-0) 892 821 28.8 30.6 C.Utley (7.9) Charlie Manuel (89-73)
7 2006 85 77 .525 2nd of 5 865 812 29.3 30.5 C.Utley (6.8) Charlie Manuel (85-77)
8 2005 88 74 .543 2nd of 5 807 726 30.0 29.7 C.Utley (7.2) Charlie Manuel (88-74)
9 2004 86 76 .531 2nd of 5 840 781 29.3 29.8 B.Abreu (6.3) Larry Bowa (85-75)

1975 – 2012

Rk Year W L Ties W-L% Finish Playoffs R RA BatAge PitchAge Top Player Managers
30 1983 90 72 1 .556 1st of 6 Lost WS (4-1) 696 635 31.9 30.3 J.Denny (7.2) Corrales (43-42) & Owens (47-30)
31 1982 89 73 0 .549 2nd of 6 664 654 31.0 31.9 M.Schmidt (7.1) Pat Corrales (89-73)
32 1981 59 48 0 .551 3rd of 6 L LDS (3-2) 491 472 31.3 30.3 M.Schmidt (7.5) Dallas Green (59-48)
33 1980 91 71 0 .562 1st of 6 W WS (4-2) 728 639 30.6 28.6 S.Carlton (9.8) Dallas Green (91-71)
34 1979 84 78 1 .519 4th of 6 683 718 30.7 28.3 M.Schmidt (7.6) Ozark (65-67) & Green (19-11)
35 1978 90 72 0 .556 1st of 6 L NLCS (3-1) 708 586 29.9 30.3 M.Schmidt (6.0) Danny Ozark (90-72)
36 1977 101 61 0 .623 1st of 6 L NLCS (3-1) 847 668 29.4 29.7 M.Schmidt (8.7) Danny Ozark (101-61)
37 1976 101 61 0 .623 1st of 6 L NLCS (3-0) 770 557 28.8 29.8 M.Schmidt (7.9) Danny Ozark (101-61)
38 1975 86 76 0 .531 2nd of 6 735 694 27.7 27.3 M.Schmidt (7.4) Danny Ozark (86-76)
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/22/2012.

Philadelphia skyline.

Question Marks –

What fans have had in the back of their minds as this season continues to unfold are now becoming evermore present in the forefront and increasing in numbers. There is something in the air. It’s tangible and you can smell it. No it’s not the stink of the refineries wafting across the city. It is emanating from “The Bank”, Citizens Bank Park.

I watched Cliff Lee surrender 5 runs the other day and Roy Halladay do the same last night. Overall they weren’t bad efforts. Although not what you would expect from either starter. When you have a lineup that produces 0 – 3 runs most nights it is a problem. A major one at that. Cole Hamels suddenly is the go to guy that is pumping out consistent starts and victories.

Actually the Phils are batting well as a team hits and average wise. How many times have the Phils had two runners in scoring position with 0 to 2 outs and the innings ended with a big fat goose egg?

Batting Chart

It’s all about power. A miserable lack of it. It became glaringly clear toward the end of last season and after the team’s quick exit from the playoffs. It was obvious that this was the main issue that needed to be addressed in the off season. The Phils did take care of it – well sort of. The lack of power from the bench was given a boost with the acquisitons on veterans like Thome, Wiggington, Nix, etc. As far as the everyday lineup goes zilch was done.

If you’ll remember at the latter part of last season with the Phils whimpering to the finish line  (the 1st round of the playoffs defeat to the Cardinals) they did so with Utley and Howard in the lineup. Everyone is sitting on their hands waiting for the second coming believing Utley and Howard will be their saving grace. Will that be the case? One has to wonder with both players numbers waning. The timely hitting morphing into whiffs and groundout double plays. Scoring opportunities fizzling and rallies killed.

Charlie Manuel

Surely with Utley and Howard back in the daily mix the Phillies will be a better team. But how much better? Will it be enough to turn the season around? With the Braves, Nationals, Mets and Marlins all far improved and knocking on the NL East”s Division Champs door will the Phillies win 102 or 82 games?  When Utley returns how long will he remain healthy?   It’s a shame a guy that once looked to be a sure fire future Hall Of Famer has had his career basically turned upside down with injury upon injury.

With the Phillies fortunes currently on the wane the fans are starting to get a bit restless. Especially with poor play on the basepaths and runners left on base. How much longer will the teams 250+ sellout streak continue? Have you noticed a change in the sound of the crowd? The Phils Phaithful are smart and sharp. They know their baseball and how the game is supposed to be played. With the support of the fans attendance the dough has been rolling in to enable big names and big contracts to happen in Philly. What happens when the coffers start to dwindle? If things continue on the current course will the Phillies initiate a fire sale come mid-season and head into a new direction?

As with the game of life all things will be answered it’s all a matter of time and circumstances. With just 1/4 of the season gone anything is possible and anything can happen. Just ask the 2011 World Champion St’ Louis Cardinals.

“I’d love to change the world but I don’t know what to do. So I’ll leave it up to you.”  ~ Ten Years After 1969 

The Future From Within

Top 15 Prospects: Philadelphia Phillies

by Marc Hulet

The Philadelphia Phillies might not have a strong farm system, but it certainly is an intriguing one. Considering how much talent the organization had to give up to acquire the likes of Roy HalladayCliff Lee (the first time), Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence, that’s an impressive accomplishment. And its perhaps even more impressive when you figure in the number of high draft picks the club has had to deal away to assemble its impact ensemble. Still, all those trades have definitely hurt this organization’s minor-league depth:

1. Trevor May, RHP
BORN: Sept. 23, 1989
EXPERIENCE: Four seasons
ACQUIRED: 2008 fourth round, Washington HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Fifth

SCOUTING REPORT: May is a big, strong pitcher with a solid repertoire that includes a 90mph to 95 mph fastball. He also has a potentially plus curveball, a changeup and a new-found slider. His delivery gets out of whack at times, which causes his command to suffer. As a player from a cold-weather state, he’s always been a little behind prospects from sunny weather locales, such as California, Arizona and Florida — but he’s definitely playing catch-up now.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Brody Colvin took a step back in 2011, and Jarred Cosartwas traded to Houston, so May’s breakout season was more than welcomed by the organization. The right-hander pitched a career high 144.1 innings and had a 2.69 FIP. He maintained an outstanding strikeout rate (12.10 K/9), but his control remained inconsistent (4.05 BB/9) — and that is the biggest thing preventing him from becoming an elite pitcher.

YEAR AHEAD: May will move up to double-A in 2012 and he isn’t far from contributing to the big-league team. Still, he needs to polish his secondary pitches and improve his control.

CAREER OUTLOOK: May has the potential to develop into a No. 2 starter – especially if he commands his fastball at the major-league level. He has the frame to become an innings-eater.

2. Jesse Biddle, LHP
BORN: Oct. 22, 1991
EXPERIENCE: Two seasons
ACQUIRED: 2010 first round (27th overall), Pennsylvania HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Eighth

SCOUTING REPORT: A Philadelphia native, Biddle changed his commitment to the University of Oregon and signed with his hometown team. So far, it appears that he made a smart decision. The lefty has the potential to develop into a No. 2 starter, especially with his solid two-pitch mix that includes a low-to-mid-90s fastball and potentially plus changeup. He’s also dabbled with both a curveball and a slider.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Biddle has a strong frame and he showed his durability by increasing his innings total from 2010 to 2011. His overall numbers would have looked even better if not for his slow start in April. He allowed 13 earned runs that month (16.1 IP) and, by comparison, just 14 in the season’s second half (66 IP).

YEAR AHEAD: If he has a breakout season, Biddle could challenge May for the organization’s top prospect in 2012. The southpaw should open the year in high-A ball but he could be in double-A by the beginning of July. The big things he needs to work on are his control and the development of a consistent breaking ball.

CAREER OUTLOOK: Biddle is an exciting young player and he’s a few improvements away from being one of the better pitching prospects in baseball. He could end up pitching near the top of the rotation before too long. The opportunity to watch — and potentially learn from — veterans Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee could make a big impact on his career.

3. Sebastian Valle, C
BORN: July 24, 1990
EXPERIENCE: Five seasons
ACQUIRED: 2006 international free agent
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Sixth

SCOUTING REPORT: If he were a little more patient, Valle would probably be discussed among the Top three-to-five catching prospects in the game. Offensively, he flashes above-average power due to good bat speed, but he doesn’t always make contact with best pitches. Early in his career behind the plate, he struggled throwing out base runners — but he has improved immensely during the past two seasons. He calls a good game and he has strong receiving skills.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Valle had a decent year at high-A in 2011. He produced the second-highest batting average of his career at .284 (.360 BABIP), but his power dropped from .174 ISO in 2010 to .109 last season. His modest patience also took a step back (his walk rate fell from 5.6% to 3.6%). Valle might benefit from returning to high-A ball for the first month or two in 2012.

YEAR AHEAD: Valle didn’t hit well in the Mexican Winter League, so double-A may be a bit of a stiff test for his over-aggressive bat in 2012. Even so, he should reach the majors perhaps as quickly as the second half of 2013.

CAREER OUTLOOK: The Mexico native is definitely the Phillies’ backstop of the future and he should be able to offer at least as much value as current starter Carlos Ruiz. If Valle can’t get his impatient ways under control, though, he’ll likely fail to reach his full potential.

4. Brody Colvin, RHP
BORN: Aug. 14, 1990
EXPERIENCE: Three seasons
ACQUIRED: 2009 seventh round, Louisiana HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Fourth

SCOUTING REPORT: When he’s on, Colvin shows that he has the makings of three average — or better — pitches. His fastball can reach 97 mph, but it often sits in the low-90s. He also features a curveball and a changeup. Colvin doesn’t have the smoothest mechanics and he throws across his body, which increases ball movement but hurts his control and also raises injury concerns.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Colvin battled injuries in 2011 and his numbers suffered. After pitching 138 innings in 2010, he managed just 116 in 2011. His strikeout rate also dropped – from 7.83 to 5.97.

YEAR AHEAD: Colvin could begin 2012 back in high-A ball. He has good stuff but he hasn’t dominated at any level. With improved command of his pitches, he could really break out – especially if he can shake the injury bug.

CAREER OUTLOOK: Colvin has yet to prove his durability, but he has the potential to develop into a No. 2 or No. 3 starter down the road. There has also been talk of trying to develop him into a high-leverage reliever. The likes of Trevor May and Jesse Biddlecould make that move more palatable.

5. Jon Pettibone, RHP
BORN: July 19, 1990
EXPERIENCE: Four seasons
ACQUIRED: 2008 third round, California HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Off

SCOUTING REPORT: Pettibone is nowhere near as flashy as some of the other arms on this list, but he has the potential to develop into a No. 3 starter. He throws in the low 90s with his fastball but it can touch 94 mph. He also has a good changeup and a decent slider. His control is above-average for this stage of his development.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Pettibone produced some sparkling numbers at high-A ball in 2011, including a 2.92 FIP and a 1.90 BB/9. His strikeout rate, though, was low for the second consecutive season (6.43 K/9). He handled both right- and left-handed hitters equally well in 2011.

YEAR AHEAD: Pettibone should spend the year in double-A, although his above-average control gives him a chance to eventually reach triple-A in 2012 — and the major leagues some time in 2013. Further development of his secondary pitches will help him compete at the upper levels of the minors.

CAREER OUTLOOK: Although he can get some zip on his heater, Pettibone is more of a pitch-to-contact, control-type hurler. He has a big, strong frame to be an innings-eater and there is definitely room for him to improve as he learns to pitch off his fastball.

6. Maikel Franco, 3B
BORN: Aug. 26, 1992
EXPERIENCE: Two seasons
ACQUIRED: 2010 international free agent
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Off

SCOUTING REPORT: The breakout hitting prospect of the year, Franco wasn’t on anyone’s radar entering the 2011 season. He showed a solid eye at the plate and displayed good power potential, although he’s still learning to drive the ball consistently. Franco doesn’t exactly have an athletic body but he plays the position well and has a strong arm.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Franco did not turn 19 until part way through 2011, making his numbers all that more impressive. He hit for average and for gap power in short-season ball, while also showing a solid eye at the plate (10.9 BB%). He didn’t perform well during a late-season promotion to low-A.

YEAR AHEAD: The third baseman will take another shot at low-A in 2012 and he should spend the entire season there working on driving the ball. The organization lacks third base depth so another strong year could increase Franco’s hype.

CAREER OUTLOOK: Franco has the potential to be at least average on both defense and at the plate. He will have to watch his conditioning, though, as he’s already thick through the trunk. He’ll also need to see his power translate from gap to over-the-fence power if he’s going to be an everyday player at the hot corner.

7.Jiwan James, OF
BORN: April 11, 1989
EXPERIENCE: Five seasons
ACQUIRED: 2007 22nd round, Florida HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Seventh

SCOUTING REPORT: James has a lot of potential but the organization left him unprotected during this year’s Rule 5 draft and he went unclaimed. The outfielder has been hitting for just two seasons after originally turning pro as a pitcher. Injury woes, though, put an end to his time on the mound. James could develop into a three- or four-tool player with his power being the least developed skill. He has good defensive skills and base-running speed but both areas remain raw.

YEAR IN REVIEW: In just his third year as a hitter, James spent the season in high-A and held his own. The switch-hitter showed that he’s much stronger from the left side of the plate (.721 OPS vs .608 OPS in 2011) and the organization might want to abandon the switch-hitting to help accelerate his learning. As mentioned above, James has good speed but he  got nabbed 16 times in 47 stolen-base attempts.

YEAR AHEAD: Double-A will be a stiff test for James in 2012, as he’ll have to tone down his aggressive ways at the plate. He’ll likely needs a full year of development at double-A before moving up.

CAREER OUTLOOK: I’m more than a little surprised that no one took a chance on James in the Rule 5 draft but there are still a number of questions surrounding his game. If the organization is patient, though, he could develop into a valuable contributor in Philadelphia.

8. Phillippe Aumont, RHP
BORN: Jan. 7, 1989
EXPERIENCE: Four seasons
ACQUIRED: 2007 first round (11th overall), Quebec HS (near Seattle)
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Off

SCOUTING REPORT: To say Aumont has had an up-and-down career is an understatement. A former Mariners’ first round pick, Aumont was the top prize when Philly traded for Cliff Lee. Originally a starter, Aumont was moved to bullpen permanently. The move allows him to focus on his two plus pitches: a mid-to-high-90s fastball and a curveball. Both his command and control need a fair bit of work.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Combined between two levels, Aumont struck out 78 batters in 53.2 innings — so that gives you a bit of an idea of how good he could be at the major-league level. Perhaps even more impressively, he allowed just two home runs all season and posted an outstanding ground-ball rate in double-A.

YEAR AHEAD: Aumont had solid numbers in both double-A and triple-A, giving him an outside shot of breaking camp with the Phillies in 2012. More likely than not, though, he’ll be given the opportunity to build up his confidence (and sharpen his command/control) with a few more months in the minors.

CAREER OUTLOOK: Aumont clearly has the stuff to close games someday, but it remains to be seen if he has the emotional fortitude to handle the role. At this point, I’m betting against that — but he’s still young and he has time to mature as a pitcher. At worst, he should have a Kyle Farnsworth-type career.

9. Justin De Fratus, RHP
BORN: Oct. 21, 1987
EXPERIENCE: Five seasons
ACQUIRED: 2007 11th round, California CC
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: Off

SCOUTING REPORT: Although not as high-profile as Aumont, De Fratus also benefited from a permanent move from the starting rotation to the bullpen. It caused his stuff to jump up a notch and he reached the majors in 2011. His repertoire includes a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a slider and an occasional changeup.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Like Aumont, De Fratus split his season between double-A and triple-A (while also pitching four innings in the majors). He struck out 99 batters in 75.1 cumulative minor-league innings. He also produced above-average ground-ball rates.

YEAR AHEAD: De Fratus has a very good opportunity to break camp with the Phillies in 2012 but he should be eased into late-game situations and might mostly see action in the sixth and seventh innings.

CAREER OUTLOOK: De Fratus is a big, strong pitcher who has been extremely durable to this point. He could have a lot of value in the Phillies ‘pen next year. He’ll likely top out as a high-leverage, eighth-inning reliever. No matter how you slice it, he was an exciting find while he was pitching for a small community college.

10. Larry Greene, OF
BORN: Feb. 10, 1993
EXPERIENCE: Prep
ACQUIRED: 2011 supplemental 1st round (39th overall), Georgia HS
2010-11 TOP 10 RANKING: NA

SCOUTING REPORT: The organization’s first pick in the 2011 draft (39th overall), Greene is a raw but powerful Georgia outfielder. There are some concerns about his bat speed but he hits massive home runs when he makes contact. He’s expected to produce a lot of strikeouts and not hit for much average — but he’s also still very young.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Greene signed too late to play pro ball in 2011.

YEAR AHEAD: The outfielder will likely open 2012 in extended spring training before heading to rookie ball in June. He will be a slow mover who could spend two years in short-season ball before hitting full-season A-ball in 2014.

CAREER OUTLOOK: Greene has the potential to develop into a 30-home run machince if he makes necesary adjustments and gets his bat started a little earlier. He likely won’t provide much defensive vale and he could end up moving to first base if he can’t hack it in left field.

The Next Five
11. Freddy Galvis, SS: I’m not a huge Galvis fan, but he has potential value as a young, switch-hitting infielder with a plus glove. His bat took a big step forward in 2011 and he hit for a more consistent average and showed more gap power.

12. Roman Quinn, SS/OF: The club’s second round pick, Quinn has 80 speed on the base paths. He’s learning to switch hit, which could increase his value as it will help him beat out even more infield hits. His ultimate position will also impact his overall value; he was an amateur shortstop but he’ll likely end up in center field.

13. Lisalberto Bonilla: The right-hander had a nice season and showed good control for his age. His repertoire features a low-90s fastball that can touch 94 mph. His second-best pitch is a changeup, followed by a developing slider. He could develop into a No. 3 or a No. 4 starter.

14. Julio Rodriguez, RHP: On numbers alone, Rodriguez looks like a very impressive prospect. He struck out 168 hitters in 156.2 high-A innings in 2011 but he succeeds on command and mixing his pitches. His fastball works in the upper 80s. Ultimately, he should top out as a back-of-the-rotation starter or as a middle reliever.

15. Aaron Altherr, OF: Altherr is a raw athlete who has an outside shot to develop into a 20-20 hitter. He’s too aggressive at the plate right now and he needs to learn better pitch selection. Defensively, he could become a plus fielder.

SLEEPER ALERTKyrell Hudson, OF: Hudson is another speedy, raw athlete. A former third-round pick in 2009, he has developed slowly. Still, he made significant strides in 2011 when compared to his two previous seasons. With that said, he still has a long way to go; and if he stagnates as a hitter, he has a plus arm that could turn him into a pitcher.

Domonic Brown Where Are You?

The Dramatic Decline of Domonic Brown

by J.P. Breen via FANGRAPHS

Domonic Brown

Coming into the 2011 season, Domonic Brown ranked as the fourth-best prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America. The Philadelphia Phillies had just watched right fielder Jayson Werth depart for greener pastures in Washington and felt confident that Brown was the long-term answer at the position.

A little more than a year later, we’re all left wondering what went wrong.

At age 23, Brown got his second extended look in the big leagues starting in May of 2011. Though some skill at the plate was evident, he ultimately underwhelmed with a .322 wOBA in 210 plate appearances. The league-average wOBA in right field was .334 in 2011, and the struggles on defense could not justify allowing him to work through his growing pains at the big league level — at least, not for a team with legitimate World Series aspirations.

Philadelphia sent Brown back down to Triple-A in August. The only other big league action he saw last season was a brief call-up in late September once rosters expanded and the Triple-A season had already been completed.

His lack of success was largely attributed to the quickening of the game at the major league level.

“The big leagues moves fast,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “A lot of times when you come up there the game is quick. They catch a lot of balls you hit, things like that. Once you get used to it, if you’ve got the talent and you’ve got the fight and desire and the work ethic and everything. Then you’ll improve.”

In brief, Brown should have been expected to struggle in his transition to baseball at the highest level. Scouts, coaches, and players always talk about making adjustments. Brown simply had not made those adjustments yet at the major league, but very few people doubted the adjustments would happen and success would follow.

Fast forward to this season, and we find the young man hitting a paltry .247/.290/.355 through 26 games with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. That was not supposed to happen. The Phillies wanted Brown to begin the season in Triple-A to build confidence and rediscover the success he enjoyed in Triple-A back in 2010, when he hit .346/.390/.561 in 28 games as a 22-year-old. It was not supposed to be a deepening of the struggles that plagued him last season at the big league level.

His .286 wOBA in Triple-A has fans and scouts absolutely miffed. When asked what caused the precipitous drop-off in production from Domonic Brown, one minor league scout said, “I don’t think anyone knows for sure.” Furthermore, Kevin Goldstein ofBaseball Prospectus, who speaks with scouts every day regarding minor league players, said, “I think I’ve passed 100 on the number of theories I’ve heard.”

Domonic Brown

One possible explanation for his struggles revolves around swing changes that the Phillies organization attempted to employ during spring training back in 2011. The organization wanted Brown to lower his hands at address to help shorten the swing and provide greater stability throughout his swinging motion. This video from early 2011 does a nice job illustrating the specific change and how it related to his timing at the plate.

The swing change, however, did not improve his success. In fact, he felt so uncomfortable with the lowering of his hands that he abandoned the swing changeall together. It is conceivable that the differing placement of his hands has ultimately disturbed his timing at the plate, and he is still working to rediscover the comfort he possessed in his swing throughout his minor league career prior to the 2011 season.

Another theory that some have put forward stems from his myriad of hand injuries. Since the 2009 season, Domonic Brown has suffered four injuries to his right hand. He has broken his hamate bone, which required surgery, sprained his thumb twice, and broken his pinkie finger. Perhaps the hand injuries — specifically the three since 2011 spring training — have been a major culprit in his power decline, a decline that has culminated in a 2012 season with no home runs thus far. He would not be the first hitter to experience such issues after multiple hand injuries.

In addition, not only has Brown played with swing changes and suffered multiple injuries in his right hand, he also been bounced around the organization and the playing field. He yo-yoed from Triple-A to the majors in both 2010 and 2011. His Triple-A manager,Ryne Sandbergsaid he dealt with a “rollercoaster season” in 2011. He needed stability. This season, the organization switched him to left field. Though that may sound insignificant because it is largely considered to be one of the easiest defensive positions, Domonic Brown struggled to learn routes and jumps in right field. Now, he must start over and learn an entirely new position, while still trying to straighten out his issues at the plate.

It is once again conceivable that the constant change throughout the past couple of years has ultimately fueled his decline.

The ultimate reasoning behind his decline at the plate may puzzle scouts, but the organization desperately hopes that he snaps out of it because he remains a focal point in the Phillies’ future plans for the outfield. Center fielder Shane Victorino is slated to become a free agent following this season, right fielder Hunter Pence will become a free agent following the 2013 season, and left field is currently handled by a committee of fringe players in John MayberryLaynce Nix, and Juan Pierre. Opportunities for ample playing time should be numerous for Brown. He simply needs to prove deserving of those opportunities.

Despite the struggles for Domonic Brown, the same scout mentioned earlier offered words of encouragement, “The tools are still there, though. There’s still hope.”

Dumb & Dumber- Meet Mr. Hamels

by Charles (Chuck) Oliver aka Bloggo Schloggo

DUMB…

Cole Hamels plunks rookie sensation Bryce Harper. It was the first each had faced each other. No history or animosity between them. Harper goes to first base. He immediately gets back at Hamels by catching the Phillies sleeping and goes all the way from first to third on a short single to the outfield. Then what does he do? Steals home while Hamels throws to first to keep the guy at first from getting a big lead and possibly steal second. That’s how you get even- by your performance on the field of play. Hamels isn’t “old school”, Harper is. The kid plays with the abandon of Pete Rose or Ty Cobb. That’s old school. Later in the game Hamels gets plunked in the leg to add insult to injury.

Cole Hamels pitching a complete game shutout v...

DUMBER…

Cole Hamels pitched a great 8 innings and promptly tells the press after the game he hit Harper intentionally. Duh really?

I had a lot of respect for Hamels before this dumb and dumber incident. I didn’t think for one minute he was throwing at Harper. I thought Hamels was attempting to throw inside and the ball got away from him. There was no reason to plunk Harper.

Let’s face it – all contact sports are under scrutiny as we learn more about concussions and the life long damage they can incur including brain damage, depression and even suicide,

Bryce Harper

As we learn more we change the rules of the game as we have witnesses especially in hockey and football. There is nothing wrong with rough play and hard contact in the course of a contest. Intentionally trying to injure a player is dead wrong. I’ve seen things happen on rinks, gridirons and diamonds that if they took place on the streets you would go to jail for those acts of violence. I’m talking felony assault and battery with intent to harm or injure. If you threw a rock or baseball at somebodies head at 90 mph and knocked them out you might find yourself facing attempted murder charges or assault with a deadly weapon.

We live and learn and as we do we make changes. Those changes are what we call progress. I can remember Roger Clemens intentionally beaning Mike Piazza and knocking him unconscious. He could have killed him. On another occasion he threw a bat at him. I wouldn’t mind seeing Clemens getting locked up for lying to congress under oath about his steroid use. He’s a bum as far as I’m concerned.

Roger Clemens pitching for the Houston Astros,...

There is enough violence in this world and it has no business on the field of play. What kind of message are we sending to our kids?

The wrap is that Hamels got a 5 day suspension which means he really won’t miss a start he’ll just be moved back a day. Also a fine I’m sure he can well afford.

He hurt the team no doubt about it. With the Phillies struggling as they are it’s the last thing they need. The Nationals are in first place and will meet the Phils about 15 or so more times this season. When they meet there will be pre-game warnings issued for sure. Hamels has succeeded in putting the entire pitching staff at a disadvantage. Do they alter their pitching so as not to pitch too far inside?

I believe Hamels wasn’t trying to injure Harper and I’m glad he didn’t throw at him above the shoulders. That being said hitting him in the back a little more to the left could have possibly caused a spinal injury. There is no place in baseball, a family friendly sport for 90 mph bean balls. That wasn’t the case here. But in future meetings things could get ugly and the last thing we need is a bean ball war. If you want to prove yourself do it by excelling on the field the old fashioned way with hard work, hustle and talent.

I love the Phillies and love watching Cole Hamels pitching one of his gems and will continue to do so. It’s time for the Phils and Hamels to get the house in order and concentrate on winning ball games and reclaiming their rightful place at the top of their division.

ONE MORE NOTE…

The Phillies bonehead move in the off season was letting Wilson Valdez go. Sure Freddy Galvis is a pretty good defensive player but sporting the .180 batting average he has is strictly minor league material. The guy has been nothing less than a rally killer. Valdez is a money player that is a clutch hitter and can play 2nd, shortstop and 3rd. Even pitch in a pinch. The Phils probably would have 2 or 3 wins more with Valdez. Dumb move Amaro.