Category: Phillies

The 2012 Phillies

Since they can’t play “High Hopes” anymore, this is what they should play after every Phillies game

Advertisements

Rally Towels: Good for wiping spit

It was a common joke I used to tell among baseball media types.  “It’s a good thing the Phillies are giving out rally towels because this lineup just spit in(insert pitcher’s name) face.” The Phillies hocked up a big yellow one in Cliff Lee’s face last night. During Lee’s nine starts this year, the offense has only provided 16 runs for him. Actually 15 if you consider that Lee himself has an RBI in one of his starts. His next start will be Sunday in Baltimore against Jason Hammel, who is 6-2 with a 2.97 ERA. Normally Baltimore isn’t considered that much of a challenge but this is 2012. The Washington Nationals are in first place. Cliff Lee hasn’t one win to his name this whole year. Baltimore is even closer to Philadelphia than Washington is, so it is likely Phillies fans will be trying to build a new “Citizens Bank South” just 90 min. down I-95. That is unless the fans have given up on making that much of an effort to support the team. If you’ve turned on a game lately or been to the ballpark, you might notice a lot of blue seats visible that had been filled with people where red t-shirts and white jerseys. That’s just one sign that attendance has been down. Another sign is the efforts of the Phillies themselves to drive up ticket sales. Before 2010, many fans received emails on a bi-weekly basis offering a “two tickets for the price of one” sale on certain seats. When the Phillies got hot and the park began the sellout streak, those offers disappeared. Last month, an email was sent out offering fans the same buy one get one free deal for tonight’s game that had brought people in so many times before 2009. The writing is on the wall that the streak could come to an end. The poor play of the Phillies could move up the day that this actually happens. If it doesn’t happen this season, it surely will if the Phillies don’t re-sign Cole Hamels. Fans could decide to hold on to their money in protest or simply spend their money elsewhere rather than on a team that chose not to resign their homegrown star player.
Speaking of home grown star players, not many people chose to get on Jimmy Rollins this week for his comments. When asked about if he heard the boos, he responded, “I could care less”. That’s not what fans in Philadelphia want to hear. In this city, fans respect accountability and want understanding. Not, “I could care less”. That one seemed to fly under the radar. Back when the Phillies were rocking the win column, his “frontrunners” comment set off a storm. Maybe the fans here are starting to care less about the Phillies, so Rollins’ comment flew under the radar.

In injury news, Jim Thome was called up today. He’ll likely get a lot of at bats over the next week due to the Phillies playing three series in American League Parks. The Phillies optioned Pete Orr to AAA to make room for Thome. Orr started the season with the team after Michael Martinez went on the DL in spring training. When Thome and Laynce Nix went on the DL, Hector Luna (originally Eric Kratz) and Mike Fontenot filled their spots. With Utley, Nix, and Howard still on the DL, it’s going to be a hard situation to determine who will have to leave the 25 man roster. Here’s my revamped predictions:

If/when Utley and Howard come back, Hector Luna will be the first one to get sent down. After that, Mike Fontenot will return to AAA. Fontenot can play 2nd and 3rd, but Wiggington can also play 3rd and we know how Galvis does at 2nd. But when you have that third lineup guy in Nix? That’s going to be a killer. It’s looking likely that John Mayberry might return to the Ironpigs if the Phillies decide to stick with Nix. Wiggy and Nix were signed after Howard went down. Wiggy is actually still off the Rockies contract. There is a $4M option on him next year with a $500k buyout. Nix is on a two year deal with an AAV of about $1.2M. Mayberry might have to be the sacrificial lamb again this season. But that all depends on IF Howard, Utley, and Nix return this season. Big if. As for Michael “Predator” Martinez, it looks like he just got Wally Pipp’d.

Worley to DL, Kendrick to start. Alternatives?

Two possible starters waiting in Lehigh Valley
The Phillies have confirmed that Vance Worley has been sent to the 15 day disabled list with elbow inflammation. He will be eligible to return on May 27 and he will miss tonight’s start in Chicago in addition to two additional turns through the rotation (Monday vs Washington and Saturday May 26 vs St Louis). This could fulfill the prophecy of two starters going down long term every year. Elbow problems are serious stuff.
So in response, the Phillies have moved Kyle Kendrick back into the rotation and recalled Joe Savery to full a spot in the bullpen. But laying in wait are two pitchers that have been dazzling down in the minor leagues. One a veteran, one a young rookie.

Scott Elarton

Team
League
W
L
ERA
G
GS
CG
SHO
SV
IP
H
R
ER
HR
BB
SO
AVG
AVG
LHV
INT
4
1
2.39
7
7
0
0
0
37.2
31
11
10
3
13
19
.225
.225
Minors

4
1
2.39
7
7
0
0
0
37.2
31
11
10
3
13
19
.225
.225

 

Scott Elarton was signed to give added depth to the Phillies rotation, the likely number seven starter after Kendrick. Elarton has started seven games with Lehigh Valley. He had one rough outing against the Buffalo Bisons where he gave up 8 earned runs in 3.2 innings. Other than that he has been masterful. Take out the Buffalo start and he has about a 0.52 ERA. Right handers are batting .190 against him. He’s 11th in the International League in WHIP at 1.17. Elarton’s turn to start comes up tonight against Indianapolis. We signed this guy for a reason. Should another starter go down in the Phillies rotation, expect to see Elarton get called up.

Tyler Cloyd

Team
League
W
L
ERA
G
GS
CG
SHO
SV
IP
H
R
ER
HR
BB
SO
AVG

REA
EAS
3
0
1.80
4
4
0
0
0
25.0
22
5
5
1
3
20
.239

LHV
INT
4
0
0.69
4
4
0
0
0
26.0
12
2
2
1
5
21
.145

Minors

7
0
1.24
8
8
0
0
0
51.0
34
7
7
2
8
41
.194

 

 

Tyler Cloyd was selected by the Phillies in the 18th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of Bellevue East High School in Bellevue, Neb. He also pitched for Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League following the 2011 season. Last season he split time between Clearwater and Reading and started 22 games, going 9-4 with a 2.77 ERA for the year and getting 128 strikeouts. He has seven starts this season between Reading and Lehigh Valley, winning pitcher of the week in two different weeks in April. Lefties are batting .167 against him while right handed batters have a .132 avg on him. He leads the Ironpigs in WHIP at 0.65. Today is actually his 25th birthday. That should tell you enough. The Phillies are notorious for keeping the young talent down as long as they can unless their hand is forced (see Freddy Galvis). If the Phillies had the need for a number 8 starter, I can’t say with any confidence that Cloyd would get the call even there. You’d be more likely to see Jose Contreras start after Kendrick and Elarton get moved into the rotation. I apologize for giving you that image. There’s a reason though he hasn’t progressed as quickly as Vance Worley, also drafted in 2008. In 2010, the Phillies used Cloyd predominately out of the bullpen, a transition with which he had some difficulty, finishing the year with an ERA over 5.oo, spending most of the year in Clearwater after only starting 9 games. So the bounce around did more harm than help. He started more games in 2011 and improved somewhat, but so far he has been excellent in 2012. It will take a desperate situation for Cloyd to get called up as a started anytime before September this year.

But… if Kyle Kendrick does not perform adequately in his fill in starts, it is possible the Phillies could move him back to the pen and call up Elarton. Less likely: Cloyd. Kendrick would have to get shelled though in consecutive starts. And the other facets of the game, the offense and the bullpen, would have to perform well so Kendrick would have to be the only scapegoat left to blame for potential losses. Translation: Everything would have to go wrong for Kendrick and right for everyone else. If tonight the Phillies lose 7-1, it won’t really matter since there was no offense. If Kendrick throws 7 innings and gives up 2 runs and leaves with the score 4-2, then the bullpen blows it, then the bullpen blame game will roll on. I can’t say for any certainty how much of a leash the Phillies will give Kendrick, both in individual games and in the rotation as a whole. But knowing what we do about Elarton and Cloyd, they can’t just say “We use the guys we have”. Because they have two more guys in Lehigh Valley just waiting for a call.

Disrespect

“That’s Baseball”
The words of Cliff Lee after pitching 10 scoreless innings lasts night. He was pulled in the 11th inning when Antonio Bastardo came in and gave up an unearned run as the Giants beat the Phillies 1-0. The Phillies couldn’t manage to get one run in eleven innings. Sound familiar? A 1-0 loss… something about October, the Cardinals… you know where I am going here. It is the second time in a week the Phillies have been shut out in a game. In their 5-0 loss to the Mets last week, the Phillies got six hits. Last night, only four Phillies got hits. Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino’s batting averages both dipped below .300 after they both went 0 for 4.
It seems that every time the Phillies pitchers turn in a gem of a performance, the lineup hocks up a slimy one and spits right in their face. But hey, that’s baseball. Can we chalk it up to the fact that Utley and Howard are off the grid? Maybe. The Phillies have found ways to win this season without them. Perhaps we could say they just play terribly at ATT Park, where their record is now 18-27.
On the opposite end, the Phillies will begin a four game series at Petco Park in San Diego tonight where they are 22-4. The Phillies have pretty much owned that park, sweeping a series there last season. Can this trend continue? If there was ever a time to play a series at Petco Park, now is the time. Having “Continued Success” there would certainly lift them out of the funk they are in and help carry some momentum into Arizona. Vance Worley goes tonight. It will be his first outing ever against San Diego.
One thing I am convinced of: The era of “Pitching, Pitching, Pitching” is over. I never want to hear that phrase again.
Speaking of pitchers: Jamie Moyer. Nuff said. When he hangs up his glove, I would hope the Phillies at least have him in for a “Jamie Moyer Appreciation Night”. He doesn’t have to do the one day minor league retire as a Phillie deal like Pat Burrell is doing, but I would hope he comes back to throw out a first pitch. Charlie Manuel is on record as saying, “He better not pitch against us and beat us. Then I’m really going to be mad.” The Phillies host the Rockies for a three game series in June. Should Jamie Moyer pitch that week, there’s a good chance Charlie will be mad. Mad at who I wonder? His hitters for not hitting him or Ruben Amaro Jr. for not re signing him?

Time to change the calendar

We’re less than 100 hours from April. The month when baseball begins again and new life begins. You could say we’re already there with the Athletics and Mariners series taking place in Japan. Actually I don’t know what else you can say about that really. That trip has got to be taking it’s toll on the players and staffs of both teams.
For the Phillies, the 2012 season will begin with many things to talk about. We’ve pretty much beaten to death the sagas of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. They Utley story has only gotten more bizarre after Ruben Amaro, Jr. called the beat reporters in to assure them that in no way was he trying to deceive them or did he try to hide the truth about Utley’s condition. Not lying is one thing. Being in denial and convincing yourself of something you know might not be 100% factual and then passing it off as truth is something else entirely.
Utley did not want his whereabouts known and that is understandable. I might not want a bunch or reporters waiting for me as I exited a doctor’s office either. But nobody even knew what kind of doctor he was seeing. It could have been anyone from top rated surgeon to voodoo priest. And with all these big contracts and the potential to add another one with Cole Hamels (see upcoming post), it’s reasonable to think that the Phillies front office is worried about the bandwagon fans jumping off and not buying tickets if they think a star player will be out for an extended period of time. Even now, the super hard to get opening day game can still be purchased as long as you buy two extra games. It wasn’t as easy last year.
So as soon as I can find the time to do the proper research and writing, I will be broaching the following subjects soon:
— The Colepacolypse
— Spring Training in review
— The World Baseball Classic 2013
— Who rules Philly Sports

And now to celebrate opening day, here’s something which has brought men to tears and made their women question their choice in men:

Phuture Managers

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is entering the second year of a new three year deal he signed prior to the 2011 season. He’s the longest tenured manager in the National League and the third longest in the MLB. There was talk on local radio this weekend of where he stands in the eyes of the fans and in the front office. The discussion centered on whether or not Charlie is in the proverbial “hot seat” and if he isn’t, what it will take to keep him out or put him in. A good portion said that Charlie would at least last to see the end of his contract but if he didn’t at least make it to the World Series this year, then 2013 would be his “year in the hot seat”. The Phillies could then choose whether or not to renew his contract, assuming Charlie wants to come back in 2014 at the age of 70, assuming again that he doesn’t pull a Jim Riggleman and walk out mid season in 2013.
So next year after the 2013 season the Phillies could be faced with an open hiring event on managers. There are many candidates the Phillies could choose from, both in house and out of house. It’s unknown at this point how many free spots could be open after 2013 and we could reasonably assume Charlie would come back regardless of how the Phillies finish the next two seasons. But it’s something that needs to be discussed, both for 2014 and in the future. Here are some possible choices:

The Heir Apparent

Ryne Sandberg: Sandberg is currently entering his second season as manager of the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs, the Phils’ AAA farm team and was chosen as 2011 minor league manager of the year. That gives him a familiarity with the organization as well as the rising stars that can be on the team’s 25 man roster by 2014. He rose up through the Chicago Cubs farm system, managing three of their teams to winning seasons. But when Lou Pinella left the game, Sandberg was passed over in favor of Mike Quade, who only lasted one season as Cubs manager and then was replaced by Dale Sveum. Sandberg was interviewed by the St. Louis Cardinals after the 2011 season, but he was not selected as manager. It’s likely that he will be offered interviews again for any post 2012 opening so he might not even be available to pick up the clipboard when Charlie puts it down.

In House

Pete Mackanin: The Phillies current bench coach interviewed with both the Cubs and the Red Sox this past offseason. He has years of managerial experience in the minors. He served as a mid season interim manager twice and it is surprising as to why he hasn’t gotten a job yet. He took over bench coach responsibilities from Jimy Williams in 2009 so his Phillies experience counts for something.

Mickey Morandini: Morandini came back to the game after years being a power dad at home. In 2011 he managed the short season class A Williamsport Crosscutters. In 2012 he made the move up to the A level Lakewood Blueclaws in what was known as the “Parent Shift” when Mark Parent left his spot as Reading Phillies manager to be the bench coach for the White Sox and the minor league managers each moved up a spot. If Sandberg takes a job elsewhere, he could find himself in Clearwater in 2013 and become closer to Charlie’s spot.

The Experienced

The Phillies could decide to go with someone with experience managing a big league club down the road, regardless of a potential manager’s previous record.

Ken Macha: Macha led the Oakland Athletics to four straight winning seasons and two division titles but was canned by Billy Beane after getting swept in the ALCS in 2006. He came on board with the Brewers for two seasons in 2009 and 2010 but finished third both years.

John Russell: Russell played for the Phillies between 1984 and 1988. He managed the Pittsburgh Pirates for three seasons. During the 2010 season, the Pirates announced that John Russell’s contract had been extended through the 2011 season; though the extension occurred during the previous off season, the Pirates waited until June to announce the new contract, a move unpopular with many fans. He was fired anyway after the season and replaced Juan Samuel as 3rd base coach in Baltimore, only to move to the bench coach position due to bad knees. I doubt anyone will hold his lack of success in Pittsburgh against him. Find me a manager who can deliver a winning season there and I’ll show you manager of the century.

Terry Francona: It could happen. Francona could be the biggest managerial free agent of the 2012-2013 off season. Many managers take a year off and come back to the game with a new spirit. Francona is only 52 and his success with the Red Sox can’t be ignored. He did what he could with the Phillies tight check book in the 90’s. Whether or not he wants to manager after this year will be a major factor in all MLB vacancies.

The Phar Phuture

Jimmy Rollins: Jimmy has four years left on his contract with the Phillies. This season, keep your eye on him. Or watch footage of him from past games. He is never far from Charlie Manuel. Watching. Learning. Soaking it in. Rollins is a player with a great career and a legacy in Philadelphia, but anyone can see how much love he has for the game. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t find a way to wear red again after he hangs up the cleats.

Yankees Series in Review

The Phillies opened up their Grapefruit League season with a three game series against the Yankees this past weekend. It was our first chance to see the starters in action and also get a look at some of the players who are showcasing their stuff to get a spot on the big league team this year. Some highlights:

Jimmy Rollins went 2 for 2 yesterday with two consecutive stolen bases. This year the Phillies know they have to be more aggressive on swiping bags if they want to get their run total up. Juan Pierre is one for two in SB attempts. Domonic Brown was caught stealing on Sunday and Scott Podsednik picked up a steal. I’d expect to see Shane Victorino try his luck as soon as he gets on base again. He reached on a fielding error on Saturday and advanced on a pickoff error soon after that.

Pitching wise the Phillies regulars have been doing well. Hamels and Halladay each gave up a run in two innings work and Joe Blanton forced a lot of ground balls in his two innings of work yesterday. Jonathan Pabelbon worked one inning on Saturday and went one two three like a good closer should, even though he pitched the fifth. Chad Qualls gave up three runs and Mike Stutes allowed two runs in their relief appearances on Saturday. Joel Piniero, who is on a minor league contract, took the loss on Sunday giving up three runs ,the same amount Phillippe Aumont did. Antonio Bastardo pitched great on Sunday, and Joe Savery got his first two hitters out, walked the next two, and got the fifth batter in his inning of work.

Defensively, the Phillies have raised some eyebrows. Michael Martinez, the current frontrunner for opening day utility man, made two errors on Sunday, which automatically brought out the #ShouldHaveKeptValdez trend on twitter. His competition, Kevin Frandsen, made a throwing error yesterday. Even with his Mini-Mart’s two errors, you can bet the Phils coaching staff looked at Dom Brown’s error in left as the more egregious. He let a pop fly drop out of his glove that Roy Oswalt made look easy in 2010.

We have yet to see Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz play in a game. Charlie Manuel insists both are fine. Chooch will get his first start this afternoon against the Blue Jays, as will Laynce Nix at DH. However, this Utley situation makes me think of three things:
1. He’s really hurt and they hate telling people this. This could be due to the fact that ticket sales are through the roof and the Phillies are scared that the fans having knowledge of this would scare them away. Unlikely. The fans have proven to be loyal, and most tickets have been bought up by ticket brokers anyway.
2. He’s fine but they are being cautious. Reasonable
3. This is how it will be for Utley for the rest of his career. Scary. Next year is the last year on Utley’s contract. If he wants to continue his career after his age 34 season, he will need to get started right off the bat at spring training, unless of course the Phillies sign him to a contract extension between now and then.

And then we have Ryan Howard. After getting an infection, Howard will be in a walking boot for the next week, and probably off his feet again for another week or two. He might not even step onto the Carpenter Complex field until after the season starts. The front office won’t call this a setback. Their logic is that the word setback can’t be used when there was never a timetable in the first place. That’s aggravating to hear for fans and the media alike. I wish one write would ask “Will he be forced into early retirement?”. Then they can say no and we get that worse case scenario out of the way. Then they can ask, “Is he out for the 2012 season?” Again they can say no and we’ll get that out of the way. So we’d know he’d at least be at Citizens Bank Park sometime in 2012. Otherwise I’d just assume the worst, which is not being helped by the whispers that Howard’s infection might be MRSA related.

Today’s lineup at Blue Jays in Dunedin: Rollins SS, Pierre LF, Victorino CF, Wigginton 1B, Mayberry RF, Nix DH, Luna 3B, Ruiz C, Martinez 2B. Lee P. The game should be on the radio on 94WIP and at MLB.com if you have Gameday Audio.