Chooch Is Great, But …

Roy Halladay said something interesting last night when we asked about Carlos Ruiz‘s ejection in the top of the third inning.

“It’s unfortunate because he’s our best player,” he said.

He said it very matter-of-factly, like the Rangers were talking about Josh Hamilton or the Mets were talking about David Wright. Ruiz is tied for fourth in the National League in batting (.344), 10th in on-base percentage (.397) and seventh in slugging percentage (.576). His .973 OPS is 209 points higher than his career average. He is having an unbelievable season. He should be a National League All-Star for the first time. But even on a team without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, it is too much to ask Ruiz to carry the offense when he has never had more than nine homers or 54 RBIs in a season.

Catching is a grind over six months. Ruiz has had hot starts before. He had a .945 OPS through June 7, 2009, but had a .710 OPS the rest of the way. He had a .969 OPS through May 10, 2010, but an .810 OPS the rest of the way.

Maybe Ruiz keeps up his torrid hitting through the end of the season, but the Phillies should not expect it. They need more than him.

Unfortunately, he is about all there is. Last night the Phillies had Juan Pierre, Hector Luna, Freddy Galvis and Mike Fontenot in the lineup. Pierre signed a Minor League contract with the Phillies before making the team as a fifth outfielder out of spring training. Luna started the season in Triple-A. Galvis made the team out of spring training only because of Utley’s injury. Fontenot got released by San Francisco before starting the season in Triple-A.

Put Halladay in the mix and they were 55 percent of the lineup last night.

Manuel expressed his frustrations:

“I’ve always talked about a balanced lineup. That’s what makes it go. All of a sudden, you look up and … in our ballpark, the outfielders can play up and nail our runners. That’s what I see.”

Translation: The outfielders are playing up in our hitter-friendly ballpark because we don’t have a lot of players that can drive the ball.

“When you go down and see guys knocking 40 and 50 runs over 162 games, that’s never been good,” he said. “If you are getting 550 or 600 AB’s, what’s so good about that? They’ve always been leaving them out there. They just have a big guy who comes by who can hit the ball hard and far and does it good enough to pick them up. But that’s what baseball is, too. That’s the lineup. If you have two or three of those guys — or three or four of them in a row — you can pick up a lot of RBIs that way. That’s how you score runs. And you can pick up RBIs by hitting the ball hard and making solid contact during the game.”

Translation: When you have hitters with no history of knocking in runs you can’t expect them to suddenly start knocking in runs.

“We should be able to come back and win some games every now and then,” he said. “How many times have we come back and won games being behind? We don’t hit the ball good enough to win the game.”

Translation: We don’t hit the ball good enough to win the game.

Every night Manuel is asked about the offense. Are they pressing? Are they trying too hard? Are they prepared like they should be? Do they need to watch more film? Take extra BP? But Hunter Pence and Jimmy Rollins are the only two everyday players that have had more than 73 RBIs in a season. Pence had a career-high 97 last season. Rollins had a career-high 94 in 2007, but no more than 77 in a season since. So this is a lineup with one guy considered a RBI guy: Pence. And he is terribly streaky. The Phillies will have good stretches — they averaged 5.1 runs per game in 25 games from April 23 to May 19 — but without three or four of those run producers in a row, like Manuel said, there are going to be bad stretches, too. So it really shouldn’t be shocking the Phillies can’t consistently knock in runners from third with less than two outs. It shouldn’t be a surprise the outfield is playing in a lot. This is who they are. Good stretches, bad stretches. Lather, rinse, repeat.

*

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17 Comments

Like I said….going nowhere. The lineup needs a major overhaul, and frankly I don’t see any way that happens without a starting pitcher – one of the top 3 – getting traded. We’ll see what Junior has up his sleeve this July, but unlike other years, it won’t be enough to propel them to winning the division.

I agree. The only tradable pieces that will get you an UPGRADE in return are one of the big three pitchers. Even IF Utley and/or Howard return to some form of old-self when/if they return it is going to be too late to make a real run. Braves and Nats are soon going to be in a spot where they can just coast to the playoffs playing .500 ball the rest of the way.

“So it really shouldn’t be shocking the Phillies can’t consistently knock in runners from third with less than two outs.”

I reject that statement. Sometimes a groundball to the right side is all you need. These guys pop out to an infielder. That’s unacceptable. A Division II college kid can put the ball in the outfield deep enough to score a run. These guys are professionals, they should be able to lift the ball for a sac fly.

It is too early to consider trading any of the so called “Aces”. But when push comes to shove, Halladay is the prime candidate. His salary is such that another team might be willing to take it on. But, if not, the Phillies would have to eat less. The time to have moved Hamels has come and gone. The Phillies now need to go all in to resign him. Junior needs to go. The payroll is bloated and the farm system is in shambles. If Junior knew what he was doing, he should have been rebuilding as soon as he took the reins rather than chasing a train down the track after it has already left the station.
Junior, keep on running.

I thought Doc had a no-trade clause in his contract because he accepted less money to play for the Phils.

They are clearly not going to become sellers unless they are something like 10 games out at the end of July. And if that happens, Hamels will be the one to go because the Phillies are not going to give him seven years under any circumstance, and he knows that’s what he’ll get on the market. Victorino and Rollins as well would go to the highest bidder.

But frankly, that won’t happen, not with the new playoff system. The Phillies will still be in the hunt for a playoff spot and we all saw in 2011 what can happen when a wild card gets in the playoffs.

I can’t help thinking that Chooch’s offensive responsibilities have had an adverse effect on his pitch calling. Doc will never throw him under the bus, but Chooch has said that he could have called a better game. He is the team MVP and he is doing everything he can to help the starters get Ws, but it’s too much of a burden. He should be concentrating on only catching and calling a great game from behind the plate.

The Phillies are struggling this year and hitting is one of the main reasons we are were we are. You did say it how can we with games with a bunch of players who have not been in the majors or who are washed up position players running out there time in the majors. There should have been more done within the front office this office season to replace howard at first, so the phillies bring in 3 guys to try to cover 1 position and a major rbi producer. We cannot blame the phillies for chase utleys injure, as he kept it to himself but nobody really wants to come out and say it but his career is more than 70 percent over. His knees are so badly worn out and damaged he won’t be able to play another full season for the rest of his career. The phillies have a older pitching staff and it is starting to show and even through they are very experienced they are not going to be able to win games without run support. I am a die hard fan of the phillies and we have been spoiled the last couple of years with great decisions from front office excs and the play but has fans this year is not the last 5 years so let’s support our team and hope we have a good offseason and turn things around for the next season.

These are like AA or AAA lineups. What can RAJ do with limited trade candidates in the minors? Too bad D. Brown is nothing more than a AAA career guy.

92 Wins this division. 85 can get a team in to the playoffs. If anyone thinks this team, with the return of Utley and Howard, misses the playoffs then you know nothing about baseball. Once in the Playoffs, who wants to face Cole, Doc, Cliff… Does this team need help? Yes. But who is going to get the caliber of player of Howard Utley at the trade deadline??? I will bet on the Phills to win the NL East. Any Takers??

I love how people think Howard and Utley return to the lineup and are super stars again. Howards injury is going to forever alter his power and swing so I doubt he ever hits more than 20hr/70rbi again in a FULL season. How long will it take him to shake off the rust and can he stay healthy enough to play everyday? Utley I seriously doubt will be anything but a singles hitter that no longer has any sort of running ability, not to mention where do you play a guy that can no longer pivot at second base, is blocked from playing first and has never played the outfield? Alos, I doubt he plays more than four days a week the rest of the year. Is Utley better than Galvis? I don’t think so. FG has a better glove and I think would produce the smae if not better numbers than Chase. Sorry.

The Phillies went for broke the last couple seasons and fell short….this is what happens when you go “all in”. You are left with a core group of aging players all in the downslope of their careers at the same time. The Phils gambled and lost this time. These guys have no trade value that IMPROVES the team. The minors are thin and this is reality. Two guys returning in early to mid summer are not going to fix this team. A couple of mediocre years are heading our way. I would test the market for Lee or Hamels, not both. You would need to get MLB established players in return though….prospects do not help this team short term.

We won a championship and were a top team for half a decade. Nothing to be sad about. All the money in the world can’t make a better team. You can’t buy players that don’t exist, nor can you trade for guys you can’t make a decent offer for. If you were a MLB GM would you have any REAL interest in any Philles position player right now? Seriously…would you? Maybe Chooch or FG, but you certainly would not give up a lot to get them. You have to trade a top starter for TWO MLB bats to turn this thing around quick, you have no other choice. It’s that or ride it out and see what monster you can build through FA’s in the winter or hope a crappy team wants to unload salary sooner rather than later.

I still think we finish .500 and probably just out of the 2nd wild card spot as is. Sure a hot team can win it all, but so far this team backed a 6 game win streak with a pathetic 4 game losing streak. The rest of the year as been a couple wins followed by a couple losses. Sure things can change and I hope they do, but anyone who has watched or played this game at a higher level can see the writing on the wall. It is almost amazing they are where they are right now looking at this roster.

SteveJeltz says…”I doubt Howard ever hits more than 20hr/70rbi again in a FULL season.”

I laughed. Out loud.

Steve, thanks for your expertise on the recovery of patients who have ruptured an achilles tendon. Thank you for letting all those fake experts know what the real situation is….

Phillies are not gonna win it all this year. So trade away the major chips, I’m talking Hamels, Halladay, Lee (if any team is willing to take him).

Get prospects in return. At least 5-6 top to mid level prospects should be possible to get out of it.

A team that is a contender could use a certified ace like Halladay, Cliff Lee could be moved to perhaps Boston for 2-3 top prospects.

Ruben needs to start the rebuilding. Look at Theo in Chicago.There is no pretention of winning this year. He’s replenishing for the long term, and doesn’t even care about next year, but perhaps the year after that, then Cubs will start to become a major force.

Phillies need to identify what players they want to be around in three years.

And who are not part of the future.

Man….. some phans……

Yeah, let’s trade the whole starting rotation for “prospects”.
Ask Toronto and Cleveland if they would rather have Halladay and Lee or the “prospects” we dealt them years ago. Remember when Domonic Brown was an untradeable top-tier “prospect”? Yeah, prospects, that’s the ticket!

Exactly, Phan52.

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