He has evolved into a pretty good pitcher over the past few years. Kendrick is 3-1 with a 2.43 ERA in six starts this season and 22-19 with a 3.46 ERA in 77 appearances (46 starts) from 2011-13. Kendrick’s 3.46 ERA in that span ranks 25th out of 89 qualifying pitchers (minimum 300 innings) in baseball. That is better than Roy Halladay (3.48), Matt Garza (3.52), Zack Greinke (3.57) and a host of other pitchers making a heck a lot more than Kendrick’s $4.5 million salary this year. Kendrick’s 1.24 WHIP is 35th.
A reporter mentioned last night that Kendrick, who has a 1.54 ERA in his last five starts, has been a stopper recently, helping the Phillies win following a loss (or losses) in his previous three starts. Kendrick smiled awkwardly, like, “Uh, did you just call me a stopper?” This is a guy that fans have loved to mock and boo. I asked him about that in spring training. He said he wasn’t sure why he remained an object of scorn in Philadelphia. I offered the possibility that fans might not be able to forget the 4.96 ERA he carried from 2008-10, so anytime he pitches poorly it’s like, “There goes Kendrick again.”
“Maybe, but that’s tough if that’s the way it is,” he said. “I’m not that same pitcher anymore.”
Maybe a few more good months this year and they will notice.
“I’ve always kind of expected this out of me,” Kendrick said last night. “I know it hasn’t been there in the past like I’ve wanted, the fans have wanted it, my teammates, the coaches, the organization. But I expect this out of me. Hopefully now I can be consistent like that and every time out give us a chance to win the game. That’s the main thing as a starting pitcher. I’m feeling comfortable and confident I can do that every time out.”
Kendrick will have his bad starts, but he has become more of a sure thing. Charlie Manuel often said Kendrick pitched a “Kyle Kendrick type of game” when he allowed three or four runs in six innings. But these days a Kyle Kendrick game is more two or three runs in seven innings. (He is 10-5 with a 2.75 ERA in his last 19 starts.) The Phillies need that, especially with Halladay’s inconsistencies.
That lifelessness is pretty easily explainable, if you ask me.
They enter tonight’s game against the Marlins ranked 26th in baseball in scoring, averaging a measly 3.57 runs per game. It is impossible to look energetic or lively when nobody is on base or scoring runs. But after the Indians outscored the Phillies, 20-2, in a couple blowout losses this week at Progressive Field, Cliff Lee made an interesting comment about the team’s play.
“They pretty much pounded us both games, there’s no way around it,” he said. “They crushed us both games. It was never really close, either one of them. We have to have a little more pride than that and figure out a way to at least get back into games and make it somewhat competitive. Both games, it was never close.”
Asked this afternoon about Lee’s comments on MLB Network’s “The Rundown Live,” Jimmy Rollins said, “It’s back and forth. It’s tough to put a finger on it. There are times we come out and the energy’s there behind us and you go out there and play and we go out there and perform as a team. Then there are games and series where it’s just like we’re stuck in neutral. Not going forward, not going back but not getting going at all. And that’s the thing that we can’t have. On the field, we go out there every single day. Guys are coming in early to prepare. I’m even getting there much earlier than you remember, to prepare. But it just isn’t happening all the time on the field. The good thing is, we have a long way to go. We’ve just got to make sure we take advantage of it and take what we do in practice into the game and we’ll be okay.”
Charlie Manuel said a lack of pride, leadership and effort are not the reasons why the Phillies have been unable to get on a roll. He pointed to their success in a weekend sweep against the Mets. They won because they played well, not because they cared more. No, he said, the losing is more about the team simply playing poorly the first month of the season. For what it’s worth, I agree. This team is loaded with veterans, MVPs, Cy Young winners, All-Stars and postseason MVPs. I don’t think they want to be losers. I think they care. I just think they’re playing very, very poorly.
The real question should be this: Are they simply having a slow start or are they just this bad? Manuel’s teams are habitually slow starters. From 2005-12, they are 370-341 (.520) before the All-Star break, which is 11th in baseball. They are 357-228 (.610) after the All-Star break, which is second. I think this team needs a little more time. But like I blogged earlier today, they only have a couple more months. They have to be moving in the right direction come July or you’ll see some of this team’s top talent elsewhere.
The injury pushed John Mayberry Jr. into the lineup tonight against Miami at Citizens Bank Park.
“His finger, that kind of definitely made it easier for me to put Mayberry in there,” Charlie Manuel said.
Revere had his right ring and middle fingers wrapped before batting practice. He said the finger is swollen, but expects to be back in the lineup Friday. Of course, if Mayberry has a big game Thursday that could change. Revere missed four consecutive games recently because of a sore right quadriceps, but it sounded like he could have been playing earlier if he had been hitting better.
Revere entered the night with the third-lowest slugging percentage (.226) and 12th lowest on-base percentage (.245) in baseball.
“If I take a day to get the swelling out it should be good,” Revere said. “We had x-rays. Everything was good.”
The Indians beat them last night, 6-0, to outscore them 20-2 in the two-game series. The Phillies spoke of the Indians, who are fifth in baseball in scoring (5.04 runs per game) and third in OPS (.799), like they were the ’27 Yankees. Hot. Unstoppable. They hit seven homers Tuesday, but scattered seven infield hits to help them win last night. They took advantage of their opportunities, while most Phillies fans felt like they could turn the channel after the fourth inning both nights because they knew the Phillies weren’t going to make a game of it.
Those feelings weren’t misplaced.
“We have to have a little more pride than that and figure out a way to at least get back into games and make it somewhat competitive,” Cliff Lee said. “Both games, it was never close.”
Phillies fans are frustrated, and understandably so. These games have been tough to watch. The Phillies are 26th in scoring (3.57 runs per game) and 26th in OPS (.679). This is not what the Phillies said would happen with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard healthy. But they have been no magic cure because other players need to hit, too. Phillies outfielders have a .601 OPS, which is the worst mark in baseball. They have grounded into 25 double plays. That ranks only ninth in baseball, but they rank fifth in GIDP percentage (14.2 percent). They are 5-13 in games started by Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Lee.
The good news? It is early, technically. We’ve seen the Phillies play poorly at the beginning of the season in the past. It might be tough, but give them another couple months. If they’re playing like this in late June, it likely means they will be way behind in the standings. And if that is the case, I suspect Ruben Amaro Jr. will hold another fire sale. And if you thought last year’s was big with Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton, this one could (re: should) dwarf that. I mean, why hold onto a bunch of players with value or entering the final years of their contracts. That means Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Michael Young, Carlos Ruiz, Delmon Young, Halladay, Lee, Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Adams could be trade candidates. In the meantime, there simply is little to be done other than hope they finally start playing well.
The Phillies will have a chance to get healthy with a four-game series against the Marlins beginning tonight at Citizens Bank Park. Anything less than three wins is a disappointment. The Marlins (8-20) are a terrible team, regardless of the fact that “any team wearing big-league uniforms has a chance to win,” as the cliche goes. The Phillies are at home, playing against a very, very bad team without their only star player, slugger Giancarlo Stanton. They should roll.
If they show a little more pride maybe they will.
“It’s nothing crazy,” said Young, who thought he could play in right field as early as tomorrow night against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. “I’ve got a big fat knot right there. Today was one of those days where if I had to play out there I could have played.”
But because this is an interleague series Manuel DH’d Young instead.
“Yeah, probably,” said Manuel, asked if Young could be his rightfielder tomorrow. “Probably going to take a couple days for the soreness to get out his arm, though.”
Apparently, they believe he can.
The Phillies activated him from the disabled list before tonight’s game against the Indians at Progressive Field, designating outfielder Ezequiel Carerrera for assignment to make room for him on the 25-man roster. Young hit fifth behind Ryan Howard in the Phillies lineup, serving as the designated hitter. Charlie Manuel said he expects Young to play in right tomorrow night.
It should be interesting to watch. Young has been recovering from microfracture surgery on his right ankle, reacquainting himself with right field, a position he has not played since 2007. Young said he feels fine out there and his mobility continues to improve the more he plays.
He also said he is motivated.
“You’ve got to be motivated if you want to play,” he said. “If you aren’t motivated you could have one good season and then take it back to the house and never play again. So if you want to play as long as you can possibly play, have a career sort of like Chipper Jones, you have to be motivated day in and day out. This is not an easy sport. It’s not a sport that’s going to let you have your way with it. You have to work hard. You have to have to have some type of motivation to come out here and play.”
“It’s Charlie!” a few strangers behind him shouted.
“That kind of felt good,” Manuel said with a chuckle.
Manuel, 69, remains a well-known figure in Cleveland. He managed the Indians from 2000-02, and served as their hitting coach in 1988-89 and 1994-99. He recalled his best times with the Indians before tonight’s game at Progressive Field, including trips to the World Series in 1995 and 1997. But he also talked about other things, like his desire to keep managing and how former Indians and Phillies slugger Jim Thome is doing.
Manuel’s contract with the Phillies expires after the season.
“I want to manage as long as I can,” he said. “I’ve never told nobody I was going to retire. We’ll see. … I’m not worried about nothing. I want to keep managing.”
(Manuel saying he wants to continue managing beyond this season is nothing new. He has been saying this since the Winter Meetings. But it seems every time a writer asks him and he says it, it gets turned into a headline, so I thought I’d include it here.)
Thome is hoping to continue his career, but so far he has not found a job. He called Manuel a couple weeks ago and asked if he could swing by the clubhouse in the future.
“You can come and live with me,” Manuel said he responded. “I hope he does. … He still thinks he can play. He misses the game. Baseball is his identity. That’s all he’s done for 20-some years or so. He’s kind of having a hard time adjusting.”
Everybody finally gets a chance to see if Young can play right field or not. (Tonight’s lineup hasn’t been posted. Being the game is in Cleveland he certainly could DH.) Remember, the Phillies said Young would not join the team unless he could play there competently. I don’t know how much I believed that, unless he could barely stand out there. The Phillies need more production offensively from their outfielders, so I think they’re prepared to sacrifice defense for what they hope is a boost offensively. Phillies outfielders enter tonight’s game against the Indians with a combined .602 OPS, which is the second-worst mark in baseball. Only the Marlins (.597) are worse. Basically, if the Phillies infielders aren’t getting hits, nobody is.
If Young hits like he hit with the Twins in 2010 (.826 OPS) his offense could outweigh the potential negatives defensively. If he hits like he hit last year (.707 OPS) in Detroit, you wonder how much will be gained? He had 74 RBIs last season, but ranked 20th in baseball with 415 runners on base during his plate appearances. In other words, he had a ton of opportunities to knock in runs. But his runners batted in percentage (13.5 percent) ranked 98th, meaning he did not take advantage of those opportunities.
Stay tuned for the lineup …
I remember Roy Halladay standing in front of his locker at Bright House Field on March 1, 2011, talking about the influence famed sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman had on his life and career.
Dorfman had just passed away at 75.
Halladay mentioned he had saved nearly every e-mail from Dorfman over the previous five years, so he still would be able to pull advice from the man, even after death. I recalled that comment last week after Halladay had made his third consecutive quality start after two terrible starts to the season. I asked him if he ever looked through those e-mails.
He hit .294 last season!
He has so much speed!
But Revere also has ZERO power. He had 150 hits last season, just 19 extra-base hits and no home runs. He does not get on base unless he is hitting. He averaged 3.61 pitches per plate appearance last year, which ranked 121st out of 144 qualifying players in baseball. In comparison, Jimmy Rollins averaged 3.70, which ranked 100th. I found it ironic that fans tired of Rollins’ impatience at the plate begged Charlie Manuel to have somebody with even less patience hit leadoff.
I asked Twins manager Ron Gardenhire in Spring Training about Revere. He said, “He’s a .300 hitter. He didn’t walk a lot. He didn’t take a lot of pitches. But the kid can put the barrel on it. He finds different ways to get on, whether it’s dropping a drag bunt, he outruns balls. The walks … I think as he gets more experience, he’ll probably learn to take a few more pitches here and there. And if they ask him to do that, Ben can do that. But Ben likes to swing.”
Revere is not starting today’s series finale against the Pirates. It is the first game he has not started this season. He is hitting .207 with one triple, four RBIs, five stolen bases, four walks and 14 strikeouts. His 53 ground balls and 7.57 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio lead baseball. He has had enormous difficulty getting the ball out of the infield. Manuel will never take my advice when it comes to the lineup — he has Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hitting back-to-back against Pirates right-hander James McDonald today, making things easy for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle late in the game — but when Revere returns he should hit eighth, especially with Ruiz in the lineup beginning Sunday. It shouldn’t even be a question in his mind. If Revere gets on base he can try to make things happen from that spot. But with the rest of the personnel at Manuel’s disposal it doesn’t make sense to hit him higher.
Here’s my lineup, against both righties and lefties (with Ruiz and Young):
- Jimmy Rolllins, SS
- Chase Utley, 2B
- Michael Young, 3B
- Ryan Howard, 1B
- Delmon Young, RF
- Carlos Ruiz, C
- Domonic Brown/John Mayberry Jr., LF
- Ben Revere, CF