Results tagged ‘ Ben Francisco ’

Phillies Trade Benny Fresh to Toronto

The Phillies traded Ben Francisco to Toronto today for Minor League relief pitcher Frank Gailey.

The trade is not a complete surprise. The emergence of John Mayberry Jr. and recent signing of Laynce Nix had pushed Francisco deep onto the Phillies’ bench as a fifth outfielder. And with tonight’s midnight tender deadline for salary arbitration eligible players looming, it made some sense the Phillies would move Francisco rather than pay him more than the $1.175 million he made last season.

Francisco’s departure could open the door for veteran outfielder Scott Podsednik, who recently signed a Minor League contract with the team.

Gailey, 26, is a native Philadelphian, attending Archbishop Carroll High School and West Chester University. He split last season with Class A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire, combing to go 5-6 with a 3.41 ERA in 45 appearances. He is 23-15 with a 2.45 ERA in 175 appearances.

The Blue Jays selected him in the 23rd round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. He is expected to provide the organization depth at the Minor League level.

Francisco, 30, came to Philadelphia as part of the Cliff Lee trade with the Cleveland Indians in July 2009. He hit .259 with 17 home runs and 75 RBIs in 225 games. Francisco’s most memorable Phillies moment will be his last. He hit a game-winning, pinch-hit three-run home run in Game 3 of the 2011 National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

*

Here’s moer on Gailey from MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo:

A 23rd-round pick out of the 2007 Draft from West Chester University, Gailey gets to return home to eastern Pennsylvania. A starter in college – his name is all over West Chester’s career leaderboards – he’s been a reliever since entering the pro ranks. He’s moved slowly, though he’s put up decent numbers at every stop, with the exception of his first taste of Double-A in 2011.

Gailey has been forced to move slowly, proving himself at every level, including the Gulf Coast and short-season New York-Penn Leagues, even as a college pitcher. That’s largely because his stuff doesn’t grade out much better than average across the board. His fastball is an average offering, but his breaking ball is below-average. He gets a ton of action on  his changeup, but sometimes it’s too much.

Gailey will pitch out of two slots, sidearm and three-quarters, which can cause problems for left-handed hitters. Lefties in the Florida State League hit just .131 against him in 2011 and if the 26-year-old has any future in the big leagues, it will be as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen.

*

Need a holiday gift? We’ve got another Sports Writers Extravaganza book signing at 7 p.m. THURSDAY at the Barnes & Noble at the Willow Grove Mall.

More on Francisco’s Matt Stairs Moment

Courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau, here are a couple more nuggets regarding Ben Francisco‘s pinch-hit three-run home run last night:

It is the first time in postseason history a pinch-hitter has had three or more RBIs, accounting for all of his team’s runs. Only one pinch-hitter had two RBIs, accounting for all of his team’s runs: Kansas City’s Dane Iorg against the Cardinals in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. That’s otherwise known as the “Don Denkinger Game.”

Francisco hit because Cardinals manager Tony La Russa intentionally walked Carlos Ruiz to face him. Since 2000, there have been five lead-changing postseason home runs following an intentional walk.

La Russa has been victim of three of them:

  • San Francisco’s Benito Santiago in Game 4 of the 2002 NLCS. He intentionally walked Barry Bonds.
  • Houston’s Jeff Kent in Game 5 of the 2004 NLCS. He intentionally walked Lance Berkman.
  • Francisco in Game 2 of the 2011 NLDS. He intentionally walked Ruiz.

Now, I’m not going to say it was crazy La Russa intentionally walked Ruiz to face Francisco. La Russa said Ruiz “terrorizes” them, which is a bit of an exaggeration. But Ruiz has hit the Cardinals well. He has hit .310 with eight doubles, two homers, 13 RBIs and an .818 OPS in 33 regular-season games against St. Louis, although he was hitless in the first two games of the NLDS. But his OPS is 68 points higher than his career average. And Francisco was 1-for-18 in his postseason career, 1-for-9 against Jamie Garcia and hadn’t homered since May 25.

But Francisco certainly remembered his last at-bat against Garcia on Sept.16 at Citizens Bank Park, when he crushed a sinker to the warning track in left field. He felt good stepping into the batter’s box against Garcia, and this time he had results to show for it.

Benny Fresh Goes Deep

A couple facts about Ben Francisco‘s clutch pinch-hit, three-run home run in the seventh inning to beat the Cardinals in Game 3 of the NLDS, 3-2:

It was the sixth pinch-hit homer in Phillies postseason history:

  • Jerry Martin    10/4/78
  • Bake McBride    10/7/78
  • George Vukovich 10/10/81
  • Matt Stairs     10/13/08
  • Eric Bruntlett  10/23/08

And according to Baseball Reference, this was the seventh pinch-hit, three-run homer in the seventh inning or later in postseason history.

Click here to see others.

Late-Inning Pinch-Hit Success

Charlie Manuel loves to talk about Ross Gload‘s “professional” at-bats, but his successes have been few and far between this season.

He broke through last night when his pinch-hit single scored the winning run in the ninth inning in a 3-2 victory over the Braves.

“For me it’s huge because I haven’t had much of anything,” Gload said. “I’ve struggled pretty good. But I’ll take it. It’s big for me, but it’s bigger for the team.”

It was the third game-winning walkoff hit by a Phillies pinch-hitter this season: John Mayberry Jr. had one in the season opener and Ben Francisco had one June 24. That’s notable because the Phillies had none the previous five seasons (2006-2010). The Phillies also hadn’t had three walkoff wins in one season on RBIs by pinch-hitters since 1984 (Greg Gross, Len Matuszek and Sixto Lezcano).

*

As soon as we hear something more on Chase Utley, we’ll let you know.

*

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter. Pick up a copy of my book.

Werth Thinks Pence Is A Good Fit

Jayson Werth was relaxing in the Nationals clubhouse this afternoon with Magnus, his four-month-old Great Dane, when Hunter Pence’s name came up.

“I’m happy for Hunter,” Werth said. “That’s an enviable position to be in. I know firsthand what that’s like.

“Immediately, when I heard it I thought about him going from Houston to Philadelphia. I don’t know how much fun they were having over there (in Houston), but I do know how much fun those guys have over there, what that clubhouse is like, the chemistry, the camaraderie. I know how well a guy like that will fit in. I immediately thought about how much fun he was going to have. I’m happy for him. He’s a good player.”

Werth knows Pence a bit from being on the 2009 National League All-Star team. He said he has spoken with Pence a couple times since his arrival in Philadelphia.

“He seems like a good fit,” he said.

So no more wistful thoughts about Philadelphia or how it should have been him? The Phillies essentially got Pence because they did not find anybody to replace his production in right field. They started the season with Ben Francisco before moving to Domonic Brown.

“Not really,” Werth said. “It was more like, I knew what he was about to get himself into. It kind of made me smile.”

*

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter. Pick up a copy of my book.

Victorino Activated, Mayberry Optioned

Earlier this week I thought the Phillies might place Michael Martinez on waivers to make room for Shane Victorino, but it became more obvious they would option John Mayberry Jr. instead.

It became official today.

I’m not in Pittsburgh this weekend, but I’m guessing the reasoning is close to what I wrote yesterday: Mayberry will get very little playing time with Raul Ibanez in left field, Victorino in center field and Domonic Brown and Ben Francisco in right field. Mayberry might be the team’ second-best defensive outfielder (and one of the team’s better runners, too), but he has hit just .187 with three doubles, two homers and nine RBIs since April. He also has hit just .172 against left-handers in that stretch, which hurts his case to platoon in left or right field. Yes, Francisco has struggled. He has hit just .192 against left-handers this season. But here is the reality of the situation: Francisco is making $1.175 million. If Mayberry were hitting .300 against left-handers, I think it would have been a much more difficult decision. But unfortunately for Mayberry, his lack of production at the plate over the last month hurt him.

*

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter. Pick up a copy of my book.

Updates on Contreras, Lidge, Utley and More

Chatted with Ruben Amaro Jr. for nearly 20 minutes this morning in the visitor’s dugout at Turner Field.

Here’s the latest on the Phillies’ injured.

*

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter. Pick up a copy of my book.

Blanton’s Velocity Down, Victorino Hurting

A few random notes/thoughts on yesterday’s 5-3 loss to the Braves:

  • Joe Blanton still feels soreness in his right elbow, but he said afterward it has improved from his last start. But there is no mistaking his velocity is down. His fastball averaged roughly 86 mph today. Its average is 89 mph for the season. “Blanton isn’t throwing 90-plus anymore,” Chipper Jones said. “He threw a couple balls over the plate in the first inning. But after that not a whole lot. He stayed on the corners. He’s got a really good changeup. But he’s got a really good changeup because he throws 90 or 91. I only saw a couple 88 or 89s today. Most of them were 85, 86, or 87.”
  • Shane Victorino left the game with soreness in his right hamstring. He will not play tomorrow. He said he hopes a little rest will be enough, but leg injuries are tricky. If he flat out pulls it he could miss a significant period of time. I’m sure the Phillies want him to be smart.
  • Ben Francisco is hitting .071 (2-for-28) with six walks and six strikeouts since May 1. Braves right-hander Tim Hudson pitches in today’s series finale. Maybe today is a good time for Ross Gload to start. John Mayberry Jr. could be starting in center field with Victorino out. He has hit .250 (5-for-20) with one RBI against right-handers this season, but if he can show Charlie Manuel he can hit right-handers maybe he can earn a little more playing time when Victorino comes back.

*

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter. Pick up a copy of my book.

It’s Not 2008 Anymore

Charlie Manuel expressed deep concerns about his offense before last night’s 6-3 loss to the Brewers.

Where’s the pop?

He mentioned Chase Utley, Jayson Werth and Pat Burrell in a lengthy discussion. Utley is hurt, Werth is in Washington and Burrell is in San Francisco. Each of them had high on-base percentages, and each of them knew how to work counts. They also could drive the ball. The Phillies certainly have been missing that lately. The Phillies have just nine extra-base hits since April 9, which is last in baseball. (The Cardinals are first with 42. The Marlins are second-to-last with 14.) Those numbers are a bit misleading because some teams have played nine games in that span while the Phillies have played seven. But here’s what is not misleading: the Phillies also have a .290 slugging percentage in that span, which is last in baseball.

The Phillies, whose 38 extra-base hits for the season rank 25th, have a serious power outage.

But before folks say, “It’s a long season,” remember, it’s Manuel expressing these concerns.

“I know people are going to say, ‘Well, you’ve got the starting pitching.’ Yeah, that’s part of it,” Manuel said. “But at the same time, usually when you talk about a World Series team or something like that, you’re talking about a top-notch team. I’m not saying we don’t have that, but we could have it. It’s going to take some work. We’ve got to improve in some areas, and we’ve got to hope our players live up to their career averages and their career performances.”

A couple random thoughts:

  • When is John Mayberry Jr. going to get a start? Raul Ibanez has started every game this season. Ben Francisco has started all but one. Ibanez has hit .189 (7 for 37) in his last nine games. Francisco has hit .111 (2 for 18) in his last five. The Phillies are facing left-handers Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson the next two games. Mayberry has been great off the bench, but he’s got to play to stay sharp. Manuel expressed his concerns countless times this spring about his outfield’s defense. He lamented the fact yesterday his corner outfielders haven’t hit for power. Mayberry can play defense and hit for power. Throwing him out there at least once a week wouldn’t seem to be the worst thing in the world right now.
  • One second Danys Baez is pitching in a big spot — replacing J.C. Romero and remaining in the game to face Greg Dobbs on Friday —  the next second the Phillies are bringing in long man Kyle Kendrick in a tie game and Baez is the last man standing in the bullpen. How quickly things change.
  • Who knows if this is just a rough stretch for the offense or not, but what if this is who the Phillies are? Say they are a light-hitting team. You can’t look around and say, “Well, here’s an obvious way to upgrade the lineup.” Manuel just has to hope things return to normal and Utley comes back and stays healthy. Otherwise they’re really going to need the rotation to be superheroes.

*

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter. Looking for a Phillies book to kick off the season? Try this one.

Hit the Ball Hard, Good Things Will Happen

Ben Francisco hit a rocket to left field in the first inning last night at Citizens Bank Park.

Caught.

Francisco spiked his bat into the ground and tossed his helmet to the side.

“Seriously?” he had to be thinking. “Really?”

He had hit three bullets to left field in three consecutive at-bats, and all three had been caught. Strong winds killed two balls that would have been home runs in his final two at-bats in Tuesday’s 7-1 loss to the Mets. But Francisco finally caught a break last night, when he crushed another ball to left field for a solo home run — the final run — in the Phillies’ 10-7 victory. Francisco is hitting .333 (7 for 21) with one double, two home runs and five RBIs in his first five games.

Ryan Howard continues to swing a hot bat. He went 4 for 4 with two doubles, one home run, two RBIs and one walk. He is hitting .524 (11 for 21) with three doubles, two homers and eight RBIs. Much of the rest of the lineup is hitting well, too: Raul Ibanez (.300), Placido Polanco (.450), Jimmy Rollins (.368) and Wilson Valdez (.294). The only guys really struggling are Carlos Ruiz (.154) and Shane Victorino (.222), although Victorino had a couple big hits last night.

It’s just five games, but it’s encouraging for Charlie Manuel nonetheless. If the Phillies can win today’s series finale against the Mets, they will be 5-1 entering a weekend series against Atlanta. That will be a great early test for them.

*

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter. Looking for a Phillies book to kick off the season? Try this one.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 299 other followers