Results tagged ‘ Ben Revere ’

An Offensive Pulse

Chase Utley, Kurt SuzukiCole Hamels might be getting his mojo back, which could mean good things for the Phillies going forward. They need good pitching.

A few numbers to consider this fine Wednesday morning:

  • The Phillies have won six of their last eight games.
  • Since Atlanta started the season 12-1, it is 40-37, while the Phillies are 39-38 and the Nationals are 38-38. The Braves are practically begging somebody to challenge them in the NL East the second half of the season.
  • Since the end of May, the Phillies rank seventh in baseball averaging 4.58 runs per game. Since a loss in San Diego on June 24, they are seventh in baseball averaging 5.29 runs per game.
  • Ben Revere is hitting .346 since the end of April, which is seventh-best in baseball. He also is hitting .369 with an .871 OPS this season against lefties.
  • Following a 0-for-22 slump at the end of May, Michael Young has hit .331 with eight doubles, one triple, four home runs, 15 RBIs and an .844 OPS in his last 33 games.
  • Chase Utley‘s .504 slugging percentage is his best mark since a .508 slugging percentage in 2009.
  • Delmon Young has hit safely in 13 of his past 14 games. He is hitting .431 with three doubles, one home run, 10 RBIs and a 1.022 OPS in that stretch.
  • Domonic Brown cooled a bit in June, hitting .135 with two RBIs in a 10-game stretch. But in 18 games since June 19 he has hit .319 with five doubles, two triples, four homers, 15 RBIs and a .978 OPS. He is hitting .305 with an .816 OPS against lefties, and .343 with a 1.007 OPS in eight games in the cleanup spot.
  • Jimmy Rollins is not hitting for any power this season, but he has a .326 batting average and .340 on-base percentage in his last 10 games.

Looking at those numbers you could say the offense is coming alive, which is desperately needed because the pitching staff is 24th in baseball with a 4.33 ERA since June 8. The bullpen is even worse. It has a 5.21 ERA in that stretch, which is 27th. That is why Hamels’ last two starts are encouraging. If he can return to form he can put up a few zeroes, keep the young relievers in the pen and give the Phillies a better chance to win.

If these past few weeks are a sign of something real and not fool’s good then you have to think the Phillies will look to shore up its bullpen in the coming weeks. Of course, at what cost? As encouraging as the offense has been lately, I can’t imagine it would make much sense to part with a legitimate prospect to plug a hole in the bullpen … unless it is a guy the Phillies can keep beyond this season. (Joba Chamberlain? That makes ZERO sense. I mean, none.)

Can Revere Turn Things Around?

Russell Martin, Ben RevereBen Revere returns to his big-league roots today at Target Field.

I’m sure he had hoped for a better homecoming.

I wrote yesterday about Revere’s struggles, and where the Phillies see him fitting into their future plans. Revere has a .562 OPS, which is sixth-lowest in baseball out of 164 qualifying players. (It could be worse. The Phillies offered B.J. Upton a five-year, $55 million contract in the offseason, but he signed with the Braves instead. He has a .549 OPS.) Revere has not played like the Gold Glove-caliber defender the Phillies touted, either. But they say they will remain patient with him. I understand this. They need to keep playing Revere and hope he turns things around, so going into the offseason they know if they need a centerfielder or not. If Revere turns it around and shows he’s capable of being a .300 hitter and good defender, then they can try to fill other holes. But if Revere continues to struggle then they have one more hole to fill. And they certainly don’t need another hole to fill.

Mayberry’s Historic Night

John Mayberry Jr.,  Freddy Galvis, Domonic Brown
John Mayberry Jr.John Mayberry Jr.
hit a game-tying home run in the 10th inning and a game-winning grand slam in the 11th inning in a 7-3 victory over the Marlins. Mayberry is the first player to hit two extra-inning home runs in one game since Baltimore’s Mike Young in 1987. He is the first player in baseball history to hit two extra-inning home runs in one game with the second home run a walk-off grand slam.

“It feels pretty good, I can’t lie to you,” Mayberry said. “That’s definitely a first. This is one of those days I’ll remember forever.”

Mayberry’s heroics are even more impressive, considering he started the game on the bench. He pinch-hit in the seventh inning and remained in the game as a defensive replacement for Delmon Young in right field. He became the fourth player in Phillies history to hit two home runs in a game as a substitute. He joined Ryan Howard (May 14, 2006, at Cincinnati), Steve Jeltz (June 8, 1989, vs. Pittsburgh) and Jack Knight (June 24, 1926, vs. New York Giants).

He also is the first Phillies player to hit a walk-off grand slam in extra innings since Dale Murphy on Aug. 6, 1991, against the Cubs.

The victory puts the Phillies (29-30) in position to be .500 for the first time since April 14 with a victory Wednesday. Can they finally get there? They only need to beat the Marlins, who are on pace to lose 115 games.

“We’re going to be trying like hell,” Charlie Manuel said.

Read the entire game story here, including thoughts from Manuel and Ben Revere on Bob Davidson‘s horrendous interference call in the eighth inning.

Looking for a Leadoff Hitter

Chase Utley, Michael BournIt seems like Charlie Manuel is asked about Ben Revere, Jimmy Rollins or the leadoff hitter every day.

There is good reason for that. Phillies leadoff hitters entered tonight’s series opener against the Indians with a .273 on-base percentage, which ranked 27th in baseball. But when I asked Manuel if he imagined anybody else hitting leadoff other than Rollins or Revere he said he didn’t based on personnel. That had me thinking about Michael Bourn in the Indians clubhouse. He signed a four-year, $48 million deal with Cleveland in January. He also has a .348 on-base percentage from 2009 through this season. (He is hitting .293 with a .350 on-base percentage in 64 plate appearances this year.)

The Phillies could use some production like that right about now.

“I think I might have been on their hit list,” Bourn said about the Phillies’ offseason interest. “I don’t know how high or what their target was or if they were worried about what Scott (Boras) was going to do. There are a lot of teams that say they want you to be part of their organization, but you don’t know if they really do. You have a whole bunch of teams that say they’re interested. But when it comes down to it there’s about three or four of them. Really, two.”

The Phillies had some interest in Bourn, but not as his original asking price, believed to be considerably higher than the deal he eventually struck with Cleveland. Had the Phillies not acquired Ben Revere from the Twins in December, the Phillies might have made a late run at Bourn in January, but that never happened.

“Getting adjusted to play in Philly is different,” Bourn said about Revere’s early struggles. “When you come here it’s different. They want you to do everything right now. That’s the only advantage I would have had because I’ve played here before. But I’m really happy here. Yeah, I guess the Phillies were interested a little bit. But that’s not how it went down.”

Revere, who started tonight on the bench, is hitting .400 (8-for-20) in his last eight games.

Bad Finger Keeps Revere Out Of Lineup

Russell Martin, Ben RevereBen Revere jammed his right ring finger stealing a base early in last night’s loss to the Indians at Progressive Field.

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.”

Revere Gets Break, Should Hit Eighth Upon Return

Russell Martin, Ben RevereI offered my Phillies lineup a few times in Spring Training and always had Ben Revere hitting eighth, even without Carlos Ruiz and Delmon Young available. People thought I was crazy.

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):

  1. Jimmy Rolllins, SS
  2. Chase Utley, 2B
  3. Michael Young, 3B
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, RF
  6. Carlos Ruiz, C
  7. Domonic Brown/John Mayberry Jr., LF
  8. Ben Revere, CF

Time to Score

Charlie ManuelThe last six games could not have been more painful to watch, if you like any semblance of offense.

I’m not even talking about a lot of offense. I’m talking about a little bit of offense. You know, like a four or five-run game every once in a while. But the Phillies hit their high-water mark on their just completed six-game road trip through Miami and Cincinnati on Friday, when they scored three runs against the Marlins. And they needed 10 innings to do that.

Let’s take a look at some of the wretched numbers:

  • The Phillies did not score a single run before the sixth inning in any game during the road trip.
  • They hit just .205 and scored a mere 10 runs overall.
  • They failed to walk once in the entire series against the Reds. It is the first time since Aug. 13-15, 1995, they had no walks over a three-game span. It is just the second time it has happened to them in the past 50 years. It is the first time it has happened in baseball since Aug. 2011, when the White Sox failed to walk in four consecutive games. Walks matter. On-base percentage matters. You can’t score if you don’t get anybody on base. Ever.
  • The Phillies are averaging 3.47 runs per game this season, which ranks 12th in the National League. They are 12th with a .667 OPS. They have walked just 34 times, which is tied for the second-lowest mark in the league. They have struck out 120 times, which is third. Remember how people said, “The Braves are going to hit home runs, but they are going to strike out too much?” Well, the Braves have struck out a whopping 121 times, just one more than the Phillies. But they also have walked 10 more times, and have scored 16 more runs. Of course, the biggest difference is the Braves lead the National League with a 1.77 ERA, while the Phillies are 15th with a 4.90 ERA. But pitching wasn’t the problem during this trip, other than John Lannan‘s performance last night. It was the toothless offense.

I got a ton of tweets last night during the game basically saying everybody must go. Ruben Amaro Jr. to Charlie Manuel to the lineup. Basically the entire team. Let me say right now: if you really believe this on April 18 don’t hold your breath. If you can find another team in baseball that made wholesale changes 15 games into a 162-game season, please let me know. The Phillies are going to see what happens when Carlos Ruiz and Delmon Young join the team. They are going to give themselves time. It might be fruitless. It might be a gigantic waste of time, but this is what they are going to do. So if you are breathing fire today you should relax. It will get you nowhere.

I’ve also gotten more than a few tweets and e-mails about the Phillies changing their lineup. The folks that absolutely demanded Manuel hit Ben Revere leadoff suddenly have changed their tune as he is hitless in his last 14 at-bats to drop his batting average and slugging percentage to .194. But the alternative is Jimmy Rollins, who went 1-for-18 on the trip.

The only real option to improve the lineup? Keep playing and hope things get better. Yes, that’s it. It’s not much of a plan, but it’s the only plan they’ve got. Ryne Sandberg can’t make these guys hit. Screaming at them won’t make them hit. Punishing them won’t make them hit. (Some fans seem to think treating professional baseball players like they’re freshmen on a JV team is the way to go. Not sure the Mike Rice method would be effective in the Phillies’ clubhouse.) Either they’re going to hit or they’re not. But massive changes 15 games into the season? Not going to happen. But Amaro won’t wait forever, either. He showed last July 31 he will make changes if needed. But it’s April 18. We’re a long way from there.

Your best option? If you’re of legal age, crack open a beer or have a scotch. It’ll help calm the nerves.

High Flying, Low Scoring Phillies

Ben RevereThe photo above is the second-best catch Ben Revere made last night in Cincinnati.

Take a look at the best one here.

The Phillies lost to the Reds, 4-2, in what truly was a great game. Great pitching. Great defense. Some clutching hitting (although far too little for the Phillies). But a well-played game from both sides. The Phillies’ bats have been quiet since scoring seven runs Wednesday against the Mets. They have scored just eight runs in four games since. They could get away with that against an awful team like the Marlins, but the Reds are quite a bit better offensively.

Two runs won’t cut it in Cincinnati.

People have asked about the eighth inning and why the Phillies started Jeremy Horst in a tie game, rather than somebody else. The answer is pretty simple: Horst had warmed up and was about to go into the game trailing 2-0 when Chase Utley unexpectedly hit a two-out, two-run home run to right field to tie the game. If you’re asking, “Why weren’t they warming up Mike Adams or Antonio Bastardo just in case they tied the game?” the answer is even easier: you can’t warm up everybody all the time during a six-month, 162-game season in the event somebody might hit a two-out, two-run, pinch-hit home run to tie the game. You’ll blow out the arms of pitchers like Adams and Bastardo, and then you’re really screwed.

But Manuel also acknowledged they are concerned about using Adams too much. Remember he had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery after last season and had pitched in four of the previous five games. Bastardo had pitched in three of the previous four. Of course, if you’re now asking, “Well, they had Adams finish the eighth anyway, so what’s the difference?” They used Adams at that point because they were trying to extend the game and liked his chances of getting a groundball out. He got one. It just wasn’t hit at anybody. If the Phillies were tied or leading before Utley’s at-bat, then I bet Bastardo or Adams pitch. But they weren’t.

On a side note: Horst suffered some crappy luck in the eighth. He allowed a swinging bunt single and a bloop double to right-center field. It’s not like the Reds smoked the ball against them. But the bigger picture is the Phillies’ offense needs to get on track. They’re not doing much of anything right now. I know the pitcher has a big part in it, but the pitcher can’t have a big part in it every night.

Revere’s Highlight Reel

I talked to Ben Revere the other day about some of his top highlight reel plays. Here are five of the best, with his comments below each one.

Somersault triple July 15, 2011, at Target Field. “As soon as the ball got by (Jeff Francoeur) … I didn’t know if the ball came right back to him. Target Field is a crazy stadium. You’ve got so many bumps and bounces. I kind of looked back and kind of saw he was about to pick up the ball. So then I look to see where second base was and it was right underneath me, so I kind of toe tapped it and that’s how I lost my footing. I knew I was about to fall down, so I forced myself to do a front flip so I wouldn’t miss a beat. I kept going and the third base coach was like, ‘What was that?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ It just took all my energy. I couldn’t believe that happened. My family was there for it. They were joking with me, but I didn’t listen to it. Really, it was my dad and my brother. My grandpa just sat there laughing. They were talking about running and this and that. I was like, ‘All right, whatever, guys.’”


Climbing up the wall Aug. 22, 2011, at Target Field. “First, off the bat, I thought it was going to be a home run. When I was running back I saw it was kind of dying. I looked at the fence, looked back at the ball, I’m like, ‘I may have a chance at this.’ I just leapt for the ball and it fell in my glove. I came off the fence, looked in my glove and the ball was there. After the game I had like 50 phone calls, a bunch of text messages from people: ‘Dude, I just saw your catch. It was unbelievable.’ It was a pretty good experience. You have to be cognizant of where the wall is. You have to see the ball, of course. That’s why you take two steps, look back, two steps, look back. We worked on that when I was real young, when I first started playing the outfield and stuff. Just doing that really helped me in that situation.”
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Is Revere Leadoff Material?

Ben ReverePeople love dissecting the Phillies’ lineup.

Should Charlie Manuel split up Chase Utley and Ryan Howard? Should Michael Young hit second, third or fifth? Should Ben Revere hit high or low? Should Jimmy Rollins hit lower to take advantage of his power?

The Rollins-Revere discussion is an interesting one, but very few people in Philadelphia have seen Revere play on a consistent basis to know exactly what he brings to a lineup. In fact, Manuel has said the same thing: he needs to see Revere play more before he makes any decisions about his spot in the order. But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has seen Revere play. He managed him before the Twins traded him to the Phillies in December for Vance Worley and Trevor May.

I asked him before today’s game in Fort Myers if Revere has potential as a leadoff man.

“Well, it depends,” Gardenhire 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.”

(more…)

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