Results tagged ‘ Chase Utley ’

Utley Is Gold Glove Finalist

Chase Utley will have a shot at his first Gold Glove early next month.

He is one of three finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award for National League second basemen. Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips and Colorado’s DJ LeMahieu are the other two finalists.

Utley committed 11 errors with a .985 fielding percentage this season. Phillips committed two with a .996 fielding percentage, while LeMahieu had six with a .991 fielding percentage. But Utley’s 8.2 ultimate zone rating ranked second to LeMahieu (10.7), according to FanGraphs.

Utley’s 10.4 defense rating also ranked second to LeMahieu (12.7).

Saying Bye to Icons Take Guts, Could Be Right Call

Cole HamelsCole Hamels answered numerous questions about the future following yesterday’s season finale at Citizens Bank Park.

He had several interesting things to say, including the fact he hopes to remain in Philadelphia, but he will not hold a grudge if he is traded. Hamels has said a player has a limited amount of prime years in his career, and he would rather spend them winning than losing. Hamels acknowledged the fact the Phillies appear to be a long way from winning again, which is why it sounded like he would not stand in their way if they want to trade him to a team on his limited no-trade list.

He also made a good point when somebody asked him about organizations like the Cardinals and their ability to retool year after year.

“They had Albert Pujols for a while and they got rid of him,” he said.

The Phillies have finally acknowledged they held on too long to the belief they could win with the 2008 World Series championship core, if they simply surrounded it with complimentary players. But will they take the next step? Will they move on from an iconic player or two, if the right situation presents itself in the offseason?

I understand the difficulty in doing that, but I do not believe an organization should grip tightly to its iconic players because it is worried about alienating its fan base. How many fewer fans would the Phillies have drawn this season, if they had traded somebody like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard or Hamels before the season? The team drew 2,423,852 fans, a nearly 20 percent drop from last season and its lowest season total since its final year at Veterans Stadium in 2003, when they drew 2,259,948. Fans love their heroes, but they love winning more. Organizations, not just the Phillies, must stomach the short-term backlash of trading, releasing or not resigning an icon for the long-term benefit of winning.

I can relate to one example as a native Wisconsinite, which SI.com’s Peter King wrote about last month. Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson drafted Aaron Rodgers in the first round in his first draft as GM in 2005. Rodgers sat on the bench for three seasons, and after Packers icon Brett Favre lost the NFC championship game at home in the 2007 season, Thompson decided he needed to move on from the aging quarterback. Favre initially helped when he retired, but then he unretired and wanted his job back as the Packers’ starting quarterback.

But Thompson essentially told one of the most popular players in NFL history, “No, we’re moving on. We’re not giving you your job back. Good bye.”

Fans went crazy. They hated Thompson. Hated him.

But then a funny thing happened. Rodgers played well and led the Packers to the Super Bowl championship in 2010, while Favre got old and finally retired for good. You can’t find too many fans who still hate Thompson for the decision to move on from the iconic Favre. Because in the end, no matter how much fans love a player, they really love winning. Thompson believed he could no longer win with Favre, so moved on. He stuck to his beliefs, weathered the storm and was proven correct.

I am not advocating dumping players just for the sake of dumping them. They should always be moves that make sense from a baseball perspective. But organizations must not be afraid to move on from a popular player because of the possible marketing or ticket sales implications. If unpopular changes are made, but they lead to winning in the future, the fans will return. They always do, and they always forget why they were so mad at the team in the first place.

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Phillies React to Papelbon’s Trade Comments

Chase Utley, Jimmy RollinsJonathan Papelbon seemed baffled last night when reporters asked if he hopes to join a contending team before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

“Some guys want to stay on a losing team?” he said. “That’s mind-boggling to me.”

Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are two long-time Phillies who have said in recent weeks they have no desire to leave Philadelphia. Both have 10-and-5 rights, so they can reject any trade at any time. Utley said nothing this morning at Miller Park when asked about Papelbon’s comments and if anything has changed for him. He shooed away the question with his hands.

Rollins said little more than that.

“Not until I say so,” he said, asked if anything has changed for him. “You don’t have to investigate.”

Ruben Amaro Jr. said he had no problems with Papelbon’s candid comments.

“Every single player on this team should want to play for a winning team,” he said. “Simple as that. … Don’t misconstrue his words. He never said he’s unhappy here. He never said anything like that. He never expressed to me that he’s been unhappy. Why wouldn’t players want to play on a contending team? It’s really rather simple.”

Cole Hamels walked past Amaro in the visitors’ dugout at that moment.

“He wants to play on a winning team,” Amaro said about Hamels. “Why wouldn’t he?”

Amaro said Papelbon has not requested a trade. He would not say if there is much interest in his closer, although he said, “I’m getting calls on people all the time.”

But Papelbon is 10th among 149 qualified relief pitchers in baseball with a 1.24 ERA. His 0.85 WHIP is 15th out of 203. He is 22 of 24 in save opportunities.

He could help a contending team in need of bullpen help.

“It’s not a problem,” Amaro said. “I don’t view it as a problem. I’ve never viewed him as a problem.”

Asked about Papelbon’s bewilderment that anybody would want to stay on a losing team, Rollins said, “Pap is entitled to say whatever he wants to say. And he will. As all of us will. Those who have enough courage to.”

But there has to be many more people in the Phillies’ clubhouse that feel that way. They just don’t want to say it publicly.

“I can’t necessarily agree with that,” Rollins said.

Amaro said the Phillies are open-minded about a lot of things as the Trade Deadline approaches. It could mean eating some of Papelbon’s contract. He is owed about $19.5 million through next season, plus a potential $13 million more in 2016 if an option automatically vests based on games finished.

“Something is probably going to happen,” Rollins said. “No one knows who, what or when obviously. Something is likely going to happen.”

But Rollins figures to be here August 1.

“Probably,” he said.

Utley Goes Deep for Sixth Walkoff Hit, First since ’07


Chase Utley hit a two-run, walkoff home run in the 14th inning last night to beat the Marlins.

It had been a long time coming, in more ways than one.

He entered the night hitting .225 with one double, one home run, seven RBIs and a .568 OPS in 92 plate appearances since June 2, so he was due for a big hit, if not a big hit at a big moment.

“I’m trying to build some comfort at the plate,” he said. “You go through some funks and you try to battle through them.”

It was Utley’s sixth walk-off hit of his career, but his first since Aug. 30, 2007, when he singled against Mets closer Billy Wagner to score Tadahito Iguchi in a memorable 11-10 victory in a memorable run to the postseason. It was the third walk-off homer of Utley’s career, his first since Sept. 4, 2006, against Houston’s Dave Borkowski.

Utley fouled off a first-pitch fastball from Marlins right-hander Chris Hatcher, but swung and missed badly at an 0-1 fastball.

He recovered nicely, sending the third pitch into the seats.

“It was good to see him regroup, get a pitch he can really handle,” Ryne Sandberg said. “He’s a grinder. Three RBIs on the game, scrapped out a hit and a big shot at the end. Right man at the right spot.”

Utley Doesn’t Plan on Going Anywhere

Utley Addresses His Injured KneeThe Phillies have 33 games to play before the July 31 trade deadline, which leaves plenty of time for minds to change.

But Chase Utley indicated yesterday that he does not expect to change his mind.

Utley’s name is popping up as the trade deadline approaches with the Phillies sitting below the .500 mark and in last place in the National League East. The Phillies have played better recently, but they still have plenty of work to do. In fact, if they struggle leading to the deadline, the Phillies front office could initiate a fire sale with Utley becoming an attractive piece for postseason contenders, although the club has said it has no inclination to trade him.

Utley has indicated his desire to remain in Philadelphia, but what if the team begins a long rebuilding effort?

“Well, you’re creating situations that aren’t necessarily going to happen,” Utley told MLB.com. “I guess we’d have to see at that point, but I don’t plan on going anywhere.”

Utley has 10-and-5 rights — 10 years in the Major Leagues, the last five with the same team — so he can refuse any trade at any time for any reason. He signed a $27 million contract extension last August, which could be worth as much as $75 if options are vested.

Utley said then that one reason he re-signed is because he believed the Phillies could win in the future.

“Last year, re-signing here was something I really wanted to do,” he said. “Great organization. Nothing has changed since then.

“I mean, honestly, I haven’t thought about it.”

But Utley said he still thinks the Phillies can win in the future.

“I think the mentality of trying to win will be there,” Utley said. “I think we need to make improvements as does every team in baseball.”

Utley’s comments follow ones made recently by Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels. Rollins, who also has 10-and-5 rights, told USA Today that the Phillies “would have to come up with a reason for me to leave. … if they tell me to go, then I got no choice. I’ll go. If you make it that clear that you don’t want me, you don’t have to tell me twice.

“I’m not going to volunteer to go anywhere. Even if somewhere else was the perfect spot, this is what I know. You weigh that against the instant gratification of winning right now. You leave, and there’s no guarantee you’re going to win anyways. You pack up to leave for a different organization, a different city, and it feels temporary.”

Asked about his desire to remain in Philadelphia should the club elect to rebuild, Hamels, who has a partial no-trade clause, told CSNPhilly.com: “Then it’s a different situation. And I think you kind of have to look at it in a different way because your careers are only so long. Your good years only last so long. You want to make them count.”

But each player has indicated he wants to stay.

Fire Sale Looming

Chase UtleyOn the train to DC this morning I crunched some numbers and came up with a few thoughts about the Phillies, who seem to be headed nowhere fast following a 4-7 homestand, which included their first no-hit loss since 1978 and four losses in five games to the Mets.

The Phillies are 9-17 since they were 15-14 on May 4. It’s the worst record in the National League in that span.

They are 24-31 overall. They were 26-29 at this point last year, when they were on their way to 89 losses.

I’m typically one to preach patience during a 162-game season because it is difficult to draw concrete conclusions about a team a little more than two months into it. I often remind people about the deficits the 2007 and 2008 Phillies overcame to win the National League East: seven down with 17 to play in 2007 and 3 ½ back with 16 to play in 2008. But those teams did at least one thing very, very well. Those teams had the best offense in the National League. They hit the cover off the ball. They also had a very good bullpen down the stretch in 2007 and a great one throughout 2008. They also played good defense.

But the 2014 Phillies don’t do anything well. You can’t say, “This team has fantastic starting pitching, so if they can just add a bullpen arm and get Domonic Brown going they should be OK.”

There are holes everywhere.

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Brown is hitting .206 with six doubles, one triple, four home runs, 27 RBIs, 15 walks, 36 strikeouts and a .557 OPS through the team’s first 55 games. It reminds me of Pat Burrell’s 2003 season. Burrell’s struggles were a huge story that year. Fans wanted him sent to Triple-A, like Brown. I got emails from people asking about Burrell’s eyesight or other ailments that might be affecting him at the plate. But through 55 games in 2003, Burrell was hitting .204 with 13 doubles, one triple, 10 home runs, 25 RBIs, 31 walks, 64 strikeouts and a .751 OPS. Amazing. Burrell’s OPS was nearly 200 points higher than Brown’s is today.

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Don’t Expect Franco Soon, Utley Trade Rumors

Chase UtleyIt sure doesn’t sound like Maikel Franco is an option to play third base while Cody Asche is on the disabled list.

“He’s just not playing good enough baseball yet,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said today at Citizens Bank Park. “He’s not really ready to be a big-leaguer yet.”

Franco returned to the IronPigs lineup yesterday after missing a couple days with an upper respiratory issue. He is hitting .231 with four home runs, 19 RBIs and a .669 OPS this season after a poor start, but he has hit .292 with an .851 OPS in 27 games since April 22.

But in those last 27 games, he is hitting just .125 (3 for 24) in his last seven.

Asche is on the DL with a strained left hamstring. The Phillies said they hope Asche can return June 7, when he is eligible to be activated. If that happens, it means there are just 10 more days for Franco to get a call up.

That isn’t much of a window to suddenly become a big leaguer in the eyes and minds of the Phillies front office. Meanwhile, Cesar Hernandez continues to play third base in Asche’s absence. He entered Tuesday hitting .129 (4-for-31).

“There’s no reason to bring Franco unless he’s ready to be a big leaguer as far as I’m concerned,” Amaro said. “If he puts together a few days. Offensively, he’s made some adjustments, he’s made some improvements better than in the earlier part of the season, but he’s not really going on all cylinders now. We’re still contemplating it. We’ll see how it goes.”

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Are there Chase Utley trade rumors? If not, there will be soon, unless the team begins to play well.

“They surface because he’s a good player and we’re not in first place, that’s why they surface,” Amaro said.

But Amaro downplayed the suggestion the Phillies would trade one of their more iconic players.

“First off, no one wants to trade Chase Utley and No.2 I don’t think Chase Utley wants to go anywhere and he has the power to decide what he wants to do,” Amaro said. “The point is kind of moot. The same with Jimmy (Rollins). The same story.”

Phillies Cruise in LA

Cliff LeeGood morning from California.

If you missed last night’s 7-0 victory over the Dodgers because of the three-hour difference, you missed a rare night when the Phillies didn’t have to sweat out a victory. They took a 2-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back as Cliff Lee allowed four hits and struck out 10 in eight scoreless innings.

Lee is 2-2 with a 1.20 ERA in four starts since Opening Day. In 30 innings over those starts, he has allowed 33 hits, four earned runs, one walk and has struck out 37.

“He’s evolved over the years,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s throwing more changeups, the curveball in different ways. He’s using more pitches. He used to be simple — stuff and location. He doesn’t throw quite as hard, but it doesn’t seem to matter a whole lot.”

Lee’s fastball has lost about one mph since last season, but it hasn’t affected his results.

Ryne Sandberg hit Carlos Ruiz fourth, despite hitting .204 with no home runs and two RBIs. He finished hitting .245 with one home run and four RBIs.

Ryan Howard continues to swing a hot bat. He hit his fifth home run of the season. It is just 19 games, but it is worth noting for the moment that his .905 OPS ranks 24th out of 199 qualifying hitters in baseball. Chase Utley is fourth at 1.086.

If you didn’t see Utley’s play in the bottom of the first inning you should watch it here. Lee called it “advanced” baseball.

Utley Leads Phillies Offense

Chase UtleyEverybody seems to know by now that Chase Utley is the hottest hitter on the planet.

He leads baseball with a .500 batting average, .565 on-base percentage, .875 slugging percentage and 1.440 OPS. Elias Sports Bureau said he is the first Phillies player to open a season 20-for-40 since Von Hayes in 1989.

We also know Utley won’t keep up this pace forever. But the Phillies are hoping their offense keeps up its pace through the first 12 games of the season. The Phillies lead the National League with a .354 on-base percentage and 49 walks. (Remove Utley from the equation and the team still has a .327 on-base percentage, which would rank fifth in the league.) Have the Phillies had bad days with runners in scoring position? Yes. They are sixth in the NL averaging 4.67 runs per game, so they can do a better job of taking advantage of their opportunities. But from 2005-11, when the Phillies led the league in runs, they also led the league in runners left on base. Utley often mentioned that in the past: Sure, they are leaving a lot of runners on base, but that is because they are putting a lot of runners on base. Typically, the law of averages kicks in and many of those runners score. The Phillies are hoping the same holds true this season.

Regardless, the first 12 games are a marked improvement over the past two seasons when the Phillies were ninth in the league averaging a paltry 3.99 runs per game and 11th with a .312 on-base percentage.

Utley Out with Flu

home opener 2014Chase Utley got sent home from the ballpark today because of the flu.

That’s a blow to the Phillies lineup. Utley entered the day leading the National League with a 1.369 OPS.

Cesar Hernandez will play second. Carlos Ruiz will hit third.

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