Results tagged ‘ Chase Utley ’
Good 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.
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.
The Phillies will announce at an 11:30 a.m. news conference today at Citizens Bank Park they have removed the “interim” label from Sandberg’s job title to make him Phillies manager. Sandberg becomes the 52nd manager in franchise history.
Sandberg replaced Charlie Manuel on an interim basis Aug. 16, but Sandberg has impressed the organization in that time. The Phillies are 18-16 under Sandberg, no small feat for a team that is 25th in baseball averaging 3.84 runs per game, 26th in baseball with a 4.30 ERA and 27th in run differential at minus-121.
It is not a surprise Sandberg got the job. Everybody in the world seemed to know it would happen. The only mystery remained when the Phillies would make the announcement.
They decided today would be the day.
Sandberg, who spent six seasons managing in the Minor Leagues to get a big-league opportunity, has received high marks from players in the clubhouse.
“Ryno is positive,” Phillies second baseman Chase Utley said Wednesday. “He’s always talking during the game. He’s definitely into the game, and guys respect him for that. He’s given a lot of guys an opportunity to play, which is nice. So far he’s done a great job.”
“There’s definitely a way he wants to do things,” Roy Halladay said earlier this month. “He’s set a tone early, and my guess would be that’s going to continue. He may even have more changes come Spring Training that he wants to see and that he wants to do. I think sometimes that can be a good thing, just to shake things up and make things different to where it’s not the same everyday routine. But he definitely has a way he wants to do things. It’s good that he’s not afraid to do it the way he wants to do it. If you’re going to do something, whatever job you do, you do it to the best of your ability and the way you want to do it and let everything take care of itself. I think he’s done that.”
Chase Utley finally answered Mac’s letter from It’s Always Sunny.
I spoke to Rob McElhenney in 2010 about the love letter to Utley and more.
Phillies fans will get to see more hustle and body-be-damned plays like that from Utley in coming seasons. A source told MLB.com the Phillies and Utley have agreed on a two-year contract extension. There are reports it is in the $25-$30 million range with vesting options for more years.
“I love Philadelphia,” said Utley, who declined to address the extension in specifics. “I’ve always envisioned playing here. I’ve never envisioned playing anywhere else. I hope that remains a possibility.”
“He’s pretty much the face of the franchise,” Cole Hamels said. “He does things right. He’s done things right since Day 1. He’s the typical Philly athlete and Philly ballplayer. He maxes out every day and you have to give him credit. That’s what’s fun to watch. Being a teammate, feeling confident knowing that I’m playing with one of the best second basemen in the game. I feel pretty comfortable and obviously pretty happy that he’s still going to be here.”
The Phillies and Utley have been discussing an extension for some time with Ruben Amaro Jr. saying frequently in the past month he wanted Utley to be a “Phillie for life.”
Utley said just before the All-Star break he saw pieces on the roster he believed could help the Phillies win in the future. Since then the Phillies have played poorly, completely falling out of postseason contention, but Utley said his feelings on the organization’s ability to win haven’t changed.
“Obviously right now we have a few guys that are banged up, that aren’t on the field, some of our main contributors,” Utley said. “But we have some solid pieces. Obviously, we all want to improve and I think everybody in this room can improve. So I like what I see. Obviously we have to play better baseball, though.”
Utley entered the night hitting .275 with 16 doubles, five triples, 15 home runs, 42 RBIs and a .505 slugging percentage this season. His slugging is his best since a .509 mark in 2009. His .841 OPS is his best since a .905 mark in 2009.
If he had enough plate appearances to qualify his OPS would rank third among 18 big-league second basemen.
When Utley is healthy he remains one of the best second basemen in baseball, but his health has been a problem in recent years. He missed much of the previous two seasons because of chronically injured knees, although this season the Phillies have said Utley has not appeared on their daily injury report with knee issues.
Utley missed a month this season because of a strained oblique, but that was considered more of a freak injury than anything else.
“I’ve felt good all the way since I came back last year,” Utley said. “I feel like the program that have been doing has worked. I’ve been able to stay on the field for the most part and be fairly productive. I plan on continuing to do that.”
Let’s look back, shall we?
- 2006: Traded Bobby Abreu, Cory Lidle, Rheal Cormier, David Bell and Sal Fasano and DFA’d Ryan Franklin in a fire sale.
- 2007: Acquired Kyle Lohse and Tadahito Iguchi.
- 2008: Acquired Joe Blanton.
- 2009: Acquired Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco and signed Pedro Martinez.
- 2010: Acquired Roy Oswalt.
- 2011: Acquired Hunter Pence.
- 2012: Traded Shane Victorino and Pence.
This might be the quietest deadline since 2005, when the Phillies got Ugueth Urbina in June. I say that because last night the Red Sox acquired Jake Peavy from the White Sox, which means Lee isn’t going to Boston or anywhere else. So I believe at this point it’s Michael Young or nobody. The Phillies are not going to trade Lee just to trade him. Why do that? They don’t need to shed payroll, and they’ve already been burned once on a Lee deal. Teams aren’t beating down doors for Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz or Delmon Young either, so they probably aren’t going anywhere. Ruben Amaro Jr. has said Chase Utley isn’t leaving as they’ve discussed a contract extension, so that’s basically it. It’s Michael Young or nobody, unless something crazy happens in the next few hours.
Depending on the time of day, Cliff Lee either is not going to be traded because the Phillies’ asking price is way too high — we’ve heard everything from three to four legitimate prospects to first, second and third born children — to there is a good chance he will be traded. Here’s what I know: the Phillies are willing to trade Lee. They are listening to offers for Lee. But they still plan to try to win next season and beyond — thus the $48 million to Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and the expected contract extension with Chase Utley — so they’re not pressured to trade him. They’re not the Marlins or Pirates or another small-market team. They don’t have to shed payroll. Lee’s contract isn’t an issue (although it is an issue for other teams), and for all of those reasons I would say the chances the Phillies trade Lee are less likely than trading him.
Now, please keep in mind these things can change by the hour, minute, text message or phone call. The Phillies thought they had no chance to acquire Hunter Pence before the 2011 trade deadline, but eventually got the deal done. The same could happen for Lee, but I think the Phillies aren’t as motivated to move Lee as they were to acquire Pence.
The most likely Phillies player to be traded is Michael Young for obvious reasons. He has value as a veteran corner infielder that can also DH and he isn’t expected back next season. But don’t expect much in return for a two-month rental.
The rest? Utley is not going to be traded. (See above.) Jonathan Papelbon‘s trade value isn’t terribly high at the moment and not because of his strong comments Sunday to MLB.com. It’s because of his performance and contract. His velocity has dipped and his five blown saves are tied for third in baseball. Carlos Ruiz could be moved, but don’t expect much in return. His .581 OPS would be the worst among big-league catchers, if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.
Trading Jimmy Rollins is moot. He said Sunday he would not waive his trade rights. I suppose the Phillies could move Delmon Young, but they would get less for him than they would get for Michael Young. CSNPhilly.com reported the only three players the Phillies will not trade are Utley, Cole Hamels and Domonic Brown. No surprises there. The Phillies expect Hamels to bounce back and a team starved for young talent would be crazy to trade Brown at this point.
“I can’t,” he said. “I’m busy today.”
He spoke later, but Amaro is probably busy with plenty of things, considering the Trade Deadline is next Wednesday and the Phillies entered tonight’s series finale against the Cardinals with a four-game losing streak. But CSNPhilly.com also reported Amaro has been talking with Chase Utley about a contract extension, which seems more likely to happen than not at this point.
“Come on, you know me,” said Utley, when asked about any negotiations.
“We don’t talk about those things,” Amaro echoed later.
But asked if he expects Utley to be in a Phillies uniform beyond Wednesday’s Trade Deadline, Amaro said, “Oh, I think so.”
Utley spoke with MLB.com about his future with the Phillies just before the All-Star break. He said then he would open to negotiations during the season.
“I think we have a good relationship,” he said. “We understand each other. Whatever is best is best, if that makes sense.”
They finished the half on a 9-4 run, although if you watched their just completed three-game series against the White Sox, you know this team is far from perfect.
“I think we made a statement that if we are going to be a contender and we’re going to win our division or a wild card, we still need some help,” Charlie Manuel said.
But this should be a fascinating second half for numerous reasons. First, the Phillies have a .610 winning percentage post-break with Manuel at the helm. That is the second-best record in baseball from 2005-12. They had a .587 winning percentage after the break last season, even after trading Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton. If the Phillies play the same this year they would finish 86-76. The Reds are on pace to win 90 games, so the Phillies need to pick up the pace in the second half.
But the Phillies play the Marlins, Mets, Padres and Cubs 25 more times, or 38.9 percent of their remaining games. Those teams have four of the five-worst records in the league. They also play the Braves and Nationals 22 more times, or 33.3 percent of their remaining games. So 47 of their remaining 66 games (71.2 percent) are against four of the worst teams in the league and the two teams they’re chasing to win the division. Since the Braves started 12-1, they are just 42-40. The Phillies are 42-40 in that same stretch, while the Nationals are 40-41.
The Phillies can’t say they won’t have a chance.
Second, what will the next couple weeks hold? Will the Phillies find a centerfielder to replace Ben Revere? Will they get some desperately needed bullpen help? I know everybody is saying the Phillies are buyers today, but if they stumble coming out of the break that could change quickly. The Phillies have a three-game series this weekend against the Mets at Citi Field, but then travel to St. Louis and Detroit. That isn’t an easy road trip, so the Phillies will need to play well.
Third, there will be plenty of evaluating going on in the second half. The Phillies will evaluate if they should buy or sell, and if they buy how much do they want to buy? But they also will be looking at their players on the field, deciding how they want to improve in 2014 and beyond. But players will be evaluating them, too. Chase Utley and Roy Halladay are free agents following the season. Ruben Amaro Jr. already has said he wants Utley to be a “Phillie for life.” If Halladay returns later this season and pitches well, you have to think the Phillies will try to bring him back. People always ask me about leaders in the Phillies clubhouse. Utley and Halladay are the two best. If they’re performing well you don’t want to lose them.
But Utley and Halladay also will have to decide if it’s best for them to stay. If they think the Phillies are moving in the wrong direction they might want to try to get a World Series ring elsewhere.
Utley talked about his future in Philadelphia. Read that story here.
Halladay also talked about his future in Philadelphia. Read that story here.