Results tagged ‘ Cole Hamels ’

Is This A Playoff Team? Hamels Says Ask Somebody Else

Jimmy RollinsWell, that couldn’t have gone much worse.

A few thoughts on the Phillies following their 3-7 road trip:

  • There is a level of frustration settling into the Phillies’ clubhouse, an amount I haven’t seen in Charlie Manuel‘s nine seasons here. Just read Cliff Lee‘s comments Thursday in Minnesota, or what Cole Hamels told reporters after yesterday’s loss in Colorado. Is this a playoff team? “I’m not going to comment on that one,” Hamels said. “You can ask the other guys that one.” Remember, those comments are being made publicly, which certainly means the apathy/resignation/frustration is worse behind closed doors. That is troubling. I remember in seasons past, somebody like Jayson Werth would say confidently and almost nonchalantly, “Relax, everybody. We’re fine. We’re much better than this. We’ll pick it up when we need to pick it up.” They knew they would. You don’t hear that talk right now.
  • The Phillies are 25th in baseball in runs per game. They are 24th in ERA. In seasons past, the Phillies always had one thing going for it: a great offense or a great pitching staff. You could always say, “Well, if they add a bat (Hunter Pence) or if they add an arm (Lee or Roy Oswalt) at the trade deadline it could push them over the top.” You can’t say that with this team. There are too many holes. Where would you even start?
  • Look at where the Phillies rank in OPS at every position. Catcher: 23rd at .651. First base: 17th at .763. Second base: 20th at .671. Third base: 13th at .727. Shortstop: Ninth at .747. Left field: second at .876. Center field: 27th at .616. Right field: 23rd at .691. Second base would be better if Chase Utley had remained healthy, but other than that the only two positions holding their own against the best in baseball are left field (Domonic Brown) and shortstop (Jimmy Rollins).
  • If you say, well, the Phillies are only 8 1/2 games back in the NL East (I’m not sure why anybody would say that, but still …), remember the NL East is probably the worst division in baseball.
  • Looking for a reason to keep the faith? That’s tough, but I guess if you’re going to hold onto something hold onto this: Manuel’s teams traditionally are much better in the second half (.610 winning percentage after the All-Star break from 2005-12 is second-best in baseball). Of course, if they keep playing like this they could be buried in the standings and some of their top players could be traded by July 31. That traditional second-half surge might not matter.
  • Take a look at the upcoming free agent class at MLB Trade Rumors. I don’t see a lot of guys that could help the Phillies turn around their fortunes quickly.  Is there anybody that gets you excited enough to say, “I’d be OK if the Phillies shelled out a ton of cash for him?” There is Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury and that’s about it as far as high on-base percentage bats the Phillies could use. (Forget about Robinson Cano. I can’t believe the Yankees will let him sign elsewhere.)

Nine Up, Nine Down

Chase UtleyHere are some things we’ve learned through the first nine games of the season:

  • You should be worried about Roy Halladay. Despite protests from Halladay and everybody else in the Phillies clubhouse and front office, Halladay has not looked good since 2011. So this isn’t a four or five start slump. This is a slump that has extended beyond one full calendar year. It started in Spring Training 2012 and has lasted through his first two starts in 2013. Besides a drop in velocity, Halladay’s ERA from 2010-11 to 2012-13 has jumped from 2.40 to 4.95, while his strikeout-to-walk ratio has plummeted from 6.75 to 3.43. He is going the wrong direction in every relevant statistic. Maybe he can figure out things and be productive, but right now there is no evidence to suggest he is close. He faces the wretched Marlins on Sunday. They’ve had Placido Polanco and Greg Dobbs hitting cleanup. It is a good opportunity to have some success on the mound. Maybe it gets him going.
  • Don’t be worried about Cole Hamels. If we’re at Defcon 2 with Halladay, we’re at Defcon 5 with Hamels. There is nothing to see here. Please, disperse.
  • It’s more the rotation than the bullpen. Phillies starters have a 6.24 ERA, which ranks 28th in baseball. That is the biggest issue right now, not middle relievers like Chad Durbin, Jeremy Horst and Raul Valdes. Certainly they need to do a better job. They have allowed 12-of-15 inherited runners to score. That 80 percent mark is the worst in baseball. (Technically, the Reds have allowed 100 percent of their inherited runners to score, but they’re only 1-for-1.) But the middle relievers have been pitching too much and have put into too many tough situations. That blame falls on the starters. They are the ones that need to do better. They are supposed to pitch deep into games and they have not done that nearly enough.
  • The Phillies rank seventh in the National League, averaging 4.67 runs per game. They have looked better recently, and they show some potential. Chase Utley, Michael Young and Jimmy Rollins are swinging well right now. Domonic Brown has been OK. I believe Ryan Howard will be better than he has been. The only drag right now is Ben Revere. He has struck out seven times in 38 at-bats. That’s 5.86 plate appearances per strikeout. He struck out 54 times last season, or once every 10.24 plate appearances. John Mayberry Jr. has been productive, but even if he continues to swing well the Phillies are going with Delmon Young in right field when he is ready. Add Young and Carlos Ruiz to the lineup before the end of the month and this lineup has a chance to score some runs.
  • Utley looks like the guy that earned the “Best Second Baseman in Baseball” tag from 2005-09.
  • Cliff Lee can be streaky. The Phillies should be thankful he started on a good streak, otherwise they’d be in deep doo-doo.

Obvious Choice: Hamels to Start Opening Day

Cole HamelsThe Phillies made the obvious official this evening when they finally announced Cole Hamels will be their Opening Day starter.

It had been lined up that way for weeks.

Hamels unquestionably is the most deserving starter among a group that includes former Cy Young winners Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. He went 17-6 with a 3.05 ERA last season, earning a trip to his third All-Star Game and finishing eighth in National League Cy Young voting.

Hamels downplayed the possibility of starting Opening Day last month, despite the fact he had never started one in his career. Hamels earned 2008 World Series and National League Championship Series honors, but because of an injury in 2009 and the arrival of Halladay in 2010, he never pitched the season opener, although he pitched the home opener last year.

“I’ve never really thought about it,” Hamels said last month. “It’s one game, one appearance and then you’re back into the normal baseball atmosphere. I’ve never really looked at it as this big sort of ordeal. I’ve always valued the playoffs.”

Hamels would rather start Game 1 of the World Series instead.

“When you have to lead off the playoff game and a series, I think that’s pretty important,” he said. “I think that’s kind of where it’s at. If you do get that honor, you just go out and stick to business and try to win a ballgame.”

The Phillies open their season April 1 in Atlanta. Halladay is scheduled to pitch the second game of the season April 3, thus ending his streak of 10 consecutive Opening Day starts, which was the longest active streak in the big leagues. Lee will pitch the series finale against the Braves April 4. That sets up right-hander Kyle Kendrick to pitch the home opener April 5 against the Royals at Citizens Bank Park. Left-hander John Lannan will make his Phillies debut April 6.

Hamels said there is a sense of urgency to win this season after missing the playoffs last year following five consecutive NL East championships.

“There’s definitely a sense of urgency,” he said. “If you don’t have that in this game, you’re not going to last long. The organization isn’t going to be happy, the city isn’t going to be happy. That’s the reason why people obviously leave, and ultimately that’s the reason I wanted to stay. I know what it takes, I know these guys want to do it. With the injuries we kind of lost the path that we were accustomed to, on top of having teams in the division playing very well. So we have to get that urgency back and get back to playing the baseball we’re capable of playing.”

He can get the Phillies off to a good start April 1.

Morgan Soaks Up Camp Experience

Adam MorganIf everything continues on its current path, in the future Adam Morgan won’t have to pack his bags for the short trip to Carpenter Complex.

The Phillies re-assigned the left-handed pitching prospect to Minor League camp today. Morgan, who MLB.com ranks the seventh-best prospect in the Phillies organization, went 0-1 with a 1.93 ERA in two Grapefruit League appearances. He allowed five hits, four runs (one earned run), two walks and struck out six in 4 2/3 innings.

The Phillies need him to get ready for the Minor League season, but they love his potential and think he could be a mainstay in the rotation in the future. He could open this season in Double-A Reading or Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

“It was amazing,” Morgan said about his first big-league camp experience. “It was awesome. I felt like I took advantage of every day. I tried to learn something new every day. I didn’t take anything for granted. You come in here and I guess you’re kind of star struck by everybody at first. But they’re good guys. They’re very approachable guys.

(more…)

Dominicans Rock Hamels

Cole HamelsCole Hamels summed up his rocky 2 2/3 innings today against the Dominican Republic thusly:

“Thank goodness it doesn’t count.”

He allowed 12 hits, eight runs, one home run and struck out three in 2 2/3 innings against a talented lineup in a 15-2 loss at Bright House Field. The Dominicans scored four runs against Hamels in the second and four more in the third before he got pulled after throwing 59 pitches.

“Obviously, what I was going out and trying to do, I wasn’t able to accomplish it as well,” said Hamels, who is the Phillies’ presumed Opening Day starter. “They’re very good at what they do. It’s just a game where you take it and try to build on what you can for the next bullpen and then getting ready for my next goal, which is try to pitch deeper into a ballgame. Establish strikes in the strike zone, I don’t think I was doing that as well as I know I can. And on top of that, when I was throwing strikes, they were hitting them. Didn’t miss many bats.”

Said Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee: “Spring Training has a purpose. One of the things is you’ve got to get your fastball going. He knows they’re all fastball hitters over there. But he sprinkled in (nine) cutters, some curveballs, I think he threw five curveballs, seven changeups. But he wants to get his fastball command going. And that’s the purpose today. It isn’t about results right now. … He’s facing an All-Star team and he doesn’t even have all his weapons.”

Halladay Endorses Hamels As Leader

Roy HalladayRoy Halladay isn’t starting Opening Day.

Gasp!

Much is made about the Opening Day starter, but the person who might care least about it is Halladay, who has started Opening Day each of the previous three seasons with the Phillies. Cole Hamels is expected to get the nod, although the Phillies have not made an official announcement.

“I think the commitment they made to him last year,” Halladay said referring to Hamels’ six-year, $144 million contract extension, “it’s his time. He’s been here for a long time, he’s had a lot of success here. There aren’t many teams where you have a World Series MVP and then you bring in four to five guys to pitch in front of him. It should have been his spot a long time ago. I think it’s something he’s going to embrace. And really after Opening Day, we’re all five days apart anyway.

“I talked to him about it when we’re going out and doing drills, stuff like that, it’s time for him now to kind of step up and take charge in those situations and establish himself as the head of the staff.”

That’s a pretty significant endorsement from a potential Hall of Famer.

Halladay has bigger fish to fry anyway. He is trying to bounce back from a disappointing 2012. So far he said everything has gone well. He has thrown to live hitters twice, and in each situation he has worked on improving his location.

“I feel good,” he said. “I feel good with where I’m at right now. There’s a long way to go in camp and there’s still a lot of things to accomplish but I’m happy with the way I feel and the way things are going. … I haven’t had a day where I’ve been sore from the core up. Those first couple of days, you’re going to be sore. Your legs will be sore from the drills and stuff, but from the core up I haven’t been sore and that’s a good sign. When you’re trying play catchup early in camp and you’re trying to keep your arm going, that’s the tough part of spring training. If you can avoid that that’s always a good sign, so I feel good going forward.”

Halladay makes his first Grapefruit League start Sunday against the Tigers in Lakeland. He said he will not be worried so much about the hitters as how he feels about his location and conditioning.

“You’re not really throwing your full arsenal,” he said. “What the hitters do isn’t so important to me now. I know what I’m looking for those first couple time outs and that’s my goal to go out and execute the pitches I want to execute and not be overly concerned with the swings and what have you.”

Hamels: I’m Fine, Ready to Go

Matt Cain,Cole Hamels gave a few Phillies fans a moment of panic earlier this month when word spread he suffered from a sore left shoulder late last season.

Hamels’ reaction when asked about it tonight?

“I don’t know of anything that happened,” he insisted. “I’ve been healthy. That’s the last thing on my list. … I haven’t felt anything of that sort. That’s the honest truth. I don’t know. I wasn’t the one that started it. I know I feel good and I’m ready to go. That’s all I can really answer. That’s kind of where it is. Same program, ready for Spring Training and finally getting out of the cold. That will be a lot nicer. I’m very excited.”

Ruben Amaro Jr. earlier this month addressed a report that said Hamels suffered from a sore shoulder. Amaro said the Phillies shut down Hamels’ throwing program for a couple weeks and has been fine since.

Amaro said the Phillies never considered it an issue, pointing out Hamels never visited a doctor. Hamels said the same thing. So while Hamels felt something in the shoulder in September he considered it typical soreness from the grind of the regular season and nothing more. That seems to be why there is a discrepancy in what Hamels said. Typically when a pitcher complains of shoulder soreness it means he cannot pitch, but Hamels apparently never felt that way.

If Hamels is fine that certainly is good news for the Phillies. Hamels, 29, signed a six-year, $144 million contract extension last summer and they need him healthy if they expect to return to the postseason in 2013.

Hamels said he planned to throw his fourth offseason bullpen session Wednesday. He plans to head to Clearwater, Fla., sometime next week.

Nothing to See Here? Keep Moving?

Is there anything to worry about here?

Ruben Amaro Jr. said today left-hander Cole Hamels’ shoulder is fine. CSNPhilly.com reported Hamels had some shoulder soreness late in the 2012 season and early in the offseason. But the Phillies shut down Hamels’ throwing program for a couple weeks and has been fine since, Amaro said.

“We really weren’t concerned,” Amaro said. “If we were concerned or had any concern then he would have or would be seeing a doctor. We had none of that. If there are problems that come up in Spring Training then we’ll deal with them. But there is no indication that Cole has an issue right now.”

The Phillies hope so. Hamels, 29, signed a six-year, $144 million contract extension last summer and they need him healthy if they expect to return to the postseason in 2013.

Cloyd Gets His Shot

Cole Hamels is sick (gastrointestinal illness), so Tyler Cloyd will make his big-league debut tonight against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park.

Yes, it’s happening.

I’ve received countless tweets and e-mails for weeks asking about Cloyd and when the Phillies would give him a shot. Clearly, the Phillies weren’t in as big a rush to promote Cloyd as fans, who mostly only know him from his numbers. But they are impressive numbers. He is 12-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 22 starts this season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He has allowed 105 hits, 38 walks and struck out 93 in 142 innings. Cloyd does not have great stuff — his fastball is in the 85-89 mph range — but he has been good enough to be named the International League’s Most Valuable Pitcher.

It should be fun to watch tonight.

The Phillies will make a move to make room for Cloyd on the 25-man rosters before today’s game.

Shut Down Worley? Not In Phils’ Plans

Passing this along because I’ve been asked constantly about it …

Vance Worley is pitching with a bone chip in his right elbow and is 2-3 with a 5.73 ERA in eight starts since the end of June.

So, naturally, a lot of fans have been asking if the Phillies could shut down Worley the remainder of the season, despite the fact Worley maintains the injury is not a factor in his recent struggles. The school of thought is Worley could have a surgical procedure to remove the bone chips and begin his road to recovery sooner rather than later.

But the Phillies said there has been no discussion about that.

“My understanding is the issue isn’t going to take a whole offseason to recover from,” assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. “As long as he can still pitch and there’s not a risk of him hurting himself … and from everything I understand there’s no issue there. He’s pitched some good games, he’s pitched some bad games. You’ve got to remember last year was his first time around. The second time around you’ve got to make adjustments. My impression is (Worley’s struggles) are not related to the issue.

“I haven’t been involved in any discussions whatsoever with shutting him down.”

One thing worth noting: Cole Hamels pitched with a bone chip last season, had surgery in the offseason and was throwing well before spring training started.

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