Results tagged ‘ Domonic Brown ’

The RF Carousel Continues

Astros Phillies BaseballThe Phillies have been trying for years to replace Jayson Werth in right field.

They have started Hunter Pence, Marlon Byrd, John Mayberry Jr., Domonic Brown, Delmon Young, Ben FranciscoDarin Ruf, Laynce Nix, Grady Sizemore, Nate Schierholtz, Roger Bernadina, Michael Martinez, Ross Gload, John Bowker, Casper Wells, Ezequiel Carrera and Tony Gwynn Jr. in right field since Werth signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Nationals in Dec. 2010. But with the Phillies announcing today that Brown will open the 2015 season on the 15-day disabled list with left Achilles inflammation – his DL stint can be backdated to March 27, which means he could be activated as early as April 11 – that list could grow to 18 by Opening Day.

The candidates to replace Brown include Jordan Danks, Jeff Francoeur, Brian Bogusevic and Russ Canzler. Sizemore, who started 11 games in right field last season, remains a possibility.

“We’re very open-minded,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said this morning at Bright House Field. “We don’t have a set right fielder right now.”

Here is a closer look at the candidates to replace Brown:

Danks. He might be the favorite. First, he already is on the 40-man roster and has options remaining, which comes into play. Second, he might play the best defense. Danks has hit .227 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs in 344 at-bats in his career with the White Sox. He is hitting .250 (9 for 36) with one home run, five RBIs and .746 OPS this spring. If Danks is the Opening Day right fielder it would give the Phillies six left-handed hitters in the lineup with Carlos Ruiz the only right-handed bat and Freddy Galvis a switch-hitter.

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Brown Out, Achilles Acting Up

Domonic BrownDomonic Brown sounded deflated tonight at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

He left a Grapefruit League game against the Yankees in the third inning because of soreness in his left Achilles. He said in the visitors’ clubhouse the Achilles had been bothering him for a couple weeks.

“They’re saying tendinitis,” Brown said.

Brown said he will have a team doctor examine him tomorrow.

Brown struck out twice in his only two plate appearances tonight. He is hitting .241 (7-for-29) with one double, two RBIs, five walks and five strikeouts in 11 games. The Phillies are hoping for a big bounce back season from Brown, who struggled as one of the least productive outfielders in baseball in 2014.

“I want to be in there, Spring Training or not,” Brown said. “I feel pretty good at the plate. I don’t want to miss any time, but this is part of the game, also. I’m definitely frustrated for sure. It seemed like we were going in the right direction, it was getting a little bit better.

“As soon as Chase Headley hit the home run (in the second inning), I took off and started feeling it then. Once I got to the on-deck circle … I could definitely feel it. Not pulling but grabbing a little bit.”

Brown missed a game earlier this week because of dehydration. He said he had been doubling up on anti-inflammatories, which might have keyed the dehydration.

Is This Brown’s Last Shot?

Ryan Howard Domonic BrownIf Domonic Brown is concerned about his future in Philadelphia, he kept those thoughts to himself this morning at Bright House Field.

Brown will open the season as the Phillies right fielder, but with plenty to prove following a poor 2014. He made the 2013 National League All-Star team, but hit just .235 with 10 home runs, 63 RBIs and a .634 OPS in 144 games last season. His OPS ranked 139th out of 147 qualified hitters in baseball.

“I don’t know what they’ve got planned for me, man,” Brown said. “I think I know myself a little better every single year. I looked at last year as a learning experience as well. Even though I had some struggles, I think I ended the season on a decent note.”

Brown citied a poor May for skewing his overall numbers. He hit .146 with a .503 OPS that month. He hit .250 with a .686 OPS after the All-Star break.

If he had posted a .686 OPS the entire season it would have ranked 122nd in baseball.

But Brown is getting a chance to play because the Phillies need to see if he can be the player they saw in 2013, when he hit .272 with 27 homers, 83 RBIs and an .818 OPS. If he is then they know they have a right fielder for the foreseeable future. If not, then they know they need to look elsewhere.

“I really don’t even put that in my mind,” Brown said about his future in Philadelphia. “We’ll see what happens. That’s part of the business as well. All I can do is prepare myself every day to be a Philadelphia Phillie until I get traded.”

Brown returns to right field after the Phillies traded Marlon Byrd to the Reds.

“I’m not even getting into it,” he said, asked if a position change could make him more comfortable on the field. “Wherever I’m at, I’m going to have fun playing, wherever I am on the baseball field. Is it going to get me more comfortable at the plate? I really don’t know. I have a really different mindset this year and that’s going out and having a lot of fun. I know what my ability (is). I’m going to do what I’m (capable of doing).”

Brown said he and his teammates have not been on the “same page” recently. He would not elaborate, other than to say the “Phillie way is playing hard, running balls out, taking the extra base.” He would not say if those players remain in the clubhouse. He only would say he wants to win.

“That’s my biggest goal,” Brown said. “Whether I’m sitting on the bench or playing every single day, it really doesn’t matter. I’m going out there and I’m making sure that I’m going to give my team a chance to win a ballgame.”

Ryno Talks Lee, Utley, Franco, Billingsley, Brown …

Cliff LeePhillies pitchers and catchers hold their first workout Thursday at Carpenter Complex, so on the eve of camp opening Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg touched on numerous topics.

Here are a few highlights from Wednesday’s nearly 30-minute press conference:

Cliff Lee. Lee finished last season on the disabled list with an injured left elbow, but his elbow is reportedly healthy. The Phillies and Lee hope so. The Phillies would like to trade him as they build for the future. “I know that he started his (throwing) program right around Dec. 1 like normal,” Sandberg said. “He had a little bit of a setback with I think a cold or upper respiratory (issue), but other than that everything’s been on schedule with Cliff. … He’s got no complaints and he’s pretty much where he usually is. So far, so good. We’ll keep an eye on him with his sides and his outings.”

Chase Utley. Utley had a solid first half in 2014 (.806 OPS through July 11), but slumped terribly in the second half (.661 OPS after July 11). Sandberg said he could give Utley more time off this season. “It’s important to have bench players that’ll be able to step in and give those guys possibly more of a rest than normal,” Sandberg said. “But that’s really up to the player and how he’s going. He had an All-Star first half of the season. Still a quality at-bat even if he made outs, still a quality at-bat. But, yeah, I see Chase getting some more days off this year.”

Maikel Franco. Franco is likely to open the season in Triple-A, but he will get a look at both third base and first base this spring. “He had an outstanding Winter Ball, so I’m anxious to see him,” Sandberg said.

Odubel Herrera.</> The Phillies selected the outfielder in the Rule 5 Draft. So far they like what they see. “He’s been impressive,” Sandberg said. “He’s a young guy that’s already opened up some eyes.”

Chad Billingsley. The Phillies hope Billingsley, who missed most of the past two seasons because of injuries, can be ready to join the rotation by late April. “I’ve seen him throw about three or four days ago,” Sandberg said. “He looked very good. He can give us a big boost in the starting pitching.”

Domonic Brown. Brown’s .634 OPS in 144 games last season ranked 139th out of 147 qualified hitters in baseball. His .640 OPS as an outfielder ranked 60th out of 64 outfielders, and his .641 OPS as a left fielder was the lowest of any left fielder since Chuck Knoblauch’s .582 OPS for Kansas City in ’02. “It’s a big year for Domonic Brown, to see if he’s one of the pieces of the puzzle going forward,” Sandberg said.

Do Phillies Know Ruf or Not?

Darin RufIt sounded a few weeks ago like Darin Ruf would receive fairly consistent playing time the rest of the season, but it hasn’t happened that way.

Since he started three consecutive games at first base from July 23-25, Ruf has started just four of the Phillies’ next 18 games: twice at first base and twice in left field. Ruf did not start tonight against the Angels at Angel Stadium, despite going 3-for-5 with one home run, two RBIs, one walk and one hit by pitch in the past two games.

“Weaver is extremely tough on right-handed bats,” Ryne Sandberg said about Angels right-hander Jered Weaver.

Ruf and Domonic Brown seem to have fallen into a gray area. They are 28 and 26, respectively, so they are not young players anymore. But the Phillies also want to know what they have going forward, which would seem to mean more playing time for them as the team plays out the string.

Or maybe the organization already know enough about them and playing time is no longer an issue?

“I would say in some regards (we) still need to see them,” Sandberg said. “It’s more for what type of role are we talking about? If it’s a pinch-hit type of a situation, having some experience doing that. If it’s an everyday guy, putting together a full year and being able to do that. There is some uncertainty still going forward with what both of those guys can do.

“I can see what (Ruf) can do on the defensive side of things. I think he’s fine in left field. I think he’s very good at first base, but with the situations he’s been in the past couple years here and not being able to have a string of at-bats against all the pitchers, it’s hard to really get a gauge still.”

So then what would have been lost by playing Ruf against a tough right-hander like Weaver?

“That’s the tricky part of making up the lineups and also trying to win a game,” Sandberg said.

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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Revere’s Ride Can’t Save Phillies

Rockies Phillies Baseball

A few thoughts about last night’s 6-2 loss to the Rockies:

  • Will we ever seen Ben Revere homer again? He finally homered in the 1,466th at-bat of his career. It was the longest homerless stretch to start a career since Frank Taveras went 1,594 at-bats without a homer from 1972-77.
  • Darin Ruf isn’t a savior, but he has warranted additional playing time. Not because he hit a home run last night, but because the Phillies need to try something different in left field and possibly at first base while Domonic Brown is struggling overall and Ryan Howard is struggling against lefties. Brown’s .567 OPS is the sixth lowest out of 169 qualifying hitters in baseball. Putting some historical perspective into it, Brown’s .582 OPS as a left fielder — his overall OPS is lower — would be the fifth lowest out of 558 qualifying left fielders in baseball from 1990-2014. The White Sox’s Alejandro De Aza (.533 OPS in 2014), Seattle’s Mike Felder (.545 in 1993), Seattle’s Brian Hunter (.571 in 1999) and Kansas City’s Chuck Knoblauch (.582 in 2002) are lower. Even if Ruf posts an OPS 50 points lower than his career average of .838, it would still be 221 points higher than what Brown is giving the Phillies right now.
  • The Phillies raved about Jeff Manship‘s performance in Spring Training. But Manship still had a 6.42 ERA in 52 appearances over parts of five big-league seasons, which seemed like a pretty good predictor of the future. Manship has a 7.53 ERA in 15 appearances this season. He has made just two appearances with the Phillies holding a lead, which is not a surprise. He joined the bullpen as a long man/mop-up guy. But he has made nine appearances with the game either tied or the Phillies’ in a deficit of three runs or less. In other words, winnable games. Manship has allowed at least a run in five of those appearances, posting a 13.50 ERA in those games.
  • Ken Giles is 2-0 with a 0.84 ERA in eight appearances with Triple-A. He has allowed five hits, one run, five walks and has struck out seven in 10 1/3 innings. His strikeout rate has plummeted since the promotion from Double-A (17.4 per nine innings to 5.9), while his walks rate has inched upward (3.0 to 4.2). That is not a recipe for success, but Triple-A hitters aren’t squaring up the ball, either. That should tell you something, too. Give the kid a shot. The Phillies have nothing to lose at this point.

Big Series In May? Big Series In May

Jayson WerthIt has felt a little like the All-Star break this week with just one game since Sunday, but the Phillies open a three-game series tonight against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.

Can the first series in May be a big one?

I think so because it represents a good test following a 6-4 road trip on the West Coast and an ugly loss Tuesday to the Mets. The Phillies must get on a roll at some point. At some point they need to push past the .500 mark and put it behind them. At some point they need a winning record to back up their beliefs they are postseason contender.

The Phillies have their three best pitchers on the mound to try to make it happen: Cliff Lee tonight, A.J. Burnett tomorrow night and Cole Hamels on Sunday. That is no accident. The Phillies could have kept Kyle Kendrick‘s turn in the rotation, but they pushed him to Monday against the Blue Jays. Kendrick does not have good career numbers against the Nationals (5-8 with a 4.85 ERA in 24 appearances), which could be why they bumped him. But the reality is the Phillies wanted their best to face Washington.

The Nationals are a better team than the Phillies, if you look at nearly every statistical category. They are third in the National League in runs per game (4.50). The Phillies are sixth (4.12). The Nationals have a better on-base percentage (.328 to .315), slugging percentage (.415 to .376) and OPS (.743 to .690). Their rotation has a better ERA (3.74 to 4.06) and their bullpen has a significantly better ERA (2.14 to 4.84). The only edge the Phillies can say they have is defensively. The Nationals have been sloppy in the field. They are tied for third in baseball with 26 errors, while the Phillies are 25th with 14. And while I understand there are other ways to gauge defense, my point is the Nationals have been kicking the ball around, while the Phillies have not. In fact, the Phillies have just one error since April 14. No other team in baseball has fewer than six since then.

Certainly there is plenty of baseball to play following this series, but a series win here would keep the momentum going from Los Angeles and Arizona. A series loss and skeptical Phillies fans say, “See? They are who we thought they were.”

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If the Phillies hope to win this weekend, they’ll need strong performances from the bullpen. I looked yesterday at the Phillies’ bullpen, the organization’s troubles at developing young relievers and potential help from outside the organization.

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Random stats and thoughts: Ryan Howard is on pace for 31 home runs and 87 RBIs. I think if Ruben Amaro Jr. and Ryne Sandberg were told in February that Howard would finish the season with 30+ homers and 90+ RBIs they would take it. … Phillies third basemen have a .478 OPS, which is the worst in baseball. Third basemen from the 1981 Blue Jays finished with a .516 OPS, the lowest mark in baseball over the past 40 years. … I understand Freddy Galvis‘ value defensively — he is the team’s best defensive player — but he has to hit at some point because no glove can make up for his current offensive production. The Phillies are giving away too many outs at the bottom of the lineup. … Domonic Brown has one home run since Aug. 14. Phillies left fielders are 25th in baseball with a .623 OPS. … Carlos Ruiz‘s .889 OPS is fifth among catchers.

Boras Talks Domonic Brown

Scott Boras is holding his annual scrum with reporters at the Winter Meetings.

He already got asked plenty of questions about Shin-Soo Choo, but I snuck in a question about Domonic Brown.

Considering the season he just had and the fact the Phillies need to get younger, is it surprising to hear Brown’s name keep coming up in trade rumors?

“Really, when you have breakout young players that teams have control over a long time, I think it’s pretty customary that teams are going to be interested in him,” Boras said. “Again, anybody with 20-plus home run power these days, we’re talking about annually, there’s like 40 of them in the league. That’s a little over one a team. So when you hit 27 home runs like Domonic did, clubs are going to pay attention and try to acquire those assets.”

Boras also was asked about the Phillies. Typically, they are in the hunt for some of the bigger names on the market, but so far they have been on the sideline.

“I think their team is in a position where they are trying to work on what’s below, but they’re trying to win now,” he said. “When you’re in that position, it’s hard to say when you look in the glass of water that it’s crystal clear. It’s a hard process. It’s a very hard process.”

That said, is it surprising to see them dangling Brown?

“I think it’s unfair to say they’re dangling him,” he said. “I think a lot of people are asking for him because he is young and he hits a lot of home runs. That’s customary. So I would expect that teams are going to ask Philadelphia about that, because they may be offering them more veteran players to help in their direction toward winning now. That’s the give and go of this. It’s like eating and brushing your teeth at the same time. You want clean teeth but then again you want to survive. So I don’t know quite how you do it.”

And what does Brown think about this?

“I think that they’ve got a direction on what they want to do, and clearly they want to win now, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “I always tell players when you’re under control of a club you just sit back and listen and I’ll let you know, but usually you’re going to end up in a good place if it happens.”

Finding a Numbers Guy

Amaro Talks Werth, Getting Old and MoreRuben Amaro Jr. grabbed the attention of Phillies fans last month when he mentioned the team planned to hire an analytics person to help with player evaluation.

Sabermetrics had not interested the Phillies in the past, but Amaro said they “owe it to ourselves to look at some other ways to evaluate.”

Amaro said recently they are getting close to hiring somebody.

“I think it’s just a matter of getting more information,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s going to change the way we do business, necessarily. We still plan to be a scouting and player development organization, but I think it’s important to get all the information and analyze not just what we’re doing but how other clubs are evaluating players when we talk about possible trades and other sorts of things.”

The Phillies have been working with the Commissioner’s Office during their search. Major League Baseball’s Labor Relations Department works closely with teams and has helped make personnel recommendations in the past. The LRD also has developed resources for baseball operations staffs, including former employees like Pirates president Frank Coonelly and a number of assistant general managers.

Asked if he looked back at recent personnel decisions and wondered if analytics would have helped steer him toward or away from particular players, Amaro said, “Not specifically, no. Again, we believe in our scouts and the things that they recommend. We’re not going to be 100 percent right all the time. But we want to be more right than wrong. We just have to do a better job of targeting the right guys.”

How much the Phillies use analytics or value the new hire’s findings remains to be seen. But there will be plenty of information to consider.

As an example, when the Phillies signed Delmon Young to a one-year, $750,000 deal in January, they mentioned he had 74 RBIs in 2012 hitting behind Tigers sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, the implication being Young “produced” and would have had more RBIs had Cabrera and Fielder not taken RBI opportunities from him. But if they had examined the numbers more closely they would have discovered Young actually ranked 20th in baseball in 2012 with 415 runners on base when he came to the plate. He knocked in just 13.5 percent of those runners, which ranked 96th out of 135 qualifying players.

In other words, he had a ton of RBI opportunities in 2012, even with Cabrera and Fielder in the lineup, but did a poor job knocking them in.

That is just one small example of how numbers can help. Maybe regardless of those numbers — including Young’s low on-base percentage (21 points lower than the average outfielder from 2006-12) and OPS (29 points lower than the average outfielder from 2006-12) the Phillies sign Young anyway because it was a low-risk deal. Or maybe they say, “Hey, the odds are against Young helping us like we need him to help us,” and they look in a different direction.

Will they delve deeply into Roy Halladay‘s numbers this offseason? Doc’s 5.15 ERA the past two seasons ranks 161st out of 169 qualifying pitchers in baseball. Fangraphs.com found pitchers over 35 — Halladay turns 37 in May — who went on the DL for any sort of shoulder injury only averaged 59 innings the rest of their career. Halladay pitched 27 2/3 innings following right shoulder surgery in May. Do the Phillies consider those numbers and pass? Or do they believe Halladay’s reputation as a “gamer” and hard worker is enough to beat the odds?

It will be interesting to find out.

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Random things from the past week:

  • I’ve plenty on Twitter today about Domonic Brown wearing a Cowboys jersey at yesterday’s game at the Linc. (Gasp!) I think what’s funny is absolutely nobody noticed Mike Adams standing over his right shoulder.
  • Everybody has seen the photo of Bryan Cranston wearing a Phillies jersey during an outtake of Breaking Bad. Once the photo hit Twitter word quickly spread (with plenty of Philly-based news organizations picking it up) that Cranston wore the jersey because he is a Phillies fan. Of course, a simple Google search showed Cranston is a diehard Dodgers fan. I contacted AMC publicity about the photo. Its response: “The shot was taken during the World Series of 2009 (Yankees vs. Phillies). Bryan is definitely a Dodgers fan, but I believe he was rooting for the Phillies in that series. As a gag, (while shooting ep #307 “One Minute”) he did a take with the jersey on.”
  • A report the Phillies resigned Michael Martinez is not true.
  • Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported the Phillies will interview bullpen coach Reid Cornelius for their pitching coach vacancy. Former Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee interviews tomorrow with the Orioles.
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