Results tagged ‘ Domonic Brown ’

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.

Brown Still Hurting

Domonic BrownDomonic Brown has had one heck of a season.

Imagine what it could have been if he had not been sidelined the past few weeks with a right Achilles issue?

Brown has had just 12 plate appearances since Aug. 23, but he still entered tonight’s series finale against the Padres at Citizens Bank Park hitting .274 with 18 doubles, four triples, 27 home runs and 88 RBIs. Incredibly, despite the missed time, Brown still ranks fourth in the National League in home runs and eighth in RBIs.

He said he hopes to play before the end of the season, although he offered no timetable for his return.

Brown took batting practice Thursday afternoon, which he said would be a good test for him.

“I’m just trying to finish the season being healthy,” he said. “If I’m feeling it, if it’s bothering me, then I’m not going to play around with it. But I feel good right now. I feel like I’m close to 100 percent.”

Brown Back, Nix Nixed

nixThe Phillies planned to have Domonic Brown play two rehab games this week before activating him tomorrow night against the Cubs.

Instead, they activated him a day early.

They designated Laynce Nix for assignment to make room for him on the 25-man roster. I thought the Phillies might release Delmon Young, making room for Brown in right to keep Darin Ruf in left. But they have decided to try Ruf in right field instead, pushing Young to the bench. It should be interesting. Ruf has never played right field before and had not played much outfield before this season. But I guess the Phillies figure Ruf can be as adequate as Young, maybe even a little better? I’m not sure.

But parting ways with Nix is another negative mark on the season in regards to the front office’s player personnel evaluations. The Phillies signed Nix to a two-year, $2.5 million contract in Dec. 2011, despite the fact he had never signed a guaranteed big-league deal before. Nix followed a two-year deal to outfielder Ross Gload. (I wonder if anybody else would have offered Nix or Gload a two-year deal.) The Phillies in November then non-tendered Nate Schierholtz because they figured they already had a left-handed-hitting fourth outfielder in Nix.

Schierholtz signed with the Cubs and enters tonight hitting .268 with 23 doubles, three triples, 14 home runs, 43 RBIs, a .500 slugging percentage and .827 OPS in 337 plate appearances. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify, his slugging percentage would rank fifth among 22 big-league rightfielders. His OPS would rank seventh.

Nix, meanwhile, hit .180 with four doubles, two homers, seven RBIs, a .258 slugging percentage and a .486 OPS in 136 plate appearances.

Now what is interesting is Schierholtz never would have put up those numbers with the Phillies because they never would have provided him enough opportunity to play. They were committed to Young in right field once he got healthy — they needed a right-handed bat in the lineup — and Charlie Manuel doesn’t make it a habit of playing his bench players unless absolutely necessary. They simply didn’t think Schiertholtz was good enough to warrant a spot on the roster, much less playing time. But the point is they missed badly on Schierholtz over Nix. Schierholtz was the much better player and they simply let him go.

This follows decisions like John Bowker over Brandon Moss, releasing Jason Grilli, believing Ben Francisco and John Mayberry Jr. could be everyday corner outfielders, Danys Baez, Chad Qualls, Chad Durbin, not developing a utility player in the system better than Michael Martinez, etc. Now it should be noted every front office makes mistakes. Remember that Pat Gillick acquired Adam Eaton, Geoff Jenkins and Freddy Garcia. But too many decisions lately have landed in the minus column than the plus column. Certainly injuries to players like Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Mike Adams, etc., over the past couple years have played a role in this team’s struggles. But those personnel decisions have hurt, too.

Brown to 7-Day DL, Susdorf Is Up

Domonic Brown sounded pretty optimistic he would be back in the Phillies lineup tomorrow in Detroit.

He learned today he will not be back until next Wednesday at the earliest.

The Phillies placed Brown on the seven-day concussion disabled list, which is retroactive to yesterday. Brown suffered the concussion diving for a ball in the seventh inning in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The Phillies selected the contract of Triple-A Lehigh Valley outfielder Steven Susdorf to take his place on the 25-man roster. They also placed left-hander Jeremy Horst on the 60-day DL to make room for Susdorf there.

“I think they’re just kind of being cautious about everything,” Brown said. “A concussion is definitely nothing to play around with. I’m still kind of sensitive to the lighting. That’s really about it. I haven’t had any headaches or anything like that.”

Losing Brown could not come at a worse time with five games remaining before next Wednesday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline. Brown, who made his first National League All-Star team, is hitting .271 with 24 home runs and 69 RBIs this season.

Susdorf, who the Phillies selected in the 19th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, hit .335 with 13 doubles, one triple, one home run, 25 RBIs and an .847 OPS in 70 games this season for Lehigh Valley. He has hit a combined .304 with an .802 OPS in six Minor League seasons with the Phillies.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Phillies.

“I wouldn’t have it no other way, son,” Charlie Manuel said. “What the hell?”

Is he sure about that?

“Yeah, I’m sure about it,” Manuel said. “What the hell? You get slapped, then (gosh darn) you’ve got to slap back. That’s all. That’s how I look at it.”

Brown to Miss 2 Games with Concussion-Like Symptoms

Domonic BrownThe Phillies have lost Domonic Brown for at least two games, and it could not come at a worse time.

The Phillies are in desperate need of victories before the July 31 Trade Deadline, but said today he will miss at least tonight’s and tomorrow night’s games because of concussion-like symptoms. Brown slammed into the turf trying to make a catch in the seventh inning in last night’s 4-1 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. He complained of dizziness after the game.

It is standard protocol for a player to take a battery of tests to determine if he has suffered a concussion. Brown took those tests today and will learn the results tomorrow, which means he cannot play at the earliest until Friday against the Tigers.

“I feel good,” Brown said. “I feel like I’m back to normal, honestly. I was just a little dizzy yesterday. That’s pretty much it. I didn’t have any headaches.”

But if the tests say he has a concussion he will need to be placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list.

The Phillies can hardly afford to lose Brown, who is hitting .271 with 25 home runs, 76 RBIs and an .847 OPS in 402 plate appearances this season. The Phillies started Laynce Nix in left field tonight for the first time this season. It is his first start since July 6. Nix, who has stared just 16 games this season, is hitless in 11 at-bats in July and has hit .138 since April.

Losing Brown, even if it is just two games, is a blow when the Phillies can least afford one.

“You can’t afford blows, but you’ve got to be able to take a blow though,” Charlie Manuel said. “We’re supposed to take the blows.”

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Meant to post this during the break, but MLB Network ran its top plays of the first half and ranked Ben Revere’s ridiculous diving catch in Cincinnati as No. 5.

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