Results tagged ‘ Domonic Brown ’

Will Brown Move Up in Lineup?

Ryan Howard Domonic BrownDomonic Brown has been the best hitter in the Phillies lineup for more than a month and it is not close.

He has hit .284 with six doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 23 RBIs and a .848 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 30 games from April 24 through Monday’s 8-3 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park. He earned National League Player of the Week honors after hitting .348 (8-for-23) with two doubles, one triple, two home runs and seven RBIs in six games in the past week.

Interestingly, he has not hit higher than fifth this season, hitting sixth 42 times.

Could that be changing?

“He’ll let me know when it’s time for him to move,” Charlie Manuel said before tonight’s game. “He’s headed that way. Really, I mean that. I’ve developed a lot of players through the Minor Leagues and big leagues. I’ve had some of the best players who have ever been in baseball. They’ll usually let you know where they’re going to hit. (Chase) Utley and (Ryan) Howard did that. When people talk, ‘Why is he hitting down there?’ He’ll hit his way there eventually.”

Howard won NL Rookie of the Year honors in 2005. He hit sixth almost the entire season behind Jimmy Rollins, Kenny Lofton, Chase Utley, Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell. He hit mostly fifth the first few months in 2006, permanently moving to fourth only when the Phillies traded Abreu on July 30. Howard won NL MVP honors that season.

Utley hit mostly fifth and sixth the first few months of 2005 before Manuel put him into the third spot for the first time July 14. He remained there almost exclusively the rest of the season.

Brown might not move up in the lineup this week, but if he keeps hitting like this it is an eventuality.

“In my head, I always feel like I’m up to the task of being in the top of the order,” Brown said. “That’s Charlie’s decision and whenever he thinks I’m ready for it, I’ll move up. Right now I’m fine where I’m at. As long as guys are getting in scoring position and I’m doing my little part on the team, we got Howard, Utley and those guys to drive in runs, so once I get a little time then I just try to do the same.

“You’ve got to earn it with Charlie. I grew up the same way. I totally understand where he’s coming from whereas a lot of guys might not. Nothing’s going to be handed to you. You’ve got go out and work hard. If you’re putting up the numbers, then you’re going to hit in the top of the lineup. If you don’t, then he’s going to put you down there in the seventh and eighth hole. Charlie’s one of those managers that’s going to let you know exactly what’s going on. It’s no surprises.”

But Brown is encouraged with his progress. He credits a shorter, quicker swing for much of his success.

“Being around guys with short swings,” he said. “You can definitely see the difference with guys like Jimmy, Utley, those guys. With that being said, I can get on the plate like those guys. Me being 6-5, longer arms, I’ve got to be short to the baseball. Just going out, watching a lot of film and being around coaches, it’s a little bit of everything.”

Brown, Howard Heating Up

Ryan Howard Domonic BrownThere has been plenty of focus in the past 24 hours on the Phillies’ pitching staff (and pitching coach), but I maintain the biggest reason for this team’s losing is its struggling offense. They are averaging 3.7 runs per game, which is 11th in the National League and 23rd in baseball.

But a couple key bats have started to show a pulse, which could get the offense moving. Domonic Brown and Ryan Howard have homered in consecutive games. Brown is hitting .382 (13-for-34) with two doubles, three home runs and eight RBIs in his last nine games. Howard has four homers and 12 RBIs in his last nine. He also is hitting .348 (16-for-46) with five doubles, four home runs, 13 RBIs and a 1.090 OPS in his last 13. It goes without saying the offense stands a much better chance if these guys start producing on a consistent basis.

(Ah, for the days when fans complained the Phillies relied too much on home runs. They sure seem to like them now.)

The offense needs to continue to build this weekend against the Marlins. Yes, the Marlins are terrible, but the Phillies need some positive vibes before they fly to San Francisco on Sunday evening to open a seven-game road trip in San Francisco and Arizona. The Giants are 17-12, and tied for first in the National League West. The Diamondbacks are 15-14. Things won’t be easy out there. If the Phillies move to .500 with a sweep of the Marlins or split the remaining two games to head West 15-17, it would be another bad sign if they limped back from the trip 2-5 or worse. At some point this team, if it’s as good as it thinks it is, needs to go on a run. And that won’t happen if they aren’t hitting.

Brown Feels Pop In Back, Leaves Game

Domonic BrownDomonic Brown will have his back examined tomorrow after he felt a pop diving for a ball tonight at Great American Ball Park.

He does not believe it is serious.

“I don’t know what happened,” said Brown, who dove for a ball in the first inning in an 11-2 loss to the Reds. “We’re going to get an MRI and see exactly what’s going on. I don’t think it’s anything major at all.”

But Brown added, “I felt some pain immediately. Once I took a couple of swings, I really felt it.”

He left the game in the fourth inning.

Down Doc, Up Brown

Domonic BrownThe Phillies returned home last night, and most things in camp went well except for Roy Halladay. I don’t include Darin Ruf here because I think people in the organization hoped Ruf would fare well in the outfield, although they did not necessarily expect it. And starting him in Triple-A isn’t the worst thing in the world, nor is it a crushing blow to the team’s chances. But Halladay’s importance is obvious, and the fact he had so many issues and struggles leaves one enormous question mark on the mound.

I said a couple weeks ago I thought the Phillies would jump at the opportunity if somebody told them Halladay would finish 14-10 with a 3.80 ERA in 30-32 starts this season.

I believe that even more today.

I’ve never seen a premiere pitcher struggle like this in the spring. I mean, I’ve certainly seen great pitchers struggle in spring training before, but it never looked like this. He labored, he struggled to command his pitches, he lacked velocity, he didn’t have a feel for his cutter, which has been a money pitch for him. But if you’re an optimist, then you believe each of Halladay’s explanations for his struggles following his last five starts. He mentioned “dead arm” March 6, when his velocity dipped for the first time. He said he felt lethargic March 12, when the Tigers battered him in 2 2/3 innings. An extra bullpen session in between starts, plus the rigors of a more intense workout program, sapped his energy, he said. He promised he would pull back before his next start and there would be improvements. But he suffered from a stomach virus March 17, and lasted just one inning against the Orioles. Then last Saturday in a minor league game against Toronto’s Triple-A hitters, Halladay allowed 11 of 18 base runners to reach base. He blamed a “mushy mound” for his lack of velocity and said throwing more hard stuff against minor league hitters hurt him. Then yesterday he allowed two runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays with Toronto picking up three of those outs on the bases. He said he found it difficult to grip the baseball because the balls were not rubbed up with mud properly before the game. The Phillies also said he is still trying to recover his strength following his sickness.

Again, each of these explanations are completely plausible, but coming off last season’s struggles it would unwise to take them at face value.

If the over/under on Halladay’s ERA this season is 4.19 (average ERA for starters last year) I’d have to take the over.

Conversely, Domonic Brown has been Halladay’s polar opposite. He has looked incredible this spring. I wrote earlier how Brown’ spring training numbers could indicate a successful 2013. John Dewan said players that show a 200-point increase in their spring training slugging percentage from their career slugging percentage have performed significantly above their career marks in the upcoming season 60 percent of the time. Brown finished the spring with a .675 slugging percentage compared to a .388 career slugging percentage. That is a .287 difference, which puts him in that group. Like I wrote in my story, eight of the 12 Phillies previously on Dewan’s list ended up surpassing their career slugging percentages during the regular season. Of the four players that fell short, two were not everyday players (Eric Bruntlett in 2009 and Pete Orr in ’11) and one got injured midway through the season (Jim Thome in ’05). Maybe Brown will make Dewan 9 for 13.

If the over/under on Brown’s slugging percentage is .428 (average slugging percentage for outfielders last season), I’m taking the over.

Ryan Howard also had a great spring, compiling a .663 slugging percentage, but his career slugging percentage is .551 so he fell .088 short of Dewan’s mark. But Howard’s slugging percentage the previous two seasons is just .468, so maybe he is in line for a bounce back season, too.

Opening Day is three days away.

Predictions for Halladay, Brown and Howard?

Five Topics with Eight Days Remaning in Florida

Domonic BrownThe Phillies board a flight for Philadelphia a week from tomorrow, which means the 2013 season is just 12 days away.

There have many storylines in camp, but as Spring Training in Florida comes to a close everybody seems to be talking about five things.

Let’s take a look at those five topics here:

Roy Halladay. There is reason to be concerned about Halladay. He looked fine in his first two Grapefruit League starts, throwing his fastball in the 89-91 mph range. But his velocity has dropped since then as he has had issues in each of his previous three starts. In his third Grapefruit League start his velocity fell into the 86-88 mph range as he talked about experiencing “dead arm.” He got shelled in 2 2/3 innings in his fourth start March 12, saying he felt lethargic. Then he lasted just one inning in his fifth start Sunday because of a stomach virus. Everybody is asking if Halladay is healthy. It is a fair and legitimate question to ask because Halladay and others in the organization said he was fine last March when he was experiencing lower back problems. But while the health question is justifiable, one also might ask this: Is Halladay simply running out of bullets? He turns 36 on May 14. He has pitched 2,351 1/3 innings from 2002-12, which ranks third in baseball. He has thrown 34,423 pitches in the regular season and postseason in that span, not including Spring Training games, bullpen sessions and warm ups. Maybe time is catching up to him, although he said in February he does not think he is there yet. It is a grim reality if it is true. Meanwhile, the Phillies are putting a positive spin on things, saying Halladay’s problems simply stem from a few mechanical issues and some problems with his cutter. They say all is well. They certainly hope they are right because it would be a blow to their chances if it is not. Halladay threw a bullpen session Wednesday and Rich Dubee said through a team spokesman, “Roy threw very well. He almost lost 10 pounds, so he’s just got to gain some weight back and get his strength.” Halladay is scheduled to make two more starts this spring before the regular season, including Saturday in a Minor League game at Carpenter Complex. It is strange to be writing this, but while in the past nobody would think twice about a couple poor Spring Training starts from Halladay, some positive results here would put some minds at ease. And not just the minds of fans. Phillies officials are putting up a brave face, but they would like to see some, too.

Read the rest of the story, including thoughts on Domonic Brown, the three remaining bullpen jobs, the fifth outfielder and the two utility infield jobs, here.

Another Good Day for Brown (Hand Not Included)

Domonic Brown gets his hand stepped on and still hits.

He went 2-for-3 today in a 3-2 loss to the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. He singled sharply to left field in the first inning. But once he got to first, Rays first baseman James Loney stepped on Brown’s right hand as he dove back to first base.

It left a mark, but he stayed in the game after getting the hand treated. He singled to left in the third.

“It’s all good,” Brown said.

Brown is hitting .424 this spring. Charlie Manuel once again called Brown the biggest bright spot in Phillies camp.

Do Big Spring Training Numbers Matter?

Domonic BrownDomonic Brown and Ryan Howard have been bashing baseballs since the Phillies opened their Grapefruit League schedule last month.

That’s great, but does it really mean anything?

“It’s good for someone who we think needs to show us something,” Charlie Manuel said following today’s 10-6 loss to the Twins at Bright House Field. “That’s definitely good. But at the same time, when the season starts we’re talking about two different seasons. But it is very encouraging when you see somebody swinging the bat like Brown. I’ve seen some real big improvement out of him.”

But keep an eye on Howard, Brown and other Phillies hitters through the end of spring.

Particularly, pay attention to their slugging percentages.

Baseball statistician and author John Dewan found that players who beat their career slugging percentage by more than 200 points in Spring Training have more than a 60 percent chance at beating their career slugging percentage during the regular season (minimum 200 regular season at-bats and 40 Spring Training at-bats).

It is not a fail-proof predictor obviously, but it is something interesting to watch before the Phillies open the regular season April 1 in Atlanta. Consider for a moment that since Dewan started writing about his Spring Training predictor in 2005, eight of the 12 Phillies on his list ended up surpassing their career slugging percentages during the regular season. And of the four players that fell short, two were not everyday players (Eric Bruntlett in 2009 and Pete Orr in 2011) and one got injured midway through the season (Jim Thome in 2005).

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Delmon Young to Step Up Rehab

Delmon YoungDelmon Young took the redeye from Los Angeles to Tampa last night, and showed up in the Phillies clubhouse early this morning at Bright House Field. He came straight from the airport to the clubhouse after sleeping on the plane.

He took batting practice with his teammates a short time later.

“That was the first time I had someone throwing to me since the last World Series game,” he said.

That must have been nice, right?

“It’s batting practice,” he said. “I really don’t care too much to hit on the field.”

But Young got good news in Los Angeles, where the doctor that performed the microfracture surgery on his right ankle in November told him that he can progress his rehab. That includes full-weight bearing on the treadmill, participating in batting practice and standing in the right field to get acclimated to fly balls. That does not include shagging or making lateral movements, although that could come in the next week or so.

He didn’t get the fuss as he answered a few questions about his rehab and trip to L.A. in front of his locker today.

“You guys trying to write a soap opera here or something?” he said.

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The Outfield Battle

John Mayberry Jr., Domonic BrownThe Phillies play their seventh Grapefruit League game today against the Yankees in Tampa.

Roy Halladay pitches for the Phillies. They were encouraged with what they saw from him in Sunday’s start against Detroit, but it was just one start in February. You can’t draw any conclusions from anything you’ve seen so far in camp. Of course, the players that are playing well say it’s great to get results and those results mean something to them. The players that aren’t getting results? Well, they’re just getting their work in.

I took a look yesterday at the outfielders competing for jobs and playing time. Domonic Brown clearly has taken a step forward, but there is time for the others to state their case. Interestingly, Charlie Manuel pulled John Mayberry Jr. to the side during batting practice before their 10-5 victory over Atlanta and had an animated conversation with him about just that. Delmon Young also talked about his trip to the doctor in Tuesday in LA. He’s optimistic he will get good news, which will allow him to step up his rehab.

Read about the details here.

Brown Making His Case Early

Domonic Brown assessed the first 492 plate appearances of his Phillies career this way today at Bright House Field:

“That stuff I’ve been doing in the big leagues — that’s not acceptable in my eyes.”

That stuff he has been doing in the team’s first four Grapefruit League games? That could earn him a starting job in the Phillies outfield. He crushed a solo home run over the batter’s eye in center field in the seventh inning in today’s 4-3 victory over the Yankees at Bright House Field. Brown is hitting .429 (3-for-7) with two home runs, two RBIs and one strikeout this spring.

Brown said he has added 10 pounds of muscle, which might be why he is showing a little more power at the plate.

“Eating better,” he said. “I’m getting better checks so I can eat better. It feels good to be healthy again. … Lot of core and legs this winter because of the knee injury. I think I’m stronger down there and that might be why I have a pretty good base.”

Brown is going to get every opportunity to win a job this spring, especially with Delmon Young expected to open the season on the disabled list. He has taken advantage of the opportunity to this point.

“What you see is what he can do,” Charlie Manuel said. “His swing is more fluid and compact. It’s more explosive.”

And Manuel thinks if Brown can just find that consistency he has lacked in the big leagues, he could fulfill the potential that made him an untradeable prospect in the past.

He thinks he could become a game changer in the Phillies lineup.

“He’s that kind of guy,” he said. “Yeah, he is. Without a doubt. When you see him hit balls like that in the last three or four days. He’s swung the bat good. When I see him rip balls to right field, balls inside, it shows he’s strong. He’s got quick hands. He’s getting through the ball.”

Said Brown: “I’m just keeping it simple. Just going up there and making sure my approach is good. I’m seeing the ball well and trying to swing at strikes. I wouldn’t say I’ve changed approach, just fine tuning. That’s it. … I making sure I’m going out there and working hard and not putting pressure on myself and having fun and doing it because I want to do it like Chuck always says. I’m out there because I want to do it, not because they’re forcing me to do it.”

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