Results tagged ‘ Domonic Brown ’
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).
Delmon 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.
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.
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.”
On new third baseman Michael Young. “Golly, I was talking to (Phillies president) David Montgomery about him 10 minutes ago. What a lot of people don’t realize and I haven’t heard it, Michael Young could retire tomorrow and he would be a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame. He’s probably two Michael Young years away from being a first ballot Hall of Famer. I don’t know if anybody has thought about that. I don’t know what his career hitting numbers are, but he’s a little like Derek Jeter, is he not? He’s that kind of player and he’s had that kind of career. Obviously it’s not playing in New York, but if he played in New York, imagine what people would be saying about Michael Young’s career? Somebody would have mentioned the Hall of Fame a long time ago.”
On connecting with Ryan Howard early in camp. “I’ve got to tell you right out of the chute, Ryan Howard to me is very interested in my input in his hitting. To me that makes me really feel good. We’ve chatted over the years about hitting. I’ve always been a Ryan Howard fan, but he’s picking my brain a little bit more. He looks good. He’s thin. He’s doing some of the things we talk about. It’s not going in one ear and out the other. He’s taking it all in. I’m only in my second day here and I’m really excited. I feel like I’ve made more strides in my temporary coaching role than I ever had to this point. Of course we’ll see in a couple weeks how it all works out as they get game at-bats.”
On how he can help Howard the most. “He’s stuck in a game situation against the best pitcher, one of the best left-handers in the league, probably 60-70 times more than other any hitter in the league. He probably creates 20 jobs in the Major Leagues. There’s 20 left-handers that wouldn’t be in the Major Leagues if Ryan Howard weren’t in the major leagues, right? I guess what we’re kind of working on is a mindset that may allow him to become a little stronger in those at-bats. A little more contact. He’s still going to strikeout. I’m in the top 10 all time in strikeouts so I’m pretty comfortable with striking out. But I think he needs to and we were talking about ways where we might get him to be a little less strikeout prone in those kind of (Jonny) Venters at-bats, against Atlanta late in the game, when you get that nasty left-hander to get him out. We need contact in this at-bat. I don’t care if it’s a grounder to second or a chopper up the middle. Even if it’s on the first pitch or second pitch. Less foul balls and two-strike vulnerability in those at-bats. He has bought into the discussion 100 percent.”
On Darin Ruf. “At this point I’m a big fan. I chatted with him really quickly, told him, ‘Congratulations on your great start with the Phillies in the Major Leagues.’ I think he opened a lot of eyes when he came up. I don’t want to speak out of turn, but I would guess they want him to play … I just like him. He’s a great young kid. He has no fear as a hitter against tough right-handers. You see that sometimes. He can give you a hell of an at-bat against a nasty right-handed pitcher. He’s very mature for 26. I wouldn’t discount him being your Opening Day starter (in left field). Let’s wait and see. He has everything you need to win that job.”
On Domonic Brown. “From a hitting standpoint, even now he might be ahead of where I was at that time, a little better idea of hitting. I couldn’t hit a ball to the opposite field to save my butt back then. I couldn’t hit a curve ball, I couldn’t hit a slider. But I sure could hit a long home run down the left-field line and play third base. I was afforded the time to make adjustments and sort of become an everyday, consistent Major League hitter. He doesn’t have that luxury. He has Darin Ruf hounding him … he’s got like six guys who want his position. For him to get that guarantee of, ‘You’re our left fielder, you’re getting 500 at-bats’ is very, very hard. … It’s about time that Domonic does the things that everyone thinks he can do. And not do them over a day, but does them over a month, then two months. And that’s when he gets his name inserted in the lineup every day.”
It’s always interesting to get Dallas Green‘s take on the Phillies. He has spent a lifetime in baseball, spending the recent past working in the Phillies’ front office as an adviser. The man has his opinions.
I wanted to talk to him yesterday about the past and if he sees any relation to the Phillies’ future. The Phillies won three consecutive National League East championships from 1976-78 before stumbling badly in 1979. Players knew entering the 1980 season they basically needed to get things turned around or the front office would make some big changes. Of course, they won the World Series. I asked Green if he thought there were any comparisons between the 1979-80 and the 2012-13 teams.
But Green also offered his take on the current Phillies. Here is some of what he said:
Q: Can this team compete?
A: It’s a good club. The age business in baseball isn’t as stark as other sports in my mind. There are ways to rest guys. There are ways to take care of themselves, even though 162 is a hell of a grind. But our guys are very experienced. Jimmy (Rollins) knows how. Unfortunately he shows it too many times running to first, but Pete (Rose) never let age get to him. He didn’t have a great year in ’80, but he played his ass off. And experience carried him. Boonie (Bob Boone) was starting to show some age. Bull (Greg Luzinski) was breaking down a little bit too often. Smitty (Mike Schmidt) was still sound, but he was in his 30s. (Manny) Trillo, same way. Bake (McBride), same way. (Larry) Bowa, same way. There are a lot of similarities.
Q: Do you like the moves the Phillies made in the offseason?
A: I love Michael Young. I think he epitomizes what Chase (Utley) brings: the team value, the work ethic that’s important to a club like this. I mean, we lived on natural talent for so long. We really did. We could out-talent a lot of teams. We can’t do that anymore. You cannot go out there and just bang guys around and say, ‘We’re the Phillies.’ Now you’ve got to respect the other guys and figure out a way to win the game. And that takes some thought process in game situations. Those are very, very important. Game situation baseball is what I preach and what I live by. You can’t always hit a home run. You can’t always out-talent guys. You can’t always have good days. So you’re going to have a bad day, where you say, ‘If we can just get a run.’ That hurts pitching when you can’t.
Q: Would it surprise you if this team made the playoffs?
A: Oh, no. It wouldn’t surprise me. It really is expected. Again, there’s ifs. God damn, you’ve got to stay healthy. And we’ve got to have a couple of the young guys come through here. Whether it’s (Domonic) Brown or (Darin) Ruf or whoever. Somebody has to step forward and play baseball. Somebody has to. Even in the pitching. We’ve got a young bullpen. (Mike) Adams obviously is a big fit for us. And of course we’ve got (Jonathan) Papelbon. He’s one of the best. And then (Antonio) Bastardo, one day he’s good the next we don’t know what we have. And the rest of them are young. And they’re the guys that have to come forward. At least keep us in the god damn game in the sixth and seventh inning so if we can mount comebacks we can mount comebacks.
Q: You had some young guys step up in ’80. This team does need some young guys to step up this year.
A: It’s the same old thing. If you’re a prospect eventually you’ve got to put numbers up. You’ve got to put numbers up. I’ve always felt that in the Minor Leagues. I said how in the hell can I bring a guy hitting .220 over 140 games to the big leagues and expect him to be a big production guy? You can’t do it. Sooner or later in the Minor Leagues you’ve got to put some numbers up. And that gives you enough confidence to put you out here. It’s like Ruf. A couple years ago probably half of us didn’t think he could play. But he worked at his game, he got himself in better shape and he started popping the ball. That’s his style. He’s a home run hitter. He isn’t going to win a Gold Glove. You’re not getting a Gold Glove. And Brownie. I love the guy. I really do. Brownie has to step up. I read about opportunity. Gene Mauch used to tell us, ‘Here’s your opportunity. When I give you the baseball, go get an out. When I tell you to pinch-hit get a hit.’ That’s the opportunity. I’ve always impressed guys — that’s your opportunity. You couldn’t ask for more opportunities than he’s had for the production he’s given us. Opportunity is opportunity. ‘What’s my role? What’s my role?’ The role is if you make the 25 (man roster), if you’re asked to do something do it.
The way I see it, four of the Phillies’ five outfield jobs are locks or close to locks:
- Ben Revere. He’s the centerfielder.
- Delmon Young. He’s the rightfielder, although he could miss the first couple weeks of the season following ankle surgery.
- John Mayberry Jr. I think he makes the team because he hits left-handed pitching well, he’s out of options and because he’s the only other guy in this group other than Revere that can play center field.
- Laynce Nix. He’s making $1.35 million this season and he’s a veteran left-handed bat with pop. I suppose there’s a situation where the Phillies could release him, but it seems unlikely at this point.
That leaves Brown and Darin Ruf competing for the final outfield job, although Young’s health could make everything written here moot. But here’s what Brown said today about his job prospects:
Q: Your reaction to the Phillies signing Young?
A: We needed a right-handed bat. I mean, he’s going to play outfield for us. I’m coming in to win a job. That’s it. No worries.
Q: Does switching positions matter?
A: It doesn’t matter. Whatever I need to do for the team. It really doesn’t matter.
Q: What do you need to work on to be a starting, everyday player?
A: What do I need to work on? I don’t know man. They say defensively, I don’t know though. I’m just going to go out, keep having fun and really not worry about anything. If I get sent down, that’ll be that, too. I’ll just go down and work hard. And that’s it.
Q: So it’s your defense?
A: No, I’m not saying that at all. I’m just telling what you guys say. I really don’t think that at all. I don’t think so. If I get 4-500 at-bats I think I can show what I’m really capable of doing.
Q: Are you waiting for that opportunity to get an opportunity to do that over a full season?
A: You know what? I’ve been waiting for that for a long time. When I get that opportunity, getting that like I did at the second half of last year, see what I’m capable of in 4-500 at-bats.
Q: How healthy are you?
A: I’m ready to go
Q: Is this one of your last shots to win a job?
A: I don’t know. We’ll leave that up to Ruben, man. He makes the decisions. I’ve still got one more option, so we’ll see what happens.
Q: Can you hit left-handed pitching well enough?
A: If you check the stats coming through the minor leagues with 400, 500 at-bats, you’ll see how Domonic Brown hits lefties better than righties. I don’t think that’s ever been a problem.
Q: Do you feel you haven’t gotten the chance to show your best?
A: I’m not saying that. We’ve had some tough times. We’ve had some injuries. We had some big guys in the lineup that needed to play. So when I got called up it was a time for 100, 200 at-bats, that was the most I had. And that’s been it. I’m just saying I hope I can get a full season under my belt.
Q: Does the talk about your defense motivate you?
A: Oh yeah, I use everything as motivation. I’ve been through a lot of tough times growing up. This stuff really isn’t that big a deal. Really. Seriously. I’m just having fun playing baseball and that’s really it.
Q: Do you think injuries have been more a part of it?
A: That’s been the biggest thing. That’s really what I want to focus on this year, just staying healthy. The last three years I’ve fought a couple injury bugs. I think that’s been the setback.
Q: How would you describe what you’ve been through?
A: I’ve been through a lot, but still at the end of the day there are much more positive things than negative. It all balances out and I throw those little negative things in the garbage because I know the positive stuff is a lot. I’ve been through a lot, but I’ve had a lot of great moments.
Q: How strange is it to go from touted prospect to doubted prospect?
A: I don’t know, nan. I think there are a lot of other teams that still want me. That’s just how it is in a big market. You have to go out and perform and if you don’t, then usually they get rid of you. I’m not even going to lie to you. I thought I’d have been gone a long time ago, not because of my performance, but because of the guys they could have got for me. I don’t even look at the trade talk anymore because normally I’m in every trade talk.
They are far from ready to draw conclusions.
Domonic Brown has hit .267 (20-for-75) with five doubles and 10 RBIs in 21 games. Kevin Frandsen has hit .350 (28-for-50) with two doubles, one triple, one home run and seven RBIs in 21 games. Erik Kratz has hit .292 (19-for-65) with seven doubles, seven home runs and 16 RBIs in 26 games. Left-hander Jeremy Horst is 1-0 with a 1.06 ERA in 16 appearances.
They are solid performances, but it makes little sense for the Phillies to anoint anybody anything – from backup catcher to left-hander in the 2013 bullpen – based on less than a month’s worth of games.
“They haven’t pitched a ton and they haven’t played a ton,” Amaro said today. “They’ve only played a couple weeks. They’ve done a nice job. I don’t want to take away from the job they’ve done, but you have to understand that two weeks does not make or break you. I had a nice two weeks in my career and then I stunk. I think these guys are probably better players than I am, but everybody likes to jump on the bandwagon, plus or minus. I think we have to show some patience there.”
The Phillies entered tonight’s game against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park with 39 games to play. They will get the opportunity to take a closer look at everybody in those games, but the evaluation process will continue in the offseason and very likely through the closing days of Spring Training 2013.
“Domonic has had about as good as a consistent approach as anybody on our club,” Amaro said. “He and Frandsen have been putting together the best overall at-bats as far as controlling the strike zone and swinging at strikes.”
And the lack of power from Brown so far?
“He’s got a lot of natural power and raw power,” Amaro continued. “I’m not worried about that. It always comes late with young players. Very, very rarely does consistent power come in the Major Leagues when they’re young. He’s been fine in the outfield, too. He’s not a finished product yet. He’s still learning. But I have a lot of confidence he can be an everyday rightfielder or leftfielder.”
Amaro likes what he has seen from Frandsen and Kratz, commending them for making the most of their opportunity. He stopped short of saying either would be on the bench next season, again, because they need to see more.
“It’s a possibility,” Amaro said of Kratz’s chances as a backup. “We’ll continue to watch him play.”
There has been an interesting fascination with fans regarding former infielder Wilson Valdez in Philadelphia. The Phillies traded him to the Reds in the offseason for Horst. Earlier this season even Amaro said he wished he had kept Valdez, but in retrospect it looks like a good trade.
“Guys like Horst and (Raul) Valdes have performed well and much more consistently than some of the other guys in the bullpen, but some other guys have pretty good arms,” he said. “They haven’t really pitched enough to make a decision one way or the other.”
Today he threw his first bullpen session since straining his left oblique April 18 in San Francisco. Lee reported no pain. He said if he feels fine tomorrow, he is scheduled to throw a second bullpen session Saturday. Assuming that goes well, he could pitch for the Phillies a few days later at Citizens Bank Park.
“I feel good about it,” Lee said. “If things go well, it’s one more bullpen and then the game. That’s the plan for now, but that’s all flexible.”
Lee said he has been pain-free recently.
“It did linger a little bit,” he said. “But it’s slowly gotten better. But the last two days have been drastically better than the four or five days before that. It just kind of plateaud and stayed the same. But the last two has been good.”
Asked if it is safe to say the problem is gone, Lee said, “Everything throw, I didn’t feel anything. There are a couple exercises I do where I can barely feel it, but compared to how it was before it’s pretty safe to say it’s on its way to being gone.”
Domonic Brown strained his left hamstring today in Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He is day to day.
Right-hander David Herndon has a strained pronator tendon. He is not throwing for three weeks.
The guys at Phillies Nation TV had me on this week to talk about The Rotation. Check it out!
Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here! Here are our upcoming book signings:
- May 10: Tredyfrrin Public Library in Stafford, PA, 7:30 p.m.
- June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
A few thoughts/facts on one of baseball’s worst offenses through 16 games:
- The Phillies have a .283 on-base percentage, .317 slugging percentage and 2.69 runs per game average. No team (in either league) has finished a season with a lower OBP since the 1968 Mets (.281), a lower SLG since the 1972 Rangers (.290) or a lower runs per game average since the 1942 Phillies (2.61). So unless you think the 2012 Phillies are one of the worst offenses in baseball history, they will improve. But how much? And will it happen in enough time to make a difference?
- The Phillies have scored two or fewer runs in 10 games, and in 5 of their last 6.
- We could see Chase Utley at the ballpark today, while Ryan Howard is scheduled to see a wound specialist in Philadelphia. Is there any shot the Phillies get good news from both?
- I’m an Utley skeptic at this point because he proved to be no better than an average big-league hitter last season. It’s just difficult to believe he will return to All-Star form when he is still battling the same knee problems. (His .769 OPS last year would have ranked 77th out of 146 hitters had he qualified for the statistic.) But here’s something interesting: From April 1 through May 22 last season without Utley in the lineup, the Phillies averaged 3.83 runs per game with a .312 OBP and .364 SLG. From May 23 through July 29 with Utley in the lineup, the Phillies averaged 4.71 runs per game with a .329 OBP and .407 SLG. And from July 30 through the end of the regular season with Utley and Hunter Pence in the lineup, the Phillies averaged 4.54 runs per game with a .324 OBP and a .406 SLG. It is possible even an average Utley can make that much of a difference in the lineup’s performance? It’s something worth thinking about.
- Jim Thome has 2 hits and 9 strikeouts in 16 at-bats. I’ve had fans ask me if they think he is finished. But I’ve got a crazy idea: Play Thome more. If Charlie Manuel believes Thome needs more at-bats, which he said yesterday, then give them to him. What does Manuel have to lose? There had been talk in spring training that Thome might be able to play as many as two games in the field every week. Maybe even three. What happened to that? Thome has started just three times this season. If Thome plays more and his back flares up, it’s not like his absence is going to kill the offense, as little as he has played and as little as he has contributed as a pinch-hitter. (He’s 0-for-7 with 5 strikeouts as a pinch-hitter.) And as much as Thome has struck out, he also has given the Phillies some of their most “professional” at-bats. He is averaging 4.50 pitches per plate appearance. The next closest Phillies players with 16 or more at-bats are Juan Pierre (4.02) and Placido Polanco (3.94). So turn Thome loose. Let’s see how much he has left in the tank. If he produces, great. If he can’t handle the job physically or he continues to struggle, well, then you know.
- Oh, and when Thome starts hit him fourth and Pence third. Maybe Pence would be more comfortable hitting somewhere other than cleanup. He has never hit more than 25 homers or had more than 97 RBIs in a season. Cleanup isn’t his spot, at least when Thome is playing.
- I’ve gotten lots of e-mails and tweets about Domonic Brown, but he is hitting just .263 (15-for-57) with four doubles, one triple and eight RBIs in 15 games with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He has a .311 on-base percentage and a .368 slugging percentage. As much as John Mayberry Jr. has struggled, I can’t see the Phillies considering Brown as the solution in left field with a .680 OPS in Triple-A.
Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here! Here are our upcoming book signings:
- April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.
- April 29: Citizens Bank Park, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
- May 10: Tredyfrrin Public Library in Stafford, PA, 7:30 p.m.
- June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.