Results tagged ‘ Eric Bruntlett ’

Betancourt Could Get A Job On Phillies Bench

Yuniesky BetancourtThe Phillies signed Yuniesky Betancourt to a Minor League contract in January, and my Twitter feed quickly filled with stunned-and-confused comments about it. I guess it’s one of those things that happens these days. The Phillies sign a guy for organizational depth at relatively low cost and minimal risk and people freak out because he has a career .290 on-base percentage.

I mean, we’re talking about the 25th man on the big-league roster or Lehigh Valley’s possible everyday shortstop, but whatever …

But an interesting thing is happening in Clearwater: Betancourt is playing well and he could get one of the team’s two utility infield jobs.

Read the entire story here.

What is especially interesting about the battle among Betancourt, Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis is Betancourt has an earlier than usual opt-out clause for March 24. The Phillies must tell Betancourt by that date if he has made the 25-man roster. If he has not made the team, he can ask to be released. March 24 is a full week before the Phillies play their final exhibition game, so the Phillies will have to decide on that before they theoretically come to conclusions about the final three bullpen jobs or outfield situation. Like I wrote yesterday, I would not be surprised to see Betancourt and Frandsen start the season with the team. Galvis can be optioned to Triple-A, where he could get more seasoning with the IronPigs. Meanwhile, Betancourt and Frandsen can show what they’ve got with the Phillies. If either struggles, the Phillies could recall Galvis at that point.

Interestingly, Ruben Amaro Jr. said Betancourt’s ability to play defense is key. That’s interesting because Galvis unquestionably is the best defensive player of the three, but the fact he has options and the others don’t could tilt the jobs in their favor.

“You could probably say right now, even though he’s a young player, he’d probably be the most reliable guy [defensively],” Amaro said of Galvis. “But again, Yuniesky has got a lot of experience. It depends on how [Betancourt] performs. We’re not making any decisions today. We don’t have to make any decision for several weeks, so we’re OK.”

Will your head explode if Betancourt makes the team? If you said yes, take a deep breath and relax. Like I said, we’re talking about the last bench player here. The Phillies won the World Series with So Taguchi‘s .580 OPS on the bench in 2008. They won a National League pennant with Eric Bruntlett‘s .462 OPS on the bench in 2009. And they won a franchise-record 102 games with Michael Martinez‘s .540 OPS on the bench in 2011.

I’m not really sure which way the Phillies will go, but Betancourt is playing well enough early to make the front office think long and hard about it.

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MLB.com’s Richard Justice takes a look at the Phillies’ revamped bullpen.

Random Video of the Day


I have a lot of random thoughts pop into my head during the day, but today I randomly thought about Eric Bruntlett‘s unassisted triple play in 2009. Bruntlett hit .202 with a .550 OPS in his Phillies career. He not only turned an unassisted triple play with Philadelphia, he also scored the winning runs in Games 3 and 5 of the 2008 World Series.

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  • June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • June 16: Barnes & Noble, 4801 Concord Pike, Wilmington, Del., 2:00 p.m.

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Worley Fitting Right In

From Elias Sports Bureau: Vance Worley threw seven scoreless innings in last night’s 1-0 victory over Florida. Worley has a 0.72 ERA in 25 innings in his last four starts, which is the lowest ERA in the National League from June 14 – July 4.

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Elias also reports last night was the Phillies’ 201st game on July 4. They are 101-100.

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Got a tweet from a Phillies fan last night saying the Phillies needed to cut Michael Martinezon the night he got the game-winning hit. My Lord. I understand the frustration, but a little perspective, please. I remember when So Taguchi hit .220 as the team’s fifth outfielder in 2008. I remember when Eric Bruntlett hit .171 and Matt Stairs hit .194 in 2009. I remember when Greg Dobbs hit .196 last season. The 25th man on the roster is not going to cost this team a trip to the playoffs or the World Series. Yes, it’s ideal to have a more productive player in that spot, but there are bigger issues surrounding this team. Is it frustrating? Yes. Is it worth being that angry about? No.

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Rollins Lands on DL

Thumbnail image for rollins 0614.jpgThe Phillies have announced that Jimmy Rollins has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right calf.

They said Tuesday’s MRI revealed a Grade 1/2 strain. Rollins injured his calf during pregame warmups Monday at Citizens Bank Park.

“We believe it to be a mild to moderate strain and we’re hopeful it will be a two-to-four week recovery,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. “As in all of our injuries, precautions will be taken so that Jimmy is 100 percent when he returns to the field.”

The Phillies selected infielder Wilson Valdez‘s contract from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take Rollins’ place on the 25-man roster.

Rollins is eligible to be activated as early as April 28 in San Francisco.

“Rollins, evidently he’s got like what they call a between a 2 and 1 degree calf, kinda, tear,” Manuel said earlier to Jim Duquette and Kevin Kennedy on Sirius XM’s MLB Home Plate. “And he’s gonna miss some time. … I mean, he’s definitely going to be out some time. How much, I don’t know yet, but he’s hurt pretty bad.”

Losing Rollins is a blow to the Phillies’ offense, but not a crippling one. Rollins did not start a game from April 9 to May 8, 2008, because of a sprained left ankle, and the Phillies went 16-12, scoring 4.9 runs per game. They averaged 4.9 runs per game with Rollins healthy in the other 134 games.

Ryan Howard missed 13 games in 2007 because of a strained left quad. The Phillies went 8-5, scoring 5.1 runs per game. They scored 5.5 runs per game with Howard healthy in the other 149 games.

Chase Utley missed 28 games in 2007 because of a fractured right wrist. The Phillies went 15-13, averaging 5.4 runs per game. They scored 5.5 runs per game with Utley healthy in the other 134 games.

The Phillies have enough offensive firepower to compensate for a short stretch without Rollins in the lineup. I’d expect Shane Victorino to be the new leadoff hitter, Carlos Ruiz to hit seventh and Juan Castro to hit eighth.

Don’t expect Castro to put up Rollins numbers. Eric Bruntlett took Rollins’ spot for the month in 2008, hitting .245 with a .304 OBP and .349 SLG. The Phillies would be more than happy if Castro provided that type of production. They need him to catch the ball. If he hits, it’s almost a bonus.

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No word if Jayson Werth is in the lineup tonight, but he said he’s fine. He required no MRI.

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I will be signing copies of my Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Uglyfrom 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Borders on S. Broad Street in Center City. I hope you can stop by. The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter.

Castro Is Bruntlett's Replacement

castro.jpgThe Phillies have found their replacement for Eric Bruntlett.

They have agreed to a one-year deal with Juan Castro, who hit .277 with one home run and nine RBIs in 112 at-bats last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Castro’s agent, Oscar Suarez, said today that “we’re closing in on something.” But a source said an announcement could come next week after Castro takes his physical.

It is a one-year deal worth less than $1 million, plus a 2011 club option.

“Who doesn’t like the Phillies as an organization?” Suarez said. “You want to win. And who doesn’t like Juan Castro? You want to have a superb utility man to back up the guys you have up the middle. We’re trying to put this thing together. I think we’re going to get it done.”

Castro, 37, is a career .230 hitter in 15 seasons in the Majors with the Dodgers, Reds, Twins and Orioles. He played shortstop, second base, third base and left field last season with the Dodgers. He has played 538 games in his career at shortstop. He also has played 251 games at third base, 241 games at second base, seven games at first base and three games in left field.

The Phillies have needed somebody who can play shortstop for a significant stretch since they recently removed Bruntlett from the 40-man roster to allow him to become a free agent. They currently have no other player like that in the system who is big-league ready.

Other teams had expressed interest in Castro, according to Suarez. FOXSports.com reported the Dodgers and Phillies were Castro’s top pursuers.

“If you look at the Phillies, they have a hell of an organization,” Suarez said. “And they probably need a guy who can play shortstop if Jimmy Rollins needs a day off or he gets thrown out of a game or he needs a break at the end of a game. It makes a lot of sense. When you’re a veteran player you want to win. That’s why he is enjoying the Dodgers. The last two years for the Phillies speak for itself.”

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Ryan Howard finished third in NL MVP voting. Albert Pujols won unanimously. Hanley Ramirez took second.

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Finding Bruntlett's Replacement

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for bruntlett 0823.jpgThe Phillies have bigger fish to fry than finding Eric Bruntlett‘s replacement as the team’s utility player — they’re looking hard for a third baseman and bullpen help — but it certainly has its importance. It’s especially important because they have nobody in the system that can play shortstop for a significant stretch should something happen to Jimmy Rollins.

The Phillies recently removed Bruntlett, right-hander Tyler Walker, catcher Paul Hoover, infielder Andy Tracy and right-hander John Ennis from their 40-man roster. They have become free agents. Bruntlett and Walker will not be back next season, although Philadelphia contacted the agents for Hoover, Tracy and Ennis about possible returns.

Names to watch to replace Bruntlett are John McDonald, Omar Vizquel, Jamey Carroll, Ronnie Belliard and Juan Uribe. Miguel Cairo, who played for the Phillies in 2009, is a free agent and could be a possibility, but I think the Phillies probably would like to go elsewhere.

Bruntlett hit just .171 (18-for-105) with seven doubles, seven RBIs and two stolen bases in very limited action this season. Bruntlett hit a more respectable .217 in 2008, when he had 212 at-bats because of an ankle injury to Rollins in April and came in as a late defensive replacement for former left fielder Pat Burrell.

Bruntlett scored the winning runs in Games 3 and 5 of the 2008 World Series, and is a good guy. Best of luck to him.

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Happ Finishes Second for NL Rookie of the Year

Thumbnail image for happ 0805.jpgPhillies left-hander J.A. Happ placed second in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s National League Rookie of the Year voting.

Florida’s Chris Coghlan won with 104 points.

Happ had 94 points.

Coghlan got 17 first-place votes, but was missing completely on seven of 32 ballots. Happ was the only pitcher to get a vote on every ballot. Coghlan placed second on six ballots and third on two. Happ got 11 second-place votes and 11 third-place votes. 

Coghlan led NL rookies in average (.321), runs (84), hits (162), doubles (31), total bases (232), multi-hit games (51) and on-base percentage (.390). Happ was 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA and topped NL rookie pitchers in innings (166), strikeouts (119), complete games (three) and shutouts (two).

Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson received two first-place votes and finished third with 37 points. Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen finished fourth with 25 points. The other first-place vote went to Brewers infielder Casey McGehee.

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The Phillies removed Eric Bruntlett, Tyler Walker, Paul Hoover, Andy Tracy and John Ennis from the 40-man roster. They are now free agents. Bruntlett and Walker will not be back next season, but Hoover, Tracy and Ennis might.

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A Hot Stove Refresher

Let’s catch up with where the Phillies stand as teams can sign free agents beginning Friday.

First, some important dates to know:

  • The Phillies have until Dec. 1 to offer salary arbitration to their own free agents.
  • Free agents offered arbitration have until Dec. 7 to accept.
  • The Phillies have until Dec. 12 to tender contracts to their remaining unsigned players.

Everybody knows the Phillies are looking for a new third baseman. They would love Chone Figgins, but they are not expected to be in the running because he is seeking a reported five-year, $50 million deal. The Phillies already have $106.75 million committed to just 12 players next season, which does not include significant raises to salary arbitration eligible players Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton and Carlos Ruiz, plus upgrades to the bullpen and bench. The Phillies are going to look for a shorter, more affordable contract to fill their void at third. More likely targets are Placido Polanco, Adrian Beltre and Mark DeRosa. The Phillies have had interest in Miguel Tejada in the past, but he also might command too big a contract.

The Phillies reportedly have expressed interest in right-hander Fernando Rodney, but if he can close elsewhere, I imagine that is where he would go.

The Phillies have nine free agents: catcher Paul Bako, infielder Miguel Cairo, left-hander Scott Eyre, third baseman Pedro Feliz, right-hander Pedro Martinez, right-hander Brett Myers, right-hander Chan Ho Park, outfielder Matt Stairs and left-hander Jack Taschner.

Park and Eyre, who are Type B free agents, seem to be the most likely players to return. Ruben Amaro Jr. said he has contacted Park’s agent about bringing him back. Eyre, who had elbow surgery last Monday, said he will play for the Phillies or retire. If he decides to play, the Phillies seem interested. He is 5-1 with a 1.62 ERA in 61 games since he joined the Phillies in Aug. 2008.

The Phillies have told Myers that he will not be back. If Stairs returns, it would on a Minor League deal.

If Feliz returns it means the Phillies’ plans to upgrade at third base did not go as intended. Amaro said last week that he has told Martinez that they have not closed the door on his return, but are focusing their attention elsewhere. It seems unlikely Martinez will be back.

Amaro hasn’t ruled out Bako’s return, but he also said finding a backup catcher is a priority, which indicates they will be looking elsewhere. Taschner is expected to sign elsewhere. It is difficult to picture the Phillies signing Cairo to anything other than a Minor League deal.

The Phillies have seven players eligible for salary arbitration: Blanton, infielder Eric Bruntlett, right-hander Clay Condrey, right-hander Chad Durbin, Ruiz, Victorino and right-hander Tyler Walker. The Phillies are expected to tender contracts to Blanton, Ruiz and Victorino. Durbin is a good bet, depending on how the Phillies rebuild their bullpen. The futures for Bruntlett, Condrey and Walker seem less certain.

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Get Well Soon

Greg Dobbs has the flu or a stomach virus, but it can’t be too serious.

How do I know?

Because somebody boarded up Dobbs’ locker at Citizens Bank Park with cardboard, yellow “caution” tape and masking tape. In the middle was a sign that read:

Greg Dobbs Update
Thomas Jefferson Hospital
Room #—
Visiting hours for family and friends from 6-8 p.m.

Please be advised to wear a mask!!

Ruben Amaro Jr. said the Phillies still did not want Dobbs, who was sent to Philadelphia before Game 2 of the World Series last night, around the team until his condition improves. Pedro Martinez complained of illness before his start last night and Tyler Walker, who is not on the active roster, was sent home because of sickness.

“I think pretty much guys are OK,” Amaro said. “We have some guys getting checked out, but most guys seem to be OK.”

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Charlie Manuel has been asked plenty about why he didn’t send his base runners in motion in the top of the eighth inning in Game 2. Chase Utley hit into a double play, although replays show he beat the throw.

I’ve got to agree with Manuel here. Utley is not a double-play threat. He hit into just five double plays this season, and just 49 in his career. Remember what happened when the Mets sent runners in motion against the Phillies at Citi Field this season? Eric Bruntlett made history with a game-ending unassisted triple play. At the time the Phillies were puzzled why the Mets would send their runners in that situation. Crazy things happen. Jorge Posada would have had a clean throw to third to get Jimmy Rollins, too, had Utley swung and missed.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever done it,” Amaro said. “Have we done it all year? I don’t know that we’ve ever done it. So why change things that we haven’t done all year? I think that becomes a fatal mistake when teams start doing things they haven’t done before. That’s just not what we do. Not in that situation. I can’t recall one time in the five years Charlie has been manager that he has done that.”

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Myers Makes World Series Roster


myers 1012.jpgBrett Myers
is back on the World Series roster.

Miguel Cairo is off.

“We felt like we needed another pitcher because of the moves that we’ve been making in situations,” Charlie Manuel said this evening at Yankee Stadium. “We ran through five pitchers in one inning over at the Dodgers (in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series). I feel like if those things happen again … we always need pitching. I feel like with Myers’ stuff and the face that he’s in better shape and he’s well and he’s ready to pitch, I feel like his talent actually belongs on our staff.”

Cairo is off probably because the Phillies do not want to be in the same situation they were in during Game 4 of the NLDS against the Colorado Rockies when they had to play Cairo in left field. Eric Bruntlett has more experience playing in left field, having played there much of last season as a defensive replacement for Pat Burrell. Bruntlett also is an effective pinch-runner.

Myers was on the NLDS roster, but off the NLCS roster. He wasn’t sharp during the NLDS. In 2/3 inning in Game 2 against the Rockies, he hit a batter, walked a batter and intentionally walked another batter.

“I just asked Charlie to try to give me an opportunity to get sharp if there was a next round,” Myers said.

Myers made a mechanical adjustment, which he said has made a huge difference. Myers threw a simulated game Sunday at Citizens Bank Park. Pedro Feliz asked why he was trying so hard, throwing him three breaking balls and a fastball.

“I’m trying to make the team,” Myers said. “It was a tryout for me.”

It worked.

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Manuel said Ben Francisco definitely would be in the Game 1 lineup.

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