Results tagged ‘ Erik Kratz ’

Phillies Acquire Lincoln, Nieves

Brad LincolnThe Phillies used 27 pitchers last season, 25 if emergency appearances from Casper Wells and John McDonald are ignored.

The lesson: an organization can never have enough arms.

The Phillies added another arm Tuesday night when they announced they had acquired right-hander Brad Lincoln from the Blue Jays for catcher Erik Kratz and left-hander Rob Rasmussen. Lincoln has made 97 appearances in four seasons in his big league career, which began in Pittsburgh. He has posted a 4.66 ERA, although he spent much of 2013 in Triple-A Buffalo as he battled command problems.

“We’ve always liked Brad Lincoln’s arm,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said Wednesday morning. “He’s gone back and forth as a starter and reliever. We think he’s going to be somebody that can really help us in our bullpen. It’s a matter of him getting back into that niche.”

The trade explains the Phillies agreeing to terms with catcher Wil Nieves, which sources confirmed following the initial CBSSports.com report. Amaro declined comment on Nieves, but said, “We’re trying to create some depth there.”

Presumably, Nieves will be Carlos Ruiz’s backup, although Amaro and manager Ryne Sandberg are quick to praise Cameron Rupp, who spent much of last season in Triple-A. Nieves hit .297 with a .690 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in 206 plate appearances last season with the D-backs. He has a .597 OPS in his 10-year career, but is known for his defensive capabilities.

Lincoln, 28, averaged 9.9 strikeouts and 2.7 walks per nine innings with Buffalo, but 7.1 strikeouts and a troubling 6.3 walks per nine innings with the Blue Jays. Before last season, he has averaged 6.8 strikeouts and 2.6 walks per nine innings.

“He had some issues with his command last year,” Amaro said, “but I don’t think that’s his MO typically. We think he’s a good arm. We’re trying to create some depth in our pen.”

The Blue Jays have plenty of depth in the bullpen, which made him expendable. He also had run out of options, which is something to remember as the Phillies finalize their Opening Day roster in March.

The Phillies hope Lincoln provides depth to a struggling bullpen short on experience, which finished 14th in the National League with a 4.13 ERA. Closer Jonathan Papelbon (527 career appearances) is expected to anchor the ‘pen, but he has experienced a dip in velocity and strikeouts. Setup man Mike Adams (386) will try to come back from right shoulder surgery – Amaro said they cannot expect him to be ready by Opening Day, although they are hopeful — while left-hander Antonio Bastardo (208) will try to prove himself following a 50-game suspension for using a performance-enhancing substance.

Following them are a host of relievers that includes Mike Stutes (79 career appearances), Jake Diekman (77), Justin De Fratus (76), Jeremy Horst (72), B.J. Rosenberg (44) and Phillippe Aumont (40).

“We have to have confidence they’re going to continue to improve,” Amaro said about his collection of young relievers. “But at the same time if there’s a way we can improve our club we can’t just stop doing it. We’ve been surprised at times with some of these guys, particularly a couple years ago with Stutes and Bastardo. On the flip side we’ve been disappointed, which is part of the growing process when it comes to the bullpen and particularly young bullpen guys. Some guys year to year can make it click. And other guys just don’t ever get it.”

Amaro said they have interest in several players recently non-tendered by their former teams. Relief pitchers include Ryan Webb, John Axford and Wesley Wright.

“We’ve made several calls to quite a few of those free agents,” Amaro said. “We’ll see how it pans out. I think it’s still very fresh. Whenever this happens to players typically they’re surprised by it. So they’re just getting into the marketplace. Our job is to try to make sure guys know we have interest in them.”

Kratz hit .230 with 18 homers and 52 RBIs in 120 games over three seasons with the Phillies. The Phillies acquired Rasmussen from the Dodgers in August for infielder Michael Young. He went 3-11 with a 4.11 ERA in 28 games with Double-A Chatanooga and Triple-A Albuquerque.

Phillies Looking for CF Help with Revere Out

Russell Martin, Ben RevereBen Revere had been one of the hottest hitters on the planet until he broke the malleous bone in his right ankle yesterday in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park.

He said this morning he could miss six to eight weeks, although he will learn more tomorrow when he visits a foot specialist. In the meantime, Ruben Amaro Jr. said the Phillies are in the market for a centerfielder.

“The prognosis doesn’t sound too good,” Amaro said. “I think it’s something that’s going to take a while. … Whoever we think is an upgrade, whether it’s defensive or offensive. We’d like to probably get a little bit better. John (Mayberry Jr.) is a good center fielder. He’s not a plus defender. So if we can get a better one than that, that’d be good.”

Losing Revere to injury is a blow to the Phillies, whose offense has picked up in recent weeks. Revere is hitting .347 since the end of April, which is the sixth-best mark in baseball in that span. His .380 on-base percentage is 19th out of 164 qualifying hitters.

The Phillies activated catcher Erik Kratz to take Revere’s spot on the roster, although it seems likely the team will not carry three catchers following the All-Star break.

“It’s one of those deals,” Revere said. “It’s part of the game. I’ve probably hit a couple balls on the same spot a couple times and really nothing happened, except a bruise. But it was good the next day. But this was finally the one that cracked it.”

The Phillies also are looking internally at options at center field. They recently started playing Triple-A Lehigh Valley second baseman Cesar Hernandez in center, but they have accelerated his learning curve. He had been scheduled to play in the International League’s All-Star Game this week, but the Phillies are sending him to Double-A Reading to play center field instead.

“He’ll be playing exclusively in center field to see if that’s an option for us,” Amaro said. “He struggled yesterday , but it’s a new position for him. But we’ll give him a shot.”

Triple-A shortstop Freddy Galvis has played some outfield for the Phillies, but Amaro indicated center field is not an option for him.

So make that two spots the Phillies say they are trying to upgrade before the July 31 Trade Deadline: bullpen and centerfield.

Howard Needs Surgery, Out 6-8 Weeks

Howard Hits 200, More on HalladayThe Big Piece is out.

The Phillies announced today Ryan Howard will have surgery to repair the torn medial meniscus in his left knee. He is expected to miss six to eight weeks from the date of the surgery, which has not been set. If Howard recovers as expected he could return to the lineup between late August and early September, but that is no guarantee.

“We have to take care of it,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He’s going to have to have a procedure. It’s just a matter of who does it and when.”

Howard had a MRI exam today, which revealed the tear. The tear is new. He had a MRI exam in May, but that revealed only a fraying of the meniscus.

Amaro said the tear is similar to one found in Erik Kratz’s left knee. The Phillies issued the same six-to-eight week recovery period for Kratz following his June 12 surgery. He began a rehab assignment Monday with Triple-A Lehigh Valley and could rejoin the Phillies before the end of the week, which would put him two weeks ahead of schedule.

“He moved pretty quickly,” Amaro said of Kratz. “Hopefully we will have the same sort of timeframe. But everyone’s knee is different. We can only speculate the length of how long it will take to get him to rehab. We’ll shoot for the conservative one and hope he comes back faster.”

Howard had hit .266 with 11 home runs, 43 RBIs and .784 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 317 plate appearances before the injury. His presence in the lineup will be missed, but the Phillies are hoping rookie Darin Ruf will seize the opportunity.

Amaro said he expects Ruf to get the bulk of the playing time at first base while Howard is out.

Howard has a growing history of health problems with his left leg. Each of his four trips to the disabled list in his career have involved the left leg: strained left quadriceps in May 2007, sprained ligament in his left ankle in Aug. 2010, torn left Achilles in Oct. 2011 and now the torn meniscus in his left knee.

Howard also revealed yesterday he has a foot problem, although it is unclear how troublesome it is.

“He may have some discomfort there,” Amaro said. “I don’t know anything about his foot.”

The Phillies are hopeful the leg injuries have played a significant role in Howard’s decline offensively the past two seasons. Since the Achilles surgery he has hit a combined .244 with 25 home runs, 99 RBIs and a .752 OPS in 609 plate appearances over 151 games. He also has been one of the least productive hitters in baseball against left-handed pitchers.

Asked if the knee injury could be related to the Achilles injury, Amaro said, “It could have. Really, I couldn’t tell you that. It’s possible. Everything is connected.”

Amaro said the surgery will be scheduled after consulting with Howard’s agent, who will help them decide which doctor to perform the surgery.

“I’m encouraged,” Amaro said. “It could have been much more significant damage. We don’t want any of our players on the DL. But we know what it is and it’s treatable. Hopefully we can get him back in time to play this year.”

Kratz to DL

Erik Kratz needed crutches to get through the Phillies clubhouse last night at Miller Park.

It looked bad, and it is. The Phillies placed Kratz on the 15-day disabled list this morning with what they are calling a “left knee injury.” He injured the knee running past first base in the ninth inning of last night’s 4-3 loss to the Brewers.

Kratz is flying today to Philadelphia. He will have a MRI exam tomorrow.

The Phillies called up Steven Lerud from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take his place on the 25-man roster.

The Phillies only can hope Carlos Ruiz returns soon. He has been on the disabled list since May 20 with a strained right hamstring. He said last week he hoped to begin a rehab assignment as early as Monday with Class A Clearwater, although nothing has been announced.

Kratz is second on the Phillies with eight home runs and fourth with 22 RBIs. He also is fifth among all catchers in baseball in homers.

Where Have You Gone, Chooch?

Carlos RuizThe Phillies are unofficially on Chooch watch.

Catcher Carlos Ruiz is still serving his 25-game suspension for using a banned stimulant, and is eligible to rejoin the team April 28 against the Mets at Citi Field. But the Phillies could use him much earlier than that. Phillies catchers entered tonight’s game against the Reds at Great American Ball Park with a .486 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, which ranked 29th in baseball. Only Reds catchers (.326 OPS) have been worse.

Phillies catchers had an .861 OPS last season, which was the best in baseball. Ruiz has a career .781 OPS with a career-high .935 OPS last season.

Humberto Quintero is scheduled to catch Kyle Kendrick tonight. He entered the night hitting .222 (2-for-9) with one double. Erik Kratz entered the night hitting .171 (7-for-41) with two doubles, one home run and three RBIs.

Asked if he might use these final 12 days to evaluate his catchers, Charlie Manuel said, “They can count. When people start coming back we’re going to have to make some changes on our roster.”

But Manuel added anytime any of his hitters feel like stringing together some hits he will take it.

Kratz Talks Turkey … Bacon

Erik Kratz is a Tony Award hopeful, but a CLIO Award seems more likely.

It has been difficult to miss his commercials for Godschall’s turkey bacon during Phillies broadcasts, most notably one in which he talks to a cartoon turkey dressed as a pig. The commercial has gone viral locally.

“I had a blast,” he said today at Turner Field. “I don’t know if commercials are my forte, but I had fun.”

Kratz’s father Floyd Kratz is a co-owner of the company, so he asked his son if he would help. He said yes.

“A lot of people think they’re cool,” he said.

And his teammates?

“Teammates make fun of me.”

Chooch Suspended 25 Games

Chooooooooch?

Major League Baseball announced this afternoon that Carlos Ruiz has been suspended 25 games for using an amphetamine. The suspension begins at the beginning of the 2013 season, which means Ruiz is unable to play until April 28 against the New York Mets at Citi Field.

“I am sincerely regretful for my mistake in taking a prohibited stimulant,” Ruiz said in a statement. “I apologize to my teammates, the Phillies organization and the Philadelphia fans … I look forward to returning to the field and working toward bringing a championship back to Philadelphia in 2013.”

Losing Ruiz the first month of the season will make that pursuit a little more difficult. Ruiz, who will forfeit about $770,000 of his $5 million salary, had a career-season in 2012, hitting .325 with 32 doubles, 16 home runs, 68 RBIs, a .394 on-base percentage, a .540 slugging percentage and a .935 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

This is the second time Ruiz has tested positive for an amphetamine. The first time a player tests positive for a prohibited stimulant the results remain private and the player is not suspended.

“The Phillies fully support Major League Baseball’s Drug Program,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. “We are disappointed by the news of this violation of the program. We will support Carlos in an appropriate manner and move forward to achieve our goal to play championship-caliber baseball in 2013.”

The suspension means Erik Kratz likely will open the season as the team’s starting catcher.

Kratz hit .248 with nine doubles, nine home runs, 26 RBIs and an .809 OPS in 50 games last season. But he hit just .181 with two doubles, two home runs, nine RBIs and a .515 OPS in 23 games from Aug. 24 through the end of the regular season.

Ruiz’s absence the first month of the season means catching prospects Tommy Joseph and Sebastian Valle could get closer looks in Spring Training as the Phillies will need a backup catcher. Brian Schneider is not expected back.

Ruiz will be able to participate in Spring Training workouts and Grapefruit League games in Florida in February and March. He also will be allowed to take batting practice before the gates open before regular-season games. He is eligible to begin a rehab assignment five days before the end of his suspension, which would be April 23.

Amaro Not Ready to Draw Conclusions Based on One Month

Ruben Amaro Jr. and the rest of the Phillies front office are evaluating every inning of every game the rest of the season.

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.”

Ruiz to DL, Expected to Miss 4-6 Weeks

Just another blow for the Phillies in a season full of misfortune.

They announced Saturday morning Carlos Ruiz, who is the team’s MVP if the season ended today, has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

A MRI revealed a partial tear in the foot. He is expected to miss four to six weeks.

The Phillies recalled Hector Luna to take Ruiz’s spot on the roster. Brian Schneider and Erik Kratz will handle the team’s catching duties into September.

Ruiz was having the best season of his career. He was hitting .335 with 28 doubles, 14 home runs, 58 RBIs, a .399 on-base percentage, a .559 slugging percentage and a .959 OPS. He already set career-highs in home runs and RBIs. He ranked fourth in the National League in batting average, sixth in on-base percentage, sixth in slugging percentage and sixth in OPS.

Unfortunately for Ruiz, he will not finish the season with enough plate appearances to qualify among the league leaders in those categories.

Ruiz will be reevaluated in two weeks. The foot has been bothering him for at least a couple weeks, but he thought he could manage it.

Doc, Doctor

Roy Halladay is scheduled to see a doctor at some point somewhere today.

As soon as we hear anything we will let you know.

Like I said in my previous post, I would be surprised if Halladay is not placed on the DL. He has been struggling for a month, and it seems quite possible he has not felt right since spring training. He has soreness in his right shoulder, and shoulders are nothing to mess with. I suppose the best-case scenario is that it’s some inflammation that requires a little rest.

Worst-case scenario … well, we’re talking torn rotator cuff.

For what it’s worth, here’s what Cole Hamels said yesterday about Halladay’s injury: “He’s a battler. Shoot, he’s had more work than anybody in this game. If you can go out every season and pitch 250 innings, he’s the best. It’s just one of those things where I think the team is trying to be cautious. He works harder than anybody I’ve ever seen, so he’s going to get back out there as fast as he can to help the team. I don’t think it’s too serious, because I play catch with him every day.”

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Erik Kratz is headed to New York in case Carlos Ruiz (tightness in his right hamstring) needs to be placed on the DL, as Allentown’s Jeff Schuler first reported.

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here! Here are our upcoming book signings:

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

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