Results tagged ‘ Jayson Werth ’

The Usual Suspects, The Usual Second Half?

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The Phillies open the second half of their season tonight at Wrigley Field.

My second-half prediction? The Phillies play much better than they played in the first half. I base my entire prediction on recent history. (OK, not entirely. They’re also getting healthier, which should help.) The Phillies always have played better in the second half under Charlie Manuel, and until they don’t have a good second half I’m going to keep picking them to have a good one. But will improved play be enough this time? The Braves and Mets are better than previous seasons, so they won’t be as easy to beat or catch in the NL East.

Right?

“I don’t they’ve ever been not as good as us,” Jimmy Rollins said about the Braves and Mets. “We’ve just found a way to get the job done and we’ll have to do it again. It doesn’t have to do with them getting better, it’s about us getting the job done. We’ve been there before so we know how to do it.”

“I don’t really think any other teams in our division matters to me as much as our team does, meaning that we control our own destiny,” Jayson Werth said. “We’ve established ourselves in this division and throughout the league as a powerhouse. Right now, we’ve got some injuries and we’ve got some guys who are out. We’re going to be getting them back. We play the NL East in September, so really it’s going to be up to us. We’re the same team we’ve had the last few years. We have great players. We have guys who play big in the clutch and play good down the stretch. We’re setting ourselves up for a run at it.”

Said Manuel: “We’ve got the second half to play. We can definitely catch up four, five games. At the same time, myself, I like being in the lead. I like being in first place. I don’t think anybody would say they’d like trailing. That doesn’t mean we won’t catch up. I have all the confidence in the world.”

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. My Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Cliff Lee, Jayson Werth and the Phillies


Thumbnail image for lee 1028.jpgCliff Lee
‘s impending free agency and Jayson Werth‘s impending free agency seem like two totally separate issues, and in most respects they are. But it is evident the Phillies think Werth will be difficult to resign, which is why they have explored trading him – although I don’t see it happening if the Phillies remain in contention in the NL East.

So what happens if the Phillies keep Werth and they can’t resign him after the season? (Werth could be looking for more than $100 million on the open market.) The Phillies could use the money earmarked for Werth to make a run at Lee, although that will be difficult for a couple reasons: First, one of the reasons the Phillies traded Lee in December is because they felt he would be tough to sign to an extension. That probably has not changed. Second, the Phillies will be competing with the Yankees, Red Sox, etc., on the open market.

But Lee said today the trade that sent him to Seattle has not soured him on the Phillies.

“I’m not soured by that at all,” he said. “It’s a business. They decided that the best thing for the Phillies was to trade me to replenish the farm system. They felt like that was the best move. You can’t knock them for that. They didn’t have to trade for me to come there in the first place. Yeah, I’m not opposed to coming back to the Phillies in the future at all. I’m not opposed to playing for any team. If 29 other teams don’t want me and the Phillies are the only team that wants me, I’ll be a Phillie.”

Lee stumbled when asked if he would pursue the Phillies in the offseason.

“That’s down the road,” he said. “Right now I’m a Mariner … or a, uh … right now I’m a Ranger. Right now I’m a Ranger. I was so used to saying that, so, I’m a Ranger and I’m going to be a Ranger until hopefully we win the World Series. And when that’s over I’ll weight all of my options and see what happens. It’s really that simple.”

Lee is aware Phillies fans remain upset that he is not in the same rotation with Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels.

Lee gets it.

“They’ve been struggling,” Lee said. “They’re underperforming. When they’re doing that it’s easy to look back and say they should have done this or they should have done that. Anyone can do that. When you have to make those kinds of decisions it’s tough when everyone critiques you, especially when the team is underperforming. All that kind of stuff is magnified. If they were in first place by eight games nobody would say a word about it. I think their struggles are mostly due to injuries. Not because they traded me away. If everybody in their lineup stayed healthy all year they would be in a lot better spot. There’s no doubt about it.”

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The Werth Market

Thumbnail image for werth 0624 2010.jpgIt sounds like Cliff Lee is headed to the Yankees.

Update: Nope, nope. He’s headed to the Heat. Wait … nope, uh, yes, he’s headed to the Rangers. Yes, it’s official. He’s definitely headed to the Rangers.

It sounds like Jayson Werth is not.

There have been reports today the Yankees, who might move a starter upon finalizing the Lee trade, would send Javier Vazquez to the Phillies for Werth. Sources said this afternoon that Werth-for-Vazquez is not happening.

Update: Lee going to the Rangers does not change the fact the Phillies would not trade Werth to the Yankees for Vazquez.

Make sense.

It would take a much better deal to move Werth. Werth and Vazquez are free agents after the season. If the Phillies trade Werth — and the Phillies are exploring the trade market for Werth — they will want Major League-ready talent they can control beyond 2010. Vazquez is not that.

If the Phillies trade Werth — Ruben Amaro Jr. said this week he is willing to trade somebody from his 25-man roster to strengthen another area on his roster– it certainly would be to a team in the postseason hunt that needs a bat. That would be teams like the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, etc. That means Werth for Roy Oswalt or Dan Haren makes little sense. I mean, it might make sense to the Phillies. But why would the Astros or Diamondbacks (or any other team out of contention with a stud starting pitcher) want Werth, knowing he likely will be gone in a couple months? If the Astros or Diamondbacks trade Oswalt or Haren, they also will be looking for young talent they can control beyond this season.

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Trying to Make Sense of It All

Thumbnail image for utley swings.jpgI left the Phillies’ clubhouse last night feeling a little dizzy.

Charlie Manuel talked about edge and cockiness and swagger. He said the team is trying too hard, but said a couple times the game (i.e. winning) needs to be the players’ No. 1 priority. He said he hears talk about losing, but then said he sees a difference in the clubhouse more than hears it. Shane Victorino expressed his frustrations at a few fans who ripped him last night. He brought up Jimmy Rollins‘ infamous frontrunners comment from a couple years ago — you can think it, but why would you say it? — but then said Phillies fans have been great and have brought a ton of energy to the ballpark.

Confused with the contradictions?

I am, too.

Here is my take:

There is a difference in the clubhouse this year. The edge is missing. But let’s be real: the Phillies have had 12 players on the DL this season and those injuries have caught up with them. It has caught up with them in talent on the field, and it has caught up with them in attitude. Lose enough games, struggle enough and people become Debbie Downers. People start worrying about other things. They start complaining. They don’t feel invincible. They don’t feel like they can overcome their problems. It’s human nature.

“We don’t quite have the swagger that we once had,” said Jamie Moyer, who gave the clearest answer of anybody of what is ailing the team. “I don’t think it was a cocky swagger. It was just a swagger. And I think it was carried by all. We have some new faces in here. That’s not the reason, but as teams change, I think it’s the responsibility of those who remain to try to continue that swagger in the way that we play.”

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They Are Who We Thought They Were

werth 0624 2010.jpgJayson Werth said something following yesterday’s 12-3 victory over Cleveland that made a lot of sense to me:

“Honestly, the standings and all that stuff make no difference right now. What we did in ’07 and ’08 coming down the stretch, we made up a lot of games in not a whole lot of time. There’s no reason to worry or get too upset. We’re the same team that’s done what we’ve done the last three or four years here, and I think some people need to remember that.”

In other words, the Phillies do this every year so why flip out?

The Phillies just swept the Indians. They have won six of their last eight games. They enter this weekend’s series against the Blue Jays just 2 1/2 games behind the Braves and just 2 games behind the Mets in the NL East — and that’s after playing poorly for more than a month. Now I’m not saying the worst is behind the Phillies. I’m not saying they’re making the playoffs. But the panicking over the offense — Make a trade! Release somebody! Call up Domonic Brown! — that seemed crazy to me a couple weeks ago seems a little sillier today.

Werth is hitting .857 (6-for-7) with one home run and three RBIs in his past two games, and .395 (15-for-38) with two doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs and eight walks in 12 games since June 10. Combine his recent turnaround with Chase Utley hitting .394 in his last nine games, Ryan Howard hitting .417 in his last six games, Raul Ibanez hitting .300 in his last 14 games, and Jimmy Rollins returning to the lineup, and it’s easy to understand why the Phillies are playing better.

Slumps happen, folks.

Derek Jeter was hitting .189 with three homers and 17 RBIs in 43 games through May 25, 2004. Everybody in New York freaked. He hit .336 with 20 homers and 61 RBIs the rest of the season to finish at .292. Mark Teixeira hit .191 with seven homers and 17 RBIs in 29 games through May 12 last season. He hit .315 with 32 homers and 105 RBIs the rest of the way. And who can forget that Rollins hit just .205 with six homers and 27 RBIs through 70 games last season? He hit .288 with 15 homers and 50 RBIs the rest of the way — his .334 on-base percentage and .510 slugging percentage better than his career average.

And let’s not forget this: the Phillies are a second half team under Charlie Manuel. They were 229-217 (.513) before the All-Star break from 2005-09, which ranked 11th in baseball. They were 218-146 (.599) after the All-Star break, which ranked third in baseball and first in the National League.

I’m not saying it will happen again, but until they don’t there is no reason to think it won’t.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Just Like Old Times

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Do we detect life from the Phillies offense?

They scored 10 runs last night in a victory over Florida. It had been a while, hadn’t it? Phillies fall behind, slowly come back, lose the lead, come back again and win. It felt like forever, which is why somebody asked Jayson Werth if it reminded him of an “old style” win?

“Old style?” he said. “You mean like ’50s and ’60s?”

Good answer, but the Phillies hadn’t had a night like this since they beat the Pirates on May 17, 12-2.

There were some encouraging signs:

  • Raul Ibanez went 4-for-5, his first four-hit game since May 15, 2009.
  • Chase Utley had a couple hits. I’ve been told Utley is healthy. He’s just slumping.
  • Ryan Howard had two hits and homered.
  • The offense has scored five or more runs in three of their last four games. They went 12 consecutive games scoring three or fewer runs before that.

The middle of the lineup has been an abyss in recent weeks. Little to no production. I’ve been getting a lot of e-mails and questions from people via Twitter and Facebook about the Phillies’ problems and how they can solve them. The short answer: the big guys need to hit and they need Jimmy Rollins healthy. Shaking up the bench won’t do anything. If the Phillies think adding a new bench player is going to save the offense they’re nuts. They simply need Utley, Howard, Werth and Ibanez to start hitting. And they need Rollins back. It’s that simple. Well, it’s not simple. Hitting a baseball is hard, but you know what I mean.

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Werth isn’t happy at all that Charlie Manuel said his impending contract might be weighing on him during his slump.

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The Phillies are very close to signing first-round pick Jesse Biddle. An announcement could come as early as today.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Living In the Past, Living In the Now

I’m in Denver for the first time since Game 4 of the 2009 National League Division Series.

You remember that one, don’t you?

The Phillies turned a 2-1 lead into a 4-2 deficit in the eighth inning, erasing a fine start by Cliff Lee, only to come back in incredible fashion in the ninth inning to win the game, 5-4, and clinch the series. Remember Chase Utley almost catching Shane Victorino rounding third base as Utley scored the tying run? Remember Ryan Howard making it happen with a double to right? Remember Jayson Werth‘s flare to right-center that scored Howard to retake the lead? And Brad Lidge picking up the save?

Ah, but that’s the past. Let’s talk about the present.

Live in the now, man!

The Phillies have won 8 of 11 (.727) since losing to the Giants on April 27, which is the best record in baseball. They’ve scored 58 runs in that span, their 5.27 runs per game tied for third in the league. Their .817 OPS is best, which is boosted with a league-best 17 homers. Their 3.09 ERA ranks third.

Werth ranks fourth in the league with a 1.261 OPS. Carlos Ruiz ranks 11th (1.107) and Utley ranks 17th (1.039). It’s easier to score when you have three of the hottest hitters in baseball over the last 11 games. Werth also is tied for the lead with 15 RBIs, which is making fans even more antsy that the Phillies need to resign Werth.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

The Howard Deal

Thumbnail image for howard large.jpgA couple quick thoughts about Ryan Howard‘s five-year, $125 million contract extension before I leave my hotel for AT&T Park:

– It’s a lot of money, and I’ve heard from more than a few Phillies fans wondering if it’s too much money considering Howard will be 36 when the deal ends in 2016 … 37 if the club option is picked up for 2017. It certainly might be. It might not be. Who knows? But one thing to ask is this: do the risks of a $125 million committment outweigh losing Howard after 2011? Sure, the Phillies would have loved to have signed Howard to a three-year, $75 million extension (or something more team-friendly). They would have loved it. But Howard never would have signed it. He knew a big payday awaited him, and he would have taken it. It seems the Phillies had one of two choices: sign Howard to a big deal, or let him walk after 2011. (And then we’d get to hear from Phillies fans about how cheap the Phillies are, how they’re not the Yankees, whine, cliche, moan, etc.) So pick one: Howard gets a big payday with obvious risks (see Mo Vaughn), or he’s gone after next season. If you’d rather see him leave, hey, I understand that. But I don’t believe there would have been a middle ground (i.e. an overly club-friendly contract.) Of course, why sign him now? Couldn’t they have waited to see what happened with Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez? We’ll ask Ruben Amaro Jr. that in a few.

– I’ve gotten the sense recently that the Phillies think they can sign Jayson Werth to a contract extension. It might be because they realize they have to have at least one right-handed bat in the middle of their lineup. But I don’t think today’s deal means Werth is gone. Now, if Werth wants a five-year, $100 million deal, yeah, the Phillies probably won’t sign him to something like that. But if it’s a fair deal — the Roy Halladay, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins contract extensions seemed to work out for both parties — then I see a chance at Werth sticking around. They could use him, too.

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I will be signing copies of my Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, &The Ugly” beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Barnes & Noble in Rittenhouse Square. I’ll also be signing books beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Majestic Clubhouse Store at Citizens Bank Park. The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter.

Leaving Atlanta Pitching Well, Catching the Ball

The Phillies pitched impressively (except for the ninth and 10th innings Tuesday) and played fantastic defense this week in Atlanta, which is why they took two of three from the Braves and improved to 10-5.

It’s early. It’s Friday. Maybe it’s time to look at some numbers?

Yes? No?

OK, here we go:

  • The Phillies are fourth in baseball in runs (91). Only the Dodgers (98), Brewers (97) and Rays (93) have scored more. That 20-spot on the Pirates yesterday sure helped the Brewers jump to the top of the charts, huh?
  • The Phillies’ .822 OPS ranks fourth. Only the Dodgers (.867), Brewers (.864) and Yankees (.830) are better.
  • The Phillies are averaging a home run every 32.81 at-bats, which is 14th in baseball. They haven’t homered since Jayson Werth‘s solo shot in the ninth inning Saturday against the Marlins. Who said they rely too much on the long ball?
  • The Phillies have just three stolen bases, which is last in baseball. It doesn’t help to have Jimmy Rollins on the DL, but dead last is a little surprising.
  • They have struck out just 87 times, which is third-fewest in baseball. Only the White Sox (86) and Royals (86) have struck out less.
  • Phillies starters have a 3.07 ERA, which is tied with Oakland for fifth in baseball. The Rays (2.67 ERA), Cardinals (2.82 ERA), Padres (2.91 ERA) and Giants (3.04 ERA) are better.
  • The bullpen has a 4.24 ERA, which is 18th. Brad Lidge threw a scoreless inning last night, and is going to throw again tonight in Reading. The Phillies seem encouraged by last night’s performance in Lehigh Valley because his fastball hovered in the 90-92 mph range, hitting 93 mph. J.C. Romero rejoined the team last night. If Lidge and Romero do what everybody expects them to do, you would think the bullpen’s performance will improve.
  • The Phillies have committed eight errors, which is tied for the fourth-fewest in baseball. The Twins have just one error so far to lead the pack.

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Congratulations to Scott and Lori Franzke, who had their son August at 10:13 last night. He weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces. Lori and August are doing fine.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

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.

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