Results tagged ‘ Jimmy Rollins ’

Rollins Hurting, Brown Moves Up

Jimmy RollinsCharlie Manuel has said Domonic Brown’s play will tell him when he is ready to move up in the Phillies lineup.

He moved Brown into the third spot today against the Brewers at Citizens Bank Park, but not because Brown’s play dictated it. Manuel said Brown, who leads the National League with 15 home runs, hit third because Jimmy Rollins could not play after fouling consecutive pitches off his right foot last night.

“His foot is sore,” Manuel said. “And if you look, gosh darn, somebody has to hit third, somebody has to hit fourth, somebody has to hit fifth. I figured because Domonic is smoking ‘em, I was going to stick him third. That’s why he’s hitting third. But I’m not saying where Domonic will hit (in the future) because he is going to tell me.”

Brown hit .303 (33-for-109) with four doubles, one triple, 12 home runs and a .991 OPS in May, although he interestingly did not walk once. He has homered seven times in the past seven games, and four in the past two.

“He’s hitting third today because it’s the best middle of the lineup we could have with Domonic, Howie (Ryan Howard) and Delmon Young hitting three, four, five,” Manuel said.

Manuel said Rollins’ foot is not fractured, but is “real sore.” He said it is day-to-day, and there is a chance he could play tomorrow.

The Big Red Machine

Cliff LeeThe Phillies open a three-game series tonight against the Reds at Citizens Bank Park.

The Reds swept the Phillies in Cincinnati last month.

A few notes before the series opener:

  • The Phillies finally optioned left-hander Raul Valdes to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He was 1-0 with a 7.65 ERA in 10 appearances. Right-hander B.J. Rosenberg takes his place. He was 1-3 with a 4.30 ERA in seven starts in Triple-A. I’m not sure why he got the nod over Lehigh Valley relievers like Joe Savery (3.00 ERA in 12 appearances), Mike Stutes (3.86 ERA in 17 appearances) and Cesar Jimenez (3.20 ERA in 10 appearances), but I’m guessing it’s because he has a power arm and gives the bullpen length. But Rosenberg has 24 strikeouts with 20 walks in 37 2/3 innings. But clearly something needed to be done to shake up the bullpen. The middle relievers have struggled tremendously. If you’re asking about Chad Durbin (7.30 ERA in 12 appearances), I think he gets a longer leash because of his contract (one-year, $1.1 million, plus a club option for 2014), plus the Phillies considered him a valuable asset in mentoring some of the younger arms in the bullpen.
  • The Phillies called Roy Halladay‘s right shoulder successful, but he faces long odds to pitch successfully again.
  • In case you missed it yesterday, Jimmy Rollins spoke openly and honestly about the reality facing the Phillies: They better get this thing turned around or the front office might blow it up.
  • Reds left-hander Tony Cingrani is looking forward to facing Cliff Lee tonight. “He’s why I run off and on the field, because Cliff Lee did that when I was growing up,” he said. “I also like how he uses his fastball.” Cingrani is 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA in five starts. He has dominated left-handed hitters, who have just a .554 OPS against him. Chase Utley is hitting .158 with a .554 OPS against lefties this season. Ryan Howard is hitting .190 with a .590 OPS against them.
  • The Phillies have hit .275 with a .331 on-base percentage and .395 slugging percentage in their last nine games, although they are averaging only 3.9 runs in those games. They were hitting .237 with a .296 on-base percentage and .374 slugging percentage in their first 32 games. It is far too early to say the Phillies are turning around their fortunes, but I guess it’s a step in the right direction. Still, they could use some power somewhere. Too many singles, not enough extra-base hits to score runs.

Blow It Up? Rollins Knows It Could Happen

Rollins Back at the Top, Halladay Ready to GoJimmy Rollins made his Phillies debut Sept. 18, 2000, when the Phillies stood just 61-86 for the third-worst record in the National League.

Just 15,486 fans watched at Veterans Stadium.

Since then Rollins has helped the Phillies win one World Series, two National League pennants and five National League East championships. He won the 2007 NL MVP Award, four Gold Gloves and made three All-Star teams. But as the Phillies’ record sat at 19-22 following yesterday’s loss to the Indians, Rollins acknowledged the Phillies need to get going quickly because the reality in front of them is not pretty.

“We’ve just got to make sure we do what we need to do before they blow it up,” he said.

You can bet the rest of Rollins’ teammates understand this. If the Phillies don’t turn this around quickly, Ruben Amaro Jr. could hold a fire sale that would dwarf last season’s trades that included Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton. Essentially, these next couple months could be the last time you see the core of Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Cole Hamels together.

“There’s nothing I can do about it, except play a winning brand of baseball,” Rollins said. “And if we don’t win, it’s up to the guys up top, whether they decide to blow it all up and ship us out.”

Read the entire story here.

Looking for a Leadoff Hitter

Chase Utley, Michael BournIt seems like Charlie Manuel is asked about Ben Revere, Jimmy Rollins or the leadoff hitter every day.

There is good reason for that. Phillies leadoff hitters entered tonight’s series opener against the Indians with a .273 on-base percentage, which ranked 27th in baseball. But when I asked Manuel if he imagined anybody else hitting leadoff other than Rollins or Revere he said he didn’t based on personnel. That had me thinking about Michael Bourn in the Indians clubhouse. He signed a four-year, $48 million deal with Cleveland in January. He also has a .348 on-base percentage from 2009 through this season. (He is hitting .293 with a .350 on-base percentage in 64 plate appearances this year.)

The Phillies could use some production like that right about now.

“I think I might have been on their hit list,” Bourn said about the Phillies’ offseason interest. “I don’t know how high or what their target was or if they were worried about what Scott (Boras) was going to do. There are a lot of teams that say they want you to be part of their organization, but you don’t know if they really do. You have a whole bunch of teams that say they’re interested. But when it comes down to it there’s about three or four of them. Really, two.”

The Phillies had some interest in Bourn, but not as his original asking price, believed to be considerably higher than the deal he eventually struck with Cleveland. Had the Phillies not acquired Ben Revere from the Twins in December, the Phillies might have made a late run at Bourn in January, but that never happened.

“Getting adjusted to play in Philly is different,” Bourn said about Revere’s early struggles. “When you come here it’s different. They want you to do everything right now. That’s the only advantage I would have had because I’ve played here before. But I’m really happy here. Yeah, I guess the Phillies were interested a little bit. But that’s not how it went down.”

Revere, who started tonight on the bench, is hitting .400 (8-for-20) in his last eight games.

Pride in the Phillies?

Jimmy RollinsThe Phillies have looked lifeless for much of the first 28 games of the season.

That lifelessness is pretty easily explainable, if you ask me.

They enter tonight’s game against the Marlins ranked 26th in baseball in scoring, averaging a measly 3.57 runs per game. It is impossible to look energetic or lively when nobody is on base or scoring runs. But after the Indians outscored the Phillies, 20-2, in a couple blowout losses this week at Progressive Field, Cliff Lee made an interesting comment about the team’s play.

“They pretty much pounded us both games, there’s no way around it,” he said. “They crushed us both games. It was never really close, either one of them. We have to have a little more pride than that and figure out a way to at least get back into games and make it somewhat competitive. Both games, it was never close.”

Pride, huh?

Asked this afternoon about Lee’s comments on MLB Network’s “The Rundown Live,” Jimmy Rollins said, “It’s back and forth. It’s tough to put a finger on it. There are times we come out and the energy’s there behind us and you go out there and play and we go out there and perform as a team. Then there are games and series where it’s just like we’re stuck in neutral. Not going forward, not going back but not getting going at all. And that’s the thing that we can’t have. On the field, we go out there every single day. Guys are coming in early to prepare. I’m even getting there much earlier than you remember, to prepare. But it just isn’t happening all the time on the field. The good thing is, we have a long way to go. We’ve just got to make sure we take advantage of it and take what we do in practice into the game and we’ll be okay.”

Charlie Manuel said a lack of pride, leadership and effort are not the reasons why the Phillies have been unable to get on a roll. He pointed to their success in a weekend sweep against the Mets. They won because they played well, not because they cared more. No, he said, the losing is more about the team simply playing poorly the first month of the season. For what it’s worth, I agree. This team is loaded with veterans, MVPs, Cy Young winners, All-Stars and postseason MVPs. I don’t think they want to be losers. I think they care. I just think they’re playing very, very poorly.

The real question should be this: Are they simply having a slow start or are they just this bad? Manuel’s teams are habitually slow starters. From 2005-12, they are 370-341 (.520) before the All-Star break, which is 11th in baseball. They are 357-228 (.610) after the All-Star break, which is second. I think this team needs a little more time. But like I blogged earlier today, they only have a couple more months. They have to be moving in the right direction come July or you’ll see some of this team’s top talent elsewhere.

Can the Phillies Hit? Manuel Wants to Know

Manuel on Brown, Werth and MoreTonight’s loss left Charlie Manuel wondering what everybody else seems to be wondering.

Can the Phillies hit a fastball? Can they hit, period?

He would like to find out.

“We’re going to see if they can hit,” he said following a 2-0 loss to the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. “Believe me, I’m pulling for every one of them. But that’s what we’re going to see.”

For nearly two weeks Manuel has watched the Phillies fall short offensively. They have scored just 31 runs in their past 12 games, including their third shutout loss of the season tonight. Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke did little to impress Manuel, who said Locke did nothing “fantastic.” But he still dominated his hitters.

“He challenged us,” Manuel said. “If I went up there and looked fastball, I would have gotten good balls to hit. We’ve got to hit some of those fastballs. I hope that don’t put a lot of pressure on somebody.”

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Time to Score

Charlie ManuelThe last six games could not have been more painful to watch, if you like any semblance of offense.

I’m not even talking about a lot of offense. I’m talking about a little bit of offense. You know, like a four or five-run game every once in a while. But the Phillies hit their high-water mark on their just completed six-game road trip through Miami and Cincinnati on Friday, when they scored three runs against the Marlins. And they needed 10 innings to do that.

Let’s take a look at some of the wretched numbers:

  • The Phillies did not score a single run before the sixth inning in any game during the road trip.
  • They hit just .205 and scored a mere 10 runs overall.
  • They failed to walk once in the entire series against the Reds. It is the first time since Aug. 13-15, 1995, they had no walks over a three-game span. It is just the second time it has happened to them in the past 50 years. It is the first time it has happened in baseball since Aug. 2011, when the White Sox failed to walk in four consecutive games. Walks matter. On-base percentage matters. You can’t score if you don’t get anybody on base. Ever.
  • The Phillies are averaging 3.47 runs per game this season, which ranks 12th in the National League. They are 12th with a .667 OPS. They have walked just 34 times, which is tied for the second-lowest mark in the league. They have struck out 120 times, which is third. Remember how people said, “The Braves are going to hit home runs, but they are going to strike out too much?” Well, the Braves have struck out a whopping 121 times, just one more than the Phillies. But they also have walked 10 more times, and have scored 16 more runs. Of course, the biggest difference is the Braves lead the National League with a 1.77 ERA, while the Phillies are 15th with a 4.90 ERA. But pitching wasn’t the problem during this trip, other than John Lannan‘s performance last night. It was the toothless offense.

I got a ton of tweets last night during the game basically saying everybody must go. Ruben Amaro Jr. to Charlie Manuel to the lineup. Basically the entire team. Let me say right now: if you really believe this on April 18 don’t hold your breath. If you can find another team in baseball that made wholesale changes 15 games into a 162-game season, please let me know. The Phillies are going to see what happens when Carlos Ruiz and Delmon Young join the team. They are going to give themselves time. It might be fruitless. It might be a gigantic waste of time, but this is what they are going to do. So if you are breathing fire today you should relax. It will get you nowhere.

I’ve also gotten more than a few tweets and e-mails about the Phillies changing their lineup. The folks that absolutely demanded Manuel hit Ben Revere leadoff suddenly have changed their tune as he is hitless in his last 14 at-bats to drop his batting average and slugging percentage to .194. But the alternative is Jimmy Rollins, who went 1-for-18 on the trip.

The only real option to improve the lineup? Keep playing and hope things get better. Yes, that’s it. It’s not much of a plan, but it’s the only plan they’ve got. Ryne Sandberg can’t make these guys hit. Screaming at them won’t make them hit. Punishing them won’t make them hit. (Some fans seem to think treating professional baseball players like they’re freshmen on a JV team is the way to go. Not sure the Mike Rice method would be effective in the Phillies’ clubhouse.) Either they’re going to hit or they’re not. But massive changes 15 games into the season? Not going to happen. But Amaro won’t wait forever, either. He showed last July 31 he will make changes if needed. But it’s April 18. We’re a long way from there.

Your best option? If you’re of legal age, crack open a beer or have a scotch. It’ll help calm the nerves.

Rollins on The Cleveland Show

rollins cleveland showTwo seasons ago I wrote a short note about Jimmy Rollins doing some work for The Cleveland Show. I have asked Rollins a few times since when the show planned to air. He said he didn’t know. But the Daily News wrote today (h/t 700 Level) it finally will air Sunday.

What the heck took so long?

Here’s my note from 2011:

LOS ANGELES (Aug. 9, 2011) – Ryan Howard has made his rounds through Hollywood, appearing on episodes of “Entourage” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Chase Utley joined Howard on “It’s Always Sunny” last year.

Jimmy Rollins got his taste Tuesday.

He stopped by FOX’s “The Cleveland Show,” where he did some voice work for an upcoming episode. Rollins kept the script to himself, but said Joey Votto and David Ortiz also did some work for the episode.

“They’re funny,” Rollins said of the folks he met at the show. “It was a lot of fun. I got to meet Mike Henry, who plays Cleveland. He was in there with me. It was cool. He was giving me a lot of tips. I’d do it again. One of the producers is from Philly, so she said she wants me to keep coming back. I have an offseason coming up. Holler at me, you know?”

Is Revere Leadoff Material?

Ben ReverePeople love dissecting the Phillies’ lineup.

Should Charlie Manuel split up Chase Utley and Ryan Howard? Should Michael Young hit second, third or fifth? Should Ben Revere hit high or low? Should Jimmy Rollins hit lower to take advantage of his power?

The Rollins-Revere discussion is an interesting one, but very few people in Philadelphia have seen Revere play on a consistent basis to know exactly what he brings to a lineup. In fact, Manuel has said the same thing: he needs to see Revere play more before he makes any decisions about his spot in the order. But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has seen Revere play. He managed him before the Twins traded him to the Phillies in December for Vance Worley and Trevor May.

I asked him before today’s game in Fort Myers if Revere has potential as a leadoff man.

“Well, it depends,” Gardenhire said. “He’s a .300 hitter. He didn’t walk a lot. He didn’t take a lot of pitches. But the kid can put the barrel on it. He finds different ways to get on, whether it’s dropping a drag bunt, he outruns balls. The walks … I think as he gets more experience he’ll probably learn to take a few more pitches here and there. And if they ask him to do that, Ben can do that. But Ben likes to swing.”

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My Phillies Lineup

Chase UtleyCharlie Manuel trotted out a lineup yesterday against the Tigers that I think could be (or should be) his Opening Day lineup.

He had Chase Utley hitting second, Michael Young hitting third and Ryan Howard hitting fourth.

First, I like this because it splits up Utley and Howard. There once was a time hitting Utley and Howard back-to-back made sense because both hit relatively well against lefties. But that no longer is the case. Utley has hit .202 with a .645 OPS against them the previous two seasons, while Howard has hit .205 with a .623 OPS against them. Put them back-to-back and it’s a gift for opposing managers late in the game. Just run out your left-handed specialist and get out of the inning.

Second, there have been studies that suggest teams should hit their best hitter second because he is still capable of driving in the leadoff man, plus his high on-base percentage allows him to get on base for the team’s other top hitters. So forget that, “We need a contact guy that can advance the runner in the two-hole.” Put Utley second.

Third, I simply think Young is the team’s best option to hit third at this point. He’s going to hit left-handers: he hit .333 with a .794 OPS against them last season, and has hit .314 with an .836 OPS against them in his career. So that makes things a little more difficult for opposing managers late in the game. Now, I’ve heard some people say, ‘Young doesn’t hit home runs.’ True, he doesn’t hit home runs, but if he moves toward his 2011 season (it’s too early to say either way which Young we will see this season) he should come up with enough extra-base hits to drive in enough runs to warrant the third spot.

Now, Jimmy Rollins: I want him hitting first. Each spot in a lineup is worth about 18 plate appearances per season. So the further you drop Rollins, the fewer at-bats he gets. If you want to take advantage of Rollins’ power and hit him fifth, you are costing him 72 plate appearances over the course of the season. I know there’s been a big push for Ben Revere to hit first, but after examining the numbers a little more closely I disagree. Rollins hit .250 with a .316 on-base percentage, .427 slugging percentage and .743 OPS last season. Revere hit .294 with a .333 on-base percentage, .342 slugging percentage and .675 OPS. I agree with Manuel when he said Rollins’ .250 was more productive than Revere’s .294. And again, I simply don’t want to cut Rollins’ plate appearances because Revere had a higher on-base percentage than Rollins (by just 17 points, mind you) for just one season. It’s worth noting here that Revere’s career on-base percentage is .319 compared to Rollins’ .328.

Yes, Rollins has a higher on-base percentage in his career than Revere.

That’s why I keep Rollins in the top spot.

So here’s my Opening Day lineup (not that Manuel is listening):

  1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  2. Chase Utley, 2B
  3. Michael Young, 3B
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Darin Ruf, LF
  6. Domonic Brown, RF
  7. Ben Revere, CF
  8. Erik Kratz, C

Feel free to agree or disagree below.

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