Results tagged ‘ John Mayberry Jr. ’

Dom Down

The Phillies optioned Domonic Brown to Minor League camp this morning.

Brown had trouble getting on the field this month. He sprained his right thumb March 8 and suffered from a stiff neck for the past week, limiting him to just seven Grapefruit League games. He hit .300 (6 for 20) with two triples, one home run, two RBIs, one walk and a .983 OPS, but also showed he needed more work in left field, which has been a struggle.

Brown, although not surprised, was clearly disappointed.

“Life goes on,” he said. “I’m going to go down there and play hard. And that’s it. I was not expecting it, but keeping it in the back of my mind. We’ve got a lot of big-name free agent guys. John Mayberry is playing well. They just told me they want to see me out there every day, so Triple-A is the best spot for it. I’ve been through a lot these last couple years. A lot more than some veteran guys, so I think I can deal with it. I think I can handle it. Go down there and play hard and that’s all I can do.”

The Phillies said in the offseason they planned to have Brown start the season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he can work on his offense and defense. The Phillies believe they have enough options in left field to open the season, even with Mayberry expected to play some first base while Ryan Howard is out. Laynce Nix and Juan Pierre, who is the favorite to be the team’s fifth outfielder, can play left field when Mayberry is at first.

Asked if playing in Triple-A will at least give him a clear mind, Brown said, “No, I wanted to be here, man. That’s the goal, but things happen.”

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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:

  • April 2: Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 3: Chester County Book Company in West Chester, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.

Should Utley Hit Third Against Lefties?

Chase Utley is 4-for-9 in his last two games, which could be a sign he is coming out of a funk that has lasted for more than a month.

The Phillies hope so.

Since Utley reached a season-high .290 average on Aug. 1, he has hit just .221 with a .280 on-base percentage and a .329 slugging percentage. He has just nine RBIs in 36 games, which is alarming considering he has been hitting third in a lineup that is tied for second in the National League in scoring in that stretch.

Utley’s .771 OPS is easily his worst since he became the Phillies’ everyday second baseman in 2005:

  • 2005: .915
  • 2006: 906
  • 2007: .976
  • 2008: .915
  • 2009: .905
  • 2010: .832
  • 2011: .771

“I think his injuries over the last two or three years have been real serious,” Charlie Manuel said following tonight’s 4-3 loss to St. Louis. “He’s not where he used to be, but I think he’s due to get hot. I think somewhere along the line … I think he’s due to have a little run where he’s hitting the ball good. Hopefully we can get him there before the playoffs start.”

But what if he doesn’t get hot? Utley is hitting .192/.286/.323 against left-handers compared to .289/.365/.474 against right-handers. Manuel already is using a platoon in left field with Raul Ibanez and John Mayberry Jr. because he’s taking advantage of his talent to put the best lineup on the field. So why not move Utley out of the No. 3 hole against left-handers and replace him with Hunter Pence? Pence is hitting .313/.400/.597 against left-handers.

“I don’t know,” said Manuel, asked if he would move Utley out of the No. 3 spot. “It’s hard to say. I don’t like to commit to nothing. Why should I sit here and say something? I might do anything. I don’t know.”

Of course, where would you hit Utley then? Normally, I’d say hit him second because he’s such a high on-base percentage guy, but he’s not getting on base against left-handers. You could hit him fifth. But what’s two spots in the order really going to do? Maybe nothing, but the higher you hit in the order the more plate appearances you get. It could mean just one extra at-bat for Pence in one game against a left-hander, which could mean the difference between a rally or runners left on base. One or two more big hits in last year’s NLCS and the Phillies quite possibly beat the Giants.

Something to think about.

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Late-Inning Pinch-Hit Success

Charlie Manuel loves to talk about Ross Gload‘s “professional” at-bats, but his successes have been few and far between this season.

He broke through last night when his pinch-hit single scored the winning run in the ninth inning in a 3-2 victory over the Braves.

“For me it’s huge because I haven’t had much of anything,” Gload said. “I’ve struggled pretty good. But I’ll take it. It’s big for me, but it’s bigger for the team.”

It was the third game-winning walkoff hit by a Phillies pinch-hitter this season: John Mayberry Jr. had one in the season opener and Ben Francisco had one June 24. That’s notable because the Phillies had none the previous five seasons (2006-2010). The Phillies also hadn’t had three walkoff wins in one season on RBIs by pinch-hitters since 1984 (Greg Gross, Len Matuszek and Sixto Lezcano).

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As soon as we hear something more on Chase Utley, we’ll let you know.

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Worley, Ibanez and the Game 1 Starter

A quick note from last night’s victory over the Braves:

  • The Phillies have won 14 consecutive Vance Worley starts. The last team to win 14 or more consecutive starts by a pitcher was the St. Louis Cardinals, who won 17 consecutive Chris Carpenter starts in 2005.

In case you were wondering:

  • Baseball Prospectus estimates the Phillies have a 100 percent chance of making the playoffs.  It breaks down like this: a 99.9 percent chance of winning the division and a 0.1 percent chance of winning the wild card. Yeah, that sounds about right.
  • Raul Ibanez had a good night last night. I like the idea of Ibanez and John Mayberry Jr. platooning the rest of the season and into the postseason. Ibanez is hitting .262/.314/.440 against right-handers and .198/.223/.362 against left-handers, while Mayberry is hitting .286/.341/.607 against left-handers and .244/.320/.458 against right-handers. But maybe the location of the game and not just the pitcher should influence Charlie Manuel‘s lineup. Ibanez is hitting .292/.332/.525 at home and .197/.223/.362 on the road. For whatever reason, Ibanez has been a much better player at Citizens Bank Park. Maybe it’s the “Rauuuuuuuuuul” chants, but it’s something to consider once October rolls around.
  • Lot of people have been asking me about the postseason rotation. There’s no debate to me. If everybody is rested, healthy and can be lined up the way the Phillies want to line them up it looks like this: Game 1 is Roy Halladay, Game 2 is Cliff Lee, Game 3 is Cole Hamels and Game 4 is Roy Oswalt. Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball, so I start him in Game 1, even if Lee is hot. Why? Because Halladay is pretty good, too. He did throw a no-hitter in last year’s playoffs. He did win the Cy Young. If he wins Game 1 and Lee is pitching like he has been, Lee will put his foot on the throat of the other team in Game 2. Or if Halladay somehow loses Game 1, then Lee will even the series. Really, there’s no wrong way to go, but that’s the way I go. And I go with Oswalt because of his pedigree. Yes, Worley has pitched great, but I like Oswalt coming up big in the postseason. Got to go with your aces.

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Just Another Day for Martinez

From Elias Sports Bureau: Michael Martinez broke a 2-2 tie with a two-run, ninth-inning double last night. Martinez has hits in each of his last four at-bats in Late Inning Pressure Situations (all this month) and his 11 RBIs in July ties him with Wilson Ramos for second-most among rookies. Only Freddie Freeman (16) has more.

Some other notes:

  • Martinez has hit .298 (11-for-37) with one double, one triple, one home run and 11 RBIs in 10 games this month, earning more playing time with third baseman Placido Polanco on the disabled list with lower back inflammation.
  • Only Raul Ibanez (14) and John Mayberry Jr. (12) have more RBIs for the Phillies this month than Martinez.
  • Jason Grilli has signed with the Pirates, announcing the move on Twitter. He had an out-clause in his contract, allowing him to sign with another team if another team offered him a big-league deal. The Phillies believed they had better options than him, so released him.

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Mayberry’s Big Night

From Elias Sports Bureau:

  • John Mayberry Jr. knocked in five runs last night at Citi Field on a two-run single in the second and a bases loaded double in the eighth. He is the first player this season to have at least five RBIs in a game without a home run.  He also is the first Phillies player to do it since Ricky Otero had five RBIs without a home run Sept. 29, 1996, at Shea Stadium.
  • The Phillies resumed play last night night with Vance Worley on the mound.  It was only the second time in the last 40 seasons a rookie pitcher started the first game after the All-Star break for a team that had the best record in the majors. Joe Torre’s 1983 Braves last did it. They were 49-31 (.613) at the break and rookie Craig McMurtry started their first game.

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Victorino Activated, Mayberry Optioned

Earlier this week I thought the Phillies might place Michael Martinez on waivers to make room for Shane Victorino, but it became more obvious they would option John Mayberry Jr. instead.

It became official today.

I’m not in Pittsburgh this weekend, but I’m guessing the reasoning is close to what I wrote yesterday: Mayberry will get very little playing time with Raul Ibanez in left field, Victorino in center field and Domonic Brown and Ben Francisco in right field. Mayberry might be the team’ second-best defensive outfielder (and one of the team’s better runners, too), but he has hit just .187 with three doubles, two homers and nine RBIs since April. He also has hit just .172 against left-handers in that stretch, which hurts his case to platoon in left or right field. Yes, Francisco has struggled. He has hit just .192 against left-handers this season. But here is the reality of the situation: Francisco is making $1.175 million. If Mayberry were hitting .300 against left-handers, I think it would have been a much more difficult decision. But unfortunately for Mayberry, his lack of production at the plate over the last month hurt him.

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Updates on Contreras, Lidge, Utley and More

Chatted with Ruben Amaro Jr. for nearly 20 minutes this morning in the visitor’s dugout at Turner Field.

Here’s the latest on the Phillies’ injured.

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Blanton’s Velocity Down, Victorino Hurting

A few random notes/thoughts on yesterday’s 5-3 loss to the Braves:

  • Joe Blanton still feels soreness in his right elbow, but he said afterward it has improved from his last start. But there is no mistaking his velocity is down. His fastball averaged roughly 86 mph today. Its average is 89 mph for the season. “Blanton isn’t throwing 90-plus anymore,” Chipper Jones said. “He threw a couple balls over the plate in the first inning. But after that not a whole lot. He stayed on the corners. He’s got a really good changeup. But he’s got a really good changeup because he throws 90 or 91. I only saw a couple 88 or 89s today. Most of them were 85, 86, or 87.”
  • Shane Victorino left the game with soreness in his right hamstring. He will not play tomorrow. He said he hopes a little rest will be enough, but leg injuries are tricky. If he flat out pulls it he could miss a significant period of time. I’m sure the Phillies want him to be smart.
  • Ben Francisco is hitting .071 (2-for-28) with six walks and six strikeouts since May 1. Braves right-hander Tim Hudson pitches in today’s series finale. Maybe today is a good time for Ross Gload to start. John Mayberry Jr. could be starting in center field with Victorino out. He has hit .250 (5-for-20) with one RBI against right-handers this season, but if he can show Charlie Manuel he can hit right-handers maybe he can earn a little more playing time when Victorino comes back.

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Mayberry Makes His Case

John Mayberry Jr. has an excellent opportunity in front of him, and he can take advantage if he takes Charlie Manuel‘s advice.

Gotta hit, son.

Mayberry is hitting. He went 2 for 4 with a game-tying home run in the seventh inning in today’s 2-1 victory over the Mets. Mayberry is hitting .345 (10 for 29) with two doubles, one home run and three RBIs in 17 games, most of which have come as a pinch-hitter. Mayberry has earned more playing time, and it sounds like Manuel is going to give him a chance.

Now is the time. Raul Ibanez is hitless in his last 30 at-bats, and has just four hits in his last 49 (.082). He also is hitless in his last 16 at-bats against left-handed pitchers, which explains why Mayberry started today against the Mets’ Jonathon Niese. Mayberry has started in left field in four of the last five games against left-handed pitchers: today against Niese, Wednesday against Arizona’s Joe Saunders, Sunday against San Diego’s Wade LeBlanc and April 20 against Milwaukee’s Chris Narveson. Ibanez started against San Diego’s Clayton Richard on April 22.

Ibanez has hit .136 (3-for-22) with one double, one home run and five RBIs against left-handers this season, while Mayberry has hit .375 (6-for-16) with two doubles, one home run and two RBIs against them.

Mayberry should be starting regularly against left-handers, while Ibanez should get a chance to get out of his slump against right-handers.

Both players deserve a chance. Mayberry gets one because the Phillies need more offfense. Ibanez gets one because April does not make a season. Ibanez was hitting .229 with a .329 on-base percentage and a .371 slugging percentage on June 6 last season. Fans wanted him benched for Domonic Brown, but he turned things around. Ibanez hit .295 with a .359 on-base percentage and a .477 slugging percentage the rest of the way to make him one of the most productive hitters in the lineup the second half of the season.

He needs more time to find his stroke, but there will be a cutoff at some point. Manuel echoed Jayson Werth‘s name when talking about Mayberry today. Werth earned playing time over Geoff Jenkins in right field in 2008. The same could be happening here, but it’s too early to know for sure.

Gotta hit, son.

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