Results tagged ‘ John Mayberry Jr. ’

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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Offensive

“You don’t want to send a negative message when you’re winning, but at the same time I think our guys know what they’re capable of hitting. I have an old saying that if you’re not hitting .300, you need help.” – Charlie Manuel

The Phillies need a lot of help.

They were shut out for the second time this season in last night’s 4-0 loss to the Diamondbacks. Arizona took an early lead and I thought to myself, “I just don’t see them coming back to win this game.”

It was the third inning. Against Arizona. With Cliff Lee on the mound.

The Phillies have not scored five runs in a game since April 9, when they scored 10 against the Braves at Turner Field. That is 14 consecutive games scoring four or fewer runs.

No team in baseball has scored fewer runs since April 9. The Phillies are averaging 2.79 runs per game, which ranks 28th in baseball. Only the Padres (2.69 runs per game) and White Sox (2.67 runs per game) have averaged fewer, which is hardly comforting. The Padres might have the worst lineup I’ve seen since I started covering baseball. Nobody in the Padres lineup scares you. The Phillies’ lineup has five former All-Stars, even without Chase Utley.

Only the White Sox (.197/.263) have a worse batting average than the Phillies (.200/.269) since April 9.

Nobody has a worse slugging percentage (.292) or OPS (.561).

But here’s the thing: there are no quick fixes, no obvious solutions. The Phillies could play John Mayberry Jr. more in left field while Raul Ibanez struggles. Manuel said in Spring Training he could play Ross Gload more. Gload has started once. Manuel has defensive concerns about Gload, but maybe it’s time to sacrifice defense for offense. Pete Orr has had some good at-bats at second base. Manuel could try playing him more, but Mayberry, Gload and Orr are not a magic pill for the offense. 

What about changing the lineup? Fans have said Manuel needs to move Jimmy Rollins from the third spot because he has just two RBIs. OK, who hits third? Placido Polanco? OK, now what? Not a lot of options, is there? I’m not saying a lineup change is a bad idea. In fact, I’d give it a shot. But there are no moves smacking you in the face. If Ibanez weren’t in a 0-for-21 slump I would say he should hit third. He hit very well there last season, but he’s not hitting well now. Can’t do that. Does Rollins hit leadoff if he’s not hitting third? Second? Fifth? Seems like shuffling deck chairs.

What about a trade? The Phillies are over budget and close to the luxury tax threshold. They would have to shed salary to take on salary, and what team trades a stud bat in April? Nobody. If anything would happen it would happen much closer to the trade deadline. And even then I’m not sure a trade would happen.

The best solution seems to be the most obvious one, and the one that might take the longest time: Utley returns before the end of May and the rest of the offense figures out things on their own. In the meantime, they better hope the pitching continues to dominate.

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Manuel is fired up about suggestions he overused Jose Contreras.

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It’s Not 2008 Anymore

Charlie Manuel expressed deep concerns about his offense before last night’s 6-3 loss to the Brewers.

Where’s the pop?

He mentioned Chase Utley, Jayson Werth and Pat Burrell in a lengthy discussion. Utley is hurt, Werth is in Washington and Burrell is in San Francisco. Each of them had high on-base percentages, and each of them knew how to work counts. They also could drive the ball. The Phillies certainly have been missing that lately. The Phillies have just nine extra-base hits since April 9, which is last in baseball. (The Cardinals are first with 42. The Marlins are second-to-last with 14.) Those numbers are a bit misleading because some teams have played nine games in that span while the Phillies have played seven. But here’s what is not misleading: the Phillies also have a .290 slugging percentage in that span, which is last in baseball.

The Phillies, whose 38 extra-base hits for the season rank 25th, have a serious power outage.

But before folks say, “It’s a long season,” remember, it’s Manuel expressing these concerns.

“I know people are going to say, ‘Well, you’ve got the starting pitching.’ Yeah, that’s part of it,” Manuel said. “But at the same time, usually when you talk about a World Series team or something like that, you’re talking about a top-notch team. I’m not saying we don’t have that, but we could have it. It’s going to take some work. We’ve got to improve in some areas, and we’ve got to hope our players live up to their career averages and their career performances.”

A couple random thoughts:

  • When is John Mayberry Jr. going to get a start? Raul Ibanez has started every game this season. Ben Francisco has started all but one. Ibanez has hit .189 (7 for 37) in his last nine games. Francisco has hit .111 (2 for 18) in his last five. The Phillies are facing left-handers Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson the next two games. Mayberry has been great off the bench, but he’s got to play to stay sharp. Manuel expressed his concerns countless times this spring about his outfield’s defense. He lamented the fact yesterday his corner outfielders haven’t hit for power. Mayberry can play defense and hit for power. Throwing him out there at least once a week wouldn’t seem to be the worst thing in the world right now.
  • One second Danys Baez is pitching in a big spot — replacing J.C. Romero and remaining in the game to face Greg Dobbs on Friday —  the next second the Phillies are bringing in long man Kyle Kendrick in a tie game and Baez is the last man standing in the bullpen. How quickly things change.
  • Who knows if this is just a rough stretch for the offense or not, but what if this is who the Phillies are? Say they are a light-hitting team. You can’t look around and say, “Well, here’s an obvious way to upgrade the lineup.” Manuel just has to hope things return to normal and Utley comes back and stays healthy. Otherwise they’re really going to need the rotation to be superheroes.

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