Results tagged ‘ John Mayberry Jr. ’

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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Brown Fractures Right Hand, Surgery Likely

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Domonic Brown‘s chances to win the everyday job in right field evaporated today when he fractured his right hand.

Surgery is likely, which would sideline him three to six weeks.

Brown fractured the hook of the hamate bone swinging at the first pitch in his first at-bat in the second inning against the Pirates at Bright House Field. He finished the at-bat, singling up the middle to end a 0-for-15 start to his Grapefruit League season. Brown left the game before the top of the third, returning to the clubhouse and leaving the ballpark quickly for an x-ray.

Brown will fly early next week to Philadelphia, where hand specialist Randall Culp will evaluate him. If the initial x-ray is accurate, surgery seems inevitable.

“Probably,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “We won’t know until it’s definitive. What the x-ray reveals right now is what is believed to be a fracture.”

Brown’s loss practically guarantees Ben Francisco will be the Opening Day rightfielder, although Amaro declared nobody a winner in those sweepstakes. Francisco, Brown and John Mayberry Jr. opened the spring as the top contenders to replace Jayson Werth. Brown struggled early as he tried to get comfortable with a new stance at the plate.

“Nobody has won our right field job, but Ben has done very, very well for us,” Amaro said.

Francisco went 2 for 3 with one double, one home run and one RBI against the Pirates. He is hitting .421 (8 for 19) with two doubles, one triple, two home runs and six RBIs in seven games this spring.

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Brown Is Struggling Early

The numbers are not pretty, but it’s early and Domonic Brown said he feels fine.

Well, he feels mostly fine.

“I’m just trying to feel comfortable,” he said today at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. “I’m just trying to stay with the same approach. I’ve been working all winter with it. It’s the first couple days I’m seeing pitches. I know it’s going to happen. I’m not stressing about anything.”

Brown is 0 for 9 with two walks and six strikeouts in three Grapefruit League games. He went 0 for 4 with one walk and two strikeouts today against the Blue Jays.

Brown has been working with his stance since the end of last season. He has tried to lower his hands, and he has not found the perfect spot yet. His held his hands much lower in the batter’s box Sunday against the New York Yankees at Bright House Field, where he went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts. He held his hands noticeably higher today, but still lower than they were last season when he played with the Phillies.

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Contract Odds and Ends

The Phillies have reached agreement with almost everybody in camp. Here is a look at some of their recent agreements:

  • Domonic Brown: $89,180 in Minors, $414,000 in Majors. Award bonus: $25,000 for Rookie of the Year.
  • Andrew Carpenter: $67,300 in Minors, $414,000 in Majors.
  • Freddy Galvis: $33,600 in Minors, $414,000 in Majors.
  • Harold Garcia: $33,600 in Minors, $414,000 in Majors.
  • Cesar Hernandez: $33,600 in Minors, $414,000 in Majors.
  • John Mayberry Jr.: $103,969 in Minors, $414,000 in Majors.
  • Carlos Rivero: $67,300 in Minors, $414,000 in Majors.
  • Vance Worley: $67,300 in Minors, $414,000 in Majors.

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First Full Squad Workout Today

As as I write this, Charlie Manuel is giving his speech to the 2011 Phillies.

He usually wings it, but players always seem to enjoy it.

Today is first full squad workout.

One thing from yesterday, which I neglected:

Asked how the pieces will fit in right field, Manuel said, “We’ve got some young guys that have a chance to make an impact. … Domonic Brown, definitely, he’s kind of the first choice there, but (Ben) Francisco and (John) Mayberry, I definitely want to play them a lot and see them and see where they fit on the team.”

Manuel later tried to clairfy.

“That job is up for grabs,” he said.

He said he simply plans on giving Brown plenty of at-bats this spring, but clearly the Phillies need another right-handed bat in the lineup. That’s why Francisco and Mayberry are in the mix.

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Francisco Is Ready to Go

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I spoke with Ben Francisco the other day, and I think the first question I asked is how aware he is that Phillies fans are intensely focused on how the Phillies are replacing Jayson Werth in right field? If you could total every Phillies blog, message board, Internet story, newspaper story and time on sports talk radio devoted to the Phillies’ offseason, Cliff Lee would be the No. 1 topic and Werth and right field would be No. 2.

Nothing else would come close.

Check out the story here to see what Francisco and Ruben Amaro Jr. had to say.

I’ve said many times I’m not overly concerned about right field. I know Amaro has downplayed Werth’s production, but despite a one-year blip with runners in scoring position (it was a very big blip) Werth has been one of the most productive hitters on the team the past few seasons. But I think some combination of Francisco, Domonic Brown, Ross Gload and John Mayberry Jr. could work.

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Victorino, Brown, Werth and Oswalt

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Still no word on the severity of Shane Victorino‘s strained left oblique, but we know the injury can be tricky.

It certainly would not be a good time to lose Victorino. Chase Utley is out another month, and Jimmy Rollins seems unlikely to play tonight because of a bruised left foot. Charlie Manuel said yesterday Rollins could miss a couple days. The sooner he is back the better. Rollins had started to swing the bat better, and the offense had started to get on a roll. They also just crawled within 3 1/2 games of the Braves after last night’s 9-5 victory over the Diamondbacks. Now would not be a good time for another deep offensive funk — and losing Rollins and Victorino for a stretch could contrbute to that.

But there are a couple things worth mentioning should Victorino land on the DL:

  1. They’ve got to call up Domonic Brown, right? He is the best outfielder in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, and the object is to put the best product on the field. They could call up John Mayberry Jr., but based on performance Brown is more likely to come up with a big hit.
  2. The Phillies almost certainly would not trade Jayson Werth, if Victorino is going to miss a significant stretch. I mentioned earlier this week the Phillies do not have to trade Werth to acquire Roy Oswalt. This might make that decision a little easier for them.

The Phillies remain top contenders for Oswalt, although consummating a trade will be difficult before Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline. Sources said yesterday that Oswalt would waive his no-trade clause to play in Philadelphia, which echoed what Oswalt said Monday. Sources also said his $16 million club option for 2012 is not the sticking point it has been made to be, indicating Oswalt might not make the Phillies pick up the option, if it meant being traded or remaining in Houston.

That is important. If Oswalt requires the Phillies to pick up the option, a deal might be too difficult to stomach because of the prospects the Phillies are expected to deliver and the money they already have committed to future payrolls. If he does not, it would be easier for the Phillies to pull the trigger.

It remains to be seen if the Phillies and Astros can agree on prospects. The Astros have scouted left-hander J.A. Happ, which indicates he could be part of the deal. Astros general manager Ed Wade personally scouted Class A Lakewood recently. (Hint, hint, they know the talent in Lakewood very well.)

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