Results tagged ‘ lineup ’

Has Polanco Lost Bat Speed?

Charlie Manuel continues to tinker, searching for a way to score a few more runs a little more consistently.

He settled on his 10th different lineup in 12 games for tonight’s series finale against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. He put Juan Pierre in the leadoff spot for the fifth time this season, which landed John Mayberry Jr. a spot on the bench. He also started Ty Wigginton at third base, putting Placido Polanco on the bench.

Polanco is really struggling. He is hitting .179 (7-for-39) with one double and one RBI. He is not hitting balls hard and he has six strikeouts, giving him one strikeout every 6.83 plate appearances. That statistic is noteworthy because Polanco struck out just once every 11.89 plate appearances last season, which was the third-best mark in baseball. In his career, Polanco has struck out just once every 14.72 plate appearances.

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Thome, Pierre Get the Start

Charlie Manuel hinted yesterday Jim Thome would play today in the series finale against the Pirates at PNC Park.

Here’s today’s lineup:

  1. Juan Pierre, LF
  2. Shane Victorino, CF
  3. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  4. Hunter Pence, RF
  5. Jim Thome, 1B
  6. Ty Wigginton, 3B
  7. Freddy Galvis, 2B
  8. Brian Schneider, C
  9. Vance Worley, P

Manuel is looking for a little offense. Just a little. Because the Phillies have scored just two runs in 19 innings this season, and just three in 36 innings dating to the second inning in Game 4 of the NLDS.

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Grapefruit League opener

The Phillies’ Grapefruit League opener is today.

Here is the Phillies’ lineup:

  1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  2. Shane Victorino, CF
  3. Hunter Pence, RF
  4. Jim Thome, DH
  5. Ty Wigginton, 3B
  6. John Mayberry Jr., 1B
  7. Domonic Brown, LF
  8. Erik Kratz, C
  9. Michael Martinez, 2B

Cole Hamels starts.

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!

Finally, A ‘W’

Is everybody feeling better?

A few notes from yesterday’s s victory over the Mets, which snapped an eight-game losing streak:

  • You could feel a little extra energy in the clubhouse before the 9-4 victory because players knew they finally had their everyday lineup on the field. It was just the fifth time they’ve that since Hunter Pence joined the team. (They’re 5-0 in those games.) It was just the 16th time this season they’ve had that, including Domonic Brown or Ben Francisco. (They’re 12-4 in those games.)
  • Roy Halladay improved to 19-6. Halladay (2005-11) will be the sixth pitcher in baseball history to finish at least seven games over .500 in seven or more consecutive seasons. The other pitchers to do that are in the Hall of Fame: Tim Keefe (seven years, 1883-89), John Clarkson (nine, 1884-92), Kid Nichols (nine, 1890-98), Christy Mathewson (12, 1903-14) and Lefty Grove (seven, 1927-33).
  • Antonio Bastardo continues to struggle. He is saying the slider doesn’t feel good coming out of his hand. I’ve got to think his confidence is shot, too. Whatever the case, Bastardo has three games to figure out things before the postseason. He said he hopes to pitch one or two more times to see if he can get that feel back. If he can’t? I think they go with the right-handers. (What other choice do they have?) We saw Vance Worley taking over for Bastardo in the seventh inning. He could be an option, along with Mike Stutes and Brad Lidge.

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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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Rollins Back on Top

Charlie Manuel made his first truly significant lineup change of the season, following one run in 14 innings Sunday against the Mets.

Jimmy Rollins is back on top.

Here’s tonight’s lineup against the Nationals:

  1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  2. Shane Victorino, CF
  3. Placido Polanco, 3B
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Ben Francisco, RF
  6. Raul Ibanez, LF
  7. Pete Orr, 2B
  8. Brian Schneider, C
  9. Cole Hamels, P

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Opening Day 2011

Good news: It has stopped snowing. Bad news: It still feels like football weather.

But I have seen worse weather on Opening Day. Anybody remember the first opener at Citizens Bank Park in 2004? Awful weather. Quick trivia questions: Who hit the first home run at the Bank? Who had the first stolen base? (No cheating.)

Here are today’s starting lineups:

HOUSTON

  1. Michael Bourn, CF
  2. Angel Sanchez, SS
  3. Hunter Pence, RF
  4. Carlos Lee, LF
  5. Bill Hall, 2B
  6. Chris Johnson, 3B
  7. Brett Wallace, 1B
  8. Humberto Quintero, C
  9. Brett Myers, P

PHILLIES

  1. Shane Victorino, CF
  2. Placido Polanco, 3B
  3. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Raul Ibanez, LF
  6. Ben Francisco, RF
  7. Carlos Ruiz, C
  8. Wilson Valdez, 2B
  9. Roy Halladay, P

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The Opening Day Lineup


manuel and utley.jpg

Charlie Manuel has 17 days before he must fill out his Opening Day lineup card.

How will it look?

Here is a mostly educated guess:

  1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  2. Placido Polanco, 3B
  3. Raul Ibanez, LF
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Ben Francisco, RF
  6. Shane Victorino, CF
  7. Carlos Ruiz, C
  8. Wilson Valdez, 2B
  9. Roy Halladay, P

Manuel has hit Victorino second and Polanco fifth a few times this spring, so I suppose that’s a possibility. That would bump Francisco down a spot. But it seems pretty clear Ibanez is his guy to hit third … thanks to us?

“Ibanez, you guys talked me into hitting him third,” Manuel said today in Dunedin. “You were telling me what his career average is hitting third and what he hit last year third and all that.”

Life would be easier for Manuel if he had Chase Utley healthy, but he’s not. That means Manuel has to find new No. 3 and 5 hitters to open the season. Manuel said he isn’t sure how important those spots are to Ryan Howard‘s success in 2011.

“How much? I don’t know,” he said. “The more patient Ryan gets the more balls he’s going to get to hit. I think that’s the key to what kind of year he has.”

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More 2011 Projections

Recently, I wrote about the pitching projections in The Bill James Handbook 2011.

Let’s look today at the hitters:

  1. Jimmy Rollins: .266 with 33 doubles, 5 triples, 15 home runs, 61 RBIs, 87 runs scored and 25 stolen bases (.329 OBP/.424 SLG/.753 OPS). They project Rollins to play in just 136 games. Rollins certainly is hoping to play in much more than that.
  2. Placido Polanco: .295 with 30 doubles, 2 triples, 8 home runs, 62 RBIs and 83 runs scored. (.342/.391/.733).
  3. Chase Utley: .288 with 34 doubles, 2 triples, 26 home runs, 94 RBIs, 99 runs scored and 13 stolen bases (.387/.497/.884). They project Utley to play in just 146 games. If he is healthy, we know Charlie Manuel will have him on the field nearly every game.
  4. Ryan Howard: .276 with 30 doubles, 2 triples, 43 home runs, 133 RBIs and 98 runs scored (.368/.547/.915). James’ crew expects Howard to bounce back from a relatively disappointing 2010.
  5. Shane Victorino: .279 with 31 doubles, 7 triples, 16 home runs, 66 RBIs and 97 runs scored (.343/.431/.774). I know Manuel has said he would consider hitting Rollins fifth, but I’m not believing it until I see it. So for the moment, I’ve got Victorino hitting fifth because it breaks up the lefties and gives Francisco some time to develop into an everyday player without the pressure of hitting behind Howard.
  6. Raul Ibanez: .270 with 31 doubles, 2 triples, 20 home runs, 83 RBIs and 75 runs scored (.343/.446/.789).
  7. Ben Francisco: .271 with 21 doubles, 1 triple, 10 home runs, 38 RBIs, 42 runs scored and 10 stolen bases (.336/.446/.782). James projected these numbers with Francisco playing in 107 games and getting 303 at-bats.
  8. Carlos Ruiz: .270 with 26 doubles, 1 triple, 9 home runs, 51 RBIs and 46 runs scored (.360/.413/.773).

I should have had Domonic Brown in the lineup based on their projections, but I wanted to keep him separate because, well, just look at these numbers. They project he will hit .288 with 33 doubles, 4 triples, 26 home runs, 94 RBIs, 84 runs scored and 28 stolen bases in 548 at-bats(.346/.505/.851). Those are some seriously huge numbers for a rookie. If that happens nobody will be worried about right field and Jayson Werth‘s departure anymore, but I’ve got to think those numbers are high. But if they end up accurate, I think everybody is going to be buying a copy of the handbook for their 2012 fantasy baseball leagues.

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Rollins Back at the Top, Halladay Ready to Go

rollins 1019 2009.jpgTheir World Series aspirations on the line, Charlie Manuel made a significant change to his lineup for Game 6 of the National League Championship Series tonight against the Giants.

Jimmy Rollins is leading off.

It is the first time Manuel has used this lineup this season: 1, Rollins, shortstop; 2. Placido Polanco, third base; 3. Chase Utley, second base; 4. Ryan Howard, first base; 5. Jayson Werth, right field; 6. Victorino, center field; 7. Raul Ibanez, left field; 8. Carlos Ruiz, catcher.

“He’s got more legs underneath him,” Manuel said, referring to Rollins. “His foundation at the plate has been better. The other day when he showed me he could run (Thursday in Game 5) … I’ve always looked at him as our leadoff hitter, and he is the guy. It’s not that Victorino can’t do it. Victorino also has some success in the postseason hitting down in the order in the sixth and seventh hole.”

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