Results tagged ‘ Pat Burrell ’

Phillies Sign Qualls (Chad, Not DJ)

The Phillies believe they made a low-risk move today when they signed Chad Qualls to a one-year, $1.15 million contract.

“Chad was one of those guys that was available to us at a reasonable price for what he can do,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He has the ability to pitch in the seventh and the eighth. We’ll see where he fits. Charlie (Manuel) and (Rich) Dubee and Chad will decide that, but he’s certainly a guy with a power-sinker and power-slider combination. He was throwing very well at the end of the year. He’s had some battles with consistency, but he clearly has ability and some durability. And those are pretty important elements.”

Qualls, 33, went 6-8 with a 3.51 ERA in 77 appearances last season with the San Diego Padres. He had a 1.96 ERA in his final 19 appearances, but also went 4-5 with a 5.05 ERA in 38 appearances on the road compared to 2-3 with a 2.09 ERA in 39 appearances in pitcher-friendly PETCO Park.

Can he pitch outside PETCO?

“We looked at it. We saw it,” Amaro said. “We took a look at some of that data and information, but at the end of the day when we discussed it with our scouts we just felt like this type of a risk on a guy was not all that big of a risk. We kind of know what we’re going to get out of him.”

Right-handers hit just .218 with a .537 OPS against him last season, while left-handers had much better success, hitting .320 with an .881 OPS.

“If he’s throwing strikes regularly he’ll do some damage for us,” Amaro said.

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Amaro offered some other updates last night at the Philadelphia Sports Writers’ Association dinner, including an injury update on Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell possibly retiring a Phillie. Click here for more.

Howard Hits His Mark

Got some Ryan Howard tidbits for y’all:

  • He hit his 10th career grand slam in a 10-3 victory tonight over the Mets.
  • He hit a two-run homer, too. It was the 26th multi-homer game of his career.
  • The grand slam was the 259th homer of his career, which ties Del Ennis on the franchise’s all-time list. Howard needs to hit 289 homers to catch Mike Schmidt. Oh, is that all?
  • Howard set a franchise record with 27 RBIs in April. Pat Burrell had the previous record with 24 RBIs in April 2008.
  • Howard had six RBIs. It’s the fourth time in his career he has had six or more RBIs in a game. He had a career-high seven on June 20, 2006, against the Yankees.

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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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Francisco Is Ready to Go

ben francisco.jpg

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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A Few Offseason Questions

Thumbnail image for werth 1012.jpgI’ve been away for a few days, so I haven’t blogged since last week. My apologies.

I’ve gotten plenty of questions about the Phillies’ offseason since their season ended. I’ll try to answer some of those questions the best I can.

Question: Are the Phillies going to resign Jayson Werth?
Answer: No, I don’t think they will. Somebody is going to give Werth a big contract. I don’t think he’ll get the seven-year, $120 million contract Matt Holliday got from the Cardinals, but he’ll get paid. The only way I see Werth returning is if the market simply isn’t there for him and he surpisingly accepts salary arbitration from the Phillies (Kevin Millwood surprised the Phillies when he accepted salary arbitration in 2003) or the Phillies get him at a team-friendly price. I don’t see either scenario happening.

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Are the Phillies Ric Flair?

Charlie Manuel woke up this morning, turned on the TV and heard Pat Burrell talk about the Phillies.

“To be the best you’ve got to beat the best.”

Manuel liked that.

“That’s one of my slogans,” Manuel said this afternoon. “It’s Ric Flair. You’re going to Space Mountain. What the hell? You know what happens at Space Mountain? You’ve got to get there and you’ve got to conquer it. You’ve got to stay there. That’s kind of what we want to do.”

Does this make the Giants the Iron Sheik?

Update: I’m told Flair and Sheik were in two different wrestling leagues. So I guess that makes the Giants “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes?

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Utley Is Back

Thumbnail image for utley 1102.jpgSurprised? Nobody is surprised.

The Phillies activated Chase Utley from the 15-day disabled list before tonight’s series opener against the Giants. He returned nearly two weeks ahead of schedule.

“I told him that he needs about 15 more at-bats (in the Minor Leagues),” Pat Burrell joked. “Three games worth. But you know him. Once the doc says, ‘OK,’ he’s going to play. That’s just the way he is. I’m sure they’re happy to have him back. But once I saw on SportsCenter that he was cleared I knew it wouldn’t be long.”

The Phillies designated Greg Dobbs for assignment to make room for Utley on the 25-man roster. The Phillies have 10 days to move Dobbs’ contract. They can trade him, release him or place him on waivers. If Dobbs clears waivers, the Phillies can outright him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Dobbs can accept the assignment or refuse and become a free agent.

Asked why the Phillies chose rookie outfielder Domonic Brown, who the Phillies have said needs to play every day, over Dobbs, Ruben Amaro Jr. said, “I just really think at this stage of the game we’re a stronger team this way. It’s pretty simple.”

Utley was unavailable to comment before the game, but nobody seemed shocked he returned earlier than expected.

“He’s tough as nails,” Raul Ibanez said. “You knew he was going to do everything in his power to get back on the field. Everything about him that he brings is positive for the team. It’s Chase. He brings himself. He’s always preparing to be at his best to win that game.”

Utley went 3-for-12 with two triples, one RBI, one walk and one run scored in four rehab games with Class A Clearwater.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. My Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

The Bat Is Back

burrell giants.jpgPat Burrell returns to Citizens Bank Park tonight, and he will be doing everything he can to crush the Phillies’ playoff chances.

It wasn’t always that way.

We know Burrell, who has resurrected his career since he joined the San Francisco Giants in June, helped the Phillies win the 2008 World Series. But he also helped the Phillies in the standings Aug. 6, when he hit a sacrifice fly in the 11th inning of a 3-2 victory over the Braves at Turner Field.

Burrell has maintained close ties with the Phillies. In fact, shortly after Burrell’s sacrifice fly won the game in Atlanta, Phillies director of team travel and clubhouse services Frank Coppenbarger heard his phone buzzing next to his bed. Coppenbarger woke up and checked his phone to find a text message from Burrell:

“You’re welcome.”

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Coppenbarger handed out Burrell’s No. 5 to Mike Sweeney when he recently joined the team. It was the first time anybody had the number since Burrell left. Coppenbarger notified Burrell, who understood the situation. Sweeney has been in the big leagues since 1995. He had worn No. 29 most of his career, but Raul Ibanez obviously wears that here. Sweeney wore No. 5 in Oakland and Seattle, so that was the next option. 

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Burrell is hitting .285 with 10 homers, 30 RBIs and a .905 OPS with the Giants. I’ve gotten plenty of questions from readers asking if the Phillies made a mistake not picking up Burrell when the Rays released him in May. I still don’t think they should have, and here is why: Burrell would not have played regularly with the Phillies like he is with the Giants. And if his disastrous season-plus with the Rays taught us anything, it is Burrell is not an effective hitter if he is not playing in the field. (He has acknowledged as much, including a story in today’s Inquirer.)

Here are Burrell’s career splits in the outfield vs. his career splits as a designated hitter and pinch-hitter:

Playing in the outfield: .260/.370/.490
Designated hitter: .209/.306/.348
Pinch-hitter: .200/.359/.340

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. My Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Rays Say Bye-Bye to Burrell

burrell 0515 2010.jpgThe Phillies cut loose Pat Burrell following 2008, figuring they had gotten the best of him.

They might have been right.

The Tampa Bay Rays, who signed Burrell to a two-year, $16 million contract before the 2009 season, designated him for assignment today to make room for Hank Blalock. Burrell had hit just .202 with two home runs and 13 RBIs this season. The Rays have 10 days to dispose of Burrell’s contract. They can trade him, release or send him through waivers.

Asked if the Phillies have any interest in bringing back Burrell, Ruben Amaro Jr. said, “It’s unfortunate for him. I wish it would have worked out better there.”

Amaro cannot address their interest in Burrell because he remains with the Rays, but it seems there is no place for him on the 25-man roster.

Burrell has hit just .218 with 16 home runs and 77 RBIs in 496 at-bats the since he left the Phillies. He has just a .311 on-base percentage and a .361 slugging percentage. Out of the 213 players that qualify for on-base-plus-slugging percentage the past two seasons, Burrell’s .617 OPS is 198th. It is difficult seeing how Burrell would fit on the Phillies’ bench, especially with Ben Francisco and Ross Gload occupying those spots. Burrell cannot run well and has played just two games in the outfield since he left the Phillies. He also is a career .227 pinch-hitter.

A National League team’s fourth and fifth outfielders need some versatility. Francisco and Gload are much more versatile than Burrell because they can play multiple positions. Matt Stairs fit Burrell’s mold last season, but he also was an accomplished pinch-hitter.

“I think Burrell can still hit,” Charlie Manuel said. “I think he’ll get a job. I hope he does.”

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Finding Bruntlett's Replacement

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for bruntlett 0823.jpgThe Phillies have bigger fish to fry than finding Eric Bruntlett‘s replacement as the team’s utility player — they’re looking hard for a third baseman and bullpen help — but it certainly has its importance. It’s especially important because they have nobody in the system that can play shortstop for a significant stretch should something happen to Jimmy Rollins.

The Phillies recently removed Bruntlett, right-hander Tyler Walker, catcher Paul Hoover, infielder Andy Tracy and right-hander John Ennis from their 40-man roster. They have become free agents. Bruntlett and Walker will not be back next season, although Philadelphia contacted the agents for Hoover, Tracy and Ennis about possible returns.

Names to watch to replace Bruntlett are John McDonald, Omar Vizquel, Jamey Carroll, Ronnie Belliard and Juan Uribe. Miguel Cairo, who played for the Phillies in 2009, is a free agent and could be a possibility, but I think the Phillies probably would like to go elsewhere.

Bruntlett hit just .171 (18-for-105) with seven doubles, seven RBIs and two stolen bases in very limited action this season. Bruntlett hit a more respectable .217 in 2008, when he had 212 at-bats because of an ankle injury to Rollins in April and came in as a late defensive replacement for former left fielder Pat Burrell.

Bruntlett scored the winning runs in Games 3 and 5 of the 2008 World Series, and is a good guy. Best of luck to him.

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