Results tagged ‘ Raul Ibanez ’

Rollins Comes Up Big in Florida

A few notes from tonight’s 5-3 victory over the Marlins:

  • Jimmy Rollins made the final outs in the third, fifth and seventh innings before his game-winning single in the ninth. “We’ve got to stop meeting like this,” first base coach Sam Perlozzo said after Rollins’ out in the seventh. “I know,” Rollins replied. “But until then take this helmet.”
  • Rollins’ error cost the Phillies a victory last night. He won the game tonight. “Like they say, right man at the right time,” he said. “It was a good time to be up there. Last night I was in the spot and didn’t come through. Tonight I was in the spot and was able to come through. That was good. It felt good.”
  • Raul Ibanez is hitting .455 (15-for-33) with five doubles, two home runs and five RBIs since snapping a 0-for-35 slump May 3.
  • Pete Orr had one extra-base hit this season until doubling in the seventh and ninth innings.
  • Shane Victorino extended his hitting streak to 14 games with his game-tying homer to left in the eighth.
  • Rollins has reached safely in 19 consecutive games.
  • Cliff Lee walked none in six innings. He has not walked a batter in 17 of his last 36 starts.
  • Charlie Manuel, on his team scratching for runs late: “There comes a time when you’ve got to make up your mind, when your grit comes out. Every now and then we’ve got to push ourselves to reach down and get some. You don’t never, ever, never, ever give in. If you’re getting the (stuff) beat out of you, you stay there and you fight it just like a man.”

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Scoring Is Down, But Manuel Doesn’t Want to Hear It

The Phillies need Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz back in their lineup soon.

Ruiz is expected to be back this weekend in Atlanta. Utley could be back next week.

Entering tonight’s game against the Marlins, Phillies second basemen ranked last in the National League with a .557 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Phillies catchers ranked last with a .574 OPS. (Ruiz was hitless in 21 at-bats before he landed on the DL, but he hit .302 with a .400 on-base percentage last season.)

To put that in perspective, Houston Astros pitchers entered the night with a .593 OPS.

“We need our lineup to get better,” Charlie Manuel said.

The Phillies rank fifth or better in OPS at first base (fifth at .864), third base (second at .826), shortstop (fourth at .749) and center field (third at .837). Pitchers rank eighth (.358), rightfielders rank ninth (.744) and leftfielders rank 13th (.694).

The Phillies have had very little happening offensively once Ryan Howard hits, although Raul Ibanez is picking up. He is hitting .467 (14-for-30) with four doubles, two home runs and five RBIs in his last eight games.

“We don’t have the offense we used to have,” Manuel said. “We don’t have the depth in our offense right now. We get Utley back that’s definitely going to help us some. But we do not have the offense we had. I’ve told you about the guys with the high on-base percentages. We used to lead the league in base runners, but we also used to lead the league in runs scored.”

Manuel has heard in meetings and elsewhere that scoring is down everywhere.

Yeah, so?

“That don’t mean we have to have that damn problem,” Manuel said. “I say that in meetings all the time. That’s like saying if somebody jumps off a bridge you’re going to jump off with them. The hell with that. Really. That’s kind of how I look at that. I want us to be the best team in baseball. I want to put the best players on the field. I want the best hitting, the best pitching, the best defense.”

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Rauuuuuul and Roy

A few things from last night’s game and this week’s sweep over Washington:

  • Raul Ibanez entered the series in a 0-for-34 slump. He extended that slump to 35 at-bats following an at-bat in the second inning Tuesday. But Ibanez finished the series 8-for-11 with three doubles, two home runs and five RBIs, raising his batting average from .152 to .214. Nobody knows where Ibanez goes from here, but it’s a good start.
  • Roy Halladay is an insane 18-1 with a 1.56 ERA in 19 starts against the National League East since the beginning of last season. Tim Hudson is the only other pitcher to have 10 or more victories against the NL East since last year. He is 10-5. Halladay’s 18 wins are so insane he is tied for second in the NL East in wins from 2008-11. Josh Johnson has 19 wins against the NL East in that span. (Halladay is tied with Hudson, Jair Jurrjens and Jamie Moyer.) Not that you need reminding, but Halladay made only two starts against the NL East from 2008-09 while he pitched for the Blue Jays.
  • Halladay vs. John Lannan was a huge mismatch, and Elias Sports Bureau tells us just how bad it was. Halladay had won his last nine decisions against the Nationals/Expos and Lannan had an 0-9 record against the Phillies. Last night was the first time starting pitchers — one on a winning streak of nine or more games against the opposing team and the other on a losing streak of nine or more games against his opponent — faced each other since Sept. 29, 1929, when the Red Sox and Philadelphia Athletics played at Braves Field in Boston. A’s starter Lefty Grove had won 13-straight decisions against the Red Sox and Boston starter Red Ruffing had lost 12-straight decisions against the Athletics. Ruffing and the Red Sox beat Grove and the A’s, 10-0, snapping both streaks.

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Hamels Is Looking Dominant

In a rotation that boasts Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels became a trendy National League Cy Young pick before the season started.

He’s looked Cy Young worthy in his last five starts.

Following his horrendous first start, Hamels is 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA. In 38 inings, he has allowed 24 hits, six runs and eight walks. He has struck out 37. Opponents have hit just .182 against him. Pretty impressive, which makes Josh Johnson‘s season even more impressive. Johnson is 3-0 with a 0.88 ERA in his first six starts this season.

But from May 5, 2010 through last night — a stretch of 34 starts — Hamels is 14-10 with a 2.68 ERA. In 218 2/3 innings, he has allowed 181 hits, 65 earned runs and 61 walks. He has struck out 215, and batters have hit just .226 against him.

If the Phillies provided him more run support he would have won 20 (or close to 20) games in that stretch. And if I’m a hitter, the pitcher I’d least like to face in this rotatoin following Halladay is Hamels, no question about it. He’s been that good.

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Raul Ibanez went 35 at-bats without a hit before hitting a ground-rule double last night. You could see the look of relief on his face as he stood on second base. I mentioned this the other day, but it’s worth repeating: while most people are begging for Domonic Brown or John Mayberry Jr., the Phillies need to give Ibanez more time to get on track. One month shouldn’t make or break a guy.

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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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Going for the Sweep

All of a sudden the three-hour time change has decided to crush me, so I’m going to throw out a few random thoughts/stats from last night’s 4-2 victory over the Padres in 11 innings and get to bed:

  • The Padres have one of the worst lineups — maybe the worst — I can recall. And they have to face Roy Halladay, who is coming off a poor start, in the series finale tomorrow. Poor lineup. Motivated Halladay. Could be a quick one.
  • Phillies pitchers are 7-3 with a 2.37 ERA in the last 10 games. Opponents have hit just .219 against them. They are 4-0 with a 0.95 ERA and a .197 opponents average in the last four games.
  • Expect Raul Ibanez to get a rest today. He is hitless in his last 18 at-bats. Not sure why John Mayberry Jr. doesn’t get a few more chances to play — this would be his third start this season — but I’m not the manager.
  • Jose Contreras hasn’t pitched the last two nights, but Charlie Manuel said he’s fine and is expected to be available today.

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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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The Top 10 … Right Now

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MLB Network has been running episodes of Top 10 Right Now, where they rank players at every position in the big leagues. The Phillies were well represented, so I’m running the lists here.

These lists should make for a good debate:

Starting Pitchers
10. Josh Johnson
9. Justin Verlander
8. Adam Wainwright
7. Cliff Lee
6. David Price
5. Jon Lester
4. CC Sabathia
3. Tim Lincecum
2. Felix Hernandez
1. Roy Halladay

(more…)

Phillies in the Hunt for Lee

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Could Cliff Lee rejoin the Phillies?

There is a chance.

I’m not sure how great that chance is, but sources confirmed reports today the Phillies are a legitimate suitor in the Lee sweepstakes. The Phillies almost certainly are offering less money than the Yankees and Rangers, but here is the ‘X’ factor: Lee absolutely enjoyed his time in Philadelphia in 2009 and in the past has indicated to teammates he would like to rejoin the organization.

But does he love Philadelphia enough to leave millions of dollars on the table?

“All I can say is I’m not going to comment either way,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said tonight of the reports.

The Phillies have nearly $150 million committed to 17 players next season, so they would need to clear payroll for Lee. A source said the Phillies have been shopping Joe Blanton in recent days. The source said the Phillies would be willing to eat some of Blanton’s salary to foster a trade. He is owed $17 million over the next two seasons.

(The Tigers are a team looking for back end rotation help, although it’s unclear how much salary they would take on.)

The source also said the Phillies have been gauging team’s interest in Kyle Kendrick and Raul Ibanez, who makes $11.5 million this season before becoming a free agent.

Lee was stunned last December when the Phillies traded him to Seattle. He did not want to leave, but at the time Lee’s agent indicated he would be incredibly difficult to sign to an extension. So the Phillies acquired Roy Halladay, who signed a club-friendly, three-year, $60 million contract to leave Toronto, and shipped Lee to the Mariners for three prospects.

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