Results tagged ‘ Raul Ibanez ’

(Not) The Last Word on Werth

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Thumbnail image for werth 1025 2010.jpgDo I think Jayson Werth will be back next season?

No, I don’t.

I don’t think the Phillies expect him back, and I don’t think Werth expects to be back. I think the writing has been on the wall for months.

Ruben Amaro Jr. has said several times he cannot have a roster full of $15 million-a-year players, which Werth aims to be. The Phillies already have roughly $145 million committed to 16 players next season. Assuming Werth lands a contract between Jason Bay‘s four-year, $66 million deal and Matt Holliday‘s seven-year, $120 million deal, I just don’t see how it fits.

The Phillies could move some players to clear salary for Werth, but I think it’s unlikely. I’ve gotten e-mails like, “Just trade Raul Ibanez. There’s $11.5 million right there.” Really? Just trade Ibanez and have a team pick up his entire salary? Just like that?

But I think the Phillies will miss Werth’s bat. Werth had an .889 OPS the past three seasons, which ranked 10th in baseball for right-handed hitters. His 87 home runs ranked eighth among right-handed hitters. He played good defense. He stole 53 bases. He had a career-high .921 OPS this season, which was best on the team. And while he struggled with runners in scoring position, I do think it’s an anomaly.

He will be tough to replace, unless Domonic Brown develops incredibly quickly. He had a 1.083 OPS against right-handed pitchers this season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Ben Francisco had a .901 OPS against left-handed pitchers. If Brown can hit right-handers and Francisco can hit left-handers it just might work. But after hearing Amaro express his concerns about an everyday lineup with everybody in their 30s — everybody in that lineup had subpar seasons other than Werth and Carlos Ruiz – it is a risk.

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Howard Goes Off, Bats Go Silent

howard 0824 2010.jpgI’ve never seen Ryan Howard that angry before.

In fact, the last time I saw Howard that angry was Spring Training 2006. He had just hit a home run against Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett, who thought Howard “pimped” his home run. Beckett barked at Howard from the Red Sox dugout at Bright House Field. Howard barked back, before dropping his glove and putting his hands in the air, basically telling Beckett to come out.

Beckett never did.

Howard never reached third base umpire Scott Barry in the 14th inning last night, but that’s probably because Placido Polanco and others restrained him. I have to wonder if Howard will be suspended for his actions, although a fine is definite.

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The offense scored just two runs in 16 innings, so can’t blame the umpires completely for this one — even if Barry botched the call that led to Howard’s ejection.

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Last night was one of the most bizarre games I’ve seen. Ross Gload, who is on the disabled list, was ejected after Howard left the field. (Charlie Manuel explained a player on the DL is not allowed to yell at anybody on the field.) The Phillies, who were out of position players, were forced to move Raul Ibanez from left field to first base, a position he had not played since 2005, and pitcher Roy Oswalt into left field, a place he had never played in his professional career.

Oswalt was the first Phillies pitcher to play in the field since Bill Wilson Aug. 6, 1971.

“I’m not sure what I think about the whole thing just yet,” Jayson Werth said. “I’m going to take a quick nap here and think about it. Come back tomorrow refreshed and act like that didn’t happen. I know I haven’t been playing the game as long as some people, but it’s the first I’ve seen of anything like that. That was just … I’m not going to say what I want to say. I’m going to sleep on it.”

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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!

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!

Phillies Looking to Sweep Marlins

The Phillies have won 11 of 13 to move within two games of the Braves in the NL East after being seven back on July 22.

A few stats to chew on:

  • The Phillies are averaging 5.46 runs per game since July 21, which ranks second in the NL. Houston is first with 5.92 runs per game. Who knew J.A. Happ could hit, too?
  • The Phillies lead the league in batting (.300), on-base percentage (.372) and extra-base hits (47). They rank second in slugging pecentage (.460) and stolen bases (12).
  • They lead the league with a 2.74 ERA.
  • Raul Ibanez‘s 1.216 on-base-plus-slugging percentage is fifth in the league. He ranks fourth in the league with 12 RBIs.
  • Jayson Werth‘s 1.090 OPS is eighth.
  • Carlos Ruiz‘s 1.005 OPS is 14th. He is 12th with 10 RBIs.

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Roy Oswalt gets his second shot in a Phillies uniform tonight. I would be things go better for him than in Washington.

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The Phillies picked up Mike Sweeney in a trade yesterday with the Mariners for a player to be named later or cash. A low risk move for the Phillies. If Sweeney can give the Phillies two good weeks, it will pay off.

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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!

Trying to Make Sense of It All

Thumbnail image for utley swings.jpgI left the Phillies’ clubhouse last night feeling a little dizzy.

Charlie Manuel talked about edge and cockiness and swagger. He said the team is trying too hard, but said a couple times the game (i.e. winning) needs to be the players’ No. 1 priority. He said he hears talk about losing, but then said he sees a difference in the clubhouse more than hears it. Shane Victorino expressed his frustrations at a few fans who ripped him last night. He brought up Jimmy Rollins‘ infamous frontrunners comment from a couple years ago — you can think it, but why would you say it? – but then said Phillies fans have been great and have brought a ton of energy to the ballpark.

Confused with the contradictions?

I am, too.

Here is my take:

There is a difference in the clubhouse this year. The edge is missing. But let’s be real: the Phillies have had 12 players on the DL this season and those injuries have caught up with them. It has caught up with them in talent on the field, and it has caught up with them in attitude. Lose enough games, struggle enough and people become Debbie Downers. People start worrying about other things. They start complaining. They don’t feel invincible. They don’t feel like they can overcome their problems. It’s human nature.

“We don’t quite have the swagger that we once had,” said Jamie Moyer, who gave the clearest answer of anybody of what is ailing the team. “I don’t think it was a cocky swagger. It was just a swagger. And I think it was carried by all. We have some new faces in here. That’s not the reason, but as teams change, I think it’s the responsibility of those who remain to try to continue that swagger in the way that we play.”

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They Are Who We Thought They Were

werth 0624 2010.jpgJayson Werth said something following yesterday’s 12-3 victory over Cleveland that made a lot of sense to me:

“Honestly, the standings and all that stuff make no difference right now. What we did in ’07 and ’08 coming down the stretch, we made up a lot of games in not a whole lot of time. There’s no reason to worry or get too upset. We’re the same team that’s done what we’ve done the last three or four years here, and I think some people need to remember that.”

In other words, the Phillies do this every year so why flip out?

The Phillies just swept the Indians. They have won six of their last eight games. They enter this weekend’s series against the Blue Jays just 2 1/2 games behind the Braves and just 2 games behind the Mets in the NL East – and that’s after playing poorly for more than a month. Now I’m not saying the worst is behind the Phillies. I’m not saying they’re making the playoffs. But the panicking over the offense — Make a trade! Release somebody! Call up Domonic Brown! — that seemed crazy to me a couple weeks ago seems a little sillier today.

Werth is hitting .857 (6-for-7) with one home run and three RBIs in his past two games, and .395 (15-for-38) with two doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs and eight walks in 12 games since June 10. Combine his recent turnaround with Chase Utley hitting .394 in his last nine games, Ryan Howard hitting .417 in his last six games, Raul Ibanez hitting .300 in his last 14 games, and Jimmy Rollins returning to the lineup, and it’s easy to understand why the Phillies are playing better.

Slumps happen, folks.

Derek Jeter was hitting .189 with three homers and 17 RBIs in 43 games through May 25, 2004. Everybody in New York freaked. He hit .336 with 20 homers and 61 RBIs the rest of the season to finish at .292. Mark Teixeira hit .191 with seven homers and 17 RBIs in 29 games through May 12 last season. He hit .315 with 32 homers and 105 RBIs the rest of the way. And who can forget that Rollins hit just .205 with six homers and 27 RBIs through 70 games last season? He hit .288 with 15 homers and 50 RBIs the rest of the way — his .334 on-base percentage and .510 slugging percentage better than his career average.

And let’s not forget this: the Phillies are a second half team under Charlie Manuel. They were 229-217 (.513) before the All-Star break from 2005-09, which ranked 11th in baseball. They were 218-146 (.599) after the All-Star break, which ranked third in baseball and first in the National League.

I’m not saying it will happen again, but until they don’t there is no reason to think it won’t.

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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!

Amaro: This is Our Team

Ruben Amaro Jr. chatted with reporters for more about 13 minutes today at Yankee Stadium.

Here are the highlights:

Q: Are you concerned?
A: I’m paid to be concerned. That’s my job. We’ve gone through a tough time, but it’s not like it’s the first time we’ve gone through a tough time since I’ve been in the front office. I think we’ll be OK. We’re concerned, yes. But I think we’ll be OK. We were (6-17) last June. Pretty horrendous.

Q: But the offense wasn’t struggling this much. That’s the difference, right?
A: Yeah, but I’d like to have this happen because I know we’re going to hit. I believe we’re going to hit. We’re not where we want to be obviously with the way we’ve played, but we will be, I think.

Q: Are you mystified at Chase Utley’s struggles?
A: Everybody is kind of a little bit confused by that, including him probably. But I think all of us know what Chase is. He’s a quality run producer and one of the best offensive players in the league. At the end of the day he’ll prove that to be the truth again.

Q: Raul Ibanez’s power numbers are down. Is there a chance he’s gotten old real quick?
A: What I think has happened, this is just my opinion, he’s still the first part of the season getting his legs underneath him. I think having a surgery – two surgeries like that – are pretty significant. I still think he’s getting his sea legs under him. I think he’s swinging the bat better of late.

Q: So you don’t see a slower bat?
A: I do not.

Q: The bench has struggled. Why? Is there a chance to upgrade?
A: I think Ben has been swinging the bat well. Dobb has had his struggles. I don’t know that Gload has played a lot, so it’s hard to get a rhythm. Obviously we want everybody to perform better. It’s got to start with the guys that are playing every day. That’s probably the most important thing. I’m actually OK with how the bench has played to be frank with you. It’s just as a team we have to play better baseball.

Q: And Dobbs?
A: He’s struggled. He’s had his struggles. There’s no question about it. But he’s not alone.

Q: Sounds like you’re in a stay the course mode?
A: We’re not making any major moves here. This is our team out here and they’ll be fine. If we get the guys healthy we’ll be fine.

Q: Why don’t you feel a shakeup would work?
A: Because the guys have track records and they’re good players and they’re championship-caliber players and they will be again. Do you dismiss the idea that you’ll make a deal of some substance? I don’t know if there’s anybody better than the players we … we have one of the best nine in the game. I’ll challenge anybody if they don’t think we have one of the best nine players on the field.

Q: Could you add starting pitching?
A: Pitching is always the issue. Everybody is always looking for the same thing. Again, a lot of it depends on how Happ progresses. We’ve got to get Madson back. I like our chances when both of those guys are back. It gives us quite a bit of depth, I think. We’ve got to get these guys healthy. That’s the most important element of what we need to do right now.

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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!

Just Like Old Times

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Do we detect life from the Phillies offense?

They scored 10 runs last night in a victory over Florida. It had been a while, hadn’t it? Phillies fall behind, slowly come back, lose the lead, come back again and win. It felt like forever, which is why somebody asked Jayson Werth if it reminded him of an “old style” win?

“Old style?” he said. “You mean like ’50s and ’60s?”

Good answer, but the Phillies hadn’t had a night like this since they beat the Pirates on May 17, 12-2.

There were some encouraging signs:

  • Raul Ibanez went 4-for-5, his first four-hit game since May 15, 2009.
  • Chase Utley had a couple hits. I’ve been told Utley is healthy. He’s just slumping.
  • Ryan Howard had two hits and homered.
  • The offense has scored five or more runs in three of their last four games. They went 12 consecutive games scoring three or fewer runs before that.

The middle of the lineup has been an abyss in recent weeks. Little to no production. I’ve been getting a lot of e-mails and questions from people via Twitter and Facebook about the Phillies’ problems and how they can solve them. The short answer: the big guys need to hit and they need Jimmy Rollins healthy. Shaking up the bench won’t do anything. If the Phillies think adding a new bench player is going to save the offense they’re nuts. They simply need Utley, Howard, Werth and Ibanez to start hitting. And they need Rollins back. It’s that simple. Well, it’s not simple. Hitting a baseball is hard, but you know what I mean.

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Werth isn’t happy at all that Charlie Manuel said his impending contract might be weighing on him during his slump.

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The Phillies are very close to signing first-round pick Jesse Biddle. An announcement could come as early as today.

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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!

Rollins Gets MRI, Status TBD Wednesday

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Ruben Amaro Jr. issued a statement tonight regarding Jimmy Rollins‘ strained right calf:

“Jimmy had an MRI at 2:00 this afternoon. We are reviewing the results of the MRI and will decide on Jimmy’s status sometime tomorrow when we have the opportunity to meet as a group.”

I still think he ends up on the DL.

If that happens, they have a couple options to replace him. Brian Bocock is the only infielder on the 40-man roster, which currently sits at 39 players. He has played primarily shortstop in his career. Wilson Valdez is a strong possibility. He also has played shortstop the majority of his career. But Valdez is out of options, and the Phillies would risk losing him because they would have to designate him for assignment and he would have to clear waivers before they could return him to Triple A.

There are tradeoffs with the two. Bocock has hit .143 in 77 big-league at-bats and .228 in five seasons in the minors, but they can shuttle Bocock back and forth throughout the season. Valdez has hit .284 in 12 seasons in the minors and .222 in four seasons in the Majors, but they could lose him if they bring him up. If they think Rollins will miss just 15 days, maybe they go with Bocock because they hardly use their utility infielder anyway. (Castro had not played this season until Rollins got hurt.)

Cody Ransom has played a lot of shortstop, but I think he is considered more of an offensive player than a defensive player, and I think the Phillies would rather take a glove than a bat to take Juan Castro‘s spot on the bench.

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Rollins did not address the media yesterday, but he issued a statement last night through Red Bull regarding the postponement of today’s attempt to set the Guiness World Record for longest batted ball on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway:

“I am deeply sorry for having to postpone tomorrow’s Ball Park Cranks due to the calf injury I sustained prior to today’s game. I am confident we will be able reschedule this amazing event and break some records.”

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uwishunu posts Raul Ibanez‘s “with love” letter to Philly.

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I will be signing copies of my Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Uglyfrom 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Borders on S. Broad Street in Center City. I hope you can stop by. The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter.

Hot, Hot, Hot

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A few things from last night’s 8-0 victory over the Astros:

  • Asked what Ted Williams might have said about the top four hitters in the Phillies’ lineup hitting .400 or better four games into the season, Charlie Manuel replied, “I think Ted would say, ‘Hey, wait until we play 162. Let’s see if they can hit .407.’ I think that’s what he would say. He’d probably say, ‘Hey, Bush, I was the last guy to do that.’”
  • The Phillies have 10 or more hits in their first four games for the first time since 1926, when they had 10 or more hits in their first five games.
  • They have 10 or more his in five consecutive games, dating to their final game last season, for the first time since Sept. 13-17, 2005.
  • J.A. Happ threw five scoreless innings. He is 9-2 with a 1.77 ERA on the road.
  • Jimmy Rollins (.467), Placido Polanco (.579), Chase Utley (.438) and Ryan Howard (.400) are hitting a combined .471 (33 for 70) with 10 doubles, one triple, four homers, 21 RBIs, 12 walks and 21 runs scored.
  • Raul Ibanez, who entered the game hitting just .091 (1 for 11), went 3 for 4 with two doubles and three RBIs. He even hit the ball hard during his sixth inning at-bat when he hit into a double play. “He was relaxed,” Manuel said. “He was very relaxed. He was taking some deep breaths and really concentrating on what he was doing. When Raul is not hitting, believe me, he tries hard and he’s his own worst enemy. He wants to (hit) so much. That’s the kind of guy he is. But that’s what drives him, too.”
  • Carlos Lee is impressed: “That lineup, one through nine, it’s guys that can be All-Stars at every position. They probably could have their own All-Star team play against the American League. They’re really good hitters.”
  • Manuel is told that they haven’t faced any Bob Fellers. He replied, “There’s not too many Bob Fellers anymore.” True.

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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!

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