Results tagged ‘ Raul Ibanez ’

Baby, It's Cold Outside

If it is warmer than last night, it’s probably by only a few degress.

It’s still really, really cold outside.

Here’s a few things from before Game 3:

  • Cole Hamels is working out in Philadelphia in preparation for a potential Game 5 start. “He’ll be ready to pitch,” Charlie Manuel said. “That’s no problem.”
  • Manuel is keeping Jayson Werth in between Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez in the Phillies lineup. “(Franklin) Morales is a hard thrower,” Manuel said. “And when he comes in to pitch and yo’uve got three left-handed hitters standing there and he’s throwing in the upper 90s … if he’s in a groove, I like to offset those with at least one right-handed hitter, and that’s Werth.”
  • Manuel said Chan Ho Park would have a good chance to pitch in the NLCS, if the Phillies get that far.
  • On hearing there are heaters in the Colorado dugout, Manuel said, “Rockies got ‘em, we better have ‘em.”
  • On Brad Lidge‘s role in the bullpen, Manuel said, “I don’t foresee putting Brad Lidge in early. I do foresee putting him in late. That’s one of the reason why we’ve got Blanton down there, too. We want somebody when we get to the seventh inning, we want to be able to go through the seventh, eighth, ninth innings with Blanton, (Ryan) Madson and Lidge. Might not be in that order, but you won’t see hin in the seventh.”

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Manuel Likes Myers in 8th, Madson in 9th


madson 0911.jpgCharlie Manuel
has said he could use Ryan Madson, Brett Myers or Brad Lidge in save situatons the rest of the season.

But since Manuel pulled Lidge in the ninth inning Tuesday in Washington, he has used Madson three times in save situations. Madson is three-for-three, including tonight’s 4-2 victory over the Mets.

Myers needed just six pitches to get out of the eighth, but Manuel said after the game he wanted Madson in the ninth.

“We’re trying to establish something where we can get going and set up,” he said. “We can have Myers tomorrow if we wanted. We want to make sure we can line our bullpen up. I figure right now that we’ve got two big arms there.

“(Pitching coach Rich) Dubee and I talked. We’re definitely going to get Lidge back out there when we think that he’s ready and he’s throwing the ball real good. I’d like to give him a little bit of time just to kind of settle down from a mental state and for his command. Yeah, eventually we’re going to eventually get him back out there, but right now we’re just going to go day-to-day.”

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Raul Ibanez is hitting .379 (11-for-29) with three doubles and three doubles in the past seven games. Ibanez hit his 30th double of the season in the fifth inning, giving him 30 or more doubles eight consecutive seasons. … Shane Victorino tied a career-high with three doubles. … Cole Hamels improved to 2-1 with a 1.52 ERA (five earned runs in 29 2/3 innings) in his last four starts. … Jayson Werth has reached base safely (via hit or walk) in 14 consecutive games (13 hits, 12 walks).

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A Laboring Weekend

phillies 090609.jpgLabor Day weekend is summer’s last hurrah.

If you’re reading this, hopefully you’re reading it from your phone on the beach, your laptop on your porch or just before you head to a barbeque this afternoon. Today is a day to relax and have fun before work begins again tomorrow.

But if you’re the Phillies you’re just hoping to leave Houston with a win. It has been an ugly weekend for the Phillies, who have lost the first three games of this four-game series against the Astros:

  • Brad Lidge blew his Major League-leading 10th save Saturday. Charlie Manuel has expressed his confidence in Lidge throughout the season, but the postseason starts exactly a month from today. Manuel has a big decision coming if Lidge continues to struggle. I have agreed with Manuel that as long as the Phillies continue to win and as long as there is time, he should stick with Lidge because a good Lidge gives this team its best chance to win. But time is running out. If Lidge continues to struggle, Manuel will have to push his loyalties aside and go elsewhere.
  • Chase Utley fouled a ball off his foot and missed Saturday’s game. He returned Sunday.
  • Shane Victorino has been bothered with a knee injury and missed Sunday’s game.
  • Raul Ibanez went 2-for-4 in Sunday’s loss, which he hopes is a sign of better things to come. His struggles have resembled Jimmy Rollins‘ struggles earlier this season, when Manuel benched Rollins four consecutive games. Rollins hit .205 in 307 at-bats in 70 games through July 1. His average was the fifth-lowest average out of 100 qualifying players in baseball. His .250 on-base percentage ranked second lowest and his .319 slugging percentage ranked eighth lowest. Ibanez has hit .217 in 166 at-bats since he returned from the DL on July 11. He has the 10th lowest average out of 171 qualifying players in baseball. His .301 on-base is 26th lowest and his .386 slugging is 33rd lowest.
  • Because Pedro Feliz plays such great defense and because he hits seventh in the lineup he gets lost in the shuffle. But he has hit .197 since July 27.

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The Phillies Can Pitch, Too

pedro 0903.jpgThe Phillies lead the National League, averaging 5.1 runs per game, despite the fact they have scored just 13 runs and hit just .227 in their past seven games.

Other noteworthy NL teams in runs per game:

2) Rockies (5.00)
4) Dodgers (4.77)
5) Marlins (4.73)
6) Braves (4.55)
8) Cardinals (4.49)
15) Giants (3.99)

The Phillies generally are known as an offensive team — again, despite the fact they have averaged just 4.0 runs per game since July 26. And perhaps because of that there has been some apprehension about who they might face in the best-of-five National League Division Series. We heard it quite a bit this week with the Giants in town: Oh, the Giants would be brutal with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.

And they would be.

But the Phillies proved this week they can pitch, too. They rank sixth in the league with a 4.10 ERA, and lead the league with a 3.12 ERA since the All-Star break.

Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, who threw a shutout Tuesday, in Games 1 and 2? They could neutralize the Giants or any other team, even if the Phillies bats aren’t hitting.

“It goes without saying that we can beat people a lot of different ways,” Jayson Werth said. “Our starting pitching has definitely been upgraded. We’ve got some guys coming back, too, to bolster up the pen. We’re going to be tough. We’re going to be tough down the stretch. And hopefully when it gets down to the playoffs we’ll be tough again this year.”

“I think last year it showed in the playoffs that pitching and defense can win you a lot of games,” Chase Utley said. “You’re not going to score every single night. You’re bound to run into a tough pitcher occasionally. But if you have good pitchers on your side and play good defense, it’s going to be a good game.”

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Is it time for Raul Ibanez to sit a couple games, much like Jimmy Rollins sat in June? Ibanez has hit .133 (8-for-60) with no homers, one RBI and 19 strikeouts since Aug. 13 and .174 (19-for-109) with one homer, five RBIs and 34 strikeouts since July 27.

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The magic number is 22.

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Bloody, But Unbowed

william_ernest_henley.jpgI just left the Phillies clubhouse, where I heard a player quote an English poet in regards to the team’s offensive struggles.

That’s a first.

The Phillies have scored 11 runs in their last six games, including tonight’s 4-0 loss to the Giants at Citizens Bank Park. They have hit .244 overall and .152 (7-for-46) with runners in scoring position in that span. But it has much been much worse than that. The Phillies have hit just .241 overall and just .208 with runners in scoring position since July 26, averaging just 4.1 runs per game after averaging 5.5 runs per game their first 96 games of the season.

If it has been frustrating for you to watch at home, it has been even more frustrating for the players in the clubhouse.

What’s the solution?

Anyone?

“You’ve got to keep grinding and keep fighting,” said Raul Ibanez, who is hitting .133 (10-for-75) in his last 21 games. “I think it was Shakespeare who said, ‘My head is bloody, but unbowed.’ Keep fighting.” 

That was the first time I had heard a player quote Shakespeare, so I gave Ibanez major points. I still do. But I looked up the quote and William Ernest Henley actually wrote those famous words in the poem Invictus, which is Latin for unconquered.

The poem seems to fit some of the team’s offensive struggles. Sister Marion Hoctor, professor of English at Nazareth College of Rochester, New York, talked about the poem after Timothy McVeigh left it as his final message to the world before execution in 2001: “The poem is powerful expression of stoicism — you fall back on your own resources, you don’t fall back on religious resources. If you are going to truly be ‘invictus’ — which is Latin for unconquered — you must be true to your own convictions. So ‘Invictus’ means ‘I have not been conquered.’ … He’s saying ‘I’m in possession of my fate, I have been strong, I haven’t cried, or winced’ in the face of the ‘bludgeoning of chance.'”

There you have it.

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Leaving Pittsburgh Is A Good Thing

Thumbnail image for happ 0805.jpgI’m not sure what it is, but the Phillies just don’t seem to play well in Pittsburgh. Well, at least they haven’t played well in Pittsburgh since I started covering the team in 2003. They’re 9-12 at PNC Park in that span. That’s pretty remarkable considering the Phillies have had a winning record every season since 2003 and the Pirates haven’t even hit .500 since 1992.

Blame me?

Nah, don’t blame me.

But the Phillies left Pittsburgh last night with a three-game series this weekend against the Braves at the Bank. The Braves are throwing Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe and Jair Jurrjens at them this weekend. The Phillies are throwing Pedro Martinez, Cliff Lee and Joe Blanton. It should be an interesting series, and if the Braves go crazy they could make things a little more interesting in the National League East.

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J.A. Happ pitched well in last night’s 3-2 loss. He is 10-3 with a 2.63 ERA. That’s the lowest ERA of any Phillies rookie since Ben Tincup‘s 2.61 ERA in 1914. I’m not familiar with Tincup, besides the fact he has a cool last name. He went 8-10 in 1914, but appeared in just 10 games in 1915. He didn’t pitch again in the Majors until 1918 with the Phillies. And he did not pitch again in the Majors until 1928 with the Cubs.

Wikipedia has some interesting info about Tincup. And we know 100 percent of everything in Wikipedia is factually accurate.

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The Phillies were hitless in five at-bats with runners in scoring position last night. They hit .107 (3-for-28) with one homer and six RBIs with RISP against the Pirates this week, and have hit .214 (52-for-243) with 14 homers and 86 RBIs with RISP since July 27.

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Raul Ibanez has hit just .227 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 38 games since he returned from the disabled list July 11. He has hit .140 with one homer, four RBIs and 20 strikeouts in 57 at-bats since Aug. 9.

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Matt Stairs‘ hitless streak reached 25 at-bats. He hasn’t had a hit since July 11.

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The Phillies have not talked to Lee about a potential contract extension, according to Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. He said the Phillies are focused on 2009. Lee said he also is focused on 2009. But ESPN.com reports that Lee is going to go for a big payday down the road. I wouldn’t see why he wouldn’t, but in the meantime I’d just enjoy the ride.

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Homer Happy

The Phillies have a chance to become just the 12th team in baseball history to have a foursome each with 30-plus home runs.

Ryan Howard: 32
Jayson Werth: 28
Raul Ibanez: 27
Chase Utley: 25

Here are the others:

  • 2006 White Sox: Joe Crede, Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko, Jim Thome
  • 2004 Cubs: Moises Alou, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Sammy Sosa
  • 2000 Angels: Garret Anderson, Troy Glaus, Tim Salmon, Mo Vaughn
  • 2000 Blue Jays: Tony Batista, Jose Cruz Jr., Carlos Delgado, Brad Fullmer
  • 1999 Rockies: Dante Bichette, Vinny Castilla, Todd Helton, Larry Walker
  • 1998 Braves: Andres Galarraga, Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, Javy Lopez
  • 1997 Rockies: Ellis Burks, Castilla, Galarraga, Walker
  • 1997 Dodgers: Eric Karros, Raul Mondesi, Mike Piazza, Todd Zeile
  • 1996 Rockies: Bichette, Burks, Castilla, Galarraga
  • 1995 Rockies: Bichette, Castialla, Galarraga, Walker
  • 1977 Dodgers: Dusty Baker, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Reggie Smith

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Back to Business

phillies jays scrum.jpgThe second half is upon us.

Pedro Martinez is in the fold. Roy Halladay is not.

But like the Shermanator said, “Confidence is high. I repeat: confidence is high.” Not long ago the Phillies lost 14 of 18 games and their season appeared to be spiraling into the ground. Then they went 9-1 at home to take a four-game lead over the Marlins (it’s the second largest lead of any division leader at the break).

Phillies fans consider a third consecutive National League East championship a fait accompli, which is a little scary when you think about it (remember the ’07 and ’08 Mets).

Fans have reasons to be optimistic. The Phillies have the best offense in the National League, and that is with Jimmy Rollins struggling most of the first half and Raul Ibanez missing much of June and July with an injury. They also have the best defense in the National League.

But pitching remains a problem, which could become a bigger issue in October. Phillies starters have a 4.98 ERA, which ranks 14th in the league. Cole Hamels has a 4.87 ERA and has pitched more than six innings just four times this season. Brad Lidge has a 7.03 ERA, and has a 6.00 ERA since he returned from the 15-day disabled list in June. Jamie Moyer has a 5.99 ERA. Those are some red flags, which makes it even more crucial the Phillies improve their pitching before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Halladay said this week in St. Louis he considers his chances to be traded at 50-50. If that is the case, his chances of going to the Phillies are less because so many teams are interested in him. But Ken Rosenthal said the Phillies are a favorite because he doesn’t think the Angels and Cardinals have enough in their systems to get him. The Phillies do.

Here are a few things to consider when talking about Halladay:

  • Halladay’s current contract is not an issue. One Phillies source said recently, “He isn’t making anything.” Halladay is making $14.25 million this year and $15.75 million next year. In comparison, Brett Myers is making $12 million this season. Halladay is a bargain at that price, and because the Phillies have been selling out the Bank regulary they can afford it. So, yes, the Phillies can afford to pick up Halladay’s contract. The issue with Halladay is going to be prospects. Who does the Blue Jays want, and who are the Phillies willing to give up? The Phillies are in better shape than most teams, which does put them at the top of the pack.
  • Halladay has not indicated he needs a contract extension to accept a trade. He said he has made plenty of money in his career. He wants to win.
  • Halladay sounds like he is ready to go to any winner, including Philadelphia. This isn’t a Jake Peavy situation.
  • I’m getting a lot of Halladay and Vernon Wells questions. Any inclusion of Wells is a deal killer for the Phillies (and most every other team out there). And I have not heard anywhere the Blue Jays insist on including Wells in any talks. If the Blue Jays suddenly insist on Wells in any deal, the Phillies won’t be getting Halladay. But like I said, I have not heard that to be the case. At all. So relax.

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I was looking for Halladay/Phillies pictures and came upon this one from Spring Training 2003. Halladay hit Jim Thome with a pitch and Larry Bowa sparked a bench-clearing brawl when Halladay came to bat later in the game. Good times.

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Roy, Roy, Roy, Pedro, Pedro, Pedro

halladay.jpgGuess what the talk is in St. Louis?

Pedro Martinez, who will be in Philadelphia tonight to take a physical tomorrow, and Roy Halladay, who sounds more and more like he wants to be traded to get a chance to play baseball in October.

“It’s tough,” Halladay said. “I’m somewhere I enjoy being. I’ve spent my entire career here. I think there’s a lot that goes into it. But I think as a player there is that will to win and that will to do it in October. And basically that’s all this has been about. I would like that chance. I’m not saying it won’t be Toronto. It’s what’s going to be best for the organization, and are we going to be able to do that?”

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he has no plans to talk to Halladay, who has a complete no-trade clause.

“I don’t do that,” he said. “I can’t do that. I think that’s kind of out of line.”

But while Manuel is reluctant to talk about Halladay — oh, those blasted tampering rules! — the Phillies All-Stars in St. Louis made no bones they would love to have him in a Phillies uniform. But at what price? Phillies managament is trying to walk the fine line between going for broke and mortgaging the future for something that is not guaranteed.

“I understand all that,” Jayson Werth said. “We won last year and we pretty much have the same team this year. If you were ever going to sell the farm I think now would be the time. But that’s just me speaking who has a short window of a career. Ruben (Amaro Jr.) and those guys are going to be there for a long time. It’s a lot to leverage, I know. But I think we’re definitely in a situation where if we did go for it, it could pay off.”

“I’m good with trying to win now,” Ryan Howard said. “That’s just me. Not to try to upstage anybody or anything in the front office. Obviously, they’re going to make that decision. Whatever decision it is, when the dust settles, we live with it, we go on and we play. Hopefully, that’s an addition we take. If not, we’ve still got to go out there and play. But I think if you ask everybody on this team right now, you would want to try to win now because you never know when you’re going to get another chance. For a guy like Raul (Ibanez) … last year a guy like (Matt) Stairs, Geoff Jenkins and Jamie Moyer. Jamie has been in this league for 20-some-odd years now. And that was his first trip to the World Series. Not his first World Series win. His first trip. So you never know. In this game as a player everybody’s mindset is trying to go out there and try to win now because you never know what’s going to happen.”

“As a player you try not to play GM because you don’t know exactly what’s going on,” Chase Utley said. Who’s available. Who’s not available. I do think we have something special going on right now in Philadelphia. We have a lot of players in their prime. So now is a good time to win.”

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Charlie Picks Vic to Start

Charlie Manuel just announced his starting lineup for the National League:

  1. Hanley Ramirez, SS
  2. Chase Utley, 2B
  3. Albert Pujols, 1B
  4. Ryan Braun, RF
  5. Raul Ibanez, LF
  6. David Wright, 3B
  7. Shane Victorino, CF
  8. Yadier Molina, C
  9. Tim Lincecum, P

Victorino is starting in place of Carlos Beltran, who is out with an injury. Jayson Werth took Beltran’s spot on the roster, and Victorino took his spot in the lineup.

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A front office official said yesterday he considered Kyle Drabek, if not the best pitcher, one of the top three pitchers at the All-Star Futures Game.

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