Results tagged ‘ Roy Halladay ’

Rotation Problems

Roy HalladayGood morning, y’all.

I wrote yesterday about the many uncertainties surrounding the Phillies’ rotation entering the offseason. Everybody is mostly concerned about the offense (its 3.77 runs per game average is second-worst in baseball), the bullpen (its 4.24 ERA is worst in the National League), if Carlos Ruiz will be back, if Darin Ruf is the answer in right field, etc. But the rotation has been pretty bad this season. Its 4.29 ERA is 11th in the league. We know going into next season Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee will be atop the rotation. That’s a good start. If he is as good as Phillies scouts (and other scouts) think he is, Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez should be a solid No. 3.

But then there are the final two spots.

Roy Halladay and Kyle Kendrick? The Phillies face interesting decisions on both. Halladay is a free agent, and his numbers the past two seasons have not been good. He turns 37 next May. He had shoulder surgery this May. History suggests he won’t be the same. Do you trust the evaluation that an offseason of rest and preparation for Spring Training will have him sharper and throwing harder next season? Or is that just something somebody says about a struggling pitcher (i.e. Oh, don’t worry, he’s still got it …)? Halladay is a considerable risk, unless he’s resigned at a significant discount or to a heavily incentive laden contract.

Kendrick is eligible for salary arbitration. He has struggled since the end of June, going 3-8 with a 6.23 ERA in 12 starts. That followed a 40-game stretch from late April 2012 through June in which he went 16-14 with a 3.50 ERA. He is going to get a raise if the Phillies offer him salary arbitration. They could non-tender him and try to sign him for less, but there is risk there. Kendrick is a durable guy, never having appeared on the DL. I would think he could get a multiyear deal elsewhere. I mean, the Angels signed Joe Blanton for two years, $15 million following three seasons with a combined 20-21 record, 4.79 ERA and trips to the DL. Halladay might have more upside than Kendrick, but Kendrick seems to be the safer bet. You at least have a better sense of what you’re going to get.

Bring back both? Bring back one? Bring back none? If you say none you have to have pitchers ready to step up. There are some free agents out there, but are they worth the risk?

Sandberg Is Making Changes

Ryne Sandberg, Chase UtleyRoy Halladay yesterday tried to clarify his comments from Tuesday in Class A Lakewood, where he made waves when he discussed the Phillies’ managerial change.

Halladay has said both publicly and privately how much he has enjoyed playing for Charlie Manuel. I don’t think that was BS. I think he genuinely respected the former Phillies manager. But I think Halladay also hasn’t liked what he has seen in the clubhouse lately, and he tried to express those feelings to reporters. But he perhaps garbled his intended message and instead of saying the poor attitude, work ethic, etc., in the clubhouse needed to change, it sounded like he was reburying Manuel and blaming him for everything. That isn’t Halladay’s style, at least not in my experiences with him. He will speak his mind, but he’s not the type of guy to blast a manager, especially a few days after he has been fired.

But Halladay said what he said. So what about “guys being at places on time, being on the field on time, taking ground balls and taking extra BP and all those little thing that nobody thinks make a difference?”

Ryne Sandberg said yesterday, “All I can say on that is being the third-base coach and infield instructor up to last week or five days ago, players came to the ballpark, they reported, they got their work in with the coaches and all of the players were ready to play every single game.”

Now, keep in mind, if Sandberg felt differently he certainly was not going to say, “Oh, yes. I completely agree with everything Halladay said. He’s right.” But that’s OK. Sandberg already has talked about lackadaisical play and things needing to change. My very early impressions of Sandberg are he is a man with a plan and a very good sense of how he wants to do things.

I saw evidence of that early this season. He instituted infield practice at home. That is something I have not seen since I started covering the team in 2003. Every once in a blue moon you’d see the team holding infield and outfield practice before a game, but typically only after a run or sloppy games. But Sandberg wanted this to happen, whether or not the team was playing well or poorly. These 20-minute sessions typically began before 4 p.m. for a night game, so I remember asking him if everybody needed to be there. I asked because at the time players didn’t need to be in uniform and on the field until the official team stretch, which is a little after 4 p.m. Sandberg seemed completely baffled by my question. He looked stunned.

“These are mandatory,” he said sternly.

That leads me to one small, but noteworthy change he has made since he took over Friday.

Sandberg has a 3 p.m. report time to the ballpark for 7 p.m. games.

That is new.

Like I said, in the past players needed to be on the field in time for their group stretch. But Sandberg is making sure everybody is at the ballpark no later than 3 p.m. Again, it’s a small, but noteworthy change. But for me, the biggest thing for Sandberg is changing attitudes in the clubhouse. The clubhouse has not been a positive place this season. Players are unhappy (examples here, here and here). Maybe that’s just how clubhouse are when teams are losing. But things certainly haven’t been helped by the negative energy and attitudes.

If Sandberg can get everybody in the clubhouse to focus their energies on what matters on the field instead of what happens off it, then I think Sandberg will have earned his keep and deserves the full-time job. So far the early returns are good.

Halladay Clarifies Comments on Manuel

Giants Phillies BaseballRoy Halladay made some very interesting comments last night following his rehab start in Class A Lakewood.

Most everybody took them as Halladay saying Charlie Manuel let things slip the past two seasons, and that Ryne Sandberg would get players back on track, refocused, rededicated, etc. But Halladay made a statement to reporters this afternoon, trying to clarify those comments.

Here is what he said:

“I felt like what was said necessarily wasn’t written. And I just want to make it well known that I have a lot of respect for Charlie. There were some articles put out that offended me and I’m sure offended Charlie. And I called him today and talked to him about it. We’ve been in a lot of contact. I loved playing for him. He was a great manager. Everybody here loved him. The players loved him. And he was a lot of the reason they won the World Series here. I just want to make that point clear. I was also trying to say that I feel like if there was somebody that’s going to replace a guy like that then it’s going to be a Ryne Sandberg type of person with the experience that he carries and everything else.

“But I really felt like a lot was lost in translation with respect to Charlie. I just want to make that clear. I don’t endorse any manager’s firing. The players get managers fired. Any time a manager is fired as a player you feel like you haven’t done your job.

“Really, that’s it. I just want to make sure the air is clear there. I talked to Charlie and we’re good. But I wanted him to know that I really enjoyed playing for him and as far as managers have gone, he’s the best I’ve ever been around. I really enjoyed the time with him. At the same token I look forward to working with Ryne, too. Really, that’s about it. I think I saw one title that said I endorsed the firing of Charlie Manuel. And that really bothered me, so I just wanted to make sure we were all clear.”

Halladay: Change Is Good

Roy HalladayRoy Halladay made a rehab start last night at Class A Lakewood, but the most interesting thing might have come after the game when he spoke to reporters about the Phillies’ recent managerial change.

The Phillies fired Charlie Manuel on Friday and replaced him with interim manager Ryne Sandberg.

“I’ve exchanged tests with him (Manuel), obviously I loved him, he was great, but from what I’ve seen, Ryne came in and made some changes and addressed some issues that I think were being overlooked,” Halladay said. “From that standpoint, as much as I miss Charlie, I think that Ryne is going to a good job and yeah I think bring back a little more of the Phillies baseball style than we’ve had the last couple years. You know, we really haven’t had that whole team effort and the whole team hustle I think we had in prior years.”

So what exactly needed to be addressed?

“Ah, just different things,” he said. “I mean guys being at places on time, being on the field on time, taking ground balls and taking extra bp and all those little thing that nobody thinks make a difference. I think he (Ryne) has been very good so far, but I don’t want to take anything away from Charlie. We all respected him tremendously and, you know, I think he’s going to have the choice of what he wants to do at this point in his life, so I’m happy for him.”

Interesting. It’s safe to say the chemistry in the clubhouse hasn’t been good for some time. There are some unhappy players in there. Maybe Sandberg will get the players refocused on things that truly matter. And maybe that will make a difference. We’ll see.

Dodgers in Town, Amaro Talks Lineup, Bullpen Misses

Charlie Manuel, Ruben Amaro, Jr.The Phillies did not play yesterday, which is probably a good thing.

Everybody could use a break.

They have lost 19 of 23 as the ridiculously white-hot Dodgers roll into town. The Dodgers were 30-42 and last in the National League West on June 21. They are 40-8 (.833) since, which is easily the best record in baseball. The Phillies were 49-48 and second in the NL East on July 19, but are 4-19 (.170) since for easily the worst record in baseball. I know anything can happen any night at the ball yard, but this could be a really ugly weekend.

A couple things from yesterday:

Ruben Amaro Jr. spoke about next season’s potentially left-handed heavy lineup and the organization’s string of misses the past few years with free agent relief pitchers.

Roy Halladay made his first rehab start yesterday in Clearwater.

Halladay Could Be Back Soon

Roy HalladayPhillies fans looking for something to watch in their team’s final 45 games might have something particularly interesting to see in a couple weeks.

Roy Halladay is scheduled to make his first rehab start Thursday with the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Phillies. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said today that Halladay might make just two rehab starts before rejoining the Phillies rotation.

“If he goes in a straight line I don’t see him going more than two before he comes and pitches for us,” he said. “But a lot of it depends on how he feels. If he feels good we’ll progress him. … There’s a chance, an outside chance, I don’t know what kind of chance, but there’s a chance.”

If Halladay, who is recovering from right shoulder surgery, progresses as expected, he could be back as early as Aug. 25 against the Diamondbacks at Citizens Bank Park. Pitchers get 30 days on a rehab assignment, meaning if there are no setbacks Halladay would have to be back no later than Sept. 14.

Halladay is scheduled to throw 75-80 pitches Thursday.

Halladay threw a bullpen session Monday in Clearwater, Fla. Amaro said it was a “very good” session.

Can Phillies Make A Run? Can They Keep Utley and Doc?

Chase Utley, Roy HalladayThe Phillies are 48-48 at the All-Star break, 6 1/2 games behind the Braves in the NL East and 5 1/2 games behind the Reds for the second Wild Card.

They finished the half on a 9-4 run, although if you watched their just completed three-game series against the White Sox, you know this team is far from perfect.

“I think we made a statement that if we are going to be a contender and we’re going to win our division or a wild card, we still need some help,” Charlie Manuel said.

But this should be a fascinating second half for numerous reasons. First, the Phillies have a .610 winning percentage post-break with Manuel at the helm. That is the second-best record in baseball from 2005-12. They had a .587 winning percentage after the break last season, even after trading Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton. If the Phillies play the same this year they would finish 86-76. The Reds are on pace to win 90 games, so the Phillies need to pick up the pace in the second half.

But the Phillies play the Marlins, Mets, Padres and Cubs 25 more times, or 38.9 percent of their remaining games. Those teams have four of the five-worst records in the league. They also play the Braves and Nationals 22 more times, or 33.3 percent of their remaining games. So 47 of their remaining 66 games (71.2 percent) are against four of the worst teams in the league and the two teams they’re chasing to win the division. Since the Braves started 12-1, they are just 42-40. The Phillies are 42-40 in that same stretch, while the Nationals are 40-41.

The Phillies can’t say they won’t have a chance.

Second, what will the next couple weeks hold? Will the Phillies find a centerfielder to replace Ben Revere? Will they get some desperately needed bullpen help? I know everybody is saying the Phillies are buyers today, but if they stumble coming out of the break that could change quickly. The Phillies have a three-game series this weekend against the Mets at Citi Field, but then travel to St. Louis and Detroit. That isn’t an easy road trip, so the Phillies will need to play well.

Third, there will be plenty of evaluating going on in the second half. The Phillies will evaluate if they should buy or sell, and if they buy how much do they want to buy? But they also will be looking at their players on the field, deciding how they want to improve in 2014 and beyond. But players will be evaluating them, too. Chase Utley and Roy Halladay are free agents following the season. Ruben Amaro Jr. already has said he wants Utley to be a “Phillie for life.” If Halladay returns later this season and pitches well, you have to think the Phillies will try to bring him back. People always ask me about leaders in the Phillies clubhouse. Utley and Halladay are the two best. If they’re performing well you don’t want to lose them.

But Utley and Halladay also will have to decide if it’s best for them to stay. If they think the Phillies are moving in the wrong direction they might want to try to get a World Series ring elsewhere.

Utley talked about his future in Philadelphia. Read that story here.

Halladay also talked about his future in Philadelphia. Read that story here.

MRI Scheduled for Utley, Won’t Play Tonight

Chase UtleyChase Utley knows he needs to be smart about this.

He felt a burning sensation in his right ribcage taking swings in the batting cage before last night’s game at Marlins Park. He got scratched from the lineup a short time later, will not play in tonight’s series finale against the Marlins and will have a MRI exam tomorrow in Philadelphia.

It seems likely Utley will miss time with a trip to the disabled list a good possibility.

“It definitely scared me a little bit,” he said today. “My first swing I took in BP, I felt something. My second swing, I felt it again. My third swing, I felt it again. After the fourth swing, I realized something wasn’t right. That’s when I told Charlie (Manuel) I have some pain in my side. He told me to go see (head athletic trainer) Scott (Sheridan). He took me out of the game. I think it was a smart thing to do. You want to be careful with these things because they could linger and get worse if you try to play through it. I think we caught it early enough but it’s hard to know until we have some imaging on it.”

Utley said he felt about the same as yesterday, not great, but not terrible.

“It’s kind of in between,” he said.

Utley has spoken with teammates and former teammates who have had similar injuries in the past. Several Phillies pitchers have spent time on the DL in recent seasons because of strained obliques, but so have position players like catcher Carlos Ruiz and former outfielder Jayson Werth. Ruiz spent 23 days on the DL in 2009, while Werth spent 15 days.

“The main thing they said was, ‘Don’t rush back,’” he said. “That’s when you can make it worse and prolong the time you’re out.”

Utley has been one of the team’s few bright spots this season. He is hitting .272 with seven doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 25 RBIs in 44 games. He has an .814 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, which ranks seventh out of 20 qualifying second basemen in baseball. He has missed much of the previous two seasons because of chronically injured knees, but the knees have not been an issue so far.

“I just hit into a little bad luck,” he said. “I have felt pretty good. Hopefully this is just a small bump in the road.”

*

Roy Halladay reported to Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., two days ago to begin his rehab following right shoulder surgery. “He’s feeling like he’s got pretty good range of motion, which is a plus,” Amaro said. “I talked to him yesterday. He’s very positive.”

*

Mike Adams threw a bullpen session today. He will throw another one Friday in Clearwater, Fla., before pitching in a rehab game Monday with Class A Clearwater. He would be activated Tuesday at the earliest.

*

John Lannan is scheduled to throw May 29 to hitters in Clearwater. Amaro said “he is doing very well. He feels good.”

The Big Red Machine

Cliff LeeThe Phillies open a three-game series tonight against the Reds at Citizens Bank Park.

The Reds swept the Phillies in Cincinnati last month.

A few notes before the series opener:

  • The Phillies finally optioned left-hander Raul Valdes to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He was 1-0 with a 7.65 ERA in 10 appearances. Right-hander B.J. Rosenberg takes his place. He was 1-3 with a 4.30 ERA in seven starts in Triple-A. I’m not sure why he got the nod over Lehigh Valley relievers like Joe Savery (3.00 ERA in 12 appearances), Mike Stutes (3.86 ERA in 17 appearances) and Cesar Jimenez (3.20 ERA in 10 appearances), but I’m guessing it’s because he has a power arm and gives the bullpen length. But Rosenberg has 24 strikeouts with 20 walks in 37 2/3 innings. But clearly something needed to be done to shake up the bullpen. The middle relievers have struggled tremendously. If you’re asking about Chad Durbin (7.30 ERA in 12 appearances), I think he gets a longer leash because of his contract (one-year, $1.1 million, plus a club option for 2014), plus the Phillies considered him a valuable asset in mentoring some of the younger arms in the bullpen.
  • The Phillies called Roy Halladay‘s right shoulder successful, but he faces long odds to pitch successfully again.
  • In case you missed it yesterday, Jimmy Rollins spoke openly and honestly about the reality facing the Phillies: They better get this thing turned around or the front office might blow it up.
  • Reds left-hander Tony Cingrani is looking forward to facing Cliff Lee tonight. “He’s why I run off and on the field, because Cliff Lee did that when I was growing up,” he said. “I also like how he uses his fastball.” Cingrani is 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA in five starts. He has dominated left-handed hitters, who have just a .554 OPS against him. Chase Utley is hitting .158 with a .554 OPS against lefties this season. Ryan Howard is hitting .190 with a .590 OPS against them.
  • The Phillies have hit .275 with a .331 on-base percentage and .395 slugging percentage in their last nine games, although they are averaging only 3.9 runs in those games. They were hitting .237 with a .296 on-base percentage and .374 slugging percentage in their first 32 games. It is far too early to say the Phillies are turning around their fortunes, but I guess it’s a step in the right direction. Still, they could use some power somewhere. Too many singles, not enough extra-base hits to score runs.

It’s Ohio Week In Philly

Chase UtleyHola, amigos.

It’s been a while, I know. I took a few days away from the blog to recharge the batteries. But it’s back to baseball tonight at Citizens Bank Park.

This week is a good test for the Phillies. They went 4-3 in San Francisco and Arizona and return home to play five games against the Indians and Reds. The Indians outscored the Phillies in two games two weeks ago in Cleveland, 20-2. The Reds swept the Phillies in three games in April by a combined score 16-4. If my math is correct, that’s zero wins, five losses, six runs for and 36 runs against. So I guess we’ll see if that 4-3 road trip meant anything.

A few random stats to digest:

  • From Elias Sports Bureau: Ryan Howard drove in the game-winning runs in the 10th inning Sunday. It’s the 13th time Howard has had extra-inning go-ahead RBIs. The only active players with more extra-inning, lead-assuming RBIs are Raul Ibanez (16) and Placido Polanco (15). Adam Jones and Albert Pujols also have 13.
  • I took a look in yesterday’s Inbox at the Phillies’ All-Star candidates. Interestingly, I found Chase Utley‘s .858 OPS best among NL second basemen. He’s third in baseball behind only Ian Kinsler (.911) and Robinson Cano (.895). Among NL second basemen, Utley is first in slugging percentage (.514); tied for first in triples (two) and home runs (seven); second in hits (41) and RBIs (24); third in batting (.289) and on-base percentage (.344); tied four fourth in runs (21) and sixth in doubles (seven). There is no question Utley has been the team’s bright spot offensively on a team that has struggled to score runs. (The Phillies’ three losses in San Francisco and Arizona were by a combined three runs.) Where would this team be if Utley’s knees were keeping him from the lineup?
  • The Phillies are 12th in the league with a 4.11 ERA. Remove Roy Halladay and they have a 3.60 ERA, which would rank sixth. I’ve said this for a while, but I consider the complaints about the Phillies’ pitching overblown. Halladay isn’t the same and he might never be, despite his optimism. No matter who takes that fifth spot while Halladay is out (right now it’s a four-man rotation), it’ll be an improvement over his 8.65 ERA. And while the ERAs of Jeremy Horst (5.51 ERA), Chad Durbin (6.17 ERA) and Raul Valdes (7.00 ERA) are scary, we’re not really pinning this team’s record on three pitchers in the front of the bullpen are we? Typically those guys are pitching when the Phillies are trailing or when the starter has gone less than six innings (again, which means things probably haven’t been going well). They aren’t pitching in too many high-leverage situations. Clearly, they need to pitch better, but this team’s problems fall mostly on the offense, which is 13th in the league averaging 3.54 runs per game. At some point this offense is going to have to get its act together or we’ll be looking at a fire sale in July.
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