Results tagged ‘ Ryne Sandberg ’
Why? Because Ryne Sandberg actually had him in the lineup against the Red Sox.
Ruf has hit .251 with 21 doubles, one triple, 20 home runs, 48 RBIs and an .805 OPS in 447 career plate appearances with the Phillies. He is the only Phillies player with 400 or more plate appearances from 2012-15 with a .787 OPS or higher.
Ruf also has an .839 OPS against left-handed pitchers, which might help a power-starved team of mostly left-handed hitters.
But Ruf has had a difficult time finding an opportunity to play. The Phillies front office and coaching has often cite his defense in the outfield, although the organization just a couple years ago gave Delmon Young an opportunity to play every day in right field. They said then Young’s offense would outweigh his defensive shortcomings. In fact, they almost completely downplayed Young’s defensive issues.
They do not say the same about Ruf, but if he hits, who knows?
“If there’s a hot bat, I’ll have trouble taking a hot bat out of the lineup,” Sandberg insisted.
Baseball Prospectus’ 2015 player projections actually have Ruf as the fourth-most productive player on the Phillies roster with a 1.4 WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player), despite only 334 projected plate appearances. Only Chase Utley (3.9), Carlos Ruiz (2.9) and Ben Revere (2.5) are projected to be better.
But Ruf has been relegated to backing up Revere in left field and Ryan Howard at first base. For whatever reason, the Phillies prefer Grady Sizemore (0.1 WARP projection) and Jeff Francoeur (-0.1 WARP projection) in right field over Ruf, who has played there in the past.
Sandberg said that could change.
“That’s an option,” he said. “I think there’s versatility and some spots wide open as far as that goes if a hitter wants to get hot. (Ruf) has a little bit of history in right field. Not a lot, but he actually didn’t have a lot of history in left field and I thought that he’s taken to that pretty well. I would say that remains an option for him.”
It should be noted that teams are not beating down the Phillies’ door to acquire Ruf. Scouts generally view him as a part-time player with some power. And I’m not saying Ruf is an All-Star in the making, a guy that would hit 35 home runs if only afforded the opportunity. But on a team begging for offense and talking about small ball like it it something that could actually work, semi-regular at-bats for a right-handeded power bat makes some sense.
If this was 2009 and the Phillies’ outfield included Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth there is no question Ruf should be on the bench. But Revere, Odubel Herrera and Sizemore might not combine for 10 home runs this season. Ruf can’t get some semi-regular at-bats knowing that?
He said Monday following an 18-4 loss to the Pirates that he hoped to play his Opening Day lineup at least once before next Monday’s season opener against the Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park. So today’s lineup appeared to offer some clues with the exception of backup catcher Cameron Rupp playing over Carlos Ruiz.
Left fielder Ben Revere and center fielder Odubel Herrera hit first and second, respectively, which made sense.
“It’s a possible combination,” Sandberg said.
Revere and Herrera both offer speed and the possibility of respectable on-base percentages atop the lineup. Revere hit .306 with a .325 on-base percentage and 49 stolen bases last season. Herrera, who is a Rule 5 Draft pick, won batting titles in the Double-A Texas League and Venezuelan Winter Ball. He entered Thursday hitting .328 with a .355 on-base percentage in the Grapefruit League.
“(Freddy) Galvis is another guy in the No. 2 spot,” Sandberg said. “He’s another option depending on that day’s lineup.”
Galvis has hit .218 with a .259 on-base percentage in 550 career plate appearances with the Phillies. He has hit .246 with a .291 on-base percentage in 2,631 plate appearances in the Minor Leagues.
Asked if Galvis has enough hitting ability to warrant the No. 2 spot, Sandberg said, “Playing the game the right way. Setting up base runners, moving the runners and doing some things for the three, four, five hitters. That’s what Freddy has done so well this spring. He fits that mold very well, too.”
But the occasional opportunity to potentially advance a base runner might not benefit the lineup as a whole. The No. 2 hitter in baseball last season averaged 731.8 plate appearances per team. The No. 8 hitter averaged 628 plate appearances.
That is a difference of 103.8 plate appearances in a season.
It is going to be very difficult for the Phillies to score runs this season. Every out counts. So it goes without saying they should have their best hitters at the top, whether or not they play small ball as effectively as Galvis.
Here is a look at the average plate appearances per spot in the lineup in MLB last season:
- 750.4 plate appearances
- 731.8 (-18.6 fewer plate appearances than spot above)
- 716.3 (-15.5)
- 700 (-16.3)
- 684.3 (-15.7)
- 665.1 (-19.2)
- 647.1 (-18)
- 628 (-19.1)
- 608 (-20)
Galvis has hit a bit better this spring. He entered today hitting .288 with a .309 on-base percentage. If he can keep up that pace perhaps some time hitting second works. But if he hits like he has in the past that spot is better reserved for Revere, Herrera or somebody else.
The Phillies bunted twice with runners in scoring position and no outs in today’s 3-2 victory over the Pirates at Bright House Field. It resulted in one run.
The Phillies have six sacrifice bunts this spring, which are four more than any other team.
“That’s something that I’m stressing this spring,” Sandberg said. “We’re working on it. We’re practicing it. If it’s not a bunt it could be a hit and run. Get a base runner, make something happen. Really to set the tone for the season.”
Sandberg explained that Cesar Hernandez’s sacrifice bunt in the first inning with Ben Revere on second and no outs, and Revere’s sacrifice bunt in the third with Tommy Joseph on second and Chase d’Arnaud on first with no outs were not sacrifice attempts.
“Early in the game sometimes that’s a bunt for a base hit,” Sandberg said. “If you’re out you’ve done a job advancing the runner. Early in the game that’s usually the case.”
Of course, analytics and critics argue that bunting makes less sense because outs are precious and the chances to score decrease dramatically with every out. But Sandberg cannot like what he has seen through nine Grapefruit League games. The Phillies finished the afternoon averaging 2.56 runs per game, which ranked 28th in baseball. Their .532 OPS ranked last.
“I look at our bats and our type of team and I think we’re going to have to be good at that game,” Sandberg said.
But then Cole Hamels told USA Today he wants to win and “I know it’s not going to happen here.”
It sounds like manager and pitcher are not on the same page. But Ruben Amaro Jr. and Sandberg said today they had no problem with Hamels’ comments. How could they? The Phillies front office has said the organization is rebuilding for the future and the process could take at least a couple seasons before the team can be a postseason contender.
“Maybe I would have liked for him to have chosen his words a little differently, but it’s totally understandable,” Amaro said Thursday. “Cole wants to win. I think everyone is on the same page. We all want to win.”
Sandberg said he spoke with Hamels about those words. He said Hamels told him that he made those comments “a while ago and it didn’t reflect on his feelings coming into camp. I think it was unfortunate timing and it wasn’t a reflection on how he feels coming into camp.”
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale wrote Wednesday’s story. He said he interviewed Hamels for the story Tuesday.
Perhaps Hamels completely changed his feelings from Tuesday to Thursday, when Phillies pitchers and catchers held their first workout at Carpenter Complex.
Perhaps Hamels simply does not want to ruffle any feathers.
But Hamels has said numerous times he does not want to spend his prime years on a losing team. He told USA Today his limited no-trade clause would not scuttle a trade to a contender.
“He’s one of those guys that sits in the sweet spot for us,” Amaro said about Hamels. “He’s going to be a tremendous asset if he stays with us, and if we get to the point where we move him, it’s going to be because we get assets back that are going to move us forward. He’s in our camp. I fully expect him to pitch on Opening Day for us. I’m glad to have him. He’s one of the best pitchers in the game and I’m happy to move forward with him and get us going back on track.”
Amaro said he has talked to veterans like Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee since they have arrived in camp. Each player has indicated in the past they would like to play for a winning team.
“There’s a lot of talk about us rebuilding and these (veterans) being disgruntled and all of that stuff,” Amaro said. “(But) these guys are all professionals, and they’re going to play and pitch and they’re going to do their best to win baseball games for the Phillies, I’m sure of that.”
Cliff Lee will speak to reporters tomorrow. Jonathan Papelbon follows him Friday with Cole Hamels on Saturday and Chase Utley on Monday. Phillies fans are curious to hear what they have to say about returning to a team headed in a different direction.
Ryan Howard is not scheduled to speak to reporters, but perhaps that announcement will come. He might be the most interesting Phillies player to hear from, considering his offseason. He finalized a legal battle with his family. His general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said publicly and privately the organization would be better without him.
“Right now, unless he gets unseated, he’s the first baseman,” Ryne Sandberg said today. “He needs to prepare himself to be the best first baseman he can be.”
But certainly it is not a stretch to think Howard feels a little unwanted or unappreciated. That could create tension in camp.
Sandberg said he spoke with Howard about a month ago.
“I know he’s got a lot of things off his mind, coming from him,” Sandberg said. “Ryan was very positive with the conversation. He wanted to be part of the process here with the younger players that we might have in camp. Be that type of a guy. He’s been a Philadelphia Phillie. He considers himself a Phillie right now so for him to take pride in that and going forward help out with the process, that’s something he can also help out with.
“We can get younger around Ryan Howard and have some youth and some hop around him. Like I said, if he gets to where he can really contribute, I’m anxious to see him and see where he’s at and to see if he can be a guy who can raise his game and help us win. I’m confident in Ryan in bouncing back and having that type of year.”
He uttered the word “anxious” a few times this afternoon at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, where Major League Baseball is holding its Winter Meetings. He is entering his second full season as Phillies manager and the team is in the beginning stages of a massive rebuild.
He is waiting like everybody else to see who exactly will be in the Phillies’ clubhouse in Spring Training.
“The goal of the organization is to get younger,” Sandberg said. “That is what this winter is all about.”
But there is another reason to be anxious. Managers are frequent casualties in rebuilds. Sandberg is signed through 2016 with a club option for 2017, but Phillies interim president Pat Gillick said the Phillies are unlikely to contend until 2017 at the earliest.
“Well, you know, he said probably might not contend,” Sandberg said.
But is he concerned he will be allowed to see the rebuild to completion?
“Well, I’d say after last year that this is the necessary thing to do is to get young and get more athletic,” he said, evading the question. “I think that helps in defense. That helps in scoring runs. It also starts to form a new core group. So with that being necessary and being a part of that, I’m excited about that possibility of seeing that started.”
Could the Phillies be interested in Maddon?
“We have a manager,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said this afternoon. “Ryne Sandberg is our manager.”
So no plans to speak to him?
“Like I said, we have a manager,” Amaro said.
Maddon already has said he wants to manage next season. He told FOXSports.com and MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal that, “I have interest everywhere right now. I’ve got to hear what everyone has to say.”
Sandberg is signed through 2016. The Phillies finished 73-89 and last in the National League East in his first full season after replacing Charlie Manuel in August 2013. He did not have much to work with, but he had his struggles. A lack of communication with players was a problem at times and, like most managers, his in-game decisions were criticized. But interim president Pat Gillick and Amaro have supported him.
“It was a very good learning experience for him,” Amaro said about Sandberg earlier this month. “First time manager on a team that’s an aging team that has an expectation of winning. And with some of the bumps and bruises we had over the course of the year, I think Ryno is the man for the job. I also think Ryno is going through a similar learning process that is associated with being a first-year manager. And so I believe in him. I know that he is dedicated and focused on putting the Phillies where they need to be, and I feel very good about his instincts and ability to get us to where we need to go.”
Maddon’s agent is expected to talk to numerous teams with managers already under contract. Some manager somewhere could suddenly find himself out of a job.
“For me, it’s not my responsibility to think for other organizations,” Maddon told Rosenthal. “I’m controlling what I can. … At the end of the day, I would never ask or tell an organization what to do. That’s not my business.”
In short, he said nothing is off the table. It seems the Phillies are finally open to doing anything in the offseason, which means trading Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard, if a deal makes sense to them. Of course, they’re going to try hard to trade Howard, although it will be difficult with the $60 million remaining on his contract. But at least the Phillies are not going into the offseason believing they can still win if everybody stays healthy and performs to their capabilities. 2008 is a long time ago. They’re finally accepting that.
Here is some of what Amaro had to say:
Q: Is the organization acknowledging it held on too long to the idea it will win as long as the 2008 core is together?
A: I think we have to look at everything kind of deeply. My feeling is we need to try to get younger. We need to try to put ourselves in a position to be a little bit more athletic, and we have to put ourselves in position to be open minded about some changes at the major league level. Clearly, we’ve gone for it several times and the last couple years it hasn’t worked for us, and so we have to think about and have been thinking about ways to move the organization forward in a different way other than just adding small pieces to try to be a championship club. I think we have to certainly, and we have been, looking for more long term solutions.
Q: Is anything and everything on the table?
A: We’re staying very open minded. I think we have our philosophies about evaluating players and putting the club together, and we are still evaluating those as well. But we are keeping a very, very open mind as far as our player personnel is concerned. And so I guess you could say there’s nothing that’s really off the table.
Q: Do you feel you have one year to turn things around with your contract expiring at the end of next season?
A: It doesn’t bother me one way or another. I have a job to do and that’s to get the Phillies back to where we can be a perennial contender. And that’s really the ultimate goal. If you wanted to put a stamp on what we’re talking about today it’s about getting the Phillies back to the point where we’re a perennial contender. Does it happen next year? Does it happen in two years? Does it happen in three years? We don’t know yet. But we are in the process … but that’s the goal for long term success, not just the short term success.
They announced this afternoon that every big-league coach has been asked to return for the 2015 season. It remains to be seen if everyone accepts.
Ryne Sandberg’s coaches include bench coach Larry Bowa, pitching coach Bob McClure, hitting coach Steve Henderson, first base coach Juan Samuel, third base coach Pete Mackanin, bullpen coach Rod Nichols and assistant hitting coach John Mizerock.
The Phillies finished 73-89 and last in the National League East, but the front office and Sandberg must have felt it could not pin the team’s failures on any of its coaches. They made changes to the coaching staff following the 2014 season, when they announced pitching coach Rich Dubee, catching coach Mick Billmeyer and strength and conditioning coordinator Dong Lien would not return. (Assistant hitting coach Wally Joyner had been invited back, but left the organization.) That followed manager Charlie Manuel’s dismissal.
The Phillies finished 73-89 that season, too.
So far the only change to the organization is Marti Wolever, who will not return as assistant general manager of amateur scouting.
He again made it a priority today at Petco Park.
“Solidify the starting rotation,” he said, referring to a rotation that ranked 11th in the National League with a 3.90 ERA and 13th with a 1.32 WHIP.
But this team needs much more than starting pitching. They need some big bats in the middle of the lineup. Internally, Phillies officials acknowledge Chase Utley (.660 OPS since May 28) and Ryan Howard (.685 OPS this season) would be better suited hitting somewhere other than third and fourth in the lineup.
Of course, No. 3 and 4 hitters are terribly difficult to find.
“Everyone needs the same thing,” Sandberg said.
Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas could be an option. He is working out Sunday for big-league teams, and the Phillies are interested. But Tomas could command a huge price, based on the fact fellow Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo recently signed a seven-year, $72.5 million contract with the Red Sox.
Sandberg said the team could use “more consistent production” from the middle of the lineup. He said he would like to see fewer strikeouts, too.
“I’d like to see that come down,” he said.
Howard entered Wednesday second in baseball with 177 strikeouts. Marlon Byrd ranked third with 173. But the Phillies could handle the strikeouts if they came with more power. Howard has just 21 home runs. Byrd leads the team with 25.
The Phillies are fourth in the league with 1,223 strikeouts, but are 13th with a .364 slugging percentage.
“Just an approach of overall contact, making things happen, putting the ball in play,” Sandberg said.