Results tagged ‘ Tyler Walker ’

Finding Bruntlett's Replacement

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for bruntlett 0823.jpgThe Phillies have bigger fish to fry than finding Eric Bruntlett‘s replacement as the team’s utility player — they’re looking hard for a third baseman and bullpen help — but it certainly has its importance. It’s especially important because they have nobody in the system that can play shortstop for a significant stretch should something happen to Jimmy Rollins.

The Phillies recently removed Bruntlett, right-hander Tyler Walker, catcher Paul Hoover, infielder Andy Tracy and right-hander John Ennis from their 40-man roster. They have become free agents. Bruntlett and Walker will not be back next season, although Philadelphia contacted the agents for Hoover, Tracy and Ennis about possible returns.

Names to watch to replace Bruntlett are John McDonald, Omar Vizquel, Jamey Carroll, Ronnie Belliard and Juan Uribe. Miguel Cairo, who played for the Phillies in 2009, is a free agent and could be a possibility, but I think the Phillies probably would like to go elsewhere.

Bruntlett hit just .171 (18-for-105) with seven doubles, seven RBIs and two stolen bases in very limited action this season. Bruntlett hit a more respectable .217 in 2008, when he had 212 at-bats because of an ankle injury to Rollins in April and came in as a late defensive replacement for former left fielder Pat Burrell.

Bruntlett scored the winning runs in Games 3 and 5 of the 2008 World Series, and is a good guy. Best of luck to him.

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Happ Finishes Second for NL Rookie of the Year

Thumbnail image for happ 0805.jpgPhillies left-hander J.A. Happ placed second in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s National League Rookie of the Year voting.

Florida’s Chris Coghlan won with 104 points.

Happ had 94 points.

Coghlan got 17 first-place votes, but was missing completely on seven of 32 ballots. Happ was the only pitcher to get a vote on every ballot. Coghlan placed second on six ballots and third on two. Happ got 11 second-place votes and 11 third-place votes. 

Coghlan led NL rookies in average (.321), runs (84), hits (162), doubles (31), total bases (232), multi-hit games (51) and on-base percentage (.390). Happ was 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA and topped NL rookie pitchers in innings (166), strikeouts (119), complete games (three) and shutouts (two).

Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson received two first-place votes and finished third with 37 points. Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen finished fourth with 25 points. The other first-place vote went to Brewers infielder Casey McGehee.

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The Phillies removed Eric Bruntlett, Tyler Walker, Paul Hoover, Andy Tracy and John Ennis from the 40-man roster. They are now free agents. Bruntlett and Walker will not be back next season, but Hoover, Tracy and Ennis might.

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A Hot Stove Refresher

Let’s catch up with where the Phillies stand as teams can sign free agents beginning Friday.

First, some important dates to know:

  • The Phillies have until Dec. 1 to offer salary arbitration to their own free agents.
  • Free agents offered arbitration have until Dec. 7 to accept.
  • The Phillies have until Dec. 12 to tender contracts to their remaining unsigned players.

Everybody knows the Phillies are looking for a new third baseman. They would love Chone Figgins, but they are not expected to be in the running because he is seeking a reported five-year, $50 million deal. The Phillies already have $106.75 million committed to just 12 players next season, which does not include significant raises to salary arbitration eligible players Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton and Carlos Ruiz, plus upgrades to the bullpen and bench. The Phillies are going to look for a shorter, more affordable contract to fill their void at third. More likely targets are Placido Polanco, Adrian Beltre and Mark DeRosa. The Phillies have had interest in Miguel Tejada in the past, but he also might command too big a contract.

The Phillies reportedly have expressed interest in right-hander Fernando Rodney, but if he can close elsewhere, I imagine that is where he would go.

The Phillies have nine free agents: catcher Paul Bako, infielder Miguel Cairo, left-hander Scott Eyre, third baseman Pedro Feliz, right-hander Pedro Martinez, right-hander Brett Myers, right-hander Chan Ho Park, outfielder Matt Stairs and left-hander Jack Taschner.

Park and Eyre, who are Type B free agents, seem to be the most likely players to return. Ruben Amaro Jr. said he has contacted Park’s agent about bringing him back. Eyre, who had elbow surgery last Monday, said he will play for the Phillies or retire. If he decides to play, the Phillies seem interested. He is 5-1 with a 1.62 ERA in 61 games since he joined the Phillies in Aug. 2008.

The Phillies have told Myers that he will not be back. If Stairs returns, it would on a Minor League deal.

If Feliz returns it means the Phillies’ plans to upgrade at third base did not go as intended. Amaro said last week that he has told Martinez that they have not closed the door on his return, but are focusing their attention elsewhere. It seems unlikely Martinez will be back.

Amaro hasn’t ruled out Bako’s return, but he also said finding a backup catcher is a priority, which indicates they will be looking elsewhere. Taschner is expected to sign elsewhere. It is difficult to picture the Phillies signing Cairo to anything other than a Minor League deal.

The Phillies have seven players eligible for salary arbitration: Blanton, infielder Eric Bruntlett, right-hander Clay Condrey, right-hander Chad Durbin, Ruiz, Victorino and right-hander Tyler Walker. The Phillies are expected to tender contracts to Blanton, Ruiz and Victorino. Durbin is a good bet, depending on how the Phillies rebuild their bullpen. The futures for Bruntlett, Condrey and Walker seem less certain.

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The Roster: Who's In, Who's Out?

Thumbnail image for bruntlett 0823.jpgThe Phillies announced their 25-man postseason roster:

Tyler Walker, Clay Condrey and Eric Bruntlett are NOT on the roster.

Kyle Kendrick, Miguel Cairo and Antonio Bastardo ARE on the roster.

The roster is:

CATCHERS (2): Carlos Ruiz, Paul Bako.
INFIELDERS (6): Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Pedro Feliz, Jimmy Rollins, Greg Dobbs, Cairo.
OUTFIELD (5): Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Ben Francisco, Matt Stairs.
PITCHERS (12): Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ, Pedro Martinez, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, Brett Myers, Scott Eyre, Chad Durbin, Kendrick, Bastardo.

I’m actually surprised Bruntlett isn’t on the roster, despite the fact he hit just .171. Why? Because Bruntlett is a pretty good base runner and can play everywhere in the field. He also is considered a better shortstop than Cairo, although I suppose if Rollins gets hurt Cairo vs. Bruntlett is probably the least of your concerns. Condrey didn’t surprise me too much because he missed so much time this season. Walker surprised me a bit because he went 2-1 with a 3.06 ERA in 32 appearances. Kendrick pitched well down the stretch, but I’m wondering how he would be used since the Phillies already are starting the series with Blanton, Happ and Martinez in the bullpen.

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It's Lidge or Madson … Or Not


Thumbnail image for lidge 0529.jpgCharlie Manuel
is going to stick with Brad Lidge or Ryan Madson in the ninth inning.

Unless he’s not.

“We’ll do what we have to do,” Manuel said before tonight’s series opener against the Brewers at Miller Park. “We’ll see. Whatever we think, whatever we want to do, I’ll do it. I’m open to what I’m going to do, yeah.”

The never-ending ninth-inning saga for the Phillies continued after Lidge blew his Major League-leading 11th save of the season last night in a 7-6 loss to the Marlins at Land Shark Stadium. Lidge is 0-8 with a 7.48 ERA with 31 saves in 42 opportunities. In four appearances since Manuel returned Lidge to the closer’s role, he is 0-1 with a 14.73 ERA and three saves in four opportunities. Opponents have hit .421 against him. Lidge is on track to become one of just five pitchers in baseball history to finish a season with no wins, eight or more losses and a 7.00 ERA or higher:

  • Ed O’Neil went 0-8 with a 9.26 ERA in eight games in 1890 with Toledo and Philadelphia of the American Association.
  • Charlie Stecher went 0-10 with a 10.32 ERA in 10 games in 1890 with Philadelphia of the American Association.
  • Edgar Gonzalez went 0-9 with a 9.32 ERA in 10 games in 2004 with Arizona.
  • Russ Ortiz went 0-8 with an 8.14 ERA in 26 games in 2006 with Arizona and Baltimore.

Who would the alternatives be? 

Brett Myers would make sense, but he is hurt. He will throw bullpen sessions next Tuesday and Thursday, which would leave him no more than three games to show Manuel he could handle the job in the postseason.

Fans have asked about Pedro Martinez or J.A. Happ, but they seem unlikely. Martinez is 37 and has never closed before. Happ also has no experience in the role. One of them obviously will be in the postseason rotation. The other could be valuable as a multi-innings guy in the pen, especially if Chan Ho Park is hurt. 

Tyler Walker? He is 2-0 with a 2.30 ERA in 27 appearances. He has closed before.

“He’s done a good job for us in the role he’s in,” Manuel said of Walker. “We’ll do whatever it takes that we think will win a game. I might give you guys something really good to write about.

“If you look and see what our pitching situation is right now, who we have there … both of those guys (Lidge and Madson), they are our talented guys. As far as stuff-wise and experience-wise and things like that. It kind of made it tough. But at the same time we’ve got to try to do something to win games, too.”

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11 Blown Saves, 11 Games to Play

lidge 0923.jpgIt is impossibly difficult to picture a Phillies repeat with more performances like this.

Charlie Manuel sees it, too.

“It’s getting tough,” he said following a 7-6 loss to the Marlins last night at Land Shark Stadium. “We’ve got to close the games out. When you’re winning a game in the ninth inning, the winning teams win those games. We’re not closing the games out. Everybody out there knows it.

“When you get right down to it you’re supposed to win those games. You’re supposed to win a majority of those games. I mean a high percentage of those games. Exactly what percent I don’t know, but it’s goddamn high.”

Brad Lidge blew his Major League-leading 11th game of the season. He is 0-8 with a 7.48 ERA and 31 saves in 42 opportunities. Opponents have hit .305 against him. Since Manuel pulled him from a Sept. 8 game in Washington, he is 0-1 with an 11.57 ERA in five appearances. Opponents have hit .391 against him. In four appearances since Manuel returned him to the closer’s role, he is 0-1 with a 14.73 ERA and three saves in four opportunities. Opponents have hit .421 against him.

The Phillies were 79-0 when leading after eight innings last season. They are 75-10 this season.

“He was our closer last year and we signed him to be our closer now,” Manuel said of Lidge. “He’s struggling. But at the same time, it’s hard for us to close the game out. It’s tough. It’s kind of what we’ve got. I’ve got confidence in him. I keep sending him back out there and hopefully he does the job. That’s about all I can say. I pull like hell for him every time he goes out there, believe me. I guarantee you that.”

Manuel sees no clear alternative (apparently Tyler Walker is not a candidate), although I believe if Brett Myers were healthy he would be closing the next time the Phillies had a save situation. Myers is going to throw a bullpen next Tuesday, and he said he will be back before the end of the regular season. Right-hander Ryan Madson is 5-5 with a 3.33 ERA this season, but is 1-3 with a 7.24 ERA and 8-for-14 in save opportunities.

“We’re waiting to see how long Brett is going to be,” Manuel said. “I mean, right now Brett’s not even in the picture.”

Lidge continues to maintain he can turn this around before the playoffs, but with each shaky appearance it seems less and less likely.

“It’s incredibly frustrating,” Lidge said. “I’m disappointed, but they hit the ball tonight. They did a good job. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get another chance to get something started again, but, yeah, I’m definitely frustrated a little bit at a loss, but I’m sure there are some things I can do better.”

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Thinking of the Possibilities

hamels 0901.jpgWe have heard plenty lately about how nobody wants to face the Giants in the postseason, especially in the best-of-five National League Division Series.

Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain?

You got a death wish or something?

But if Cole Hamels is back — he certainly looked like it tonight in a complete game 1-0 victory over the Giants — how scary does a rotation that includes Hamels, Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ look?

Hamels has tied a career-high with 19 scoreless innings. Lee is 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA in six starts. Blanton is 7-3 with a 2.49 ERA in 17 starts since May 26. Happ is 10-3 with a 2.63 ERA, making him a frontrunner for National League Rookie of the Year.

“If everybody pitches like they can and Joe continues to pitch the way he has then it could be a heck of a rotation,” Jimmy Rollins said. “But I think on the other side of it, we can’t count on that. If we do we’ll stop hitting. And if they count on us to keep hitting they’ll stop pitching. We go out there with a job to do on the other side of the ball, defensively and offensively, and we’ve got some pitchers who will hopefully do what they’re supposed to do on their side of the ball. If we do that we’ll be all right.”

Hamels has not allowed a run since the third inning at Citi Field on Aug. 21.

The difference? His fastball has been a big reason why he has improved. Hamels’ money pitch is his changeup, but it plays off his fastball. And lately Hamels seems to have better command of the pitch.

“He throws his fastball and changeup whenever he wants to,” Ryan Garko said. “Either one, on any count.”

“The velocity has definitely improved,” Jimmy Rollins said. “He’s throwing his fastball again, and that is making his changeup better. He’s working ahead. He’s not behind because his fastball is up and away at 88, 89 (mph). He’s throwing it down through the zone at 92. The changeup is following that same plane and it can be at times unhittable. He’ll keep you off balance, too. In and out. The way he’s been doing that lately, he didn’t have that. He tried to come in and it was right down the middle and they weren’t missing. And now he’s got a little angle back, and that helps his confidence.”

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Brett Myers struck out two in a scoreless inning tonight for Triple A Lehigh Valley. The radar gun showed Myers throwing 92 mph, but Tyler Walker pointed out in the Phillies clubhouse that the gun there is slow, so he probably is throwing a couple mph harder than that.

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Romero and Durbin on DL

The Phillies placed left-hander J.C. Romero and right-hander Chad Durbin on the 15-day disabled list today.

Romero has a strained left forearm and Durbin has a strained right latissimus. Romero has been bothered with the forearm injury since last week in Florida. Durbin has been bothered with his back injury for about a month, although he notified the Phillies about it today for the first time.

Right-hander Tyler Walker had his contract selected from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Right-hander Andrew Carpenter also has been recalled.

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Howard Hits 200, More on Halladay


howard 0717.jpgRyan Howard
 last night became the fastest player in baseball history to hit 200 home runs.

He already ranks eighth on the Phillies’ all-time list:

  1. Mike Schmidt, 548.
  2. Del Ennis, 259.
  3. Pat Burrell, 251.
  4. Chuck Klein, 243.
  5. Greg Luzinski, 223.
  6. Cy Williams, 217.
  7. Dick Allen, 204.
  8. Howard, 200.

But where will Howard end up? The Bill James Handbook 2009 projects players’ career numbers. It gives Howard a 32 percent chance to hit 600 homers, a 16 percent chance to hit 700 homers, a 9 percent chance to hit 762 homers and a 5 percent chance to hit 800 homers.

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The Phillies remain a leading candidate for Roy Halladay. Blue Jays scouts are everywhere these days, but they are especially scouring the Phillies’ Minor League system. If there wasn’t the potential for something to happen, the Blue Jays wouldn’t be there. Of course, keep in mind Halladay said earlier this week he considers his chances to be traded no better than 50 percent. But the Phillies are very much in this game, just like they were last year with CC Sabathia.

The Red Sox could put together a nice package for Halladay, but the Blue Jays seem unlikely to trade him within their division. Other than the Red Sox, the Phillies are one of the very few teams that can put together a package for him. If Halladay gets traded, I expect the Phillies to be right there at the end.

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The Phillies activated right-hander Clay Condrey from the 15-day DL. They designated right-hander Tyler Walker for assignment.

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Outfielder Michael Taylor, who Baseball America ranks the 23rd best prospect in the country, has been promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

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A top scout from another team said Sunday he considered right-hander Kyle Drabek, who Baseball America ranks the 24th best prospect in the country, to be the best pitcher at the All-Star Futures Game. He wasn’t terribly impressed with left-hander Yohan Flande, who also pitched. Flane is 0-1 with a 7.07 ERA in three starts for Double-A Reading since he went 7-1 with a 2.52 ERA in 13 starts for Single-A Clearwater.

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Good Baseball Against Good Teams

rollins 0614.jpgJimmy Rollins said he looked forward to a double. Actually, he looked forward to any ball that would hit grass first instead of leather.

He got more than that.

He hit a solo home run to right field in the seventh inning in today’s 11-6 victory over the Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park. The homer snapped a 0-for-16 slump. But more important, it gave the Phillies the lead against Josh Beckett.

“It was a good win,” Rollins said. “We got a game back on the Mets, which was the most important thing. … It was very fun. You always look forward to these games. Really, since we’ve left every series has been pretty fun. I guess you have the exception of San Diego. They weren’t playing that well, although they were playing well at home. But Los Angeles, New York, Boston. We were playing teams that are expected to be in the running down the stretch. It’s not easy, but you definitely look forward to playing those games.”

Rollins is right about that. Cole Hamels shutuout the Dogers on June 4 at Dodger Stadium, and almost every game has been nip and tuck since. The Phillies had ninth-inning leads June 5 and 6 against the Dodgers, but Brad Lidge blew a pair of saves. The Phillies pounded Randy Wolf in a 7-2 victory June 7. They hit four homers against Johan Santana in a 6-5 loss Tuesday. Chase Utley hit a game-winning homer in the 11th inning against the Mets on Wednesday. Raul Ibanez hit a game-winning three-run homer in the 10th inning against the Mets on Thursday. They lost in 13 innings to the Red Sox on Friday. Last night’s game was an 11-6 loss, but they came back to win today.

The Phillies are 5-5 in that stretch. They could be 7-3, if Lidge saves both those games or one of them and Greg Dobbs‘ foul ball Friday is ruled fair.

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It looked bleak for the Phillies bullpen after J.A. Happ threw 55 pitches in just two innings. The Phillies had thrown 24 innings the previous four nights, and Charlie Manuel said he had just Chan Ho ParkRyan Madson and Tyler Walker available.

But Happ squeezed in 5 2/3 innings, Park threw 2 1/3 innings and Madson pitched an inning. The bullpen gets a much needed rest tomorrow.

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Ibanez had started 222 consecutive games until today.

He has been bothered the past few days with some soreness in his left Achilles area because of some ill-fitting shoes, so Manuel rested him. He said the shoes have been fixed and he is fine. He also said after a long week, which included three consecutive extra-inning games and a game Saturday that ended after midnight, Ibanez just got today off.

“It’s nothing at all,” he siad.

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