Posts Tagged ‘Chase Utley’
I read something yesterday that I was appalled even went into print. David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote a blog post for the Daily News Phillies blog High Cheese titled Meltdown in MKE: If you are surprised, you haven’t been paying attention.
I used to be a fan of Murphy’s writing, mainly because he was numbers-oriented. He used the statistics of baseball to benefit fans knowledge. Now he’s turned to a different tune, and quite frankly, it is just as annoying as the bashing this team takes on twitter every night from its own fans.
I will agree with the premise of Murphy’s article: the Phillies are a bad baseball team. I don’t agree with the reasoning. Aside from serving as an “I told you so” post, Murphy basically talks about the things that can go right and can go wrong with .500 teams. What he neglects to mention is that two-thirds to three-quarters of the teams in baseball are essentially .500 teams that are either catching more breaks or better prepared for the flaws that have affected the Phillies.
Take a look around the diamond at the regular starters – should the Phillies have a healthy lineup – and see one of the reasons that they struggle.
Carlos Ruiz is a solid catcher defensive who knows his pitchers well. His offensive season of 2012 may or may not have been a fluke. It’s too soon to tell because just as he returned from suspension, and hit extremely poorly in that time, he found himself on the DL.
Ryan Howard represents the Phillies’ window of championship opportunity. He closed about as fast as the franchise’s window did. Fans cannot prepare themselves for what is to come when a player of Howard’s stature crumbles to the ground and misses half a season. But he’s been back for nearly a year now. His lower body is weak. He can’t run. He is losing power by the at-bat. And he’d have a batting average if he didn’t pull everything to the right side of the field. And the Phillies, who signed Howard to the ridiculous contract that they did are stuck with him until 2017.
Chase Utley is still a solid second baseman all-in-all. He is not the same player he was in 2007. But he had proven that he could condition himself to play everyday again. That is a step in the right direction personally. Utley’s biggest problem is that he almost has no fit on the Phillies anymore. He’s certainly not a three-hitter. So then what is he?
Jimmy Rollins might be the only player of veteran status that still belongs, simply because you’re not going to find a more reliable shortstop out there. Offensively, he’s alright at best. But that’s what age does to you. At the very least, he’s one of the few that isn’t injury-prone.
Michael Young had the potential to be a solid bat. He has been a minor disappointment at the plate. In all honesty, if most of his outs weren’t double plays, most people wouldn’t mind his average being what it is. But defensively, he’s proving to be a bad idea. It’s sad really. Young is a player you want to like and root for so much and he has disappointed for most of the season.
Domonic Brown is the reason you show up to the ballpark anymore. He is the future, just like the Phillies thought he would be. Too bad they messed around with that for far too long.
Ben Revere is a player that can fit with the Phillies. I say this because despite all of his mistakes, he does nothing that Juan Pierre didn’t do a season ago in terms of frustrating play. Pierre was 40. Revere is 25. At the very least, instead of signing a 10-year veteran to a league-minimum deal, the Phillies can ride out the year with Revere and use him again for the next three seasons while paying him league minimum.
Delmon Young is the worst experiment that has gone through Philadelphia since Ruben Amaro Jr. took over as GM. He has flashes of greatness with the bat, and offensively the numbers are fairly on par. But there is nothing he is doing in the field that a minor-leaguer couldn’t do.
Those are the regular starting eight for the Phillies. Of those eight, six have something in common: they have played in a World Series in 2009 or later. Four of the Phillies’ pitchers have as well.
This is where I feel Murphy goes off-base with his post. The Phillies do not struggle because of depth when injury arise, they don’t struggle because superstars have burned out, they aren’t only winning the games they have because of Domonic Brown and young arms like Tyler Cloyd and Jonathan Pettibone’s so-called “regression” is not the reason for it either.
The Phillies lack the hunger to win.
When you’ve been to the greatest stage – or more importantly won – you have done everything you set out to do since you were in Little League.
Domonic Brown wanted a chance to succeed and play everyday because he had not at this level before. There’s your reason for a stunning May.
Cloyd and Pettibone are not in regression because of two or three bad starts either. Here’s the reason.
The Phillies mortgaged the future by trading prospects away left and right for three players: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt. They bought up all of the elite pitching they could get their hands on. They locked down Lee and Halladay with huge contracts. They took care of business on the homefront with another huge contract to Cole Hamels. And they sat back as the offense fell victim to age and injury hoping those three pitchers would be able to win three of every five games the team played.
This took effect three seasons ago. It has been a failure in two of those seasons. The Phillies were not prepared for the offense to become the weakest link in the chain, not after having five All-Stars in the starting lineup in 2009.
But that was in a day when the team was also hungrier to win and the fan base was relentless. Now they are just downright over the same old story and the players in the clubhouse seemed to have already moved on from it.
There are two ways to fix the problem, none of which will save the 2013 season. The Phillies are due a huge payday for a television contract. That will probably quell the fears of spending they had this offseason.
The offseason class was barren and mediocre at best. It doesn’t take away the fact that after dishing out one large contract after another, Amaro locked up his wallet and became the thriftiest GM in baseball.
In 2007, the Phillies used offense to win. They had a lineup capable of scoring 10 runs a night. It is only so easy to notice the flaws of young pitchers when the margin of error is smaller. So Cloyd and Pettibone and even Kyle Kendrick still are subject to unjust criticism.
Pettibone allowed six runs – four earned – in the series finale against the Brewers on Sunday. It was, by the numbers, his worst start of the season. But if the Phillies actually had any trace of offense, weren’t a team built on pitching alone, would the deficit have mattered as much?
Pettibone has two losses this season. In the first, he allowed four runs. In the second, four earned runs, six total. Are those losses, by finals of 9-2 and 9-1, all on him? Not when the bullpen allowed a combined eight runs and the offense supplies three total.
Pettibone and Cloyd are perfect for the fifth-starter role because a fifth starter isn’t meant to do much more than give you a chance to win. In most cases, the youngsters have answered the call. But on the days they struggle, like all pitchers do, suddenly it is a regression, a decline. Two bad starts means a pitcher is regressing? Get real.
This is not a good team because they don’t execute the fundamentals, they don’t play the game with the excitement that fans can feed off of and they don’t win the games that are within reach – considering every factor possible.
They are a .500 team. And until they either give someone else – whatever kids they have in the system or young free agents that have the heart – a chance or figure out that they are a floundering team playing at the level of the energy they supply, they will continue to be this team.
When Ron Roenicke and company decided that Domonic Brown wasn’t going to decide the Phillies’ most recent loss against the Brewers, you saw the amount of respect he has earned in a month.
Brown, the leading candidate for Player of the Month, just posted some ridiculous numbers in May. He finished the month with a .303 batting average, 12 home runs and 25 RBI.
It took until June 1 for Brown to make his first appearance in the third spot in the batting order. A couple weeks ago, Charlie Manuel said Brown would move up in the lineup when he told him he was ready. That wasn’t meant to be a verbal answer. And Brown didn’t answer it verbally.
At the 50-game mark of the 2013 season, the Phillies are in between a rock and a hard place. They are 24-26. It’s a solid record by all standards. They are hardly out of any playoff races just 50 games in. But they are hardly close to being a contending team as well.
The 2013 season has been a roller-coaster ride. Every few games the team keeps rising only to fall and fall fast. Sunday’s defeat to the Nationals caused quite a stir among the fan base.
Agreed, it has been far too common of a result and in far too common a fashion. Inconsistency at the plate, mediocrity in the field and the occasional mess on the mound has hurt the Phillies this season.
It certainly isn’t too early now to think about the “what-if” scenarios. Here’s one of the popular one: what if the Phillies are out of the playoff race at the trade deadline in July? There is a solution.
Chase Utley’s first Opening Day start in three seasons this April was a welcome sight. But just as in the previous two season, the DL eventually called his name.
Utley was placed on the 15-day DL on Thursday with a mild, grade one oblique strain. While GM Ruben Amaro Jr. remained hopeful Utley would only miss 15 days, the injury traditionally requires two-to-four weeks of recovery time and several teammates had advised Utley not to rush back.
Utley was among the team leaders in several categories. He was second in home runs with seven, tied for the lead in RBI with 25, and batting .272, second only to Michael Young’s .287 average.
So begins another stretch of life without Utley for the Phillies, something they are all too used to in years past.
On the same day they suffered an embarrassing 5-1 loss to the Marlins, the Phillies learned they would be without Carlos Ruiz for a month and possibly be adding Ryan Howard to that list. Howard returned the next night, but Chase Utley was scratched from the lineup.
The injury bug has come along and bit the Phillies big time this week. Ruiz, Howard, Utley and Mike Adams all have missed games this week.
But the Phillies also did what they had to. They put the tough loss behind them, buckled down and got two wins in Miami.
The lineup card featured a familiar face on Tuesday night. But moments before the start of the game, it lost another.
Chase Utley was absent from the lineup as a late scratch after suffering soreness in his ribcage during batting practice. But Ryan Howard made up for his absence in the lineup Monday night in a big way.
Howard returned to the lineup with three hits and three RBI, leading the Phillies’ offense in a 7-3 win over the Marlins on Tuesday night at Marlins Park.
There is no other word for it. Losing for the fourth time in games against the Marlins is downright embarrassing. Not to mention this lowly team can boast three straight wins against the Phillies.
Now, the Marlins (13-32) send a promising young arm to the mound with a chance to claim the series while the Phillies (21-24) turn to a rookie of their own.
Tyler Cloyd (0-0, 2.84 ERA) gets the start for the Phillies. Cloyd’s only start in the majors this season came against the Diamondbacks. He allowed two runs on two hits in 6 1/3 innings as the Phillies would eventually lose to the D’Backs, 3-2. Cloyd is making his first career start against the Marlins and at Marlins Park.
The Phillies will face right-hander Jose Fernandez (2-2, 3.48 ERA). Fernandez took a no-decision in his last start, allowing two runs on five hits in seven innings to the Reds. Fernandez has faced the Phillies twice this season, including getting his first major-league win in his last start, allowing just one hit in seven shutout innings. At Marlins Park, Fernandez is 0-0 with a 2.12 ERA.
Game notes and lineups are available after the jump.
When you look at the Phillies’ Opening Day roster, there are certain people you expect to be heroes. Erik Kratz and Freddy Galvis are not usual suspects.
Aroldis Chapman is one of the best closers in baseball. There aren’t many pitchers that can consistently fire pitches at triple-digit speeds.
Chapman had pitched 153 2/3 innings in 157 games. He was a career 14-9. He had allowed 40 earned runs, 80 hits, struck out 242 and allowed seven home runs. In all 157 games, Chapman had never allowed two home runs in the same outing.
The two hitters left to face Chapman after Cliff Lee’s caught stealing for the first out had a total of 16 home runs.
Then the Sunday afternoon magic happened.
There are two words that are usually associated with Aroldis Chapman. They are not walk-off win. They are game over.
But like every closer, Chapman is subject to mortality. The pitcher who usually dazzles with triple-digit speeds was very hittable, topping off at 98 mph on the afternoon. The 98 mph fastball that was Chapman’s fastest ran into the bat of Erik Kratz. Kratz had 11 career home runs entering the game. In his book already was another dangerous and well-established closer: Craig Kimbrel. Add Chapman to the list.
Kratz’ game-tying home run negated a baserunning blunder that appeared to cost the Phillies a chance to at the very least tie the game. After Kratz showed the heroics to tie the game, Freddy Galvis ended it with a blast of his own, giving the Phillies a dramatic 3-2 win over the Reds on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
The homestand, which will wrap on Sunday afternoon, featured five games. Two of them have been strong showings by the Phillies. The other two have been total embarrassments.
So in the series finale on Sunday, fresh off a 10-0 shutout win, the baby of the rotation will face a beast of the National League as the Phillies (20-23) close out the season series with the Reds (26-17).
Jonathan Pettibone (3-0, 3.41 ERA) gets the start for the Phillies. Pettibone allowed two runs on four hits over 6 2/3 innings in his last start against the Indians, picking up the win. Pettibone is making his first start against the Reds and sixth career start. At Citizens Bank Park, Pettibone is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA.
The Phillies will face right-hander Homer Bailey (2-3, 3.51 ERA). Bailey allowed two runs on six hits in a complete-game win against the Marlins in his last start. Bailey pitched eight shutout innings allowing two hits against the Phillies on April 16. Bailey is 0-3 with a 4.24 ERA in his career against the Phillies. At Citizens Bank Park, he is 0-2 with a 5.92 ERA.
Game notes and lineups are available after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »