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Archive for March, 2009

PN 2009 Season Preview: Injury or Bust-Through For Werth

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, March 31, 2009 11:00 AM Comments: 12

Of the many moments that defined the once-in-a-lifetime 2008 season, the most stupendous individual moment was likely the night Jayson Werth lit up the cloudy sky with three home runs. Like a youngster, Werth trotted around the bases with the wind tearing away from his back, a confidence growing that would balloon throughout the season. It capped in the World Series, game four, when he slammed a ball into the left field seats, exclaiming the Phils victory with a raised arm and single finger.

Yes, he broke through the glass ceiling and turned into a profitable player in 2008. But Jayson Werth remains a huge, huge risk.

The good numbers are good. In 482 plate appearances in 2008 Werth homered 24 times, drove in 67 runners and stole 20 bases. But the bad numbers stick out. In those same 482 appearances Werth struck out 119 times. That’s almost Howardesque. But that’s not the worst number — no, it’s the 482 that hurts the most.

Werth missed time between May 23 and June 6. He sat at times in June, partly in a platoon, partly still hurt. Go back to 2007, when he missed most of late June and the entirety of July. Before those seasons, Werth was often injured; in fact, injuries seemed to conclude his career until he came back with the Phillies. The bottom line: Nobody can be sure Werth will make it a whole year as a healthy commodity.

And what if Werth can’t make it? Can Geoff Jenkins pick up the slack on a dime? Is John Mayberry Jr. the solution? There’s a difference between being a conscious everyday player and having to step in immediately at the major league level. Moreover, there is small concern that Werth now remains the most important bat in the Phillies lineup, now that Pat Burrell is in Tampa Bay. Old-boy supporters of the left-right balance argue the Phils need a greater right-handed presence in the lineup. While this argument may not be fully fleshed, there is something to be said about getting production from both sides.

Of course, we all received a large helping of sighs as Werth struggled to find his form early in camp, staying out of lineups during the first two weeks. Now Werth is fully entrenched, and is finishing his Grapefruit League stint with impressive numbers (56 AB, .304 AVG, 5 HR, 11 RBI). The goal, of course, is to get him through an entire season without injury. If that happens, you could … could … be looking at a 30-home run player, a run producer with speed and defense to boot.

If the injury bug hits, though, there might not be another step up for Werth.

  • 12 Comments
 

PN Season Preview: From The Twitter

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, March 31, 2009 10:58 AM Comments: 1

Questions from Tweetsville:

PhillySportsGuy@philliesnation Whats your take…will they carry 12 pitchers pr go with 11 and keep Cairo?
@PhillySportsGuy 11 and cairo, but they still might trade stairs (more than jenkins) before sunday. park, taschner up. happ down.

iAims@philliesnation Will Werth have a decent season this year?
@iAims All comes down to health. That said, he’s in line for a possible career year. 30 HR isn’t out of question. I’d say 24 or so. 80 RBI

Got questions? Tweet us.

  • 1 Comments
 

Phillies Nation Upcoming Events

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, March 31, 2009 10:28 AM Comments: 3

Here is a list of upcoming Phillies related events that we are participating in and think you should too.

April 2 – McFadden’s Ballpark – 2009 Season Kickoff Party
April 5Grey Lodge (NE Philly) – Dogfish Head Red and White on tap for season opener
April 5Ventnor Sports Cafe (DC) – Opening Day party, Schmidters on special
May 16Bus trip to DC – Phillies at Nationals, meet at McFadden’s at noon
June 11 – McFadden’s Ballpark – Phillies at Mets game watching, $25 open bar, details coming soon
June 15 – Citizens Bank Park – Moyer Foundation’s Celebrity Waiters Dinner and Auction
August 22 – Bus trip to NY – Phillies at Mets, details coming soon

This is just a partial list, we’ll notify you of additional events as they are finalized.

  • 3 Comments
 

DWIPP: 1- Adam Eaton, 2007

Posted by Amanda Orr, Tue, March 31, 2009 10:00 AM Comments: 13

 1. Adam Eaton in 2007

“I threw a couple of pitches down the middle that he normally would’ve hit out.” -Adam Thomas Eaton.

Well, you all guessed it.  Number one on the Decade’s Worst Individual Pitching Performances is the one and only Adam Eaton.

Forever remembered around the baseball world as the player who cut himself opening a DVD, Eaton was originally drafted by the Phillies in the first round of the 1996 draft and later traded for Andy Ashby.  In the 2006-2007 off season, Pat Gillick signed the free agent to 3 year $24.5 million deal.

In 2007, Eaton was 10-10 with a 6.29 ERA and 1.63 WHIP in 161.2 innings.  He gave up 192 hits, including 30 home runs.  Batters hit .302 against him. 

At Citizen’s Bank Park his ERA approached 7.  In the month of July, his ERA was 11.93.

He didn’t have much of any other pitch to accompany his fastball, which he failed to locate many times. Eaton had a 6.10 ERA and 1.64 WHIP during his two year tenure with the Phillies.

Ruben Amaro Jr. declared Eaton had no shot at making the 2009 rotation and was eventually released. The Baltimore Orioles picked him up. Due to the Orioles lack of pitching depth, Eaton will likely have a spot in their rotation.

  • 13 Comments
 

2009 Projection: Carlos Ruiz

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, March 31, 2009 09:30 AM Comments: 8

I will project each player for the 2009 season — six per day for the next five days. Do the same in the comments.

Carlos Ruiz, C (RHB)
Age: 30

2008: 320 AB / 47 R / 4 HR / 31 RBI / 44 BB / 38 SO / 1 SB / .219 AVG / .320 OBP / .300 SLG

Summary: Offensively, it was Carlos Ruiz’s poorest season yet as a major leaguer. Both his averages and counting numbers were down considerably from his strong 2007 season. He started weak and couldn’t raise his head above .250, cooling off after lukewarm May and August stretches. He did improve his numbers against left-handed pitching, but saw little time since Chris Coste has strong splits against lefties. Interestingly Ruiz was much better on the road (.251/.348/331) than at home (.179/.286/.262). Ruiz’s defense was a slight drop from 2007, but “Chooch” remained a solid defensive backstop. And what he lost in offense he gained in adulation for handling the pitching staff, though ERAs don’t exactly indicate he made much of a difference. Still, comfort means something, and pitchers love Ruiz’s habits as receiver.

Career Level: Prime (Year 1)

Green Flags: Ruiz’s poor offense might be a product of luck. In 2008 he was disciplined, swinging at pitches outside the strike zone 14.8 percent of the time and making contact in apperances 90.8 percent of the time. His strikeout and walk numbers show that, as well. … Now in his prime, Ruiz should be gaining more power in 2009. … His lefty splits show there was improvement in one area offensively.

Red Flags: You cannot turn a blind eye when every statistic drops from the year before. … Ruiz hasn’t caught part of more than 117 games, and handling a platoon is always an indicator of lessened quality. … Durability is always a prime concern with catchers, especially as Ruiz caught every game of the postseason, as well.

Prognostication: Every projection has Ruiz improving on his 2008 numbers, and that seems very likely. The intelligent theory is Ruiz hit into some outs, and isn’t as poor a hitting catcher as his 2008 statistics show. He’ll likely shun the platoon at catcher, so it’s possible Ruiz breaks the 125-game mark in 2009. His counting numbers should rise suitably, while his averages swim toward his career averages.

2009 Projection: 371 AB / 43 R / 8 HR / 42 RBI / 50 BB / 47 SO / 0 SB / .253 AVG / .329 OBP / .374 SLG

  • 8 Comments
 

Opinion: Park Deserves Fifth Starter

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, March 31, 2009 06:00 AM Comments: 53

Comparison time:

Player A: 20 IP / 7 ER / 18 H / 14 K / 6 BB
Player B: 21.1 IP / 6 ER / 20 H / 25 K / 2 BB

Clearly, we’re talking about JA Happ (A) and Chan Ho Park (B). And Park clearly has the edge over Happ. He deserves the fifth-starter spot on the opening night 25-man roster.

It’s no fault of Happ’s — the 26-year-old lefty has done everything to sustain his position as fifth starter. Any other season Happ would’ve glided into the spot without trouble, but Park has outshone all expectations. A 12.5:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio? Sure it’s the Grapefruit League, but you can’t deny his consistent dominance.

Quickly back to Happ. The kid deserves to be a major league starter. He cannot do any more in triple-A. He has the stuff to overpower hitters — a moderate fastball, a strong changeup, a fantastic slider, an average curve. With correct placement and pacing he can go deep into games, maybe registering as a solid third starter. His strikeout rates have always been above-average. Basically, he’s ready. Now, should he then be given the chance to succeed on a major league roster today … with another team?

No. If there’s one necessity early in the season, it’s depth — especially pitching depth. The first sign of injury or underperformance would bring Happ back to the rotation. And once he’s there, he should stay there.

It’s very possible that Happ supplants Park, if he does win the battle. Remember, this is a pitcher who last regularly started in 2006, notching a 4.81 ERA while calling PETCO Park his home base. He only pitched four major league innings in 2007. Frankly, while I think Park should win the fifth-starter battle, he should be watched closely and given a short leash.

But Park’s performance this spring has confirmed he’s worthy of a starting rotation spot again, even against a young firecracker with four average or above-average pitches. Moreover, there’s something to be said about Park’s focus: The man desires above everything to win the fifth-starter battle and take the hill every five days. He desires to give his fellow South Koreans a reason to watch Philadelphia Phillies baseball. He recently struggled to respond about if he’d accept a bullpen role: “Uh, I don’t know. Let’s see. Wait, wait, wait, wait. Sometimes I’m crazy.”

If he’s that determined to seize the role, don’t you think he’ll be as determined to keep it?

Park deserves it. The numbers show it. The fire shows it. Give him the chance.

  • 53 Comments
 

Hamels Pitches; Needs Another Start

Posted by Amanda Orr, Mon, March 30, 2009 06:58 PM Comments: 9

Cole Hamels pitched in a minor league outing today against the Triple-A Yankees.  He threw 64 pitches, allowing three earned runs on ten hits, walked one, and struck out five.

Hamels said his elbow feels fine, experiencing no pain, but needs at least one more start to be ready for the season.  Hamels will pitch on April 4 in an exhibition game at Citizen’s Bank Park before making his 2009 regular season debut on April 10.

  • 9 Comments
 

Bruntlett, Offense Blast Astros, 13-3

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, March 30, 2009 05:05 PM Comments: 21

Chan Ho Park pitched well, but the offense made the statement in the Phillies 13-3 win over the Astros at Bright House Field.

Continuing his torrid spring, Eric Bruntlett went 3-for-4, including a home run, with four RBI. He also walked once. Bruntlett’s average is at .364; this with Bruntlett having the most at bats of any Phillie this spring. Ryan Howard added his ninth Grapefruit League home run; Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz each punched balls out of the park, as well. The Phils banged out 14 hits off Astros pitching.

Park, meanwhile, was solid. He went 5.2 innings, surrendering two runs (one earned) off six hits while striking out seven and walking one. His performance seemed to indicate there’s no solution yet to the Fight For Fifth. Chad Durbin surrendered a quick home run, but after that it was all cleanup for Clay Condrey, Mike Koplove and left-hander Cedrick Bowers, who was recently released by the Rockies and claimed by the Phillies.

  • 21 Comments
 

PN 2009 Season Preview: Issues – Injuries

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, March 30, 2009 01:00 PM Comments: 0

Now, let’s look at the first of five major issues concerning the 2009 Phillies: Injuries.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3s-ZBXdFV8[/youtube]

  • 0 Comments
 

Park Set For Biggest Audition Vs. Astros

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, March 30, 2009 12:00 PM Comments: 41

astros.gifThe Phillies open the final stretch of Clearwater business with a home game against the Astros. After today there are three games remaining in Florida.

Chan Ho Park gets likely his final chance to prove worthy in the Fight For Fifth. He’s performed very well this spring, but the race with JA Happ has been practically neck and neck. Today’s lineup: Rollins (SS) / Utley (2B) / Werth (RF) / Howard (1B) / Ibanez (LF) / Victorino (CF) / Bruntlett (3B) / Ruiz (C) / Park (SP).

I’ll talk about the game on Twitter. Follow here, too, if you’d like.

  • 41 Comments
 
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