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Archive for September, 2009

Prospect Rankings No. 4: Travis d’Arnaud

Posted by Ben Seal, Mon, September 28, 2009 12:22 PM Comments: 2

Travis d’Arnaud, Cd'arnaud

Born: 2/10/1989 in Lakewood, California

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 195

There are generally two types of catchers in Major League Baseball. There are the offensive catchers who give their team an advantage because the rest of the field is fairly weak behind the plate, like Brian McCann. And there are defensive catchers like Carlos Ruiz, who are lauded for their ability to call a good game and keep runners at their stations. Not many can excel at both facets of the game – and not many are expected to – so when a 20-year-old comes along with the potential to do just that, the hype is bound to build. Though he is still not close to the Majors, Travis d’Arnaud has been equally impressive at the plate and behind it in his minor league career and is now the best infield prospect in the Phillies system.

When the Phillies chose d’Arnaud with a supplemental pick after the 1st round in 2007 he had a reputation as a great defensive catcher with a streaky bat that might never develop. After a so-so showing in Williamsport the summer that he was drafted, d’Arnaud started back in short-season ball in 2008. He opened up well at Williamsport, then moved to Lakewood before the season was out, posting a .305 average and 25 extra-base hits in 239 at-bats between the two leagues. With that, his name began to be mentioned right next to – or even above – Lou Marson’s name on many prospect lists. The pressure was on d’Arnaud to succeed this year, and though he got off to a very slow start, by the end of the year he cemented himself as a serious prospect at one of the few weak offensive positions on the Phillies club.

In his first full season of at-bats d’Arnaud hit .255 with 13 homers and 71 RBI at Lakewood this year. But a deeper look at the numbers shows an even more impressive season for the young catcher. D’Arnaud hit .306 in the second half of the season, consistently ripping off multi-hit games after a disappointing first half. He finished the year by hitting .391 while catching every game in the playoffs for the S.A.L. Champion Blue Claws. His walk-to-strikeout ratio of 41-to-75 isn’t bad, and though he runs like a catcher he has good awareness on the basepaths so he was able to steal eight bags this year. The 13 homers are nothing to laugh at, but next year should see a spike in d’Arnaud’s power. Many of the 38 doubles he pounded out this year will likely begin to clear the fence next year as he harnesses more of his strength.

Scouts say that d’Arnaud has an above-average arm behind the plate, regularly gunning down steal attempts or picking off baserunners straying too far from the bag. His soft hands and agile movement make him a great receiver to go with his strong arm. The type of hitter who gets good contact and hits every ball hard, d’Arnaud should only grow in the next couple of years as a batter. He could be in store for a breakout season in 2010 when he should start in Clearwater with a chance of tasting double-A by the end of the year. The defense is already there, and the offense is well on the way, so it seems only a matter of time before d’Arnaud becomes the complete package at catcher. With the three prospects ahead of him on this list fast-tracked for the Majors, d’Arnaud could be the top prospect in the organization within a year or so.

Statistics

Year   Level   AB   H   2B   HR   RBI   BB   K   AVG    OBP    SLG

2007   ROOK  141  34   3     4    20    4   23  .241   .278   .348

2008   A-      175  54  13    4    25   18   29  .309   .371   .463

2008   A       64    19    5    2    5     5   10   .297   .357   .469

2009   A       482  128  38   13   71   41  75   .255   .319   .419

RankingsAll previous prospect profiles can be found here, which is also on the left sidebar for easy viewing

4.   Travis d’Arnaud, C
5.   Zach Collier, OF
6.   Trevor May, RHP
7.   Joe Savery, LHP
8.   Vance Worley, RHP
9.   Sebastian Valle, C
10.  Mike Stutes, RHP
11.  Antonio Bastardo, LHP
12.  Anthony Gose, OF
13.  Colby Shreve, RHP
14.  Anthony Hewitt, 3B
15.  Justin De Fratus, RHP
16.  Sergio Escalona, LHP
17.  Yohan Flande, LHP
18.  Julian Sampson, RHP
19.  John Mayberry, Jr., OF
20.  Mike Cisco, RHP
21.  Freddy Galvis, SS
22.  Jonathan Pettibone, RHP
23.  Domingo Santana, OF
24.  Jonathan Singleton, 1B
25.  Drew Naylor, RHP

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Madson Records Save in 6-5 Nailbiter

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sun, September 27, 2009 06:15 PM Comments: 57

It’s never easy. The 6-5 win over the Milwaukee Brewers lowered the Phillies’ magic number to three.  In addition, they eliminated the Florida Marlins from National League East contention.

Like he did in the 2008 NLDS, Jimmy Rollins set the tone with a lead-off home run.  Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino each doubled in runs. For the second straight night, the Phillies jumped to a 4-0 lead.  Unlike Saturday, the Phillies were able to provide an extra run — a Pedro Feliz RBI single — that was the difference.

The Phillies led 6-1, but the Brewers continued to fight back.  Mat Gamel’s three-run home run off Joe Blanton made it a ball game again.  Blanton, who expressed his anger in Dana DeMuth’s inconsistent strike zone, gave up five earned runs in 5.2 innings.  He allowed seven hits, walked four, and struck out four.

After Ryan Braun’s RBI single in the sixth, Sergio Escalona was asked to escape a jam.  With a runner on, Escalona was able to get Prince Fielder to ground into a fielder’s choice.  Chad Durbin pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, before Ryan Madson entered the eighth inning with a runner on.  Madson picked-off Corey Hart, and Howard applied the tag.  After throwing one pitch in the eighth, Madson would attempt the four-out save.  However, he’d have to get through the meat of the order.

Madson allowed a double to Fielder, but Mike Cameron was rung up to end the game.  Madson pumped his fist, securing his ninth save of the year, and the big win.

The Phillies and Brewers split the series, two games apiece.  They end the road trip an even 5-5.  The Phillies return home for a big series against the Houston Astros, who swept them earlier this month.  They’ll look to clinch as early as Tuesday.

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Gameday: Phillies (89-65) at Brewers (77-78)

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sun, September 27, 2009 01:16 PM Comments: 158

Marlins Philadelphia Phillies (89-65) at Milwaukee Brewers (77-78)

Joe Blanton (11-7, 3.82) vs. Dave Bush, RHP (5-8, 6.22)

Time: 2:05 p.m. at Miller Park in Milwaukee, WI
Weather: Mostly Cloudy, 63 (retractable roof)
TV: MY PHL 17
Twitter: Phillies Nation

After dropping the last two games to the Milwaukee Brewers, the Phillies will try to rebound with Joe Blanton on the mound.  However, even if Blanton pitches well, the back end of the bullpen is still a major question mark.

Blanton will try to extend his 13 consecutive scoreless innings streak.  Blanton started the 2009 season poorly, but May 21 was his turning point.  Since that date, Big Joe Blanton is 9-4 with a 2.78 ERA in his last 21 starts.  Blanton pitched a quality start in his last outing against the Brew Crew.

Conestoga graduate Dave Bush will make his second start against the Phillies this season.  On April 23, the right-hander took a no-hitter into the eighth inning.  Matt Stairs homered to break up the no-no and the shutout.  In his last start, Bush gave up five earned runs in 1.1 innings.

This is a big game for the Phillies as they try to split the series.  With the Braves and Marlins still in the picture, Blanton can put the Phillies in better position to clinch this week.  The Brewers have nothing to lose.  All they have to do is player spoiler.

Hitachino Nest White AleYour Gameday Beer – Hitachino Nest White Ale
I tried this beer the other day and the first thing I thought was that my glass was not properly rinsed. When I drank it straight from the bottle and still got the same soapy taste, I realized I was initially mistaken. Fortunately the soapy flavor fades the more you drink this effervescent white ale from Japan. The first impression did not preclude me from enjoying this exotic treat of citrus, ginger and spice. I enjoyed it alongside some Kobe steak and wild mushrooms. – By Brian

GO PHILLIES!

  • 158 Comments
 

Sloppy Defense Leads to Walk-Off Loss

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sat, September 26, 2009 10:59 PM Comments: 54

When Jimmy Rollins failed to make a basket catch in the sixth inning, Jamie Moyer put his hand over his face.  It summed up the night for the Phillies.  Sloppy defense was the biggest issue in the 7-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Paul Bako opened the scoring with a two-run shot in the second inning.  By the third inning, the Phillies led 4-0.  In addition, Ryan Howard hit an upper-decker in the fifth inning.

Kyle Kendrick made a spot start for an ailing Pedro Martinez.  In four innings, Kendrick allowed three runs (2 earned).  Moyer pitched four innings in relief, and gave up two runs.  Braden Looper allowed five runs (3 earned) in six innings. 

The game was highlighted with four errors, two committed by each team.  Raul Ibanez couldn’t keep a ball in front of him.  Kendrick made an overthrow.  Jayson Werth and Chase Utley miscommunicated on a blooper down the right field line.  To top it off, Craig Counsell’s flair bounced off Rollins’ leg, tying the game at five.

The ninth inning must be cursed.  Tyler Walker hoped to send the game into extra innings.  With a runner on, Walker threw a meatball down the middle of the plate.  That’s not something you want to do with Ryan Braun batting. Braun’s walk-off home run cleared the right center field wall.

The bad news doesn’t end.  The Atlanta Braves and Florida Marlins each won, cutting the division lead to five.  The magic number remains at four.  Monday is the earliest the Phillies can clinch.

This ball club has been looking lifeless.  They need to stop worrying about clinching.  Instead, take it game by game and clean up their act.  They’ll try to rebound tomorrow with Joe Blanton on the mound.

  • 54 Comments
 

Gameday: Phillies (89-64) at Brewers (76-78)

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sat, September 26, 2009 06:30 PM Comments: 216

Marlins Philadelphia Phillies (89-64) at Milwaukee Brewers (76-78)

Kyle Kendrick (2-1, 2.70) vs. Braden Looper, RHP (13-7, 5.12)

Time: 7:05 p.m. at Miller Park in Milwaukee, WI
Weather: Cloudy, 65 (retractable roof)
TV: CSN
Twitter: Phillies Nation

Pedro can’t go because of a stiff neck, so Kyle Kendrick steps in for a spot start this evening.

Kendrick will make his second start with the Phillies this season, two weeks after shutting down the Mets in the opening game of a double header.  In that game, KK went 7 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs.  In addition, Kendrick has seen action five times out of the bullpen, with four of those being scoreless outings.  He’s been able to locate his pitches and keep hitters off balance, which is an important part of his maturation.  The Phillies need yet another steady performance from him as they try to push that magic number even lower.

Braden Looper will be the starter for the Brewers tonight.  His father, Benny, just happens to be an assistant GM for the Phillies.  The 12-year veteran has seen his fair share of the Phillies during his career, facing the team 60 times with four different teams.  Only three of those 60 have come as a starter, and overall the numbers aren’t pretty.  He’s 3-6 with a 5.10 ERA and has allowed  16 home runs to the Phillies, the most by any opponent.  But as we saw last night with Manny Parra, you shouldn’t put too much stock in the lifetime stats.

Ryan Howard is one Phillie who absolutely owns Looper.  In just six career at bats, The Big Piece has four jacks and five RBI. He’s never struck out against him and has been walked four times. Jimmy Rollins is 9-for-33 lifetime against looper and Chase Utley is 5-for-14.

Odd stat: The Phillies are 32-19 in starts made by Kendrick during his career.  Let’s keep that trend going.

Also, Raul Ibanez is back in the starting lineup after missing the last two games with a stomach virus.

LINEUP: Rollins SS, Victorino CF, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Werth RF, Ibanez LF, Feliz 3B, Bako C, Kendrick P

Snow BeerYour Gameday Beer – Snow Beer
Snow Beer is brewed by the communist-sounding China Resources Breweries Limited brewery out of Beijing, China. The style is European Pale Lager which helps make it better than most domestic Chinese beers, including the more popular Tsingtao. Bubbles permeate the light grassy, vegetable taste (ok, Chinese beers are not the best in the world). Have it with some spicy Szechuan cuisine like Kung Pao chicken. – By Brian

  • 216 Comments
 

Saturday News and Notes

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sat, September 26, 2009 12:38 PM Comments: 43

-By now you’ve heard the news that Brad Lidge will not be the closer for the duration of the regular season.  Really?  That wasn’t rocket science.  However, is it completely true?  If you read between the lines of what Ruben Amaro is saying, Lidge’s name is still very much involved for the ninth inning spot.

In Andy Martino’s Philadelphia Inquirer article the GM goes on to say, “I don’t think any decision has been made officially. Lidge could still be one of the guys. It could be Madson, could be Lidge, or it could be a few different guys.”

So, then he’s not out of the running?  Why did Amaro go public with a response to the situation that really offers no information.  I understand he is trying to keep his closer and his manager out of harms way, but why not just stay tight lipped and allow it to play out.  Making a mockery of the situation only draws the ire of more fans.

-Pedro Martinez will miss his start tonight against the Brewers as he continues to deal with a sore neck.  I wouldn’t take this as a huge deal.  It’s actually the smart thing to do here, considering the triage unit that the bullpen has become.

Martinez will likely make one or two more starts before the end of the regular season.  In that time, will it answer questions about the playoff rotation?  Could this injury actually make Pedro a viable candidate for closer?

Consider this: if Pedro is unable to make another start for the next week, he will lose his stamina heading into the playoffs.  J.A. Happ has proven his health, returning from the strained oblique.  Could that then push Charlie into making Pedro the closer, especially if he’s unable to last deep into games.  Quite an interesting scenario is upon us.

-According to Mark Miller of Yahoo, Chan Ho Park is going to be looked at for the closers role once he is fit to return.  Park is still dealing with a hamstring injury. In Martino’s article, Charlie Manuel says that Brett Myers would be the most viable candidate to close, however, he’s still hurt too and unsure of a return date.

So who it is?  This ridiculous back and forth is growing tiresome.  What I want is for Manuel and Amaro to come out and say, “this will be a closer by committee.”  That way, everyone’s name is involved and it still allows for them to use whomever at their leisure while making Philadelphians happy that a resolution has been found.  That’s not so hard, is it?

  • 43 Comments
 

Phils Fall to Brewers

Posted by Jason Bintliff, Fri, September 25, 2009 11:35 PM Comments: 43

In a game that was ripe for the taking, the Phillies fell in ugly fashion to the Brewers, 8-4.

Cliff Lee, who started his career in pinstripes 5-0, with a ridiculous three earned runs in those starts, got rattled early, surrendering four first inning runs. After Lee’s torrid start with the Phils, he has been inconsistent, losing two while watching his ERA with the Phillies balloon two over four. In tonight’s contest, Lee allowed seven runs, all earned. He has now allowed four or more runs, four times in his last six starts. An alarming trend for the Phillies as they now head toward the final week of the season with their pitching staff less than intact.

Overall Lee finished giving up nine hits, including two long balls in six innings pitched. For the season, Lee is now 14-12 with a 3.19 ERA. While it may not be time yet to panic, questions can certainly be raised about which Cliff Lee will show up to the ballpark that particular evening. Not good news for a  starting rotation that has injury concerns in its back end.

The offense for the Phillies couldn’t quite pull it together despite scoring four runs in the game. The Phillies couldn’t muster a single base-runner off of Brewers starter Manny Parra until the fourth inning when Jimmy Rollins reached base on a Milwaukee error. After a Shane Victorino walk and a Chase Utley ground-out, Ryan Howard single in two, cutting the four run Brewers lead in half.

The Brewers came back out in the bottom half of the fifth with three runs courtesy of a Prince Fielder bomb. With the three run shot, Fielder again eclipsed Howard for the R.B.I. lead in the National League.

The five run lead was just too much for the Phillies to overcome.

With a Braves win and a Marlins loss, The Braves move to within six games of the Phillies with just nine games left to play. The Marlins elimination number now falls to two.

  • 43 Comments
 

Gameday: Phillies (89-63) at Brewers (75-78)

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, September 25, 2009 07:20 PM Comments: 195

Marlins Philadelphia Phillies (88-63) at Milwaukee Brewers (75-77)

Cliff Lee (7-2, 2.65) vs. Manny Parra, LHP (10-10, 6.42)

Time: 8:05 p.m. at Miller Park in Milwaukee, WI
Weather: Light rain, 67
TV: CSN
Twitter: Phillies Nation

The Phillies kicked off their four game series in Milwaukee with a bang. J.A. Happ proved he is recovered from his strained oblique, the offense proved it is still potent, and the bullpen proved it could hold on to a sizable lead.

Cliff Lee goes for the Phils tonight, as he tries for his eighth win since coming to Philadelphia.  Overall, he’s searching for his 15th victory.  In his last outing, Lee was pulled after four innings due to a lengthy rain delay.  He’s eager to get back on the hill and stay out there as long as he can, and lets hope he does since he should be well rested.  Only five Brewers hitters have ever faced Lee, so perhaps that unfamiliarity will pay dividends for the left-hander.

For the Brew Crew, it’s Manny Parra taking the mound.  The lefty has Adam Eaton-esque stats; somehow he’s managed 10 wins with an ERA in the mid-sixes.  Against the Phillies, Parra has been sub-parra.  And that’s being nice.  In two starts (three appearances), his ERA is a lofty 17.50.  That’s 6 1/3 innings and 12, count em’, 12 earned runs.  There’s no better way to keep the ball rolling on offense than facing this guy.

Raul Ibanez will miss tonight’s game again due to a stomach virus.  Paul Hoover gets the start behind the plate tonight, his first as a Phillie, and just the 20th of his career.

LINEUP: Rollins SS, Victorino CF, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Werth RF, Francisco LF, Feliz 3B, Hoover C, Lee P

AlmazaYour Gameday Beer – Almaza
If you fancy Lebanese cuisine, then you may have had an Almaza before. It’s a delicious pilsner and the only commercial beer brewed in Lebanon. It reminds me of a Budweiser but with a little softer tase, definitely not a Bud Light though. Go with Lebanese dishes as accompaniment, something like lamb shawarma and tabouleh. – By Brian

  • 195 Comments
 

Video: Final Out of the 2008 World Series

Posted by Brian Michael, Fri, September 25, 2009 01:47 PM Comments: 22

WE WIN!!!

  • 22 Comments
 

Prospect Rankings No. 5: Zach Collier

Posted by Ben Seal, Fri, September 25, 2009 12:16 PM Comments: 13

Zach Collier, OFcollier

Born: 9/8/1990 in Chino Hills, California

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 185

The 2008 Draft was a critical moment for the future hopes of the Phillies organization. With seven picks of the first 136 thanks to compensation picks for losing Aaron Rowand and unsigned selections, there was pressure on the team’s scouts to come up with at least a few big hits to add to the farm. They did just that, finding several top talents to boost the system. The most important player chosen that year could turn out to be Zach Collier (34th overall), a lefty outfielder said to be in the Garrett Anderson mold who still has plenty of room to grow before he can really cash in on his potential.

Though Collier’s statistics don’t look impressive after one full season spent between Williamsport and Lakewood, what they show is a teenager swimming a little bit as he adjusts to pro ball. When he starts next year, likely back at Lakewood before a jump to Clearwater, Collier will be 19 and beginning to fill out physically. He still has about 30 pounds to add to his frame, and once he does that the power numbers will improve quickly. He has a line-drive swing, and if he learns to elevate the ball and get some backspin on it, his strength will translate better and result in extra-base power.

In addition, Collier still has plenty of room for coaching to influence his future. He has good speed but needs to improve his baserunning. He has plenty of internal power but needs to learn how to unlock it. He has a quick swing but needs to learn how to maximize its effectiveness. This may all seem like a lot, but at 19 Collier is more than young enough to give his coaches time to work their magic. A year or two ago the Phillies were in the same spot with Michael Taylor and Domonic Brown, who had all the tools but lacked the polish needed to be put on the fast track to the Majors. As Collier makes his way through the system and learns from the same minds that helped Brown and Taylor mature into well-rounded ballplayers, he should develop in much the same way. That’s not to say he will be on their level by next year, but if he tacks on some muscle and uses his natural ability the potential is there for rapid growth.

“”I understand I’m just out of high school, and I have to develop more, grow into my body,” Collier told the Inquirer in June. “I’m so young I don’t have the physical strength I will have. But I believe that I’ll get there.”

Growing up in California, Collier played on summer league baseball teams with Lakewood speedster Anthony Gose. His friend and teammate is ahead of him on the learning curve right now after leading all of the minor leagues in stolen bases this season, but Collier has a much higher ceiling. Of all the players in the Phillies system, Collier has the best chance of bursting onto the scene next season with a breakout campaign, much like Taylor did in 2008. If he can do that, Collier will add even more top-shelf talent to a very deep pool of Phillies outfielders in the minor leagues.

Statistics

Year   Level   AB    H   2B   3B   HR   RBI   BB   K   SB   AVG   OBP   SLG

2008   ROOK  129   35   9    1    0    19   17   28   5   .271   .347   .357

2009   A-     137   31   10   1    1    13    9   42    7   .226   .280   .336

2009   A      298   65   16   7    0    32   23   80   13   .218   .275   .319

RankingsAll previous prospect profiles can be found here, which is also on the left sidebar for easy viewing

5.   Zach Collier, OF
6.   Trevor May, RHP
7.   Joe Savery, LHP
8.   Vance Worley, RHP
9.   Sebastian Valle, C
10.  Mike Stutes, RHP
11.  Antonio Bastardo, LHP
12.  Anthony Gose, OF
13.  Colby Shreve, RHP
14.  Anthony Hewitt, 3B
15.  Justin De Fratus, RHP
16.  Sergio Escalona, LHP
17.  Yohan Flande, LHP
18.  Julian Sampson, RHP
19.  John Mayberry, Jr., OF
20.  Mike Cisco, RHP
21.  Freddy Galvis, SS
22.  Jonathan Pettibone, RHP
23.  Domingo Santana, OF
24.  Jonathan Singleton, 1B
25.  Drew Naylor, RHP

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