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Ruf, Utley and Phils Offense Outslug Cubs

Posted by Alex Lee, Tue, August 06, 2013 10:43 PM | Comments: 42
2013 Game Recaps, Posts

Darin Ruf continued his assault on major league pitching on Tuesday night.

Darin Ruf continued his assault on major league pitching on Tuesday night (AP Photo).

The Phillies playoff hopes are long gone, but fans desperately searching for a reason to keep watching need to look no further than Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf and Cody Asche.  The contracts and lack of production from the Phillies aging offensive core make their development critical for the team’s future, and all three delivered in some way on Tuesday night in a 9-8 comeback win over the Cubs.

The trio of 20-somethings combined for five hits, three runs and four RBIs on the night, bailing out Kyle Kendrick who was mediocre in his six innings of work.  The Phils trailed 4-1 and 5-2, before they stormed back.  Kendrick gave up five runs (four earned) on six hits, and was hurt by two long balls before he settled down.  Chase Utley also had a big night, collecting three hits, two runs and two RBIs.

Jonathan Papelbon was very shaky in the ninth and Brown dropped a routine fly ball in the process, but the Phils were able to escape with their second win in their last 15 games.

PHILS BATS COME ALIVE

- The Phils offense hasn’t showed up like it did tonight since the first game back from the All-Star break, a 13-8 win over the Mets.  They pounded out 13 hits, seven of which went for extra bases, and added a pair of walks.  If young lefty Alex Wood (Sunday night’s opposing starter) was the exact type of pitcher these Phils typically struggle against, hard-throwing righty Edwin Jackson was just the opposite on Tuesday.

- Ruf punished the baseball in each of his first three at-bats, resulting in a scorching line drive out, an RBI double and a solo home run.  He has now reached base in 33 straight games going back to 2012.  Perhaps most important, he has done plenty to dispel the idea that his ceiling is as the right side of an outfield platoon.  Ruf entered Tuesday night with an OPS of .918 against right handers, and then proceeded to tee off on Jackson.  His OPS on the season is an imposing .960.

- Brown looked solid offensively in his return to the lineup, singling in the first and then attempting a stolen base (that led to a line drive double play).  He had only one hit, but knocked in two.  Brown was originally scheduled to come up Wednesday, but after going 3-for-5 with a home run in last night’s rehab assignment, got the call today.  He hadn’t played since July 23 due to a concussion.

- Asche worked his way out of an 0-2 hole in the second inning, eventually lacing a 3-2 pitch down the right field line for a double.  It was Asche’s first major league (non-bunt) hit.  Asche came around to score on a Kendrick single two batters later, cutting the Cubs lead to 4-2.  Asche walked in the fourth and singled in the sixth, again scoring.

KENDRICK STAYS COLD

- While Kendrick was coming off a July in which he tallied an earned run average of 7.36, the Cubs entered Tuesday night without a run in 23 innings.  Something had to give, and that something was Kendrick.  The righty gave up four runs (three earned) in the second and another in the third on an Anthony Rizzo bomb.

- A defensive mistake by Asche and a catcher’s interference call didn’t help Kendrick much in the four-run second, but he still allowed five hits in the first three innings and was clearly struggling as he has for more than a month now.  The big blow in the inning was a three-run bomb by career minor leaguer Donnie Murphy, who was called up by the Cubs over the weekend.

- To his credit, Kendrick settled down after surrendering the five runs, retiring seven straight Cubs through the end of the fifth inning and getting through six overall for his 10th win on the season.  Kendrick has never won more than 11 games in a season.

DESPITE WIN, PHILS CONTINUE TO MAKE DUMB MISTAKES

- In the four-run second, Asche foolishly threw home on a grounder hit right at him in an attempt to get Nate Schierholtz.  Schierholtz was off on contact from third and easily beat the throw.  Welington Castillo, who hit the grounder, would later score on Murphy’s three-run blast.

- Kendrick didn’t cover the bag in the third inning on a broken bat flare that Michael Young fielded at first base, allowing Schierholtz to reach on an infield single.  It appeared to be a brain fart on Kendrick’s part, who could have either been distracted by flying shards of lumber or still mad about Rizzo’s home run in the previous at-bat.

- Ruf was gunned down at third trying to stretch his third inning drive into a triple.  Considering what he did tonight at the plate this is pretty much the definition of nitpicking, but with only one out in the inning, that can’t happen with the Phils still down 5-4 in the game.

- Brown’s drop in the ninth inning, which would have ended the game, was egregious.  It was hard to tell if he lost it in the lights or just lost his concentration, but you almost have to (or want to) believe it couldn’t have been a physical error.  The ball was hit hard, but it was a routine play.

DID YOU NOTICE?

- Ruf, sprinting to his left, made a nice grab in right field in the second inning on a Starlin Castro fly ball, which at the time prevented a run.  He made another running catch in the third.  Ruf told reporters before the game he had made only one career start in right field, and it was in the Winter League.  So far so good.

- While I’ve been vocal in my advocacy for a rebuild, it is not hard to understand why the Phillies want to keep Utley around.  Beyond what he did at the plate, Ut went first-to-third in the third inning on a Jimmy Rollins bloop single, reading it perfectly.  No one does that better than Utley, who then proceeded to score on an RBI groundout.

- Carlos Ruiz hit a home run to left field in the eighth inning.  After being nearly invisible at the plate in his first 150 at-bats, Ruiz’s bat has shown some signs of life in the last week.  Since last Tuesday, he has two home runs and two doubles, one of which hit the absolute top of the fence on Sunday night and was originally called a home run before being reversed.  Chooch’s final two months deserve attention, as the Phils don’t really have an internal replacement for the soon-to-be free agent.

- Papelbon entered in the ninth with a 9-5 lead and proceeded to allow three runs (two earned) on three hits, and got booed by his home crowd again.  His ERA, under two less than a month ago, now stands at 2.82.  It is pretty clear Papelbon has lost this fan base, but he still has two years and $26 million left on his deal after this season.  The mercurial closer is a poster boy for the front office’s shortcomings, as he should be.  But he is also unlikable, which makes him the poster boy (and the whipping boy) for the fans.  Regardless of his performance, if the Phillies don’t turn this thing around next year – and I don’t see how they can – this is going to end ugly.

Avatar of Alex Lee

About Alex Lee

Alex Lee has written 43 articles on Phillies Nation.

Alex is a freelance journalist from Philadelphia whose work has appeared in the Daily News, the Inquirer, USA Today as well as several other publications and blogs. Now based in Baltimore, he is MLB.TV's most satisfied customer.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 Ryne Duren

    Agree Alex! Paps should be traded in the offseason. Use what ever money you save on him in other needy areas. But with that said I don’t think Rube is up to the task. I have given him the benefit of the doubt for quite some time but not any more. Unless he’s got some kind of master plan (which he probably doesn’t) I’m not buying his BS any more,
    Hopefully he reads these posts to get a pulse from the fans. They DFA’d Nix today (finally). Now all they have to do is mini mart, McDonald. and replace them with either other teams waiver trash or our own minor leaguers. Chooch should be traded too! I love the guy but we have Kratz for next year and possibly two others for backup. That would be Joseph and Rupp.

     
  • Posts: 0 wbramh

    Bring up a promising young arm to be the closer.
    Dump Papelbon’s salary.
    Donate the difference to a Philadelphia public high school and give hope to thousands of young lives.
    The team may be no better but I ‘d be proud of them, win or lose.

     
    • Posts: 0 Hogey's Role

      We don’t have any promising young arms, have you seen the rest of our bullpen scrap this year… the only other one capable would’ve been bastardo and he’s suspended now lol…

       
      • Posts: 0 wbramh

        True, change the beginning of my comment to “Find a promising young arm somewhere.”
        It’s really what I meant to write.

        Although these days I’d sooner see Mini-Mart come in to close than Papelbon.
        Hey, in that event at least Charlie wouldn’t be using Martinez as a pinch hitter.

         
      • Posts: 0 Hogey's Role

        You might be onto something there… I’d be willing to bet Martinez would do better than pimplebomb right now

         
  • Posts: 0 Carlos Danger

     
    • Posts: 0 hk

      With each passing day, it becomes more and more likely that they won’t trade Papelbon unless they eat a significant portion of his contract.

      1. His velocity dropping.
      2. His results are faltering.
      3. Some teams may perceive him as a clubhouse cancer.
      4. Rube is seemingly the last GM in MLB to recognize that it is bad business to give big money and multiple years to any closer for 60 innings, most of them in medium to low leverage situations, per year.
      5. In addition to having $26M guaranteed for 2014 and 2015, there’s a vesting option for $13M in 2016 if he finishes 55 games in 2015 or 100 games in 2014 and 2015 combined.

      #5 may be the biggest reason he’ll be hard to trade unless the Phils pay a huge amount because any team that looks past #1 through #3 above and trades for him this off-season would do so on the basis that they expect him to close for them in 2014 and 2015. I think Alex Lee is right….this is going to end ugly with the Phils replacing him as closer by 2015 if not sooner so that they don’t have to pay him $13M.

       
  • Posts: 0 Pamikedc

    I agree w you HK…BUT if the Phils are garbage In year 2, there is no way they put Pap out there enough to pitch 55 games.

    Ala Jamaal Anderson or whatever fball player who, if he carried the ball X amt of times, received a bonus.

     
    • Posts: 0 hk

      I don’t disagree that, if he stays with the Phillies, they’ll make every effort to avoid having that vesting option kick in unless the team is good and Papelbon is doing a good job as closer in 2014 and 2015. That being said, they may be looking at a grievance if they change his role strictly to limit the number of games he finishes.

      However, that’s not even my point. My point is that he is going to be very difficult to trade because any team that is looking to acquire Papelbon – if there is any team looking to acquire him at this stage of his career – would presumably be doing so to have him close and, in that case, they have to be prepared to pay him $39M for the 2014 through 2016 seasons. Since teams are moving away from signing closers for big money and multiple years, I would think that the Phillies would have to kick in ~$20M just to get rid of him – in a way like Texas paying $10M of Michael Young’s $16M salary just to not have Michael on the team.

       
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      Papelbon’s declining velocity is a concern no matter what, and especially if the recent results continue, but it’s worth noting this is where he ranks in the NL, despite his horrendous last month or so:

      out of 17 pitchers with at least 10 saves…

      8th – ERA (2.82)
      10th – FIP (2.99)
      11th – xFIP (3.65)
      8th – WHIP (1.07)
      6th – K/BB ratio (4.67)

      He also has the lowest line drive rate out of the 17, at 14.1%

      So certainly not worth his salary (not that any closer would be), but also not completely useless overall.

       
      • Posts: 0 George

        The problem I see here is that Papelbon’s stats were quite good early on, but in most cases have been the opposite lately. The average is still decent (although 10th and 11th out of 17 are still in the bottom half, and 8th is pretty close to the middle) but if he continues to pitch as he’s been the past few weeks, the final results will certainly be much, much worse.

        I don’t think he’ll be that bad, but it’s still a worrysome situation.

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Agree, it’s certainly worrisome.

        But even if you ignore his very good start, and only focus on what he’s done since he started blowing saves on June 17th, it’s still difficult to find red flags in his stats:

        20 games, 20 innings, 19 Ks, 6 walks

        .354 BABIP, despite only a 15% line drive rate

        As much as I dislike the guy, and while he hasn’t been great, I see more bad luck than actual ineptitude in those numbers.

         
      • Posts: 0 George

        I’ll concede the bad luck part, (as well as bad defense) but I don’t believe it’s the entire picture, and that a certain amount of “ineptitude,” or whatever one wishes to call it, has also played a part.

        I’ve always questioned BABIP as a reliable stat. I think a more reliable way to determine just what’s happening (for pitcers, anyway) could be gotten by analyzing the speed at which a ball comes off a bat. I’ve seen ground balls go through which were actually rather close to an infielder which couldn’t be reached because they were hit too hard. I’m sure this is averaged out some by bloopers or seeing-eye singles, but when a low line drive % starts producing too many hits, I’d suspect that the ball might be hit harder than usual. Ther’s also tghis: a low velocity pitch is seen longer, and a batter might be able to place his hits a little better.

        I don’t have a lot of chances to see just where the hits are going off of Papelbon, or how hard they’re hit, so I could be wrong. Last time I saw him pitch, he was actually quite good, and seemed to be doing things a little differently when he got two batters out with what looked like some kind of a low speed slider or slurve or whatever. Maybe he’s actually trying to alter his approach, even if he said he doesn’t need to.

         
      • Posts: 4874 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        I noticed it too. I think he is trying to alter his approach. Now if he could alter one of his two mouths. He’s a complicated pair of people.

         
      • Posts: 0 hk

        schmenkman,

        I wasn’t making the case that Papelbon is useless. I was making the case that he’s probably going to be a Phillie for a while unless the Phils bite the bullet and eat a big chunk of his contract. What team is going to trade for a guy who is owed $13M per year for 2 or 3 years, who has declined to the extent that he’s in the bottom half of all pitchers with 10+ saves and who acts like an ass? I think what we’ll see is that the Phils will have him for the next 3 years and $39M of further decline.

         
  • Posts: 2965 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    “Jonathan Papelbon was very shaky in the ninth.”

    No…his performance was downright pathetic.

     
  • Posts: 0 Dave

    Why did they release Nix but still have Martinez and Old McDonald? Martinez is seriously like poison ivy…cannot get rid of him. Someday I will ask God why the Phillies kept him on the roster. That’s the one question in the universe I can’t answer.

     
    • Posts: 0 Vinnie

      The only reason Martinez is on the roster is because he play Center Field. I have no idea why McDonald is on the team.

      BTW… Nix was the highest paid outfielder on the team.

       
      • Posts: 62 Alex Lee

        Avatar of Alex Lee

        Delmon Young is going to end up making more than Nix with all the escalators in his contract, but the fact that Nix is almost the highest paid OF is insane. Good catch by you. Absolutely bonkers on a team with a $170mm payroll.

         
      • Posts: 0 Hogey's Role

        Well revere and Brown are both pre- arbitration, and delmon young sucks, so he doesn’t make that much… really not that surprising….

        Who, if anyone, could we dump delmon young to?? Possibly Texas?? They’re in need of an outfielder and a bat, not that young is much of either… is that a possible option right now?

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Agreed Hogey, not surprising. Every team has some pre-arb players, and for the Phillies they happen to be mostly outfielders. Even so, before Revere’s injury the Phillies had the 9th best-hitting outfield in MLB in May-June.

         
      • Posts: 4874 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        Hogey, I think Texas is a great idea. They just might want him. In fact how about a double Young trade, give them Michael too. I know nothing about other team’s farms systems, do they have any decent young arms?

         
      • Posts: 0 Hogey's Role

        It seems, to me at least, that Texas has a very good farm system,I know they have a stockpile of young arms, even after the Garza trade…

        Idk if they would take Michael back but if they would that’s great… I honestly would be happy with one very good or two decent prospects for those two…

         
    • Posts: 0 Dave

      I guess it’s not surprising, but I just thought there were other players more deserving to get sacked first.

       
  • Posts: 0 Mike in NJ

    So let me get this straight…

    Brown stays in LF because he was an all-star (purely for his offensive numbers) despite the fact he is an average at best defensive LFer, more experience as a RFer, and the best arm out of the outfielders (which on teams not run by morons always play RF).

    Ruf had to start the season in AAA because he needed more experience in LF, so we had to endure gimpy D Young and a parade of even worse RF for the entire season instead of starting with Ruf in LF and Brown in RF, but yesterday instead of putting him in LF where he belongs, they move him to RF, where he has a total of ONE game played, plus a couple dozen attempts of shagging fly balls before the game started.

    Brown drops a fairly routine flyball that should have been the final out, but Ruf gets removed for a defensive replacement immediately after that. WHAT?!?

    Keystone Cops have nothing on the Phillies.

     
    • Posts: 1190 Manny

      Avatar of Manny

      The people managing this team are chronically dumb. Or at the very least they are overthinking everything. Ruf in LF and Brown in RF is the logical thing. The world knows that… except RAJ and Charlie, of course.

       
      • Posts: 2965 Chuck A.

        Avatar of Chuck A.

        The only thing I can think of is that they moved Brown to left and made a commitment to make that work because he’s been shuffled around so much over the past few years. But, yeah…he’s the more logical choice for RIGHT field.

         
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      Ruf has a decent arm, and I can understand not wanting to shuffle Brown at this point. And the defensive replacement in the 9th also made sense.

       
      • Posts: 0 Double Trouble Del

        Brown WAS the logical choice to play RF but after asking him to play LF and with generally positive defensive results, why would you shuffle this kid again?

         
      • Posts: 0 Carlos Danger

        As we’ve repeatedly seen this season, having so many positions where defensive replacements are warranted (1B/3B, LF/RF) really eliminates any sort of late inning maneuverability.

        Speaking of outfield defense, our old friend Raul Ibanez made the highlight reel again:

        http://deadspin.com/raul-ibanez-made-a-throw-only-raul-ibanez-could-make-1050524917

         
  • Posts: 0 schmenkman

    Also, the rule of thumb is to not make the 1st or 3rd out at 3rd. It turned out that Ruf made the 2nd out in the inning, and I have no problem with trying to get him to 3rd with one out.

     
  • Posts: 0 Dave

    Is anyone else liking Ruf and his approach at the plate? Yes he seems to be overmatched at times. However, he also takes pitches and works the count frequently…which is something you really can’t teach and it’s something this team desperately needs. If he and Brown can keep this up they should be our corner outfielders next year. Ruf can always move back to first once Howard is gone.

     
  • Posts: 4874 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    I’m not defending the move of Ruf to right, but I can sort of see at least some logic in it. As Chuck said, they did make a change so that Brown could play left, and he’s played it reasonably well. Is that the perfect fit? No IMO he’d help the team more in right.

    But-

    As a first baseman, Ruf has been used to the way the ball comes off the bat on the right side of the field. Moving him from first to right gives him the advantage of seeing the way the ball reacts off the bat the same way he has his entire adult life and is used to.

    Again, I agree with those that say Brown should play right field, but can understand at least a little bit why they might want to try it this way.

    Also, has anyone seen Ruf’s arm? Maybe it’s a rocket, I don’t know.

     
    • Posts: 0 Hogey's Role

      that’s actually a very good theory of keeping him on the right side lefty… I didn’t think about that

       
    • Posts: 87 Johanna

      Avatar of Johanna

      I didn’t think of that either. Last night I thought it was a bad decision but now you have made me think otherwise…

       
  • Posts: 0 George

    I will defend putting Ruf in RF with Brown in left. Brown’s had success in left, his defense has gotten better there, and you don’t mess around with what isn’t broken; at least not mid-season. He’s been jerked around enough.

    Ruf, on the other hand, is still learning the outfield, so it’s not that critical which OF position he learns at.

    If Ruf looks lost out there this year, or doesn’t have the arm for RF, there’s always Winter Ball and Spring Training to move either player. If Ruf does play well and shows a good arm and knows how to use it, so much the better. And there’s also Lefty’s thoughts about reading the ball from the same side of the field; the side he’s used to.

    2013 is a lost season, anyway, so experimenting with players won’t hurt one bit, and might actually help in deciding who plays where next year.

     
  • Posts: 0 Double Trouble Del

    I see now that the Phils might not sign MAG after all. I’m all for preventive medicine if this guy has an injury problem especially after the Mike Adams debacle. Or did they figure out that maybe this guy is a fifth starter or long reliever and didn’t want to commit that kind of payroll?

     
    • Posts: 0 Mike in NJ

      I certainly hope our signing this guy falls through. WTF is RAJ thinking?!? From what I’ve read, this guy is no sure thing. Even the scouts that DO like him think he tops out as a #3, and some don’t think he’ll be a starter at all because his secondary pitches aren’t good enough. What idiot besides RAJ would give a #3 ( at best) a 6yr/48M contract?!?

       
      • Posts: 0 George

        Six years at $48 million comes to $8 million per year. There are a number of #3 guys getting that much and more.

        Also, if MAG is signed and proves to be a dud, that would land squarely on the idiot scouts who thought he’d be great, not on Amaro. He’s not making these signings by himself, and probably hasn’t even seen the guy pitch. That’s not his job; he has to go by what the scouts recommend.

         
      • Posts: 0 Mike in NJ

        Sure, there are #3s getting 8M a year, but none of them get 6 year deals. Also (as mentioned) many scouts think he’ll only be a middle reliever, and there aren’t any middle relievers getting 6yr/48M deals.

         
      • Posts: 0 Hogey's Role

        actually 48 million over 6 years with a 7th year option at 11 million for a number 3 starter whose in his mid 20s sounds like a great deal to me… over those 6 years that’s an average of 8 million a year that’s a steal for a number 3…

        If he has medical issues than by all means look into them, otherwise sign the papers

         
      • Posts: 0 Hogey's Role

        Annibal Sanchez signed a five year 80 million contract to be a 3 or 4 for the tigers

         
 
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