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Archive for November, 2013

Phillies Nation TV: Off-season special

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, November 28, 2013 10:07 PM Comments: 5

On a special off-season edition of Phillies Nation, Pat and Corey break down the recent signings of Marlon Byrd and Carlos Ruiz. They also discuss who else Ruben Amaro should be targeting this winter.

Plus, two legendary Phillies pitchers make an appearance. First, Tommy Greene joins the guys to offer a player’s perspective on trades, free agency and the process of coming back from an injury. Then, Natalie has an exclusive interview with current ace Cole Hamels from his pitching clinic for kids last week.

Ryann returns with fan questions and we highlight the important dates of the off-season. All in 22 minutes!

This week’s episode is presented by Pro League Authentics, a cool vintage sports apparel store on 13th and Walnut in Philly.

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Phillies Nation Player Review: Carlos Ruiz

Posted by Martin Shnayder, Wed, November 27, 2013 08:28 AM Comments: 27

(AP)

(AP)

If you attended one of the first 25 games of the 2013 Philadelphia Phillies season you may have noticed the absence of a familiar sound.

“Chooooooooooooooch”

The longtime starting catcher and fan favorite, Carlos Ruiz was suspended for the first 25 games of the 2013 season for testing positive for an amphetamine, Adderall. Ruiz wouldn’t make his debut until April 28 against the New York Mets at Citi Field.

His return wouldn’t last long, as he was placed on the DL on May 20 with a Grade 2 strained hamstring. Suddenly, his career year in 2012 felt like it was forever long ago, and people began to wonder if it was the banned substance he was taking that had to do with his 2012 season.

Ruiz struggled to get going in 2013 and he finished the year hitting only .268, his worst batting average since 2009. Overall, it was Ruiz’s worst offensive season since 2008 as he also finished with a .368 SLG percentage and a dismal .688 OPS. It was clear from his first game back that he was playing catch up and wasn’t seeing the ball. Ruiz was no longer the player keeping the Phillies alive in the 2012 playoff race, but rather another part of a disappointing 2013 ball club. Ruiz’s WAR dropped from 5.2 in 2012 to just 1.4 in 2013 according to FanGraphs’.

One area where Ruiz continued to excel was calling games behind the plate. There’s a reason why Roy Halladay loves pitching to him; Ruiz is arguably the best catcher in the league when it comes to calling games and is highly respected by his coaches and peers across the league. It’s not a complete coincidence that Cole Hamels began turning his season around after Ruiz returned behind the plate. Chooch could be partly responsible for the turn-around for the young pitchers such as Justin De Fratus, B.J. Rosenberg, Jake Diekman, and Ethan Martin. They all went on to have successful second halves in the bullpen.

Ruiz remained effective on defense as well, especially when it came to blocking pitches. Ruiz’s RPP (Passed Pitch Runs), which calculates the number of runs above / below average a catcher is at blocking pitches, was still well above average at 1.8 last season. Chooch’s dWAR remained around his career average at 0.9 as well. Ruiz was certainly not a defensive liability in 2013 for the Phillies.

The 34-year-old Panamanian, who recently signed a 3 year, $26 million contract to remain in Philadelphia, was able to close out the 2013 season strong, posting a .795 OPS in his final 43 games. By the end of the season it seemed as if Ruiz was finally able to “catch up.” Unfortunately, it was a little too late salvage what had been a miserable year.

The Phils brass are hoping that his strong finish carries over into 2014 and beyond, their belief being evident with the fresh contract.

Grade: C-:  The 2013 campaign didn’t start the way Carlos Ruiz would have liked with the 25-game suspension, and it never really seemed to get better. It was a sharp offensive decline for a man who was supposed to help the Phillies out with their woes against left-handed pitching. However, Chooch remained a leader in the clubhouse and continued to command the pitching staff as well as any catcher in the league. If Ruiz can continue to be that leader and build off of his final 50 games from last season than the chants of, “Choooooooch” may once again return in loud fashion in 2014.

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Landing Spots for Former Phils

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Tue, November 26, 2013 08:00 AM Comments: 44

Quite a number of former Phils were involved in transactions this week. Here’s a snapshot of where some of these former Phils went or are going. Most notes courtesy of Matt Eddy at Baseball America.

- RHP Tyler Cloyd was designated for assignment yesterday by the Cleveland Indians. Cloyd, 26, had a 6.56 ERA in 60 1/3 innings pitched for the Phillies in 2013. If Cloyd clears waivers, he would join fellow former Phil Mike Zagurski, signed three days ago to a minor league deal, in Cleveland’s minor league ranks.

- Ender Inciarte, a Phillie for Opening Day 2013 only, was added to the Arizona Diamondbacks 40-man roster. Inciarte, 23 for Opening Day 2014, hit .281/.327/.362 with a career-high five homers and a career-high 84.31% stolen base success (43 steals in 51 attempts) for Double-A Mobile as a 22-year old.

- Outfielder Casper Wells signed a minor league deal with the Cubs. Wells, 29, hit .126/.186/.147 across stops with five teams last season with no homers. Wells hit .042/.115/.083 with the Phillies before sitting out the rest of the year recovering from eye surgery.

- Catcher Ronny Paulino never played with the Phillies in a regular season game but did spend almost the entire 2009 Spring Training with the club. Paulino was traded to San Francisco on March 27, 2009 for reliever Jack Taschner. Paulino, now 32, signed with Detroit.

- Outfielder Domingo Santana, 21, was added to the Houston Astros 40-man roster. Santana was the player to be named later in the trade that sent Hunter Pence to the Phillies in 2011. Santana hit 25 homers in Double-A Corpus Christi with 12 steals in his age 20 season supporting a .252/.345/.498. Santana did struggle to avoid the strikeout, though, striking out 29% of the time in 2013.

- RHP Juan Sosa, 24, was signed by the Miami Marlins to a minor league deal. Sosa began his journey with the Phillies organization in 2007 as a seventeen year old but stalled out in Double-A Reading in 2013 (5.58 ERA, 1.676 WHIP).

- RHP Lisalverto Bonilla, 23, was added to the Texas Rangers’ 40-man roster after dominating the Texas League (AA) with a 0.30 ERA and a 0.824 WHIP. Bonilla struggled when promoted to Triple-A (7.95 ERA, 1.767 WHIP) in 2013 but the reliever dealt to Texas as part of the trade that brought Michael Young to Philly averaged nearly a strikeout and a half per inning pitched across the two levels last season.

- Catcher Steven Lerud was signed to a minor-league deal by the Atlanta Braves. Lerud, 29, appeared in nine games over the last two seasons for the Phillies and is a career .221/.314/.350 hitter in the Minor Leagues.

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Phillies Nation Spring Training Trip to Clearwater

Posted by Brian Michael, Mon, November 25, 2013 04:20 PM Comments: 0

It’s never too early to start planning your Phillies Spring Training trip to Clearwater and we have all the details ready to make it easy for you.

This is easily the most fun you’ll have on a road trip. In a single weekend you have – Phillies Spring Training, St. Patrick’s Day, Opening Rounds of March Madness, and Spring Break! All this within the famously sunny surroundings of Clearwater, Florida. If you are a serious Phillies fan, you need to at least consider coming on this trip we put together with the help of Major League Vacations.

As usual, we’re headed down for the St. Paddy’s Day game. The trip starts on Saturday, March 15, with a non-stop flight from Philly to Tampa. (If you want to book your own flight, use frequent flyer miles, or drive, we have that option, too.) We’ll be staying at the Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort – one of the best hotels on the Gulf.  It’s classy, it has beautiful white sand beaches, an awesome pool and tiki bar and is walking distance to all the Clearwater Beach restaurants and bars. We also have a less expensive option to stay at the Fairfield Inn right by the stadium.

We’ll have air conditioned shuttles to two Phillies home games – versus Pittsburgh on Sunday and Baltimore on Monday. Before Monday’s game we’ll have our seventh annual St. Patrick’s Day tailgate party. There will be food, drinks, games and Phillies Nation gift bags for all participants. Plus, we’ll be filming a special episode of Phillies Nation TV on location, so get ready for your closeup!

Start contacting people now and tell them about the packages below. Spring Training trips make great holiday gifts (for example, you can go halfsies with mom and take your dad as a present). The trips are family-friendly fun for all ages and you’re guaranteed to make make people jealous with your hot wintertime tan. We can even put together a custom package for your group and help plan side-trips in Florida to places like Disney World or other Spring Training stadiums.

Email us at trips@philliesnation.com or call Angelique at (215) 923-2462 to learn more or book your trip. Please call sooner rather than later since prices are based on availability.

Customized Phillies Spring Training Packages:
Continue reading Phillies Nation Spring Training Trip to Clearwater

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Phillies Nation Player Review: Domonic Brown

Posted by Kenny Ayres, Mon, November 25, 2013 12:00 PM Comments: 10

It’s certainly tough to look at Domonic Brown‘s season as a whole and make any kind of universal judgement about how he did. At times he was the most prolific home run hitter in the National League, and at other times he looked lost. Of course, some of his lack of production later on was the result of a concussion and having to miss time, but it nonetheless led to one of the most lopsided seasons in recent memory.

During the early part of the season, it looked as if Brown was to continue on the trajectory that he had been on the previous few years. His average was down, and his power way down. After a month of play, he had recorded a slash line of just .233/.309/.372-dismal by any standard. His power was non-existent. He clubbed three home runs and had only three doubles. Those were the only three extra base hits of the month for him.

When the calendar turned, it was like a switch went off.

Domonic Brown clubbed 23 home runs and drove in 67 by the All-Star Break, but a concussion and some drop in performance left his second half one to be forgotten.

Domonic Brown clubbed 23 home runs and drove in 67 by the All-Star Break, but a concussion and some drop in performance left his second half one to be forgotten.

Six games into May, Brown had already doubled his home run total from the first 30 days of the season, and the long balls kept coming. Twelve of them in the month alone, and 25 RBI and a .303 average (along with 0 walks, figure that one out). One other player in baseball (Miguel Cabrera) had 12 home runs in the month of May, and only two others besides him (Justin Upton and Chris Davis) has 12 in any calendar month the entire season. No other National leaguer had as many RBI as Brown in the month either.

He topped it of with eight homers and 16 RBI in the final 11 games of the month alone, bringing him back to back N.L. Player of the Week honors, and eventually an N.L. Player of the Month award. A slugger had finally emerged.

He kept his torrid pace into June, assaulting opposing pitching with four round trippers and 11 RBI in the first eight days of the month. By then, he was consistently hovering around the league lead in home runs, and was almost a shoo-in for the All-Star team. He toiled a little bit to finish the month, but still recorded six homers and drove in over 20 for what would be his second extremely productive month in a row.

Then just like that, it disappeared. Brown was selected to play in the All-Star game for the N.L., but by then his numbers had taken a major hit. After hitting just .257 with three homers through the first three weeks of the month, Brown caught the injury plague that has plagued the Phillies for several seasons now. In a game against St. Louis in July 23, Brown dove for a ball in the outfield and slammed his head against the ground. The result was a concussion, which put him on the seven day minimum concussion DL the next day. He stayed there for two weeks, and when he returned he was not the same.

His home run on Aug. 14 against Atlanta would be his last of the season. After that, 91 at bats and not one resulted in a homer. He finished the season with a .272 average, 27 home runs and 83 RBI. At the All-Star Break, he had been at .273, 23 and 67. Just four home runs and 16 RBI in the second half.

Whether the extreme drop in production stemmed from not being 100 percent is unclear. It certainly had some effect, whether directly physical or just by throwing him off by not playing for two weeks. Either way, it was one of the most disappointing finished from a young player in his breakout year, when he was expected to easily eclipse 30 home runs and 100 RBI, and probably be closer to 40/110.

2013 Grade: B 

It’s tough to give Brown top marks after his dramatic decline in the second half, whether it was caused from the injury or not. No player who, for an entire half of a season puts up a 162 game average of less than 10 home runs and 40 RBI deserves an A. That being said, Brown was just about the hottest hitter in baseball for a month and some change, and carried the Phillies for the first half. He was clutch, and he was doing everything right. He still finished with extremely respectable numbers, which were by far best on the team, despite basically doing nothing for three months to end the season. There is some merit in that. And his concussion was a fluke injury. How many times do you see a guy dive and not slam his head hard enough to be concussed? All he is guilty of there is giving his all.

Some may think it’s a generous grade, some may think it’s a harsh grade, but Brown is deserving and a “B” constitutes above average work. For a budding young slugger like him, there will plenty of more chances for him to top it.

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Phillies Nation Player Review: Freddy Galvis

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Mon, November 25, 2013 11:01 AM Comments: 0

(AP)

(AP)

Going into the 2013 season, the Phillies knew what they had with Freddy Galvis. A guy who could play with anybody defensively, but had trouble handling the bat. His 2013 season further justified the Phillies’ beliefs.

There’s no doubt that Galvis is a gifted defender. He has a natural ability to handle the glove and watching him play defense is truly a pleasure. But as we know, defense isn’t helping in the batters box.

In 2012, Galvis hit .226 with 3 home runs and 24 RBIs and his numbers in 2013 were similar. Galvis finished with a .234 batting average, 6 home runs, and 19 RBIs. And while Galvis he was unable to help much offensively for most of the year, he did have a strong finish to the season, hitting .309 in September. He showed a flare for the dramatic and a little power by hitting two walk off home runs; one off of Braves’ pitcher Freddy Garcia and the other against Reds closer Aroldis Chapman.

If Galvis were able to find consistency at the plate, he would be a starter-quality player. Since we know that isn’t the case, Galvis remains a utility-man, albeit a a solid one. Galvis’ true value lies in his ability to play almost any defensive position. During the 2013 season, Galvis spent time at third base, shortstop, second base, and even played some games in left field, transition to the outfield well.

Grade: C – As far as utility guys go, you can’t get much better than Freddy Galvis. His defense is exceptional, and it showed again throughout the season. However, His inconsistency hitting the ball kept him from reaching his full potential, and made him a risky start for Charlie Manuel and Ryne Sandberg.

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Off-season League Updates: Notes on Hernandez, Galvis, Bastardo & More

Posted by Jay Floyd, Mon, November 25, 2013 07:00 AM Comments: 0

Throughout the autumn and winter months, we’ll have a weekly rundowns of how Phillies players are performing in the various leagues around the globe.  Read ahead for the latest on many familiar names, some top prospects and plenty more.

Venezuelan Winter League- 

Cesar Hernandez, image- Jay Floyd

Second baseman Cesar Hernandez- The 23-year-old is 6-for-29 (.207 avg) in his last eight games.  Overall in 31 games for Margarita, Hernandez, who has also been playing center field, has posted a .254 average with two home runs, 15 RBI and two steals.  Hernandez batted .289 with five doubles and 10 RBI in 34 games with the Phillies and was honored as a Triple-A All-Star this past season.

Shortstop Freddy Galvis- The 23-year-old is batting .295 with eight doubles, one triple and two homers along with 12 RBI in 27 games.  The switch-hitting Galvis is batting .295 from both sides of the plate for Zulia.  Galvis sported a .234 average with six home runs and 19 RBI in 70 big league games this year.

RHP Severino Gonzalez- The 21-year-old, who was honored as the Phils’ Paul Owens Award winner this year, has posted a 0-1 record along with an 8.10 ERA in four appearances for La Guaira.  In 6 2/3 innings in the Venezuelan League, Gonzalez has struck out five batters and walked seven.  In the regular season, Gonzalez posted a 7-5 record with a 2.00 ERA and a 10.33 K/9 mark in 25 games at three levels. Continue reading Off-season League Updates: Notes on Hernandez, Galvis, Bastardo & More

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Phillies Nation Player Review: Michael Young

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Sun, November 24, 2013 04:58 PM Comments: 13

Michael Young provided the game-winning hit on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

AP photo.

When the Phillies brought in Michael Young in December of 2012, they were not sure what they were going to get production-wise. What they did know was that they were getting a veteran, a professional, and somebody who would be a positive influence on and off the field.

The Phillies were hoping to catch lightning in a bottle when they brought in Young after a 2012 season in which he hit .277 with 8 home runs and 67 RBI with the Texas Rangers. Young was only two seasons removed from a brilliant 2011 season in which he hit .338 with 11 home runs and 106 RBIs. While his age and drop in production in 2012 could have indicated that Young’s career was beginning to decline, the Phillies still decided to take a chance on the 36 year old.

Young started off the 2013 season as the Phillies number-five hitter behind Ryan Howard while Delmon Young recovered from ankle surgery. As the season progressed, injuries forced Young to move all around the lineup. Due to his versatility as a hitter, Young was able to transition between different parts of the lineup with ease and even spent considerable time as the Phillies’ leadoff hitter in Ben Revere’s absence. Defensively, Young spent the majority of the season at third base and with the injury to Ryan Howard and the emergence of Cody Asche, spent time platooning at first base with Kevin Frandsen and Darin Ruf.

Young played 126 games with the Phillies before being traded to the Dodgers on August 31st. He hit .276 with 8 home runs and 42 RBIs while in his short stint in Philadelphia, but struggled with the double-play, grounding into 19 of them in 512 plate appearances.

Grade: C – Ultimately, Young was also able to stay healthy for a team that was once again decimated by injuries. His most important contribution was that he brought veteran leadership and set a good example for the the young players the Phillies had towards the end of the year; something that commonly gets overlooked. And although he wasn’t able to regain his 2011 form, Young basically gave what he had left. He was adequate for a team in transition.

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Nemesis McCann Leaves NL East

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Sun, November 24, 2013 08:00 AM Comments: 13

McCann signed with the Yankees yesterday, limiting this Phillie-killer’s time spent against the Phils.

Catcher Brian McCann signed with the New York Yankees yesterday on a five-year, $85 million deal. McCann, 30 on Opening Day 2014, was probably not a good fit for the Phillies and was never likely a realistic target for the Fightin Phils. So why waste this space writing about McCann?

Because he was the definition of a Phillie Killer.

Since entering the league in 2005, McCann has hit 176 homers, tops among all catchers. 20 of those homers came at the expense of the Phillies, including 12 at Citizen’s Bank Park. The list of Phillies pitchers McCann has taken yard is a pretty neat time capsule of both the frustrating and exciting times the Phillies have had.

An April 12, 2006 shot off of Cory Lidle was the first of McCann’s 20 bombs. He would take Joe Blanton and Cole Hamels deep three times, Brett Myers twice, tagged Doc in 2012, and managed to hit one off of blink-and-you’ll-miss Phillie Tyler Walker in 2009.

One Phillie McCann was unable to take deep was Cliff Lee – but that doesn’t mean McCann didn’t have success against him. McCann showed no platoon weaknesses against Lee, hitting .321/.367/.429. And McCann had his way against Hamels, too, hitting .279/.353/.541 with the aforementioned three homers. His favorite Phillie pitcher to face, however, may have been Roy Halladay: .360/.407/.560 with a homer.

We, at Phillies Nation, don’t often take time to write about non-Phillies. But we are very excited that McCann will no longer be a regular opponent of the Phillies.

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Phillies Nation Player Review: Kevin Frandsen

Posted by Martin Shnayder, Sat, November 23, 2013 03:18 PM Comments: 1

(mlb.com)

If you had to guess who had the best batting average for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012, who would it be? Chase Ultey? Carlos Ruiz? Placido Polanco? Maybe even Shane Victorino?

All of those would be wrong. The correct answer would be journeyman infielder Kevin Frandsen.

Okay, so technically this isn’t true, as Frandsen did not qualify to have the highest batting average on the team since he only had 210 plate appearances and 195 registered at bats. However, he did hit .338 with a .383 OBP, which would have been second on the team had he qualified behind only Carlos Ruiz. Frandsen, at 30 years old, seemed to have finally found a home on a major league roster and quickly became a fan favorite in Philadelphia.

Unfortunately, for the Phillies and Frandsen, his small sample size of 55 games played in 2012 seemed to have been a mirage. He followed up his surprising 2012 season by getting more playing time (119 games played in 2013) filling in across the infield for Ryan Howard, Michael Young, and Chase Utley, hitting only .234 in 2013 with a .296 OBP, .341 SLG percentage, and a brutal .637 OPS.

It wasn’t all bad. Frandsen lead all of major league baseball with 14 pinch hits in 2013. A bit of bad luck could have played into his 2013 season as his BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) had a sharp decline from .366 in 2012 to just .245 in 2013. Frandsen only struck out 29 times in 278 plate appearances last season which means he was at the very least making contact with the ball.

Defensively, Frandsen is as versatile as it gets playing first, second, and third base last year and doing it well. Frandsen’s Fielding Runs Above Average based on UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) was at a career high of 1.9 in 2013 according to FanGraphs’. Frandsen obviously declined offensively, but it was clear he picked up his game defensively and became a reliable infielder at all three positions he played.

One thing that Frandsen brings to this Philadelphia Phillies ballclub that cannot be measured by any advanced statistic is his positive attitude in the clubhouse. Frandsen is well liked in the clubhouse and a guy Philadelphia fans can root for, much the same as Utley.

Frandsen’s 2013 season showed us exactly what his role should be on any major league club. He is arguably one of the best pinch hitters in the game, and can come in and step up to replace a player without being a total liability on defense. The 31-year old is eligible for arbitration this offseason and it remains unclear what the Phillies plan to do with him. However, when looking at his salary (only $850,000 last season) and everything he brings to the Phillies, it would be a surprise if the Phillies were not to bring him back as a bench bat once again.

Grade: C. It would be very easy to just look at Kevin Frandsen’s offensive numbers and give him a D or F. However, when looking more closely, you will find a player that was versatile in the field, a clutch pinch hitter, and a positive person to have in the clubhouse. It was an unrealistic expectation to have Frandsen, a journeyman for much of his career, put up his 2012 statistics with almost twice as many games played in 2013. For the amount Frandsen is paid and the fact that he was able to do whatever it was the Phillies asked of him I would consider his 2013 season average. Frandsen is a blue collar player that the Phillies would be silly to not bring back in 2014.

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