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2011 Spring Training

Spring Gameday: Phillies vs. Pirates

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Wed, March 30, 2011 12:51 PM Comments: 1

Pittsburgh Pirates vs Philadelphia Phillies

Charlie Morton vs. Cole Hamels

Time: 4:05 pm, Citizens Bank Park
Weather:
Cloudy, 49
TV: MLB.tv (free)
Radio: 1210 WPHT, Phillies.com
Follow Phillies Nation on Twitter

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Team effort, Phils beat Pirates 8-5

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Tue, March 29, 2011 09:19 PM Comments: 6

It was the kind of game you would like to see only two days before Opening Day.  It was a total team effort from the Phillies tonight against the visiting Pirates in Game 1 of the On Deck Series.  Nine different guys had a hit tonight and Luis Castillo went 2 for 4 with two runs scored to help build an early lead for Roy Oswalt.  And he did need it.

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Spring Gameday: Phillies vs. Pirates

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Tue, March 29, 2011 04:30 PM Comments: 2

Pittsburgh Pirates vs Philadelphia Phillies

Ross Ohlendorf vs. Roy Oswalt

Time: 7:05 pm, Citizens Bank Park
Weather:
Chilly, 46
TV: N/A
Radio: 1210 WPHT, Phillies.com
Follow Phillies Nation on Twitter

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Halladay’s Final Tune Up Speaks For Itself

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Sun, March 27, 2011 06:57 PM Comments: 6

Three innings?  No problem.  Three more?  Sure, why not.

Roy Halladay only had to go three innings to show himself and everyone else that he is ready for Opening Day.  This Spring, Halladay has gone off.  I absolutely hate the phrase ‘mid-season form’ and I don’t even think it’s fair to describe the way Halladay is pitching that way. He is just ready.

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2011 Phillies Offensive Preview, Part 5: Second Base

Posted by Michael Baumann, Sat, March 26, 2011 05:00 PM Comments: 17

In the week before Opening Day, we’re looking at each of the five offensive positions that are not known quantities.

Part 1: Intro and First Base
Part 2: Right Field
Part 3: Left Field
Part 4: Shortstop
Part 5: Second Base

Second Base: Chase Utley, Opening Day Age: 32
2010: 511 PA, .275/.387/.445, 38 XBH
2011 (Bill James-projected): 625 PA, .288/.387/.497, 26 HR, 99 R

First of all, that Bill James projection is almost certainly going to be wrong, because it was made before all this knee injury nonsense became public. Second, I think it’s time we stepped back and stood in awe of what a truly great player Chase Utley is. I’d argue, in fact, that he’s the fourth-best position player in the history of the Phillies, behind Mike Schmidt, Ed Delahanty, and Sliding Billy Hamilton. Of course, Hamilton and Delahanty were both 19th-century players in a game that bears only a passing resemblance to modern baseball, so depending on how you feel about Richie Ashburn and Dick Allen, a case could be made that Utley is second only to Schmidt. Continue reading 2011 Phillies Offensive Preview, Part 5: Second Base

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2011 Offensive Preview, Part 4: Shortstop

Posted by Michael Baumann, Sat, March 26, 2011 08:00 AM Comments: 25

In the week before Opening Day, we’re looking at each of the five offensive positions that are not known quantities.

Part 1: Intro and First Base
Part 2: Right Field
Part 3: Left Field
Part 4: Shortstop
Part 5: Second Base (Saturday afternoon)

Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins, Opening Day Age: 32
2010: 394 PA, .243/.320/.374, 17 SB, 1 CS
2011 (Bill James-projected): 605 PA, .266/.329/.424, 15 HR, 25 SB

Why should you believe that a 32-year-old shortstop, coming off his two worst offensive seasons ever, in the decline phase of his career, is due for a monster season? Three things: luck, health, and plate discipline. First, J-Roll has a career BABIP of .290, and while BABIP is less based in luck for hitters than it is for pitchers, there’s still a luck element involved. In 2009, his BABIP was .251, and in 2010 it was .246. Granted, in 2010, his line drive rate was down, but so was his HR/FB rate, and, to touch on the second point, he was either out of the lineup hurt or in the lineup hurt for most of the season. Despite this, Rollins posted, for the first time in his career, a season where he walked more than he struck out, accompanied by his highest-ever walk rate and lowest-ever strikeout rate. On all three of these externalities, Rollins is due to regress to the mean, which, I think, makes the Bill James projections look conservative.

Or he’s just getting old and will be an offensive zero for the rest of his career, and I’m in denial because I’m a huge J-Roll fan. But let’s hope for option No. 1.

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2011 Phillies Offensive Preview, Part 3: Left Field

Posted by Michael Baumann, Fri, March 25, 2011 05:00 PM Comments: 13

In the week before Opening Day, we’re looking at each of the five offensive positions that are not known quantities.

Part 1: Intro and First Base
Part 2: Right Field
Part 3: Left Field
Part 4: Shortstop (Saturday morning)
Part 5: Second Base (Saturday afternoon)

Left Field: Raul Ibanez, Opening Day Age: 38
2010: 636 PA, .275/.349/.444, 16 HR, 37 2B
2011 (Bill James-projected): 596 PA, .270/.343/.446, 20 HR

I think the majority of Phillies fans went into the Raul Ibanez experiment with unrealistic expectations for three reasons. First, he was being billed as a like-for-like replacement for longtime Phillies stalwart Pat Burrell in left field. Second, he was being paid like an all-star (three years, $31.5 million; Burrell, who was younger, better, and more right-handed, went to Tampa for 2/3 the contract length and half the total value of the contract). Third, for the first three months or so of his tenure in Philadelphia, Raul was under the mistaken impression that he was Stan Musial. Since then, he’s returned to being what he should have been all along: an aging outfielder who, on offense, is at least average at everything, but great at nothing. His bat speed is dropping with age, as expected, and what he could use more than anything else is a platoon partner–his OPS was nearly 100 points higher against righties than lefties in 2010. Put him and Ben Francisco in a platoon, and you’ve got, very nearly, an all-star corner outfielder. Plus, moving Francisco to left would free up space for Domonic Brown to get….oh, yeah, we’ve covered this. Anyway, a repeat of 2010, give or take a couple dozen points on each of the slash stats, is probably in the cards for Raul. He’s been, more or less, a two-to-three-win player for most of his career, and if he can keep that up, the Phillies should be happy with that.
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2011 Phillies Offensive Preview, Part 2: Right Field

Posted by Michael Baumann, Fri, March 25, 2011 08:00 AM Comments: 12

In the week before Opening Day, we’re looking at each of the five offensive positions that are not known quantities.

Part 1: Intro and First Base
Part 2: Right Field
Part 3: Left Field (Friday afternoon)
Part 4: Shortstop (Saturday morning)
Part 5: Second Base (Saturday afternoon)

Right Field: Ben Francisco, Opening Day Age: 29
2010: 197 PA, .268/.327/.441, 6 HR, 8 SB
2011 (Bill James-projected): 330 PA, .271/.336/.446, 10 HR, 10 SB

By “Ben Francisco” here, I mean “some combination of Ben Francisco, Domonic Brown, Ross Gload, and John Mayberry.” Charlie Manuel seems determined, in the absence of Jayson Werth, not to pick a starting right fielder. Here’s the scoop: none of these guys is Jayson Werth, but put together, they’re not bad. Francisco has some speed, some power, and hits lefties very well (.901 OPS in 2010), but isn’t much good against righties (.640 OPS in 2010). Gload, a lefty, actually hits for a higher average against left-handed pitching, but has a higher OBP and slugging percentage against right-handed pitching. Mayberry has been red-hot this spring, but at 27 years old, Mayberry is quickly leaving the age group where one could reasonably expect him to improve.

Then there’s Domonic Brown. Continue reading 2011 Phillies Offensive Preview, Part 2: Right Field

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2011 Phillies Offensive Preview, Part 1: Intro and First Base

Posted by Michael Baumann, Thu, March 24, 2011 02:18 PM Comments: 26

What can we expect from the Phillies offense? That’s really the big question going into 2011, isn’t it? After all, great things are expected from the starting rotation, and while the bullpen isn’t 1996 Yankees-good, it’s certainly expected to be good enough, and is a known quantity.

The offense, however? That juggernaut? The rock upon which, for so many years, Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro built their church? For the first time I can remember, Phillies fans seem to be sold on the team’s ability to prevent runs, scoring them might be an entirely different propostion.

The way I see it, there are only three sure things in the Phillies’ lineup: Carlos Ruiz, Shane Victorino, and Placido Polanco. Ruiz will play good defense, hit for a fairly high average and no power, but be on base a ton due to his tremendous plate discipline. Polanco will play good defense, hit for a very high average and no power, and never walk, so he won’t be on base much at all. Victorino will, in spite of being blessed with perhaps the best speed/throwing arm combination in the National League, play mediocre defense. He will also hit for a high average (though not as high as Polanco’s) walk (though not as much as Ruiz), hit for a little power and steal, conservatively, about 30 bases.

So that makes three positions where the Phillies can count on solid contributions from three good, but not great, players. There are, however, five other spots in the Phillies’ lineup, and anyone who says he knows for sure what the team will get, except in the most general terms, is lying. The answers to those questions will ultimately determine the course of the season.

What I want everyone to take away from this: whatever you think of what the Phillies offense was in 2010 and is in 2011, it’s at worst an above-average unit. And with this starting rotation, above-average is more than enough to win the World Series. So let’s step off the ledge and address each position case-by-case. Continue reading 2011 Phillies Offensive Preview, Part 1: Intro and First Base

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Castillo Goes 0-4, Phils fall to Rays 4-1

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Wed, March 23, 2011 03:40 PM Comments: 6

Luis Castillo made us wait.  He was originally in the lineup for yesterday’s game but was a late scratch saying there was a miscommunication between Castillo and his agent.  Waiting to see the new Phillie in action you had to wonder if he would be worth the wait.  Well, not exactly.  Castillo had no hits in four at bats today against the Rays.  He did play second base and occupied the second spot in the lineup behind Jimmy Rollins.

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