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Former Phillies OF Young charged with battery

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Mon, February 08, 2016 05:32 PM Comments: 6

 (AP Photo).

(AP Photo).

Former Phillies outfielder and current MLB free agent Delmon Young was arrested by police Sunday night for allegedly threatening and choking a valet driver in Miami, according to ESPN.

The official police report depicts the confrontation beginning when the 30-year-old Young asked the valet to open an elevator. In response, the valet explained that the elevator was closed because the club it went to was, at the time, closed.

According to the report, Young instigated the confrontation by saying, “Stupid Cuban, open the F****** door. I’m here. Now what?”

The Valet proceeded to explain to an infuriated Young that the elevator was closed. But Young refused to listen.

“I’m going to f****** kill you, you Latin piece of s***,” Young said. He then started to choke the valet.

The valet managed to escape the scuffle while Young fled to his apartment that was located in the back of the complex. Police eventually showed up at the ballplayer’s apartment, where they were greeted by Young, who was naked from the waist down. The police then told Young to clothe himself and provide identification.

The valet identified Young, and the outfielder was arrested at approximately 10:15 p.m.

Young’s Phillies tenure was short-lived. He was signed to a one-year deal by the club prior to the 2013 regular season and played 80 games before being released in early Aug. Over 272 at-bats, Young posted a .261 batting average, eight home runs and 31 RBIs.

This wasn’t the only instance of a former Philadelphia athlete making headlines the Monday after Super Bowl weekend. Former Eagles running back LeSean McCoy made headlines by getting into an altercation with three off-duty Philadelphia police officers early Sunday morning.

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Report: Dodgers, Cubs, Jays no longer pursuing Papelbon

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Thu, July 23, 2015 11:47 AM Comments: 17

The three teams previously believed to be likely landing spots for Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon have reportedly backed off the 34-year-old, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark.

Anonymous sources have told ESPN that the Dodgers, Cubs, and Blue Jays are all no longer pursuing the outspoken closer. With this news, there is a strong possibility that the Phillies will be unable to move Papelbon before the July 31 trade deadline.

Papelbon has expressed a desire to be traded to a contender. His most recent comments came during the All-Star Break, where a candid Papelbon addressed the media in regards to the trade deadline.

“That’s not what I signed up for,” Papelbon said. “I signed up with a team that won 102 games, and I expected certain things. It didn’t happen, and I’ve tried to ride that ship and keep my mouth shut as much as I can. But it’s time for the Phillies to you-know-what or get off the pot.

“I feel like three years is plenty enough time to ride it out, so to speak. If the fans don’t understand that, I can’t really side with them.”

Recent moves by the formerly interested clubs seem to indicate a disinterest in Papelbon. The Cubs have called up veteran reliever Rafael Soriano, who has career ERA of 2.85 to go along with 207 career saves. The Blue Jays are moving 23-year-old starter Aaron Sanchez (5-4 3.55 ERA) to the bullpen following his rehab assignment, and the Dodgers have listed starting pitching as their top priority as the deadline approaches.

For the Phillies, Papelbon’s $13 million vesting option, which vests if he finishes just 15 more games, is proving to be a major obstacle.  His contract, age, and perhaps his abrasive personality are potentially major deterrents in the eyes of other GMs. The right-hander has proven his worth on the mound this season though, converting each of his 16 save opportunities while posting a 1.63 ERA. He earned the win in yesterday’s game, pitching two innings of relief for the second time this season.

There’s a strong possibility that the trade deadline comes and goes and Papelbon is still on the club. With eight days left, before the deadline, the front office will need to get creative if they hope to move their all-time saves leader.

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Inside Chase Utley’s Slump

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Wed, May 13, 2015 08:00 AM Comments: 11

PHOTO: Billy Hurst/AP

PHOTO: Billy Hurst/AP

Slumps are a part of baseball. Heck, they’re a part of life. Only there aren’t usually TV cameras and thousands of people watching your every day life. So when Chase Utley began the 2015 season with a lengthy slump at the plate, I didn’t think much of it. “He’ll come around,” I thought. But so far he hasn’t. His slump has continued and continued, as we are in the middle of May and it still looks like Utley is having difficulty finding his swing–although he is four for his last eleven. But I’m not talking just statistics. Baseball is more than that. He’s looked decidedly un-Utley-like at the plate. And it’s even bled into his fielding and baserunning as well, because he hasn’t looked like The Man™ in any phase of his game. It’s been tough to watch at times. Let’s take a deeper look at his slump.

He started the year just 1-for-14, and his batting average reached the .200 mark just one time all season. One! That was after he went 3-for-3 with two home runs against the Mets on April 14 at Citi Field. Two of those hits and one of those home runs came off Matt Harvey. After that game, he was hitting .200/.267/.440. Since then, he’s hit .096/.183/.151 (not counting last night). Oof. Here’s a visual of how his batting average has fluctuated game-by-game over the last three seasons:

As you can see, his highest average so far this year is still lower than his lowest average from 2013-2014. It’s an extreme drop off.  So what causes such a change? First, I’ll take a look at his plate discipline. His walks are way down–6.9% is the lowest since 2004. And he’s actually seeing fewer pitches in the zone than he has over his career.

He’s swinging at pitches slghtly less than he has in the past. But according to FanGraphs, he’s swinging at more pitches outside the zone than usual, as well as not swinging at pitches inside the zone as often. His contact and whiff rates have been normal. Here’s a heat map on what pitches he’s swinging at (the top is 2015, the bottom is his career prior to 2015):

 Next, I’ll look at his batted ball data. He’s pulling the ball slightly more than normal–47.7% this year compared to 45.6% over his career. However, he’s hitting the ball to center a lot more than normal (38.6% compared to 33.1%), and hitting the ball the other way a lot less than normal–21.3% for his career, but just 13.6% in 2015.

Still, the big change, I think, is in the quality of his contact. He’s getting “hard hits” (according to FanGraphs) less than half of the time compared to his career average. He’s hitting less line drives and more ground balls as well. Here’s a visual on the types of hits he’s getting:

His ground balls and fly balls have generally fluctuated, but his line drives are clearly down. It’s a lot to digest, so, to summarize, Utley’s struggles are in all likelihood a result of a lot less hard hit balls, in addition to a lot less line drives. Other things obviously factor in, but those are the main issues. There’s no way to really tell if, or when, he will snap out of it. It’s not like he’s getting bit by the BABIP “luck” bug. His is absurdly low (.118), but there’s reasonable explanation with his batted ball data.

The longer this slump goes on, the worse it’ll get. He’s in his own head–it’s a bit different when you slump to start the year. When you slump mid season, your numbers will just dip a little bit. When you slump to begin the season, your numbers will go low and stay low. And we are seeing that with Utley. I won’t make any outlandish predictions based on this slump, because I seriously doubt this is what Chase Utley is anymore. But it is concerning, and something we all will be keeping an eye on as the season progresses.

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Is Ryan Howard Heating Up? 

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, April 30, 2015 09:18 AM Comments: 3

PHOTO: Laurence Kesterson/AP

PHOTO: Laurence Kesterson/AP

Ryan Howard hit another home run last night, giving him four on the season. All four of them have come within the last eight games. Over that span, he’s hitting .214/.290/.643 (a .933 OPS), and has two walks and eight RBI to go with it.

In those eight games, the Phillies as a whole are are hitting .239/.289/.351. Howard accounts for 9.7% of their plate appearances, but 67% of their home runs and 29.6% of their RBI.

Over the last week, he’s been hitting the ball hard 36.8% of the time (according to FanGraphs), which is best on the Phillies and up from his season average of 33.3% (fire emoji). However, his BABIP has been absurdly low. It’s at .063 over the last week and .205 on the season. This is easily explainable. Howard pulls the ball 54.2% of the time in 2015 (68.4% over the last week). With the insane amount shifts he sees, tons of hard-hit balls to the right side get swallowed up for outs. By my count, about 63% of his outs in play in 2015 have come on the right side, with many of them being fielded in shallow right field. This explains his low season batting average of .191.

Still, Howard has been producing over the last week or so. He’s looked good. I think it’s a little much to expect him to hit a home run every seven or eight plate appearances, which is what he’s been doing over the last eight games–that would equate to about 82 home runs over 162. But I don’t think it’s too much to expect him to produce for the Phillies. Remember, there were a lot of people, myself included, that believed Howard shouldn’t start for this team. Yet, now he’s on pace for 35 home runs and 86 RBI.

He’s moved himself up to fourth on the Phillies–behind Odubel Herrera, Freddy Galvis, and Cody Asche–in advanced stats like wOBA and wRC+, and he’s doing it with a BABIP at least 168 points below the three ahead of him and a batting average under .200. We are still in the first month of the season, so a lot can obviously change–small sample sizes can be extremely deceiving. But Howard has been one of the better Phillies hitters, and, for now, deserves some praise.

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Small Ball? Not So Much

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Mon, April 27, 2015 09:01 AM Comments: 6

PHOTO: AP

PHOTO: AP

Coming into the season, the Phillies offense wasn’t expected to be much of anything. So manager Ryne Sandberg figured that the best way to get these guys to produce would be small ball. Here’s what he told MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki in March:

That’s something that I’m stressing this spring. We’re working on it. We’re practicing it. If it’s not a bunt, it could be a hit and run. Get a baserunner, make something happen–really to set the tone for the season. … I look at our bats and our type of team, and I think we’re going to have to be good at that game.

And so far in 2015, they’ve been trying. Kind of. They’ve been one of the worst teams at the plate–last in the league in total runs and runs per game, last in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, OPS, and more. But they have the most sacrifice bunt attempts (17) and successes (8) in all of baseball. However, their 47% success rate is near the bottom of the league at 26th. So in reality, they aren’t that good at sac bunts, they just lead the league because they attempt so many.

So what about other forms of “small ball”? I define small ball as advancing the most baserunners as possible. That can come in the form of bunts and steals, but also things like going 1st-to-3rd on a single to right, or advancing a runner from 2nd to 3rd on a ground ball. Elias/ESPN classify a “productive out” as (1) successful sac bunt by a pitcher with one out, or (2) advancing any runner with none out, or (3) driving in a baserunner with the second out of the inning. A failure is determined as making an out without advancing the runner(s). Using that criteria, the Phillies are 11th in the league in with 22 successes in 61 opportunities. So at least they’re in the top half in that category.

But how about baserunning? They have 10 stolen bases in 13 attempts, which is about the league average. However, they haven’t been very good on the basebaths. According to Baseball Reference, the Phillies have taken extra bases (defined as taking more than one base on a single or more than two on a double) at a rate good for third-worst in the league. Furthermore, they are 2nd-to-last in the rate at which any baserunner scores on a batter’s play. They are last in total baserunners that scored and last at advancing a runner from second with none out as well.

So, the Phillies are trying the small ball thing with lots of bunts, but they don’t do the other things that are required to make “small ball” successful. If they really want to stress this play style, they need to do a better job, as Andy Reid would say, of situational hitting and running the bases. They could vastly improve their run output if they just improve in those areas.

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Ken Rosenthal, Awkward Press Conferences, and Why The Phillies Are Stuck In Neutral

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, February 12, 2015 10:30 AM Comments: 81

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“Stuck in neutral”

Yesterday, Ken Rosenthal wrote about the Phillies in his column over at Fox Sports.

He started out with four hypothetical “awkward” press conferences–Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Cliff Lee, and Ryan Howard–asking the players about potential trades when Spring Training rolls around. These are all guys that the Phillies probably should’ve parted ways with by now. They know it, reporters know it, most fans know it. Heck, even the Phillies might know it. Here’s a quote from Rosenthal following the intro:

We’re talking awkward — painfully awkward. And unless things change before the Phillies’ first workout a week from Thursday, their offseason will look like a major fail.

Now, I think I disagree that the offseason will be a major fail if they don’t move any of those four guys before Spring Training. They did manage to make deals to part ways with Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd, which was noted by Rosenthal. Those weren’t exactly blockbuster deals, but they were something.

But I agree that a failure exists with the Phillies front office. The failure, in my opinion, does not lie in the 2015 offseason. It has already happened. They should’ve moved Cliff Lee a long time ago. Ryan Howard, in my opinion, should’ve been simply released during the season last year. Jonathan Papelbon should’ve been traded for something, either at the deadline last season, or any time during this offseason. Only Cole Hamels was worth hanging on to going into 2015. The David Price trade at the deadline last year hurt Hamels’ value, and the free agent moves this offseason (Jon Lester to the Cubs, James Shields to the Padres, to be precise) didn’t help either. I think they’ll get some better offers leading up to the deadline, as contending teams realize that they need a starter.

But Rosenthal is right. Maybe the Phillies are being too stubborn, and maybe it’s doing more harm than good. Here’s what he had to say about it:

The front office’s stubbornness, though, appears to go even deeper, whether it’s Amaro or Gillick who is actually calling the shots. The Phillies refuse to accept that they might not get exactly what they want.

Can the Phillies fix their mistakes? Sure. But, as Rosenthal states, it would require the Phillies to loosen up and entertain some offers that might not be up to their standards. Unless something changes soon, things will only get worse. Here’s how he put it:

And good luck to the Phillies persuading their fans to buy tickets for a team that remains stuck in neutral.

Stuck in neutral. I like it. The car that is the Phillies is on a downward path, stuck in neutral, and Ruben Amaro Jr. is at the wheel. He still has time to turn that baby around, but time is running out. Tick, tick, tick.

  • 81 Comments
 

2014 Player Reviews: Jerome Williams

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Mon, November 03, 2014 11:00 AM Comments: 11

PHOTO: AP/Chris Carlson

PHOTO: AP/Chris Carlson

The Phillies claimed pitcher Jerome Williams off waivers from the Rangers back on August 10. They needed starting pitching help, and likely didn’t want to go with Sean O’Sullivan for the 5th spot in the rotation.

Williams, however, didn’t appear to be all that good of an option at the time. He posted a 6.71 ERA for the Astros and Rangers up to that point in 2014. Many Phillies fans didn’t even know who he was, had never even heard his name before. We cleared that up, though.

But then something great happened. He was good. Not good-for-a-fifth-starter good, either. He posted a 2.83(!!!) ERA for the Phils in nine starts. The 32 year old averaged just over 6.1 innings and about 2.2 runs (including unearned) per start. For comparison, Cole Hamels averaged between 6.2 and 7.0 innings and exactly two runs per start, and A.J. Burnett averaged just under 6.1 innings and 3.58 runs per start.

Williams, who generally used his fastball and sinker the most, never really pitched that well, despite his outstanding ERA. His K% was just 16.5% and his BB% was 7.4%. League averages for NL starters were 19.5% and 7.1%. His K-BB% was 9.1%, with the league average being 12.4%. Many of his other stats were at or close to league average.

One thing that sticks out, however, was his BABIP. While he was surrendering around the league average in line drives, ground balls, and fly balls, the ones that were in play were turned into outs at a higher rate than average–his BABIP was .257, and the league average was .294. .257 was the 8th-lowest among NL starters with at least 50 innings pitched. Combine that with his solid (8.5%) HR/FB rate, and we’ve got a pretty good explanation for his great ERA, despite his average peripherals.

GRADE: A+

I don’t see how Jerome Williams can receive any other grade. He came to the desperate-for-starting-pitching-help Phillies and gave them all that they could ask for and way more. I would feel pretty comfortable saying that Williams’ performance-to-expectations ratio was the highest on the Phils. He was outstanding, and pitched himself into a new contract in Philadelphia.

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2014 Top Moments: #1 J-Roll Breaks Hit Record

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Wed, October 29, 2014 12:00 PM Comments: 18

We are finally at our top moment of 2014. This time, we look at when Jimmy Rollins broke the franchise hits record.

We all knew it would happen. Barring injury, Jimmy Rollins was sure to break Mike Schmidt‘s franchise hits record in 2014.

And he did just that.

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PHOTO: AP

Schmidt’s record was 2,234 hits. J-Roll notched his 2,235th on Saturday, June 14. He lined a single off Edwin Jackson in the 5th inning in front of 31,524 fans at Citizens Bank Park. The game was then delayed while celebrations took place. Schmidt came out and got Jimmy’s bat and gave him a hug. The entire Phillies team also came out to celebrate with J-Roll.

Rollins has been with the club since 2000, and is a potential Hall-of-Famer. He’s been the face of the Phillies for several years, and has given us countless memories. He provides a unique combo of power and speed from the shortstop position, and is an exceptional fielder. He won an MVP in 2007, and is at or near the top in almost every offensive category in Phillies history. This moment is more of a result of what Jimmy has given us over the years, which is a ton. If we did a countdown of top moments of the last 10 years for the Phillies, this one would still be near the top.

This concludes our top moments countdown. Hope you enjoyed! Here are the others.

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2014 Top Moments: #4 Ben Revere’s First Home Run

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, October 23, 2014 10:05 AM Comments: 6

We are continuing with our 2014 Top Moments countdown, this time taking a look back at Ben Revere‘s first MLB home run.

PHOTO: AP

PHOTO: AP

Ben Revere had over 1,400 major league at-bats coming into the game against the Rockies on May 27. There were 23,159 in paid attendance that night at Citizens Bank Park, but an hour-and-22 minute rain delay subsequently caused fans to leave and the stadium to be nearly empty.

Revere had grounded out three straight times–one to first and two to third. Coming into his fourth at-bat in the seventh, the situation was this: The Rockies had just taken the lead on a three-run home run by Wilin Rosario. Revere, the second batter of the inning, was facing lefty Boone Logan, who was usually pretty darn good against lefties–a 1.71 ERA and 1.58 xFIP against lefties in 2013.

It was a 1-1 count, and Logan threw an 91-MPH inside fastball. Revere turned on it perfectly, sending it over the right field fence into the first row. As expected, the entire Phillies dugout ignored him at first before celebrating. It broke the longest homerless drought for an MLB player since Frank Tavares for the Pirates in the 70′s.

ESPN’s home run tracker had the home run at 357 feet, and, in the part of the ballpark it was, would’ve been a home run in just six MLB ballparks. What makes his home run even more surprising, outside of the fact that he’s never hit one before, is that he doesn’t usually have success hitting the ball to right field. Most of his success is up the middle or to left field. He also doesn’t typically hit fly balls, as the majority of his hits are grounders or line drives. He even said that he “usually gets in trouble” when he hits fly balls. Here’s a chart from Fangraphs:


Source: FanGraphs

Over his career, he has a .178 average on fly balls, a .242 average on grounders, and a .676 average on liners. For comparison, the MLB average in 2014 was .202 on flies, .212 on grounders, and .712 on liners. Revere hits .280 when pulling the ball (2014 MLB average .319), .327 when hitting it up the middle (2014 MLB average .324), and .358 to the opposite field (2014 MLB average .298).

Revere would go on to hit another home run, this time against the Nationals on September 5. This home run tied the game for the Phillies in the top of the ninth–a game they would eventually win. It traveled 401 feet–would’ve been out in all 30 ballparks–and came off of Washington’s closer Rafael Soriano.

His two home runs ended up being a part of a special season for Revere, who would compete for the NL batting title and finish with 49 stolen bases. His first home run was a treat for Phillies fans, and a sigh of relief for Revere, who was just waiting for that moment to happen. He said he wants to get 400 more, but somehow I don’t think that will happen.

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Phillies Uniforms, and the Color Blue

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Mon, September 01, 2014 12:30 PM Comments: 10

Happy Labor Day, Nation! Here’s a little change-of-pace post on the Phillies uniforms.

I was browsing the Phillies hat selection on Lids.com and came across this. That hat was worn by the Phillies in the 2000′s as an “Interleague Hat”, as they wore it, as an alternate, for when they played teams from the American League. It got me thinking: what would the Phillies look like if they added more blue to the uniform?

In recent years, they have worn the new “Diamond Era” batting practice (BP) hat for a few games, both home and away. But it kind of looks out of place, since the rest of the uniform lacks any kind of blue, save for the blue stars that dot the i’s on the front logo.

So, my idea is to add more blue to the entire uniform. Let’s start with hat. I would change the normal red hat with a white “P” to something that resembles the current BP hat. Something like this.

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Now for the home pinstripes. I’d like to see blue outlining on the “Phillies” script on the front, and on the name and number on the back. It would look like this:

cliff lee

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For the gray away uniform, I would make the same changes, and add a little blue to the stripe on the pants.

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Some History

The Phillies have had blue in their uniform in the past, as well. The current “day game” home alternate uniform is based off an old Phillies uniform from 1948. (H/t Uni Watch). Also, the classic throwback jerseys that you see around Philadelphia and at Citizens Bank Park are powder blue, and were worn for road games in the 70′s and 80′s. The Phils also had an away jersey prototype that featured “Philadelphia” across the chest (the norm for away jerseys in MLB), and a blue outline on the sleeve numbers. That is taken from this, by Bill Henderson (via Dan Fuller here).

What do you think? Do you want to see more blue in the Phillies uniforms? Or should they stick with the classic red look?

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