Posts Tagged ‘Phillies Fans’

Why Keeping Chase Utley Is A Good Thing

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Wed, August 19, 2015 08:51 AM Comments: 6


The Man™


Yesterday, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told Sports Radio WIP that Chase Utley will likely spend the rest of the season on the Phillies. He would later clarify to reporters before yesterday’s game that “I don’t think that Chase has that desire to leave, frankly,” and “the Phillies don’t have the desire to move him out of here.”

It sure sounds like Utley is adamant on staying in Philadelphia. And that’s fine with me. He’s one of the best players to ever wear a Phillies uniform, and arguably the best position player we’ve seen since Mike Schmidt. In over 1500 games since 2003, he’s had over 6600 plate appearances, and hit .282/.366/.481. His OPS+ is 122, and his wRC+ is 124. He’s accumulated 60+ WAR, which is second all time in franchise history.

So why do these things matter when he’s hitting just .217/.284/.333 in 2015? Normally, trading an aging vet would be a smart move for a team in the middle of a rebuild. The Phillies have already done that with Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd, and Jonathan Papelbon, among others. The return wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was better than getting nothing for guys who weren’t going to be a part of the future here.

But Utley’s situation is unique. He wants to be here. We are so used to players wanting to leave a bad team to chase a ring (Papelbon), or money (looking at you, Jayson Werth), which is why so many are perplexed by Utley’s desire to stay. But him wanting to be here is why holding on to him is a good thing. Not only for Utley himself, but for the Phillies, for Ruben Amaro Jr., and for the fans. It’s a win-win-win-win. It will look good for RAJ because it shows a willingness to cater to players. It might make Philadelphia more desirable for free agents. It’ll be good for the fans because they will get to see one of their favorites a little bit longer. He’s going to be in the Phillies Hall of Fame one day, and maybe likely the Baseball Hall of Fame as well. If he wants to stay, he should stay. No LOOGY (lefty, one out guy) or whatever they would’ve gotten for him would be worth it. There is no realistic return that would justify a trade.

Now we can just sit back, relax, and not have to worry about seeing Utley in another uniform this year. I mean, Imagine him playing for the Giants–that would be a nearly unbearable sting. It gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it. So rest easy Phils fans, The Man™ is staying in Philadelphia. For now.


Ryan Howard Is The Hottest Man In Philadelphia

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Fri, May 22, 2015 10:10 AM Comments: 6

A few weeks ago, we noted that Ryan Howard seemed to be heating up at the plate. He was seeing the ball well, getting lots of solid contact, and finally started to hit some home runs.

Since then, he’s hit .324/.370/.632, with five home runs–including one off a lefty yesterday–and 11 RBI. His 1.002 OPS is 7th in the NL among qualifiers over that time, and his .309 ISO (isolated power, or simply slugging percent minus average) is 5th. His hard hit % (46.8%) is third in the NL, and, if you want to really get advanced, both his wOBA (.429) and wRC (15) are good for seventh in the league as well.

Every single one of those numbers–OPS, ISO, hard hit %, wOBA, and wRC–leads the Phillies not only in May, but for the entire season as well. He also leads the team in home runs (9), and RBI (21).

He went from hitting .194/.247/.417 in April, to hitting .257/.307/.521 for the season, as of yesterday. That’s about a 24.5% increase across the board in three weeks. Prior to the season, ZiPS projected Howard to hit .234/.310/.415, with a total of 18 home runs on the season. He has half that, and it’s not even June yet. So far, he’s outperforming expectations. According to FanGraphs, he’s the most valuable hitter on the Phillies (excluding baserunning).

Trade value status: increased. He might even be on track to hit his way out of Philadelphia. 

He’s been good. Really good–just not Bryce Harper good. But there’s always a catch, right? He’s still striking out a ton–actually a bit more (27.5%) than he was in the first month of the season (25.6%). His line drives are slightly down as well. His BABIP is at .405 in the month of May, which is just a bit higher than his mark of .208 in April.

Putting those things together, it’s easy to say that no, he won’t be able to keep up this outstanding pace. He’ll likely come down to earth. ZiPS projects him to hit .238/.310/.436 the rest of the way, with 15 more home runs and 57 more RBI. He’s been hitting a home run every 16.78 plate appearances this year (once every 14.6 PA in May). ZiPS says that’ll come down to about once every 22.8. And stats aside, I simply can’t see this continuing for much longer, especially from a guy of his age and injury history. 

But he is the hottest player on the Phillies right now. That’s a fact. Who thought we’d be saying that, almost two months into the season?


Jonathan Papelbon, And Why You Should Appreciate Him

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, May 14, 2015 09:45 AM Comments: 4



Last night, Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 113th save for the Phillies, passing Jose Mesa for the franchise record. It wasn’t any ordinary save, though. After walking Francisco Cervelli to begin the inning, a throwing error on a pickoff attempt allowed pinch runner Steve Lombardozzi to reach third with just one out. Two pitches later, Jordy Mercer hit a fly ball in foul territory that looked like it could be a game-tying sacrifice fly. Jeff Francoeur had other ideas, as his monster of a throw home ended the game with a double play. It was an incredible way to get the record. Papelbon even said in his post game interview “what just happened?”

Now, 113 saves with one team is a lot. Brad Lidge had 100 with the Phils. Tug McGraw had 98, Ricky Bottalico had 78. Ryan Madson had 52. As far as Phillies closers go, Lidge, Tug, and Papelbon are all at the top. But only one of those guys makes Phillies fans blood boil. Continue reading Jonathan Papelbon, And Why You Should Appreciate Him


Aaron Harang Off To Good Start

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Tue, April 14, 2015 10:52 AM Comments: 0

It’s only two games, but Phillies righthander Aaron Harang has been a pleasant surprise for the club this year. He’s 1-1 with a 0.73 ERA–or, just one earned run over 12.1 innings pitched. That’s 7th in the NL. He throws first pitch strikes about 70% of the time, which is good for 6th in the NL.

He had a similar start with the Braves last season, allowing just three earned runs in his first 31.2 innings pitched–a 0.85 ERA. However, this is not something that’s common for Harang. Over his career, he has a 4.25 ERA in the months of March and April, which is slightly above his career ERA.

So what makes this season different? Well, in a word, he’s benefited from a bit of luck. He’s currently allowing just a .176 average on balls in play–sixth-lowest in the NL. He also surrenders the most fly balls in the NL, but has yet to give up a home run. His first five starts with the Braves last year were very similar: low ERA with a low BABIP, a high fly ball percentage, and no home runs.

His velocity is about one MPH lower than it was through five starts last year–88-89 this year, 89-90 in 2014. But it’s still just about his career average. One thing that is different is that he’s been throwing a cutter a lot more. He throws it 16.2% of the time in 2015, but only 2.0% over his career. He’s also throwing more strikes (55.2% in the zone according to FanGraphs) and more strikes that don’t induce swings (in-the-zone swings down a whole 10%). As a result, he’s striking out more batters than usual and walking less.

It would be foolish to think he’ll keep up this pace, but if he can repeat what he did for the Braves last year–which was a 3.57 ERA in 33 starts and 204.1 innings–it would be more than enough for a Phillies team desperate for quality starting pitching.


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


“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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.



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.


Ken Giles, And The Battle For Closer In 2015

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Fri, August 29, 2014 11:00 AM Comments: 6

PHOTO: (AP/Chris Szagola)

PHOTO: (AP/Chris Szagola)

Ken Giles has been good this year. Really good. The 23 year old, flamethrowing reliever was called up on June 8 after Mike Adams was placed on the disabled list with shoulder issues. Giles had a 1.88 ERA and 12 saves in the minors for Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley prior to the call up.

He was only expected to fill in for Adams and provide some spark in the late innings ahead of Jonathan Papelbon.

But he’s done so much more.

In 32 appearances and 33.2 innings, Giles has given up just six runs–five earned, good for an ERA of 1.34. He doesn’t give up many home runs (0.27 per 9), and doesn’t allow much contact–battersare making contact at a rate 67.4% against him, 4th in the NL. He has a 5.33 K/BB ratio, which is 8th in the NL (relievers, min 30 IP), and largely due to his absurd amount (48) of strikeouts. Among NL relievers with at least 30 innings pitched, both his K/9 (12.83) and his K% (38.1%) are in the top five. An interesting and unrelated note–Jake Diekman is right up there with Giles in both those categories.

Giles has an average velocity of 97.1 on his fastball, second in MLB to only cyborg Aroldis Chapman of the Reds. He also throws a nasty slider, and, according to PITCHf/x data, is the 16th most valuable in the league. 32 of his 48 strikeouts (two thirds) have come via the slider, and opponents are hitting just .137/.154/.157 against it. He’s given up just one extra base hit in 208 sliders thrown (0.48%).

The fastball-slider combo reminds me of another Phillies closer–Brad Lidge. His fastball velocity hovered around 95 MPH before he began to lose it (the average fell to about 89 MPH by 2011) and his slider was valued at 4th in all of baseball from 2007-2011. About 81.8% of his strikeouts came via his slider, and opponents hit just .190/.251/.301 against it. They’d only make contact on 54.8% of swings against it, and hit just 35 extra base hits in 2202 total pitches seen (1.6%).

PHOTO: (AP/Laurence Kesterson)

PHOTO: (AP/Laurence Kesterson)

The current closer for the Phillies–Jonathan Papelbon–has been as good as ever in 2014. He has an ERA of 1.60 (11th in NL), a K/BB ratio of 4.15 (21st in NL, and a fastball valued at 4th best in the NL. Many of his numbers this year are somewhere near his career bests, even though his fastball velocity is down. I should also mention that a few of his numbers are somewhere near his career lows as well. He gets a lot of flack for his comments to the media and his slow pace on the mound, but there’s no denying he’s been good this year.

But what about next year? The Phillies have been openly trying to trade Papelbon, or “Cinco Ocho”, as he likes to call himself–no no avail. In that article, Ken Rosenthal ponders that the lack of interest in Papelbon might be due to his falling velocity and his personality, but that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. doesn’t think so.

Regardless, the Phillies will have to make a decision on Papelbon for next year, because Giles seems ready to take over at closer and I don’t think it’s likely that Papelbon can continue to pitch at this level. If they want to go with Giles, they will have to get rid of Papelbon in some capacity, whether it be via trade or release, because Papelbon will not want to be a setup man, even though he’s really helped groom Giles this year.

I think Giles deserves it, and I think Papelbon will regress next year, and has rubbed Phillies fans the wrong way too often for the Phillies to sell him as the closer over Giles in 2015.


Byrd On Pace For (Slightly) Historic Season

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Mon, August 18, 2014 07:00 AM Comments: 17

Marlon+Byrd+Philadelphia+Phillies+v+Texas+Gey0d7AmFRKlIn this forgettable string of baseball games that we are calling the 2014 Phillies season, there is not a single thing we could look at and say “yeah, I’m going to remember this for years and years”. However, things aren’t all bad. The bullpen has been surprisingly strong, and a few hitters have been swinging the bat well–particularly the gentlemen that patrols right field for the Phils.

Marlon Byrd has been one of the most consistent offensive players on the Phillies in 2014, and he’s 36 years old.

Let’s go back to last November. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. signed Byrd to a 2-year contract, and, at the time received a load of criticism. The Phillies needed outfield help, and there were guys like Nelson Cruz still available.

He leads the team in home runs and slugging, and is 2nd on the team in OPS, doubles, and RBI.

He has missed just two(!) of 124 games this season. He’s slashing–at the time of writing this post–.270/.320/.473, has hit 22 home runs, and has 70 RBIs. By the end of the year, he’ll likely have somewhere around 28 home runs and 90 RBI.  A season with those numbers, at his age, would be among the best seasons all time for the Phillies.

The last time we saw something like this was in 2009 when Raul Ibanez had a monster season offensively. He hit 34 home runs and collected 93 RBI that year, when he was 37. Prior to that, we haven’t seen anything like this since Hall-Of-Famer Mike Schmidt had back-to-back years of 35+ home runs and 113+ RBI in 1986 and 1987. Beyond Ibanez and Schmidt, the only other player in Phils history to reach 28 home runs and 90 RBI at age 36 or older was Cy Williams in 1927.

That’s three players, one of which is an all-time great. If Byrd can manage to tally 6 more home runs and 20 more RBI in the final month and a half of the season, which should be easily attainable at his current pace, he’ll join them.  And if he does (or even if he doesn’t), it’ll go down as one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dreadful season for the Phillies.


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