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Posts Tagged ‘Phillies’

Free Dom Brown (Again)

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Sun, August 24, 2014 11:00 AM Comments: 14

After last night’s 12-inning loss to the Cardinals, Domonic Brown made note of the fact that he hasn’t been playing every day. And he’s right–he’s had just 41 plate appearances and seven starts since July 30. He is dead last on the team with a -1.7 WAR (prior to last night’s game). He has a .613 OPS, and is hitting line drives at a lower rate than even Ben Revere.

It’s no question that he has struggled immensely this year. He’s looked horrid in the field at a new position and just as bad at the plate. The Phillies even brought in Grady Sizemore to help make up for Brown’s lack of production. Recently, we’ve been seeing Darin Ruf in left.

But that was a mistake.

Sizemore is 32, Ruf is 28, and they have no real future (Ruf might) with the ballclub. They are just stealing at-bats from Brown. Dom isn’t going to get out of this slump by sitting on the bench. He isn’t going to find his groove by pinch-hitting more often than he starts. He needs the at-bats, needs to see more playing time if the Phillies want to see any progression.

I’m not saying that his hitting and fielding slump is 100% on how he’s being managed, either. The blame goes all around. From Ruben Amaro Jr. to Ryne Sandberg, to Brown.

But unless the Phillies are ready to give up on him (and that is certainly plausible), he needs to be freed.

  • 14 Comments
 

Can Ben Revere Win The Batting Title?

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Sat, August 23, 2014 11:10 AM Comments: 12

All Placido Polanco Ben Revere does is hit. He’s been a hit machine recently, and has pushed himself up to 2nd in the NL in batting average, only behind Justin Morneau of the Rockies.

But can he pass Morneau? Revere has been on an outstanding hot streak since June, leading MLB in average over that span. He also hasn’t struck out or walked much, either.

Why he will win it

Revere has finally settled into his groove. He’s seeing the ball extremely well, and his lack of patience is made up for with his stellar ability to make contact. Only Denard Span of the Nationals makes contact at a higher rate than Revere.

He’s on a hot streak right now, and his confidence at the plate is at a season high. He’s making it look easy.

Morneau, on the other hand, hasn’t been as good lately. If (a big ‘if’) Revere doesn’t cool off, he’ll win the batting title easily.

Why he won’t

While Revere undoubtedly can make contact with the ball at an extremely high rate, the contact he makes isn’t necessarily good. He leads MLB in contact %, but also ground ball %, and obviously ground ball/fly ball %. He doesn’t hit many solid line drives, as most of his hits are ground ball singles.

He doesn’t walk, and doesn’t hit for any kind of power, which means his plate appearances usually end in either a single or an out. Out of 477 plate appearances so far, only 29 have not ended in either a single or an out.

He can easily be dealt with by having pitcher sort of “pitch around” him, knowing he will still swing. Although he doesn’t chase balls out of the zone too much, he hardly ever sees pitches out of the zone. He’s seeing the most in-the-zone pitches in all of baseball according to Fangraphs. However, he’s 6th in MLB in the rate at which he makes contact with pitches outside the zone. If pitchers pitch around him more, I think Revere will struggle a ton.

There’s also the injury factor to consider. He is often limping around the field after his PAs.

Verdict

I don’t think he’ll do it. I would love to see it, but I just don’t think he will stay this hot through September. I think he’ll cool off and finish in the top 3 in the NL in average. He just doesn’t make enough solid contact to sustain such a high average, in my opinion. However, he’s been fun to watch these last few months, a rarity with this current Phillies team.

  • 12 Comments
 

Changes Coming To Phillies Organization

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, August 21, 2014 01:15 PM Comments: 30

According to Jayson Stark of ESPN, the Phillies will be making many changes throughout the entire organization. He was on 97.5 The Fanatic yesterday with Mike Missanelli, and talked about the state of the Phils organization. He mentioned that, in addition to the changes, he believes that GM Ruben Amaro Jr is unsafe, despite David Montgomery saying that Amaro was not on the hot seat. Listen to the full interview here.

I think the Phillies need to change a lot of things (obviously), and the rumors that Stark is hearing could definitely be a step in the right direction. What do you think?

  • 30 Comments
 

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.

 

  • 17 Comments
 

Why The Phillies Failed At The Trade Deadline

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Fri, August 01, 2014 08:00 AM Comments: 34

Mo Money Mo Problems

Yesterday, the 4 PM MLB trade deadline came and went without a single move by the Phillies. Marlon Byrdthe player thought to be the most likely to be dealt, and the one who should have been dealt for at least something, didn’t go anywhere. A.J. Burnett wasn’t traded, and neither were Jonathan Papelbon, Cliff Lee, or Cole Hamels.

Around the league, Jon Lester was traded along with Jonny Gomes to the Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes. David Price was traded to the Tigers in a three team deal. John Lackey was sent to the Cardinals, and Martin Prado to the Yankees. The Phillies? Nada.

Continue reading Why The Phillies Failed At The Trade Deadline

  • 34 Comments
 

Ryan Howard and the Shift: An Analysis

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Fri, April 18, 2014 02:10 PM Comments: 4

PHOTO: AP

PHOTO: AP

The Big Piece. Ryan Howard has given us plenty of great moments over the years–from game winning monster home runs to “get me to the plate, boys”. Ruben Amaro Jr. awarded him with a monster contract that has since been proven to be one of the biggest mistakes he’s made as Phillies GM due to a tremendous drop in production from the lefty slugger. But this isn’t about the amount of money that the now run down, breaking ball chasing Howard is making. This is about a different aspect of his game that I don’t think has been analyzed deeply before.

Ryan Howard has always been a strong pull-hitter. And, much like his predecessor–Jim Thome–he gets the shift treatment each time he steps to the plate. The second baseman plays in shallow right field, the short stop plays somewhere up the middle, and the third baseman plays shortstop. The third base position does not, and will never, exist when The Big Piece is in the batters box. For this reason, Howard has gotten plenty of “ground outs” on frozen ropes that are hit directly at the second baseman in right field. On the other hand, he’s had a handful of swinging bunts to the left of the pitcher that got him a single as well. Here’s an analysis of what the shift does to Ryan Howard, and what Ryan Howard does to the shift. First, we’ll look at a couple spray charts courtesy of Brooks Baseball.

plot_hc_spray

As you can see in the image above, there is a large cluster of ground balls (marked in green) in between first and second base on the right side of the field. The dots are marked at the point at which the fielder made contact with the ball. A large portion of those dots are in the outfield, a direct result of the shift. Lets take a look at another lefty on the Phillies–Chase Utley.

plot_hc_spray (2)

He has a similar tendency to pull ground balls to the right side, but the contact with the fielder in his chart is much more condensed and closer to the natural second base position. He also has more ground balls make it through the infield to the right fielder.

Now, seeing his spray chart, Howard clearly falls victim to shift more often than not. Most of his ground balls to the right side are eaten up by the shift, and result in outs. Also, a larger portion of his line drives (red dots) to the right side are caught by the shifted fielders than Utley. But here’s another chart:

plot_hc_spray (1)

The black dots in this chart represent his outs. As expected, there is a cluster on the right side of the infield and in shallow right field. But what’s interesting, is that he has more outs in center field and left field than he does in right field. This is–you guessed it–another direct result of the shift. Opposing teams are able to cut down the amount of batted balls that even make it to the outfielders. Another area of interest is the amount of singles and doubles to the right side. He has significantly more singles to right than any other part of the field, but less doubles. Outfielders play him to pull, and are able to cut down deeply hit balls that the infielders could not get to.

This is proven by looking at some numbers on Baseball Reference. When Howard pulls the ball, he gets a hit roughly 37.8% of the time. But when he hits it up the middle, that average jumps to 41.4%. And when he hits it the other way, it’s an even 40%. His OPS, however, distinctly increases as you go from the right side (1.050) to the middle (1.237) to the left (1.408). So, while his strength is pulling the ball, opposing teams have successfully been able to counter that with the fielding alignment. And, judging by his numbers to each field, limiting the number of balls he pulls would benefit him.

So, knowing this about himself, has Howard tried to change his approach a bit to try and beat the shift? David Ortiz, another slugging lefty, was able to change up his approach a few years ago. He began to fight off outside pitches to the left side, rather than still trying to pull them. He even attempted to bunt a few times. Howard, on the other hand, has made minimal changes, if any:

plot_hc_bytime (1)

No.

Overall, there is little change since 2007 in the area where Howard hits the ball. It doesn’t look like he’s trying to drive the ball the other way any more than he did seven years ago. It’s quite understandable that Ruben Amaro Jr. isn’t paying him to hit line drive singles to left-center, but at this point in his career, can The Big Piece afford to keep driving hit after hit into the teeth of the shift? Should he change his approach? In my opinion, Howard should keep doing what got him that ludicrous contract in the first place. Changing up his approach now would do more harm than good for a guy still trying to find his old self at the plate.

  • 4 Comments
 

The Decline of Jonathan Papelbon

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, April 03, 2014 12:14 PM Comments: 12

PHOTO: AP / Jim Cowsert

Last night, Jonathan Papelbon blew his first save opportunity of the season, surrendering three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning in Texas. This has been somewhat of a theme for Papelbon recently. As Todd Zolecki noted last night, Paps has pitched poorly over his last 39 appearances–4.46 ERA, and eight blown saves. His infamous “I didn’t come here for this.” quote also came during that span.

Another thing to note, though, is over that same period of time, his fastball velocity has decreased. Last night, his fastball averaged 91.62 MPH. On June 24 of last year–the date that Zolecki used–his fastball averaged 93.44 MPH. In 2012, he was in the 93-96 range all year, and in 2011 he was up near 95-97.

Of course, a decline in velocity for a 33 year-old isn’t unexpected–but another thing to consider is his arm slot, which has steadily decreased (Credit to Bill Baer and John Stolnis for that find).

The question is–will this continue? Or is Papelbon simply in a pitching slump? The answer isn’t simple. It’s easy to expect more of the same old “Papelblown”, especially from a guy that seems to be extremely easy to hate by Phillies fans. But he’s gone through slumps like this before, too. In 2009, he had a 1.85 ERA with 3 blown saves–followed by a 2010 season where he had a 3.90 ERA with eight blown saves. He knows adversity.

However, if his dropping arm slot and velocity are effects of an injury, that’s a different story. We’ve seen this kind of reduction in velocity and effectiveness before. See: Roy Halladay. Halladay didn’t drop his arm slot like Paps is doing, but the drop in velocity and decrease in effectiveness is similar. Halladay labored a lot more than Papelbon is now, as well. So I’m not saying that Jonathan Papelbon has a bum shoulder, or that he’ll retire next year, but it is definitely something to watch. 33 is not terribly old for a closer–but Jonathan Papelbon is a crazy man. Not an ordinary closer. Still, there’s always a chance he gets past this.

And for our sake, I hope he bounces back.

  • 12 Comments
 

Download our new and improved Android app!

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, April 01, 2014 11:00 AM Comments: 0

Our previous app for Android devices is no longer supported by its software company. But have no fear, we’ve developed an even better app for you to download.

It features real-time updates from all our Phillies Nation properties – the blog, minor league news, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and Phillies Nation TV. We even have the full Phillies schedule with previous game results. You can also access the Phillies Nation store for gift buying on the go. Download the Phillies Nation Android app today!

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Phillies Release INF Ronny Cedeno

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Tue, March 25, 2014 10:21 AM Comments: 11

430592The Phillies have announced the release of  veteran backup infielder Ronny Cedeno, according to multiple reports on Twitter. He was hitting .182/.250/.273 in 13 games this Spring as a non-roster invitee.

After Kevin Frandsen was optioned to Lehigh Valley (AAA) on Sunday, the backup shortstop spot on the bench is down to just two in-house candidates: Cesar Hernandez (.281/.314/.313) and Reid Brignac (.353/.476/.529).  Freddy Galvis remains sidelined indefinitely with a MRSA infection.

The Phillies could look outside the organization for help, as well. As Todd Zolecki and Mett Gelb point out, Cesar Izturis is available.

  • 11 Comments
 

Rollins: “I can’t be traded”

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, March 19, 2014 05:40 PM Comments: 36

Jimmy Rollins reiterated today that he will not be going anywhere, responding to an earlier report from Buster Olney of ESPN.com. Olney said that members of the organization would like to move on from Rollins, as he has not taken on a leadership role in the way they’ve wanted.

Rollins spoke at length about the issue today in Clearwater and told the Inquirer this:

Rollins, who has a full no-trade clause, was relaxed when discussing the matter and didn’t seem irritated for one simple reason.

“Because they can’t trade me,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. I don’t care which way it has tried to be twisted or said, if it is exactly how it was said or if it was said, I can’t be traded.”

Sounds like a man who knows what he wants. And Since Rollins owns the 10/5 rights, he can decline any deal, and it appears he will.

Ruben Amaro seemed disgusted when asked about this:

“It’s absolutely silly, It’s absolute silliness. Jimmy Rollins is our shortstop,” Amaro said. “One of the ways we’re going to be able to win is with Jimmy being Jimmy. In fact, those are the kinds of articles that get thrown out there, not only are they a distraction, they’re dangerous and they’re untrue.”

So which is it? Do high ranking members of the Phillies want Rollins out? Or do you believe Amaro, that these are dangerous accusations?

This seems to be a topic that will not go away for the foreseeable future, and Rollins seems to care not.

  • 36 Comments
 
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