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Who Will be the Phillies’ Offensive Team Leader in….

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Wed, February 18, 2015 12:49 PM Comments: 6

With Spring Training officially getting underway this week, let’s have some fun and predict who will be the Phillies’ team leaders in some offensive categories.

Batting Average? 

Ben Revere: Revere has been the Phillies’ team leader in batting average the last two seasons with a .305 average in 2013, and a .306 average in 2014. The assumption is that Revere will once again be the team leader in batting average, especially considering the fact that the Phillies’ roster consists of players that don’t hit for a high average. The only player who could really challenge Revere is Maikel Franco, who could benefit from pitchers’ unfamiliarity once he makes it to the Majors.

Prediction: .308 batting average.

Home Runs?

Dominic Brown: This may surprise most people, but I believe Brown will have a bounce-back season, and show more of the 2013 Brown, who hit 27 homers, than the disappointing 2014 Brown who hit only 10. Why am I choosing Brown over Ryan Howard? Well, I believe that Howard will not finish the season in a Phillies uniform. Howard will produce enough to attract a team desperate for a DH by the trade deadline, leaving Brown as the next best power option for the Phillies. Darin Ruf could also be a candidate, but I’m not confident he will get the playing time he needs to be the team leader in homers by season’s end.

Prediction: 24 home runs.

Runs Batted In? 

Dominic Brown: If you’re going to be the team leader in home runs, then chances are you’ll also be the team leader in RBIs. This prediction is not made solely on the fact that Brown will lead the team in home runs, but also because Brown has a career .280 batting average with runners in scoring position. If Brown is able to hit home runs with men on base, and get hits with RISP, then he should have no problem racking up the RBI numbers.

Prediction: 90 RBIs.

Stolen Bases? 

Ben Revere: With Jimmy Rollins gone, Revere is the only real threat on the base-paths for the Phillies. Last season, Revere established a career high of 49, and ranked fourth in MLB in stolen bases. Over the last four seasons, Revere has swiped 145 total bags, averaging about 36 per season. Also note that Revere stole 22 bases before missing significant time due to injury in 2013. This is a lock, barring another significant injury.

Prediction: 54 stolen bases. 

Average with RISP? 

Chase Utley: While Utley’s career is, sadly, on the decline, the 36-year-old is still one of the best second basemen in MLB. What makes Utley so dangerous at the plate is his ability to hit when it matters most; with runners in scoring position. For his career, Utley has posted a .293 batting average with RISP, and last season, hit .294. Hopefully there will be plenty of chances for him to drive in runs this season.

Prediction: .291 average with RISP.

On-Base Percentage?

Chase Utley: Utley is great in terms of OBP because he hits, takes his share of walks, and gets hit by pitches due to his “crowding” of the plate. In his career, Utley has a .370 OBP, and although his OBP has diminished the last two seasons (.348, .339), the Phillies don’t have many players that work the count, or have great plate discipline like Utley.

Prediction: .345 OBP

These are my predictions. Now, what are yours? Share in the comments!

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Twitter Not A Strong Point For The Phillies

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Wed, February 18, 2015 09:30 AM Comments: 5

In today’s world, use of social media is essential for any organization. In sports, social media just as important. Even if a team isn’t performing well on the field/court/ice, social media can keep fans interested and entertained. Let’s take the Sixers for example. They are one of the NBA’s worst teams in terms of wins and losses over the last couple years. But their Twitter account has been one of the best I’ve seen. They’ve mastered the ability to keep a fun and ultimately positive vibe in the midst of losing so many games.

The same cannot be said of the Phillies. A couple days ago, Sean Dolinar over at Fangraphs wrote about the offseason Twitter usage amongst MLB teams.

The Phillies ranked near the bottom in in Tweets per day, Tweets with media, and overall interactions.

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Now, the Phillies aren’t the worst team, but their current situation puts them in a position where social media popularity could really benefit them. Fans are starting to lose interest.

It’s time to step your game up, Phillies.

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Phillies Have Major Questions Heading into Spring Training

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, February 17, 2015 08:45 AM Comments: 27

Spring Training is about to begin; this is normally the time we wax poetic about the grass being green, a new slate, hope springing eternal, etc, etc, etc. Not to go all Debbie Downer on you, it’s just not that kinda year.

The Phillies have issues throughout their organization right now, and not just on the field. There are several questions that will need to be answered this spring. The more that can be completed, the better.

1. Will the Phillies move the rest of their veterans?

-Cole Hamels is the prized commodity, but Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon are still here, as well. Take Chase Utley out of the equation, because he’s not going anywhere. Several teams have interest in Hamels, so it comes down to whether or not it’ll be enough for Ruben Amaro to pull the trigger. My guess is he’s here through the beginning of the year and is moved at the deadline. Howard’s role is unclear, although his options outside of Philadelphia seem very, very limited. Papelbon is an interesting case. He’s still pitching effectively, yet the Phillies have made it known they want to move on. Best guess, someone steps up in the next month, and if not, definitely in July.

2. Who is running the show?

-Ruben Amaro is the GM, Pat Gillick the new team President. Who makes the final call here? It certainly seems like Gillick has always had Amaro’s ear, yet this is a different scenario with Gillick taking over for David Montgomery. Ruben is also fighting for his job, so he needs to make sound moves over the next 6-12 months. What sort of moves will the new team pull off?

3. Who will play shortstop?

-Freddy Galvis looks like the man right now. Pardon me if I’m not impressed. Galvis is nothing more than a bench player in the majors, however, the Phillies don’t have a lot else right now as they keep the seat warm for JP Crawford, who could possibly be the everyday shortstop in 2016 if all goes right this year. That’s a long ways away.

4. What’s the rotation look like?

-Cole Hamels is your ace, provided he’s here in early April. Cliff Lee, if healthy, provides a steady second option. The “if” is so huge here, because who the hell knows what he’ll give. That should be answered down in Clearwater over the next seven weeks. Beyond that, it looks like Aaron Harang and Chad Billingsly have the upper hand for spots three and four. The number five starter? That’s anyone’s guess. After a pretty strong showing at the end of last year, Jerome Williams has the lead.

5. What will Brown (and Asche and some others) do for you?

-Domonic Brown is nearing life support with the Phillies. He’ll be given plenty of time to prove that he’s still a franchise player in 2015. That all starts with a strong spring showing. He can ill-afford to decline for another year or he’ll find himself in another organization. Cody Asche looks like your starting third baseman as Maikel Franco gets tested in the minors again. Asche needs to clean up his D or learn a corner outfield spot, or he’s doomed as well. What exactly is Darin Ruf’s role? I think everyone would like to know.

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The Pete Rose Debate

Posted by Brian Michael, Mon, February 16, 2015 12:24 PM Comments: 48

Recently, former Phillies legend Pete Rose was quoted as saying that he’d love to talk to the new MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred, about his lifetime ban from baseball. Besides being unable to take part in most official MLB events, the doors to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown are locked for the All-Time hit leader. It is this point, above all, on which the debate to allow Pete back into baseball pivots.

The man known as Charlie Hustle said, “I’ll always have hope. That’s all I’ve got. I just want to be on that writer’s ballot. Let the writers decide. If they want me in, I’m in. If they don’t feel I should be in, I can live with it.” This is an interesting challenge to the writers especially in light of the recent steroid debate in which many writers have ignored the accomplishments of PED-tainted players.

To his credit, the new commissioner has taken it upon himself to settle this issue once and for all. Manfred told ESPN, “There will come a point where I will have to decide that issue [and] I fully intend to decide it.”  In addition to the performance enhancing drugs issue, this reconsideration comes within the context of a growing push to legalize sports gambling (which has already occurred to an extent in New Jersey).

As we all know, Pete Rose bet on baseball while he was managing the Cincinnati Reds.  There’s no denying that.  Yet the process by which he was banned from baseball was akin to a Greek tragedy – wrought with institutional failures similar to what we’ve seen more recently with the Penn State scandal and the NFL’s wavering domestic abuse policy.  Which means now, some people see Pete as a victim himself.  He is absolutely adored by many Phillies fans of the Baby Boomer generation. His play on the field reminds current fans of the grittiness they’ve come to appreciate from players like Chase Utley. His catch in the 1980 World Series and his 1970 All-Star Game game-winning run exemplify this.

Yet with all these contextual issues swirling around, the question for fans is simple – should Pete Rose be in the baseball Hall of Fame?

Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame?

View Results

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Prospect Nation 2015: #5 LHP Jesse Biddle

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sun, February 15, 2015 06:10 PM Comments: 12

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Jesse Biddle, image- Jay Floyd

Lefty pitching prospect Jesse Biddle had a difficult season last year, but injuries and shaky stats aside, he’s still a prospect the Phillies will count on to take strides toward helping the big club in the near future.

Selected in the opening round of the 2010 draft, Biddle, who grew up as a Phillies fan, quickly made his minor league debut, beginning his journey toward donning the uniform of the team he cheered on from the seats of Citizens Bank Park all throughout his childhood and teenage years. The graduate of Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia combined to post a 4-1 record with a 3.92 ERA and a .241 batting average against in 12 starts with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies and short-season A level Williamsport in 2010.

The following season, Biddle became an All-Star in the Class A South Atlantic League as a member of the Lakewood BlueClaws. As the team’s most dependable starter through much of the year, Biddle posted a 7-8 record with a 2.98 ERA in 25 games (24 starts) and notched 124 strike outs in 133 innings pitched while sporting a.219 batting average against.

In 2012, the young hurler had quite a solid season, representing the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers in the Florida State League All-Star Game. That year he tallied a 10-6 record with a 3.22 ERA, a 9.53 K/9 mark and a .237 batting average against. Continue reading Prospect Nation 2015: #5 LHP Jesse Biddle

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Prospect Nation 2015: #6 RHP Zach Eflin

Posted by Jay Floyd, Sat, February 14, 2015 08:05 AM Comments: 2

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Zach Eflin, image- MiLB.com

Right-hander Zach Eflin was the key target when the Phillies dealt former National League MVP Jimmy Rollins this off-season.  With a load of buzz about this young hurler, Eflin will look to prove himself worthy of being part of a trade for an organizational legend.

Selected with the 33rd overall pick in the 2012 draft by San Diego out of Hagerty High School in FL, Eflin made his professional debut that same year as a member of the rookie level Arizona League Padres.  In four games (three starts), the six-foot-four 200-pounder posted a 0-1 record with a 7.71 ERA, as an 18-year-old.

After making minimal impact upon his minor league debut, Eflin came back strong in 2013, tallying a 7-6 record along with a 2.73 ERA, a .239 batting average against and a 6.52 K/9 mark in 22 starts with Class A Fort Worth.

Last season, as a 20-year-old, Eflin sported a 10-7 record with a 3.80 ERA and a 6.54 K/9 in 24 starts for Lake Elsinore in the Class A California League.

Eflin, who turns 21-year-old on April 8th, has a mid-90′s fastball, a quality curve ball with some nice break as well as a change up that has great potential which he is working to perfect.  Continue reading Prospect Nation 2015: #6 RHP Zach Eflin

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Prospect Nation 2015: #7 RHP Ben Lively

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, February 13, 2015 02:00 PM Comments: 2

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Ben Lively, image- MiLB.com

Acquired this off-season from Cincinnati, righty hurler Ben Lively would quickly land among the ranks of top Phillies prospect.  He’ll enter this coming season looking to prove why.

Originally selected in the fourth round of the 2013 draft, the Florida native would begin his pro career as a member of the rookie level Billings Mustangs.  In 12 starts, Lively would tally a 0-3 record with a 0.73 ERA and an 11.92 K/9 mark.  He was promoted to Class A Dayton to close out the season with a single start, allowing one earned run in four innings of work while striking out seven and walking one.

This was fresh off his junior season at the University of Central Florida where, in 15 games,  he went 7-5 with a 2.04 ERA and an 8.57 K/9 mark as the team’s ace.

Lively would follow up his exceptional year by becoming the Reds’ minor league player of the year in 2014.  Opening the season with Class A Advanced Bakersfield, Lively posted a 10-1 record with a 2.28 ERA, a .201 batting average against and a 10.82 K/9 mark in 13 starts.  A stretch of 31 consecutive scoreless innings as a member of the Blaze got Lively some considerable attention and he was selected as a California League All-Star.

In mid-June, he was promoted to his hometown Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos.  There, he would sport a 3-6 record with a 3.88 ERA, a .232 batting average against and a 9.5 K/9 mark. Continue reading Prospect Nation 2015: #7 RHP Ben Lively

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Rosenthal: Injuries Will Create Market for Hamels

Posted by Ryan Gerstel, Fri, February 13, 2015 11:50 AM Comments: 6

Earlier this week, FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal talked about the “parade of awkward news conferences” that could be ahead for the Phillies in relation to the their inability to move players like Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, Jonathan Papelbon, and Cole Hamels.

Today, Rosenthal wrote a piece recognizing the reality and likelihood of injuries that could make Cole Hamels even more of a commodity.  cole-hamels

“Heck, injuries already are occurring, and most teams are a week or more away from starting formal workouts in Florida and Arizona,” wrote Rosenthal on his blog titled, Just a bit Outside.

He’s very right, in fact. Some key players that have suffered injuries since Jan. 1 include Jayson Werth, Josh Hamilton, Jonathan Lucroy, and Victor Martinez.

The fact of the matter is that injuries, no matter the sport, are common and can happen at any time. To see players getting hurt before spring training even begins is definitely an eye opener, and all it takes is one ace on a contending team (Wainwright, Buchholz) to feel a tweak in his throwing arm, or push-off leg to have their team rushing to the phone and aggressively inquiring about Hamels.

A situation like this will give the Phillies the leverage they need, and will make their chances of getting exactly what they want in return for their all-star left-hander even greater.

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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: 82

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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.

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Prospect Nation 2015: #8 OF Kelly Dugan

Posted by Jay Floyd, Thu, February 12, 2015 08:00 AM Comments: 4

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Kelly Dugan, image- Jay Floyd

After entering last season as one of the Phillies’ most promising offensive prospects, outfielder Kelly Dugan worked hard to continue his path toward the big league.  He’ll enter 2015 just a step away from that goal and will look to dodge the pesky injury bug in order to get there.

Signed as the Phillies top draft selection (2nd round, 75th overall) in 2009, Dugan would debut with the Gulf Coast League Phillies that year, posting a .233 average with eight doubles, a triple and eight RBI in 45 games. The following season, with the GCL team and short-season Class A Williamsport, Dugan sported a .366 average with a homer and eight RBI in 28 combined games. He missed roughly two months of action with the Crosscutters after he was hit in the leg with a batted ball during batting practice in June and later developed a staph infection that required draining.

In 2011, the lefty batting Dugan returned to Williamsport and represented the club in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game.  As a member of the Cutters, in 47 games, he sported a .284 batting average along with two home runs and 21 RBI.

With Class A Lakewood the following season, after missing time with a severely sprained ankle, Dugan displayed improved power and steady production, as he notched a .300 batting average, 12 homers and 60 RBI in 117 games. Additionally, his OPS, at .857, was .127 points higher than his mark from the previous season, which was exciting to see. Continue reading Prospect Nation 2015: #8 OF Kelly Dugan

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