Monday, June 29, 2015

How are the Phillies prospects doing?

This season was always going to be one of transition for the Philadelphia Phillies but there is an argument to suggest there have already been more positives from this year than 2014. The franchise's last-place finish in the NL East might be replicated again this year, but the Phillies’ farm system looks a lot stronger than it did last season, and there are a host of prospects coming through the ranks who could help bring the good times back to Philadelphia after a gloomy few years. There were times last season when it looked as though there wasn't much of a bright future in the Phillies ranks, but that has all changed this season, with three young players in particular giving hope to Philadelphia fans that the future could be bright.

While some of these prospects will have an impact this season, it might be next year when these exciting youngsters are really able to have a say in turning things around at The Bank. This season, Maikel Franco has been the real stand-out prospect to break into the Phillies team, establishing himself as a starting third baseman and impressing everyone with how he's adapted to the majors. In the franchise's farm system, shortstop J.P. Crawford and pitcher Aaron Nola look to be the next in line to make the step-up into the Philadelphia team, and both have been tearing up the Double-A with the Reading Phillies.

Maikel Franco: After being called-up to the majors in May, Franco has gone on to live up to all the hype that has surrounded him ever since his arrival in 2010. Following a brief stint in the Phillies’ starting line-up in 2014, the 22-year-old has now gone on to establish himself as the starting third baseman, becoming the first player in the franchise's history to record successive five RBI games. During his 33 appearances for Lehigh Valley, the Dominican youngster helped himself to 12 doubles, four home runs and an impressive batting average of .384, and it didn't take long for Franco to exhibit his incredible power in the big leagues. Coming up against Cincinnati's Aroldis Chapman, Franco smashed a 98 mph fast ball out of the park, one of the 10 homers the prospect has helped himself to this season, and the youngster is showing little signs of slowing down.

Maikel Franco

                           Photo by Keith Allison / flickr

One aspect of Franco's game that has looked a little suspect has been his lack of patience at the plate. In his 163 appearances this season, Franco has been struck out on 24 occasions, gaining a reputation for swinging at the first pitch rather than settling into things first. The Phillies management will need to work on that part of Franco's game for him to become the complete player, but the youngster still has plenty of time to work on his deficiencies over the next few seasons. In the field, the third baseman has been as solid as you'd like, proving he is much more than a slugger. While this might not be a particularly special Phillies team, Franco is showing all the signs that he could well end up being a particularly special player, and possibly one who could play a major part in leading the franchise back to where they need to be after a tough few years in which they have rarely been seen among the betting favourites to win the NL East with the likes of betfair and other bookmakers.

 J.P Crawford: Having been selected 16th overall in the 2013 MLB draft, Crawford was always going to be a player who the Phillies rated highly, boasting above average batting attributes and some lightning glove-work. At just 20 years old, the youngster might be a couple of years away from being ready to make the move into the majors, but Philadelphia will be delighted with where Crawford is at this stage in his career. When he does make the transition into the big leagues, the Phillies will be confident the prospect has all the tools tobe a real success in the MLB.

After suffering an injury at the start of the season, Crawford has starred in the minors and definitely put himself in contention for a call-up should the Phillies suffer a couple of injuries. Starting the season in the high A with Clearwater, the youngster achieved a batting average of .392 with 31 hits in 21 games before being fast-tracked into the Double-A with Reading. In his 27 appearances, the shortstop has 33 hits at an average of .289, proving just why so many rank him as highly as the seventh best prospect in all of baseball, and a player who could be a crucial part of the franchise's future.

Aaron Nola: Young pitching prospect Nola has been a real star for the Reading Phillies this season, justifying his seventh overall draft selection last year. Having gone 7-3 with a 1.88 ERA during his time in the Double-A with Reading, Nola was promoted into the Triple-A with Lehigh Valley, and the pitcher hasn't looked out of place in the international league, going 2-0 and striking out 14 batters during his short spell so far. Possessing an intimidating 92-94 mph fast ball, the 22-year-old has the speed to keep his opponents on their toes, and the youngster is always adding new weapons to his arsenal.

Expected to be a number two or three pitcher for the Phillies when he does make it to the majors, Nola has an outside chance of making it into the big leagues at some point this season if the Philadelphia bullpen suffers an injury or two. For the time being, however, the right-armer will be looking to continue his impressive form in the minors and further strengthen his claim for inclusion before the end of the season. Either way, the early signs suggest Nola has a bright future ahead of him, and the Phillies will be well aware of the importance of carefully managing the pitching prospect.

Latest Phillies Talk Podcast - Sandberg leaves the Phils

Here's the latest Phillies Talk Podcast, Sandberg resigns from the Phillies.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Sandberg's legacy as Phillies skipper

You could see the worried look on Ryne's face in the last few weeks

The postmortem has begun, and how will Ryne Sandberg's tenure as Phillies manager be viewed by Phillies faithful and the press in the wake of his resignation?

Let's look at the facts:

Sandberg started his career as interim manager on 8/16/13 after Charlie Manuel had been relieved of his duties as manager, Sandberg then became the Phillies manager after being named officially on 9/22/13 -

Sandberg had spent two seasons as AAA manager of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs where he finished with a record of 155-132

Previously Sandberg spent 4 years as a Cubs minor league manager, but came to the Phillies organization after he never was promoted to the Cubs manager's position

Sandberg followed Charlie Manuel, who had the longest run of any Phillies manager in the history of the team, at 1,416 games. Manuel finished one of the greatest eras that the team had ever seen to this point, his win/loss record was 780-636

Manuel said on his departure this: "I never quit nothing and I didn't resign," When he lost his manager's job in 2013 with the Phils.

So what will Sandberg's legacy be?

He did all he could do with the talent he had on the field.  At times though, it didn't seem like he had any plans with certain moves on the field, hardly ever intentionally walking anyone and letting things play out.

Sandberg was in a tough spot, as Ruben Amaro continually made head scratching moves and acquisitions. Pat Gillick, who is still President of the club, stood by and did little to help this team either. About the only things we did hear from Gillick have been that it's going to take a long time to rebuild the team, and with time going forward, he kept extending that time that the Phillies would be getting better. 

Ownership did nothing about this, so I guess Ryne Sandberg had enough of it. Rumors of a new team president had made the local news in the past few days and maybe Sandberg didn't want to be fired for trying his best to do his job. 

The other way you could look at this all is say why would Ryne quit? He certainly had good reasons why this team wasn't doing well, and Ruben Amaro would probably be at the forefront of that argument. 

Time will tell as more unfolds after this move by Sandberg. 

Larry Bowa will probably try to guide this team the rest of the season, but he will assuredly be out too, after the end of the season as well. ( Later named was Pete Mackanin will serve as the Phils skipper)

We'll continue to look for answers to getting the Phillies to be a better team, at times they have really been dreadful this year. For now, it'll be up to someone else to manage this team and that will not be an easy task. 

Sandberg resigns from Phillies

The aging players of the Phillies couldn't carry the load anymore on the team and new players brought in haven't been able to contribute when it counts mostly

Ryne Sandberg announced he was done as Phillies manager this afternoon. It must have been a gut wrenching decision because baseball managers don't usually resign from their positions.

"With some changes at the top looming, I did not want to be in the way of anything happening and progress going forward," is what Ryne said at a press conference this afternoon.

The Phillies played really well in New York against the Yankees which was there last series. The Phils took 2 of 3 from the Yankees. 

 It probably wasn't all Sandberg's fault, the Phillies consistently did poorly on the field. It was probably tough as a manager to watch this play and having your hands tied with not much input from Ruben Amaro Jr. who has been sending out signals that things were happening with a rebuild, but really nothing had been done that really mattered in regards to this.

Near the end, there was a total collapse from all sides on the team. The Phillies players were not doing their jobs on the field, and then acted out on coaching in several spots lately. The incident in Baltimore, when a bullpen phone was off the hook when a position player was on the mound, and desperately needed relief, there was no communication. 

Chase Utley was cursing at pitching coach, Bob McClure when McClure couldn't do anything about the pitching when the bullpen didn't answer the phone. That's what made the news though.

There was a loud disagreement from reliever Ken Giles with Bob McClure and then a public blowup on the bench with McClure and Sandberg going over and shouting at Giles, though it was said that it was all handled internally.

Frustration has taken it's toll on this team, and again, it's rare that MLB managers quit so you can rest assured that the frustration got the best of Sandberg with his decision today.

Utley half way to vesting, now on DL resting

Utley is a throwback type of hard playing, silent type that gets the job done and plays his heart out on the baseball field

Chase Utley has reached the half way point in his plate appearances vesting option for next year, he currently has 249 PA on the year. If he reaches 500 PA, Utley automatically gets his contract vested for next year at $15M.

With the kind of season that Chase is having you kind of think the Phillies won't want that option to vest.

Utley has been in 65 games for the Phillies so far, he has had a batting average under .200 for a very long time, right now he's at .179 on the year.

Yesterday, Chase Utley was put on the DL for the first time in 2015 and it's looking like he may not make that vesting option but it doesn't mean the Phillies wouldn't retain him in 2016. Utley's pay would just be lowered and with the kind of season he's having the Phils would renew his next year at $5M-$11M, he may understand that he isn't going to reach that $15M vesting option anyway.

The last time Chase Utley dipped below 500 PA was in 2012, when he appeared in 83 games for the team. Utley had knee problems that looked as if his career was in jeopardy at that point. He miraculously got much better after that season and made a nice return in 2013 and 2014.

Some of Chase Utley's numbers with the Phillies:

Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BA Awards
2003 24 PHI 43 152 134 13 32 10 1 2 21 .239
2004 25 PHI 94 287 267 36 71 11 2 13 57 .266
2005 26 PHI 147 628 543 93 158 39 6 28 105 .291 MVP-13
2006 ★ 27 PHI 160 739 658 131 203 40 4 32 102 .309 AS,MVP-7,SS
2007 ★ 28 PHI 132 613 530 104 176 48 5 22 103 .332 AS,MVP-8,SS
2008 ★ 29 PHI 159 707 607 113 177 41 4 33 104 .292 AS,MVP-14,SS
2009 ★ 30 PHI 156 687 571 112 161 28 4 31 93 .282 AS,MVP-8,SS
2010 ★ 31 PHI 115 511 425 75 117 20 2 16 65 .275 AS
2011 32 PHI 103 454 398 54 103 21 6 11 44 .259
2012 33 PHI 83 362 301 48 77 15 2 11 45 .256
2013 34 PHI 131 531 476 73 135 25 6 18 69 .284
2014 ★ 35 PHI 155 664 589 74 159 36 6 11 78 .270 AS
2015 36 PHI 65 249 218 18 39 7 1 4 25 .179
13 Yrs 1543 6584 5717 944 1608 341 49 232 911 .281
162 Game Avg. 162 691 600 99 169 36 5 24 96 .281
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 6/26/2015.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Karma has turned perhaps

Schmidt's prescription for the Phillies was to forget all of the negativity and bad karma that has happened with the team and start from the moment on, not a bad philosophy

The other night on the pre-game show on the local Phillies tv broadcast, Mike Schmidt, who is announcing home weekend games for the Phillies on the Philly sports Comcast channel, announced that before the Phillies get better, they have to release themselves of the 'bad karma' that has surrounded the team for the past few months.

Schmidt's words were very thought provoking. In order for the Phillies to start to get better, they would have to package up all that negative stuff that has surrounded the team and just jettison themselves from it and start from this moment forward.

Someone on the team may have heard the broadcast, or maybe even Schmidt himself addressed the team on this, for the past couple games we have seen a different Phillies team. One that isn't content with losing and giving up with a loss.

The Phils rallied last night against the Yankees and handed them a loss. Cesar Hernandez broke out of his sleepy run with the Phillies with a nice two run double.

Brett Gardner for the Yankees showed some hustle on the diamond last night with 2 bunt singles, and went 4-4 on the night. The Phillies needed to watch this hustle, I haven't seen any Phillie on the field hustling as much as this guy did in one game last night. It was inspiring.

The series continues in NY tonight at Yankee Stadium with a lopsided match up or so it seems, with C.C. Sabathia going up against Sean O'Sullivan but Sean has been pitching pretty well lately so maybe the good karma can continue.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Epic Road loss continues at home

Fans have demanded that the Phils fire Ruben and Ryne behind the last two years of futility, is ownership listening though?

It's hard to believe but since 1883, the Phillies haven't lost a road trip as badly as they have on their most recent trip when they lost 8 in a row on the road in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and then Baltimore. In 1883, the Phillies lost 9 in a row on the road.

The losing hasn't stopped there, it continued last night in a continued display of not playing winning baseball. Again, the Phillies do put runners in scoring position, they had 7 runners in scoring position last night, but somehow this team can't get key hits when the need to because they were 1-7 with runners in scoring position.

It doesn't look to get much better for this team, as they have proven that they can't make good things happen on the baseball field. The Cardinals are due in over the weekend, and they are in first place for a reason. We'll see if the Phillies can get a much needed win. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Baltimore Orioles win game, Phils again losing

This 2015 Phillies team has a long way to go before they tie the franchise record for a losing streak, which is 23 by the 1961 Phillies, but the current team lost again in Baltimore last night in the first of four games that will be played in a home and home fashion.

Bud Black got fired in San Diego just yesterday afternoon, but it's business as usual for this the manager and coaching staff of this team. Do you think that something may be wrong with that? How long can this go on, being a bad team is one thing but embarrassment is yet another as the Phillies have dug themselves deep into a crater.

Chase Utley as a designated hitter? He's suffering his worst batting average of his career currently, how can you make him a DH?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Phils don't play well in Pittsburgh since 2001, total runs difference will amaze though

Dom Brown is back with the Phillies today in Pittsburgh - for the first time all season

We've heard this a lot this year, the Phillies are again in danger of getting swept in a series and this time it's the Pittsburgh Pirates that can sweep them in Pittsburgh. It's a phenomenon that hasn't been discussed too much but the Phillies are really bad against the Pirates at PNC Park since that ballpark opened in 2001. The Phils are now 16-30 at PNC Park against the Pirates since '01, but most of those games have been very close so close that in the 46 games combined the Phillies have only scored 16 total runs less than the Pirates with that 16-30 record.

The Phillies road record now 7-25 or .219 is one of the worst stretches of road losses by this team. It is the worst road record in the MLB up to this point.

Pat Gillick says they (him and Ruben Amaro) know what they are doing in this 'rebuilding' process, but one has to wonder if that is truly the case. One thing is for sure, ownership is still buying in on that slogan because this team has spent over $800 million dollars in salary in the last five seasons and has drilled itself firmly into the ground in last place in the league.

The Pirates are looking for a sweep today, but not if Cole Hamels has his way though, Cole has been pitching lights out baseball recently. The Phillies faced a the Pirates just last month, the Phils relied on Cole to get them a win which the Phils did get back on May 13th, when the Phils won 3-2.

Dom Brown is back today, at the expense of Darin Ruf. Brown hasn't really earned the promotion with great play in the minors but the Phils look like they are trying anything to change up the bad things that have been happening on the baseball diamond with them.

Dom's career stats as a Phillie:

2010 22 PHI 35 62 8 13 3 0 2 13 2 .210 .257
2011 23 PHI 56 184 28 45 10 1 5 19 3 .245 .333
2012 24 PHI 56 187 21 44 11 2 5 26 0 .235 .316
2013 ★ 25 PHI 139 496 65 135 21 4 27 83 8 .272 .324
2014 26 PHI 144 473 47 111 22 1 10 63 7 .235 .285
5 Yrs 430 1402 169 348 67 8 49 204 20 .248 .308
162 Game Avg. 162 528 64 131 25 3 18 77 8 .248 .308
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2015.