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Charlie Manuel Takes Shots At Ruben Amaro Jr. In His Managing

Charlie_Manuel

During last night's game against the Boston Red Sox and in preceding weeks, Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel made some moves that appear to show his displeasure with some  of the players General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has given him to use.

Case One: Michael Martinez
The Phillies added infielder Michael Martinez when second baseman Chase Utley went down.  What was the reason we were given?   One, they wanted another shortstop if Freddy Galvis is playing second base and that Martinez was (say what?) fast and could pinch run.  

Two side notes: When the Phillies signed Kevin Frandsen, he was the Iron Pigs starting shortstop, so he could certainly play shortstop in a pinch.  Additionally, Iron Pig Pete Orr is probably the fastest player the Phillies have in AAA or the majors.

Given Michael Martinez, Manuel did what the company line was: he pinch ran.   So, out of the game went albatross Delmon Young, and in came Michael Martinez to run.   He did score on a subsequent Domonic Brown double, but was quickly removed from the game in favor of John Mayberry.  We have seen no sign of Michael Martinez since, and he has not recorded an at bat with the Phillies in 

Case Two: Delmon Young
Delmon Young - the .222 hitting DH that occupies right field during most games that are not interleague away games - is also not a favorite of manager Charlie Manuel.

During last night's game against the Boston Red Sox, Young got a hit.  It was a rare sight at Citizens Bank Park, where Young is hitting .138.  It was the sixth inning.  At that point, Manuel replaced Young with John Mayberry to run.  (No, he did not pinch run with Martinez this time, and Mayberry ended up playing the key late innings.)

Let us not forget Young's defense in right field.  I personally hold my breath anytime a ball is hit his way in right field.    It is so bad that during interleague games in Boston, Manuel instead played Ryan Howard at first base on a bad knee rather than have Young's defense in right field.  The right field starter, John Mayberry, could have played first base while Young served as the right fielder.  But the manager had less confidence in a healthy young than a Ryan Howard.

But alas, the manager is starting Delmon Young, like the general manager says to do.

Can Manuel Force Amaro's Hand?

I would not be shocked if when Michael Young returns from the bereavement list that infielder Cesar Hernandez stays and Michael Martinez goes.   Last night Manuel showed he has no fear in using Hernandez.  Despite arriving after the game began, Hernandez was Manuel's pinch-hitter and stayed in the game at second base.  No sign of Michael Martinez.  

We now know that Chase Utley will be out a little longer than expected.  There would be plenty of at bats still for Freddy Galvis and Hernandez.   Galvis could continue to spell the infielders and play some outfield (in place of Delmon Young, please) and the Phillies would be much better off.

But the manager can only do as he is told and with the players he is given.  I think through the moves Manuel is making the message is clear: Manuel does not want Michael Martinez or Delmon Young on his roster.


Buy A Batting Practice Hat Or Else The Phillies Will Keep Wearing Them

BenRevereBPHat

While in Boston on Tuesday, I noticed Cliff Lee wearing his batting practice hat while he was warming up in the bullpen.  "Oh, I guess he actually is putting it on for the pregame", I said to myself.   But when Lee took the mound after the Phillies batted, he was still wearing it.  And out came the other seven Phillies fielders wearing them.  Why?

I thank my trusted friend @RandallJSanders of Chicago who noticed my tweet asking why the Phillies were wearing them.   He pointed me to this tweet:

You hear that fans? Make sure you buy a batting practice hat, or else they will not stop wearing them.

Question: Why does the team need a diffrent hat to take batting practice, when they will switch hats 40 minutes later?
Answer: To sell hats.

Now, I am one who is guilty of buying one of those batting practice hats.  I actually like it, though I wish it was not a fitted cap (they tend to run really big).  The hats cycle out every three years and they will sell you another one.   I have the hat they wore 2007-2009, 2010-2012, and now this latest 2013-2015 variety.

The batting practice jerseys change every three years as well.  They are due for a re-design after this season.  Expect them discounted later this season. 

But I digress.   There is your answer: they want you to buy them, so they're hoping you'll notice they exist.


Domonic Brown Hits two Homers in 4-2 Philllies Win

 

The Phillies hit four solo home runs, including two off the bat of Domonic Brown, in support of Kyle Kendrick Wednesday night as the Phillies defeated the Boston Red Sox 4-2.

Kendrick (5-3) came into the game looking to rebound following two poor starts where he allowed nine runs in 11 innings of work, both losses. Early on, it looked like Kendrick would again be in trouble as Boston leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury hit a triple over the head of Ben Revere in center. Dustin Pedroia hit a sac-fly to put the Red Sox up 1-0, and Boston starter John Lackey retired the Phillies 1-2-3 to end the first.

The Red Sox, however, only enjoyed the lead for a short time as Lackey(3-5) allowed a leadoff, opposite-field home run to Ryan Howard to begin the second inning, tying the game at one apiece.

As Kendrick went about quieting the Red Sox' bats over the next few innings (he allowed just two baserunners over the next four frames following the first), the Phillies got to work on Lackey. Domonic Brown and Erik Kratz went back-to-back in the fourth, each hitting long, solo home runs to stake the Phillies to a 3-1 lead after four.

Kendrick continued to limit the damage until the sixth inning, when Boston outfielder Daniel Nava hit a long home run off of the Budweiser sign in left field, his 7th of the year, to bring the Sox within one run of the Phillies.

It looked as if a rally might be imminent, as a Ryan Howard fielding error and Kendrick's third walk put men on first and second with one out, but with his 100th pitch of the night, Kendrick induced an inning-ending double play off the bat of Mike Carp.

Antonio Bastardo relieved Kendrick comming into the 7th. He, too, ran into trouble, allowing two baserunners in the inning, but managed to work around hitting Johnny Gomes and a Jose Iglesias double to keep Boston off the board.

Mike Adams entered in the eighth and shut down the Red Sox 1-2-3, striking out two. In the bottom of the inning, Brown hit his second home run of the night, his 13th of the season, to put the Phillies up 4-2.

Then came the fun part. Jonathan Papelbon came in to close the door, but the Red Sox clearly had no intention of making it easy for him and the Phillies. Papelbon struck out Jackie Bradley Jr. to start the inning, but followed up by walking Stephen Drew.

A huge sigh of relief came when pinch-hitter David Ortiz flew out for the second out, but Johnny Gomes singled to bring up Ellsbury. With the tying run at the plate, Ellsbury hit a bloop single into left just out of Brown's reach to plate Drew, and the Red Sox were within one run with their top-of-the-order still comming up. Papelbon, though, managed to induce a weak grounder off the bat of Nava, which Howard took to first for the third and final out.

The Phillies (26-27) will try again tomorrow to reach the .500 mark in the final game of the series against Boston. Franklin Morales, who is filling in for Jon Lester, will be opposed by Jonathan Pettibone, who has not yet lost a start this season.

Notes: Cesar Hernandez came in as a pinch-hitter for Bastardo in the 7th; he popped out on the first pitch of his first major league at-bat...No reason was given for Lester missing tomorrow's start...CSN Philadelphia noted after the game that Chase Utley will indeed not be ready to come off the disabled list when he is eligible...


Kyle Kendrick Looks To Turn It Around Against Red Sox At Home

Kendrick10
In five of his six wins this season, Cliff Lee has snapped a two-game losing streak for his team. He has been solid so far this season and it looks like he is heating up to go on one of his hot streaks on the mound. Last night Cliff continued his dominance on the mound with eight innings of one-run ball against the Red Sox. He struck out eight batters and walked none to take his sixth win of the year as well as giving the Phillies a 1-1 split in Boston. Tonight the four-game series between the Red Sox and Phils continues as the home field changes back to Citizens Bank Park for the final two. Kyle Kendrick (4-3, 3.29 ERA) will take on John Lackey (3-4, 2.72 ERA) in game three tonight.

Kyle Kendrick has struggled in his last two starts. After allowing 15 earned runs in 54 2/3 innings in his first seven starts, Kendrick has allowed nine earned runs in 11 innings over his last two. It may just be a bump in the road for Kendrick, who has arguably been the Phillies best pitcher all year long. In his last outing, Kendrick gave up five earned in five innings against Washington. Kendrick took the loss, his second straight and third on the year. Kendrick has struggled with command, falling behind in counts and walking eight in his last two starts. He will look to gain back his command tonight as he takes on the Red Sox, a team he has gone 0-3 with a 10.80 ERA in three career starts.

John Lackey is coming off of his best outing of the year. The veteran right hander went seven scoreless against Cleveland, allowing two hits while striking out eight. Lackey picked up his third win of the year, his second in a row after losing three straight. Lackey has re-discovered himself after missing out the entire 2012 season due to Tommy John surgery. With a 2.72 ERA in seven starts, Lackey has the second-lowest ERA for Boston starters (Buchholz - 1.73 ERA). In four career starts against Philadelphia, Lackey owns a 2-2 record and a 3.12 ERA.

Game Notes: 

  • Domonic Brown hit his 11th home run last night. He's one home run away from matching his three-year total entering this season.
  • Shane Victorino will not be active for tonight's game, but expect to see him mingling with the crowd pre-game time.
  • Score runs for Kendrick and he can keep the game in good tempo.
  • Kevin Frandsen will play second base tonight as Freddy Galvis plays third.

Phillies lineup:

  1. Ben Revere CF
  2. Kevin Frandsen 2B
  3. Jimmy Rollins SS
  4. Ryan Howard 1B
  5. Delmon Young RF
  6. Domonic Brown LF
  7. Erik Kratz C
  8. Freddy Galvis 3B
  9. Kyle Kendrick P.

Red Sox: 

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury CF
  2. Daniel Nava RF
  3. Dustin Pedroia 2B
  4. Mike Napoli 1B
  5. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C 
  6. Mike Carp LF
  7. Stephen Drew SS
  8. Jose Iglesias 3B
  9. John Lackey P.

First Pitch Forecast: Mostly Cloudy - 84° - 20% PoP

TV: CSN
Radio: 94 WIP, 1210 WPHT 

Let's Go Phillies!

Erik Seybold is a writer for Philliedelphia. Follow him on Twitter.


Phillies Place Michael Young on Bereavement List, Cesar Hernandez Called Up

Mikeyoung
According to MLB's Todd Zolecki, Phillies third baseman Michael Young has been placed on the bereavement list. 

Unlike the paternity leave list, for when a player becomes a father, the bereavement list is used for when a player finds it necessary to leave the team to attend to a serious illness or death in his (or his spouse's) immediate family. At the moment there is no word on what is going on with Michael Young.

According to MLB rules, a player placed on the bereavement list must miss a minimum of three games and a maximum of seven games. The team can use another player from its 40-man roster to replace a player on the bereavement list.

The Phillies have recalled Cesar Hernandez to take Young's spot on the 25-man roster. Hernandez is hitting .308 (57-for-185) in 48 games with Lehigh Valley. Hernandez has driven in 18 runs and stolen 15 bases as well.

We here at Philliedelphia wish Michael Young the best with his situation and hope that everything is okay. 

Erik Seybold is a writer for Philliedelphia. Follow him on Twitter


Phillies Leave Fenway with a Win Backed by Lee and Key Hits

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After what may have been the worst loss of the season, the Phillies needed a lot. The bullpen was heavily taxed. They needed innings from Cliff Lee.

When Lee is going good, he's one of the best in the game and tonight he was very hard to hit. He pitched eight very strong innings, allowing four hits, a run, and striking out eight. He walked none. There wasn't even a three ball count on any hitters all night. It was an outstanding performance from a pitcher who needed to be outstanding tonight.

The offense was about as exciting as it was last night except it looks a lot nicer when the game is close. Michael Young cleared the green monster in the first for his second home run of the year. Boston's Ryan Dempster kept them off the board until the 7th when They were able to manufacture the go ahead run off an Erik Kratz single to drive in John Mayberry. The Player of the Week added a little insurance in the 9th with a solo blast.

Then came Boston's all time saves leader, Jonathan Papelbon to close it out. The boos were loud as he ran to the mound he called home most of his career but he got some applause as well. He threw a perfect inning striking out Jhonny Gomes and getting former teammates Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz to ground out for the save.

A very nice win after a dreadful loss. As I said, the lackluster offensive output is ok when you have Cliff Lee on his game.  We don't know what becomes of him or anyone else on this team as the weeks pass but it was nice to enjoy this one. It was a fun game tonight.

The Phillies return home with the Red Sox tomorrow at 7:05. John Lackey, who has been pretty good this season, takes the mound for Boston against Kyle Kendrick looking to come back to his winning ways off two mediocre starts.

 

ZAMBRANO WATCH

Carlos Zambrano made his debut for the Clearwater Threshers tonight. Over 4.1 scoreless innings Zambrano allowed three hits, walked two, and struck out two. He threw 81 pitches, 49 for strikes.


Phillies Send Cliff Lee To The Mound In An Effort To Stop Red Sox Offense

Cliffleemarlins
Last night the Phillies and Reds Sox opened up a four-game set that would take place in Boston as well as Philadelphia. The Phillies will play two games in Boston and starting tomorrow the Red Sox will travel to Philly to finish up the last two of the series. The opening game of this one was not pretty for the Phils. Tyler Cloyd was lit up for five earned in 2 1/3 innings of work. The Phils would mount only 3 runs, but the Red Sox stole the show, scoring four more runs to win 9-3. Ugly, ugly, ugly. The Phils are on a two-game losing streak and are looking to snap it tonight as they send out Cliff Lee (5-2, 2.48 ERA) against Ryan Dempster (2-5, 4.69 ERA) and the Red Sox.

Cliff Lee is coming off of his 12th career complete game shut out on Wednesday. His first since September of 2011, Lee went the distance against the Marlins, allowing only two hits while striking out five. Over Lee's last three starts, he has allowed just two earned runs over 23 innings (0.78 ERA). In his last five, Lee has an ERA of 1.45 (6 ER in 37 IP). Lee has also struck out 25 batters in that span and has walked 8. Cliff Lee is on one of his hot streaks and it's probably the only thing keeping the Phillies within 5 games under .500. He will look to continue it as he takes on Boston tonight, a team he has a 3-5 record and a 3.81 ERA against in over 80 career innings pitched.

Ryan Dempster has not been so sharp as of late. For the third straight outing, Dempster has struggled. On Thursday the veteran righthander lasted only three innings against Cleveland, allowing 4 earned runs on five hits while striking out and walking four a piece. Dempster took his fifth loss of the year and raised his ERA to 4.69. In his last three, Dempster owns a 10.66 ERA (15 ER in 12 2/3 IP). He will look to turn it around against the Phillies tonight as well as getting the Red Sox a series lead of 2-0 early on. In his career against Philadelphia, Dempster is 5-5 with a 5.27 ERA in over 107 innings.

Game Notes: 

  • Cliff Lee is on fire right now. Don't let the offense give him an ice bath.
  • Jonny Gomes is just 2-for-29 against Lee while David Ortiz is just 6-for-29. Both are homerless off of him.
  • The Red Sox are hitting .240 off of lefties this season as a team.

Phillies lineup:

  1. Ben Revere CF
  2. Michael Young 3B
  3. Jimmy Rollins SS
  4. Ryan Howard 1B
  5. Delmon Young DH
  6. Domonic Brown LF
  7. John Mayberry RF
  8. Freddy Galvis 2B
  9. Erik Kratz C

Red Sox lineup:

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury CF
  2. Jonny Gomes LF
  3. Dustin Pedroia 2B
  4. David Ortiz DH
  5. Mike Napoli 1B
  6. Daniel Nava RF
  7. David Ross C
  8. Stephen Drew SS
  9. Jose Iglesias 3B

First Pitch Forecast: Cloudy - 65° - 10% PoP

TV: CSN
Radio: 94 WIP, 1210 WPHT

Let's Go Phils!

Erik Seybold is a writer for Philliedelphia. Follow him on Twitter. 


Domonic Brown Wins NL Player of the Week

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Domonic Brown had himself a breakout week hitting .348, two home runs, driving in seven, and scoring four. For his efforts he was awarded NL Player of the Week. Brown has faced many trials and struggles in his young career. He was handled extremely poorly for an untouchable prospect early on and was pretty streaky and injury prone in his brief time in the bigs. All that aside, Brown was considered one of the best prospects in the game.

So it's nice to see him really coming around this season.  The phenom buzz is gone but that's no reason not to think he can't settle in as a very good player. I would even think now is a good time to work on a club friendly extension and count him in as part of the new core as the club looks to rebuild. He's put in some good time and is definately a success story for Steve Henderson and Wally Joyner in a line up that isn't exactly full of them. 


Boring, Boring Phillies Baseball

Fenway

Like what appeared to be thousands of others, I made the trip up to Boston for this two game series against the Red Sox.    I would say I try to hit about three opposing ballparks a year most seasons, along with a Spring Training trip.   One thing was obviously missing this time around:  the excitement from the fans.

The bars along Lansdowne Avenue were packed with Phillies fans hours before the game.  Going out to lunch the restaurants were filled with Phillies fans.  After the game, many Phillies fans hung around hotel lounge.  But the usual excitement was not there.   Missing was much of the "Let's go Phillies" chants (there were a few in the beginning, but they quickly died) and a general excitement to talk baseball.

It was indeed a nice night to be out at the ballpark, the Boston food was great, and it was indeed a nice time hanging out a local spots like the Boston Beer Works.  But the team? Yawn.

The Phillies 2013 offense has the ability to just kill any momentum or excitement.  Cole Hamels is the biggest piece of evidence:  Hamels has not thrown a baseball with a lead since April 7th.  No lead is surmountable.  So last night when Dustin Pedroia came to the plate in the first inning and hit a two-run home run, fans knew that was it.  When Mike Napoli follwed shortly thereafter in the same first inning, it just got much worse.  The fans had no confidence the team would come back.

After last night's contest, the person in the lineup with the highest batting average was one John Mayberry, batting .263.  Through our leanest years we at least in 1989 we had John Kruk hitting .331, in 1997 we had Midre Cummings hitting .303 and Bobby Abreu hitting .308 in 2002.  The closest thing Phillies fans have to an exciting player is Domonic Brown, who in the month of May is hitting .280  with seven home runs and 18 RBI.   And yet he continues to hit sixth.

One must wonder if the players feel the same way.  Watching the Red Sox we saw a team that was energetic, fundamentally sound, and overall excited to be playing the game.   The Phillies were soporific, fundamentally lax, and appeared bored to be at the ballpark.  Their early results inspire no one, including themselves.  That is no environment for any employee, let alone major league ballplayers.

Rich suggested earlier today that the Phillies blow up the core.   I would do anything that would bring excitement to the field.   Are things stale?  It appears that way.  As we saw in 2006 with Pat Gillick at the helm, just a changeover of staff allows new personalities to be themselves and brought with them a new excitement that made the 2006 Phillies surprise contenders.  A changing of the guard would not be a bad thing.

Do not get me wrong, I have no regrets taking this small vacation; it is still a very nice time.   I do think, however, the fans here have little to nothing to be excited about.  A source of great joy in people's daily lives has been blotted out. You do not even need to be a World Series Champion to bring that to people.  Bring it back, Phillies, however you can.