Previous month:
April 2014
Next month:
June 2014

Phillies Lose in the 14th Inning After Forcing Extras in the Ninth

After a 14 inning win by the Phillies (24-28), they were right back at it for 3:05pm game against the New York Mets (25-29). Today, the Phillies sent right-hander Kyle Kendrick (1-5 4.04 ERA) to the hill looking to build off his excellent start on Memorial Day that led to a 9-0 win over the Rockies.  The Mets opposed with rookie starter, Jacob deGrom (0-2 1.83 ERA).

The Game: The Mets struck right off the bat in the first inning. Kendrick allowed the first two batters to reach base on singles before David Wright lined out to Marlon Byrd, who made a fantastic diving catch. But with two outs, former Phillie, Bobby Abreu singled in the Mets first run. Lucas Duda followed with a double to score the next run. Kendrick escaped the inning with a strike out of Anthony Recker. 2-0 Mets

In the fourth inning, Ruben Tejada homered to left field to give the Mets a 3-0 lead. The Mets continued to add on in the sixth. With one out, Bobby Abreu doubled to left. Kendrick then intentionally walked Duda. Then with two outs, Ruben Tejada singled to left to plate another run. 4-0 Mets

Finally in the seventh, the Phillies broke through. Jimmy Rollins led off with a single and Chase Utley walked. Ryan Howard then crushed a three run opposite field homer to bring the Phillies within striking distance. The Phils had a chance in the eighth. With one out, Ben Revere tripled, but the Phillies failed to bring him in to tie the game. 4-3 Mets

To lead off the bottom of the ninth, Marlon Byrd hit a ground rule double to give the Phillies hope. Then Domonic Brown came in the clutch and hit a single to left to tie the game. Cesar Hernandez then bunted Brown to second. Reid Brignac, who was last night’s hero in the 14th, struck out to bring Carlos Ruiz up to the plate, pinch-hitting for Jonathan Papelbon. However, Ruiz popped out to send the game to extra innings for the second game in a row.

Jeff Manship came in the top of the tenth and made quick work of the Mets with ten pitches to bring up the Phillies top of the lineup with a chance to end the game. Ben Revere led off a single to bring Jimmy Rollins up to the plate. Revere then stole second.  Rollins then worked a walk to bring Chase Utley to the plate. Utley popped out for the first out. Howard hit a fielders choice for the second out, but moved Revere to third for Marlon Byrd. But, Byrd struck out to send the game to the eleventh.

With the nine up and nine down ,Manship's stellar relief outing gave the Phillies a chance with Ruiz leading off the inning. With a 2-2 count, Ruiz hit a grounder up the middle for a single. Revere then popped up a bunt attempt to bring Rollins up. Rollins then hit a sharp line out to center for the second out. Chase Utley couldn't get it done as he hit a sharp line out to warning track to send the game to the 13th inning.

After going 12 up 12 down and striking out the side, Ryan Howard led off with a single to center field. Marlon Byrd then worked a walk to bring up Domonic Brown up. Brown then hit a double play to bring Manship to the plate. Manship then hit a groundball that he almost beat out which would have ended the ball game, but injured himself running down the line to end his night.

In the top of the 14th, Antonio Bastardo walked Ruben Tejada. Then Lagares bunted him to second. Daniel Murphy then popped out to bring David Wright to the plate. Wright hit a single to give the Mets the lead. With the Phillies down by one, Reid Brignac led off the bottom of 14th with a walk. Carlos Ruiz then followed with a single. Ben Revere then struck out to bring Jimmy Rollins to the plate.  Jimmy Rollins then hit a sharp fly ball to right for the second out to bring Chase Utley up for the Phillies final hope. Utley struck out to end the game 5-4.

Significant Offensive Statistics:

Ryan Howard 2-6 HR, 3 RBI

Marlon Byrd 1-5 R

Domonic Brown 1-5 RBI

Impact: The Phillies lost in the 14th, but had numerous chances in extras and couldn’t capitalize. Ben Revere holds some of the blame after missed bunt attempts. Also, Antonio Bastardo has continued to struggle with his command this season, which led to the game winning hit by David Wright. He will need to improve if he wants to remain a part of the back end of the Phillies bullpen with Jake Diekman and Mario Hollands emerging as dominant left hands in the pen.

Up Next: The Phillies play game four of their five-game set tomorrow at 1:35 pm on CSN. Cole Hamels (1-3 4.43 ERA) will look to get his second win of the season as the Mets send veteran Jonathan Niese (3-3 2.74 ERA). Niese is coming off a short outing of 5.2 innings but only gave up 2 runs. Hamels on the other hand, took the lose to the Rockies going seven inning giving up four runs with three of them off a home run in the seventh.

 

Andrew Shipotofsky is a writer for Philliedelphia. Follow him on twitter @Ashipotofsky


Phillies, Mets Set for 3:05 Matinee After 14 Inning Game

10371492_10100181986714468_5981694245579284719_n

It took five hours and 23 minutes for the Phillies (24-28) to beat the Mets (25-29) last night/this morning. There won't be much time to rest up from it as the teams take the field for a 3:05PM matinee this afternoon. The Phillies bullpen was a big reason why the team won last night, but it was great to see a guy off of the lackluster bench be the difference maker. None other than Reid Brignac knocked in the winning run with an RBI single in the 14th inning to give Philadelphia a dramatic 6-5 win. With a lot of bullpen pitchers for each team being used yesterday, the Phils and Mets will rely heavily on their starters today to pitch deep into the game.

The Phillies will need a similar result from Kyle Kendrick (1-5, 4.04) this time out after he threw 6.2 shutout innings against Colorado on Memorial Day. After giving up 16 runs in his previous four starts this month, Kendrick held the Rockies bats at bay, pitching out of jams and stranding eight runners on base. He scattered six hits and walked four while striking out two. Kendrick has seen the Mets already this season, when the Phillies were in New York for a series earlier this month. He didn't factor into the decision in the Phillies 5-4 win after giving up four runs in 5.1 innings of work. In his career against the Mets, Kendrick is 8-8 with a 3.58 ERA. 

New York will counter with rookie, Jacob deGrom (0-2, 1.83), who will be making his fourth start of the 2014 season. He pitched well his last time out, despite walking five hitters over 6.2 innings in a no-decision against the Pirates. The Mets have lost all three games by the rookie thus far, but he has thrown effectively for the most part. He went six innings against the Dodgers on Memorial Day, giving up just three runs to the potent Dodger offense. The Mets righty took the loss in a 1-0 game against the Yankees, when he made his debut. It was his best outing so far in his young career, giving up just one run over seven strong frames while striking out six. 

Game Notes:

  • The current Mets hitters have a combined .230 average against Kendrick. David Wright is hitting .341 (15-for-44) against Kyle with three doubles, three homers and seven RBI's. Kendrick has gotten Wright out via the strikeout seven times as well.
  • Jimmy Rollins is 12 hits away from tying Mike Schmidt atop the hits chart in Phillies history.
  • Yesterday, Bobby Abreu stole his 400th career base. 254 of those steals came with the Phillies. He is 3-for-7 this season against his former squad with a double and two RBI's. The veteran outfielder is hitting .301 with a homer a seven RBI's on the season.
  • The Phillies enter today's game ranked 25th in runs scored. The Mets are 21st.
  • After going o-for-7 last night, there may have been some thought to sit Howard, but he is slotted in the cleanup spot, per usual.
  • Wil Nieves gets the start behind the plate today. He's hitting .289 on the year.

Phillies Lineup:

  1.  Ben Revere CF
  2. Jimmy Rollins SS
  3. Chase Utley 2B
  4. Ryan Howard 1B
  5. Marlon Byrd RF
  6. Domonic Brown LF
  7. Wil Nieves C
  8. Reid Brignac 3B
  9. Kyle Kendrick P

Mets Lineup:

  1.  Juan Lagares CF
  2. Daniel Murphy 2B
  3. David Wright 3B
  4. Curtis Granderson LF
  5. Bobby Abreu RF
  6. Lucas Duda 1B
  7. Anthony Recker C
  8. Ruben Tejada SS
  9. Jacob deGrom P

Location: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Weather: 75° F - Partly Cloudy - 0% PoP
Game Time: 3:05 PM Eastern

Brandon Apter, Publishing Editor of Philliedelphia.com. Follow him on Twitter @ApterShock


Reid All About It: Phils Walk-Off in 14th on Brignac RBI Single

After striking out at an alarming rate against the Mets (25-29) on Thursday, the Phillies (24-28) looked to rebound and get their first home win against New York in their last six tries. This one was interesting to say the least, with Phils starter AJ Burnett pitching effectively at times, but not enough to put New York to bed. After a nine-inning draw, the teams played five more innings before an unlikely hero smacked the game-winning RBI-single. Who, you ask? That would be Reid Brignac.

The Game: It has become somewhat of a trend to see AJ Burnett struggle with his walk numbers, and last night was no different. AJ struck out two of three batters in the first inning but walked the first two in the second. Lucas Duda made the Phillies righty pay with a double to right to score Curtis Granderson, making it 1-0 Mets. Travis d'Arnaud followed with an RBI groundout to drive in Bobby Abreu. 2-0 Mets. New York would add on one more courtesy of an RBI single off the bat of Ruben Tejada. The Mets would lead 3-0 after two.

The Phillies got one back in the bottom of the third. AJ Burnett singled to start things. After a Ben Revere flyout, Jimmy Rollins hit a single and Burnett advanced to third on a throwing error by Bobby Abreu. Chase Utley hit an RBI groundout to score Burnett and cut the lead to 3-1. 

In the bottom of the fourth, the Phils took the lead in a big way. Marlon Byrd Walked and Carlos Ruiz singled to set up runners on first and second with none out, bringing Dom Brown to the plate. Yesterday, I wrote about the idea of sending down Domonic Brown for him to work on his game. With one swing of the bat, we saw what he was capable of, as he ripped a moonshot to right. His three-run bomb gave the Phillies a 4-3 lead heading into the fifth.

The Phils would be haunted by their former right fielder in the top of the fifth. Juan Lagares singled and Daniel Murphy walked to lead off the inning. Burnett struck out David Wright and Curtis Granderson before surrendering a two RBI-double to Mr. Bobby Abreu himself. That would give the Mets the one run edge, 5-4.

The home team would answer right back. With one out in the inning, Marlon Byrd took a base on balls and Carlos Ruiz doubled to left. Domonic Brown came up again and hit an RBI groundout to score Byrd and tie things up at five a piece.

The teams bullpens would take over at this point and it looked like the Mets were going to pull ahead in the ninth with Mike Adams on the hill. After getting the bases loaded, Adams got Bobby Abreu swinging to end the inning. In the 10th inning, Jonathan Papelbon was in for the Phils. He got Lucas Duda to fly out but then gave up back-to-back singles to Travis D'Arnaud and Ruben Tejada. With just one out, the Phils closer got out of danger by getting Chris Young to fly out and Juan Lagares to strike out swinging.

The Phillies had two runners on with two down in the 12th but Reid Brignac struck out swinging to end the potential scoring threat. Little did Brignac know, he would have another chance to end this one in the 14th. Marlon Byrd reached second base on a fielding error by Chris Young. Carlos Ruiz followed with a line drive single to center, setting up runners on the corners with none out. After the Mets decided to load the bases by walking Cesar Hernandez, Reid Brignac came to the plate. 

 

The Phillies third baseman, in his first start this season, cranked an opposite-field RBI single on the second pitch of the at-bat to score Byrd from third, giving the Phillies the 6-5 win. 

Phillies Notable Statistics:

Carlos Ruiz: 4-6, BB, 2B

Domonic Brown: 1-4, R, 4 RBI

Reid Brignac: 2-5, RBI, 2 BB, 2 K's

AJ Burnett: 6IP, 5ER, 5H, 6 BB, 11 K's

Phillies Bullpen: 7 IP, 0 ER, 3H, 4 BB, 8 K's

Impact: It was great to see the Phillies bullpen string together an outing like they did tonight, especially with their less than consistent ways. Mike Adams got himself out of another bases loaded jam, Papelbon pitched himself in and out of trouble while Justin De Fratus, Mario Hollands and Antonio Bastardo pitched very effectively, walking just one. This is a game where you would think the 2014 Phillies would have lost, but an error in the 14th gave them the opportunity to win it and they did, just like Wednesday night against Colorado. Burnett struck out a lot of guys but he walked a lot too. After seven innings, his pitch count was at 116. Despite his struggles this year, it was nice to watch Dom Brown's homer. It can take something like that to regain confidence, so hopefully he builds on it. Ryan Howard was 0-for-7 on the night with two strikeouts. His average sits at .227 and was the only Phillies starter without a hit. Ben Revere went 1-for-7.

Up Next: The Phillies play game three of their five-game set today at 3:05PM on CSN. Kyle Kendrick (1-5, 4.04 ERA) will look to get his second win of the season while the Mets send rookie Jacob deGrom (0-2, 1.83) to the mound. He threw 6.2 innings of shutout baseball against Pittsburgh his last time out in a no-decision. Kendrick is coming off of a solid outing of his own, throwing 6.2 scoreless innings against the Rockies to nab his first win of 2014.

Brandon Apter, Publishing Editor for Phillidelphia.com. Follow him on Twitter @ApterShock

 


Sizing Up Sandberg: More inconsistency

It was another up and down week for the Philadelphia Phillies. On the field, the team continued its inconsistent ways. In the dugout, Ryne Sandberg had a mixed week as well.

Last Saturday against the Mets, I really liked the way he handled rookie David Buchanan. The offense backed the rookie making his major league debut early, and built an early 5-2 lead. Through five innings, he had only thrown 66 pitches, which some would use as an indicator that he had plenty left. Having a great sense for the game, Sandberg removed Buchanan before the rookie was exposed to the lineup a third time. He handed the game over to his three best relievers, Jake Diekman, Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon. Minus an unearned run allowed in the sixth, they held the game there and got the rookie his first major league victory.

During Sunday’s no-hitter by Josh Beckett, there was frankly nothing the manager could have done; the team just did not hit. That being the case, it was all about how he got his team to respond the following day. In a gutsy move, he rolled out the same lineup essentially (Carlos Ruiz replaced Wil Nieves) and the team rewarded him with nine runs.

I thought Monday’s 9-0 victory against the Rockies was actually his best game of the season. He got the most out of Kyle Kendrick, executed a timely double switch to bring Mike Adams in, which netted a big strikeout of Troy Tulowitzki in a big spot, and called the right man off the bench as John Mayberry Jr. crushed a pinch hit home run.

Tuesday though, he made a questionable decision asking Jeff Manship, the long man, to hold the game in the eighth inning at 4-2. It went exactly everyone outside of Sandberg thought it would go, as Manship allowed the deficit to fall to 6-2.

Also in Tuesday’s game was a home run from Darin Ruf. With Domonic Brown having a historically bad season, posting an OPS around .550, one would think it would be a good idea to go with the more productive Ruf in left field. Though not a particularly good defender, Brown is no gold glover himself so it would make some sense. Sandberg, however, went right back to his struggling regular and seems reluctant to get Ruf in the starting lineup. Moving forward, this is a good thing to keep an eye on, how long his leash for Brown is.


Draft: The Old School vs. The Hinkie School- Part 3

Sam hinkie

(Part 3 of a 4-part series)

The Hinkie School

I was going to look at the draft in three ways, The Old School, New School and Hinkie School but the more I thought about it, I think the Hinkie School is the New School. He is not only building the franchise for the future but he’s doing it in a way that is much different than most people have seen before. Who would have thought that he would trade his promising young point guard coming off his best year for two draft picks and one being for a guy who wasn’t going to play one second in the upcoming basketball season? Hinkie is all about adding value and getting the most for his assets at a particular time. If he could obtain a second round pick midseason, let’s say #32, he’d be thrilled to trade it for #31 on draft day. Let’s look at MCW, he was drafted with the #11 pick last year, if some team, let’s say the Magic wanted to swap MCW for their #4 pick, I think he’d do it. Like I said, he seems very set on continuing to upgrade the assets that he has acquired, even if the decision will be unpopular with the fan base. He is essentially a stock trader but he’s using players, picks and cap space as commodities.

I’d like to say I know what Hinkie is thinking in that dark cave he spends most of his time in over on Broad and Pattison but I really don’t. I’m going to look at all the options available to him and throw in some ways he could and or should go between now and the end of draft night on June 26. I think we are all pretty confident that he will not be standing pat and will not be making each of his 7 selections in the positions that they currently own. Let’s take a look.

Round 1:

Hinkie is in love with Andrew Wiggins, and why not, he just might be the next generation superstar that brings multiple championships to the city of Brotherly Love over the next decade. Not only may Wiggins be that guy, he’ll also be a draw for not only fans but for potential free agents around the league. We all know that NBA players want to join up with their buddies and take a city and franchise by storm. What if 4 years from now, Joel Embiid has become a dominate force in the NBA, and wants out of Cleveland. His good buddy AW is tearing it up in Philly with MCW and Nerlens Noel but need that offensive post presence. AW has been in Embiid’s ear the last 2 years at  All-Star weekend about coming to Philly, perfect! Hinkie knew this day might be coming and has continued to stash that invaluable cap space so that he can make this play. This sounds like a perfect plan, right? Well, the only problem is, AW might now be available for Hinkie at #3. I don’t think Hinkie wants to give up #3 and #10 to move up one spot, or two, that seems like a lot. I also don’t think any number of their 5 second round picks gets them up a spot or two with either Cleveland or Milwaukee although I may be wrong, maybe they both don’t care which of the 3 they get and want more ammo to move back into the late first, then give them all 5 for all I care, it’s worth it to get “your” guy. That leads us to one other asset that Hinkie has, cap space. Milwaukee is in fine shape cap wise but Cleveland has a few contracts that I’m sure they’d like to rid themselves of, i.e.; Jarret Jack (6.5mil/yr through 2017), Tyler Zeller (3.5mil/yr through 2017). That’s 10mil a year they can clear and add, say, picks #32 and #54 and still get any of the “big 3”, I think that gets it done. Now Cleveland has a lineup of Irving, Waiters, Deng, Varejao/Bennett, Embiid. Their 2014-2015 just got better and now they have space to add another big name in hopes of keeping Irving around.

Alright, Wiggins is in house at pick #1, now on to pick #10, this is a big one for Hinkie. This pick may be more important than the first pick. I think he stands pat here and takes the best shooter available, unless Randle somehow falls to them at #10. There are a few names that are potential picks here, Stauskas, Gary Harris, James Young,McDermott and Zach Levine. As I mentioned earlier, I think Stauskas and McDermott are gone at #10. That leaves the other 3; I think Hinkie is going to be too intrigued by Zach Levine. His game certainly needs refinement but hey, the Sixers have time. His athleticism is out of this world and his shot making is impressive. Imagine MCW, Levine, Wiggins, Young, and Noel on the court at the same time, no team in the league right now would be able to keep up with them in transition, damn I’m excited! Obviously I want to see Levine in Philly and I think Hinkie will oblige. I will throw one wild card in here at #10, Dario Saric. He’s an athletic big (6’10”) with some handle and a knack for grabbing boards, he led the Adriatic League in rebounding this year. This pick would be for the future for sure since many wonder whether he will come to the US this year.

Round 2

Well, the Sixers now hold picks 39, 47, 54 after the trade with Cleveland and I think there’s a real possibility they trade back into the first round. There’s also a chance they trade a few of these to move up in the second round. Hinkie didn’t acquire these picks at the deadline to stand pat and take a 26% chance that these players will make any contributions in the NBA. One nice thing about 2nd round picks is that they do not have guaranteed contracts making them more valuable for cap strapped contenders. The Clippers are maxed out for 2014-2015; they’d be thrilled to trade their #28 pick for a second rounder or two. Sixers trade their #47 and #52 picks to the Sixers and Hinkie takes Mitch McGary. McGary (PF, Michigan) hasn’t officially been cleared for the NBA yet but he will bring a lot of the skill and grit that this team needs. If Thad Young is still here, what better player to learn the position from and how to go about your business as a professional, McGary should follow him and imitate him in whatever he does. McGary is an excellent rebounder and has great vision for a big man; he’ll hit AW or Levine on many dashes to the bucket.

That leaves Hinkie with one last pick in round 2, pick #39. Hinkie takes a project that can eventually be a rotational player. See above, Spencer Dinwiddie is the pick. This gives them another draft and stash player who would have been a first round pick this year if he hadn’t gotten injured.

Recap:

Rd 1, pick 1: Andrew Wiggins (acquired from CLE for #3, #32, #54 and PHI gets #1, Jack and Zeller)

Rd1, pick 10: Zach Levine

Rd1, pick 28: Mitch McGary (acquired from LAC for #47 and #52)

Rd2, pick 39: Spencer Dinwiddie

 

All in all, a great night for Hinkie and the franchise, he was able to use some of the resources he has acquired this year to maneuver around the draft. This draft has certainly made the painful 2013-2014 season worth it, there is clear direction and we’ll all have a few reasons to tune into the games next winter. A core of MCW, Wiggins, Levine, Noel, McGary and in a year or two, Dinwiddie, is really exciting. There’s still plenty of work to be done building out the rest of the team but this core could be the basketball version of the “Greatest Show on Turf”. Stay tuned for more developments, news, rumors and player evaluations. That’s how I see Hinkie playing his cards, how would you orchestrate this draft?

(Part 4- The Breakdown will be posted on 6/2)


Burnett Looks to End Personal Slide in Game Two

BurnettPhoto: Philliedelphia/Andrew Gillen

The first game of this rare five game series against the New York Mets was a momentum murdered. Wednesday night, Ryan Howard capped off a ninth inning comeback with a monster of a walk off, three-run home run to send everyone home happy. Heading into last night's contest, the Phillies and their fans hoped Howard's beauty of a swing would translate into some good luck going forward into this extended series with their division rival. Instead, they were met by a wall named Zack Wheeler. At one point, he had set down fourteen straight Phillies, and had filthy pitches all night long. Perhaps Philadelphia will have some luck against Rafael Montero in Game Two, as they send A.J. Burnett to the hill. 

Free passes. That is what seems to be detrimental to A.J. Burnett's declining season. We've already discussed the FIP vs. ERA numbers, as well as hit home and road splits, that indicate a season worse off than the surface numbers suggest. Perhaps his tendency to allow extra baserunners is the reason for his recent stretch. Burnett sits just one walk behind Shelby Miller of the Cardinals for most walks allowed in the National League (32 for Miller, 31 for Burnett). Combine those 31 base on balls with 6 batters hit by a pitch, and you have the league leader in free bases. He one of six pitchers allowing an average of over four walks per nine innings. He'll need to regain his command is he wants to end his recent troubles.

Making just his fourth major league start will be Rafael Montero for the Mets. Montero's first appearance came against the New York Yankees, and has faced the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers since then. Not surprisingly, the rookie has some inflated numbers in his first handful of games. Like Burnett, Montero is having some issues with the strikezone, having walked nine batters in just over sixteen innings of work. He also struggles to keep the ball in the yard, as he's currently averaging over two home runs per nine innings. Of course, these numbers are all in just a limited amount of time. However, the Phillies must exploit these areas to have a chance at settling the early score in this series.

Game Notes

  • Last May, Domonic Brown famously collected twelve home runs, 25 RBIs, batted for a .303 average, and was slugging .688 in 28 games. A year later, Brown has only been able to put up a pair of long drives, twelve RBIs, a .138 average and a .276 slugging percentage in 23 games. His struggles have caused many to call his gameplay into question.
  • Alternatively, Marlon Byrd is quietly having a very productive month-long stretch. Since May 2nd, Byrd is batting at a clip of .289, while bringing home 14 RBIs. He's also collected four home runs while being tied for second in the National League with ten doubles. 
  • A.J. Burnett will be facing the New York Mets for the first time since July of last season when he was still with the Pittsburgh Pirates. in 5.2 innings of work, Burnett struck out eight Met batters, allowed seven hits and gave up two earned runs in a no decision. Before that start, Burnett hadn't faced the Mets since May of 2011.

Phillies Lineup

  1. Ben Revere CF
  2. Jimmy Rollins SS
  3. Chase Utley 2B
  4. Ryan Howard 1B
  5. Marlon Byrd RF
  6. Carlos Ruiz C;
  7. Domonic Brown LF
  8. Reid Brignac 3B
  9. A.J. Burnett P

Mets Lineup

  1. Juan Lagares CF
  2. Daniel Murphy 2B
  3. David Wright 3B
  4. Curtis Granderson RF
  5. Bobby Abreu LF
  6. Lucas Duda 1B
  7. Travis d'Arnaud C
  8. Ruben Tejada SS
  9. Rafael Montero P

Location: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Weather: 70° F - Drizzle - 29% PoP
Game Time: 7:05 PM Eastern

Andrew Gillen, Managing Editor of Philliedelphia.com


Send Down Brown? 'Not at this Stage', Says Ruben...

 

We have all heard about the potential before. We have all heard about his breakout month of May last season (keywords: last season). We have all heard about his awful performance at this season. With all things considered, Phillies management has to be thinking of a way to instill some confidence and fire back into Domonic Brown's offense and overall play. With Darin Ruf on the bench ready to go, the Phillies continue to put Brown out there as his average continues to fall. After hitting his first homer of the year on Tuesday, Ruf did not see time in the starting lineup during Wednesday's game or last night. Instead, we saw Brown in there, who after an 0-for-3 night has an average at .200. Ryne Sandberg's explanation for inserting Brown continually?  (via Philadelphia Daily News)

"Those are opportunities for that player, chances for that player and a vote of confidence from me," Sandberg said a day earlier. "It shows I have confidence in them to get it going."

"I know that he's trying. I don't know if he's trying too hard or overtrying, it seems like when he hit balls hard, he gets nothing to show for it. Maybe it's a combination of getting a hit or two in a couple games to get his confidence going the other way."

I do understand giving a player every opportunity to succeed if they have shown they can produce, but how is consistently putting Brown in the lineup helping anyone? Again, I am not saying Darin Ruf is the savior, but right now, Dom needs to get his head straight and start hitting like we know he can. It gets to a point where you ask, "If he isn't succeeding and showing little signs of improvement, why isn't a player of his caliber sent down to the minors to work on his game?". Seems like it would be something that would help him and would also help the team. Brown may need some time out of the big-league spotlight to focus primarily on his performance rather than the team's. Although it is a great option, it doesn't seem likely. At least not yet.

While most agree that a trip to the minors may be for the best, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro says the Phillies aren't at that point. (via Philadelphia Daily News). 

"Not at this stage," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told the Daily News when asked if sending Brown down as an option. "We have to get Dom right here before we start thinking about that stuff."

"Dom's got to keep playing. He's got to keep getting opportunities to play . . . We have to have him get back to swinging the way he can."

We have to get Dom right here before....okay, Ruben. You make no sense. Isn't the whole point of a demotion for a player to get themselves right? Major League Baseball is not a stage for players to get themselves right. How can you get him back to swinging the way he can? By getting him back to the basics in Triple-A.

Let's get back to Domonic. In 2013, he started off slow as well (not .200 slow). In April, he was hitting just above .250 before his bat exploded for his monstrous month of May, which may be what we are all judging him on right now. How can we not? He hit .303 with 12 homers and 25 RBI's and earned himself a spot on the NL All-Star team. After May, his average jumped up and down for the rest of the year. In June, he hit .278. In July, Dom hit .257 and in August, he hit .292. In September, he hit .255. There's no denying he has had some good months, but he had some mediocre ones too. He struck out 97 times in 2013. Thus far in 2014, he has 35 K's, so unless things turn around he will break that mark.

Taking a closer look at 2014, Dom has struck out two or more times in six games this year and he has found himself to be the least-productive outfielder in the National League. Dom's OPS is ranked 51st out of qualifying outfielders, including rightfielders and centerfielders. He has the fewest extra-base hits among leftfielders with 10. Brown's .564 OPS and .262 OBP also ranks 17th out of 18 major league outfielders with at least 175 plate appearances. 

The next few weeks may show us the fate of Brown. Obviously, it seems like he will continue to see regular playing time until Ruben Amaro sees fit. You have to imagine if his woes carry on, Ryne Sandberg's patience will be running on a short leash.

The Fans Have Spoken - In Friday's Roadshow poll question on WIP, 97% of voters wanted to see Darin Ruf over Domonic Brown in left.

Brandon Apter, Publishing Editor for Philliedelphia. Follow him on Twitter @ApterShock

 


NBA Draft: How I Learned to Stop Caring and Love the Uncertainty.

Having the first pick in the draft can be a blessing one year, a curse the next. While it’s true that you get first crack at the buffet of potential spread out before you, you also might have to be the one to find out that the shrimp has spoiled and, well don’t even go near that blue stuff. In fact, one might argue that in years with a crowd of players with comparable unknown potential, you might want to sit back, let a few other brave souls go over the wall first, then come in and clean up the stragglers. Take the 1984 draft: Hakeem was a nice safe first pick, but then the Bulls get Jordan after the Blazers jump on the Bowie grenade. It’s easy to poke fun in hindsight, but if the Bulls had picked second they might have taken Bowie as well. Almost twenty years later the Pistons fell on the Darko grenade, allowing the Nuggets, Raptors, and Heat to calmly pick franchise players without having to mentally contort over thoughts like “Sure we have no idea how good Darko is, but those frosted tips scream potential!”

Darko_milicic_280809
"Just the tips please!"

Even last years draft, generally perceived to be a sub-par crop of players, was so evenly sub-par that no one knew who to take first, leaving the door open to the Cavs talking themselves into Anthony Bennet (its early, but potential for worst 1st overall pick ever) while Nerlens Noel, the perceived #1 pick for most of the year, fell to 6th overall. And of course Oden and Durant might be the strongest example of the burden of the first pick.

 So I posit that, in years where the talent at the top is bunched up and potential is hard to predict, best to let someone else walk through the door first. And that brings us to the 2014 NBA draft, where the Sixers find themselves in this exact situation. We’ve all read it over and over, that Embiid, Wiggins, and Parker are locks to be successful NBA players, maybe even cornerstone superstars, barring injury. While the Cavs have to stress over Embiid’s back, and the Bucks have to stress over who has more potential, the Sixers just have to sit back and take whoever is left. Easy. While I do think that Dante Exum deserves a little bit of thought at the 4th pick, in general I agree with what John Smallwood wrote the other day. The Sixers should keep it simple stupid, and just take whichever of the top three is still on the board.

 In light of this, us Sixers fans are spending less time worrying about who is the best fit for our team and more wondering who the hell the Cavs and Bucks are going to pick. If you were to believe most of what has been written in the lead up to the lottery, the order is practically set! Wiggins, Embiid, then Parker. Go ahead and preorder your custom Parker Sixers jersey. The Sixers themselves put together a nice roundup of mock drafts, summarizing who was likely to go to us at #3. What they found:

  •  Of 15 mock drafts, 9 have Jabari Parker going to the Sixers.
  •  In those same 15 mocks, 4 have Embiid going to the Sixers and 2 have Wiggins to the Sixers.

The most common storyline all year has been that Parker will go third to the Sixers. Embiid and Wiggins have upside that is way too high to last past the first two picks, and hope and upside (Darko!) trump known quantities. Now that the draft order is set though, and people have to speak about these picks in more concrete terms, despite all the repetition (or maybe because of), this narrative is showing some cracks. Ryen Russillo (a completely underrated NBA voice that ESPN totally underutilizes) wrote a piece on Grantland recently in which he published anonymous unedited opinions from NBA scouts on the top three prospects, and it was clear that Wiggins was ranked 3rd for most of them. Here’s a taste:

  • On Embiid: “If healthy, I’m taking him no. 1 and it’s not even close … He doesn’t understand positioning yet, but he is further along offensively than Olajuwon was at the same stage, and he’s bigger than Hakeem …Has all the ingredients: feet, hands, touch.”
  • On Parker: “I’m a fan, but he can’t be your best player …He’s the best basketball player in the draft … I’d take him no. 1."
  • On Wiggins: "Don’t trust his shot or his ball skills … He can be your third-best player, but not your best … I think in the draft, if Embiid is healthy, Wiggins goes no. 3 … In general, interesting kid.”

 Um, in general an “interesting kid?” Don’t you mean “BOW TO OUR LORD AND SAVIOR EMPEROR WIGGINS?” Chad Ford, ESPNs draft guru, wrote an Insider piece basically saying that it’s too close to call between the three of them, but the general theme was that Embiid has the best upside and Parker is having the best workouts, and, well Wiggins ….

 There's a lot of misinformation floating around right now ... One good source told me that the Cavs have already told Wiggins' camp he's the front-runner. However, another trusted source with close access to the Cavs' front office told me that he believes that Wiggins isn't even in the discussion in Cleveland -- that it's already been narrowed down to Embiid or Parker.

And if Wiggins doesn't go No. 1? I don't think he's in the top two on the Milwaukee Bucks' board right now, which means he would fall to the Philadelphia 76ers -- a team that has had Wiggins as its top target all season.

 This was followed yesterday by an online chat with Ford in which he guessed the top of the Cavs draft board is “1a. Embiid 1b. Parker 3. Exum 4. Wiggins.” Exum sighting!

 So, is Wiggins the third best player? Is he destined to fall to us and should we, GASP, be unhappy about that? Do we actually want Parker and just not know it? As Socrates said (or was it Bill S. Preston Esq.), "The only true wisdom consists of knowing you know nothing." Here’s the point – the top of this draft is confusing, no one knows who whould go first, and we don’t have to play this unwinnable game of prognostication. The Cavs and the Bucks get to do the heavy lifting for us. We can pregame all we want and show up to the party drunk, cause we ain’t hosting and we know who is driving us home. The bottom line is we are getting an exciting player who may or may not work out for us in the long run. I believe we are in the ENVIABLE situation of not having to stress about who that player is. Instead, us Sixers fans should just sit back and enjoy the ride.


NBA Draft Profile: Joel Embiid

A few months ago, Joel Embiid was the growing consensus to the number one pick in June’s NBA Draft. He was dominating inside post play as a freshman at Kansas, but suffered a stress fracture in his back. Kansas was  eliminated in the NCAA Tournament before he had a chance to return from the injury, so most fans, minus the Kansas fans, did not get a chance to see much of him.

 

He’s since recovered, and is quickly gaining momentum to re-claim that top pick status. Embiid reportedly was a monster at the NBA Draft Combine. He posted measurables of standing 7' 1" in shoes, having a 7' 5.75" wingspan, and a 9' 5.5" standing reach.

 

The appeal to Embiid is obvious; he has a ceiling through the roof. He has the potential to be one of the most dominant forces in the game just because of his body, size, reach and presence. Furthermore, Embiid is an incredible athlete, having played both soccer and volleyball. Each has clearly helped him become the great basketball player he is thus far, and will likely continue to help him in areas such as footwork and going up to grab balls of the boards. For a seven-footer, his body control is exceptional.

 

Though he does not have great form, Embiid is still a good scorer and has a good mid-range game for a man of his height, shooting 63% from the field all together. He wasn’t bad on the free throw line, but still has room to grow, shooting a shade under 70%. He could work on his post game, but is pretty good at dropping in hook shots.

 

Coming off a stress fracture in his back, that of course is the primary concern with Embiid. Anytime a big man has a back injury, especially as a 20-year old, you have to worry about long-term durability. Furthermore, if there is a weakness in Embiid, it is he is a bit slow moving around and leaping. He takes a while to launch upwards, but this may be fixable.

 

Pro Comparison: DeMarcus Cousins

 

The Verdict: Being that the Sixers have a big man they believe in, Nerlens Noel, Embiid is not as much of an attractive pick for me as others. If he fell to three, I’d take him but would not be devastated if he was taken ahead of them. Furthermore, the injury makes him more of a risk than others. The Sixers must get this pick right for the sake of the franchise getting off the ground, and there are far more safer picks than Embiid for this slot. I’d hope the Cavilers or Bucks take him.

 


Byrd Homers, Phillies Strike Out 15 Times In 4-1 Loss

Recap529

(Marlon Byrd's 7th inning home run put the Phillies on the board in the team's 4-1 Loss)

David Buchanan pitched into the seventh and Marlon Byrd homered for the Phillies, but the team was unable to overcome a strong pitching performance by Zach Wheeler and the Mets, who won the first game of a five-game series 4-1 Thursday night.

The Game: Buchanan was solid initially, working around a two-out single by David Wright to record a scoreless first. In the bottom of the inning, Ben Revere led off with a single and stole second after Jimmy Rollins struck out looking. However, Wheeler managed avoid trouble by getting Chase Utley looking for the second out before punching out Ryan Howard to end the inning.

In the second, Lucas Duda reached first on a bunt hit just in front of the plate, and Chris Young followed up with a single to left. Wilmer Flores then tapped a weakly hit ball just past the mound that Cesar Hernandez couldn’t quite handle, loading the bases for Travis D’Arnaud. D’Arnaud grounded into a double play, though Duda scored to give the Mets the early 1-0 lead. The Phillies, meanwhile, wasted another opportunity with men on in the second, when they stranded Carlos Ruiz at second after the catcher’s 11th double of the season.

In the fourth, Curtis Granderson walked to lead off the inning. After Duda’s flyout to center, Young turned on a Buchanan slider for a two-run homer that pushed New York’s lead to three. The home run was Young’s second of the season.

In the fifth, Wheeler collected his first hit of the season to lead things off for the Mets. Juan Lagares hit a playable ball to Hernandez at third, but the young infielder was unable to make the play on this one either as Lagares reached on an E5. With two men on and one out, David Wright grounded into a fielder’s choice to Hernandez. Hernandez threw to second, but the throw was not in time, loading the bases for a second time. Buchanan walked Granderson, forcing a run to score, but escaped the inning without any further damage. Buchanan pitched into the seventh before being lifted for Mario Hollands, who struck out the veteran outfielder to end the inning.

Wheeler, meanwhile, continued to stifle the Phillies hitters over the next few innings. The Phillies managed just four hits out of the young flamethrower, who struck out nine over 6.1 innings. The Mets allowed Wheeler to start the seventh with a high pitch count, but he was removed after just one out when Marlon Byrd deposited the righty’s 108th pitch into the right field seats to make it 4-1. The Phillies couldn’t capitalize on the momentum, though, as New York’s relievers managed to retire the next five batters straight.

In the ninth, Justin De Fratus relieved Hollands, who pitched 1.1 innings  of scoreless relief. De Fratus got pinch-hitter and longtime Phillie Bobby Abreu to ground out to first before allowing a Lagares single to right. The Phillies pulled De Fratus in favor of Antonio Bastardo, a day after his four-walk outing against the Rockies. As if on cue, Bastardo walked Murphy to put men on first and second, though Wright would ground into a double play to end the threat, keeping the Phillies within striking distance entering the bottom of the ninth. Jenrry Mejia came in for New York, and struck out both Rollins and Utley looking before Howard went down swinging to end the game. Final score: 4-1 Mets.

Notable Statistics:

David Buchanan: 6.2 IP, 7H, 4 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 2K

Marlon Byrd: 1-3, HR (7)

Ryan Howard: 0-4, 4 K

Impact: The Phillies offense and defense were very disappointing. Buchanan wasn’t exactly flawless, but the defense behind him didn’t do him many favors, and he showed good composure in working out of two bases loaded jams with minimal damage. However, he’s going to need to show some better command to offset his lack of strikeout stuff, as he has only registered four punch-outs in 11.2 innings so far.  The Phillies’ hitters, on the other hand, rarely challenged Wheeler, who walked none and allowed just four hits. He retired 14 in a row before allowing Byrd’s solo home run in the seventh. The Phillies as a team struck out 15 times as a team. They will need to be more patient and make pitchers work if they are going to turn things around, especially in a series that has such major consequences in the division standings.

Up Next: The Phillies will host the Mets again tomorrow for the second game of the five-game set. A.J Burnett (3-4, 3.51 ) will take the hill against the Mets and right-hander Rafael Montero (0-2, 4.96). Montero lost his last outing despite striking out 10 over six innings of two-hit ball, while Burnett gave up six runs in seven innings against Los Angeles as the Phillies were no-hit by Josh Beckett.