Philadelphia Phillies Cut Castillo: Luis, Luis, We Barely Knew Ye

March 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro announced earlier today that the team had cut ties with veteran second baseman (but extremely new Phillie) Luis Castillo.

Luis Castillo had just been cut by their division rival, the New York Mets and was given what turned out to be a very inexpensive and short trial with the Phillies.

Ironically, the 35 year old second baseman—who some observers thought would be the Phillies everyday second baseman until Chase Utley was healthy enough to regain his position—had his best game of the spring yesterday.

In four at-bats, Castillo singled twice, scored two runs and even stole a base for good measure in the Phillies 8-5 exhibition win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Alas, this good performance figures to be the only game he will play at Citizens Bank Park while donning the red pinstripes.

The three-time all-star and four-time Gold Glover had been coming off a frustrating 2010 season with the Mets. In a season restricted to 88 games and 299 at-bats, the lifetime .290 hitter managed an anemic slash line of .235/.337/.267, the final two numbers giving him an OPS of .605.

While never (to put it mildly) a power hitter, at his best, Castillo gave his teams (all of his All-Star appearances and Gold Gloves were earned as a Florida Marlin) plenty of speed and terrific defense.

Just two seasons ago, Luis put up fairly good numbers as a Met: .302/ .387/.346 (for a respectable .736 OPS) with 20 steals.

In the final analysis, it was likely that the Phillies saw enough of Castillo to feel that he had lost a lot of his defensive range and that he would more resemble the 2010 version than the 2009 one.

One wonders if Castillo regrets stealing that base yesterday, unless he uses that clip to catch on with another team.

As for the Phillies, the release is not a shocker and should not be criticized too harshly by their fans. Because the team signed the veteran to a minor league contract, they had a very small investment in him.

They may have lost some brownie points with Castillo, however. If by some miracle, he is enshrined in Cooperstown, one doubts he will be inducted as a Phillie.



Nobody, including Utley, knows the timetable for the All-Star’s return, but the release of Luis (kind of rhymes) is a vote of confidence for super utility man Wilson Valdez and, apparently, Rule 5 pick Michael Martinez.

Valdez is expected to see the majority of starts at second base; Martinez is also likely to make the team and make an occasional start.

Rounding out the expected Phillies reserve core will be catcher Brian Schneider and outfielders Ross Gload and John Mayberry, Jr.

The final spot on the Opening Day roster appears to be a battle between infielder Pete Orr and infielder/outfielder Delwyn Young.

Young, on paper, has a little more pop at the plate, while Orr is a better fielder and baserunner.

The Phillies bench does not figure to inspire too much insomnia among opposing managers this year, but the game of baseball does have a way of churning out surprises.

Very few people outside of the Valdez family expected him to be such a major contributor last season. Mayberry looks closer to being a finished product and can certainly punish mistakes by opposing pitchers.

Schneider and Gload are solid professionals, on the field, and in the clubhouse.

Skipper Charlie Manuel has been known to go with his starting eight as much as any manager in the game.

That may be harder to do with a core group that is among the oldest in Major League Baseball.

With the release of Castillo, the Phillies may have gotten just a hair younger.

Will Valdez and Matinez contribute more than the former All-Star would have? That’s why they play the games—all 162 of them, starting Friday at Citizens Bank Park.


For more information on Matt Goldberg’s new books, other writings and public appearances, please e-mail: or contact him via his Bleacher Report homepage.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

2011 Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Reasons Why They Will Win the World Series

March 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Last season, the Phillies overcame an onslaught of injuries and offensive lack of production and earned the best record during the regular season, but they succumbed to the Giants in the NLCS.

This year, they re-signed Cliff Lee, making them appear to have the best team in the bigs (on paper), but after injuries to Brad Lidge and Chase Utley, do the Phillies still have what it takes to win the World Series?

I believe the answer is yes, and here are five reasons why.

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: A Lineup Full of Questions

March 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Charlie Manuel’s got a lot of decisions to make.  The Phillies’ offense could be in trouble. 

After losing Jayson Werth in the offseason and then Chase Utley once Spring Training started, there seems to be little, if any protection for Ryan Howard in the Phillies’ lineup. Manual will have to juggle players in, out and around Howard to provide him with protection and help pick up the slack when he fails to deliver. 

Over the past few years the biggest topic debated within the Phillies’ lineup is whether or not Jimmy Rollins should remain in the leadoff spot.  His low on base percentage and propensity to try and be a power hitter has worn on fans who want to see a true “table setter” at the top of the lineup. 

Charlie Manuel has shown his stubbornness; his unwillingness to remove Brad Lidge from the closer role in 2009 may have cost them a championship.  His inability to adapt his lineup in 2011 may do the same. 

Here is a look at the Phillies’—could and should be—lineup to start the season.

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: 2011 MLB Season Preview

March 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News


Last Year: 97-65, 1st in NL East  

Manager: Charlie Manuel


C- Carlos Ruiz (R) 

1B- Ryan Howard (L)

2B- Chase Utley (L) (will start season on DL) 

3B- Placido Polanco (R) 

SS- Jimmy Rollins (S)

LF- Raul Ibanez (L)

CF- Shane Victorino (S)

RF- Ben Francisco (R) / Domonic Brown (L) (Brown will miss 4-6 weeks) 

The Phillies struggled with injuries and inconsistency throughout the 2010 season, and this year looks like it might have more of the same. Right now, Utley’s knee remains a major concern. If healthy, Utley can be counted on for 25-30 home runs, but no one is sure when he will come back or whether he will play at all. Wilson Valdez is also looking like he will get the time at 2B in his absence.

Ryan Howard will need to get back to his 40 home run days with Jayson Werth in Washington and Utley questionable for this season. My gut says he does and hits 42 home runs with a .260/.350/.540 line. Jimmy Rollins struggled with injuries in 2010, but reports are that he has come into camp in better shape. The lineup is best when Rollins leads off, but Rollins will need to produce enough to stay there. I don’t see him returning to his MVP days, but 15-20 home runs, 20 stolens, and a line of .270/.335/.425 line should do. Polanco, who consistently strikes out less than 9 percent of the time, remains a a perfect number two hitter. Finally, expect Polanco to produce his usual .290/.340/.390 line.

The Phillies do struggle with an excess of left-handed hitters in the lineup. In a perfect world, Ruben Amaro would have traded away Raul Ibanez and gotten a right-handed bat to play LF. Ibanez is getting old, but if he put up a .270 average and 20 home runs, the Philles should be happy. Shane Victorino provides 30 plus stlolen bases and 15 home runs in the sixth spot in the lineup. Victorino is a much better right-handed hitter, but his bad season from the left-side looks like an aberration. Domonic Brown and Ben Francisco were scheduled to platoon in RF, with Francisco playing against lefties. Brown is scheduled to miss the first month of the season, but Francisco can hold his own for a month. He has shown that he can hit 15 home runs with 450 AB and will certainly reach 10. Check out Brown’s impact later in the piece. 

The Phillies are an average defensive team. They make most of the plays, but the range is somewhat limited. Carlos Ruiz is the second best catcher in the league behind Yadier Molina. He has a canon for an arm, and all the Phillies’ pitchers rave about how he calls a game. The infield defense, besides Ryan Howard, is very good. Utley, Rollins, and Polanco are all in the top 5 in UZR at their positions.

Wilson Valdez is a solid defender at all positions in the infield. Ryan Howard is one of the worst defensive first basemen in baseball, but I am sure John Kruk will say he has improved. The outfield stands on even shakier ground. Shane Victorino is one of the most overrated defensive players in baseball, and is considered an average center fiedler. Raul Ibanez is below average in LF, while the combination of Ben Francisco and Domonic Brown doesn’t impress. 


1B/OF- Ross Gload (L)

IF- Wilson Valdez (R)

OF- John Mayberry Jr. (R) 

C- Brian Schneider (L) 

IF- Michael Martinez (L) 

IF/OF- Delwyn Young (L)


RHP- Roy Halladay  

LHP- Cliff Lee 

RHP- Roy Oswalt

LHP- Cole Hamels

RHP- Joe Blanton 

Let’s state the obvious, the Phillies have the best rotation in baseball. In my opinion Roy Halladay is the best pitcher in the league. He uses a great sinking fastball, one of the best cutters in the game, a good curveball, and change-up to record a high groundball rate and average more than 7 strikeouts per 9 innings. Halladay should pitch to a 2.50 ERA while averaging 1.50 BB/9 innings.

Cliff Lee has has a similar repertoire to Halladay, with a good two-seamer in the low 90’s, great cutter, curve, and change-up. Lee possesses the same pinpoint control as Halladay, but he has less room for error. Lee changed his approach in 2010 after two very successful season. Lee went with the current trend in baseball, and started throwing his cutter close to 20% of the time while using his curve and change more sparingly. His cutter works off his fastball in the same way a change-up goes, and using the change and curveball less often made the pitches more successful. I see Lee putting up similar numbers, but it is impossible for him to replicate his record K/BB ratio.

Roy Oswalt made an impression on Phillies fans by having an impressive second half of 2010. Oswalt is a classic four pitch right-handed starter with a fastball that averages 92.6 MPH with a slider, curveball, and change. All of his secondary pitches are above average. Oswalt changed his approach in 2010 by increasing the use of his change-up by ten percent and throwing each of his secondary pitches fifteen percent of the time. This strategy should help Oswalt in the long run and his velocity decreases with age.

Former ace, Cole Hamels, is the best strikeout pitcher of the bunch. Hamels benefited from an increase in velocity (up 2 MPH to 92) that benefited his dominant change-up. Hamels’ curveball was more successful in 2010, and he added a cutter to his compliment his other pitches. Hamels can be homer prone, but he has recorded one of the more consistent xFIPs (3.50 range) since he broke into the league. A lot of teams would love to have Joe Blanton as a number three starter. Blanton will eat innings for this team, and record an ERA in the 4.20 range with a 2.5 K/BB ratio.    


RHP- Brad Lidge (Closer) (Will spend first 3-6 weeks on DL) 

RHP- Ryan Madson 

RHP- Jose Contreras 

RHP- Danys Baez

LHP- JC Romero 

LHP- Antonio Bastardo 

RHP- Kyle Kendrick

RHP- David Herndon  

The Phillies bullpen has not gotten some of the credit it deserves over the years. Brad Lidge returned to form in 2010 after a dismal 2009 and put good numbers. Lidge has lost velocity but he has compensated by throwing a higher percentage of sliders (60% in 2010). This season, Lidge should average similar strikeout rates around 10-11 per nine innings, as well as his usual four walks per nine with an ERA in the high 2’s if he comes back healthy.  

Ryan Madson is one of the best setup men in baseball striking out over 64 in 55 innings last year, while only walking 14. He throws a mid 90’s fastball with a decent cutter and a fantastic change-up. That change-up allows Madson to be almost as effective against left-handed hitters.

In addition, Jose Contreras thrived in his first full season as a reliever. The switch allowed Contreras to throw his fastball in the mid 90’s with a devastating slider that makes him extremely tough on right-handed hitters. Contreras figures to be the closer until Lidge comes back. JC Romero will be the situational lefty out of the pen where he has been successful the last few years, though his command was an issue last year (7.12 BB/9). Danys Baez struggled in 2010, but he does have a high groundball percentage. Antonio Bastardo will be the second lefty but has the ability to get out right-handed hitters on a regular basis. Kyle Kendrick will be the long-man and insurance if any of the starters get hurt. 

KEY PLAYER: Chase Utley  



The Phillies were ready to let Jayson Werth go because of Domonic Brown. Brown has fantastic power to CF and RF, and very good bat speed. One scout compared him to a young Reggie Jackson. He will miss the first four to six weeks of the season, but I expect Brown to contribute in his ABs versus righties. He will go through a little bit of a rough patch, but I expect his power numbers to impress (.500-.520 SLG).


I’m going to stick with the Phillies because of the rotation. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Braves win the division now with all of the injuries. Utley and Lidge are keys to this team, and the lineup was a question coming into the season with a healthy Utley.

Right now I’m just betting Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels and Blanton keep them afloat. 

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies Open Season Against ‘Affiliate’ Houston Astros

March 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies have exchanged so many players in the years since Ed Wade left Philadelphia and became the GM in Houston that the Astros are virtually a farm team for the Phillies.

The Astros play in Class AAA-and-a-half and willingly send up stars to Philadelphia and accept the contracts of underperforming major leaguers.

Several of these players that have traded places—Eric Bruntlett, Geoff Geary, Pedro Feliz, Randy Wolf, Brandon Duckworth, Billy Wagner and Chris Coste—are on neither team this year.

Former Astro Brad Lidge is starting the season on the DL, but the other former Astro, Roy Oswalt, is ready for another prime season. The Astros have three former Phillies in their starting rotation this season and will open the season with former Phillies pitcher Brett Myers on the mound.

There will be a few other familiar faces on the Astros roster as they come to town, looking to continue their four-game win streak against Philadelphia.

Who are they, would you want any of them back, and will any more Astros and Phillies trade places this season?

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Reasons Why the 2011 Phillies Could (But Won’t) Fail: Part 1 – Jayson Werth

March 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

The 2011 baseball season begins this week.  The Philadelphia Phillies, led by their four aces (and Joe Blanton) are considered by most to be the favorites in the National League East, if not all of baseball.

But recently, many media members have cooled on the Phillies.  Many of them have decided that the Phillies have too many issues for them to win the division.  Instead, they have chosen the Atlanta Braves as the winner of the NL East.

I think most of the motivation toward the Braves support is because there’s no real story in picking the Phillies to win the East.  Picking the team that has won the division four years in a row and has a dominant starting pitching staff?  Yawn.

But picking the Braves?  Now there’s an interesting story.  A group of young upstarts trying to overthrow the reigning establishment is just the type of thing to draw some interest.

Despite what these prognosticators may have you believe, the Phillies will not be conceding the division title in 2011.

Over the next few days, I’ll take a look at some of the reasons why people have predicted a Phillies downfall and explain why they will not keep the team from extending their division title streak to five years.

They will miss Jayson Werth.

If you listen to some sabermetric analysts, Jayson Werth is the greatest player to ever wear a Phillies uniform.  According to their calculations, his OPS and WAR values were directly responsible for about 200 wins over the past three seasons.

And now that he is being paid an ungodly sum to play for the Nationals, the Phillies lineup will have a huge hole in it.  Cleanup hitter Ryan Howard will have no protection, and won’t see one decent pitch to hit all season. 

Basically, without Werth on the team, the Phillies will be lucky to score any runs at all this season.

I think the effects of losing Werth may be exaggerated by some.  He was a good player both offensively and defensively, but ultimately, I think they can adequately replace him.

Personally, I always felt—and apparently Phillies management agreed—that Werth was a very good supporting player but not a player that you build a lineup around.  Yes, he put up good statistics, but he was also extremely streaky. 

It seemed like he did most of his damage when the rest of the Phillies lineup was also hitting well.  If the team was scoring a lot of runs, he would be a big part of it.  But when the team slumped as a whole, Werth would struggle along with them.

To be fair, this argument could be countered by saying that the reason the Phillies lineup was underperforming was because Werth wasn’t hitting well.

Part of the problem was Werth’s placement in the lineup.  Werth typically batted fifth, but despite his right handed power, he was not an ideal fit there. 

Werth showed great patience at the plate, ranking among the league leaders in pitches per at bat.  That patience, along with his speed, would have made him a much better fit in one of the top two spots in the lineup.

During their playoff run in 2008, Werth often batted second in the lineup.  I suppose manager Charlie Manuel felt that after Pat Burrell left in 2009, he needed a right-hander to hit behind Howard, and Werth was the best candidate. 

But as a five-hole hitter, Werth’s patience sometimes served as a detriment. 

Werth was abysmal with runners in scoring position last season, batting .186.  By taking a lot of pitches, Werth got on base quite often.  But I wonder if by taking all of those pitches, he might have cost himself some good RBI opportunities. 

Batting fifth, the team needed Werth to drive in runs more than they needed him to get on base.  This became more pronounced by the struggles of Raul Ibanez who typically hit behind him.  If the next hitter isn’t going to be able to get the runners home, then a walk is useless.

Considering how much time the team’s usual leadoff man (Jimmy Rollins) missed last season, it would have been worth trying Werth as a leadoff hitter where his patience and speed would have been more of an asset.

But since he usually batted fifth, and didn’t do that great of a job there, why would losing him be that detrimental to the team’s fortunes?

As for the effect on Ryan Howard, I don’t think we’ll see much of a difference. 

In theory, having a dangerous hitter like Werth behind him should cause pitchers to be less careful when pitching to Howard.  And because Werth is right handed, it should have made opposing managers less likely to bring in a left-handed reliever to face Howard.

In reality, Werth didn’t seem to affect how opposing managers and pitchers approached Howard.  Howard may be the biggest power threat in baseball, so pitchers are always going to be very careful when pitching to him, regardless of who is batting behind him. 

And there are very few managers who will not bring in their best lefty reliever to face Howard (or at least a right-hander who is effective against lefties).  Considering that fellow lefty Chase Utley usually bats in front of him, there were few times Howard saw a right-handed pitcher in a key late game situation. 

In addition, Werth actually hit better against right-handers than left-handers last season, so his being right handed didn’t make much of a difference.

Some people seem to also be under the impression that without Werth, the Phillies will simply not have a right fielder.  I believe they will indeed put someone out there, and that player may be able to make up for some of Werth’s production.

Ben Francisco will begin the season as the right fielder.  While he has been a bench player the past two seasons, he had been a starter for the Indians prior to that, so it isn’t like he’s a complete unknown. 

He has had moderate success in the past, and based on spring training numbers, it isn’t unreasonable to expect at least above average numbers from him.

There’s also hope that despite an horrific offseason, rookie Domonic Brown will recover from hand surgery and contribute.  If he can come close to matching his minor league numbers, the Phillies will be in good shape.

So while Werth was indeed a good player, and I’m sure there will be times when his absence is felt, I don’t think losing him will have a crippling effect on the lineup or team.

But while they may be able to overcome losing Werth, how will they do without Chase Utley and other injured players?  I’ll look at that tomorrow.

Originally published on my blog: Stranger in a Strange Land

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Power Ranking the 10 Best Trades in Team History

March 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

There may not be a team in baseball with more passionate fans than the Philadelphia Phillies. For all of the years of losing through the early 1970’s, late 1980’s and early 1990’s, they have seen many years of success as well.

To solidify several more years of success, an incredible pitching staff has been assembled at Citizen’s Bank Park. The incredible front four of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels was assembled to make a big push for another World Series in Philadelphia. With three of these four pitchers acquired through trades (sort of, in Lee’s case), it only seems appropriate to examine the best trades in team history.

From the late years of World War I to just this past year, Philly has pulled off some very good deals. Here are the best.

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Ways They Still Win 100 Games Without Chase Utley

March 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

On the first day of spring training, all of Philadelphia was excited.  Finally, one of the most hyped pitching staffs ever reported to camp. 

Prognostications were made, and some said the Phillies could even challenge the 2001 Seattle Mariners’ all-time mark for wins in a season.

Then the games started, and things started to unravel.  Phillies fans started getting worried.  Domonic Brown broke his hand.  Roy Oswalt got hit in the neck.  Brad Lidge started having problems with his shoulder.

And, of course, Chase Utley’s knee started flaring up. 

Suddenly, it seemed like people forgot that the Phillies had the best pitching staff in the league.  They forgot that they still have Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Shane Victorino, Ben Francisco and Carlos Ruiz. 

Obviously the Utley injury is a big deal, but it’s not the end of the world.

Philadelphia, RELAX! This team will be just fine.  WOOOOOSAH!!!

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Brad Lidge Injured: Pick up Jose Contreras as a short-term Closer

March 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Brad Lidge will be out for up to six weeks with a rotator cuff injury. According to the Delaware County Daily Times, Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said that Jose Contreras will assume the closer role.

With arguably the best starting pitching staff in Major League Baseball, there will be plenty of save opportunities for the Phillies.

Last season Philadelphia signed Contreras to a one-year contract after he split time between between the Colorado Rockies and Chicago White Sox in 2009. The 38-year old isn’t exactly dynasty league material, but he should be a cheap source of saves as the temporary closer until Lidge returns.

In 2010, Contreras had an ERA of 3.34, a WHIP of 1.22 and K/9 rate of 9.05.

If he has consecutive poor outings, there is a slight possibility that the current setup man Ryan Madson takes over the closer role, but based on the endorsement by Charlie Manuel, I recommend that Contreras be picked up in most league formats.

The article can also be found at

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies Closer Brad Lidge Out Until July

March 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

The injuries keep piling up for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Their season in March is starting to resemble what the Boston Red Sox went through in the middle of last season. All of a sudden, guys start going down in batches. Boston’s organizational depth was challenged in 2010, and it looks like the Phillies will be challenged in 2011.

The latest guy to go down for the Phillies? Closer Brad Lidge.

According to the Wilmington News Journal, Lidge has a partially torn rotator cuff and will be shut down completely for three to six weeks. Once that period is over, Lidge will then begin a strength conditioning program and the goal is to be ready in the second half.

This certainly stings the nostrils if you are a Philly fan.

While Lidge is out, the Phillies will go with Jose Contreras as their closer. Ryan Madson will continue to set up.

Contreras is a must-pickup in fantasy leagues. Consider him a low-end No. 2 fantasy closer going forward. He reminds me a Fernando Rodney-type closer. He will get his saves, but make every outing exciting.


You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

« Previous PageNext Page »