Major League Baseball: Top Ten Teams Thus Far

May 31, 2011 by Jason Amareld  
Filed under Fan News

Through the first 50+ games, Major League Baseball is panning out to be what many thought at the beginning of Spring Training. The Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox are front running and the other teams try to keep pace before these two teams run away with their division.

There have been a few surprises this season, The Cleveland Indians and the Arizona Diamondbacks both are in first are seemingly here for the long haul. Especially with key injuries plaguing the reigning World Champion San Fransisco Giants.  

As we enter the second year of the pitcher let's see how the top ten teams rank so far.

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Down on the Farm: Philadelphia Phillies May Prospect Review

May 31, 2011 by Bobby Yost  
Filed under Fan News

At the end of April, I reviewed the first month of most of the prospects in the Phillies system. In small sample size, extreme lines were quite common and hardly anything to base judgment on. Even two months is a small sample but certainly better and can begin to make some stronger opinions.

Note that the list itself is still based of John Sickels' preseason top 20 prospects. In another month or two, I'll change it to my own current rankings.

Following the first 20 are some of his honorable mentions. Followed by that are some unmentioned surprises and notables thus far in 2011.

 

Top 20:

1. Domonic Brown, OF (MLB)

Upon recovering from his fractured hamate bone, Brown continued mashing minor league pitching. Between his time at Clearwater and Lehigh Valley, Brown hit .350/.431/.600 with four homers in 72 plate appearances. He also posted a nice nine to 12 strikeout-to-walk ration.

He returned to the majors this month and has shown signs of improvement from last year's debut. In a very small sample size, 29 plate appearances, he's hitting .320/.379/.440. However, the best sign in his limited time has been his increase in contact. From 2010 to 2011, he's dropped his strikeout rate from 38.7 percent to 16.0 percent.

STOCK: Same

 

2. Jonathan Singleton, OF (A+)

Singleton struggled in May after a nice April, bringing is season line to .259/.354/.353. Most troublesome has been his strikeout rate, which is at a very high 33.8 percent. It could just be trouble adjusting to high-A but still needs to be kept an eye on.

STOCK: Same

 

3. Brody Colvin, SP (A+)

In 21.1 innings in 2011, Colvinhas struggled a bit with his command, walking 3.80 batters per nine innings. His strikeouts are down from last year as well at 6.33 batters per nine innings. Like Singleton, it is probably just from adjusting to a higher level. The good news is he's getting more ground balls than last year.

STOCK: Same

 

4. Jarred Cosart, SP (A+)

Similar to Colvin, he's striking out less (7.09 K/9) and walking more (3.17 BB/9) in his first year at Clearwater while getting more ground balls.

STOCK: Same

 

5. Trevor May, SP (A+)

May is still striking out a ton of batters (11.55 K/9) in his second year at Clearwater but has dramatically improved his walk rate from last year (7.84 BB/9 to 4.75 BB/9).

STOCK: Same

 

6. Jesse Biddle, SP (A)

His velocity is still inconsistent, which is to be expected, but still shows promise. Biddle has been respectable so far in 2011, striking out 47 and walking 28 in 50.1 innings while only giving up one homer.

STOCK: Same

 

7. Sebastian Valle, C (A+)

Valle rebounded in May in a big way, mashing to a .385/.394/.948 line. Even though his strikeout rate remains the same this year, his walk rate has taken a nosedive. Two walks in 131 plate appearances is unacceptable. 

STOCK: Same

 

8. Domingo Santana, OF (A)

Like Valle, Santana's walk rate as plummeted this year, going from 14.4 percent to only 5.7 percent. It would help if he was making higher contact, but his strikeout rate is still extremely high and disappointing at 37.6 percent. The good news is he is only two homers away from matching last year's total of eight in over 200 less at-bats. His line thus far in 2011 is .284/.331/.504.

STOCK: Same

 

9. Vance Worley, SP (AAA/MLB)

For a more extensive writeup on Worley, please see my previous article ("Vance Worley: The Next Kyle Kendrick?"). Worley is showing improvement while in Triple-A, increasing his strikeouts by almost a full two batters per nine innings.

He's filled in adequately in his brief time in the minors, although not to the extreme some like to believe. Worley is not missing too many bats in the majors (5.8 percent swinging strike) but has still done enough to project as a possible No. 4 guy in the future. 

STOCK: Up

 

10. Julio Rodriguez, SP (A+)

After dominating in Lakewood last year, Rodriguez has struggled a bit adjusting to this year's higher level. His strikeout rate has been almost cut in half at 7.8K/9 in 55.1 innings. His ground-out rate is the lowest its been since 2008.

STOCK: Same

 

11. Cesar Hernandez, 2B (A+)

One thing was for sure, he could not have done any worse in May as he did in April. His 2011 line remains disappointing at .204/.243/.226. However, some of that is due to a career low .236 BABIP. Some leeway is needed as the jump from Williamsport to Clearwater is pretty significant, undoubtedly accounting for less walks and more strikeouts. 

STOCK: Same

 

12. Justin De Fratus, RP (AA)

De Fratus' early command struggles this year appear to be behind him. He blazed through May striking out 16 and walking only four in 14.1 innings. Drawing four times as many ground-outs than air-outs in May is amazing.

STOCK: Same

 

13. Josh Zeid, SP (AA)

Zeid struggled badly in may, posting a 8.64 ERA with 10 strikeouts and nine walks in 16.2 innings. It's hard to harshly penalize a player for skipping Clearwater and making the jump to Reading. His 4.27 FIP is up from 2.85 last year.

STOCK: Down

 

14. J.C. Ramirez, SP (AA)

I read a previous Bleacher Report article suggesting J.C. Ramirez is doing better than last year, solely because of his 2.83 ERA. Unfortunately, that is not true. In fact, I, and I'm sure other baseball people would be more impressed with last year's 5.45 ERA. Why? because you have to look at the peripherals to get a strong sense.

In his second year at Reading, his strikeout rate should not be significantly dropping. Going from 6.95K/9 to an alarming 3.33K/9. While his walk-rate and ground-out rate remain the same, you won't be considered a strong prospect with Kendrick-like strikeout numbers. Expect a rise in ERA once his very low .214 BABIP regresses to the mean.

STOCK: Down

 

15. Perci Garner, SP

Has not pitched in 2011. Will probably begin in Williamsport soon.

STOCK: Same



16. Austin Hyatt, SP (AA)

Hyatt is maintaining good numbers in his first full year at Reading, following last year's mid-season promotion. His strikeout rate and walk rate remain similar to last year. His six homers allowed in 53 innings is concerning.

STOCK: Same

 

17. Jiwan James, OF (A+)
James is still looking like the same player as last year- striking out too much (25.3 percent) and walking too little (5.8 percent). Thus far, he's hitting .247/.294/.368 in just over 200 plate appearances.

STOCK: Same

 

18. Aaron Altherr, OF (A)
Altherr's May was just as bad as his April. He is obviously struggling with the advancement to Lakewood. He's still hitting poorly at .189/.259/.250 in 148 plate appearances. His strikeouts (34.1 percent) are still much worse than last year and far too high. He shows good speed when he does manage to get on base, going 11 for 11 in stolen base attempts.

STOCK: Down

 

19. Leandro Castro, OF (A+)

Castro continued hitting well in May to bring his current line to a respectable .281/.318/.473. His walks remain far too low—only five free passes in 178 plate appearances. However, he has shown power improvement with 6 homers.

STOCK: Same



20. Matt Rizzotti, 1B (AA)

Rizzotti improved on his stellar April, hitting .316/.420/.568 with six homers in May. He's currently leading the entire Eastern League in OPS (.962).

STOCK: Same



Honorable Mentions:

21. Phillippe Aumont, RP (AA)

Aumont continued his rebirth as a reliever with a very impressive 16 strikeouts and just two walks in 13 innings in May. His much-improved 2011 currently sits at a 2.35 FIP, 3.04 ERA, 32 strikeouts, six walks and two homers allowed in 23.2 innings. He is also producing ground-out more than ever.

STOCK: Up



22. Drew Carpenter, RP (AAA)

Capped off by a great Memorial Day performance, Carpenter had a strong May, striking out 24 while walking seven with no homers allowed in 19.1 innings. He's producing career bests strikeout rate (9.46K/9) and FIP (2.24).

STOCK: Up

 

23. Zach Collier, OF (A)

Collier started the year off poorly, but turned it around strongly in May, hitting .301/.377/.430. He appears fully recovered from last year's wrist injury and is making strong improvements from 2009, increasing his walks and decreasing his strikeouts. He also has 12 stolen bases in 16 attempts.

STOCK: Up



24. Kelly Dugan, OF

Has not started his 2011 season.

STOCK: Same



25. Freddy Galvis, SS (AA)

Galvis' May was pretty identical to his April, bringing his 2011 line to .247/.307/.387. He's shown improvements in both walk rate and strikeout rate. His four homers is only one away from matching his career-high set last year.

STOCK: Same



26. Harold Garcia, 2B (AA)

Unfortunately, Garcia tore his ACL toward the end of April and will miss the rest of the season.

STOCK: Down



27. Tyson Gillies, OF (AA)

Gillies has been nursing hip, groin and hamstring injuries so far this year and has not played any games.

STOCK: Same

 

28. Mario Hollands, SP (A)

Hollands' 5.33 ERA in May is not indicative of how well he pitched. He's pitching well in his first year at Lakewood, posting stellar strikeout (7.57K/9) and walk (2.8BB/9) rates, good for a 3.46 FIP.

STOCK: Up



29. Bryan Morgado, RP (A)

A fourth-round pick last year, he’s struggled a bit—striking out just five and walking four in 8.2 innings. He did not pitch in May.

STOCK: Same



30. Jon Pettibone, SP (A+)

Pettibone continued from his strong April. In 32.2 innings, he posted a 1.93 ERA with 27 strikeouts and just five walks. In his last two starts, he allowed just one run in 13 innings while striking out 13 and walking just two. His FIP currently sits at 2.83 in 2011.

STOCK: Up

 

31. Cameron Rupp, C (A)

Rupp continued his struggles in May, bringing his season line to .212/.308/.283. He is striking out too much.

STOCK: Same



32. Michael Schwimer, RP (AAA)

The big righty racked up more strikeouts, 22 in just 16.2 innings in May. Unfortunately his control has much to be desired (4.23BB/9), and he's getting less ground balls.

STOCK: Same



Other 2011 Surprises and Notables:

33. Tyler Cloyd, SP (A+)

Cloyd continued his solid season. He's currently sitting at a 2.89 FIP, 2.61 ERA, 38 strikeouts and just seven walks in 41.1 innings.

STOCK: Up

 

34. Ebelin Lugo, RP (A+)

Lugo is striking out a good amount (8.16K/9) and walking few (1.26 BB/9), but his flyball tendencies have lead him getting hurt by the long ball. He's given up four homers so far in 28.2 innings.

STOCK: Same

 

35. Joe Savery, DH (A+)

After a torrid April, Savery was due for some regression, producing .235/.340/.259 in May. He has excellent control of the strike zone (16 walks to 21 strikeouts) but has not produced much power.

STOCK: Up



36. Geancarlo Mendez, 1B (A)

Like Savery, Mendez suffered from some regression in May. His .231/.308/.380 month brings his season total to .261/.335./.404. He also has good control of the strike zone (16 walks to 22 strikeouts).

STOCK: Same

 

37. Michael Stutes, RP (MLB)

Stutes has continued his strikeout ways in his brief major league stint. In 10.2 innings, he's accumulated 12 strikeouts with a very impressive 12.1 swinging strike percentage. Unfortunately, walks (5.06BB/9) and flyball tendencies (26.9 ground-ball percentage) will come back to hurt him.

STOCK: Up

 

38. Garett Claypool, SP (A)

Claypool continued his impressive season in May. In 36 innings, he posted a 2.17 FIP with 43 strikeouts and just eight walks. In his last two starts, he's has 18 strikeouts and two walks in 14 innings while just giving up one run. However, he still must get more ground balls.

STOCK: Up

 

39. Ervis Manzanillo, SP (A)

Manzanillo struggled a bit in May after an impressive April. In 28.2 innings, he struck out 22, walked 13 and gave up three homers—good for a 4.39 FIP. Like many before him, he's struggling getting ground balls.

STOCK: Up



40. Cody Overbeck, 3B (AA)

He didn't have as good of a May, but he's still leading the Eastern League in homers with 13.

STOCK: Up

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

2011 MLB Playoffs: In Injury-Plagued NL, Who Can Stop the Philadelphia Phillies?

May 30, 2011 by John Valentovic  
Filed under Fan News

The laundry list of injuries in the National League continues to grow seemingly by the day.  The disabled list has already claimed the likes of Josh Johnson, David Wright, Jason Heyward and Buster Posey (out for the season), and the list will almost certainly continue to expand.

With a number of teams dealing with some serious injury problems, who has become the favorite to win the National League?

Well, the Philadelphia Phillies, of course. 

The Phillies, who have been to the World Series two out of the past three years, currently sit at 34-20 and in first place in the National League East.  They are relatively healthy, have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball and also boast a dangerous lineup that will only get better once Shane Victorino and Chase Utley are fully healthy.

When in doubt, side with pitching—and Philadelphia has plenty of it.  Their 3.08 team ERA ranks third in baseball and all four of their top starters have an ERA of 3.50 or less.

Quite frankly, the fact that the Phillies have yet to play their best baseball—and have the best record in baseball—is a little scary.

So, with that being said, the question becomes: can anyone stop Philadelphia from returning to the World Series for the third time in four years?

As of now, it doesn't seem likely.  But here are five teams that have a chance of taking down the Phillies.

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

The Contenders and Pretenders of the MLB Season so Far

May 30, 2011 by Jeffrey Schmidt  
Filed under Fan News

Each year the baseball season is filled with surprises. Last year the San Francisco Giants surprised the world by winning the world series, but almost missed the playoffs due to the San Diego Padres

This years surprise so far has to be the Cleveland Indians pitching a 31-19 record. The big question is will the Indians be able to keep their success up or will the long season catch up to them in the end? 

In this article i will breakdown the contenders and pretenders of the season so far that have .500 records or better.  

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Are Halladay, Howard and Gang Over or Under Expectations?

May 30, 2011 by Matt Goldberg  
Filed under Fan News

On a cold, February morning, I proposed 33 over-under proposition bets to keep the Philadelphia Phillies season interesting.

Truth be told, for baseball lifers like yours truly, baseball is always fascinating, and the Florida Marlins, the Atlanta Braves and the ever-busy Disabled List have all kept things quite interesting so far.

How interesting? With their 5-4 Memorial Day matinee win over the Nationals, the Phils stand at 34-20, which is the best record in baseball. They have done so despite a rash of injuries that may have buried a lesser team.

With 54 games in the books, exactly two-thirds of the season remains to be played. This seems like a fun time to re-examine  those 33 over-and-unders I proposed while awaiting Spring Training.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/605820-phillies-2011-preview-33-over-unders-to-keep-the-season-interesting

 

PITCHERS AND CATCHERS

 

1. Combined wins by R2C2 (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels):  71

With Halladay's win over the Nats, R2C2 now has combined for 21 wins against 11 losses. That puts them on pace for 63 wins. This should come down to the wire, as an injury to Oswalt and very poor run support for—especially—Lee, have deflated this number a bit.

2. Combined innings by R2C2: 850

Halladay (a National League-leading 91.1), Lee (74.2) and Hamels (74.2) all rank in the top six in this category. Injuries have reduced Oswalt's workload to 45 innings. Collectively, they have pitched 285.2 innings, which puts them on pace for 855.6. They're just over the pace needed.

3. Combined strikeouts for R2C2: 800

The three healthy pitchers are all in contention for the strikeout crown; Oswalt has some catching up to do. Collectively, they have fanned 284 hitters, which projects to a most impressive 852. They're striking out a man per inning, while yielding very few walks.

4. Combined complete games for R2C2: 20

Halladay looks like he's going to lead the majors in this category again, and is setting a great pace with four. Lee and Hamels have one apiece, which puts R2C2 on pace for 18.

5. Wins by Joe Blanton in a Phils uniform: 6

I proposed this more as a nod to trade rumors than to concerns over Big Joe's injuries and ineffectiveness. Blanton his the one-third pole with one victory in his six starts. This, of course, puts him on target for three wins.

6. Saves for Brad Lidge: 33

Ouch. Injuries have kept the—erstwhile?—closer on the DL all season; you do the math. However, Ryan Madson is on pace for 36.

7. Batting average for Carlos Ruiz: .285

Coming off a .302 season, this seemed like a compromise projection for the career .259 hitter. Ruiz is only batting .250 so far, but don't count him out just yet.

8. Homers for Chooch: 11

Chooch is only on pace for six, but has missed a bunch of games. I still like this number.

 

THE REST OF THE LINEUP

9. Home runs for Ryan Howard:  44

Howard's 12 homers—he's already pushed Ruiz's prop bet—has him on pace for 36.

10. RBI for Howard: 136

The Big Piece is vying for the league lead with 42, which projects to 126. He has done so despite being surrounded by an erratic, ever-changing lineup.

11. Whiffs for Howard:  180

Howard's 65 whiffs—projects to 195—make 200 a possibility.

12. Games played for Chase Utley: 145

Oh well, this one's down the drain. Utley has now played in seven of 54 games, Would you believe 100?

13. Homers for Chase: 28

Chase has launched one so far, but if he gets really, really hot...

14. HBP for Chase: 23

Utley led the league each year from 2007 thru 2009. He's been plunked once already, and Phillies fans hope he does not even approach this number.

15. Games played for Jimmy Rollins: 145

Jimmy's been healthy so far, only missing one game. I don't think he'll keep up this (159 game) pace, but he has a very good chance of hitting the over here.

16. Runs scored for Jimmy: 105

His 30 runs project to 90. If he stays healthy, and patient, he can do it. He is on pace for 69 walks, which would set a career high.

17.  Stolen bases for Rollins: 32

This looks like a good number. Rollins has swiped 12 bases, which projects to 36.

18. Placido Polanco’s batting average: .300

Polly has cooled off from his torrid start, but still stands at a very nice .317.

19. Will Polanco reach 2,000 career hits before or after September 15?

Placido has 66 hits and 1902 total. This one should be very close to the pin.

20. Games played for Wilson Valdez: 55

I think Valdez has this one cinched. His 45 games project to 135, and even if Utley and Rollins never sit out, he may get 11 more appearances as a reliever.

21. Will Raul Ibanez finish the season in a Phillies uniform?

At first glance, Ibanez' detractors would ask "Who needs him?" On second glance, the Philies do, at least for 2011.

22. RBI for Raul: 90

Don't laugh just yet. On May 1, Ibanez was batting .154. Now, he's at a respectable .246, and on pace to knock in 87 runs. it's been a great battle back for the for true professional.

23. Batting average for Shane Victorino:  .285

Yet another Phillie on the DL, Shane is hitting .284. 

24. Homers for Shane: 13

Although he's already missed 15 games, the Flyin' Hawaiian has popped six, which projects to his tying his career mark of 18, set last year.

25. At-bats for Domonic Brown: 250

That infamous Hook of Hamate injury has limited Brown to 29 MLB at-bats so far.

26. Homers for D-Brown: 14

He has not launched any so far.

27. Games played for Ben Francisco: 115

This one will be interesting. His 48 games project to 144, but will he play well enough to stay in the everyday lineup?

28. Ben’s batting average: .270

Francisco hit .268 last season, but carries a .229 BA thus far.

29. Homers for Ross Gload: 8

In limited duty, Gload has not put any in the seats so far. In fairness to him, I'm not counting foul balls, or homers rocketed in BP.

 

TEAM NUMBERS

30. Total Wins in 2011: 100

Somewhat amazingly, this collection of the walking wounded is now on pace to win 102 games.

31. Games ahead at the All-Star break: 4

The Phils are two-and-a-half games ahead of the Marlins (in action Monday night; this one also figures to be close.

32. Games the Phils will win the NL East by: 7

With that two-and-a-half game lead, they are on pace to win by seven-and-a-half games.

33. Games the Phils will finish ahead of the New York Mets: 13

In February, I wrote: It was a margin of 18 last year, but can the Mets be that bad again?

Well, the Phillies are on pace to win 102, and the Mets project to win about 75. So, I guess they can be that bad.

 

To summarize, other than the projections that were destroyed by injuries, a majority of these propositions will come right down to the wire. Would you have it any other way?

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Vladimir Guerrero and Four More Deadline Targets for the Phillies

May 30, 2011 by Joe Redden  
Filed under Fan News

As we get closer to the July 31 trade deadline, speculation about who is going where is getting louder by the day.  Everyone has their own opinions and they all think they are right.  

In keeping with that spirit, here's my opinion on who the Phillies should be seriously looking at around the end of July.

Feel free to tell me how wrong or right you think I am.

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Ways to Keep Up the Momentum for the Rest of 2011

May 30, 2011 by travis boyer  
Filed under Fan News

A vaunted pitching staff. An anemic offense. Which part of this equation will determine the Philadelphia Phillies' success?

The Phillies have not started out slow in the traditional sense of wins and losses. However, parts of the team have not fulfilled their obligations to a winning club.

Here are five ways to fine tune the Phillies club going forward.

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Jayson Werth: Missing the Phillies Winning Ways

May 30, 2011 by Joe Redden  
Filed under Fan News

If you've been watching baseball news lately, you've no doubt heard about Jayson Werth's complaints concerning the Nationals.  In his words, "things need to change."  I think Jayson is the only player that thought this was going to happen, especially in his first year there.  He has become so accustomed to winning in Philadelphia, it seems as if being on a losing team is really getting to him.  Am I the only one that saw this coming?  

The Phillies have won four consecutive NL East titles.  They won the World Series in 2008, won the National League pennant in 2009 and lost in the NLCS in 2010.  They are returning all of their stars with the exception of Werth, while adding top caliber players like Halladay, Lee and Oswalt.

The Nationals finished last in the division the last three years in a row.  Their top pitching prospect already had surgery, and their top hitting prospect is still trolling the minors.

The Nationals made good moves in signing Werth and LaRoche, but these moves were offset with the exits of Josh Willingham and Adam Dunn.  Simply put, this team is not built to win, and it's not surprising to anyone but Jayson.  

He went for the money.  He took the seven-year, $126,000,000 contract knowing full well what he was getting into.  Sadly, I don't think he actually took a good look at what he was giving up.  He gave up being a part of what could be a historically great team. 

Think about this way.  Cliff Lee turned down being a part of two pretty good teams and more money when he chose to come back to Philly.  His decision was between a perennial AL East powerhouse, the reigning AL Champions, or the Phillies.  He chose the Phillies because of their winning ways and the fact that he loved Philadelphia.

Werth's decision wouldn't have seemed to be as difficult.  He could have come back to the Phillies and stayed a powerhouse hitter in our lineup.  He would have gotten paid by the Phillies.

Where the issue comes in is that Jayson wasn't going to be happy with just being paid.  He wanted to be overpaid.  He wanted years.  No winner was going to sign him to a contract until he's 39.  He knew it, and he chose to sacrifice winning in lieu of getting paid.  Now he wants to whine about how things need to change?  

Did he, or did anyone for that matter, really think the Nationals were a right fielder away from climbing out of the cellar?  Of course not.  He has to come to grips with the fact that even though he will be in the MLB for at least another six years, he will never win anything.  The Nationals don't have the money to overpay him, and then go out and get other stars.  

This was the price he paid in listening to his agent, and sacrificing the winning ways and love of the Philadelphia fan base when he signed with the Nationals.  He just has to accept being a winner on a losing team.

Jayson, take a good look at Todd Helton.  That's your future.  You will always be regarded as a great player, but you'll never again hoist that hardware like you did 2008.  

Was it worth it?

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: 1/3 Mark of the 2011 Season Report

May 30, 2011 by Will Shaffer  
Filed under Fan News

On this beautiful Memorial Day, we take a moment to recognize, salute, and appreciate the lives of the military veterans that have given their lives so we may have the freedoms we enjoy today.

Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., the Philadelphia Phillies reach their own milestone: Game No. 54 of this young 2011 MLB Season.

Yup, that's the one-third mark folks.

So we can now take our first look and make our first truly educated guesses for how this season could turn out.

Win or loss today, the Phillies have maintained a 60 percent or higher winning percentage since the season began.

When the offense has clicked, they've shown the capability of playing .700 ball.

When the offense has struggled, they still have been able to play better than .500 ball with that vaunted pitching rotation.

As to be expected, there have been some injuries along the way.

Chase Utley will be playing in his seventh game of the season today.

Shane Victorino has been stuck on 39 for a few weeks since hurting his hamstring in Atlanta.

Roy Oswalt has battled tornadoes in his hometown, as well as a bad back.

Ryan Madson has emerged to be the pitcher he truly is capable of being; the only question remains how long can he sustain this level of performance?

We've yet to see Brad Lidge due to injury.

Jose Contreras has recently returned from an injury.

Up and down the lineup, there has been no consistency by anyone aside from Placido Polanco.

If we multiplied everyone's stats at the end of today by three, would those players be satisfied with what they saw?

Would the fans?

Sure, Ryan Howard would end up with 33 home runs and 120 RBI, give or take a few. He also would be striking out 196 times.

Jimmy Rollins would end up scoring 90 runs and stealing 36 bases, give or take a few.

Raul Ibanez would have about 20 home runs, and that's really the only stat worth tabulating.

Polanco has a shot at 200 hits this season.

That's about it for the offense, so it's pretty fair to say Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has some work to do before the trade deadline.

Let's look at the pitching, which everyone was salivating like a rabid dog to see since signing Cliff Lee in December.

Roy Halladay appears to be mirroring his Cy Young 2010 season only without any perfect games or no hitter's to this point. A model of consistency, in my mind, he is the team MVP for what he brings to the pitching staff. Not only in terms of statistical output, but also the morale and work ethic he brings to the team on a daily basis.

The Phillie pitcher with the best overall stats right now has to be Cole Hamels simply because he has more wins and less losses than the rest of the bunch. His ERA is a shade higher than Halladay's, but his WHIP is a shade lower. He's having a career year, on pace for 21 wins and 6 losses.

Cliff Lee's season has been a roller coaster ride thus far, as he is the only Phillie with a shutout to this point, he also has been the victim of a lack of run support. His performances have mostly all been solid, but his 4-4 record does not do him justice. It's certainly hard to imagine him ending the season 12-12.

Roy Oswalt simply has not pitched enough to this point in the season to be able to make any determinations. When he's pitched, he's looked good, and we'll see if he stays healthy, keeps dealing and what the offense can provide for him the rest of the way.

And the fifth starter... Blanton? Worley? Kendrick?

The Phillies have been blessed with a plethora of starting pitching talent since the beginning of the season.

Overall, no matter who the fifth starter has been, the Phillies have gotten decent performances bridging Hamels to Halladay.

My overall assessment of this club:

If the season ended with the club performing as it has to this point, we'd see between 99 and 102 wins.

They traded Werth for Lee, in a manner of speaking, this past offseason, and while the pitching has been great, the offense has certainly suffered.

There is too much pressure on Ryan Howard without a bona fide hitter behind him. He has the capability of putting up Barry Bonds numbers but lacks the patience, discipline and maturity to reach this potential, especially without protection behind him. Since his 2006 MVP season, he has never played the same way and likely never will.

Chase Utley is one of the best second baseman to ever play the game, but his numbers will never reflect this because he plays so hard he gets himself injured too often. When healthy and on top of his game, there's no one better to hit in front of Howard on the team.

Some problems the Phillies lineup has: Three guys that all could hit in the two hole comfortably in Utley, Polanco, and Victorino.

They have two guys who could hit leadoff in Rollins and Victorino.

They have three guys that could hit in the three hole with Utley, Polanco and Ibanez.

Yet, have no one suitable to hit in the five hole. This problem must be addressed and not with in house talent such as Dominic Brown, Ben Francisco, or John Mayberry Jr.

General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. will need to make a trade before the deadline to put this club over the top.

If he doesn't, the Phillies, all in all, are no better or worse than when they were beaten by San Francisco last season.

They still are one of the top teams in the National League and in all of baseball, but if the offense does not get better, they are not the team I'd pick to win the Fall Classic this year.

Who goes, who stays, and who to go after will be tough questions for Ruben Amaro Jr. to assess going into the All-Star Break a little more than a month from now.

Stay tuned, the halfway mark will be the next chapter in my Philadelphia Phillies 2011 story...

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Why Domonic Brown Should Be the Everyday Right Fielder

May 29, 2011 by Drew Miller  
Filed under Fan News

After watching the weekend series with the Mets, it is clear who should start in right field for the Phillies.

According to ESPN's Keith Law, Domonic Brown is the fourth best prospect in all of baseball. 

Finally, he is starting to show his true talent.

Everybody who has watched the Phillies this season has seen Ben Francisco struggle. He started off hitting the ball decently, but his average has plummeted to .224.

Nobody should be surprised by this. Francisco is a career bench player, who is a very reliable pinch-hitter. By no means is he an everyday outfielder. 

In 48 games, Francisco only has 25 RBI. In only five starts in right field, Brown already has three RBI. Not to mention over the past four games, he has had seven hits in 11 at-bats. Over the current road trip, he has five hits in seven at-bats. 

Brown is slugging .529 and is hitting .368 in 34 AB, while Francisco is only slugging .385 in 158 AB.

In spring training Brown struggled. But, after recovering from a broken hamate bone in his right hand, Brown has finally found his swing in the majors.

It took him a few games, but he is moving in the right direction. At 23 years young, he has a lot of time to develop and being on a veteran team like the Phillies will help him immensely.

This spring during Brown's struggles, the Phillies coaches tried to alter his swing and batting stance. Yes, his swing and stance are very awkward, but if it works for him, why does it matter?

The coaches stopped altering his swing and Brown proceeded back to hitting the ball like he did in the minors.

Brown is a five-tool player who can contribute to the Phillies team in the field, at the plate and on the base paths. He possesses great speed and a rocket arm.

Ben Francisco, on the other hand, can be a great pinch hitter for the team, but nothing more.

Playing Brown in right field everyday will help him learn, grow and hopefully succeed to be the star outfielder of the future for the Phillies.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Next Page »