Philadelphia Phillies: May Report Cards for All 25 Players on the Roster

May 31, 2012 by Greg Pinto  
Filed under Fan News

From the first pitch on Opening Day to this point in the season, the Philadelphia Phillies have realistically had one mind-set about their approach: survive.

What are they surviving, you ask? Well, that's a simple answer. Injuries.

The Phillies are missing big parts of their roster, including Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Vance Worley and others, and the mind-set has always been that it's going to get better. There's a light at the end of the tunnel.

But as the injuries continue to pile up, the mind-set may have to change. Roy Halladay's status moving forward is uncertain. Jimmy Rollins is struggling to get things going at the plate.

With most of their injured players still quite some time away, the Phillies may have to convince themselves to survive another month.

That's what they've been doing throughout the month of May, and it hasn't been a terrible approach. The Phillies have had some success this month thanks to a handful of players, and it is time once again to hand out those monthly grades.

Which players need to stay the course, and which players need to turn things around if this team wants to survive the month of June?

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: GM Amaro Doesn’t Expect Ryan Howard Until July

May 31, 2012 by Manav Khandelwal  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies offense, which has been red-hot of late, took another blow Wednesday when it was revealed that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. doesn't expect slugging first baseman Ryan Howard to return in June.

According to a report by SportingNews.com, Amaro said the following when asked about if he would return by June:

I don’t believe so. I don’t think so...Ryan has improved every day and he continues to improve. The goal is to get him as close to 100 percent as possible. But we can’t control the timing.

When asked about the All-Star break, which is in the second week of July, Amaro said he is hopeful. If Howard returns by that time, he will miss approximately half the season.

This means that the Phillies will have to continue to use a committee at first base, made up of guys like Ty Wigginton (.263 AVG, .346 OBP, .409 SLG), John Mayberry Jr. (.244 AVG, .282 OBP, .350 LSG), and call-up Hector Luna (.350 AVG, .381 OBP, .550 SLG).

If Wigginton and Luna hadn't been hitting well of late, this news would have been worse. Even so, not having one of your best players for another month or so isn't exactly what this last-place—even if it's only by three games and they're 27-25—team needed.

The timetables for other injuries—which are piling up—are more clear for this team: Roy Halladay will be back a week after the All-Star Break, Vance Worley is expected back soon, and Carlos Ruiz seems better already thanks to yesterday's two-run home run.

The only question mark aside from Howard seems to be second basemen Chase Utley, who's degenerative knee issues aren't making things easy for the long-time Phillie.

While things as a whole don't look pretty, the Phils need to look at it in perspective: They are two games above .500, and no team in the NL East has the depth or all-around talent to run away with the crown. Philly just needs to keep grinding it out until the stars return.  

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Philadelphia Phillies’ Current Offense Is Being Underrated

May 31, 2012 by Ezra Skobeloff  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies' offense has been dogged and maligned all season long.

With the knowledge of the injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, many questioned how this team would score enough runs to win games. The reality is that the Phillies and their offense have been just fine, all things considered.

Granted, there have been injuries to their pitchers as well, but at 27-25 after Wednesday night's 10-6 victory over the Mets, the bullpen is what has let the Phillies down.

Prior to the series-clinching victory over New York, Philadelphia ranked ninth in pitching (ERA) and seventh in batting (runs) in the National League.

This is not what Ruben Amaro envisioned in building the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies.

Charlie Manuel is an offensive kind of guy, but even he knows the Phils' success is dependent on their pitching being great and their hitting being good enough.

Experts and fans alike question Philadelphia's offense seemingly everyday, but the stats tell a completely different story.

Over the course of the first third of the season, the offense has been average. Below is a look at the offensive stats and their rank in the National League:

Runs: 211 (7th); BA: .265 (3rd); OBP: .318 (8th); SLG: .392 (9th).

Considering they're missing their third and fourth hitters in their regular lineup, the Phillies are more than meeting expectations, they are exceeding them.

What is more telling is how the Phightins have fared at the plate in the month of May. 

Let's give the offense the benefit of the doubt for the first month. They knew there would be adjustments, and it has taken some time for certain players to get comfortable in new roles and for Manuel to even find them a consistent spot on the team.

On this last day of the month, the Phillies are second in runs in the NL with 135, only to St. Louis. That's an average of 4.8 runs per game. They're third in batting average and on-base percentage: .279 and .337 respectively. They're even sixth in slugging at .428 without their two best power hitters.

It's safe to say that this offense has had a great month.

We know this isn't the Phillies of the mid-2000's. And without Howard and Utley, this is a team that plays small-ball. That means that hitting for average and getting on base are big. The stats show that they have done that fairly well.

What is even more imperative than normal in an offense like this is getting the clutch hits.

So far this season, Phillies hitters are sixth in the NL with runners in scoring position, hitting .257. Not too shabby. Even better is their average with runners on second or third and two out: .267, second only to the Mets.

So while your initial instinct will be to scrutinize every strikeout with a runner on third and less than two outs, or every fly ball out when a grounder to the right side will move a runner over, remember that you're only focusing on it more because everyone's telling you to. 

Let's step back a minute and digest the numbers.

Now relax and let this team do its thing.

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What Philadelphia Phillies Should Do with Dave Bush Following Halladay’s Injury

May 30, 2012 by Matt Boczar  
Filed under Fan News

Roy Halladay’s injury has taken the Philadelphia Phillies from a team whose starting rotation was the one constant in a season full of ups and downs, to an area in which depth is now an issue.

At least for the next six to eight weeks.

The Phils entered the season with their starting rotation intact and with a spot-starter in Kyle Kendrick available from the bullpen.

However, for the next six to eight weeks while Halladay recovers from soreness in his shoulder, the team’s spot-starter must turn into a consistent starter.  Meanwhile, the Phils must also determine who is the best available candidate for filling a spot in the rotation should yet another injury arise.

Which leads to another decision the team must soon make.

Current minor league pitcher Dave Bush has not only pitched well at Triple-A this season, but the 32-year-old also has an opt-out clause in his contract that he can exercise beginning on Friday, June 1st.

In 10 starts this season in Triple-A, Bush has gone 4-3 with 34 strikeouts and a 2.61 ERA.  In 58.2 innings, Bush has walked just eight batters and has also pitched a complete game shutout for the team.

Bush has also held left-handed batters to a .225 batting average so far this season.

After finishing the month of April with a 3.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .284 batting average, Bush has posted a 2.37 ERA while striking out more than twice as many batters and holding opponents to a .247 average.

Bush made three starts for the Texas Rangers last season, and has 56 wins in 187 career major league starts to go with 767 strikeouts.

Bush also pitched for the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate last season, going 1-2 with a 3.91 ERA in four starts.

Although Bush’s last major league stint eventually led to his release by the Rangers, the right-hander has seemingly pitched his way into a position to receive a major league call-up once again.

But for which team?

The Phillies have had a cushion for their starting rotation so far this season with Kendrick being available to pitch in place of both Cliff Lee and, currently, Vance Worley.  Although Kendrick began the season 0-4, his most recent performance may have been one of the best of his major league career.  The former starter-turned-reliever needed just 94 pitches in a complete game shutout against the St. Louis Cardinals as he earned his first victory of the season.

But with Kendrick’s spot in the rotation seemingly cemented for the near future, pitchers such as Bush, Scott Elarton and even Tyler Cloyd may be called up at some point should another Phils’ starter suffer an injury.

If Bush is the player the Phillies have their eye on under such a circumstance, the team may have to make a decision relatively soon before Bush potentially opts out of his current contract.

Bush’s 2.61 minor league ERA this season could make him an attractive option for another team in need of a fifth starter for their rotation, or even a spot-starter who can also pitch out of the bullpen.

In his major league career, Bush has made 23 relief appearances.

Would the Phillies call up Bush to become the long-relief option out of their bullpen?  Bush could also become the team’s spot-starter while Kendrick occupies a place in the rotation.

If Bush continued his success from Triple-A, he could even swap roles with Kendrick and remain in the rotation until Halladay returns.

Whether as a spot-starter or bullpen option, Bush could find a role in the Phils’ pitching staff.

Of course, that’s if he receives a call-up in the near future.

The Phillies could decide to call-up Elarton or Cloyd, or hope that Worley returns in time so that no call-up is immediately needed.  Both Elarton and Cloyd have enjoyed success at various levels of the team’s minor league system this season and could also fill some type of need at the major league level.

But it’s Bush’s future with the team that may need a decision soon.

The Phils may have a need that Bush can fill over the next few weeks.

He is not, however, the only option for filling such a need.

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Roy Halladay Injury: 6 Potential Replacements in Phillies Rotation

May 30, 2012 by Joel Reuter  
Filed under Fan News

With the news that Phillies ace Roy Halladay will miss 6-8 weeks with a right latissimus dorsi strain, the Phillies will need to address his rotation spot moving forward if they hope to compete in 2012.

Vance Worley is already on the disabled list and his rotation spot is currently being filled by swingman Kyle Kendrick, so for the time being the Phillies will need a stop gap option.

Long-term, however, they will need to decide if Kendrick is the answer for two months or if they will look to fill Halladay's rotation spot with someone else.

They're unlikely make a blockbuster move, with the team already struggling due to so many other injuries and the farm system somewhat depleted after trading for Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence the past two seasons.

However, they have some decent in-house options and some low-cost veterans on the trade market that they could look to pursue. Here is a look at some of the possible replacements.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Is Carlos Ruiz Starting a Push Towards the Hall of Fame?

May 30, 2012 by Ezra Skobeloff  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies' catcher Carlos Ruiz has long been one of the most talented under-the-radar players in all of baseball. 

Often overshadowed by Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals and Brian McCann of the Atlanta Braves, Carlos Ruiz has rarely received the attention he deserves.

People around the Phillies knew that "Chooch" was special. But not until the Phillies acquired pitching talents like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt, along with Cole Hamels, did the national media begin to recognize.

Perhaps the praise these pitching greats gave Ruiz helped the media and the casual fan pay closer attention. Perhaps the biggest plug for Ruiz was when Roy Halladay threw a perfect game and publicized how important Chooch was and is to his performance.

Via Phillies.com: "I can't say enough about the job that Ruiz did tonight, really. I felt like he was calling a great game up until the fourth or fifth, and at that point, I just felt like I'd let him take over and go with him. He did a great job. Like I said, it was kind of a no-brainer for me. I'd just go out, see the glove and hit it."

Chooch was then on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

I'm not sure I know who is the better defensive catcher between Yadier Molina and Carlos Ruiz. But I do know that if it weren't for Molina's long-standing "acceptance" by the media as the best defensive catcher, before Ruiz really came into his own, this would have been much more of a debate.

I mean, I would think Ruiz is deserving of at least one gold glove at this point.

Chooch had always been known as a guy who would bring it defensively, and anything at the plate would be a bonus.

But Ruiz became one of the more clutch batters for the Phillies, especially in the playoffs. And we all know how much postseason lure can catapult a player in the eyes of fans and media. His overall numbers in the playoffs aren't spectacular, .254 average with a .380 OBP though. But he showed what he could do in the Phillies' run to the World Series in 2009, batting .341 with a .491 OBP.

That postseason undoubtedly invigorated his career from the plate.

In the 2010 regular season, Carlos Ruiz had a career year. He hit .302, got on base at a .400 clip and he added 53 RBIs from the bottom of the order.

If you thought that was the best he had in him, think again.

It may be early, but a third of the way through the 2012 season and Ruiz has an average of .366 and OBP of .419, and he already has 7 homers and 29 RBIs.

It's safe to say he will play in this year's All-Star Game.

As of now, Ruiz's career average is .272, and that is certainly on the rise.

Of the 14 catchers in the Hall of Fame, Ruiz's average is already above four of them. Let's guess that he finishes his career hitting .282. He would have a better average than half of them.

Obviously this is not the only criteria, but it's good for reference in terms of where he stands in a position that is given a pass on hitting because of the rigors of being behind the plate.

The man may be 33 years-old, but it seems like he's got plenty left and his offense sure isn't on the decline.

Thanks to Molina, he may not have the hardware and he may not have the accumulation of All-Star appearances. But if Molina is a Hall of Famer, and I think he is, we've got to give Ruiz a look too.

It's a long shot, but he's got a chance.

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Roy Halladay Injury: Phillies Are Doomed Without Ace Hurler

May 30, 2012 by Alex Hall  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies have been dominating the National League East for the past several MLB seasons thanks to names like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay leading the way. With all of those All-Stars far from returning from their various injuries, the Philadelphia faithful shouldn't expect a postseason run this year.

Cole Hamels put together a string of gems before facing the rival New York Mets this past Monday, and Cliff Lee is back from the disabled list, but this injury mountain is just too high for these Phillies to climb.

Halladay is gone for six to eight weeks, and that's if everything goes right during his rehabilitation. While that may have some fans hoping for an early July return for Doc, guys like Brett Gardner and Carl Crawford can attest that things don't always go as planned during rehab.

Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock echoed this sentiment during an interview with Tyler Kepner of the New York Times, stating, "There’s a lot of things that can happen one way or another in that time frame.”

With Halladay joining the already endless list of Phillies starters and backups on the disabled list, the team finds itself with little depth and starting less-than-stellar options.

Despite a solid year with the Baltimore Orioles back in 2010, Ty Wigginton isn't someone a team can rely on to get a hit all too often. His current batting average of .256 is actually higher than what he posted in the past two seasons. Wiggy and current second baseman Freddy Galvis just don't offer the same type of production that Howard and Utley do.

While Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel is trying to rally the healthy players he has, that's easier said than done in a tough division like the NL East.

Behind young sensations Bryce Harper, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg, the Washington Nationals are currently atop the division and appear to be primed for a playoff push, while the Mets continue to defy the odds and find themselves tied for second place in the NL East with the Miami Marlins.

“Our division’s going to be very tight,” Manuel told Kepner before Tuesday's game against the Mets. “That’s why it’s very important for us to kind of keep our head above water...we've got to stay alive."

Delaware County Daily Times writer Ryan Lawrence believes that starting pitcher Vance Worley could make his return to the Phillies rotation next Monday, which allows the team to easily replace Doc's spot in the rotation. That being said, the rotation is still a shell of itself with arguably the best pitcher of the last decade unavailable.

The issue the Phillies face is that there's no real timetable for the return of Utley or Howard, and it's six to eight weeks at best before Doc takes the mound again.

This means their offense will continue to struggle to consistently score more than three runs or so, while their opposition no longer have to prepare for their dominant ace until July at the earliest.

Philadelphia is a resilient unit headed by one of the best managers in the game in Manuel, but this time around, there just seems to be too many hurdles for it to jump in order to make the playoffs.

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Why Roy Halladay’s Injury Will Be Phillies’ Final Blow to a 2012 NL East Chase

May 29, 2012 by Ely Sussman  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies (26-25) are no longer contenders in the NL East after learning that Roy Halladay will miss 6-8 weeks with a strained right latissimus dorsi.

Halladay leads the National League in wins (44), innings pitched (556.2) and complete games (17) since being traded from the Toronto Blue Jays prior to the 2010 season. It will be impossible to replace that lost production.

Re-signing 34-year-old Roy Oswalt would have been a major consolation. However, that opportunity passed when he officially agreed to a one-year contract with the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.

Conveniently, second-year stud Vance Worley feels pain-free as he recovers from elbow inflammation. Still, his return won't be enough to salvage the club's dwindling playoffs hopes.

Minus Halladay, Kyle Kendrick becomes a fixture on the starting staff. Fans shouldn't be too excited about his recent performance. A lack of swing-and-miss stuff won't allow him to keep dominating.

Manager Charlie Manuel simply doesn't have enough offensive talent on the active roster to support the weakened five-man rotation.

Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino are carrying their own weight. Carlos Ruiz (.366/.419/.592) is carrying everyone else's.

Let's be realistic, though—"Chooch" will inevitably cool off. Moreover, the wear and tear of catching prevents him from contributing every night. The Phillies are 3-5 when he's absent from the lineup.

Ryan Howard (Achilles) and Chase Utley (knees) could be valuable reinforcements, but according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, "there is no timetable for their returns." It can't be assumed that either will be in pre-injury form upon activation from the disabled list.

Aside from a six-game winning streak in mid-May, the Phillies have been inconsistent, especially against divisional opponents. Following Tuesday night's 6-3 loss to the New York Mets, their record in the NL East stands at a mediocre 8-12. And all four rivals—the Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, Mets and Washington Nationals—are poised to remain in contention.

They cannot afford to continue struggling in those matchups. There are another 52 of them left on the schedule!

To prove my prediction false, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would need to acquire legitimate players from other franchises. Presumably, this would be achieved by taking on salary from cellar-dwellers who are looking to cut costs.

Already with the NL's largest payroll, the front office doesn't have the expendable resources to consummate such deals. No group of attainable individuals matches Halladay's value, anyway.

With this discouraging news, the Philadelphia Phillies should shift their focus to the future.

Cole Hamels ought to be dealt in the coming weeks lest he depart in free agency and deprive the team of the MLB-ready compensation a desperate team might offer. Bringing Howard and Utley along slowly will have them better prepared for 2013.

As of May 29, I'm sticking the proverbial fork in their 2012 season.

 

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Philadelphia Phillies: Do the Phillies Know How to Evaluate Their Own Talent?

May 29, 2012 by Mark Swindell  
Filed under Fan News

Dominic Brown: Untouchable.  Jake Diekman: Off the radar.

As the Phillies try for a sixth consecutive NL Eastern Division crown, it's obvious this season will be more challenging than the previous divisional crowns. Injuries and age are starting to take their toll and the latest blow, a shoulder strain to ace Roy Halladay, might be too much to overcome.

The Phillies aren't the only team battling injuries this season. Most franchises dip into their minor league system for help. Seeing that some of the bigger surprises this season have been Freddy Galvis and Jake Diekman, it makes you wonder if the brass of the Phillies know what they are doing when evaluating talent.

A couple of outfielders were deemed untouchable midway through the 2009 season when the Phils went shopping for a pitcher. Those two outfielders were Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor.

Taylor, 6'5" 255 lbs, was a fifth-round draft pick in 2007. He was eventually included in the deal that brought Roy Halladay to the Phillies. The Blue Jays quickly flipped him to the Oakland A's, where he appears to have turned into a "quadruple-A" type player. He's flashed plenty of power and speed in the minors, but that hasn't translated well at the major league level and now he's just another 26-year old in AAA. 

Brown was the real prize. It was thought that the Phillies wouldn't include Brown in any deal; Not for Halladay, not for Roy Oswalt, not for Hunter Pence. Brown has done nothing but regress since last season. He's actually living up to being a 20th-round selection of the 2006 draft and at 25, has the five-tool prospect to a one-dimensional

In 259 AAA at-bats since the start of the 2011 season, Brown has hit .259 with just three home runs.  Yes, it appears injuries have derailed him, but even in his brief call-up in 2010 when he appeared to be on top of his game, Brown looked extremely raw, both at the plate and in right field.

How about Greg Golson, who  was traded straight up for John Mayberry following the 2008 season.  After the 2007 season, Golson was listed as the Phillies minor leaguer with the following attributes: best power, fastest baserunner, best athlete, best defensive outfielder and best outfield arm.

 

Check out the Baseball America 2012 Projected Lineup from an article in early 2009:

C- Lou Marson (dealt to Cleveland in the Cliff Lee trade)

1b- Ryan Howard

2b- Chase Utley

SS- Jimmy Rollins

3b- Jason Donald (dealt to Cleveland in the Cliff Lee trade)

LF- Michael Taylor (dealt to Toronto in the Roy Halladay trade)

CF- Shane Victorino

RF- Domonic Brown

 

SP- Cole Hamels, Carlos Carrasco (Lee), Kyle Drabek (Halladay), Brett Myers, Joe Blanton

CL- Brad Lidge

 

Yes, these are rankings based from a publication, but they're basically from evaluators within the organization.

Freddy Galvis is arguably making a case for "Rookie of the Year" in the National League.  His defense at second has been spectacular and he has held his own offensively.  Why was there any hesitation this spring in making him the guy?

Lefty Jake Diekman was so far off the Phillies' radar he didn't even make the Phillies "Top 10 Prospect" list. That's after this 6'4" leftty struck out 83 hitters in AA last season in 65 innings of work while allowing just 47 hits. How is a tall lanky lefty who throws 95 MPH dismissed like that?

The answer is simple. The gang in charge of evaluating young talent within the Phillies' organization are struggling to evaluate their own, and others for that matter. The jury is still out on the three they received from Seattle in the Cliff Lee deal. JC Ramirez, Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies have not done anything to set the world on fire, and that goes back to the evaluators as well.

Maybe I'm being a little harsh, but the Phillies are nearing a critical stage of the 2012 season. The timetables on Ryan Howard and Chase Utley's return are still way up in the air, while Halladay is gone until mid to late July. It's times like these when other parts of the organization need to show their value. Understanding exactly what they have in the minors can't be blindfolded "wins" like Diekman or blatant fails like Brown.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Roy Halladay’s Injury and 5 Reasons the Phils Will Manage

May 29, 2012 by Ezra Skobeloff  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay thought there was no reason to worry. Everything that was happening was precautionary. Phillies fans were still holding their breath, but let a little bit of air out to hear that everyone in and around the team thought everything would be OK.

Turns out they aren't, according to FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal.

"#Phillies: Halladay will be shut down for 3 weeks with strained lat (shoulder). Out 6 to 8 weeks," he wrote on Twitter.

After Philadelphia was led to believe that things would OK, this news comes as a shock.

The knee-jerk reaction is to panic, but I'm going to give you five reasons why the Phillies will survive this injury.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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