These were reported in Baseball America's transaction update.
Reinstated from DL: RHP Lisalverto Bonilla, RHP David Buchanan, RHP Chance Chapman, RHP Garett Claypool, RHP Ryan Duke, RHP Jordan Ellis, RHP Miguel Nunez, RHP Seth Rosin, RHP Kevin Walter, RHP Matt Wright, LHP Jim Birmingham, LHP Nick Hernandez, LHP Ervis Manzanillo, LHP Pat Misch, 2B Harold Garcia, 2B Carlos Perdomo, OF Gauntlett Eldemire, OF Kyrell Hudson.Beerleaguer: Stephen Malcolm was an eighth round pick in the 2010 draft. Trey Ford was taken in the 14th round in 2011. Just minor housecleaning.
After 44 starts and 184 plate appearances, third baseman Kevin Frandsen is hitting .331/.383/.438 and the Phillies are 27-21 since handing him the hot corner. That's not to say he's the longterm solution, because the Phils have suggested he isn't. But that's not bad production, and .254/.309/.522 and 9 home runs is nothing to sneeze at from tonight's backstop Erik Kratz. The truth of the matter is that in the post-steroid era, the line between AAA journeymen and fringe major leaguer has been dramatically blurred and the Phils are discovering there's value to be had in trusting pre-arb tweeners. Just ask Laynce Nix and Ty Wigginton, or injured veterans Brian Schneider and Placido Polanco, or that total loser Chad Qualls. [Jump to the newest comments]
It's been proven time and time again that you can't come home, but the Phillies may be wise to consider an offseason reunion with their golden era center fielder.
Shane Victorino, who has been hampered by wrist issues while pressing ahead of free agency, was the last player one would expect to lay an egg in a contract year, but that's precisely what the 31 year old has done. A big, fat, Hawaiian egg. Since the deadline deal to Los Angeles, he's blended right in with the Dodgers' offensive morass, hitting .188/.293/.234 this month while missing games due to his nagging wrist, which has cut down his potency against left-handed pitching.
It's a real shame since this is his one shot at the payday he deserves. Former teammate Jayson Werth, for example, brought a shorter resume to the table, but the timing worked out beautifully as he cashed in on a career year. Vic's career year arrived a season too early, in 2011, when he was the Phillies' best overall position player and the only one deserving of any real MVP consideration before fading toward the tail end if the campaign. And that's the part that will scare suitors the most: he's trending downward over a season and change.
Nevertheless, as I write this, I'm watching a DVR'd recording of Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS, when only a Roy Halladay no-hitter upstaged Victorino's flair for the dramatic: setting the table with a double, stolen base and hustling run scored on a Chase Utley sac fly on Jay Bruce's hose, before knocking Reds starter Edinson Volquez from the contest with a two-run single.
That was Vic in a nutshell, and as you watch the Phils' offense fall asleep in critical moments all season long, one wonders how one of the all-time clutch performers in team history draws any less reader enthusiasm than B.J. Upton, Cody Ross, Angel Pagan, Michael Bourn or the other free agent options.
Phillies prospect Tyson Gillies leads off and plays center field for the heavily favored Canadian team, part of a World Baseball Classic qualifying pool that includes Great Britain, Czech Republic and Germany.
Gillies, whose season was marred by injuries and a team suspension, finished with an encouraging .304/.369/.453 line in 311 plate appearances with Double-A Reading. In two-and-a-half qualifying games, he's 7-for-12 with a homer, double and triple. You can watch Gillies in action on MLB Network - right now - as Canada takes on Germany in their third qualifying game from Regensburg, Germany. Canada leads 8-1 in the fifth.
Several other Phillies are also in action this week, including outfielder Aaron Altherr (Germany), infielder Albert Cartwright (Great Britain) and pitcher Chris Kissock (Canada). Alther just homered to put Deutchland on the board, his second tournament home run.
The Phils were outmatched by the rising Braves this weekend and have gone 6-12 against their southern rivals this season.
Beerleaguer: We're talking about a division where the Nationals have suddenly remade themselves into a 100-win team (they'll need to finish 8-2 to accomplish that), while the Braves are on pace to finish with the most wins since 2004; they have nine games left and are still gunning for a pennant. These improvements are real with long-term possibilities. The Nats, who are the second-youngest team in the league with an average age of 27.2, went from a rotation of Jason Marquis-type nobodies to having multiple Cy Young contenders. Atlanta, a blend of codgers and youth who work out to an average age of 28.4, has done a better job of withstanding injuries and inconsistency than the Phils. For years, the Braves had no bullpen. Now, it's their greatest strength, and it's really the only differentiator separating them from the Phillies, aside from their average age of 31.2, which is the oldest in baseball.
Beerleaguer: The Phillies hit the wall in 2012, none harder than Roy Halladay. The tone of this video summarizes the season, and by extension, the state of the ballclub. This is why their division reign has ended and their playoff hopes essentially exited alongside Halladay in the second inning Saturday. It can't be overstated that the crestfallen man addressing the media here was the best pitcher on planet earth for at least the last two seasons and maybe the best, overall, for the last decade. The perfect warrior discovers his own mortality, and one gets the sense he speaks on behalf of many of his teammates here. This venerable group knows there's no turning back. Just brutal.
Kyle Kendrick (10-11) pitched 6 2-3 strong innings, and Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Kevin Frandsen and Chase Utley belted solo jacks, as the Phillies narrowed the Wild Card gap to three in a 6-2 win Friday night.
Beerleaguer: This feels like Phillies baseball again, particularly at home. Start with Kendrick, who has become the complete package. It marks the fourth time in his career he's won 10 games or more, and as the broadcasters have stressed, it's all in his change-up and what it's done to cut down left-handed hitters. Meanwhile, allow yourself to gawk at eight RBIs by Ryan Howard in the last three games for a season total of 54 in 65 games. For a one-legged, one-tooled slugger, it's not bad. It's really not. Great night for Carlos Ruiz, too. With the exception of the dang standings, this looks and feels like the Phils, including a tight and explosive little lineup.
Right-handers Tommy Hanson and Kyle Kendrick have the honors when the Phillies open a crucial home set with the Wild Card leading Braves. First pitch is 7:05.
Beerleaguer: Time out to recognize Jimmy Rollins, who's been a September star and arguably the key reason why the Phils have stayed in the hunt. The press notes supply the details. He's hit safely in 16 of 18 September games. Check out these numbers: .338/.412/.662 with seven homers and 18 runs scored this month, some of the best production in the league this month. Simply one hell of a player with an incredible high motor. Lineup: Rollins SS, Pierre LF, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Ruiz C, Brown RF, Mayberry CF, Frandsen 3B. Kendrick tries to rebound from a rough outing in Houston. [Jump to the newest comments]
Several notable prospects will participate in the annual instructional league, which runs from Sept. 24 through Oct. 12. Here's a glimpse at the participants, according to the Phillies Web site.
Pitchers: Andrew Aizenstadt, Andrew Anderson, Richard Bielski, Hoby Milner, Kevin Brady, Erick Cedeno, Zack Cooper, Delvi Francisco, Elniery Garcia, Kenny Giles, Mitch Guellar, Jordan Guth, Nicholas Hanson, Tim Kennelly (converted to pitcher), Ronald Mendez, Jon Musser, Ryan O’Sullivan, Jeb Stefan, Jesen Therrien, Franklyn Vargas, Kevin Walter, Shane Watson.
Catchers: Gabrial Lino, Josh Ludy, Jose Mayorga, Logan Moore, Chace Numata.
Infielders: William Carmona, William Cuicas, Zach Green, Tyler Greene, Willerker Isava, Angelo Mora, Harold Martinez, Cameron Perkins, Chris Serritella, Mitch Walding.
Outfielders: Dylan Cozens, Steven Golden, Larry Greene, Samuel Hiciano, Olvy Marte, Gustavo Martinez, Jose Pujols, Andrew Pullin, Zach Taylor, Carlos Tocci, Freddy Zorilla.
A three-game sweep capped by a 16-1 ambush, resulting in exactly no ground gained the National League Wild Card, can be quite frustrating, but needling the pathetic Mets never gets old.
Here are the morning highlights courtesy of Comcast SportsNet partner, Metsblog: “ 'This team never came back from vacation after the All Star break,' Bobby Ojeda said during tonight’s post-game show on SNY. Mets skipper Terry Collins acknowledged being embarrassed by the loss and said, if you want to know if this team has quit, ‘You’ve got to ask them. I have my own opinion, but I’m not going to express it publicly. … I’m not inside their heads.' ”
The Mets were officially eliminated from post-season contention with the loss and move on to take on the Marlins in a battle between division doormats.
Beerleaguer: Say what you want about 76-74, but at least the Phillies kept playing this season, unlike the Mets, who fell to an embarrassing and unfathomable 4-24 mark at home in the second half. No wonder that place was wasteland. I can't remember seeing anything quite like that in New York. The Phils lost three of four to baseball's worst team? No, this is baseball's worst team and the weakest effort we've seen this season. Yeesh. The cream always rises to the top, and the sediment sinks to the bottom. I'm eager to see how the Phils deal with the tougher schedule that's ahead. The Marlins, Astros and Mets doesn't make for an accurate litmus test. I know many of us predicted a sweep, and Thursday's 16-1 paddling says more about the Mets than it does about the Phils.
Cole Hamels (15-6, 3.06) and rookie Matt Harvey (3-5, 2.92) are slated when the Phillies and Mets continue their rain-interrupted set tonight at 7:10.
Beerleaguer: The Phillies' outside shot at a Wild Card has detracted from the original August and September intent of looking toward the future. The moment they traded Hunter Pence, this season became all about Domonic Brown. The high-ceiling outfielder appears to be hitting his stride. Over his last eight games, he's boasting a 1.115 OPS with three homers and a .412 on-base percentage. He continues to choose his pitches wisely and - knock on wood - take the field competently. In fact, between Brown and John Mayberry Jr., who has been in lockstep with Brown lately and is a .294/.370/.471 hitter since becoming fulltime on Aug. 1, the Phils have reason for optimism as they look toward 2013. The two are paired with Juan Pierre in tonight's outfield. Carlos Ruiz starts behind the plate.
Catching up on several issues as we get set for the Met-Phillies series to resume Wednesday night.
For those of you joining us late, the Phils will pitch Cole Hamels on regular rest Wednesday night and push Tuesday's schedule starter, Tyler Cloyd, to Thursday. While the Phils retired to their hotel, St. Louis took care of business in their series opener with Houston. The Cardinals now hold a 1.5 edge over the Dodgers for the second Wild Card. Meanwhile, the Brewers continued their late charge at the expense of the spiraling Pirates. Yovani Gallardo pitched 6 2-3 sharp innings as part of the 6-0 shutout. The Brew Crew trails St. Louis by 2.5 games and leads the Phillies by 1.5. Expect these two clubs to duke it out in the standings until the bitter end.
Meanwhile, Ryan Howard's recent slide and hefty $105 million commitment has been the focus of conversation for much of the week, but evaluating his long-term viability, so soon after surgery, seems awfully premature. Elite power is at a premium and Howard's underrated work ethic needs to be taken into stronger consideration. He's also playing way too much for my tastes.
St. Louis Cardinals (77-70): Lead the Wild Card race with 15 to play with playoff odds of 64.8 percent. Host the Astros beginning Tuesday for three before traveling to Chicago and Houston for the next six. Finish at home with six against Washington and Cincinnati. They'll gain Chris Carpenter for the stretch run. He's slated to pitch Friday against the Cubs. Offensively, how clutch has Allen Craig been? The Cards' first baseman is hitting .404 w/RISP this season, with a .679 slugging percentage. [Depth Chart]
Los Angeles Dodgers (76-71): Trail the Wild Card by 1 game with 15 to play with playoff odds of 16.0 percent. Despite all the added star power, they still can't hit. They visit Washington for three beginning Tuesday to start a nine-game road trip that includes Cincinnati and San Diego. They'll finish at home with six against Colorado and San Francisco. Clayton Kershaw will get a second opinion on his hip on Tuesday, but the Dodgers are bracing for the probability of losing their ace for the rest of the season, which comes right after losing Chad Billingsley, who was pitching great. Manager Don Mattingley is reportedly contemplating a four-man rotation. Offensively, they lack punch, but third baseman Luis Cruz has given them a nice boost, hitting .351 wince Aug. 12. [Depth Chart]
Milwaukee Brewers (74-72): Trail the Wild Card by 2.5 games with 16 to play with playoff odds of 9.1 percent. Travel to Pittsburgh Tuesday for a three-game series, part of a 10-game road trip that includes four in Washington and three in Cincinnati. Wrap up the season at home with six games against Houston and San Diego. Reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun has been on fire and belted his league-leading 40th home run in Sunday's win over the Mets. Rickie Weeks is hitting .272/.357/.496 with 12 homers since the All-Star break. They have four hitters (Braun, Weeks, Corey Hart, Aramis Ramirez) with 20 or more homers. Pitching-wise, their ho-hum rotation has received a pleasant boost from September call-up Wily Peralta, who allowed two hits over eight shutout innings Sunday. [Depth Chart]
Pittsburgh Pirates (73-72): Trail the Wild Card by 3 games with 17 to play with playoff odds of 6.2 percent. Begin a four-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley starting tonight, then return home for three with Milwaukee before heading out on the road for three in Houston and four in New York. Finish the season at home against Cincinnati and Atlanta. They do not have a day off the rest of the season. They removed James McDonald, one of the NL's best starters in the first half, from the rotation today, one of several players whose bubble has burst over the last few weeks, a list that includes Phillies minor league castoff Jason Grilli, who has allowed runs in four of his last five appearances. [Depth Chart]
The hometown nine likely sealed their fate in Houston, but just finishing in the neighborhood of 80-85 wins, while briefly threatening for a Wild Card, should be considered a minor miracle.
Beerleaguer: I’m loathe to write another Monday morning funeral, which would be like the 10th this season, so instead, we count our blessings that a Carlos Ruiz career year and general post-All Star improvements in the field and on the bump have been enough to keep us captivated, all the way through Sept. 17. It’s a season in which an “adequate” Jimmy Rollins will lead the team in most offensive categories due to sheer attrition. They traded two-thirds of their starting outfield. Their most established player coming into the season, Roy Halladay, hasn’t been himself this entire campaign. The closest he came to a perfect game was on Opening Day, and even then we noticed something was off. He labored, again, in Sunday’s loss. Cole Hamels: good, not great. Cliff Lee: good, not great. Defense: below average. Bullpen: inexperienced. Lineup: old and IronPiggish.
They’ve swallowed all that poison and they’re still, technically, in the mix, with an excellent chance to finish above .500, a milestone Pittsburgh fans haven't seen in nearly two decades.
Tune in tonight: I'm talking Wild Card tonight at 7 p.m. on 610-WIP with Brian Startare.
The Phillies will simply go to sleep on you, and are likely headed for an early slumber.
Beerleaguer: So because the comatose Phillies couldn't muster an attack against Dallas Keuchel and the Astros Saturday night, in what might have been the worst loss of the season due to the sheer lethargy of it, they're in a must-win situation, down three with 16 to play, counting on a shutdown effort from Roy Halladay this afternoon and a ton of help over the next two-and-a-half weeks. Down, but not out, says ESPN's 2.6 percent odds of making the postseason, which is about where they were Tuesday.
The problem with the offense is that it isn't very good. And if you want to be honest about it, the last time they fielded something to write home about was 2009, maybe 2010 in a stretch, but even the 2010 team shut it down over long stretches. Man, the lineup used to be air tight with big-time power, including a trio of All-Stars in the outfield. Mercy.
So now that I've set the mood, here's today's lineup: Rollins, Pierre, Utley, Howard, Ruiz, Mayberry, Brown. Martinez. See, that's exactly what I mean.
Notes: Kyle Kendrick (9-10, 3.83) is pitching at the highest level of his career. The right-hander reaches for an unbelievable eighth consecutive quality start, as well the fourth double-digit win total of his career, when the Phillies continue their Wild Card push against left-hander Dallas Keuchel (5.35) in the third of four with the Astros. First pitch is 7:05. Friday night's 12-6 assault brought the Phillies back to three games off the Cardinals' pace in the National League Wild Card, with the Cards, Brewers and Pirates all losing ground around them. Earlier today, the Pirates scratched out a 7-6 win at Wrigley, putting them a half game ahead of the Phils. The Cardinals and Dodgers get underway at 9:10. Milwaukee and the Mets are scheduled for 7:10.
Lineups: Rollins, Frandsen, Utley, Howard, Mayberry, Wigginton, Brown, Kratz. John Mayberry Jr. continued his hot hitting with a 3-for-5 effort in Friday's peppering of the Astros. All but one starting position player had multiple hits, and the only one who didn't, Domonic Brown, jacked one to the upper deck.
Let's keep it going against these chumps.
We're keeping our eyes on an overtaxed bullpen and out-of-sorts clean-up hitter tonight as the Phillies' quest for the Wild Card continues in Houston.
Notes: Ryan Howard won't be 100 percent healthy this season, but the Phillies could use a few vintage efforts from their clean-up hitter down the home stretch if they are to make a serious charge. Howard, who has been back on the field for over two months and remains visably ginger on his surgically repaired Achilles, is hitting just .227/.305/.412, and in the words of someone I spoke with earlier, has stranded a small village on the bases recently. In his last 10 games, he's hitting just .158 with one extra base hit, a double. It's difficult to set realistic expectations knowing he's playing hurt, but at the same time, he's a daily fixture in the lineup and is expected to pull his weight, and right now, he's not.
Meanwhile, the Phillies send Cole Hamels to the hill and need a nice, deep effort. The bullpen has ratcheted up a innings recently and could use a blow against the league's doormat.
All-in lineup: Rollins, Pierre, Utley, Howard, Ruiz, Brown, Mayberry, Frandsen.
Disillusionment beset Beerleaguer following Thursday's 6-4 loss to Houston.
Blown chances: "It's not the fact that we lost; we are going to lose a few between now and the end of the year (though it can't be more than a few). And it's not that we lost to Houston. This is baseball. Even wretchedly bad teams sometimes beat good teams. It's that we lost a game where we led by four runs and where we scored early, then shut it down for the rest of the game. We have lost a ton of similar games this year but, when you need to go something like 16-3 down the stretch to have any realistic shot, you simply can't afford to give away four-run leads." - bay_area_phan
8th inning witching hour: "The eighth inning has been the Phils' 'witching hour' this year. All kinds of trouble and misfortune. Hard to tell whether Aumont tired or just the guy who can't throw a strike. Generally happened to him at least once a week in Reading if he appeared in 4-5 G.
"Not surprised that Aumont was out there in the 8th despite probably not having a rested arm. Cholly will use the same reliever over and over again until he hits a rough patch. Apparently either Cholly doesn't trust Justin De Fratus or think he should pitch in high leverage spots." - MG
Horst hurt? "I will be interested to hear Cholly's comments on why he used Diekman there instead of Jeremy Horst. Horst has to be hurt, or something. Cholly has been hesitant to use him lately, which is kind of inexplicable considering the alternatives. A dirty little secret on BL is that Diekman is god awful. Some people want to pencil him into a BP spot next year. I'm curious as to why this would be a good idea." - Iceman
In 2006, the Phillies traded away Bobby Abreu, Cory Lidle, David Bell, Rheal Cormier, Ryan Franklin and Sal Fasano between July 26 and Aug. 7.
They were 46-54 on July 28, 2006 -- the day that Bell was shipped out to Milwaukee. The rest of the way, they went 39-23 to finish just out of the playoffs. It was considered addition by subtraction to a large extent, and the team clearly proved to be better without those six players.
(For what it's worth, they did bring in some role players like Jamie Moyer, Matt Smith, Jose Hernandez and Jeff Conine that helped the team down the stretch that year.)
There is a natural comparison to the 2012 season. The Phillies traded away Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence on July 31, followed by Joe Blanton three days later. (They also dumped Jim Thome and Chad Qualls a few weeks earlier.) The Phils entered play on July 31 with a 46-57 record, and they've gone 26-14 since.
But here is the difference. While the Phillies were making their September push in 2006, you were legitimately glad that Abreu, Bell, etc. were off the team. You felt that the clubhouse was better off without their presence and that the team was talented enough on the field to overcome their ability. But now, wouldn't you take Victorino back in a second? Pence too? Blanton is a little more iffy, but Vance Worley's injury makes it a fair question. Victorino, Pence and Blanton were all considered good guys, quality clubhouse presences. And their primary replacements (Mayberry, Brown and Cloyd) have been collectively average.
In 2006, the Phillies probably needed to rid themselves of those veterans in order to make their playoff push. But in 2012, it might just be more of a coincidence.
Fair point? I'm not sure. To be honest, I just wanted to post a photo of Sal Fasano.
These last two months were supposed to be a soft landing for the Phillies to ease prospects into the show. Not anymore.
Beerleaguer: It’s like this: “Nice to meet you, Tyler. Ryne says you had a great season. That’s terrific. Tell you what: We’d like to see what you’re made of. We’d like to turn you loose on big league hitters for the next few weeks, get your feet wet, see if there’s a spot for you on our team next season. How’s that sound? Good. One last thing. You can’t lose. Good luck, son!”
What a difference three days make. Picture this scenario. The Phillies still trail the Cardinals by six games and the odds of making the postseason are essentially nil. Cloyd throws a stinkbomb at the Astros tonight and the hunky-dory headline reads like this: “Cloyd considers loss a learning experience.” But that won’t be the case anymore, in any of Cloyd’s remaining starts. Each outing is critical. Any loss would be devastating, no matter how much wiggle room one believes the Phillies have secured. "Cloyd can't deliever in critical loss." That's how the headline would read today.
But in many ways, what better way to learn on the job and test a player's pluck. That’s really the nicest, unintended side effect of the Phillies’ surge. They’re winning with youth while raising the stakes.
Win them all in Houston: There’s been a lot of back and forth over what it will take – in terms of wins and losses – for the Phillies to control their own destiny. I’m of the mind they need to sweep Houston. They’re the weakest team left on the schedule by a longshot. Why leave anything to chance with a harder schedule ahead?
And as it says in the disclaimer: ‘Objects are closer than they appear.’
With the Wild Card deficit cut to four, the collective rut of those ahead of them has become as much of a story as the Phillies’ own surge. Aside from the streaking Brewers, everyone made way Tuesday. I’d like to think the Phils are indirectly responsible for that and teams are starting to play scared. It’s one reason it’s so hard to take these playoff percentages seriously. ESPN lists the odds at three percent, yet Tuesday’s win, the Phillies’ sixth straight, became a day when they not only reached the .500 marker, but have many people believing they have a real shot at this, including this observer. It's a different team. They’re loose, they're working with a favorable schedule. They’re loaded.
And one can only assume the rest of the league knows it.
Roy Halladay (3.87) has the honors as the Phillies, winners of five straight, try to climb back to .500 for the first time since June 4.
Beerleaguer: Time to throw a little love Antonio Bastardo's way. Bastardo, who recorded his first save of the season Monday night, could easily be listed in the previous thread naming the top five Phillies of the second half. In fact, he should have been listed. Just like Kyle Kendrick, he's been terrific for weeks. He's held opponents scoreless in each of his last nine outings and he still rates among the game's best relievers in strikouts-per-nine (13.90). Certainly, he's a big reason why the Phillies' bullpen boasts the third lowest ERA in baseball (2.79) since July 20 and the lowest ERA (2.47) since Aug. 16.
And staying with the spirit of giving, what better time to give some love to Michael Martinez, who's back in the lineup at third base much to your delight. Say what you want, but Mini-Mart showcased his three saving graces Monday: speed, arm and very occasional pop.
Lineup: Rollins, Pierre, Utley, Howard, Ruiz, Brown, Mayberry, Martinez, Halladay. For Doc, it's his 400th career appearance. The Phillies are five out in the final Wild Card.
Kyle Kendrick continued his inspired performance with another quality effort Monday night, improving to 7-2 with a 2.34 ERA since the All-Star break, tops among Phillies starters.
Kendrick's strikeout of Giancarlo Stanton to escape a bases loaded jam Monday night electrified the Citizens Bank Park crowd in what amounted to the game's defining moment. Kendrick has rarely - if ever - been classified as a dominator, but that's the only way to describe the pitbull who toed the slab last night.
He's been so good, in fact, there really isn't a more deserving Phillie worthy of being named second-half MVP. Here's how we view a possible Top 5 second-half Phillies at Beerleaguer headquarters, with Drew Silverman and Matt Grassie also polled.
1. Kyle Kendrick; 2. Erik Kratz; 3. Cole Hamels; 4. John Mayberry Jr.; 5. Cliff Lee. Did you know Cliff Lee is sporting a 70-6 strikeout-to-walk rate since the break? For that reason, we're forced to give honorable mention to dirtball third baseman Kevin Frandsen and we wish there was some other way to define what Ryan Howard and Chase Utley have meant to the club, because it's been undeniably huge. Howard is already up to 40 RBIs, but the greater benefit is having that impact clean-up back in the lineup again.
Final thought - With the exception of Kendrick, the Phillies' surge is best described as a total team effort, since we've witnessed all-around improvement in every single area.
There's no room at the inn for newcomer Darin Ruf when the Phillies begin a three-game set with the disappointing Marlins. First pitch is 7:05.
The Phillies clog the outfield with Ty Wigginton in left, John Mayberry Jr. in center and Domonic Brown in right. In Charlie Manuel's defense, Mayberry is the best option in center and Brown has to take the field as much as possible. Manuel must also reward veteran players like Wigginton, who homered in Game 2 of Sunday's doubleheader, with playing time; for Wigginton, he's looking to showcase his skills for a job next season. Meanwhile, Michael Martinez remains at third base and it's just so tragic the Phils can't feature something better at the hot corner. Like this billy goat eating his ribbon bow tie. [Jump to the newest comments]
No one in baseball is more surprised to see Darin Ruf in the big leagues than Darin Ruf himself, says Reading Eagle beat writer Mike Drago, who offers his exclusive take on the EL MVP and newest Phillie for Beerleaguer.
He didn't have a great year; he had a season beyond anyone's wildest dreams.
He homered more times in August than he did all of last season at Clearwater; hit more homers this season than he did in his first three in the Phillies system, combined.
Only Josh Hamilton has more homers right now than Ruf, who finished his historic season hitting .317/.408/.620 with 38 home runs.
So, what is Charlie Manuel getting today? It's hard to say; even the Phillies aren't sure themselves.
Ruf played at Double-A at an advanced age (26) and has never played an inning at Triple-A. He didn't start hitting home runs consistently until the second half of last season at Clearwater. He's more than a home run hitter, as his numbers indicate. He was three singles short of an Eastern League Triple Crown. He has gained plate discipline and impressed scouts with the consistent contact he makes.
He's not overly athletic and doesn't run well, and he's just learning to play left field. He didn't get serious time there until late July. He can handle himself at first base, but he'll need a full offseason and spring training to refine his work as an outfielder. Hopefully he's not exposed to that position in the major leagues, at least not right away.
A word of caution to any Phillies fans thinking they're about to see the next Jim Thome: They need to rachet down their expectations. Ruf was a 20th-round draft pick for a reason. Some guys develop later, and Ruf is one of those. With a cup of coffee in September, and then an ample numbert of Triple-A at-bats, the Phillies might have, in time, a guy who can hit some home runs off the bench, play a little left field and spell Ryan Howard against tough lefties.
Then again, who knows? Darin Ruf might surprise himself again.
- Mike Drago (Follow on Twitter)
Don't do this to yourself. Indeed, the Phillies are playing as well as anyone in the National League, but with playoff odds under 1 percent, time is not on their side.
Beerleaguer: And so continues this crazy Monday morning cycle of alternating funeral and revival. Last Monday, we lamented what some argued as the worst loss of the season, a walk-off defeat to Chipper and the Braves, a loss that surely hammered the nail into the coffin once and for all. That came a week after sweeping the Nationals, which had readers wondering “what if?” And so on.
All along, the Phils have been not quite dead. Winners of eight of their last 10 and 15 of their last 21, they can reach their first “marker” and claw back to .500 by winning the next two games against the ruffled Marlins. In all, they have six games with the Fish, three with the Mets, four with Houston, three critical games with the Braves and six with Washington to close out the 2012 campaign. They’ll need to blitz them all, while the Cardinals, Pirates and Dodgers need to become unhinged.
Although their playoff odds are set at exactly 0.7 percent, strange endings seem to occur 100 percent of the time in baseball.
They’re winning games late, in vintage style, beating the teams they’re supposed to beat (Rockies) while passing a big test against the Braves and Reds on their recent road trip, Chipper walk-off aside. If one seeks a specific reason for the revival, one can start with a better bullpen, one that earned the win in all three games of the sweep and held the Rockies scoreless in Sunday’s double-header.
Did I mention I like Phillippe Aumont a lot?
Granted, the Phils still have issues. But so does everyone. They’re really no better or worse than anyone else in the National League. With 22 remaining, the cream is slowing rising to the top.
Only too slowly.
Cole Hamels and the big Phillies try to continue their climb toward .500 in the second of three against the Rockies. Meanwhile in nearby Trenton, the Double-A Reading Phillies try to stave off elimination by sending southpaw Adam Morgan to the hill. Both games get underway at 7:05, with strong storms expected to pepper the Delaware Valley.
Friday night, around the time the parent club staged their comeback, Ethan Martin gave up a game-winning, seeing-eye single that put Trenton a win away from advancing to the Eastern League Championship Series. Otherwise, Martin, who came to the Phillies from the Dodgers in the Shane Victorino deal and has been terrific, pitched an amazing game, striking out 11 while walking none. The same can be said of Phillippe Aumont, who pitched a key 8th inning to set up Nate Schierholtz's walk-off hit in Friday's 3-2 win.
Lineup: Rollins, SS, Schierholtz, RF, Utley, 2B, Howard, 1B, Mayberry, CF, Brown, LF, Kratz, C, Martinez, 3B, Hamels, P.
Injury updates: Phillies.com reports that Brian Schneider (strained left hamstring and injured right ankle) might not return to the Phillies before the end of the season, making it likely that both Schneider and Placido Polanco have played their last games as Phillies. In an unforgivable brain lapse, Beerleaguer forgot Schneider was on the DL in yesterday’s post. My sincerest apologies to Steven Lerud. In other news, the Phillies announced that an MRI revealed a stress fracture in Kevin Frandsen's left fibula. He’s not expected to play this series. Finally, Leslie Gudel of Comcast SportsNet reports the Phillies are planning to place Raul Valdes on DL retroactive to his last appearance with a meniscus issue that will require a Monday surgery.
The Phillies welcome back beloved catcher Carlos Ruiz, who has been out since Aug. 2 with plantar fasciitis and a small tear in his left foot, when they begin a weekend set with the Rockies. First pitch is 7:05.
Beerleaguer: What a nice surprise to get Ruiz back so soon. He no longer qualifies among the league leaders in certain categories; he's about 75 plate appearances short. But if he did, he'd rate third in batting (.335), fourth in on-base percentage (.399) and fourth in slugging (.559). In his absence, Erik Kratz has shocked everyone with a beefy .944 OPS of his own. It's unclear how Charlie Manuel will work Ruiz back into the mix. The Phillies typically carry three catchers in September and Brian Schneider is clearly the last man on the bench these days. That's because Placido Polanco was placed on the disabled list, which all but ends his tenure with the Phillies. Polanco, 36, hit .257/.302/.327 in parts of 90 games. The Phils are expected to buy out his option for $1 million when the season ends. It's a tough finish for Polanco, a 15-year veteran who became one of two players in history to win the Gold Glove at two positions. Great pro and another good Phillie.
Jesse Biddle rated as the Phillies' top talent and 83rd best minor league prospect overall by MLB.com. Several names who made the list of the 20 best team prospects come as a surprise.
Beerleaguer: Nobody more than right-hander Brody Colvin, who rated as the third-best prospect in the chain despite a 6-10 mark and 5.87 ERA across Clearwater and Reading, including an abysmal 11.02 ERA and 16/23 K/BB ratio in 32 2-3 innings to finish the season in Reading. The same goes for right-hander Trevor May, who rated as the best prospect in the system prior to this season but struggled with his control in a full year at Double-A. Still, his stuff was enough to impress MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, who slotted him second behind Biddle. Larry Greene, the first Phillies' overall pick in the 2011 draft, newly acquired right-hander Ethan Martin and 2012 draft pick Shane Watson represented other notable inclusions in the top 10.
Meanwhile, Todd Zolecki wrote an interesting companion summary of the minor league season, with insights from assistant general manager of player personnel Benny Looper and director of player development Joe Jordan. Each remained upbeat about May and Colvin. One name that jumped off the page, as Jordon touted the emergence of Darin Ruf and Cody Asche, was catcher Cameron Rupp, who hit .267/.345/.424 with 10 homers in 390 plate appearances for Clearwaters, numbers at least comparable, perhaps better, than the best catchers in the Phillies' system. Perhaps it's time to include Rupp, a former third-round pick, in the catcher discussion alonside Tommy Joseph and Sebastian Valle.
Chase Utley continues to field ground balls at third base, fueling speculation that the Phillies could look to shift their franchise second baseman to the other side of the diamond next season.
Beerleaguer: Third base was shaping up to be one of the hottest stories of the offseason even without this game-changing twist. Utley took grounders at third this week in front of infield coach Sam Perlozzo, this after Utley approached Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. with the idea of moving back to a position he hasn’t played since 2002, to mixed results, in the minor leagues.
The Phillies need to consider the upside. Let’s consider free agency to be a last resort, since the pool is depressingly shallow. Would third base preserve Utley’s knees and prolong his career? Is the idea to open second base to Freddy Galvis’ glove, he of a .226/.254/.363 slash line and 50-game suspension for performance enhancers? Or would Galvis himself, or Jimmy Rollins, or Kevin Frandsen, represent a better alternative?
No matter one’s preference, the Phillies need an everyday third baseman, a situation so pressing that the club would be just to consider dealing Cliff Lee, which is something they set the stage to do this summer.
Meanwhile, they continue to form assumptions about controllable players like Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Nate Schierholtz and Laynce Nix with as many as three outfield slots open. Are they willing to ride out at least one position, or two, without adding additional help? Fortunately, they appear to have found a viable backup catcher in Erik Kratz, which would have been another hole to fill. In addition, arms are emerging in the bullpen; I wouldn’t look for a massive off-season overhaul in this department.