Posts Tagged ‘Shane Victorino

24
Feb
11

PHILLIES: Spring Training Opener

IT’S HERE!

Well, sorta.

As the Phillies take part in their traditional spring training opener with their bitter rival that is the Florida State Seminoles, here is their first official lineup of the 2011 season.

LINEUP

Victorino CF, Polanco 2B, Ibanez DH, Howard 1B, Francisco LF, D. Brown RF, Ruiz C, Orr 2B, Valdez SS

Notable Absences: SS Rollins, 2B Utley

PITCHING

Starting Pitcher: D. Naylor

Bullpen: E. Bonine, J. Perez, J. De Fratus, M. Stutes, M. Schwimer, S. Mathieson

30
Sep
10

PHILLIES: Projecting The NLDS Roster

Now that the Phillies have not only clinched a playoff birth, but have also locked up yet another NL East crown and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, it’s time to erase the next week of meaningless baseball from our memory and actually focus on what’s important.

Yes folks, would be the Phillies fourth straight appearance in the postseason.

As I said in my last post, I would break down the potential playoff roster once everything was clinched. Well, I am a man of my word, and since the Phillies 2010 playoffopener will officially be played Wed, October 7th with an opponent that will TBD, it looks like it is about time to see how the current 33-man roster will dwindle down to 25 once the NLDS starts.

PITCHERS (11): In this breakdown, I have the Phillies keeping four starters and eight relievers. In reality, with the way the schedule looks as of right now (Games on Wed, Fri, Sun, Mon, Wed.), they will most likely use three starters, in which Doc should be ready to go if a fourth game is needed on 4-days rest. With that said, Joe Blanton will most likely be on the playoff roster as a possible 4th game starter, and if not, a middle-reliever if need be.  With Blanton on the roster, along with Danys Baez, who was signed to a deal in the off-season basically to give this team another veteran hard-throwing RHP for the month of October, that means both David Herndon and Kyle Kendrick will be left off, as their normal spot on the 25-man roster should be fulfilled by a second LHP as you will see below. I also project Cole Hamels to start game 2, so he will have the opportunity to pitch at Citizens Bank Park in front of a home crowd, something that worked quite well with him in the last two previous postseasons.

SP: Roy Halladay (Game 1 Starter)

SP: Cole Hamels (Game 2/3 Starter)

SP: Roy Oswalt (Game 2/3 Starter)

SP: Joe Blanton (Game 4 Starter/Middle Reliever)

RHP: Chad Durbin

RHP: Danys Baez

RHP: Jose Contreras

LHP: J.C Romero

LHP: Antonio Bastardo

Setup: Ryan Madson

Closer: Brad Lidge

CATCHERS (2)

This is pretty simple. In a 5-game series, barring injury concerns, there is no need to have three catchers on the roster. With Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz and primary backup Brian Schneider, fortunately, there aren’t any of those concerns. With that said, look for the Phillies to keep a veteran backstop, that being Paul Hoover, in the bullpen as a nice little security blanket close by if the injury bug bites in the NLDS.

C: Carlos Ruiz

C: Brian Schneider

INFIELDERS (7): Aside from the normal starters and Wilson Valdez, Phillies management has some tough decisions to make on this end. Do they keep an extra outfielder with speed such as Domonic Brown or John Mayberry Jr.  instead of Greg Dobbs, who would usually be a shoe-in to play in the postseason if not for his struggles this season? At this point, in a NLDS 5-game series, I think yes. Also, the mid-season addition of Mike Sweeney limits the need for Dobbs as the combination of he, Vladez, Ross Gload have proven that they are able to play the positions that Dobbs can at an even higher level.

1B: Ryan Howard

2B: Chase Utley

SS: Jimmy Rollins

3B: Placido Polanco

UTIL: Ross Gload

UTIL: Mike Sweeney

UTIL: Wilson Valdez

OUTFIELDERS (5): Another tough one here. Aside from the everyday starters and Ben Francisco, the final outfield spot comes down to three guys. Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., and yet again, Greg Dobbs. As a stated before, Dobbs’s lackluster performance this year really leaves him in a difficult position to make the postseason roster in any capacity. When it comes down to Dobbs and Mayberry, the biggest thing here is need. If the Phillies take Mayberry, that leaves only one possible LH situational hitter (Gload) on the bench. While it does depend on who they play in the NLDS, I don’t see Charlie Manuel and company feeling comfortable with that regardless of the opponent. I just don’t. Along with that rationale, taking Brown along for the postseason ride would go a long way towards giving him the proper experience that would allow him to properly implant Jayson Werth in the Phillies outfield once Werth bolts for the allure of dollar signs come the offseason.

RF: Jayson Werth

CF: Shane Victorino

LF: Raul Ibanez

OF: Ben Francisco

OF: Domonic Brown

Well, that was my stab at it. The two toughest calls here are obviously the battle of the last utility spot between Brown, Mayberry, and Dobbs and the decision of who’s going to be the 11th pitcher between Baez, Kendrick, and Durbin.

While I know the anticipation is killing all of you, the good news is that you only have to wait until next Wed. to find out.

07
Aug
10

PHILLIES: The Unsung Heroes

It’s August 7th, and with 15 disabled-list stints, an inconsistent offense, and without any semblance of a bullpen, the Phillies are just one game behind the Atlanta Braves for the NL East lead.

Baseball is a strange game.

Although, if their recent play is any indication, the adjective “strange” may be an understatement.

In the last 2 1/2 weeks or so where all-stars Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, and Ryan Howard have been out of action for the good majority of the time, the Phillies are 13-2 in their last 15 games and have successfully creeped back into the pennant race.

Tell me how that makes sense.

Now, I didn’t have much doubt that Phillies would be back in the hunt at this point of the season, but the way the players on the field are fueling this sudden rennisance with three superstars on the DL is what will make the last 55 games of the regular season all that more special.

That is if the Phillies make the postseason of course.

Here are three guys that are helping to make that ultimate goal seem possible with their elevated play.

C Carlos Ruiz

A streaky hitter by trait, “Chooch” is absolutely tearing the cover off the ball right now. By that, I mean he’s raised his batting average 35 points in the last 11 games. While he doesn’t have that many overall at-bats because of an injury that kept him out of action almost a month, that’s still an astonishing jump when you think about it. In addition to that, Ruiz leads the team in hitting with runners in scoring position, is the Phillies second-leading hitter overall (.302 BA is second to Placido Polanco) in terms of average, and is hitting at a scorching hot .454 clip (20-for-44) in his last 10 games. He’s also hit three of his five HR’s this season during that stretch for good measure.

OF Raul Ibanez

For all those who thought the 38-year old was washed up at the end up June when he was hitting a season-low .227, it’s time for you to go crawl into a corner. Actually, I’ll come join you. To prove all the doubters like myself wrong, all Ibanez has done in the past five weeks is raise his average an impressive 47 points (to a season-high .274), and solidified his status as an integral part to the middle of the order. Recently, he’s been even more impressive. During his present 14-game hitting streak (a season high), Ibanez is hitting .431 (22-51), with 3 HR and 13 RBI’s. Coincidentally, the Phillies are 12-2 during that stretch.

P Kyle Kendrick

Can’t believe I am actually casting Kendrick in this positive of a light, but since his short demotion last month to Triple-A Lehigh Valley he’s been downright phenomenal. As the much-maligned member of the rotation by default (Jamie Moyer’s injury), Kendrick has gone 2-0 in his last three starts, with just 4 ER given up in 19.1 IP, a figure that good for a sub 2.00 ERA. He’s the fifth starter for crying out loud. You can’t expect much better from Kendrick than that.

Before this post about “unsung heroes” of the Phillies most recent play is over and done with, you can’t talk about guys making outstanding contributions without mentioning  Placido Polanco. His gold-glove and all-star pedigree makes him impossible to be unsung, but his worth to the lineup, with or without the injured players who are sidelined, needs to be noted. I was a huge proponent of keeping Pedro Feliz in the fold instead of any other FA third basemen during the off-season, but Polanco’s .321 BA, stout defense at both 2nd and 3rd base, leadership capabilities, and recent hot-hitting (has hit safely in 14 of his last 16 games with .400+ BA during that span) has made me rethink my initial stance.

03
Aug
10

PHILLIES: Concern for Ryan Howard

The injury bug has been present all-season long in the Phillies clubhouse.

Want proof?

Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Brad Lidge, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Madson, Joe Blanton, Carlos Ruiz, Chad Durbin, J.C Romero, Brian Schneider, Antonio Bastardo and the recently departed J.A Happ have all already spent time on the disabled list.  That’s 14 disabled list casualties among the projected 25-man roster for this team at the beginning of the season. For some (Rollins, Victorino, Lidge), their individual stint has even turned into stint(s).

Pluralities are never good when talking about injuries.

However, with Utley and Victorino still on the DL, and Raul Ibanez dealing with a wrist injury, Philadelphia’s injury issues were put under an even greater microscope Sunday after slugger Ryan Howard sprained his ankle sliding into second base.

Ryan Howard's ankle injury is the most recent cause of concern regarding the Phillies.

For the Phillies, losing Howard for a long duration of time may affect the chemistry for this team more than any other injury this season. Bold statement aside, I am not questioning the value of Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins to this team by ranking them under Howard in this comparison of order of importance. They are both all-star caliber players, and they obviously both have very important (and different) roles on this team. With that said, losing a guy who is involved in plating or scoring almost a quarter of the offense’s runs over the course of a season and is one of the biggest threats in baseball with what he can do with one swing of the bat would be absolutely detrimental to the Phillies playoff hopes is in 2010.

The good news?

Nothing’s broken. Howard’s MRI immediately following Sunday’s contest against the Nationals revealed no broken or fractured bones in his ankle, ruling out a possible surgical procedure that would lengthen a DL visit.

The bad news?

This injury, one that was earlier categorized as “a couple day thing” by manager Charlie Manuel on Sunday, may be more severe than we all, including the skipper, originally anticipated. After Howard left Nationals park on Sunday on crutches, it was announced late Monday night by MLB.COM’s Todd Zolecki that instead of traveling with the team to Florida for the Phillies series against the Marlins, Howard would be going to Philadelphia to meet with team doctors about the status of his ankle.

The scenario.

If the doctors conclude that he the condition of the ankle is improving, he’ll fly down to Florida himself, and rejoin the team (maybe not in a active role right away) on Wednesday. On the other side of the spectrum, if the pain and the swollen nature of the injury does not subside substantially (which it hasn’t as of late Monday night) in the next 12-24 hours, then it is very likely that Howard will end up on the 15-day DL, retroactive to Sunday, August 1st.

Sadly, my intuition tells me the ladder might for in store for the Phillies, which if you look at them right now, are a team that can ill-afford the reality of an injury like that to a player like Howard while being in the middle of a pennant race.

28
Jul
10

PHILLIES: Domonic Brown Promotion (Part 2)

“FOR YOUR PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES, BATTING SIXTH, STARTING IN RIGHT FIELD, NUMBER NINE, DOMONIC BROWNNNN.”

Getting chills just thinking about it.

After placing Shane Victorino on the 15-day DL because of a strained oblique, the move that has been anticipated for virtually the entire 2010 season was finally made.

” The Phillies have purchased the contract of OF Domonic Brown.”

Impact of Brown’s Promotion

OF Dom Brown's debut with the Phillies has arrived.

While I wish the move didn’t have to come at the expense of Shane Victorino, I’m never going to complain when the Phillies add a potential 5-tool player to their roster. As I said in my previous post, this may not be the best situation or timing for Brown to make his debut. The team is back in the middle of a pennant race, the pressure to produce in Philadelphia is at a all-time high, and the Phillies now have the added responsibility of figuring out Brown’s role on this team and in the clubhouse.

If they already didn’t have enough to worry about when they were just trying to acquire Roy Oswalt or another SP, a UTIL INF, or a lefty arm out of the bullpen..

But, whether we like it or not, the time has come. Calling Brown up now means he’s here for the long haul.

And by long haul, I mean more like years or decades rather than days or months.

Right now though, I’ll be the first one to admit that Brown’s promotion should be viewed as a saving grace of sorts. Until Shane Victorino comes back from his disabled list stint, it’s almost a certainty that Brown will assume the role as the everyday RF, which will give him a perfect opportunity to make his transition to the big leagues by getting regular at-bats. With Brown’s supreme talent, you won’t see much of a drop-off in production even with Victorino gone.

And that’s saying alot.

So, with Brown settled in RF, that means Jayson Werth, who barring a huge move, will remain a member of the Philadelphia Phillies for the rest of the season because of his explosive offensive ability and defensive versatility (can play all three OF positions), will move over to CF to account for the loss of the Flyin’ Hawaiian.

Once Victorino comes back though, that’s where the work begins, as it is unclear what the Phillies will do with Brown. There is no doubt that he will stay up in the big leagues, but Charlie Manuel may have to do a little shuffling to make sure that he does nothinder the growth of his beloved top prospect.

Here’s a potential proposal (Full Week, 7-Game Schedule).

Raul Ibanez (4 Games in LF), Shane Victorino (5 Games CF), Jayson Werth (4 Games RF, 2 Game CF), Domonic (3 Games RF, 1 Game LF), Ben Francisco (2 Game LF).

May not be completely accurate, but you can bet the Phillies do something like this. Keeping a 38-year old Raul Ibanez fresh and Victorino healthy as he gets off the disabled list is just as important of a process as giving Domonic Brown regular at-bats at this point.

A process that will start on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park when #9 steps onto the outfield grass as he debuts in Phillies red-pinstripes.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Oswalt + Other Trade Notes

: Since Jayson Werth will most likely stay in Philly for the remainder of the season, a deal for Roy Oswalt will have to include some combination of J.A Happ and top young prospects in order to get done. If a deal goes down though, I say it looks like this scenario.

Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia for J.A Happ and at least two of Vance Worley/Scott Mathieson/Anthony Gose/Jonathan Singleton.

: If the Phillies strike out (no pun intended) on Oswalt, here are two other names that seem hot right now as being linked to the Phillies. Chicago’s Ted Lilly and Cleveland’s Fausto Carmona.



28
Jul
10

PHILLIES: Impact of Injuries Overshadow Wins

So much for struggling.

Winners of their last six straight, the Philadelphia Phillies have cut the Atlanta Braves seven-game lead in the division last week right in half.

That’s right, 3.5 Games.

That deficit can be erased in a series, let alone two months, so to say that the Phillies are back to being contenders is an understatement.

With that said, recent injuries to SS Jimmy Rollins and OF Shane Victorino have overshadowed this recent win streak and enhanced the already strong rumors surrounding personnel changes in the home clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park.

First off, the Rollins injury.

With a negative MRI only showing a contusion after fouling a ball off his ankle, it doesn’t look like J-Roll will be out of the fold for long. A couple games, a week at most. But, with this being Jimmy’s 3rd relatively significant injury this season, along with 2B Chase Utley being out until September, the call for infield depth is growing by the day.

As much as people should appreciate what Wilson Valdez has done throughout the entire season, the honeymoon with him and the Phillies organization is over. At some point, you can’t deny the stats. Due to the fact that he’s hit .217 since June 28th (when he assumed a regular role as Utley’s replacement) and that he grounds into a double-play once 12.9 AB (a rate that is far and away tops in MLB), he really can’t fit into the Phillies equation as anything more than a above-average defensive or pinch-running substitution off the bench.

So who do the Phillies get?

Looking through the guys who have been subject to the majority of trade rumors, it seems like Baltimore SS Miguel Tejada may be the best fit. As former perennial all-star on the back end of his career who is tucked away on the roster of one of the worst teams in baseball, he might not sound all that intriguing. The truth of the matter is, his relatively cheap 2.5 million dollar salary for the remainder of the season along with his ability to play both positions on the left side of the infield are both extremely attractive. Plus, it doesn’t seem that it would take that much (maybe two MLB ready prospects) to pry him away from the Orioles organization, which is obviously in a rebuild mode and has two solid, young prospects in SS Robert Andino and 3B Josh Bell putting up great numbers in Triple-A Norfolk, waiting for an extended opportunity in the show.

If that doesn’t pan out, other guys who have been linked to the Phillies in recent weeks are Baltimore Orioles INF Ty Wigginton, Washington Nationals INF Christian Guzman, Arizona Diamondbacks 2B Kelly Johnson, Oakland Athletics SS Mark Ellis, and Seattle Mariners INF Felipe Lopez.

If Rollins does come back in a couple days though like he said he will, this is just a secondary issue.

Now onto something more pressing.

Shane’s injury.

Victorino’s injured oblique makes the OF situation for the Phillies very confusing. While an MRI will clear up some of those complications, the calls for bringing up uber-prospect Domonic Brown still have to be approaching a near endless volume.

Has his play deserved a promotion?

In one word, yes.

Is Werth here to stay?

But, for a young guy who figures to be a cornerstone in the Citizens Bank Park outfield grass for the next decade, I’m not sure that the Phillies front office will want to make his anticipated big league arrival a temporary one. If Brown is called up to fill up a roster-spot if Victorino takes an extended trip to bench and lands on the DL or assumes a partial starting role (See my A Sudden Surge post for a platoon proposition) if Jayson Werth is traded, then okay, that’s understandable.

However, if the injury to the Flyin’ Hawaiian is mild, and Jayson Werth remains in a Phillies uniform, then don’t be surprised if the Phillies make up for Victorino’s absence without calling up Brown. Right now, a Ben Francisco/Ross Gload Platoon in RF (Francisco against LHP, Gload against RHP) with Werth moving over to CF and calling up a guy with big league experience like John Mayberry Jr.  as an extra right-handed bat who can play both corner-outfield positions may be the proper move to keep atmosphere in the Phillies clubhouse a positive one.

Along those lines, even if it means holding back his rare talent, it may be the right decision to have Brown wait to make his first big league contribution until after September 1st when the rosters expand. That may seem crazy considering Brown’s hype, and all the speculation that has surrounded Werth’s alleged departure from Philadelphia over the last couple months, but at the end of the day, the goal for this team remains the same.

As Charlie Manuel mentioned Tuesday in an interview with the 610 WIP Midday Show crew of Glen Macnow and Anthony Gargano, that goal is to return to the World Series. Lofty, I know. The Phillies recent play of late though has indicated  that there is still somewhat of a possibility to return to that type of prominence, and losing a valuable offensive weapon like Werth to a trade combined with the losses to Rollins and Victorino could potentially cripple the momentum that has been built over the last week.

The trickle down effect of this.

Keeping Werth will mean a trade for Roy Oswalt is unlikely.

Yes, the Phillies could still obtain Oswalt in a package that includes something resembling J.A Happ, Vance Worley, and two top 10 prospects (Philadelphia Inquirer’s Bob Brookover repports that Anthony Gose and Jonathan Singleton may be on the Astros wish list), but something tells me Ruben Amaro won’t be too keen on giving up that much.

Especially for a pitcher with chronic back issues who wants a 16 million dollar option picked up in 2012 while sporting a 6-12 record this season.

While there is little doubt that Oswalt is better than his record indicates, there is also little doubt that if he’s not healthy now, odds are that he won’t be healthy when it is time to pay him that chunk of change either.

So, even if you are still calling for pitching help (as you should), just don’t forget that.

13
Jul
10

PHILLIES: 10 Questions at the All-Star Break

Out of all the things that are up for discussion, debate, or argument regarding the first half of the Philadelphia Phillies 2010 season, one thing is for certain.

They went into the all-star break on a high note.

Sure, they may have only scored two runs combined in their final two games, and Roy Halladay may have pitched a nine inning shutout and got a no-decision in the outing, but the end result saw four game sweep against the NL Central leading Cincinnati Reds, with Phillies and the hometown fans at Citizens Bank Park being the beneficiaries of three consecutive walkoff wins.

Do the Phillies have enough resiliency to return to glory?

Not bad for a team that has dealt with more injuries than any team in professional baseball not named the Boston Red Sox, a six-week offensive slump, and had their season literally hanging on life support last week after losing a series to the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates

On paper, the Phillies may look like they have underachieved for the first half of the season. As the NL champs and frontrunners to return to another World Series, being in third place and 4.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East with a 47-40 record going into the break doesn’t live up to expectations. However, if you have watched this team or read The Philly Phour, you understand that their is a common silver lining when you take into account all that is happened in the first 87 games. Looking at the reasons stated previously, things could obviously be much worse. Taking into account the injuries, the slump in May/June, and the three losses to Pirates last week first hand, it’s honestly a miracle that Phillies are still in contention at this point of the season.

It’s even more of a miracle that they have done all this without trading away half their farm system in a panic move.

With the roster from the last two years still basically together and getting healthy, and coming off four straight wins against a top-tier NL team ,  it’s difficult to predict what will transpire in the next 75 games. There are still so many questions that reside with this team, and it’s future for the second half of the season.

10 Questions

1. Will the Placido Polanco and Chase Utley get back in time to help resurrect the season?

2. Can the Phillies offense start giving Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels more run support?

3. Will Ryan Howard regain his power stroke without sacrificing his near .300 batting average?

4. Will the underachievers (Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez) start playing near the all-star level they are capable of?

5. Will the overachievers (Kyle Kendrick, Brian Schneider, Wilson Valdez, Jamie Moyer) be able to keep playing at the level we have been accustomed to seeing during the first half of 2010?

6. Speaking of Moyer, will his 47-year old arm be able to hold up down the stretch?

7. Will Ruben Amaro pull the trigger on a trade to acquire a UTIL infielder, bullpen help, or a top/middle of the rotation starter?

8. Can Brad Lidge find some form of the consistency that was present in 2008?

9. Will the Phillies organization decide to part ways with a member of the Phillies outfield trio (Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez) to make room for phenom Domonic Brown?

10. Can the Phillies stay healthy?

If the majority of the answers, especially the last one, are YES, then I still am confident that the Phillies will come back, win the NL East for the 4th straight year, and make their third consecutive trip to the Fall Classic.

Whether that happens or not, it’s going to be a entertaining next couple months if you are a Phillies fan to say the least.




The Philly Phour

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