Category Archives: PHILLIES

Phillies have something real in Adam Haseley

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Haseley has enjoyed a fine rookie season with the Phillies

 

For the Philadelphia Phillies, an injury-marred season is now winding down to a disappointing finish. It appears more likely with each passing day that there will be no postseason baseball at Citizens Bank Park.

For an eighth straight year there will be no cool October nights filled with playoff drama for fans to enjoy as the calendar and the weather turns to fall.

However, there will always be some positive developments to be taken away from even the most disheartening campaigns. For fans of the Phillies, the play of rookie outfielder Adam Haseley should be one such positive.

Had it not been for the devastating torn left ACL to Andrew McCutchen‘s left knee that prematurely ended the veteran outfielder’s season at the start of June, we probably would not be talking about Haseley in this manner.

In the immediate aftermath of the McCutchen injury, the Phillies promoted Haseley for the first time to help provide some outfield depth in the short term. It was only an emergency measure, and Haseley would play in just two games before being returned to the minor leagues.

The club had traded for veteran Jay Bruce to bolster their bench. Now, Bruce was going to be forced into an everyday role. Unfortunately, after more than a month of solid play, Bruce was also lost to injury.

Haseley had been enjoying a strong season in the minor leagues, one that saw the 23-year-old receive his first promotion to the Triple-A level. He was slashing .275/.360/.481 with 10 home runs, 26 extra-base hits, 30 RBIs, and 38 runs scored.

That production, combined with his display of maturity as a person, resulted in the Phillies bringing Haseley back to the majors. Within days of his return, Bruce suffered a strained right oblique. Returning three weeks later, an arm injury would immediately put Bruce back on the Injured List until early September.

It has been the combination of injuries to McCutchen and Bruce that has opened the door for Haseley to receive far more playing time in Major League Baseball than the Phillies could even have imagined when the season opened.

The youngster struggled for awhile to find his footing while adjusting to pitching talent at the highest level of professional baseball. On August 25, he was hitting just .233 over his first 129 plate appearances.

It was two days later that things began to turn for Haseley. A two-hit night at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates started a streak of three straight multi-hit games, and it all began to click.

Over the last 17 games, Haseley has slashed .327/.431/.531 with a half-dozen extra-base hits and eight runs scored in 58 plate appearances.

In addition to a more consistent level of offensive production, Haseley has begun to put together an impressive highlight reel of fantastic defensive plays.

Haseley has mostly appeared in center field, making 25 starts there with another four appearances in the middle of the Phillies outfield. However, manager Gabe Kapler has not hesitated to use him on the corners either. Haseley has appeared in 18 games out in left field (14 starts) and nine games in right field, including seven starts.

Even with the emergence of veteran Corey Dickerson as an impact player following his acquisition at the July 31 trade deadline and the return of Bruce, Haseley has remained an almost daily fixture in the Phillies lineup.

This is exactly the level of play that a team expects from their top draft picks. Haseley, an Orlando, Florida native, was the Phillies selection at eighth overall in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of the University of Virginia.

One area in which Kapler has been somewhat babying the lefty-hitting Haseley has been in facing southpaw pitching. Scott Lauber at The Philadelphia Inquirer recently quoted the Phillies manager on his thinking in limiting his rookie outfielder’s exposure to left-handers:

He has historically hit left-handed pitching, but we are trying to kind of ease him into this role with some sensitivity and try to set up Hase for success. One of the ways to do that is to try to look for the matchups that might be especially difficult and give him a break in those matchups.

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In looking forward to next season and beyond the question will be, how do the Phillies envision Haseley’s role? Bryce Harper will be manning right field for the foreseeable future. McCutchen will be ready to return in spring training and is signed for at least two more years through the 2021 season. Bruce is signed through next season and should also be back.

Have the Phillies seen enough to hand Haseley the everyday starting center field role for the 2020 season? Will they try to re-sign Dickerson and use Haseley as a backup across all three outfield positions for the next couple of years?

Whatever their ultimate long-term plans, the Phillies seem to have found something in Haseley. Whether he can become a star, even an everyday player for a truly contending team, remains debatable. But he has demonstrated the talent to be counted on as a valuable contributor for years to come.

 

Confession of a Phillies fan who left the Harper walkoff slam game early

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I have a confession to make. I’m a lifelong Phillies fan. A partial season ticket holder. I write about the team frequently here at my website.

I was at Thusday night’s game in which the team rallied scoring seven times in the final two innings to come from five runs down and win on Bryce Harper‘s walkoff grand slam.

And I saw none of it. None of the runs. No part of the rally. Not live and in person anyway.

I gave up, and I left early.

To set the stage for you, this was perhaps the eighth game that I had been to this season. After an early season hot streak, things had deteriorated, for me and the ball club.

In each of the previous two games that I had been to, the Phillies had been blown out. Not only that, but they had not even shown up. Both times they were nearly shutout, had few hits, and the games were over by the middle innings.

Thursday night was much the same. The Phillies were down 5-0 when the top of the 8th inning rolled around. They had just four hits. Yu Darvish of the Cubs was dominating, striking out ten batters over seven innings.

So, as the 7th inning rolled around, I turned to my daughter with whom I was attending the game and told her that we would give it one more inning.

Really, I wasn’t hoping for much from the Phillies at that point. The club was down 5-0 on the scoreboard and showing no life. This night on the field appeared to be solely for the many Cubs fans in the stands, including one who was seated directly behind us and had been chirping all night long.

No, I was willing to stay through the 7th inning to see, of all things, the Phillie Phanatic. Hey, the big green furry guy puts on a nice show in that frame, dancing on the Phillies dugout roof. He didn’t disappoint, doing a nice number with a dance troupe from Temple University.

And so, as the action got underway in the top of the 8th, we left.

There was a good crowd at the ball park on a beautiful night. More than 37,000 showed up. Many left, both before us and as we were leaving. But there were still many who stayed. Those who stayed to the end would be the lucky ones. Well, at least those rooting for the home team.

We headed to the car, down towards I-95, and up onto the highway northbound. At somewhere between Bridge Street and Academy Road, the Phillies scored a run. I told my daughter, who was flipping through her phone in the passenger seat, that we scored a run. “Yay” she said, with sarcastic feigned enthusiasm.

I dropped her off at her house, and continued on to home. On the way, my wife asked me to make a stop at Wawa. As I drew nearer to our neighborhood, the Phillies had put two runners on base with one out in the bottom of the 9th inning, still down 5-1.

I slipped through the dark and quiet streets of our neighborhood, my headlights streaming out and the street lamps helping light the way, and as I pulled into the Wawa parking lot a base hit by Brad Miller scored Cesar Hernandez to make it a 5-2 ball game.

Things were getting a little interesting. Roman Quinn, who has been hot for awhile now, was coming to the plate. He would be followed by Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper. Dare we dream?

As Cubs skipper Joe Maddon went to the mound to make a pitching change, I went into the Wawa.

Got myself a coffee, and the night manager, a nice guy who I’ve seen in there many times, saw my Phillies t-shirt and cap and said “I guess they lost, huh?

I told him that I had been down there, left when it was 5-0, but now they had a little rally going in the bottom of the 9th, down 5-2. He asked who was up, and I told him that it was Quinn. He kind of nodded with an “oh well” look on his face.

As I walked through the store to find an item for my wife, a notice came over my phone that Quinn had delivered an RBI single to make it a 5-3 game. I rushed back to Mr. Wawa Manager to let him know, and he said “guess I better find a place to listen.” I hope he did.

I got my items, paid, and left the store. Back in my car, I heard that Rhys Hoskins had somehow reached base – I just assumed a walk at that point – and that Bryce Harper was now up with the bases loaded.

Harper battled reliever Derek Holland during my four block drive home. I had just pulled in front of my house and was parking my car when…

You know the rest. Scott Franzke’s typically fantastic voice raised with the call “Swung on…hit high and deep…right field…and that…ball…is……goooooone!

Needless to say, finishing my parking job got a little bit tougher with that adrenalin jolt.

I got out of the car and hurried into my house. My wife, knowing that I was on my way and knowing her husband, had the game on, watched that ending, and had rewound it so that I could watch the end.

Watching it on TV was just as dramatic, even knowing how it ended. I rewound a little further so that I could enjoy the entire rally. When that TV coverage got to the home run, chills again thanks to John Kruk‘s now legendary “Oh my God!!” as soon as the ball left the bat.

So, I was there on Thursday night. I was at Citizens Bank Park for the game in which the Phillies rallied from down 5-0 in the 8th inning and 5-1 in the 9th to win on a walkoff grand slam by Bryce Harper.

I had a nice evening. My daughter and I ate and had a couple of beers before the game at Pass & Stow. We enjoyed each other’s company and chatted as we watched the game.

But we were not there at the end. We didn’t get to enjoy “the moment.”

You tell yourself a lot of things when you leave early, as I have done many times over the years. Gotta beat the crowd, the traffic being the main thing. I don’t believe that what happened last night has ever happened in a game that I left early before.

So, the question is – will I ever leave early again? Of course I will. Probably the very next game that I attend. And if the Phillies are losing, even losing big, I’ll hope and pray that I get to listen on the radio and/or watch on TV as they rally again.

 

Charlie Manuel fine, but Phillies need higher-level change

The struggling Philadelphia Phillies baseball club stunned the fan base on Tuesday with the announcement that hitting coach John Mallee had been released, and that he would be replaced by popular former manager Charlie Manuel.

The stunning part wasn’t that Mallee was let go. The Phillies offense has struggled to find any consistency in parts of two seasons with the team since his hiring in November 2017.

Offensively, the Phillies rank just 19th among the 30 teams in Major League Baseball in runs scored per game this year. They are only 22nd in hits and OPS, 23rd in home runs, 17th in stolen bases.

After changing half the starting lineup from a year ago, bringing in stars like Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura, it was expected that the offense would be the least worrisome part of the 2019 team.

More surprising was that the 75-year-old Manuel would be taking his place, albeit on what is likely to be an interim basis. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said that this was a move which was not likely to extend beyond the balance of the 2019 campaign.

 
The move is certainly one that was, at least in some measure, calculated to inject enthusiasm into a fan base that was beginning to turn on the team. The Phillies have gone just 28-36 since their season high-water mark at 11 games over .500 on May 29. They had lost seven of their last 10 prior to Tuesday night.
 
With the Philadelphia Eagles preseason now underway and the NFL season set to begin in just three weeks, the Phillies were in danger of completely losing a large portion of their fans attention.

 
Manuel is the extremely popular former manager who led the Phillies to a 2008 World Series crown, back-to-back National League pennants, and five consecutive NL East titles. He compiled a 780-636 record as skipper from 2005 into the 2013 season, and has now been enshrined on the Wall of Fame.
 
What do the Phillies hope to gain from the change from Mallee to Manuel? The general manager seems to believe that it is more about how the message is being communicated to the hitters, rather than some major shift in philosophy.
 
I understand that there’s kind of a simplistic viewpoint here that we are shifting from new school to old school,” said Klentak. “But it’s really not that simple. I think the messenger is changing, but I think the message will be largely the same.
In the short-term, Manuel’s easy-going attitude, down-home demeanor, and positive messaging along with his hitting philosophy of attacking the pitcher aggressively should help some the rest of the way.
While that is important – no one wants to throw in the towel on 2019 – more influential for the longer run will be who ends up getting the job for the 2020 season and beyond. Will the organizational philosophy change if results do not improve? And, will it be Klentak who is doing that hiring?
Kevin Cooney of The Philly Voice did an excellent job yesterday of breaking down the questions and answers, and the politics within the organization, surrounding this decision.
Given what the tone of the conversation was over the past few months and the words of patience that came out of both Klentak and MacPhail’s mouth on various topics, it certainly doesn’t feel like a stretch to believe that this move had (John) Middleton’s fingerprints all over it.
Klentak noted that both MacPhail and principle owner John Middleton were involved in the decision to make this change.

Look, any time we make a big organizational decision, we’re very collaborative about that,” Klentak said per Matt Gelb with The Athletic. “So, John definitely was aware of this, involved in this — as he has been for a lot of decisions we’ve made. Andy MacPhail as well. But when we made these big decisions, they are done with a collaborative approach and a kind of united front. John was involved.

As I have written prior to this, the Phillies overall failures can be traced all the way up the chain to Andy MacPhail. He is the president of baseball operations. The buck stops with him. As long as MacPhail remains, there is no reason to believe based on the man’s track record that this organization will become a consistent long-term winner.
We have to hope that the injection of enthusiasm from Charlie Manuel helps the Phillies in the short-term. The fans are certainly happy to have him back. I’m personally happy to see him back doing what he does best, teaching and talking about hitting.
Middleton, as the owner who has spent nearly a half-billion dollars in upgrading his offensive personnel, is going to have to take a hard look this coming fall and winter at the people he has directing the organization at higher levels if he wants his baseball team to become a big, consistent winner.

Phillies now must buck the odds to make the playoffs

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For a second straight August, it all feels like it’s falling apart for a Philadelphia Phillies season that once appeared destined to end in October.

The Phillies lost to the San Francisco Giants by a 3-1 score on Saturday afternoon. It was the club’s fourth defeat in five games, their sixth in the last nine. They are 2-4 on a western swing through Arizona and NoCal that will end this afternoon by the bay.
This most recent losing stretch is part of a 27-35 performance since late May, one that has dropped the team from the top of the National League East Division standings into fourth place.

It’s not just that the Phillies are losing in San Francisco – they aren’t even showing up to play. Just three hits in yesterday afternoon’s defeat. One hit in Thursday night’s series opening loss to the Giants.

As recently as their postgame statements at the start of this past week, Phillies players were clinging to the hope provided by the standings. Fact was, they still controlled a National League Wildcard playoff berth.
That is no longer the case. The Phillies woke up on Sunday morning at two games behind both the Saint Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals in the loss column. They also trail both the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets in that Wildcard race.
The stats show that the Phillies have earned this position. They have a -30 run differential. They are just 18th of the 30 MLB ball clubs in runs scored per game. The pitching staff is 22nd in batting average against and 23rd in OPS against.
In short, the Phillies are not a good baseball team right now, and they haven’t been one for a few months.
All of this is reflected in the updated Fangraphs MLB playoff odds. Taking a wide variety of factors into consideration, Fangraphs now ranks three teams from the NL East as having better than even odds of reaching the postseason. None of those is the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Atlanta Braves, who hold a five game lead in the loss column in the division race, have a 98.1% chance of reaching the playoffs. The second place Washington Nationals are at 67.8%. And now, the red-hot New York Mets are rated as having a 53% chance at the postseason.
The Phillies? They now have a miniscule 8.8% chance at making the playoffs. Their odds at winning a Wildcard spot are at 8.5%, and actually roaring back to win the division at just 0.3%. The Phillies odds to win the World Series are at a nearly impossible 0.1% level.
So, if the Phillies are going to reach the Major League Baseball postseason for the first time in eight years, they are going to need a major hot streak. At this point, that would be seriously bucking the odds.

Madison Bumgarner nearly perfect against lifeless Phillies in series opener

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The Philadelphia Phillies (59-56) look for all the world like a defeated ball club following yet another loss in which they simply did not show up to play.

That would be Thursday’s series opening 5-0 defeat at the hands of the host San Francisco Giants (57-59) at Oracle Park.
The feeble Phillies offensive attack, such as it was, consisted of three base runners. Only a one-out, pinch-hit single off the bat of Cesar Hernandez kept them from getting no-hit by Madison Bumgarner.
In the end, the Giants starter combined with a pair of relievers to shut the Phillies out. It marked the seventh white-washing of the season for the Phillies batters. To call them “hitters” at his point would be to besmirch that term.
Phillies starter Aaron Nola was part of the no-show team effort. The club’s ace was chewed up by a team that came into the game statistically as the second-worst offensive club in the National League, one that had been averaging only 2.78 runs per game over their previous nine contests.
The Giants rapped out seven hits against Nola, who also walked two batters. They were also the beneficiaries of a pair of wild pitches thrown by Nick Pivetta in relief, and a throwing error on backup catcher Andrew Knapp.
Mike Yastrzemski, grandson of legendary Boston Red Sox left fielder and Baseball Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, was the offensive star for San Francisco. The new ‘Yaz’ ripped a two-run double in the bottom of the 3rd inning to push an early Giants lead out to 3-0. He then blasted a solo homer, his 11th of his rookie season, in the bottom of the 7th inning to provide the final score.

 

 

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This was a fourth loss in five games for the Phillies, who have now gone just 3-6 over their last nine. It dropped the club out of an NL Wildcard spot as well. They now sit in a three-way tie, a half-game behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the race for the final National League postseason berth.
But playoffs should be the furthest thing from the mind of the Phillies players at this point. There is absolutely zero chance of this team reaching the postseason for the first time in eight years. A season that began with so much excitement and anticipation has devolved into a hellish nightmare of injuries, inconsistencies, and failures, both on the field and in the front office.
Frankly, it’s difficult to imagine that this level of play can continue for very much longer without someone losing their job over it.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE

Phillies – Aaron Nola (L 10-3): 5 IP, 7 hits, 3 earned, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts. 93 pitches, 59 for strikes.
Giants – Madison Bumgarner (W 7-7): 7 IP, 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts. 85 pitches, 56 for strikes.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME: MADISON BUMGARNER

While Yastrzemski doubled, homered and knocked in three of the five Giants runs, this was Bumgarner’s game. He tossed a masterpiece, and very nearly one for the history books.
Bumgarner retired the first 10 Phillies batters in a row before losing Hoskins on a full count cutter. Then he left an 89 mph two-seam fastball a little out over the plate, and lost his no-hit bid to a Cesar Hernandez single with one out in the 7th inning.
If this is going to be the final seven weeks for MadBum in a Giants uniform after 11 mostly glorious campaigns, then the pending free agent is going out in style and showing that he still has plenty in the tank, having just turned age 30 a little more than a week ago.

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