Tag Archives: Bryce Harper

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.

Rookie Zac Gallen and Dbacks shut down Phillies

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The Arizona Diamondbacks (58-57) defeated the Philadelphia Phillies (59-55) by a score of 6-1 on Wednesday night at Chase Field in Phoenix. The victory was a second straight for the hosts after the Phillies had taken the opener, giving the series to the Dbacks, who took four of the six match-ups between the two teams this year.
With the victory, Arizona moves back above the .500 mark on the season and pulls to within 1.5 games of the final National League Wildcard playoff spot. The Phillies are now tied with the Milwaukee Brewers for that second NL Wildcard berth, though Milwaukee has one more loss.
This was a game in which the visiting Phillies simply failed to show up to play in any way. The offense generated just five hits on the night, going 0-3 with runners in scoring position.
The Dbacks scored twice each in the 3rd, 4th and 8th innings to secure the victory. In the 3rd, a hit batsman, a walk, a single, and a sacrifice fly put the home team in front. In the 4th it was three singles and then the first RBI in the career of Arizona starter Zac Gallen that got the runs home.
Gallen’s RBI came on a poor play by Scott Kingery, who continues to be played out of position by the Phillies, this time at third base.
With runners at first and third and one out, Gallen laid down a bunt that was fielded by Kingery, who opted to throw to first base to get Gallen while the runner at third, Nick Ahmed, was right behind him. Kingery could have been more situationally aware were he a natural or more experienced third baseman, pump-faking to first and turning to get Ahmed in an easy rundown.
Meanwhile, Gallen was mowing the Phillies down on the mound. The rookie from South Jersey allowed just one hit over his five innings and left with a 4-0 lead after throwing 85 pitches.
Arizona tacked on two more runs for good measure in the home 8th inning on RBI singles by Jarrod Dyson and Ketel Marte to put the Dbacks on top by a 6-0 margin. In the top of the 9th, Bryce Harper lofted his 20th home run of the season, but all that did was provide the final score in a 6-1 defeat.
The Phillies will now move on to the City by the Bay to face the San Francisco Giants in a four-game long weekend series at Oracle Park.
SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE
Phillies – Jason Vargas: 5 IP, 4 earned, 3 walks, 1 strikeout. 82 pitches, 48 for strikes.
Dbacks: Zac Gallen: 5 IP, 1 hit, 0 runs, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts. 85 pitches, 54 for strikes.
PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME: ZAC GALLEN
The rookie just turned 24-years-old last week, and was making his first start in a Diamondbacks uniform since arriving from the Miami Marlins in a trade deadline deal for shortstop prospect Jazz Chisholm.
Gallen was born in Gibbsboro, New Jersey and was raised in the Somerdale area, right across the river from Philly in Camden County. He made few mistakes on this night, shutting down the Phillies offense on one hit over five innings. He also registered his first career RBI on a 4th inning sacrifice bunt.
TICKET IQ NEXT GAME

Phillies continue to be stymied by failure to deliver in the clutch

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The Philadelphia Phillies just cannot seem to get on a true roll in this 2019 season. The last time that the club was 10 games above the .500 level was following a 4-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park on June 8.
Since that time, the club has gone 22-27, and they have just two winning streaks of three or more games. Beginning on July 30, the Phillies began a streak, one that is still current, in which they have alternated a win with a loss.
Win. Loss. Win. Loss. Win. Loss. Win. Loss. Four times in a row now following Tuesday night’s 8-4 defeat to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Phoenix.
And yet, the Phillies remain in control of a National League Wildcard playoff berth. That position in the standings is thanks to two factors. One has been that all of the other Wildcard contenders have proven to be flawed as well, at least to this point.
Another is that, while not being able to assemble a big winning streak, the Phillies have not gone into a major losing skid either. The club has not lost as many as three in a row since the middle of June. In fact, since the start of July, the Phillies have only dropped back-to-back games on three occasions.
Frankly, this team has become exasperating to many fans. They can’t win consistently, and in fact have outright blown many more than their share of potential victories, continuing to frustrate everyone following the team. But that they also don’t lose consistently has kept them tantalizingly in the race.
Sure, the bullpen has blown a number of games. But if we are honest about that factor, the Phillies pen has been in shambles due to numerous key injuries, far more than could have been expected and planned for.
At present, the following relievers are on the Injured ListDavid RobertsonPat NeshekSeranthony DominguezTommy HunterEdubray RamosVictor Arano and Adam Morgan.
When the 2019 regular season opened, that was nearly the entire Phillies anticipated bullpen. Most of those relievers have missed most of the season. The problems stemming from trying to replace them on the fly, of leaning too much on arms who could not have been expected to pitch so often in the roles in which they have been used, should be expected. It may be a problem without a solution in the short term.
So, yes, while the bullpen has been a problem, and is likely to remain one for the rest of this season, there are other major contributors to the Phillies struggles. The starting rotation has also struggled, not so much with injuries, but with a failure to produce consistent outings.
But this club was put together in the off-season with an emphasis on upgrading the offensive production. Half of the starting lineup was overhauled with trades and free agent acquisitions. That offense has simply not stepped up and delivered in the way that it was assumed it would.
The Phillies inability to consistently drive in runners when they are in scoring position has been maddening, and it has cost them directly in the win column. It has kept the club’s average runs per game at a mediocre 4.78 mark, ranking them 16th of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball.
Last night in Arizona, the Phillies hitters were a sickening 2-17 with runners in scoring position (RISP) and left a dozen men on base. Even in their 7-3 win the previous night, the club went just 5-19 with RISP, and left nine men on base.
The Phillies average of 3.82 runners left in scoring position per game is the worst in all of baseball. Last year, the Phillies offense ranked seventh in that stat. The only player doing the job in 2019 has been Bryce Harper, whose .368 batting average with runners in scoring position ranks 6th in the National League and 9th in all of Major League Baseball.

While Rhys Hoskins leads all Phillies in overall rWC+, he needs to be more consistent. (Ian D’Andrea)
Since the MLB All-Star break in the second week of July, the Phillies are now just 44-207 for a .213 batting average as a team with runners in scoring position over the last 22 games. It is almost miraculous that the club has fashioned a winning 12-11 record since the break.
Here is the breakdown from each of those series: CWS: 5-26, SFG: 5-26, ATL: 7-26, DET: 3-19 (two games), PIT: 5-23, LAD: 8-29, WAS: 4-22, and these last two games in Arizona.
That is simply not going to cut it. There is no way that these Phillies will hold on to an NL Wildcard playoff spot, let alone make any kind of run at the division crown, without significant improvement in this area.
The Phillies are no offensive juggernaut, that much is a fact. However, their overall offense is no worse than middle of the pack. They put runners on base for the most part. They put pressure on the opposition. The Phillies should be scoring more runs. They simply do not kick in the door. Not nearly enough.
What is the answer? Pretty simple. The players who are hitting when there is no one on base need to hit when there are men in scoring position. Top to bottom, the Phillies hitters need to come through in the clutch and produce more runs.
In Fangraphs wRC+ (weighted runs created) rankings, Rhys Hoskins is the #24 ranked hitter in all of baseball. Harper comes in next at #62, with Jean Segura at #93 and J.T. Realmuto in the #98 slot. In order to score more, the Phillies are going to need to get more production from the rest of their lineup. And it wouldn’t hurt if Segura and Realmuto picked it up a bit as well. In fact, it’s hard to make the argument that both Hoskins and Harper don’t have a big run in them.
Would another big bat or two help, especially in the middle of the order? Sure. But almost every team can say that. For this 2019 Phillies team, the answer lies on the bats of the players who are already here to begin coming through when it matters on a far more frequent basis.