Tag Archives: Marcell Ozuna

Phillies welcome in the Saint Louis Cardinals for three late-May games

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The Saint Louis Cardinals visit Philly for three late-May games

Saint Louis Cardinals (26-26) of the NL Central Division in a three-game series scheduled to begin on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies remain on top of the NL East Division standings by 1.5 games, two in the loss column, over the Atlanta Braves. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have been slumping, falling to four games off the pace set by their arch-rival Chicago Cubs.
Earlier this month, the Phillies took two of three games from the Cards in a series at Busch Stadium. Saint Louis won the opener in a 6-0 shutout, then the Phils stormed back for 11-1 and 5-0 wins to take the series.
After a victory on May 1 over the Washington Nationals, the Cardinals sat 10 games over the .500 mark and three games up in their division. But since that time they have collapsed, dropping 16 of their last 22 games.
The main culprit has been their anemic offensive attack, which has put more than four runs on the scoreboard just nine times in that stretch. However, their pitching staff has also allowed the opposition to score in double-digits four times during what has turned into a nightmarish month of May.
The Cardinals scoring offense has produced similar results to the Phillies over the full course of the season. They are averaging exactly five runs scored per game, while the Phillies average is at 4.96 per game.
Saint Louis is 7th and the Phillies 8th ranked in the National League in OPS, and the Cards have slugged three more home runs. They are also much more prone to run, ranking in a tie for 2nd in the NL in stolen bases with 30, while the Phillies 17 steals puts them near the bottom of the league.
The Cardinals pitching staff is 5th in the NL in batting average against (.241), far better than the Phillies staff (.259) rank of 14th in the league. Neither staff is particularly overpowering, with the Phillies hurlers ranking 12th and the Cardinals pitchers 13th in the NL in strikeouts.
I’ve been talking for a couple of weeks now about this crucible of a schedule stretch which the Phillies are currently navigating their way through. To this point they have held their own, going 8-6 against tough opposition over the last two weeks.
This grueling stretch of games against talented teams will head back out on the road following this brief home series with Saint Louis. The Phillies will travel out to face the National League’s top team and the winners of the last two NL pennants, the Los Angeles Dodgers, over the weekend. The stretch will then end early next week with three games at improved San Diego.
Winning series. That’s what it continues to be all about for these 2019 Phillies. Taking at least two of three here against Saint Louis will be important before heading out to the west coast.

SAINT LOUIS CARDINALS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

  • Paul Goldschmidt: The 31-year-old first baseman was traded from Arizona to Saint Louis back in December for three prospects and a draft pick. He is slashing .264/.357/.433 and is second on the club with 10 homers. An NL All-Star for the last six straight seasons. Runner-up for the NL MVP in both 2013 and 2015, 3rd in voting in 2017. Three-time Gold Glover and four-time Silver Slugger Award winner.
  • Marcell Ozuna: The 28-year-old right fielder was acquired during the Miami Marlins fire sale back in December 2017 for four prospects. He is slashing .230/.316/.508 and leads the club with 14 homers and 45 RBIs.
  • Paul DeJong: A 25-year-old shortstop who was runner-up for the 2017 NL Rookie of the Year Award, DeJong has broken out as a potential All-Star this season. He is slashing .295/.396/.518 and has been the club’s most consistent offensive performer, leading the team with 26 extra-base hits and 39 runs scored.

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Yadier Molina: The perennial NL All-Star and possible future Hall of Famer turnes 37-years-old in mid-July. He has been an NL All-Star in nine of the last 10 seasons, and won eight Gold Gloves at catcher over the last 11 years. Molina is hitting .317 over the course of his big-league career against the Phillies, and his 11 homers against them are the most he has hit against any non-divisional opponent. He is hitting .309 with seven of those homers coming at Citizens Bank Park.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

  • Adam Wainwright (37): 4-4, 4.82 ERA, 1.414 WHIP, 51 hits allowed over 52.1 IP including 8 HR with a 41/23 K:BB
  • Genesis Cabrera (22): a native of the Dominican Republic, this will be his big-league debut.
  • Dakota Hudson (24): 3-3, 4.22 ERA, 1.631 WHIP, 63 hits over 53.1 IP including 9 HR with a 38/24/K:BB

KEY BENCH & BULLPEN PIECES

  • Harrison Bader: 25-year-old righty bat outfielder slashing .265/.379/.449
  • Matt Wieters: 33-year-old backup catcher formerly starter with Orioles is slashing .333/.346/.458
  • Michael Wacha: 27-year-old righty was just moved to the bullpen after making nine starts
  • Jordan Hicks: 22-year-old second-year righty has 10 Saves as the closer, with a 4.24 ERA and 1.235 WHIP
  • John Gant: 26-year-old righty having strong season with 1.26 ERA, 0.698 WHIP, 31/8 K:BB over 28.2 IP
  • John Brebbia: 29-year old righty also strong with a 1.61 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 33/10 K:BB over 28 IP
  • Andrew Miller: 34-year-old lefty famous with Indians, 4.19 ERA, 1.397 WHIP, 25/10 K:BB over 19.1 IP

THE SKIPPER

Mike Shildt is in his second season at the helm after taking over around the mid-point of last season. He took over from longtime skipper Mike Matheny with the club just a game over the .500 mark in third place and 7.5 out in the division. Club went 41-28 under his guidance, finishing just three games out of an NL Wildcard berth.
The 50-year old Schildt was a scout and minor league coach in the Cardinals organziation. He was given a chance to  manage with their short-season affiliates back in 2009 and rose through their organizational and coaching ranks, becoming third base coach in Saint Louis in 2017. Schildt was named the interim manager after Matheny was fired, and then in late August 2018 was given a three-year contract and became the permanent skipper.

PHILLY SERIES WEATHER REPORT

This could be a touch-and-go series as far as the Philadelphia weather goes. There is a 90% chance of precipitation on Tuesday and 80% on Wednesday, dropping to 40% or less on Thursday. There is a strong chance of storms just prior to game time for Tuesday’s opener, and then a 90-95% chance of thunderstorms between 7-9pm.
For Wednesday, there is a 60% chance of storms at the scheduled first-pitch time after an afternoon of rain. However, once that system passes the chances or precipitation drop to 15% by 8pm. Thursday looks fine at this point, but with a chance of afternoon storms.

Phillies and Cardinals continue early May series between first place ball clubs

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Phillies continue tough series with Cardinals in Saint Louis

The Philadelphia Phillies (19-15) lead the National League East Division standings by 1.5 games, two in the loss column, over the Atlanta Braves with the New York Mets four back and the Washington Nationals five back in the loss column.

The Saint Louis Cardinals (21-14) lead the National League Central Division standings by a half-game and .006 percentage points over their arch-rivals, the Chicago Cubs. However, the Cubbies have one fewer loss that than the Cards, who have played three more games.
On Tuesday night the two division leaders will meet in the second game of a three-game set at Busch Stadium III in Saint Louis. The Cards took the opener by a dominating 6-0 on Monday night with the Phillies offense producing just five hits.
Prior to last night’s white-washing the Phillies offense had been rolling, scoring 26 runs over the previous four games. but this was also the 14th time in their first 34 games that the lineup has produced three or fewer runs. It has very much been an all-or-nothing group.
The Cardinals had dropped four straight games prior to Monday night. Before that little mini-losing skid they were scorching hot, with 10 wins over the prior 11 games to get back into the central race following a slow start to the season.

TUESDAY STARTING LINEUPS

PHILLIES LINEUP

  1. Andrew McCutchen
  2. Jean Segura
  3. Bryce Harper
  4. Rhys Hoskins
  5. J.T. Realmuto
  6. Odubel Herrera
  7. Cesar Hernandez
  8. Maikel Franco
  9. Aaron Nola

CARDINALS LINEUP

  1. Matt Carpenter
  2. Paul Goldschmidt
  3. Paul DeJong
  4. Marcell Ozuna
  5. Jose Martinez
  6. Yadier Molina
  7. Dexter Fowler
  8. Kolten Wong
  9. Dakota Hudson

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

  • Aaron Nola: 2-0, 5.06 ERA, 1.607 WHIP, 44 hits allowed over 37.1 IP with a 38/16 K:BB
  • Nola has been way off his 2018 pace. He has allowed at least seven hits in his last five starts. Looked better over his last two outings, allowing just two runs over 12.1 IP but with just 10 strikeouts and four walks, 14 hits allowed.
  • Nola has pitched well during his career against Saint Louis: 2-2 record with a 2.84 ERA, 17 hits allowed over 25.1 IP across four starts with a 27/6 K:BB. In three games at Busch Stadium he is 1-2 with a 3.50 ERA, 13 hits over 18 IP with a 19/4 K:BB ratio.
  • Dakota Hudson: 2-2, 4.80 ERA, 1.733 WHIP, 37 hits allowed 30 IP with a 26/15 K:BB
  • Hudson is a 24-year-old rookie-eligible who made 26 appearances last season, all as a reliever. This season has made six starts over seven appearances. This will be his first career appearance against the Phillies.
  • Hudson is a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee who was the Cardinals first round pick at 34th overall in the 2016 MLB Draft out of Mississippi State.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES

  • With this series the Phillies have begun a stretch of 35 games outside the NL East Division. They had played 23 of their first 32 games within their division, more than any other team in baseball.
  • The Phillies are now just 3-13 in Saint Louis over their last 16 games following last night’s defeat. They are just 12-25 at Busch Stadium since the start of the 2010 season, and have not won a series in Saint Louis since 2012.
  • The Phillies are 14-4 when they score first, 16-4 when scoring four or more runs, 17-1 when leading after six innings, 10-1 when they out-hit their opponents, and 16-6 when hitting at least one home run.
  • Over their last 11 starts the Phillies pitching rotation has accumulated a 2.81 ERA, the best in the National League, with the club posting a 7-4 record over that span.
  • Rhys Hoskins is slugging .620 against right-handed pitching in 2019, fourth-best among all qualified hitters in baseball. For his career, Hoskins has a .572 slugging percentage against righties, ranking 5th among all righty bats in MLB since 1974.
  • J.T. Realmuto has thrown out 10 of 21 base stealers (47.6%), which is both the most base stealers thrown out and the
    highest percentage among all catchers in baseball. Realmuto leads all players in MLB in overall defensive value per FanGraphs’ “Defensive” metric with his 7.7 fielding runs above average.
  • Outfielder Marcell Ozuna has faced Nola more than any Cardinals player, and over 19 at-bats is hitting .316 off the Phillies righty with two home runs. Dexter Fowler has beaten Nola up over their careers to the tune of a .571 average with two homers.

TUESDAY PROGRAMMING INFORMATION

  • Tuesday May 7 at 7:45 pm vs. the Saint Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium
  • TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia; MLB Network (out-of-market only)
  • Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP, WTTM 1680 (Spanish)

Phillies president Andy MacPhail hedging bets on free agent activity

By Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA - Andy MacPhail, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15991405
Phillies president Andy MacPhail
(Photo: Keith Allison)
The Phillies brain trust has been making the rounds over the last few days trying to defend the 2018 rise and collapse, and handle media and fan questions regarding their plans to better the team for the 2019 season.
On Tuesday it was Andy MacPhail’s turn in front of the cameras and microphones. One comment made by the team president is really sticking in my craw and is likely doing the same with most Phillies fans who picked up on the it.
Tim Kelly here at Phillies Nation highlighted that comment in his own piece on MacPhail’s presser just yesterday:

“This isn’t the last year that major league baseball is ever going to be played. So you’re not going to throw every resource you have at this year because there’s the following year as well.”

For me, that attitude is problematic. First, if this season demonstrated anything it was that the Phillies are now walking a very fine line. They finished just below the .500 mark at 80-82 and were exactly middle of the pack in the National League East Division in third place.
Over the season’s first four months they were a tease, somehow finding a way to overcome glaring shortcomings in the most fundamental aspects of the game to actually contend. Over the final two months, those glaring shortcomings finally caught up to them, and the predictable collapse occurred.
But was it inevitable, or was the team simply unwilling to pay the price it would take to inject some real life, and real talent, into a lineup that was desperate for both? And is that unwillingness a sign that the current management team is incapable of pulling the trigger and actually going for it?
Manny Machado was there for the taking at the trade deadline when the Phillies were still contending as far as the standings were concerned. And yet in a piece for Phillies Nation back in mid-July, I quoted Jon Heyman at Fancred Sports who commented that Phillies management was suffering from “too much timidity” in their pursuit of the superstar.
The Baltimore Orioles ended up dealing him to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a package led by outfield prospect Yusniel Diaz. Frankly, the other four prospects are likely to prove insignificant over the long run. None was ranked highly within the Dodgers minor league system.
Diaz is not going to be a superstar. He will likely be a big-leaguer, and probably a starting outfielder. The Orioles at least got something of long-term value for a superstar who they were going to inevitably lose. But could they have gotten a bit more?
The Phillies were not going to, nor should they have, traded either Sixto Sanchez or Scott Kingery in what was potentially a rental-only Machado trade. However, would a package led by J.P. Crawford and Adonis Medina have gotten it done? Would the Orioles have taken those two at the front along with a couple of lesser prospects over Diaz? How about Crawford and Zach Eflin or Nick Pivetta?
We’re probably never going to know just how hard the Phillies actually pushed in the Machado talks with Baltimore. But we do know that they didn’t get it done, that the offensive attack continued to sputter, that the shortstop position continued to be manned by a rookie seeing his first-ever significant professional time at the position, and that the team collapsed.
A month from now the World Series will have ended, and Major League Baseball’s “Hot Stove” season will begin. Dozens of players of varying levels of value will become available on the free agent market. The Phillies have the resources to bring in significant talent for the 2019 campaign.
It should be obvious to the Phillies brain trust of MacPhail, controlling owner John Middleton, and general manager Matt Klentak that the Atlanta Braves have passed them in present talent. Also, both the Washington Nationals and New York Mets within the division are right now in at least as good a position, possibly better.

Lefty Corbin should be the type of arm that the Phillies are trying to land for their rotation. (Photo: Bob James)
For the Phillies to fix what is wrong with their everyday lineup and compete over the next decade they are going to need to convince multiple talented free agents in their prime years to come to play their home games at Citizens Bank Park.
This off-season, a trio of perfect free agents happen to be available. Those would be the 26-year-old Machado, soon-to-be 26-year-old outfielder Bryce Harper, and 29-year-old southpaw starting pitcher Patrick Corbin.
The Phillies could take the field for the next half-decade or more with an infield featuring Rhys Hoskins, Kingery, Machado, and Maikel Franco. They would have Harper and his prodigious power in right field and in the middle of their batting order.
On the mound they would have the left-handed Corbin pitching between righties Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta at least for the 2019 season, and beyond depending on how they handle Arrieta’s contract option.
As MacPhail says, yes, there is “the following year as well.” Among the players scheduled to become free agents following the 2020 season who will be under-30 at that point are shortstop Xander Bogaerts, pitcher Gerrit Cole, outfielders Nick Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna, and the crown jewel of the class, third baseman Nolan Arenado.
And the year after that, well, that’s the one every Phillies fan has been waiting for, when outfielder Mike Trout will finally become available at age 29.
If you’re worried about the Phillies having to pay their own young core players, don’t worry too much. Kingery signed a six-year deal back in spring training this year. That deal takes him through the 2023 season, with three addition option years, all at an affordable price.
The Phillies are going to have to pay Hoskins and Nola big money at some point to keep them around. But that point doesn’t come for some time. Hoskins has two more seasons to play before he is even arbitration eligible, and cannot become a free agent until he reaches age 31 in five more years.
Nola is the more pressing deal. He is arbitration-eligible this off-season and in line for at least a hefty raise on a one-year contract. He becomes a free agent at age 29 after four more seasons.
The reality is that the Phillies are not likely to win out in the bidding for both Machado and Harper. But they should absolutely be trying their hardest to land both of these young superstars.
If they happen to win out on both, great. The future gets built around those two and the homegrown guys, and maybe the team tries to figure out a way to also fit in Trout in a couple of years.

It might seem nice to wait for Arenado, but who says he’ll still be available next year? (Photo: Keith Allison)
If they fall short and only land one, they can perhaps go after Arenado or Bogaerts next year. But they need to try right now.
The Phillies cannot allow this upcoming off-season to slip by and not significantly improve the roster with impact players who will excite the fan base. 
There is no guarantee that the best 2020 free agents won’t sign extensions before the Phillies ever get a shot at them.
Last winter, Klentak largely failed with the Carlos Santana contract. He gave $60 million guaranteed dollars to a player who would be performing in his ages 32-34 seasons when he already had a young, star-caliber player in Hoskins at the first base position.
For seven years from 2011-17 when he was actually in his prime with Cleveland, Santana averaged 24 homers, 80 RBI, and 78 RBI with a .249/.363/.445 cumulative slash line.
This year with the Phillies, Santana had 24 homers, 86 RBI, 82 runs scored, and a .229/.352/.414 slash line. As he ages over the next two years, fans and management should expect those numbers to only regress.
The Phillies cannot make the mistake again of giving big money to a limited offensive player who is past his prime. Both Machado and Harper are superstar-caliber, not limited players, both in their primes where they will be for years to come.
In his own piece on the issue just yesterday, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia opined that it could take an eight-year, $300 million dollar deal to land each of Harper and Machado.
That would be $75 million for each of the next eight years for the two, taking them roughly through their age 34 seasons. That is totally appropriate, the Phillies have the money, and considering the other commitments both now and for the next handful of seasons it is doable while paying everyone else.
Salisbury quoted MacPhail on the financial angle:

“There has been some speculation about what we’re going to do which I find to be just someone just didn’t put a paper and pencil together and do the math.”

The Phillies brain trust needs to do more than go “star chasing”, as Sixers Brett Brown put it. (Photo: TastyPoutine)
Well, I’ve put a paper and pencil together, and the math is absolutely doable. But is this group capable of selling themselves, their vision, and the Phillies future to players like Machado and Harper? I am not quite sure that is doable.
I didn’t expect MacPhail to come out and make the Brett Brown mistake, saying that the Phillies would be going “star-hunting” this coming off-season. 
But I also didn’t need someone hedging their bets and trying to diffuse fan disappointment should he and the brain trust fail to make the needed significant upgrades.
MacPhail was wrong. You do have to throw every resource you have at this year. There is an old saying, throw enough “stuff” (not the word) at the wall, and some of it will stick.
If the Phillies throw every resource they have at their current problems, some of those resources will yield talent for years to come. Many of the problems will get answered. Perhaps enough to make a difference and push the club to contending status next season and beyond.
Stop making excuses before the fact. Go out and do your job and bring a winning team to a city and fan base that did not deserve what happened over the last half-dozen years. You have plenty of resources at your disposal, but do you have the ability to fix the problems? We’ll soon find out.