Monday, February 23, 2015

Dutch Is Back After Two Year Battle!


Dutch For The Win – Darren Daulton looked and sounded like himself Sunday morning at Bright House Field. He looked tan. He smiled easily. He spoke optimistically about the future. Daulton, who led the 1993 Phillies to the National League pennant, announced recently he is cancer free after battling glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, since 2013. "I feel good," he said. "I don't know how lucky we are, but it's pretty cool." Daulton has an open invitation to be an instructor at Spring Training as his health permits. It did not sound like he was ready for that, but he was happy Sunday to be at the ballpark on a warm sunny day, watching the Phillies prepare for a new season. "Is there any way I can get a three-year contract right now, with big money?" he joked. Daulton said he got the good news Friday, when he visited his doctor. His doctor smiled when he came through the door. That is when he knew he was cancer-free. "I still have problems talking," said Daulton, who had been working on TV and radio in Philadelphia prior to the diagnosis. "So I can't go on the air like I used to. If I get tired, then I have problems. But I feel good. Just every now and then, I have problems, 'What were we just talking about?' "I've been hanging out with a lot of people from Philadelphia that have similar problems. It just happens, and it happens to different people. I just try to say the right things. There have been a couple that have passed away. It would be nice if everybody didn't have to deal with this cancer situation." Daulton dealt with it and he beat it. He is one of the fortunate ones.

Filling In The Two Hole – The Phillies had one of the least productive offenses in baseball last year, and after trading Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd in the offseason, things might not be any easier in 2015. It is tough to figure out a lineup without Rollins and Byrd. It is early, but Ben Revere figures to hit first. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard could hit third and fourth, respectively. But if that holds true, who hits second? Grady Sizemore could hit there, but that would give the Phillies four consecutive left-handed hitters. Carlos Ruiz could hit second, but then who hits behind Howard? "It is early, but Freddy [Galvis] is a switch-hitter," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He could be a plus there if playing that type of game. Cesar Hernandez down the road, if he happened to be on the team sometime in the summer time, he could be a candidate. Chooch [Ruiz] has had some success there with his ability to use the whole field and is a right-handed bat. Sizemore, depending on who's hitting leadoff and who's pitching that day. There's some options there. I haven't penciled in any lineups yet obviously, but there's some options." One problem is the Phillies have few right-handed bats other than Ruiz, Darin Ruf, Maikel Franco and Jeff Francoeur, who is a non-roster invitee. So Sandberg has to be careful with where he places them so there isn't a string of left-handers hitting in succession, making life easier for opposing managers in the late innings.

Rollins’ Replacement – Freddy Galvis swears he cannot remember the moment he heard the Phillies traded Jimmy Rollins. It would seem to be a momentous occasion. Because when the Phillies traded Rollins to the Dodgers in December for Minor League pitchers Zach Eflin and Tom Windle, Galvis became the organization's first everyday shortstop other than Rollins since Desi Relaford in 2000. It is a role Rollins held from 2001-14, when he became the greatest shortstop in franchise history and surpassed Mike Schmidt to become the franchise's hits leader. No pressure, Freddy. "Jimmy was Jimmy," Galvis said. "Jimmy was the man here in Philadelphia. But you have to come here and play baseball. I have to do my game. I don't have to do Jimmy's game. I have to do Freddy Galvis' game and play ball." But what kind of game can Galvis bring? He is a fine defensive shortstop, so the pitchers should appreciate him. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg loves his energy and praises his instincts. But a good glove, enthusiasm and instincts cannot help a hitter at the plate. Galvis has hit a combined .218 with a .621 OPS in 550 plate appearances with the Phils from 2012-14. He has hit a combined .253 with a .646 OPS in eight Minor League seasons. Galvis, 25, just hit .250 with 12 doubles, one triple, one home run, 18 RBIs and a .652 OPS in 51 games in Winter Ball in Venezuela. The Phillies probably would take similar production from Galvis in 2015. They might even take the numbers he put up in 2013, when he hit .234 with five doubles, four triples, six home runs, 19 RBIs and a .668 OPS in 222 plate appearances. "It's more a mindset than ability," Sandberg said. "I think you start with a .250 batting average with a guy like Freddy. He's athletic. He knows how to play the game. He knows the game situations. Hand-eye coordination. It's a mentality of getting [his swing] too big. He has to be reminded when he does turn on a ball and pop on a ball and hit a home run to the pull side, it happened because he had a good approach." Galvis is not expected to be the Phils' long-term solution at shortstop. J.P. Crawford not only is the top prospect in the organization, but considers him the 21st best prospect in baseball. Many scouts around baseball believe he could be something special. But Crawford, 20, is at least a year away from making his big league debut. In the meantime, Galvis will have the opportunity to prove he can bring more than his glove and guile to the field. The Phillies hope he can. They are incredibly thin at shortstop behind Galvis. A short-term, in-game replacement could be Cesar Hernandez. If something would happen to Galvis long term -- he has suffered back and collarbone injuries the past three seasons with a PED suspension and staph infection in his left knee thrown in -- non-roster invitees Andres Blanco and Chase d'Arnaud could play there regularly. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said they will evaluate their depth at shortstop throughout camp and could find help elsewhere, if necessary. "I don't think I have to fill anybody's shoes," Galvis said. "I just have to do my game. Jimmy had a different game. He was a speedy guy. Jimmy was good. He was a good player. He was a good guy to me. He was like a father to me. He always taught me how to play the game, how to be ready for the game, so I always listened to him. "I feel ready for the opportunity. I was waiting for it. I didn't know if, at some point, it could come."

Asche At Third – Much has been made this spring about Phillies third baseman Cody Asche working in left field. Versatility defensively could help Asche in the future, especially if Maikel Franco fulfills his promise and the Phillies want him to be the regular at third. But while Asche is getting some work in left, manager Ryne Sandberg said Sunday it is unlikely Asche gets a lot of work there. Sandberg said he wants Asche spending "95, 96 percent of his time on being ready to play third base on Opening Day." Franco is going to get a look this spring, but he is expected to open the season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, so he can continue his development and get at-bats on an everyday basis. Barring something unforeseen, Asche will be the everyday third baseman to start the season. Asche hit .252 with 25 doubles, 10 home runs, 46 RBIs and a .699 OPS last season. The Phillies want to see if he can improve upon that as they build for the future. "He's getting the basic fundamentals in left field," Sandberg said of Asche. "I don't know if somewhere in the spring he gets one game under his belt at the Minor League level. That remains to be seen, but that's a possibility. I want him to be ready to play third base Opening Day."

The Phillies will look to rebound this season from a 73-89 record last year. While uncertainty abounds, there is little question that the franchise is in rebuild mode based on the moves and statements that have been made during the offseason. The only question that remains is whether or not the young and veteran talent on the team can work together to disprove Gillick’s predictions either this year or next.

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