Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Front Office Changed But On Field Stayed The Same

GAME RECAP: Brewers Beat Phillies 7-4

For the Brewers Monday, the sixth inning was just a better version of the first five. After recording at least one hit in each of the first five innings, the Brewers kept swinging in the sixth, starting off the inning with six straight hits, scoring three runs and seizing the lead. Milwaukee never looked back from that point, defeating the Phillies, 7-4. Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun led the Brewers' offense from the two and three holes, combining for seven hits, six of which were singles, three RBIs and two runs scored in Milwaukee's fifth win in seven games. "That's definitely a win for the offense and bullpen, for sure," said Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson, who fell into a 4-1 deficit after two innings before finding a rhythm and pitching through the fifth for the win. Coming just hours after announcing Andy MacPhail as their next team president, the Phillies' loss ensured that for the second time this season, they will win fewer than 10 games in a month. It was the Phillies' fourth loss in five games and the 16th time in June that they allowed double-digit hits in a game.

  • As bad as the three runs allowed in the sixth inning were, strong defensive plays by the Phillies' infield prevented the Brewers from scoring even more runs. With the bases loaded, no one out and the hot-swinging Adam Lind at the plate, relief pitcher Justin De Fratus forced a soft chopper to shortstop Freddy Galvis. Galvis charged on the ball and threw home, getting the out, though the bases remained loaded. De Fratus forced another ground ball in the next at-bat though, this one to Cesar Hernandez who was able to flip to Galvis to start off an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
  • In the bottom of the third inning, Mackanin challenged Carlson's ruling that Domonic Brown was out at home, as he believed Lucroy was blocking the plate. After a one-minute, 15-second review, the ruling on the field was confirmed and Brown, who tried to score from first on a Cody Asche double, was out. The Phillies did not come away with a run in the inning.
  • "I'll tell you right now when you haven't been over there for a while, that job is a lot harder than most people think it is. It looks a lot easier from up above than it does when you're on the field level." -- Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin on how new third-base coach John Mizerock has done since taking over for Mackanin on Friday. Domonic Brown has been thrown out between third and home twice in the four games since the change.
  • Tuesday's game will be the last game of June for both teams. Though it wasn't a month to remember, the Phillies are more likely to want to forget it. With a win Tuesday, the Brewers would break .500 in the month.
  • Outside of the matchup between Hamels and Braun, another interesting matchup will be the one between Hamels and Adam Lind. Lind is on a nine-game hitting streak and is 3-for-8 with a home run lifetime versus Hamels.
  • Taylor Jungmann will start for the Brewers. He is 2-1 with a 2.74 ERA in four starts for the Brewers in June, his first four starts as a big league. Jungmann has primarily relied on the hard stuff in those starts, with 75 percent of his pitches having been fastballs or sinkers, both of which average 92 mph.

One of the hottest batters in the National League will face off against one of the hottest potential trade commodities in baseball Tuesday when Ryan Braun and the Brewers visit Cole Hamels and the Phillies for the second game of a four-game series. Though Braun, who is fifth in the NL in RBIs since the end of April, has cooled off in June compared with his torrid May, the outfielder has four multi-hit games in his past eight, including a 3-for-5 night in Monday's series-opening 7-4 win over the Phillies. Hamels has faced Braun more times than any pitcher who has never pitched in the NL Central. Braun is 10-for-34 lifetime versus the left-hander with three home runs and five RBIs. Coming off his least effective start since early May, Hamels will attempt to regain the form he maintained in his six starts between May 8 and June 3, where he lasted seven or more innings and allowed two or fewer runs each time.


Gillick Officially Announces Replacement – A critical piece to the Phillies' future was brought into the fold Monday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. Phillies ownership partner John Middleton and president Pat Gillick introduced Andy MacPhail at a news conference, during which they revealed that MacPhail will succeed Gillick as club president after the season. In the meantime, he will be a special assistant to Gillick. "I think my three main functions are going to be to read, to watch and listen," MacPhail said. "And hopefully in three months I'll have a clear idea of what's appropriate and needs to be done." Middleton said the club was seeking an experienced executive to take over from Gillick. "We needed someone who had a proven track record of success," Middleton said. "The ideal candidate was someone who had won multiple World Series titles, but equally important, had taken many teams over many years, had successfully built them up and taken them to the postseason. "In addition to the nearly 30 year of success he's enjoyed in Minnesota, Chicago an Baltimore, Andy has done an excellent job of keeping himself current with the changing trends of baseball … Andy is the rare combination of old-school experience and new-age thinking." MacPhail will take control of an organization that is trying to rebuild for postseason contention in a few years. Middleton wouldn't put a precise timeframe on when he expects MacPhail to build a winner. "Even now, we're not going to give him a number and say, 'You need to create a team that fits in to this number,'" Middleton said. "We want him to create the best team for the Phillies to have success in the long run. We're out to find that." MacPhail will play a vital role in the potential trades of veterans Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Aaron Harang and others before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. He might also decide the fate of general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., whose contract is due to expire at the end of the season. Amaro is expected to remain GM for the foreseeable future. Ryne Sandberg resigned as the Phillies' manager on Friday, leaving Pete Mackanin as interim manager. The Phils only have said that Mackanin will serve in that role through their current homestand, which ends Thursday, probably because they did not want to announce anything further until MacPhail's introduction. "There was nothing in any of the conversations that Jim, Pete and I had with Andy over the last four, five, six months that suggested there was any reason Ryne should be looking for the door," Middleton said. "I'm disappointed and there was a part of me that wonders what we did wrong that we couldn't reach out to anybody, that we couldn't sense that Ryne was bothered enough to be thinking that sort of way. I'm saddened by it." MacPhail has experience leading three organizations. He served as the Twins' general manager when Minnesota won the 1987 and '91 World Series. MacPhail was the Cubs' president from 1994-2006, helping them reach the postseason twice. He then spent five seasons as the Orioles' president of baseball operations, making some of the trades that helped Baltimore return to the postseason. MacPhail's father Lee was general manager of the O's and Yankees and was president of the American League from 1974-84. His grandfather Larry was an executive for the Reds, Dodgers and Yankees. Both are in the Hall of Fame. "I think ownership was very diligent in selecting the right person for this job, and I think they did a great job in selecting Andy," Gillick said. "I've known Andy for over 30 years. Andy has a long career in baseball, has a successful career in baseball and he's an information gatherer. And I think that's very important. You can't shut off any area of information. … Any information is crucial to making the proper decision and the right deal."

Significant Changes Already Noticeable – The Phillies launched a new era Monday afternoon when ownership partner John Middleton introduced Andy MacPhail as the team's next president. MacPhail's arrival is a significant change for the organization. Middleton's involvement with the announcement is, too. "I think this is the first time that you've ever gone outside your organization to put somebody in a position like this," MacPhail told Middleton in a nearly 40-minute news conference at Citizens Bank Park. "I am extremely flattered that you considered me. I'm a little bit surprised you hired me because I've been out for a few years, but I'm glad anyway." MacPhail will replace Pat Gillick as president shortly after the end of the 2015 season, which comes Oct. 4. In the meantime, MacPhail will be an adviser. He said he will take the next three-plus months "to read, to watch and to listen. Hopefully within the three months I'll have a clear idea of what I think is appropriate and needs to be done." Plenty needs to be done. The Phillies have the worst record in baseball, despite one of the highest payrolls in the game. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr.'s contract expires at the end of the season. His fate must be decided, as well as the fate of the entire baseball operations staff, which will be evaluated top to bottom. "I don't like the word evaluate," MacPhail said. "I like the word learn. I got three months to learn what I need to learn. I think it's way premature to make personnel decisions. I don't need to have people I know around me. I don't think the record shows that I'm a guy that, four people get let go the minute that I'm in there. But they are case-by-case decisions. Once you get a feel on how your club needs to proceed, then you get a better idea of who you think can execute what you think you have to execute." Gillick replaced longtime president David Montgomery in August as he recovered from jaw bone cancer surgery. Gillick said at the time he would serve as long as ownership needed him, but the reality is Gillick, 77, never intended to be president for long. So Middleton and the organization's other two ownership partners -- Jim and Pete Buck -- began talking to MacPhail in the winter about replacing Gillick. They had reasons to be interested. MacPhail served as the Twins' general manager when Minnesota won the 1987 and '91 World Series. He joined the Cubs as their president and CEO in '94, guiding the Cubs to two postseason appearances in 12 years. MacPhail most recently served as the Orioles' president of baseball operations, making some of the trades that helped resurrect the franchise and get them back to the postseason. "When the three of us went out and started talking to people in Major League Baseball to solicit names, what surprised us was every single person without exception listed Andy MacPhail as No. 1," Middleton said. "There was nobody else who was No. 1 on any person's list. And that was extraordinary." Middleton said MacPhail has done an excellent job of keeping up with the changing trends in MLB, which includes the use of analytics. Middleton repeatedly mentioned the Phillies' need for more analytics in player-personnel evaluations and decisions. "I'm always amazed that more people don't do this, because even if you were a skeptic, you need to understand that stuff just to know how your opponents were thinking," MacPhail said. "It has always been part of everywhere that I've been." This is a critical time for the Phillies. They are rebuilding, and they have several veterans they can trade to speed up that process, with Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon leading the way. MacPhail will advise Gillick and Amaro about potential trades before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but Gillick has final say until October. "When it ultimately comes to it, I'm going to make the call," Gillick said. "It's really critical that Andy participates in these decisions, whether or not he's actually making them," Middleton said. "He needs to see the dynamics between people, listen to the way they talk and how they interact with each other. He needs to ask questions. And that's why I said about using the next three months to learn the organization. That's what I said about listening and observing. I think it's critical that he's part of those conversations. "That's why we made the decision now. We wanted to make it as soon as we possibly could make it, because we wanted to get Andy involved in the organization as soon as possible and with the most amount of time so he could possibly learn before it was turned over to him." Middleton's presence at the news conference was meaningful. He and the team's other ownership partners have avoided the spotlight in the past. "I think when you make a decision of that magnitude, I think the ownership group has to come forward and understand that they are the ones making the decision," Middleton said. "We own this decision. … The ownership group has shrunk. The Bucks and my family have an increasingly larger position. And with that comes a bigger level of responsibility than it was 20 years ago, and with that, you have to step up. "Andy is going to have complete decision-making authority, just as Pat has and David had and Bill [Giles] had before David. You don't want us making baseball decisions, trust us. But we're going to be asking questions of the people who are involved in that process of getting information, sifting through it and making the decision. We need to be comfortable that they are crossing their T's and dotting the I's. And that's not going to change."

A Half Season To Prepare – The Phillies formally introduced Andy MacPhail, who has had success as an executive with three franchises, as their next club president Monday. At first glance, it looked like a safe, conservative decision. A tee shot down the middle rather than trying for the green with a more risky drive over a water hazard. A second glance, to MacPhail's immediate right on the dais at Citizens Bank Park, disproved that assumption. There sat John Middleton, a member of the ownership group. That's a big deal. It was the first outward and visible sign that the way the Phillies now conduct their business has changed significantly. And it's not just that Middleton revealed that the Phils will jump headfirst into advanced analytics for the first time when their own proprietary computer program -- to be called PHIL -- comes on line in September. For the last 34 years, the Phillies' partnership agreement gave new meaning to the concept of silent partners. The team president, first Bill Giles and later Dave Montgomery, had the final say on all decisions and spoke for the group. The investors remained unseen and unheard, and that's just the way it was. No more. Middleton said he believes it's important that the president represent the organization for baseball-related issues after Pat Gillick steps aside and MacPhail ascends at the end of the regular season. But the 60-year-old billionaire also made it perfectly clear that he isn't going to be content to passively sit in the shadows and root, root, root for the home team. "I foresee it being more of a public role when it deals with more significant ownership-level kinds of decisions," Middleton said. Middleton owns just under half of the Phillies' stock, as do cousins Pete and Jim Buck. He certainly can't be faulted for wanting to have a more active role in looking after his investment. Middleton has been exerting more influence for a while now, attending the quarterly Owners Meetings, for example. Now that involvement is out in the open. Monday's unveiling of MacPhail was his coming-out party as well. This isn't to say that the Phils didn't want to win before. The fact that they've had one of the highest payrolls in baseball for years demonstrates that. Still, the emphasis being placed on success has never been stated quite this bluntly and specifically. "When we were interviewing Andy, we made it clear to him that we expected him to devote the majority of his time to the baseball side of the business," Middleton said early in his preamble. "To improve the farm system and ultimately the Major League team. Every other consideration was secondary to that goal." Turning to MacPhail: "The pledge Jim, Pete and I made to you when we extended the offer is that you will have access to whatever resources you need to succeed." During the question-and-answer portion of the news conference, Middleton was asked directly if his presence signaled a change in approach from ownership. "I think the single most important thing an ownership group does is hire the person in charge of the business," he said. "And I think when you made a decision of that magnitude, the ownership group has to come forward and make sure that people understand that they are the ones who made the decision. Jim, Pete and I had the conversations. Jim, Pete and I had the deliberations privately. Jim, Pete and I reached out to different people. "This is not a decision that we delegated, much less abdicated. We own this decision. That's an important part of the accountability that we think we had." Middleton went on to dispute any notion that his goal is to gain a majority ownership stake in the team. "I'm very happy where I am now," he said. Where Middleton is now is front and center, although he joked that he hopes he doesn't have to appear about hiring a new president any time soon. But he conceded that there's been a significant change in the way the Phillies do business, partly because many of the original owners have sold their shares. "There's been an evolution within the franchise over the last several years," Middleton said. "As the ownership group has shrunk, the Bucks and my family have had an increasingly larger position. And with that comes a responsibility that's a little different from what it was 25 years ago, and you have to kind of step up. "Pete, Jim and I have been much more involved with the issues at an earlier stage than we were five years ago, for example. And that's not going to change. We're going to be there asking questions. You don't want us making baseball decisions, trust me. But I think we need to be asking hard questions of the people who are involved in that process. We need to be comfortable that they're crossing all their T's and dotting all their I's." And, if need be, nudging the organization along. It's not just a coincidence that there will be more of an emphasis on sabermetric analysis in the future. Middleton shook his head when asked if he was surprised at how the Phils have lagged in that area. "No, because I was aware enough with what was going on in previous years to kind of know where we are," he said. And why has that changed? "Because I'm in the position to make a hiring decision and make that happen," Middleton said without hesitation. Make no mistake. Hiring MacPhail is hugely significant with possible longlasting repercussions. But it only begins to suggest the way the Phillies are now a different operation than they've been.

Old And New School – Like an eager high school student, Andy MacPhail, hired Monday to become the new Phillies president at the end of the season, was prepared for the pop math quiz his new bosses surprised him with. Unlike a high school math quiz though, the questions Phillies owners Jim Buck, Pete Buck and John Middleton asked MacPhail weren't about algebra or trigonometry. They were about new-age baseball thinking and the emphasis MacPhail would put on sabermetrics upon becoming president. MacPhail's answers impressed Middleton. "Andy is a rare combination of both old-school experience and new-age thinking," Middleton said. "Old school because he has been doing this for a very long time. … New-age thinking because in the five years he spent as president of baseball operation for the Orioles, Andy greatly expanded the use of sabermetrics and statistical analysis in player evaluations." To MacPhail, that expansion of sabermetric ideology in Baltimore was a culmination of what he had done in his previous stops. MacPhail said he made use of analytics as the general manager of the Twins in the 1980s and '90s, well before the "Moneyball" era in Major League Baseball. In order to help MacPhail in immersing the Phillies deeper into the analytics movement, Middleton said that the Phils are launching and developing their own sabermetric system, custom made for their needs. Middleton expects this system -- to be called PHIL -- to go live in September. Despite his history in dealing with statistical analysis and predictive algorithms, MacPhail said he doesn't necessarily understand the math that goes into these formulas but rather tries to surround himself with both people who do understand them and people who are skeptical of them. "The more experience you have with it and the more you get a better sense of which formulas really are predictors of performance and which ones aren't, it's something that knowledge accrues over time," MacPhail said. "But I think it's absolutely essential that you marry that with the best human intelligence you can. Bodies change. Weaknesses get exposed and they get exploited. People make adjustments. So you need to look at every single facet that is possible when you're making player evaluations." This attitude out of MacPhail is slightly different than what the organization has been accustomed to from its front office. General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has admitted that the Phillies were latecomers to the analytics era, but he maintains that they were only late because conventional wisdom was working for the team. "One thing that we do have to remember also is that we have a lot of success and put together maybe some of the best baseball teams we've ever put together without necessarily having a proprietary system," Amaro said. "That doesn't mean we didn't utilize some of the analytics that were available to us. But at the same time, we did have success without that proprietary system." It's there where MacPhail's marriage of metrics and scouting will come into play. Both the Phils of recent memory and some of MacPhail's past stops proved that teams can be successful without a large-scale emphasis on sabermetrics. But in the same way, MacPhail mentioned the reclamation processes the Royals, Rays and Pirates have undergone as an example of how new-age thinking works, too. So to MacPhail, the two approaches need to be considered equally. "When it comes to that sort of thing, I believe you look at everything," he said. "Absolutely everything. Why would you exclude any information? You're going to try to do every piece of homework you can to push the odds of being successful in your favor." Middleton agreed. "You have to be comfortable at looking at anything you can possibly look at to get some sort of edge competitively to make a better decision," he said. "So it's just inconceivable to me that you'd hire somebody who just shut out a big chunk of valuable information. I wouldn't do it."

Time To Evaluate – Phillies ownership partner John Middleton said Monday that Andy MacPhail will have every resource at his disposal to rebuild the Phils. That includes money. "The mandate is to win," Middleton said at Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies introduced MacPhail as the next team president. "We're telling Andy and his team that you need to tell us what you need to win. We're not going to hand him a budget and tell him, 'You get to spend 'X' dollars next year.' We're going to tell him and say, 'You tell us what you can do for this team in order to win.' We want him to create the best team for the Phillies for it to have success in the long run. And we're out to fund that." But MacPhail will need good people around him, too. So he plans to spend the next three-plus months evaluating the entire baseball operations department. That includes general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., whose contract expires at the end of the season, as well as finding the next on-field manager. Pete Mackanin is the interim manager through the homestand, which ends Thursday. "As you go through the three months, you're going to learn a lot about the system," MacPhail said. "And you're going to try to discern, eventually in three months when this highly-paid-in-charge-of-nothing-gig runs out, you're going to have to discern the best way to move forward. And what is the quickest most efficient way to get there? And whatever decisions follow as a result of that, they follow." Multiple sources mentioned Angels assistant general manager Matt Klentak, 34, as somebody MacPhail might be interested in as general manager. MacPhail hired Klentak in March 2008, when he was with the Orioles, making him one of the youngest executives in baseball. MacPhail said Monday he has no list of candidates for any potential openings. But openings are expected. Ryne Sandberg created one Friday when he resigned as manager. He said he saw changes coming to the organization and essentially figured he would not be part of the future. Amaro said he does not feel the same way. "Listen, I believe in being a Philadelphia Phillie for my life," Amaro said. "My goal is to work with Andy and Pat and to get our organization back to the level it's been. "I can't worry about what decisions Andy or Pat are going to be making as far as my personal status is concerned. My goal is to try to get us back to where we need to be. And as far as my status is concerned, I just need to go out and do my job. We've made some decisions that have worked and some that haven't. This is a cyclical game and I understand that. At the same time, I think we're on a very good path right now and I'm hopeful that I'm part of getting us back to where we need to be." Gillick said Mackanin's status will be announced following this week's homestand. "We're not going to make the decision on a manager for 2016 now," Gillick said. "It will be an interim position, whoever it is. After I leave, Andy or whoever the general manager is, they're going to make the decision who the manager is for 2016. That's the decision that lies with them. We don't want to hire a permanent manager right now, because I think that wouldn't be the right thing to do. That will be Andy and whoever the GM that would be their decision."

More Changes Ahead – On a day the Phillies hired Andy MacPhail as the next team president, signifying the beginning of a new era, it was somewhat easy to forget about the team of the present. But as interim manager Pete Mackanin said after Monday's 7-4 loss to Milwaukee, losing years are sometimes the best years to evaluate talent. "We want to get [young players] in there as much as possible," Mackanin said. "I think this is a good year to find out about guys." With that quote, Mackanin was referring to the would-be offensive core of the Phillies of the future; players like Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco, Darin Ruf and Odubel Herrera. But the sentiment also stands for the inverse. This year has also afforded the Phillies the possibility to evaluate pitching talent, both young and old, and see who can perform to varying degrees of success. One such player has been Sean O'Sullivan. The 27-year-old in his sixth season in the bigs allowed a season high in hits Monday with 12, giving up six runs in five innings and getting his sixth loss of the year. His ERA jumped to 5.76 after the outing, now the highest of any pitcher on the Phillies' active roster. To O'Sullivan, his lack of success Monday night stemmed from his inability to capitalize on favorable situations. "I think I was ahead of guys all night," O'Sullivan said. "The problem was putting them away when I was ahead in the count. I think in the first, third, fifth [innings] it was get a couple of guys on, minimize the damage. But offense hands you a four-run lead you can't get lit up. Tonight's really on me." Mackanin said he had to be careful with O'Sullivan's innings knowing that the bullpen was not at full strength after pitching 7 1/3 innings of Sunday's doubleheader. This led Mackanin to have to be "a little creative" the third time through the lineup. As creative as Mackanin was, six of the nine players in the Brewers' lineup reached base the third time through the lineup, with five hits. With Chad Billingsley returning from the disabled list Thursday to start the final game of this four-game series vs. the Brewers, the Phillies are about to have one too many arms in the rotation. Based on whose spot in the rotation Billingsley is filling, it would appear that Adam Morgan is the odd arm out. But based off of Morgan's performance in his one full start two Sundays ago, he might factor in as another one of the young cogs Mackanin wants to keep around, and one of the more veteran pitchers might be the man sent down to the Minors or designated for assignment. This uncertainty in the back end of the rotation extends even to Mackanin, who said he isn't sure who will remain on the roster and who, if anyone, will be sent down. "I have to talk to [general manager] Ruben [Amaro] and [pitching coach Bob McClure] with the situation in the bullpen," Mackanin said. "We're going to discuss it. I'm not sure what the move is going to be right now. As we know we'll let you know."

Final All Star Push – With his stellar June, Maikel Franco is making a legitimate case to be the Phillies' representative at the 2015 MLB All-Star Game. But he'll need some help from the fans by using the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET. Entering Monday's series opener with the Phillies, Franco was batting .374 in June with an OPS of 1.112 in 99 at-bats. Those marks have improved his batting average on the season to .304 and his eight June home runs pushed his total into double digits with 10, second on the team to Ryan Howard despite almost 100 fewer at-bats. Franco is also second on the team in RBIs and tied for third in runs scored. If Franco is elected to the All-Star team, it would make him the first rookie third baseman to represent the National League as an All-Star since Albert Pujols in 2001. Among Phillies pitching candidates, Jonathan Papelbon stands out. Papelbon has a 1.82 ERA in 29 appearances and is 14-for-14 in save situations. The three runs he's allowed in June are the most runs he's allowed in any month this year. Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on their computers, tablets and smartphones -- using the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET. For the first time, voting is exclusively online, where fans may submit up to 35 ballots. Fans may also receive the ballot by texting VOTE to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada). Or text VOTA for a ballot in Spanish. Message and data rates may apply. Up to five messages. No purchase required. Reply STOP to cancel. Reply HELP for info. The 2015 All-Star starters will be unveiled on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET on the Esurance All-Star Starters Selection Show on ESPN. Then on Monday at 7 p.m. ET, the All-Star reserves, pitchers and Final Vote candidates will be announced on the Esurance All-Star Selection Show on ESPN, immediately after which fans can return to MLB.com to begin casting their 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Votes for the final player for each league's All-Star roster. Final Vote ends Friday, July 10, at 4 p.m. ET. On Tuesday, July 14, watch the 2015 All-Star Game live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2015 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of All-Star Week festivities. The 86th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 27-51. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and performance so far this season, this could end up being the worst team in franchise history! All time, the Phillies are 43-67-1 on this day.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Shockingly Phillies Split Double Header

GAME RECAP (Game 1): Nats Edge Phils 3-2

Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg looked like his old self on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. He allowed four hits, two runs, one walk and struck out nine over seven innings in a 3-2 victory over the Phillies in Game 1 of a doubleheader. Strasburg is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts since returning from the disabled list because of neck and back issues. He has allowed eight hits, two runs, two walks and struck out 15 over 12 innings in those starts. "He pitched great. No restrictions up to 110 pitches. Good fastball, even in the last inning. Made a good pitch to get out of it," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "It's nice that he's healthy. That's nice that he's going out there and had no issues. When he doesn't, that could be the result." Phillies right fielder Jeff Francoeur hit a solo homer and had an RBI single to account for Philadelphia's two runs, as Kevin Correia allowed three runs (one earned) over 5 1/3 innings. "Strasburg pitched about as well as I've seen him pitch in a couple years," said Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin. "He used his breaking stuff and threw it for strikes, and he still had his good velocity. He pitched better than we've seen him in the past -- especially this year."

GAME RECAP (Game 2): Phils Stun Nats 8-5

The Phillies used Game 2 of Sunday's doubleheader against the Nationals to salvage a long day and a long weekend. Philadelphia picked up 12 hits and scored eight runs in just 3 1/3 innings against Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark in the 8-5 victory at Citizens Bank Park to avoid a sweep. Eleven of those hits against Roark, who started after Saturday's game got cancelled because of rain, were singles. The Phillies tallied 16 hits overall, and just one went for extra bases. "We had a nice ending to a long day," said Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin, who won his first game since replacing Ryne Sandberg. "We started with a [coaches] clinic this morning at 9:30, then had the doubleheader. None of them are easy to win, but that one was nice to win. It's good to get a win under our belt." The Nationals picked away at the Phillies' lead with home runs from Ian Desmond and Jose Lobaton, but it was not enough to overcome the early deficit.

  • Phillies left-hander Jake Diekman replaced Jeanmar Gomez with two on and two out in the sixth, but he walked Span on four pitches to load the bases. His first pitch to Espinosa -- a slider -- sailed high and wide away from Cameron Rupp. The play, officially ruled a passed ball, allowed Dan Uggla to score to hand the Nats a 3-1 lead.
  • Francoeur hit a solo home run to left field in the second inning to hand the Phillies a 1-0 lead. He also singled to score a run in the sixth. But he twice mishandled a ball Span hit to the right-field wall in the fifth, which allowed the Nationals to tie the game. Francoeur first bobbled the ball trying to pick it up. He then threw the ball about three feet in front of him, which allowed Span to reach third. Span scored on Espinosa's sacrifice fly.
  • In the ninth inning, Ian Desmond hit into a force play, but the Nationals claimed that Uggla was safe at second base. After three minutes and three seconds, the play stood and the Nationals lost their challenge.
  • The top of the Phillies' lineup had a nice evening. Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez hit first and second, respectively. Herrera had three hits and Hernandez had four. Maikel Franco hit third, and he picked up two hits and three RBIs. Domonic Brown, who hit fourth, added two hits and drove in a run.
  • Phillies right-hander Severino Gonzalez, who got the start because of Saturday's rainout, had been unable to pitch more than five innings in his first five big league starts. He picked up an out in the sixth for a career high, but he could not finish the inning. The Phillies are hoping to see more from Gonzalez, who is the No. 14 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com. "He's got the potential to be a starter at this level," Mackanin said. "He's not an ace. I don't think he's a top-of-the-order starter, but he's definitely capable of pitching at this level."
  • "Brown doesn't have numbers for me to justify playing him against a righty or a lefty." -- Mackanin, on why Francoeur started against Strasburg and not Domonic Brown, who hits left-handed.
  • "It will be addressed. We're going to talk about it, but I don't want to beat them up." -- Mackanin, asked if he had talked to his players about the team's sloppy play on defense in both games.
  • Tommy Joseph, whom the Phillies acquired in July 2012 from the Giants in the Hunter Pence trade, is changing positions. He will move from catcher to first base following numerous concussions.
  • Ryne Sandberg unexpectedly resigned as Phillies manager on Friday, and Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Pete Mackanin would be the team's interim manager at least through the weekend. Mackanin is expected to continue that role for this week's series against the Brewers. The managerial position should become more concrete once the Phillies announce Andy MacPhail has joined the organization, which is expected to happen this week.
  • Nelson has been a model of inconsistency, which is perhaps to be expected in his first full Major League season. After setting career highs for hits allowed in consecutive starts against the Nationals and Royals, he held the Mets to one run on two hits in eight stellar innings at Miller Park on Wednesday.
  • Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, still seeking a hot streak after returning from a fractured big toe, is a career .462 hitter in 43 plate appearances at Citizens Bank Park. He has four doubles, a triple, four home runs, 10 RBIs and a 1.435 OPS there.

The teams with Major League Baseball's two poorest records will meet for a four-game series beginning Monday, when Jimmy Nelson leads the Brewers into Citizens Bank Park against Sean O'Sullivan and the Phillies. It's the first time all season that the Brewers will play a team with a lower winning percentage, but manager Craig Counsell insisted he hasn't had trouble keeping his team motivated. "That's not hard," Counsell said. "There's a challenge every night in front of a Major League Baseball player. The challenge is to perform every single night, no matter what the record is, and I think we've done a good job of responding to that challenge. That's the challenge that these guys live for. "So no matter what's going on, to have an opportunity to compete and get that challenge every day, that fire doesn't go out for guys. They've done a good job with that."


Two Headed Frenchie – Jeff Francoeur provided most of the Phillies' entertainment in Game 1 of Sunday's doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park. Francoeur hit a solo home run to left field against Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg in the second inning and singled to score a run in the sixth inning in a 3-2 loss. They were two of the four hits Strasburg allowed in seven innings. "You've got to like that," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said about Francoeur's offensive performance. But then Francoeur twice mishandled a ball in right field in the fifth inning, which set up the Nationals' game-tying run. Denard Span hit a one-out double to the wall, and Francoeur bobbled and dropped the ball when he reached it. He then threw the ball about three feet in front of him -- the ball slipped out of his hands -- which allowed Span to reach third. Span scored on Danny Espinosa's sacrifice fly to tie the game. "The error, the dropped ball in right field -- twice -- didn't help," Mackanin said. Mackanin chose to start Francoeur over Domonic Brown against Strasburg. Brown started Game 2 against Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark. Francoeur entered Sunday hitting .253 with nine doubles, one triple, four home runs and 21 RBIs and a .689 OPS in 57 games. Brown had hit .179 with three doubles, three RBIs and a .561 OPS in 11 games. Why not play the platoon in both games, starting Brown twice? "Brown doesn't have numbers for me to justify to playing him against a righty or a lefty," Mackanin said. "Francoeur has been a pretty good player for us. He split up the righties and lefties for us. Once again, with a doubleheader I wanted to get everybody in the games. It worked out pretty good, or so it seemed."

A Costly Inning – Managing two games at once isn't easy for anyone, especially not someone who's only been managing his team for three days. But with starter Kevin Correia on the mound in the sixth inning, that is what Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin found himself doing in the Phillies' eventual 3-2 loss to the Nationals on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park in Game 1 of a doubleheader. "Basically, it had to be stingy," Mackanin said. "We had a doubleheader. You've got to try to win the game, as well as be careful for the next one." This idea of double managing came into play in the sixth inning. Correia began the inning by walking Clint Robinson and giving up a single to Dan Uggla before forcing Ian Desmond to fly out to center field for the first out. The next batter, Michael Taylor, doubled to left field, plating Robinson and moving Uggla to third. Mackanin had seen enough of Correia and decided to bring in right-handed reliever Jeanmar Gomez to face Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who hasn't reached base since last Sept. 15. Strasburg didn't change that trend, grounding out to Cesar Hernandez for the second out -- not even hitting it hard enough to score Uggla from third. The decision to have Gomez pitch to Strasburg, according to Mackanin, was actually a delayed reaction. Mackanin said he wanted to throw Gomez against Taylor, but was afraid of using Gomez too much in the first game, leaving him unavailable for the second. Since Gomez did get the out, Correia said he was OK with Mackanin's decision to pull him. "[I think I could've gotten the out], but it's just the situation right now where obviously we know it's a close game -- so obviously I'm not going to argue with any of the management decisions," Correia said. "We're obviously trying to feel a lot of different things out, right now. At this point in my career, I just want to win the game." After that, Gomez's day was over -- as Mackanin called for left-hander Jake Diekman to face left-hander Denard Span. The problem was, Diekman didn't fare particularly well. He walked Span on four pitches and then allowed Uggla to score on an errant pitch that deflected off catcher Cameron Rupp's glove that was ruled a passed ball. But it was quite a bit out of the strike zone. That run ended up being the difference in the game. Mackanin said Diekman came into the game in that situation because he doesn't have the confidence in him to pitch him later in the game. Despite Diekman's less-than-stellar performance, Mackanin said the more disconcerting part of the game was the defense behind the pitcher. The Phillies made two errors, plus that passed ball that allowed the run to score. As "disappointed" as Mackanin said he was, Correia's reasoning for being dismayed by the errors proved more valuable. Correia pointed out that allowing extra baserunners provides the top of the order with more plate appearances, and the Nationals took full advantage of the situation. "I think it's more innings later where you're facing guys for the second, third time that you might not have been later in the game," Correia said. "It's huge for me, because they're going to see more of what you're featuring the third time around."

Showing Some Progress – The 2015 season is nearly halfway complete, which means the Phillies should be getting good reads on the players they have in their system. Severino Gonzalez is one of them. The Phillies named the right-hander their Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2013, and MLBPipeline.com ranks him as the No. 14 prospect in the organization. He picked up the win in Sunday evening's 8-5 victory over the Nationals in Game 2 of a doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park, but the Phillies need to see more from him if he expects to be part of their future. "A lot of pitchers develop later in their 20s," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's in that process. I like the way he attacks the zone. I like the way he pitches quickly. For the most part, he throws strikes. He needs to work on his breaking ball more, and keep the ball down in the zone. "He's got the potential to be a starter at this level. He's not an ace. I don't think he's a top-of-the-order starter, but he's definitely capable of pitching at this level." Gonzalez, 22, allowed six hits, four runs, one walk and two home runs, and he struck out seven in 5 1/3 innings against the Nationals. It was the longest outing of his six-start career. Gonzalez (3-2, 8.28 ERA) had pitched five or more innings in just three of his six starts, which is something that must improve. A big reason why he has not seen the sixth inning is that opponents have hit .500 (30-for-60) against him after they see him for the first time in a game. They have just a .222 average (10-for-45) the first time through the lineup. "Unless you're a dominant power pitcher with great stuff, once the hitters see you, they start looking for certain pitches," Mackanin said. "They know what you can do and what you can't do. Seve is not a power pitcher, obviously. He's not a finesse pitcher. He's somewhere in the middle. He's got enough to be a good pitcher, but once again at this level, you've got to be pretty good. You've got to have command of your pitches." "I've been focusing on that down in Triple-A," Gonzalez said through translator Juan Samuel, when asked about his inability to pitch deep into games. "One thing I've started doing is playing long toss a little bit more to get more strength and stamina on the mound. I've been working on that. I'm aware of it. "I've learned I need to keep the ball down. The times I've been hurt, pitches have been up. So I need to concentrate more on pitching down and getting a good downward angle on my pitches." Gonzalez, who also picked up his first Major League hit and RBI, allowed four consecutive hits in the fourth inning to cut the Phillies lead to 4-3. He then allowed a home run with one out in the sixth inning to Jose Lobaton to cut the lead to 8-4. Mackanin pulled him after that. Gonzalez, who got the start because of Saturday's rainout, was optioned to Triple-A afterward. "It's a learning experience for him," Mackanin said. "He's got guts. He's not afraid."

Not A Power Offense – In the past week, the Phillies have juggled with the delicate balance between surviving and thriving. They survived a manager stepping down. They survived their ace, Cole Hamels, getting hit hard by the Yankees. They survived five innings without putting a runner on base against a pitcher coming off a no-hitter. But in other moments, some in their 8-5 victory over the Nats on Sunday, the Phillies thrived. Four times in the last seven games, the offense has posted eight or more runs, a feat it had achieved just once in the nearly three full months prior. To interim manager Pete Mackanin, this week's offensive output showed that continued survival can eventually break through to success. "I think these guys are trying to survive, and they're just trying to put to use what they talk about and what they work on in the batting cage," Mackanin said. "They're learning as they play, and unfortunately this is a tough level to learn at. But this is the only place to learn how you play Major League baseball. We've got work to do, but it's nice to see a lot of these guys doing what they could today." The Phillies finished Game 2 of Sunday's doubleheader with 15 singles and one extra-base hit, an Andres Blanco double in the second inning. Most of those singles were clustered in the second and fourth innings, where 12 hits brought in all eight of the team's runs. Cesar Hernandez stood out with a 4-for-4 showing, in which he stole a base and scored a run. Counting his performance in the first game of the doubleheader, Hernandez was 6-for-8 Sunday, all six of his hits singles, with three stolen bases. Mackanin said Hernandez, who has 13 hits in his last seven games and was one of two Phillies to start and complete both of Sunday's games, is streaking because of his increased exposure. "One of our concerns in Spring Training was it would behoove him to play and we'd like to see him play a lot but as a part time player, I don't think at this stage of his career he's really ready to be a part-time player," Mackanin said. "But he certainly looks like he's got a chance to be an everyday player. He's learning and gaining confidence." In those second and fourth innings, the Phillies twice strung together four singles in a row. In both situations, the first two men to single scored because of the singles that came after them. Maikel Franco and Domonic Brown were involved in both occasions, driving in the runs in the second inning and scoring the runs in the fourth.

TJ To 1B And Other Minor Updates – It seemed inevitable that Tommy Joseph would need to change positions to continue his baseball career. The change became official this week. The Phillies are moving Joseph from catcher to first base, following a string of concussions he sustained behind the plate since they acquired him in July 2012, when they traded Hunter Pence to the Giants. Joseph suffered his latest concussion this season, but he has also battled vision deficiencies, which could have been a result of the concussions. "He's been going through a lot of vision therapy," Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan said on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. "They said that what they've accomplished on that is encouraging." Joseph, 23, will work out at first base through the remainder of Triple-A Lehigh Valley's homestand, which runs through Friday. He will continue that work with Double-A Reading, before eventually heading to Clearwater, Fla. "He's positive, he's excited -- and I am, too," Jordan said. "He had to have the burden of, 'When is this going to happen again?' I've seen him play first base. He's just ready to get going." Other Minor League matters: Aaron Nola: Nola is 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his first two starts with Lehigh Valley. He threw five scoreless innings in his IronPigs debut on June 18, but he required 95 pitches to do it. Buffalo's hitters extended his pitch count by consistently fouling off pitches. Jordan sat behind the plate with Nola three days later, when Nola was charting pitches. Nola called his first Triple-A start a great learning experience. He applied that information to Wednesday's start, also against Buffalo. He allowed six hits, three runs, one walk and struck out seven in 7 2/3 innings. He needed just 96 pitches this time. "That's the thing about him," Jordan said. "Just a great feel. That was impressive. To see him apply it against the same lineup was impressive." Kelly Dugan: Dugan, like Joseph, is another oft-injured prospect in the system. But he is back playing with Reading, and playing well. Dugan, who had been sidelined most of the season with a foot injury, has hit .362 with four doubles, five RBIs and an .851 OPS in 12 games with Reading. "All he's done is perform and put up numbers since I've been here, when he's been healthy," Jordan said. "Kelly looks good. His timing isn't quite there, but he can hit. He's been good." Cornelius Randolph: The team's No. 1 pick in this year's Draft is adjusting well to left field. Minor League outfield coordinator Andy Abad told Jordan recently that Randolph, who was drafted as a shortstop, is going to be a good outfielder. "He's athletic enough, but we're just starting that process," Jordan said. Malquin Canelo: The Phillies just promoted the 20-year-old shortstop from Class A Lakewood to Clearwater. He hit .311 with 22 doubles, two triples, five home runs, 23 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 21 walks and 39 strikeouts in 287 plate appearances with Lakewood. He homered in his first game last week with Clearwater. "There's more than one shortstop here," said Jordan, referring to the highly-touted J.P. Crawford, who is in Reading. Canelo, whom the organization signed as an amateur free agent in April 2012, is a plus defender who has started to hit. "He's an [Adeiny] Hechavarria kind of guy," Jordan said. "He's a good player. Nobody ever talks about him, but people will start talking about him very soon."

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 27-50. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and performance so far this season, this could end up being the worst team in franchise history! All time, the Phillies are 57-56-0 on this day.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

It Would Have Been A Nice Game By Revere

GAME RECAP: Phillies Game Postponed

Adam Morgan said his goal as a pitcher is to go out and finish a game he started. Saturday, he technically did that. Morgan's start Saturday vs. the Nationals was cut short, as the contest was postponed due to rain after an inning and a half. Saturday's game has been rescheduled as a doubleheader Sunday. The first game is scheduled to begin at 1:05 p.m. ET, and the second game will begin shortly after the conclusion of the first. Kevin Correia will start the first game as scheduled for the Phillies. Severino Gonzalez will be called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to start the second game as the bonus 26th-man the Phillies are allowed to carry in the event of a true doubleheader. For the visiting Nationals, Stephen Strasburg will make his scheduled start in the first game, and the starter of the second game has yet to be announced. Morgan, who allowed three hits in two innings, said after the game that he was "disappointed" that he didn't get the chance to throw deeper into the game. Interim manager Pete Mackanin said he felt the same way. "It's a shame, because we feel good about him and we lost him," Mackanin said. "We've seen this happen before and it's something that you can't get around. Unfortunately for us, we lost him, but hopefully we can put together a couple of good games tomorrow." The rain delay lasted 1 hour, 27 minutes before the game was postponed. Morgan said he thinks he could have returned to the game had it not been called, but he was unsure whether or not he would've been put back in. Fans who bought tickets to Saturday's game may exchange those for tickets to any remaining Phillies home game in 2015, including Sunday's doubleheader.

  • Kevin Correia will make his fourth start with the Phillies on Sunday. He is 0-1 with a 4.30 ERA. Each of his successive starts have lasted fewer innings and come with more earned runs, culminating in his most recent start on June 22 when he allowed five runs on eight hits over four innings. The only Nationals player with whom Correia has a long history is Dan Uggla, who is 6-for-19 lifetime vs. the right-hander.
  • Correia has struggled against left-handed batters this season. Lefties are batting .351 with an OPS of 1.066, and they have driven in 10 of the 11 runs he's allowed.
  • Any issues Correia has had with lefties look miniscule compared to Gonzalez's. In five outings in 2015, left-handers have batted .528 with an OPS of 1.276 over 43 plate appearances, which is particularly alarming as he has only allowed one home run to those batters.
  • Denard Span, Bryce Harper and Yunel Escobar were all out of the starting lineup Saturday with various injuries. Span and Harper were labeled by manager Matt Williams as "day to day," and Escobar rested with swelling in his hand after getting hit by a pitch on Friday. It has yet to be made clear whether an MRI will be necessary.

On Sunday at Citizens Bank Park, an entire weekend's worth of baseball will be wrapped into one afternoon. The Phillies and Nationals will play an old-fashioned back-to-back doubleheader Sunday, with the first game scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET to make up for Saturday's game, which was postponed due to rain. Kevin Correia will start for the Phillies and Stephen Strasburg will counter for the Nationals. Severino Gonzalez will return from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to start for the Phillies as the 26th man on the roster, which is allowed in the case of a doubleheader. The Nationals have not yet announced who will start the second game. Strasburg, who is 4-5 with a 5.90 ERA in 2015, is 5-2 lifetime vs. the Phillies with an ERA of 2.48 and a WHIP of 0.94. In the 80 innings he's thrown against Philadelphia in his career, he has struck out 92 batters. Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Carlos Ruiz, Domonic Brown and Cody Asche -- the active Phillies with 10 or more plate appearances vs. Strasburg -- are a combined 23-for-92 with 23 strikeouts and nine extra-base hits.


Too Bad It Doesn’t Count – Phillies center fielder Ben Revere got a hit, stole a base and made one heck of a catch in the first two innings of Saturday afternoon's game against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Too bad none of it counted. "You end up the year at .320 or 49 stolen bases or 199 hits, and you get one taken away from you," Revere said after the game was postponed because of rain. "If that happens, I'm going to be ticked." The game has been rescheduled as part of a single-admission doubleheader beginning Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Revere caught a ball at the wall in the top of the second inning, a few feet to the left of the 409-foot sign in center field. According to Statcast™, Adam Morgan's pitch left Nationals first baseman Tyler Moore's bat at 102 mph and traveled 402 feet to center field. Revere took his first step in 0.54 seconds and covered 87.96 feet, hitting a top speed of 17.63 mph to make the jumping catch at the wall. "Those are the toughest ones to really predict," Revere said. "It's hit and it kind of takes off. You don't know if it'll hit off the concrete wall and shoot off. A double could possibly turn into a triple or something. I tried to jump as high as I could to catch it. Luckily, it found a way into my glove." Revere is batting .294 (85-for-289) with 11 doubles, six triples, one home run, 19 RBIs, 18 stolen bases and a career-best .715 OPS this season. His 85 hits are tied for 11th in baseball, and his 34 hits in June are tied with teammate Maikel Franco for the second most in the Majors. Revere will have to keep up his recent burst to approach 200 hits. He is on pace for 183.

Just The Most Recent Surprise – The news that Ryne Sandberg had abruptly stepped down as manager of the Phillies on Friday hit the organization with the same sort of force as the fierce storm that lashed the region three days earlier. It knocked down speculation, uprooted assumptions and left a trail of disarray in its wake. It was not, however, the first time the franchise has been stunned by an unexpected departure. In fact, surprises of a similar magnitude occurred on at least three previous occasions. May 29, 1989: Mike Schmidt announces his retirement on Memorial Day weekend. A day earlier, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, the future Hall of Fame third baseman had gone hitless in three at bats. He was 39 years old and batting .203 for a team that was destined to finish last. He'd been thinking about quitting for almost a week, since hurting his back while jogging on the warning track. But nobody saw it coming. "Mentally, I had sort of been thinking about it," Schmidt recalled years later. "'Might this be the end? What other sign do I need?' I was looking for a jumping-off point." The omen came right on cue. In the bottom of the fourth, with two outs and two on, the 10-time Gold Glove Award winner let a routine grounder go between his legs. Will Clark followed with a grand slam. After the game, Schmidt called his wife and his agent. He told manager Nick Leyva what he planned to do. On the charter flight to San Diego he informed the traveling party. The official announcement came the following day at Jack Murphy Stadium. "I think the important thing at the time of my decision is that the team -- and you always want to put the team first -- was not a contender," Schmidt said in 2009. "Everybody understood it was a rebuilding process. We weren't going to win the division. Whether I was there or not, we were pretty much going to finish in the same place. Maybe it would be easier to rebuild without having to think about me. I was not going to be a big part of their future. Once I removed myself, the rebuilding process started working pretty quickly." June 20, 1997: Bill Giles resigns as Phillies president. It was Giles who put together the group that purchased the team from the Carpenter family in 1981. He had the final call on all decisions. The way the partnership agreement was structured, it was almost impossible to dismiss him. And he clearly relished his role. So the news that he had resigned to accept the largely ceremonial position of team chairman sent shock waves throughout Veterans Stadium. "It hit me like a ton of bricks," center fielder Lenny Dykstra said at the time. Giles would later say that he made his decision after taking a long, solitary walk near his cabin in the Poconos. It seemed apparent that the struggles the Phillies were having on the way to a second straight last-place finish, and the sometimes-personal criticism that came along with it had begun to wear on him. It didn't help either that at an Owners' Meeting in Philadelphia, several of his peers reportedly expressed concerns over the state of his team. All of that became clear in retrospect, but it was a bombshell when it happened. April 14, 1960: Manager Eddie Sawyer quits after an Opening Day loss. Sawyer had managed the pennant-winning Whiz Kids in 1950, was dismissed in '52 and then was rehired as a midseason replacement in '58. But the Phillies finished last that season, and again the following year. Sawyer ran the Phillies during Spring Training in Clearwater, Fla. On Opening Day at Cincinnati's Crosley Field, his team jumped out to a 4-0 lead. But the Reds scored five times in the bottom of the second and romped to a 9-4 win. Future Hall of Famer Robin Roberts was charged with eight earned runs over 4 1/3 innings. Sawyer had seen enough. Before the next game two days later against the Milwaukee Braves at Connie Mack Stadium, he resigned. When asked why, he memorably explained: "Because I'm 49 years old, and I'd like to live to be 50."

Making An Impression – A trio of future Phillies made their mark on the Minor Leagues Friday night, including the team's No. 1 prospect J.P. Crawford. The 2015 All-Star Futures game selection and baseball's No. 16 overall prospect led off the second game of a doubleheader with a solo home run that would prove to be the winning margin in Double-A Reading's 4-3 victory over Akron. The shot was his second of the season as a Fightin Phil and first since June 7. Crawford has shown a steady bat -- .291/.400/.436 -- since his promotion in late May and has eight doubles and 20 walks in 26 contests. The star of the night was No. 13 prospect Cord Sandberg, who unleashed a grand slam for Class A Lakewood. The left fielder's strength at the plate has remained mostly under wraps this season, but he stepped up in the third inning to launch his second dinger of the year and give the Blue Claws a lead they would not relinquish in a 6-3 win. On the mound, No. 16 prospect Victor Arano proved why he was worth acquiring from the Dodgers last August, scattering four hits over seven shutout innings for Class A Advanced Clearwater. The win was Arano's first in 11 tries this season, although he has given up three earned runs or less in seven starts this year. He moves to 1-7 with a 5.25 ERA after striking out three and walking none.

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 26-49. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and performance so far this season, this could end up being the worst team in franchise history! All time, the Phillies are 49-57-2 on this day.