Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Phils Suffer Rare Spring Loss To O’s

EXHIBITION GAME RECAP: Orioles Edge Phillies 8-7

Maikel Franco grabbed the Major League lead in home runs and RBIs this spring, but the Orioles rallied for an 8-7 victory over the Phillies on Monday afternoon at Ed Smith Stadium. Franco, who smacked 14 homers in 80 games as a rookie last year, went deep in each of his first two at-bats on Monday, against Orioles right-hander Yovani Gallardo. The 23-year-old ripped a solo blast over the left-field seats in the first inning, then launched a three-run shot in the same direction two frames later. He now has six homers and 14 RBIs in 11 Grapefruit League games. Paul Janish poked a go-ahead two-run single to right field in the bottom of the eighth inning, when Baltimore scored three runs to jump in front. Manny Machado and Adam Jones both hit their second home runs of the spring for the Orioles, who improved to 2-11-2 in Grapefruit League play. Rule 5 pick Tyler Goeddel led off the game with a homer, and Cedric Hunter singled three times for the Phillies, who dropped to 10-4-2. Gallardo, who signed a two-year deal with Baltimore in late February, was hit hard for the second time in as many starts. He surrendered five earned runs on four hits -- including three homers -- over 2 1/3 innings, walking two and striking out one. The veteran now has allowed eight runs over 4 1/3 innings this spring. "I felt pretty good," Gallardo said. "The results weren't there. I made some mistakes, more with the slider. That's the frustrating part, that the consistency and the command's not there with it, but I'm happy I was able to command the fastball. That's probably one of the positive things that I did today, command the fastball away to the right-handed hitter, so that's a good sign." Phillies starter Alec Asher retired the first six batters he faced but gave up four runs in his final inning. Caleb Joseph hit an RBI double to get the Orioles on the board, and Ryan Flaherty launched a deep sacrifice fly before Machado's two-run shot. After going 1-for-3 with an RBI double in his Baltimore debut on Sunday, Pedro Alvarez served as the club's designated hitter on Monday and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Right-hander Aaron Nola makes his third Grapefruit League start Tuesday afternoon against the Rays in Port Charlotte, Fla. at 1:05 p.m. ET. Nola is 0-1 with an 11.57 ERA this spring. He typically has excellent command but has not shown it so far this spring. He hopes for improvement against the Rays. The game can be heard on a free, live exclusive webcast on MLB.com.


Rule 5 Pick Having An Impact – The Phillies have 14 more Grapefruit League games to play, which means there is plenty of time to win a job on the Opening Day roster. But it seems like Rule 5 Draft pick Tyler Goeddel will make the team in some capacity. Goeddel has played well this spring. He homered and walked twice in Monday's 8-7 loss to the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. Goeddel is hitting .273 (9-for-33) with two doubles, one home run, five RBIs, four walks and seven strikeouts in 11 games. Also, the Phillies' outfield is thin. Aaron Altherr is expected to miss four to six months following left wrist surgery. Odubel Herrera received X-rays on his right middle finger this week. He hurt the finger sliding head first into home plate earlier this spring. The Phillies said the X-rays were negative, and he could play as early as Wednesday. Outfielder Cody Asche also remains sidelined with a strained right oblique. There is no timetable for his return. "The thing I like about him is he seems to have good plate discipline," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said of Goeddel. "He seems to take a lot of pitches. I even mentioned to Larry (Bowa) and (Steve Henderson), this guy, the way he works the count, he's almost like a leadoff-type guy you're looking for. He makes the pitcher throw him a lot of pitches. Every time he comes to the plate it seems like it's 0-2 on him, then it's 3-2. He works the count a lot."

Bullpen Race Heating Up – The Phillies need to find seven relief pitchers before the season opens, and there are only a few locks. Right-hander David Hernandez figures to be one, although he has not pitched since March 1 because of right triceps tendinitis. It's unclear when he could appear in another Grapefruit League game, although he had hoped to pitch early this week. Jeanmar Gomez figures to be another lock, too. Brett Oberholtzer is out of options, so if he doesn't make the rotation, he will be in the 'pen. Non-roster invitee Edward Mujica walked one and struck out one in two scoreless innings Monday. He has thrown four scoreless innings this spring. Ernesto Frieri, who also is a non-roster invitee, allowed a home run to Adam Jones in the sixth inning. Frieri has allowed six runs (five earned runs) in 4 2/3 innings this spring. Mujica has an out clause in his contract for March 26. Frieri's is March 31. "We've got another couple weeks," Mackanin said regarding Frieri's struggles. "I'm not going to condemn a guy for what he did early in the spring." Rule 5 Draft pick Daniel Stumpf allowed four hits, three runs and three walks in two innings to blow the save and take the loss. (All three runs came in the eighth inning.) He had allowed just one run in five innings in his previous three appearances. "We brought in Stumpf to put a little pressure on him," Mackanin said. "We've got to make a decision on him, so that's why we let him go two innings. The command; he threw a few too many fastballs, and he didn't locate well. We're going to keep running him out there, especially in high leverage situations so we can get an idea if he can handle it."

Leading The League – Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco looks ready for Opening Day. Franco homered twice against Orioles right-hander Yovani Gallardo in Tuesday's 8-7 loss in a Grapefruit League game at Ed Smith Stadium. He has six home runs and 14 RBIs this spring, the most in MLB. He had no homers his previous two Spring Trainings. "I tried too much," Franco said about his previous springs. "Now I feel comfortable at the plate. I know I'll be in the lineup every single day. That's made me more patient, more relaxed." "He seems like he's got a pretty good idea at the plate and takes advantage of mistakes," Gallardo said. But does Franco's spring success mean anything? John Dewan of Baseball Info Solutions once found a correlation between Spring Training power numbers and regular-season power numbers. At one time, he found 60 percent of hitters that boosted their career slugging percentage (minimum 200 career at-bats) by 200 or more points in Spring Training (minimum 40 at-bats) experienced an increase in power that season. Dewan has found his formula to be less successful in recent seasons, but it once correctly predicted big seasons for Pat Burrell and Placido Polanco in 2005, Ryan Howard in 2006,Chase Utley and Greg Dobbs in 2007, Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz in 2009, Ruiz in 2012 and Domonic Brown in 2013. Of the four Phillies who fell short between 2005-13, two were not everyday players (Eric Bruntlett in 2009 and Pete Orr in 2011) and one got injured midway through the season (Jim Thome in 2005). Jimmy Rollins fell 18 points short of his career slugging percentage in 2009. So while it is far from a sure bet, it is worth noting that Franco has a career .453 slugging percentage in 360 career at-bats in the regular season and a .967 slugging percentage in 31 at-bats (nine at-bats short of the threshold) this spring. That is a 514-point increase. Perhaps it translates into another step forward in Franco's career. He began to enter the conversation for National League Rookie of the Year, until he broke his left wrist in August. "I'm just trying to be healthy this year," Franco said. "I know if I'm healthy something good is going to happen." Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he sees Franco as somebody capable of challenging the National League's best in home runs. That said, Mackanin believes Franco needs to improve his defense. He said it has gotten "sloppy" at times. "We don't want him to get carried away with that and forget about his defense," Mackanin said about Franco's six homers.

Trimming The Roster – The Phillies on Monday reassigned shortstop J.P. Crawford and outfielder Nick Williams to Minor League camp and optioned outfielder Roman Quinn and right-hander Edubray Ramos to Double-A Reading. Crawford, Williams and Quinn are three of the Top 100 Prospects in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com. Some believe Ramos is the Phils' closer of the future. Expect to see at least one of them in a Phillies uniform before the end of the season. "Tomorrow or any day, but it's not up to me," Williams said when asked when he might be called to the big leagues. "If I'm in Triple-A the whole year, so be it. But I'll try to force their hand as best as I can." The Phillies moved the foursome out of camp because they want them to get ready for the Minor League season. None of them has played above Double-A, so they need more seasoning before they warrant a promotion to the big leagues. But it is not a stretch to think any or all of them could be with the Phils before the end of the season. In the case of Crawford, Williams and Quinn, the Phillies also want them to play every day when they are promoted. There will be no part-time status for them, so at-bats are critical. "It's definitely exciting for the organization," Quinn said. "To know there are a bunch of young players that can possibly be pretty good. It's exciting. Hopefully we'll all put in the work and get there pretty soon." "If it happens, it happens," Crawford said of a potential promotion. "I'm not really going to think about that. But if I do, I do. If I don't, I don't." Williams, 22, is the No. 64-ranked prospect in baseball. He lost eight pounds earlier in camp because of the flu and wound up hitting .227 (5-for-22) with three doubles, one home run, four RBIs, two walks and seven strikeouts. But Williams went 3-for-9 with two doubles and one homer in his final three appearances, with those extra-base hits coming against Bobby Parnell, Roberto Hernandez and CC Sabathia. "I got my confidence up, that's for sure," Williams said. Quinn, 22, ranks No. 99. He hit .300 (6-for-20) with three triples, one home run, three RBIs, three walks, five strikeouts and two stolen bases. "It was definitely a great experience, because most of these guys had yet to see me play," Quinn said. "So it was cool to go out there and actually play for them, play for the manager and learn from the veterans. I feel pretty good. I felt confident. I feel really good, man. And seeing the Major League pitching, it definitely helps and now I already know what to expect." Ramos, 23, had a 2.70 ERA in four appearances. He allowed three hits, one run, five walks and struck out three in 3 1/3 innings. There is no question that Phillies fans are most excited to see how Crawford, Williams and Quinn progress. Can Crawford push Freddy Galvis at shortstop? Can Williams and Quinn get themselves into the outfield mix? The outfield is particularly thin with Aaron Altherr expected to miss four to six months following left wrist surgery. "I just want to play a full season, to be honest with you," said Quinn, who has had injury issues of his own. "That's all I want to do, play a full season, be healthy. Hopefully that will be this year." But each of them got a little taste of big league life. They enjoyed it, and they want more of it. "The food is better, the meal money and all of that," Williams said with a smile. "The game play is more fun. You have fans and people are cheering you on and things like that. "After the last few days hitting a lot of these good pitchers, it made me realize it could be any day from the Minor Leagues to come here in the starting lineup being an everyday player. I could see that happening a lot sooner than later." If they play well, the Phillies will have decisions to make. If they struggle, they won't. That should keep them hungry. "It'll help about how I go about my business," Williams said. "It'll also be a little chip, saying I know I can play there, so I'm going to make my way."

Today In Phils History - The Phillies did once hold spring training in Cape May but they only held the preliminary practices in New Jersey one year in 1898. There are a bounty of birthdays for today including Fred Mollenkamp (1890), Dave Watkins (1944), Jim Kern (1949), and Kim Batiste (1968). 

The Phillies have begun the spring with a 10-4-2 record (11-4-2 if you include the exhibition game against the University of Tampa). With the Phillies having finished the 2015 season with a spectacularly awful record of 63-99 it will be interesting to see what kind of team new President Andy MacPhail and GM Matt Klentak put on the field. At the same time I am definitely looking forward to the games against Boston with former GM Ruben Amaro on the field. Given the departures, lingering contracts, a history of injuries, bipolar performances, and unproven talent, it should, at the very least, be an interesting season for the Phillies. Who knows, maybe they can avoid 100 losses... hopefully by more than one game!

No comments:

Post a Comment