The Phillies made the official announcement yesterday that Chase Utley will be a Phillie for life. They have signed him to a contract extension for 2-years at up to $27 million, with 3 option years that would max out the entire contract at around $75 million if he stays all 5 years. He would be 39 years old in the 5th year.
There is some risk involved as Utley has battled serious knee issues over the years. The 2nd year of the contract has a clause built-in which adds $5 million to his salary if he can avoid the disabled list. Although the specifics of that are hazy, it appears that he can go on the DL once, but no more than that. That does give the team at least a little insurance.
But Utley has not had any knee issues this year and his production is up. He is also the leader of this team and a stellar example to all the young players of what being a major league player is all about. That alone is worth keeping him around while the Phillies retool this beleaguered ball club.
There are so many reasons to be excited about Utley staying in Philadelphia that I cannot pick just one. So here are a whole bunch:
He loves puppies and running through fields of flowers:
He is the Terminator:
Yet, he is also mysterious:
He plays the game hard and looks good doing it:
It looks like Chase has found just the right fit:
And thank goodness for that!
Congrats, Chase! I am SOOOOOOO happy that you will be here for years to come!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Atlanta Braves did not think it was very sunny in Philadelphia after losing to the Phillies by a score of 7-3. Even in blinding sunshine and near 100 degree temperatures, it was a dark day for the Braves.
Rookie pitcher Jonathan Pettibone was outstanding against a heavy-hitting Braves line-up. Freddie Freeman was so frustrated after striking out at one point that he smashed his bat into the ground, picked it up and then smashed it again. And B.J. Upton was thrown out of the game after mouthing off to the umpire about calling him out on strikes in the 5th inning.
Pettibone went only 5.1 innings, likely due to the excessive heat. It was obvious he was getting tired. But he did manage to leave with only 1 run allowed.
Both the Phillies offense and defense were solid. Domonic Brown had 2 hits, including his 23rd homer of the year. Darren Ruf, starting for Ryan Howard who is now on the DL, had a hit, a walk and scored twice. Carlos Ruiz added 2 hits as well.
The only defensive snafu was when Michael Young, who has been not great at third base lately, nearly ran over Jimmy Rollins going after a pop-up:
And for the most part, the Phillies bullpen held steady. J.C. Ramirez allowed 2 runs in the 6th; those were his first runs allowed since being called up. Aside from that, things were mostly quiet from the 6th inning on.
The Phillies took 2 of 3 from the Braves with this win today. Still, with Howard’s future uncertain and a very young and inexperienced bullpen, this team is going to have to annihilate the Nationals this week to keep GM Ruben Amaro Jr. from breaking up the team.
Here is the Photo Album from today’s game, including shots of Roy Halladay actually throwing pitches before the game! The Doc may not be done just yet…
Game time Monday night is 7:05pm. John Lannan will pitch.
It is a very good thing that I already have a college degree. Because this Phillies season is giving me many compelling reasons to hate math, which is generally not a good thing where school is concerned. If I had to walk into a calculus class right now, I may run screaming from the room instead.
Call it a math hangover. Or just call it the 2013 Phillies season, which has been a statistical nightmare.
For example, let us discuss OBP. It is really too bad that the on-base percentage statistic does not include how many times a player wiped himself and others off the bases after getting on. If it did, Michael Young’s .355 OBP would not look so great. Young has hit into 13 double plays in 57 games. He has more double play balls than he has RBI’s (11) even though his .355 OBP leads all starters on the team. This is a frightening statistic.
Did you also know that Ryan Howard, making $20 million this year, has hit only 1 home run in his last 103 plate appearances? With 7 homers total on the year in 59 games, Howard is averaging 1 home run every 8.5 games. Say Howard plays 145 of 162 games this season; at this rate, he would end the year with 17 home runs. That means the Phillies are paying him $1.2 million dollars per home run. Ouch.
Erik Kratz has 8 home runs in 43 games, more than Howard. And now, he is on the disabled list after hurting his knee this weekend. So one of the guys picking up the slack is now gone. Not to mention, the Phillies are on their 3rd string catcher with Carlos Ruiz still out as well.
And how about Mike Adams, who was supposed to be the savior of the 8th inning for the Phillies? He has already been on the DL with back pain and is now suffering from a mystery bicep issue. Despite coming off surgery in the off-season for thoracic outlet syndrome, the Phillies still paid aging, injury-prone Adams $12 million for 2 years.
Adams has given up runs in 5 out of his last 7 appearances; that is a rate of 71%. His ERA has ballooned to 3.92. Plus, no one has any idea when or if he will be pitching again. He has pitched in only 23 of 64 games so far this season.
And here are a few random stats, just to add to the misery: 10 out of 16 position players on the roster have batting averages at or below .250; that is 63%. The team average is .247. Only 3 teams in the National League have a worse team ERA than the Phillies 4.15. And with 38 errors on the season, the team fielding percentage is .984.
There is plenty more disturbing data where this came from, but I must stop here before my head explodes. The Phils just got swept out by the Brewers so I think we have all been tortured enough for now.
Put down the calculator…no matter how hard you try to change it, this math adds up to a very bad season.
Hitting five homers in his last four game, Domonic Brown is on fire…and it is about time. The Phillies have been waiting for Brown to explode and reach his potential for years now. It looks like he may be right on track now.
Fresh off his first Player of the Week honors, Brown may now be in the running for Player of the Month. He has been the one bright spot in an otherwise drab Phillies season so far. Brown’s efforts have helped the Phillies win the last 2 games against the Red Sox, but can the Phillies keep up the pace?
The team lost another player yesterday due to a family issue; Michael Young was placed on the bereavement/family emergency list and will be gone 3-7 days. There was no clarification beyond that. And Chase Utley is progressing slower than everyone had hoped after an oblique injury. With many other Phils on the DL as well, it will not be easy for this team to keep their heads above water.
Brown’s recent performance has been a big boost. Erik Kratz looks like he is finding his groove as well. But clutch hitting on this team is still not happening much. With 1 out and the bases loaded last night in the 7th, Ryan Howard struck out and John Mayberry Jr. then popped out. With 1 out and 2 runners on in the 6th, Freddy Galvis ended the inning by hitting into a double play. These examples are the exact opposite of clutch hitting and sadly, it happens more often than not.
Last night’s win was the result of good pitching and 4 solo home runs. I stress the “solo” part because no one seems to want to hit with runners on base. For example, the Phillies had 4 stolen bases in the game, but none of those runners scored. The team left 8 men on base and went 0-6 with runners in scoring position.
Still, it was a win so we’ll take it. But Brown’s bombs are not going to carry a team; he is going to need a tad more help.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies have lost 3 of their last 4 games and there are still more questions about this team than there are answers. Perhaps the biggest question right now is about the Big Piece, Ryan Howard.
Take a look at the timeline for Howard this past week and a half:
Howard had a cortisone injection on May 19th; he was back in the line-up May 21st and feeling better. By May 23rd, he needed a break again. He started the next 2 games and went 1-8. On May 26th, he sat out, but pinch hit into a double play later in the game. And last night against the Red Sox, Howard was visibly uncomfortable; he went 2-5 with a double play and a huge base running blunder where he got picked off at 2nd base. He appeared to be having great difficulty running.
All of this is very bad news. The MRI Howard had showed inflammation and changes in the meniscus, which basically means he has cartilage tears. If the cortisone injection lasted only a few days before he felt discomfort again, the options for treatment during the season will be limited. And he will be doing further damage to the cartilage as the season progresses and he continues to pound that knee.
And the plot thickens: According to manager Charlie Manual, “He has some arthritis. It comes and goes in his legs. He’s going to always be bothered by that.” Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease which has no cure. It can be caused by wear and tear as one gets older, or it can result from an injury. In Howard’s case, it could be due to the extra stress on his knee after his Achilles surgery.
Whatever the cause, it is beginning to look like Howard’s 5-year, $125 million contract is going to be one of the biggest bust’s in baseball history. With all the recent injuries, plus the arthritis, Howard will likely never be the same player again…at least, not the one they paid $125 million for.
And with the way this team is currently constructed, having neither Howard nor Chase Utley (currently on the DL with an oblique strain) healthy spells disaster. There is no way, with the age and the injuries on this team, that the Phillies can contend.
Remember all of the criticism Spring Training that that this team was too old and too injury-prone to win? Remember Howard’s response to that criticism? He told the media, “Just don’t be surprised,” basically saying that they were going to prove all the critics wrong.
Well, it is May 28th; the Phillies are in third place and have lost 3 of their last 4 games in spectacularly bad fashion. The following key players are all on the DL: Utley, Roy Halladay (will miss at least most of the year), Carlos Ruiz and John Lannan. There are 2 rookies pitching in the rotation. The bullpen is horrible. The offense is non-existent. The fielding errors and base running blunders are piling up.
As much as I hate to be a pessimist, stick a fork in them; I believe this team may be done.
Although, Howard is certainly welcome to prove me wrong…
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
In a year full of drama for the Phillies, Cliff Lee stepping on the mound is a sight for sore eyes. The same can be said when he steps to the plate as well. In a complete game shut-out of the Marlins last night, Lee also collected 2 hits, giving him a team-leading .316 batting average. And his .350 on-base percentage is second only to Michael Young (.378) among active Phillies.
Simply put, Cliff Lee is amazing.
Yet those offensive numbers are a bit disturbing in another respect. When your ace pitcher is leading the team in average and OBP, there are some serious problems. Granted, Lee only plays once every 5 games, but it is still a somewhat revealing statistic on a team that has struggled to score runs.
There was some offense last night though, and some signs of life all around. Although they only scored 3 runs, most guys hit the ball well and as team, they collected 12 hits, which is way better than their usual production this year. On Tuesday night with Tyler Cloyd pitching, the Phillies racked up 7 runs on 15 hits in the win.
But again, this has been a pattern; the Phillies have 1 or 2 games with solid offense and then they go right back to not being able to hit the broad side of a barn. And with the injuries mounting, can they get any kind of consistency?
The latest injury to Chase Utley is extremely worrisome. Utley was finally having a good year, after missing time in both of the previous 2 seasons with knee issues. Now, it appears he has an oblique strain of some sort; he will have an MRI today and will likely be put on the DL along with Roy Halladay, Mike Adams, John Lannan and Carlos Ruiz. Stay tuned…
Today is an off day as the team travels to Washington to take on the Nationals. News on Utley should be coming very soon…cross your fingers!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Out of the 9 Phillies Opening Day 2012 starters, 6 have landed either on the disabled list or with another team at some point during the year. And that does not even include Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who started the year on the DL. So basically, 8 out of 9 regular starters missed a lot of time this year. The only one who avoided either a trade or the DL was Jimmy Rollins.
It is fitting then that a 2-run shot from J-Roll last night led the team to a 3-game sweep of the Miami Marlins. Cliff Lee did his part as well, allowing just 1 run, which was unearned due to an error, over 7 innings.
The win has placed the Phillies only 3 games back in the Wild Card race, which is something not many people saw coming. This team was beaten up so badly throughout most of the year and played so poorly that a possible playoff run, until now, seemed impossible. Here is a look at the Wild Card standings:
But even after a 7-game win streak, is all this new playoff hope just fool’s gold or can the Phillies really sneak in the backdoor? Consider this: 6 of those 7 games in the streak came against two of the worst teams in baseball, the Marlins and the Rockies. Just a few weeks ago, the Phillies lost a series to the Mets, who are also pretty bad.
Then again, the momentum of a 7-game win streak could be enough to help elevate the Phillies performance and confidence to the point where they can start stomping on good teams as well. But we are not going to know if that is possible for a while as the Houston Astros are next on the agenda. With a record of 45-98, the Astros are by far the worst team in all of baseball. Losing even 1 of the 4 games against the Astros would be a tragedy.
So maybe this series could be a descent barometer after all. Because if the Phillies struggle against the Astros, I think the faint light of playoff hopes would be markedly dimmed. But if they beat the crap out of the Astros, as they very well should, then go ahead and keep the light of hope burning. Then we can all say, “Watch out National League! Here come the Phillies…”