Ryan Howard Isn’t Providing Many Fireworks

Billy Hamilton. Jose Reyes. Alcides Escobar. Dee Gordon. Erick Aybar. These are a few of the names that have slugging percentages similar to or better than first baseman Ryan Howard. Howard hasn’t homered since June 19, two weeks ago.

At .401, Howard is one more poor game away from watching his slugging percentage dip below .400. Excluding the early April small sample, Howard’s season low for slugging percentage occurred on May 25, when it fell to .397. If the season were to end today, his slugging percentage would easily qualify as the worst of his career.

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Phillies Sign Teenagers From Foreign Countries

The Phillies signed three notable players from the International Amateur Free Agent market yesterday. I’ll run them down, and give you a bit of an overview of how the system works.

It’s been widely reported that Venezuelan SS Arquimedes Gamboa signed for $900k. He was BA’s #8 overall July 2 prospect, and Baseball America’s Ben Badler said that at his bonus level, he could “end up being one of the better values at the top of the market”. His 70 grade name aside, (it’s no Rock Shoulders), the “pen to paper” image of him makes him seems like a pretty small dude. Not uncommon for a shortstop.

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Don’t Give Up On Domonic Brown

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the sentiment among some Phillies fans that the club missed on Brandon Moss, who was briefly in the organization at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. I did the same with Jason Grilli last year. It’s tough to see marginal players pass through your fingertips only to go onto major success elsewhere.

Seeing Phillies fans long for Moss and Grilli is humorous, juxtaposed with a loud swath of Phillies fans fed up with Domonic Brown, calling for the organization to demote him to Triple-A, trade him, or just plain release him. I’d be willing to wager there’s a high percentage of crossover between the two groups.

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Ruben Amaro Doesn’t Want to Rebuild, Either

Earlier, I discussed how president David Montgomery feared going into a full rebuild because attendance could fall, even though it’s already been falling and will continue to fall until the team gets better. The Phillies’ brass must be sending out the big guns in an attempt to sway public sentiment, as GM Ruben Amaro joined the morning team on 94 WIP and discussed the prospect of rebuilding.

Via The 700 Level:

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Phillies First-Half Report Card

With the conclusion of Saturday’s day-night doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves, the Phillies reached the halfway point of the season. They stood 36-45, good for last place in the NL East and on pace for 90 losses. If they continue on their current path, 2014 will be their first 90-loss season since 2000, when they went 65-97.

Obviously, things haven’t been going so well in Philadelphia this season, as expected. But it hasn’t been the older crowd that has left the Phillies lagging behind the competition; it’s been the young guys. Let’s hand out some first-half grades and see where the problems lie.

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Saying Goodbye to an Incredible Streak

2,832 days. That’s how long it had been since Chase Utley’s last walk-off home run before last night. But more than that, it had been 2,492 days since his last walk-off hit of any kind.

If you follow me on twitter, you know this streak has captured my attention for quite awhile, mainly because it was remarkably improbable. Reid Brignac has played 24 games for the Phillies and already has two walk-off hits. John Mayberry Jr. has played 490 games for the Phillies and provided five walk-offs. In 2009, backup catcher Paul Hoover played just nine games for the Phillies, but even he found time for a walk-off of his own.

Last night was Utley’s 850th game since his last walk-off hit.

The streak had to end eventually, so I did my best to “jinx” it by tweeting Fun Facts about the streak whenever Utley had an opportunity for a walk-off. Here are a few of my favorites: Continue reading…

Jake Diekman Should Not Be the “Eighth-Inning Guy”

Reliever Jake Diekman ran into a bit of trouble in the eighth inning of last night’s eventual 14-inning victory over the Miami Marlins. The lefty started the inning and Marlins manager Mike Redmond opted to have the right-handed Reed Johnson pinch-hit for reliever Bryan Morris. Johnson would eventually fly out to right field.

The Marlins’ lineup was entirely stacked with right-handed hitters one through eight, including the switch-hitting Jarrod Saltalamacchia batting seventh. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg opted to let Diekman stay in the game to face Jake Marisnick. With the bases empty and one out, it’s not a big deal and Diekman is good enough that you trust him to retire the odd right-handed hitter every now and then. Marisnick bunted to third base and Cody Asche threw him out for the second out of the inning.

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Cord Sandberg: Shiny New Thing/Fast Car/Lion/Rose

Sometimes, when you’re looking at a shiny new thing, the “thing” blinds you for a little bit. Because of the shininess.

- Soon-To-Be-Popular Modern Saying

Cord Sandberg is like a 2013 Roadster. He’s maybe lost some of that “new car smell” from a summer spinning his tires around the Gulf Coast of Florida, but his engine still alternately purrs like a kitten and roars like a lion. He’s currently sitting on an every-game-of-the-young-season hitting streak of 12 games, which has gotten some around the internets all abuzz with J.P.-Crawfordian good-time super-happy feelings. And while Sandberg and Crawford came out of the same draft class, and had far different levels of success in 2013, both have put together hot streaks in 2014 that make you look up and wonder if the kitten is actually a lion cub growing up before our very eyes, and lying in wait to ambush and eat his opponent…which I’ll readily admit, would get either of them suspended for nine FIFA matches or released by the Dodgers. Resist the urge, Boys. Continue reading…

Cole Hamels Is Living Up To His Contract

Next month will mark two years since the Phillies signed Cole Hamels to an extension worth $144 million over six years with an option for a seventh year. At the time the deal was signed, it was the second largest contract ever given to a pitcher, behind only the 7-yr/$161M contract CC Sabathia signed with the Yankees in December 2008. Since the Hamels signing though, five other pitchers have gone on to sign larger deals: Clayton Kershaw (7/$215M), Justin Verlander (7/$180M), Felix Hernandez (7/$175M), Zack Greinke (6/$147M), and Masahiro Tanaka (7/$155M). It goes without saying that with this contract came enormous expectations for Hamels’ performance – anything less than inclusion among the best pitchers in the league would be a disappointment.
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