Things haven’t been going well for Domonic Brown since he was brought up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on June 14. In 11 games, he’s batting .179/.304/.256 in 46 plate appearances. He did drive in a run with a double in the seventh inning last night to break up Max Scherzer‘s shutout and end the Nationals’ collective streak of 48 scoreless innings compiled by starting pitching. But that’s been about the only bright spot for him thus far.
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg announced, sitting beside team president Pat Gillick and GM Ruben Amaro in the press room at Citizens Bank Park, announced that he is resigning as the Phillies’ manager. The Phillies hastily called a press conference at 3:30 PM EST with about a half hour of lead time.
Pete Mackanin will serve as the club’s interim manager.
CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports that Cubs starter Jon Lester has kept in touch with former teammate Jonathan Papelbon and certainly wouldn’t be opposed to having the closer join his team. Lester and Papelbon were teammates on the Boston Red Sox from 2006-11, winning one championship together.
“I know he would be excited to come here, and be excited to help,” Lester said. The Cubs are 39-32, 8.5 games behind the first-place St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central. The club has been less-than-thrilled with Hector Rondon in the closer’s role despite his 2.35 ERA and 12-for-15 success rate converting saves. In the month of June, Rondon has gotten three saves while Jason Motte has two and Pedro Strop one, in what has been — more or less — a bullpen-by-committee. Needless to say, Papelbon would solve their closing issue quickly.
Second baseman Chase Utley hit the disabled list on Wednesday due to inflammation in his right ankle. The 36-year-old was slow to start during spring training due to an ankle issue as well, so the injury doesn’t come out of left field.
Riding the pine is a big deal for Utley, as he has $15 million options for each of the 2016-18 seasons which vest with 500 plate appearances in the preceding season. He’s currently at 249. He’ll be eligible to come off the disabled list on July 7, which would be the Phillies’ 86th game. Using his rate of playing time prior to the injury, he would be on pace to finish the season with 469 plate appearances, leaving him 31 PA shy of achieving his vesting option.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported yesterday, confirming a report originally from Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly, that the Phillies are expected to announce the hiring of baseball executive Andy MacPhail “soon”, “within a week or so”. Current team president Pat Gillick is expected to move back to a role as a consultant for the Phillies while MacPhail takes over baseball operations.
Phillies third base prospect Maikel Franco has always had qualifiers attached to any praise he had garnered over the past few years. Yeah, he can hit homers, but he has trouble with off-speed stuff. He has a strong arm at third base, but he doesn’t have the instincts of a great defensive third baseman. Not that those qualifiers didn’t have good reason behind their application, but it tamed an optimism for Franco that could have otherwise floated into the clouds and beyond.
It’s been a hot minute since we heard anything new pertaining to trade rumors involving starter Cole Hamels and the Boston Red Sox. No new players have been added to the Red Sox list of “untouchables” — it still includes Mookie Betts, Blake Swihart, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Manuel Margot.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe still thinks the two clubs make for good trade partners, and suggests Margot alone would headline a package for Hamels. If you’re taking a sip of coffee, swallow first before reading it, lest you dirty your monitor with a spit take.
It’s been written here several times already this season, but it bears repeating often: manager Ryne Sandberg needs to stop abusing reliever Justin De Fratus. The Phillies, understandably, are short on starting pitching and need their bullpen to pitch in a bit more. They had called up Phillippe Aumont from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to start Friday night against the St. Louis Cardinals, but it didn’t go well: the right-hander threw 105 pitches en route to yielding six runs on five hits and seven walks in four innings.
Sandberg, as he often does, brought De Fratus into the game with the intention of pitching multiple innings. He has gone more than one inning in seven of 31 appearances this season and has thrown 25-plus pitches in eight of 31.
As the dust was settling from last week’s draft, I asked our old pal Eric Longenhagen from ESPN to do an email Q&A on the Phillies draft, and he and I wrote back and forth over the last week or so. I’m posting most of what was discussed below, with some notes about after-the-fact facts peppered in to Eric’s comments in italics for clarity. Big thanks to Eric, and if you missed his post-draft analysis on ESPN, please click through here and give it a look. Hope you all enjoy.
Have you seen first rounder Cornelius Randolph in person?
Yes, I saw him in person during showcases last summer and I liked what I saw, though at the time I had him more in the 15-30 range in my head. Continue reading…