Archive | June, 2013

Dom Brown’s Success Shows the Value of Patience With Young Players

4 Jun

Brown is Named National League of the Month and National League Player of the Week

 

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Domonic Brown has now hit nine home runs in his last 10 games. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Domonic Brown has now hit nine home runs in his last 10 games. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—If you have been watching Domonic Brown’s performance during the month of the May, hopefully you will have an appreciation for the idea that you have to let your best prospects go through the growing pains of being a major leaguer.

You do it with the hope that they will perform the way Brown has performed this month. He was named the National League’s Player of the Month and the National League Player of the Week for the second straight week.  In 28 games last month, Brown hit .303 during the month with 12 homeruns, 25 runs batted in, four doubles, and one triple.

Brown had a .688 slugging percentage and .991 OPS (combined slugging and on-base percentage) the in the month of May.

In seven games this week (May 27-June 2), Brown batted .444 with a triple four home runs and 13 runs batted in. He leads the National League in homeruns with 17, fifth in runs batted in with 42, and has homeruns in nine of his last 10 games including Monday night’s win over Miami.

With second baseman Chase Utley and catcher Carlos Ruiz on the disabled list and Ryan Howard struggling to his stroke while playing a sore left knee that’s probably worse than what he or the team is saying it is, Brown has carried this team on the offensive end.

At various times in the last couple of years, fans and quite a few media people have called on the team to trade the guy. Nowadays, Brown is now becoming the toast of the town.

Brown’s current success goes back to the idea of why you have to be careful of how you bring along your prospects and to not be so quick to discard them when they initially struggle at the major league level.

“Some guys it just takes a little while for them to find their stroke when they get to the big leagues,” said Phillies centerfielder 24-year-old Ben Revere. “This is the big leagues. They pitch you differently. Up here, they’re professionals and they know how to pitch against you. Some guys may come up here and hit, some guys may take a year and some guys may take a couple of years like Dom.”

The Phillies injury situation and their current record give them unique opportunity to see what they have in their younger players from their farm system.

Infielders Freddy Galvis, who had a walkoff home run in a win over the Cincinnati Reds last month and Cesar Hernandez, both of whom have gotten considerable time with the team since Utley has been out of the lineup. Hernandez got his career RBI in Monday’s game against the Miami Marlins.

“Cesar is at the point where next year, he’s out of options, so it’s nice to find something about him,” said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

After giving four runs in the first inning, Rookie Jonathan Pettibone is getting some value experience with the injury to John Lannan. Webster Riddick.

After giving four runs in the first inning, Rookie Jonathan Pettibone is getting some value experience with the injury to John Lannan. Webster Riddick.

With veteran pitchers Roy Halladay and John Lannan on the DL, 22-year-old Jonathan Pettibone has a 3-1 record with a .3.64 earned run average in eight games as a starting pitcher. He has 32 strikeouts and 19 walk. Even when Lannan comes back, Pettibone will still be in the rotation.

The Phillies have also gotten a look at Tyler Cloyd, who is 1-2 with 4.76 ERA, but has done a decent job as a starter with the exception of one bad outing last week in Boston.

“We’ve gotten decent contributions from Pettibone. Cloyd had a bat outing his last time, but his first two were okay,” Amaro said. “We’re getting a chance to see guys play a little bit. Obviously, we’re seeing Dom everyday at bats in left field. He’s handling things pretty well so far. There’s nothing wrong with giving young guys a chance to play.”

Let’s face it, the Phillies run of success from 2007-2011, which netted one World Series, two National League pennants, and five NL East crowns along with the rise of stars like Howard, Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels is either over or not that far from it if you’re an optimist.

They are in transition and they need plug in the holes when the veteran players are declining. Next year, the Phillies are going to have a need a second base because I don’t think the Phillies are going re-sign Utley and they will have to find some younger players to fill in slots at shortstop, third base and right field.

The young players and the Phillies might struggle for a couple of years. But if they can somehow get as hot as Brown has this year, the future may not be such a bad thing after all.

Brown and Lee Propel Phils to Win Despite Shaky Bullpen

2 Jun

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Domonic Brown has homered in seven of  his last eight games. Photo by WebsterRiddick.

Domonic Brown has homered in seven of his last eight games. Photo by WebsterRiddick.

PHILADELPHIA—With injuries to players like Roy Halladay, Carlos Ruiz, and Chase Utley coupled with an inconsistent offense and a suspect bullpen, you have to wonder how really bad things would be if the Philllies didn’t have Cliff Lee and Domonic Brown.

So far this year, Lee and Brown have both carried an aging, injury-riddled team that would like to believe it still has fighting chance to be a contender. They have been the most consistent element for an otherwise inconsistent team.

The Phillies ended a three-game losing streak thanks to another outstanding effort by Brown and a stellar performance by Lee and came away with a 7-5 win over the Milwaukee Brewers in front of 40, 613 fans at Citizen’s Bank Park.

Of course, the Phillies, especially the bullpen, did not get this win without drama. Lee (7-2) was pitching shutout baseball for seven and two-thirds innings. But in the eighth, Lee said he felt cramps in his legs, hips and his arms. Before departing the game, he gave up an RBI single to Norichika Aoki that scored Rickie Weeks, who singled to begin the inning.

“I guess I was a little dehydrated. I don’t know what the deal was,” Lee said. “It happened in Texas. Obviously, the heat is part of it. I tried to do everything I could to stay hydrated between yesterday and today. It didn’t seem to matter. It just happened.”

Meanwhile, things got even more crucial for the Phillies much-maligned bullpen when catcher Jonathan Lucroy hit what looked to be a grand-slam home run off Phils reliever Justin De Fratus to turn a 7-1 game into a 7-5 game. The ball bounced off the second railing of the left-field wall and rolled on the warning track.

Third base umpire Tom Hallion initially ruled the play a homerun, but after the umpires reviewed the play on videotape at Charlie Manuel’s request, they ruled the play a triple, allowing three runs to score. It was a 7-4 game  after the ruling.

“It hit the top of that wire fence and kicked hard to the right and back into play,” Hallion said. “So once we realized it was not a home run, we each put together where the ball went to, who picked it up and then we just placed the runners where they should be.”

With closer Jonathan Papelbon not available to pitch because of illness, Antonio Bastardo closed out the game, but allowed one run and got the final out with the bases loaded when pinch-hitter Mark Maldonado.

Between Bastardo and De Fratus, there were three walks and that seemed to bother Manuel more than anything else.

“The walks in a game like today and late like that gives them a chance to win and brings them back in the game,” Manuel said. “Yeah that bothered me.”

 The Phillies jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first two innings thanks to Brown, who has been out- of-this- world hot. He was 3-for-3 with a home run, a triple a single. He was a double short of the cycle. He drove in four runs. In the first inning, Brown hit a three-run homer off Brewers starter Mike Fiers. In the second, he had a run-scoring triple.

To his credit, Brown said he wasn’t really thinking about the cycle until he heard fans buzzing about it. In his fourth at bat of the day in the seventh, Brown walked.

“I thought about it, but if had a chance to go for three and a ball was in the gap, I’m going for three for sure,” Brown said.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that Brown has been tearing the cover off the ball via the home run route. He has homered in eight of his last nine games. He leads the majors in home runs with 16.

“I’m just trying to keep it going and just trying to continue to improve,” Brown said. “Just trying to keep my stroke small and not try to do too much. I think I’ll be fine.”

For seven and two-thirds innings, Lee struck out 11 Brewers and seemed to be on cruise control until cramps settled in along with some anxiety with the Phils shaky bullpen. He allowed three runs on seven hits.

“It was a little bit frustrating, but what can you do,” Lee said. “I’d rather be in control every game from the first inning to the last inning.”