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Blogging about the 5x NL East Champion Phillies

Category Archives: Eric Bruntlett

RPAC Blogger Preview

I did another questionairre with a blog that got posted today. Justin Evans, a good friend and former teammate on We Hate to Lose, is the owner of Red Pinstripes Are Cooler. He asked myself in a few other bloggers a bunch of questions and posted our answers along with his. Here are my answers to his questions:

01.  Who do you believe is the biggest catalyst to the Phillies success in 2010?

Jimmy Rollins. He has always been the catalyst for the Phillies offense and will not have a year remotely as close to the one he had last year. He’s already batting over .300 in spring and with his high expectations and confidence, I think he’s going to have a fine year.

02.  What are your expectations for J.A. Happ?  Happ was as lucky as Cole Hamels was unlucky last season.  Do you think he can come close to his 2009 success?

I expect a sophomore slump but not one that’s as drastic as the one Kyle Kendrick had. If Happ can take the role of #4 and pitch well enough for the team win, then he will have a solid year of 10-14 wins and an ERA in the low 4’s.

03. How would you rate Ruben Amaro’s two offseasons as GM?  Would you have signed Ibanez or Polanco for more than two years knowing that you have a lot of youth to sign in the future?

Ibanez was a mistake and Polanco was actually a good signing. The infield prospects aren’t as great as the ones in the OF. If Ibanez was signed to a two year deal with an option for a third, that would’ve been better. As far as GMing the past two years, Amaro has done a good job. Though he gave up a lot for the two Cy Young pitchers he had in four months, he has a lot of young talent in the farm to afford to make those mistakes. He can’t do it again though.

04.  What does Joe Mauer’s deal mean for Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard?  Will the Phillies re-sign both, one, or neither?  If only one, which player do you recommend they re-sign?

Werth is gone unless the Phillies increase the pay-roll. I have no problem with that either if Dom Brown turns into a stud or Tyson Gillies become  a diamond in the rough.

05. After Domonic Brown, which prospect in the farm system are you most excited to see wear a Phillies uniform in the future?

It’s a toss-up between Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies. Aumont has a lot of upside on the mound and the the Phillies’ project in turning him into a starter will be very interesting. As far as Gillies, he’s got a beautiful compact swing and seems to be a guy who can get on base and be a serious threat to steal and stretch hits.

06.  Cole Hamels added some pitches to his arsenal.  How often do you think he’ll use his cutter and curve in 2010?  Everyone is expecting Cole to bounce back from an unlucky 2009, how big of a “bounce back” do you expect?

He’ll start off using his normal stuff, working the cutter and curve in. If things are going well for him at that point, the cutter and curve will not be used often. If he’s struggling, he’ll look to mix it up by adding the cutter and curve. As far as a bounce-back season: he will have one. Adding Roy Halladay took the pressure off of him. His confidence has also been much higher seeing as he feels he’s doing well in the spring and is looking to put 2009 behind him. I expect a 2008-like year.

07.  You’re going to a Phillies game today, what is your choice of food/beer for tailgating?  If you have no time to tailgate, what are must have drinks/food in the stadium?

I always get to the game early to feast at Harry the K’s or Bull’s BBQ. Pulled Pork, Schmidter, or a cheese steak from Tony Lukes are always top choices.

08.  How do you feel about the bullpen heading into the season?  Who are your biggest question marks?  If the Phillies make their third straight World Series, who pitches the final out for them?

Lidge is my biggest question mark because I’m afraid he will rush himself back. If Lidge is doing fine, he will be the closer all year. If he’s hurt or struggling, Ryan Madson should be the first to take the ball again. Am I worried he will struggle again? A little. But he got a lot of valuable experience last year after being thrown into the role. He will have the mindset of a closer this year as he knows he will be the go-to back-up.

09. Fifth starter: Kendrick or Moyer?  Does it really matter?

It matters a lot. Having a complete rotation will always matter. The Phillies have that too. Moyer will most likely start the season with only a couple chances to screw up. If he doesn’t get the job done then Kendrick is in. Kendrick earned himself a shot at starting but it was Moyer’s job to lose and he has pitched to deserve holding onto it for now.

10.  Better beard?  Werth, Park, or Bruntlett?

Werth’s by far. He had the Jesus-hair going with it. And with Easter around the corner, it’s so fitting.

11. Is Gload/Castro/Schneider better than Bako/Stairs/Bruntlett?  Yes/No? Why?

It’s much better. Schneider is a legit back-up and the confidence Charlie Manuel will have in him to play more will keep Carlos Ruiz fresh all year so he can be affective in the post season again. Gload is a better hitter than Matt Stairs all around. He’s actually another Greg Dobbs with a little more pop. Both he and Schneider will benefit in the Bank. Castro is a solid fielder and a better hitter than Bruntlett. In fact, anything is an upgrade in the hitting department compared to Bruntlett. Castro can play a lot of positions and will keep Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins fresh.

12.  Which current Phillie do you see making a speech at Cooperstown in the future?

No one anytime soon. They have future HOFers in Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and possibly Jimmy Rollins and Jamie Moyer. Moyer could be the closest age-wise but he’s not a guarenteed future HOFer. The first three are all locks but have plenty of years left in them.

13. Which Phillies on the 2009 World Series team, not named Cliff Lee, do you think this team will miss the most?

JA Happ. He won’t be he same pitcher this year.

14.  With Placido Polanco switching from second base to third, what are your expectations regarding his defense?  How valuable is he to the Phillies lineup in the 2-hole?

He’ going to be fine at third. Some throws won’t be made but he’s a smart guy and won’t forc bad throws. He has good range and will be able to eat up balls that could get into the OF. As a hitter, he fills a hole Pedro Feliz left in the line up. He will also be a great 2-hitter seeing as he strikes out a lot less than Shane Victorino.

15. Who scares you the most in the NL East?  The NL?

The Braves in the division because it’s Bobby Cox’s las year and they have a good rotation to go wih a balanced offense. In the NL it’s easily the Cards as their 1-2 is the best in baseball. Also having the best player in baseball in Albert Pujols helps.

NL East Preview

Philadelphia Phillies

Last year’s record/place: 93-69, 1st
Key acquisitions: C  Brian Schneider, 3B Placido Polanco, IF Juan Castro, OF Ross Gload, SP Roy Halladay, RP Danys Baez, RP Jose Contreras.
Key losses: 3B Pedro Feliz, OF Matt Stairs, IF Eric Bruntlett, SP Cliff Lee, Pedro Martinez, SP Brett Myers.
Player to watch: Roy Halladay - When you trade top-tier prospects and let a pitcher like Lee go, all eyes will be on this prize of a pitcher the Phillies acquired. Halladay has dominated the NL his entire career while pitching in the AL. Imagine what a year will do for him in the weak NL East.
Season outlook: It’s very simple for the Phillies: defend their division and NL pennant. The reigning three-time East and two-time NL champions are poised to do so after a lucrative offseason in which they got Halladay, Polanco, and Baez to lead the way of a ton of moves that improved the rotation, already stellar line up, and struggling bull pen and bench. The Phillies should improve upon their excellent 2009 season and find themselves as the heavy favorites to win the World Series.

Atlanta Braves

Last year’s record/place: 86-76, 3rd
Key acquisitions: 1B Troy Glaus, IF Eric Hinske, RP Billy Wagner, RP Takashi Saito.
Key losses: 1B Adam LaRoche, SP Javier Vazquez, RP Rafael Soriano, RP Mike Gonzalez.
Player to watch: Chipper Jones – He’s been the Braves best position player for the past 15 years. He had a down year last year, finally showing signs of aging. But Jones wants to prove there is still plenty left in the tank and will look to bounce back this year. The Braves still rely on him and will need a good year from him to contend for a playoff spot.
Season outlook: The Braves want to send Bobby Cox off with a bang. Winning the division and making a playoff push would certainly do that. They can compete with the Phillies but a Wild Card berth seems to be more plausible. They do have a secret weapon that has frustrated the Phillies in the past: Derek Lowe. Offensively they have some legit weapons in Jones and Brian McCann. One of the players I’m excited to see is rookie Jason Heyward. He’ll start in RF and should give the Braves a new player to be excited about since Jones in 1995.

Florida Marlins

Last year’s record/place: 87-75, 2nd
Key acquisitions: none.
Key losses: 1B Nick Johnson, OF Ross Gload, P Scott Proctor.
Player to watch: Hanley Ramirez – Ramirez is one of the most exciting young players in the game and it’s shocking Fish fans don’t come out to the park to see him play. He can field, hit for average and with a little power, and can swipe bases with the best of them. If you had to start a franchise with a short stop, it would be Ramirez.
Season outlook: They are that team who always seems to surprise. Like mosquitos, they never go away and are always hungry to win. With a very solid young corps of Ramirez, Cody Ross, and Dan Uggla, the Fish have the ability to give the Phils and Braves some problems. But their inability to make any big moves is what dropped them to third. They were also able to resign Josh Johnson, the team’s ace and one of the best pitchers in the NL. If they can surround him with more pitching talent, the Marlins will be even more dangerous in a couple years.

New York Mets

Last year’s record/place: 70-92, 4th
Key acquisitions: C Rod Barajas, C Chris Coster, LF Jason Bay, , CF Gary Matthews, Jr., RP Josh Fogg, RP Kelvim Escobar.
Key losses: C Brian Schneider, 1B Carlos Delgado, OF Gary Sheffield, SP Oliver Hernandez, RP J.J. Putz.
Player to watch: Jose Reyes – After being injured for over half a season last year, Reyes will look to be healthy and take his spot back among the best short stops in baseball. With an early set-back with a thyroid problem this spring, Mets fans are praying for Reyes to be fine and their team to not be as humiliating as last year’s team.
Season outlook: When healthy the Mets have good players but they aren’t healthy. Reyes is already battling injuries and Carlos Beltran will need to have a bounce-back year. Adding Bay was great offensively for the Mets if he’s healthy. He’s aging, has knee problems, and not that great of a fielder. Johan Santana is still one of the greatest pitchers of our time.

Washington Nationals

Last year’s record/place: 59-103, 5th
Key acquisitions: C Ivan Rodriguez, IF Eric Bruntlett, SP Chien-Ming Wang, SP Jason Marquis, RP Matt Capps, RP Scott Olsen, RP Tyler Walker.
Key losses: C Josh Bard, IF Dimitri Young, OF Austin Kearns, SP Livan Hernandez.
Player to watch: Stephen Strasburg – Not often you see a pitching prospect as good as Strasburg. Though starting in the minors is a much wiser choice, the last-place Nationals may put him on the opening day roster to put fans in the seats… or will that be because they open the season against the Phillies?
Season outlook: They don’t have much to really look forward to. We know the Nats are a bad team and there’s no need to rub that in. They did that for us by signing Bruntlett. But all kidding aside. Strasburg gives them something to look forward to and build off of in the future. Hopefully he pans out for their sake.

All-Bearded Team

Jayson Werth has given me inspiration. With the excitement for the 2010 season growing as fast as facial hair on Werth, I’ve decided to look back at some of the greatest facial hair to don a Phillies uniform. I give to you the first ever All-Bearded Team!

P: Roy Halladay

Red Beard will be famous.

C: Sal Fasano

Fasano rocked the classic "Foo-Man-Chu" in Philly

1B: John Kruk

John Kruk: Bringing the mullet back.

Krukker had a mullet to go with his goatie.

2B: Eric Bruntlett

SS: Dickie Thon

3B: Mike Schmidt

It's the Michael Jack stache. Nothing thwarts the power of the stache!

LF: Garry Maddox

I don't know what to call that but the afro made it epic!

CF: Bake McBride

RF: Pete Incaviglia

Inky had a stache or beard to go with his mullet

2009 Phillies Moment #1

In Game 4 of the NLCS, the Phillies were down to their final two outs, and it looked like the Dodgers might even up the series at 2 games apiece.  Matt Stairs led the rally with a walk, and then Carlos Ruiz was hit by a pitch to put the go-ahead run on base.  Greg Dobbs lined to second for the second out, bringing up Jimmy Rollins.  Rollins had been struggling in the series, hitting .167 to that point. 

Rollins ripped Jonathan Broxton’s 99 mile per hour fastball into right center field, scoring pinch runner Eric Bruntlett easy and Carlos Ruiz slid in for the game winner. 

Rollins rounded second and got mobbed at third base by his teammates.  After taking a shaving cream pie to the face, Rollins said:

I’m all right. I had to curl up in the fetal position and throw some punches of my own.

Manager Charlie Manuel added:

He likes the moment. He wants to be there, and he can control his adrenaline and he can handle the moment. The bigger the stage, the better he likes to play.

The Phillies used their momentum earned in Game 4 to win Game 5 easily, 10-4 and advance to the World Series for the second straight year.

-Realdeal

MNG: Juan Castro

Shortstop Juan Castro #14 of the Los Angeles Dodgers lunges but can't come up with a ball hit by Pedro Feliz of the Philadelphia Phillies in the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium on June 6, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Phillies 3-2 in twelve innings.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Juan Castro

Player: Juan Castro
Number: 7
Position: SS
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: signed a one-year deal with a 2011 in early December.

2009 Stats: (w/ LA Dodgers) – 57 games, 112 AB, 18 runs, 31 hits, 1 HR, 9 RBI, .277 Avg., .311 OBP

Intangibles: The Phillies signed Castro as a replacement for Eric Bruntlett. The 37-year old is a veteran infielder that can play all positions, including outfield. He’s a better hitter than Bruntlett and is coming off of a solid season as a bench player for LA with a .277 average. He is not a base swiper so don’t expect him thrown in there for speed purposes.

Expectations: I expect him to do better than Bruntlett, which should not be hard. He’ll start some games at short and second and hopefully give Charlie Manuel the confidence to do so when he wants to rest Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley.

PRC: Eric Bruntlett

Player: Eric Bruntlett
Number: 4
Position: Utility
Bats/Throws: R/R

Consistency: This is how good Bruntlett was: he batted .400 in August and his next highest total was .222, which came in only nine AB’s in October and was the only other time he batted over .200 in a month. He just was the most disappointing guy off the bench for the Phillies and it really hurt his AB totals. He made the post season roster and scored a run in the NLCS as a pinch hitter and had only one AB in the World Series.

Regular Season Stats: 72 G, 105 AB, 15 R, 18 H, 7 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 2 SB, 5 BB, 26 K, .171 AVG, .224 OBP, .238 SLG

Post Season Stats: 2 G, 1 AB, 1 R

Fielding: He turned an unassisted triple play versus the Mets after committing two errors in the same inning. Yea I’m confused too.

Health: He was never hurt.

Intangibles: He was a disappointment. But he never got down on himself or complained to the team during his struggles. He’s an intelligent player and a good team mate but he just did not cut it for the Phillies. He’s gone as the Phillies already replaced him with Juan Castro.

Overall Grade: D-. The triple play allowed him to pass. Good luck next year, Bruntlett. You were our loveable loser.

2009 Phillies Moment #8: Bruntlett’s Unassisted Triple Play

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Eric Bruntlett. Two words that make Phillies fans cringe. On August 23rd though, he made history. Not just Phillies history, baseball history. Only fifteen times has an unassisted triple play occurred, and only twice has it ended a game. Eric Bruntlett is now part of that group. As much as we all like to pile on his batting average and how it was lower than his weight, for one day he was a legend, not just in the city but in the whole wide world of baseball.

With the Phillies up by two in the ninth, no outs, and the Mets rallying with runners on first and second, the Phillies needed a big play to prevent the Mets from coming back. Bruntlett helped the Mets’ cause with one of two Phillies errors in the inning. Jeff Francoeur hit a 2-2 pitch right to Bruntlett, who stepped on second to double up Luis Castillo and then tagged Daniel Murphy for the third out.
Bruntlett had this to say after the game:

I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t know what to do. The ninth inning was wild. The whole game it seemed was strange. I was almost laughing. What do you do there? Game’s over. High fives.

He might be out of organization forever, but the legend will live on.

-Real Deal

EDIT: Here is the video

Castro Is Phillies Answer for Utility

Not the best answer in my opinion but it is what it is. The Phillies agreed to sign Juan Castro to replace the utility role Eric Bruntlett left. They have agreed to a one-year deal worth under $1 million with Castro, who hit .277 with one home run and nine RBIs in 112 at-bats last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The announcement will come some time next week according to Castro’s agent.

This move isn’t too bad though there were better options out there. Castro is 37 and will provide a veteran presence on the bench. He is also an okay fielder, making him a lateral step from Bruntlett. This also gives the Phillies a guy that could play short stop effectively to rest Jimmy Rollins.

Murphy Talks About Bench Options

The Phillies have a lot of work ahead of them this off season. With only 12 players locked on for next year, not including arbitration eligible players like Shane Victorino, Clay Condrey, and Joe Blanton, the Phillies will look to bolster their bench and bull pen. In his article yesterday, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer talked about a plethora of options the Phillies can look to for their bench next season.

Some stats he brought up that I didn’t realize were that during the post season, the bench was just 1-31, the only hit coming off of Matt Stairs RBI single in the World Series. Also Phillies pinch-hitters hit just .186, the second-worst average in the National League and struck out an NL-high 71 times. They did tie for the league lead in pinch-hit home runs.

As far as needs, I feel that third base should be their first priority. You can’t build a team bench-first. I am starting to warm up a bit to the Mark DeRosa idea but I am weary of it failing. I am also entertained with the idea of Adrien Beltre and Placido Polanco but Beltre’s defense and Polanco being a Type-A free agent is shying me away from them. Chone Figgins is a pipe dream.

Now back to the bench. The Phillies again need a back up catcher, a utility infielder that could hit and give Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley some days off. They also need a power bat off the bench. With Paul Bako, Miguel Cairo, Eric Bruntlett, and Stairs pretty much gone, that will leave the Phillies with a stellar out fielder in Ben Francisco and a healthier Greg Dobbs.

Here is a list of the targets Murphy talked about. A couple of those names appealed to me and some just didn’t work with me:

Fernando Tatis, Utility, NYM: I have to agree with Murphy on this one. He does have a good bat and is very versatile in the field, something the Phillies desperately want on their bench. Though he’s 35, he is still athletic enough to make a difference. I do disagree with one thing Murphy said: If they Phillies sign DeRosa, they could platoon Tatis with him and even spell Utley/Rollins with either player. To me, he and DeRosa will both needed to be signed for it to work.

Jerry Hairston Jr., Utility, NYY: Pass. He’s not that great defensively and will be a huge step down if he gives Rollins/Utley a rest. His bat doesn’t impress me either. He’s basically a less-talented Tatis.

Omar Vizquel, SS, TEX: Pass. He’s old, only plays short stop, and his bat isn’t special either. Though he is considered one of the greatest fielding SS’s of all time, he will mainly be brought in as a defensive minded guy.

Henry Blanco, C, SD: Pass because I like the other back-up option, Greg Zaun. His defense is solid (so was Bako’s) and his bat is an upgrade for the bench.

Greg Zaun, C, TB: This is what I who like to see as the Phillies back up. He is strong behind the plate and he’s a switch hitter. His On-Base Percentage the past six years has been at least .340. With Carlos Ruiz only playing 100 games last year and looking to play more this year, Zaun would be an excellent choice to keep Chooch’s legs fresh down the stretch.

In the end, I want to see the Phillies get Tatis (only if they sign DeRosa) and also Zaun. I’d like to see them pursue a power bat off the bench but the choices out there are very slim.

Bruntlett Leads Players Dropped

The Eric Bruntlett era is over. The Phillies parted ways with their utility man after his two-year stay. Hated by many, I loved his passion and his role as a good team mate and classy guy. We will never forget his unassisted triple play or him sliding home on Carlos Ruiz’s game-winning infield single in game 3 of the 2008 World Series. We will also never forget his .217 with a .297 on base percentage in 238 plate appearances in 2008, then hit .171 with a .238 on base percentage in 118 plate appearances this past year.

Also being dropped were relievers Todd Walker and John Ennis, catcher Paul Hoover, and infielder Andy Tracy.

So with the departure of Bruntlett, that leaves a huge whole in the utility role the Phillies hope to fill. In a perfect world, the Phillies sign either Placido Polanco, Adrian Beltre, or Chone Figgins to start at third and are able to get Mark DeRosa to fill the utility role.

And in other news: Pedro Martinez wants to pitch the whole 2010 season. I don’t know if the Phillies have interest in him being the #5 starter but I wouldn’t mind it. It isn’t know whether or not he can go a whole season and be effective and if they can sign him for cheap then I say go for him. He’d be better than Chan Ho Park and Jamie Moyer as starters (I still want Park back in the pen),

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