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Category Archives: Juan Castro

Grading the Phillies: Bench

(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Ben Francisco – C+: His lack of playing time came as a surprise to fans this year, especially when Raul Ibanez had some early-season struggles. He’s the type of player who needs every day at-bats to heat up. It will be interesting to see what happens next season if the Phils don’t sign Jays Werth or think Domonic Brown will be ready to start.

Ross Gload – B-: Gload had stretches of brilliance but also had some stretches of poor hitting. He became their go-to guy late in the season and in the playoffs when facing a right-handed reliever.

Brian Schneider – B-: His job was simple: be good enough to spell Carlos Ruiz or when Ruiz gets injured.

Mike Sweeney – B: Acquired in August, Sweeney became an immediate fan favorite and got some solid playing time when Ryan Howard was hurt.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Wilson Valdez – A-: Valdez stepped in beautifully when Jimmy Rollins was hurt for a majority of the season.

Other guys

Dom Brown – C+: He was making his making his major league debut so much wasn’t expected. Next year will be interesting. If he starts, expectations will be high. If he doesn’t, fans will wonder when he will be major league-ready.

Juan Castro – D: He didn’t last long so obviously his grade won’t be that good

Greg Dobbs – C-: There’s a reason why the Phillies let him go after the season. 2008 was more a fluke than what the Phils thought Dobbs was capable of.

Paul Hoover and Dane Sardhina – C-: These guys were bad replacements when Ruiz and Schneider were hurt.

Here’s Polly!

In three seperate tweets by Ryan Lawrence, Placido Polanco returned, Juan Castro was released to make room for Polly, and a the Phillies line up for today is very interesting. Castro was one of Ruben Amaro’s dumpster-diving moves in the offseason that proved to be trash and not treasure.

Castro hit .198 with 13 RBI in 54 games. He was so bad that the Phillies opted to keep Wilson “GDIP” Valdez over Castro. Valdez is younger, faster, and hasn’t been a complete invalid the past few weeks.

Polanco adds balance to the Phillies line up at the front end, allowing them to drop Raul Ibanez back to the bottom of the line up. With Chase Utley’s return, the Phillies could have their line up intact for the first time since opening day.

Today’s line up: Shane Victorino; Polly, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Ibanez, Carlos Ruiz, Valdez, and Cole Hamels.

Phillies Mid-Season Report Card

The Phillies struggled for most of the first half but still find themselves 4.5 out of first with plenty of time to make noise in their own division. Only a handful of players are deserving of good grades as they consistently performed to their expectations or higher. Some others have disappointed in their seasons, whether injuries were involved or not. We’ll take a look at the starting eight, the rotation, the bench, and the bull pen.

C) Carlos Ruiz – B+
Stats: 58 games, .283 avg., 18 R, 11 2B, 2 HR, 13 RBI.
Overview:
Chooch was bitten by the bug, one of many to hit the DL. But when he’s healthy, he provided a nice bat at the bottom of the line up. He had a hot start where he was killing the ball in April and May. His .404 OBP his very high for a catcher in the bottom of the order. His 31 walks are up there for the amount of games he’s played. He’s been much better than expected so far and gets better in the later months of the season.

1B) Ryan Howard – B+
Stats: 87 games, .294 avg., 55 R, 15 2B, 4 3B, 17 HR, 65 RBI.
Overview:
Howard is enjoying an increase in batting average and a decrease in strike outs despite still leading the team in whiffs. He has only walked 26 times this year, a stat that he has needed to work on his entire career. Many are concerned that his power numbers are down and he’s hitting too many singles. The fact he’s hitting the ball and getting on base while still driving in his normal amount of runs is what’s important. So what if he isn’t hitting the long ball. He’s tied for first in the NL in RBIs and is only five homers behind the leaders. Howard is hitting the ball and that’s all that matters. Like Chooch, his best months are right around the corner. Expect a show.

2B) Chase Utley – C+
Stats: 72 games, .277 avg., 49 R, 13 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 31 RBI.
Overview:
Utley has not enjoyed his first half, starting with a hot start, a horrible slump, a resurgence, and now a 6-8-week injury to his right thumb. But Utley’s return will boost the Phillies, who need the All-Star second baseman to win. Utley’s grade was difficult to give because of the slump and injury. His power numbers and RBI numbers were way down and his average is well below his career mark of .294. His second half numbers should improve with Howard’s.

3B) Placido Polanco – A-
Stats: 62 games, .318 avg., 39 R, 15 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 27 RBI.
Overview:
Polly was everything the Phillies expected from him, from being a great bat to fill the hole in the line up left by Pedro Feliz to making sure the Phillies infield didn’t lose anything after letting the sure-handed Feliz walk. His only problem is his lack of walks (12) as the two-hole hitter despite making that up with his ability to hit his way on base. He also got bit by the injury bug but should be back by Saturday to help balance the Phillies line up back out again.

SS) Jimmy Rollins – C
Stats: 31 games, .254 avg., 18 R, 8 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 18 RBI.
Overview:
Rollins had a hot start to the season before going down with a calf injury. After a second stint on the DL when he re-aggravated the injury, his numbers nose-dived. His OBP is below the average for lead-off’s but that’s normal for the non-traditional one-spot hitter. If Rollins’ bat heats back up, the Phillies would be more than grateful.

LF) Raul Ibanez – C-
Stats: 85 games, .243. avg., 36 R, 18 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 39.
Overview:
He’s been swinging a good bat lately but still isn’t performing to the expectations he set in last year’s first-half. The Phillies don’t expect much more production from him than he has already given them, proving that Ruben Amero, Jr.’s decision to sign him for that much money for three years to be a bone-head move. Granted Ibanez is still a fan favorite and has come through in the clutch, more consistency is needed out of him, especially in these trying times.

CF) Shane Victorino – D
Stats: 86 games, .250 avg., 54 R, 12 2B, 8 3B, 14 HR, 48 RBI.
Overview:
Though his remarks against the Phillies fans were called for, they were aimed at the wrong fans and were definitely not deserving of coming from a player who has done so little for this team this season. Him popping up is almost as expected as Wilson Valdez to ground into a double play. There was a reason he was dropped to the seven-hole when Polanco was signed. He’s not a good hitter from the top of the line up and isn’t drawing the walks to get on base (.317 OBP). So maybe, Shane, you should just shut up and play the game for now.

RF) Jayson Werth – B
Stats: 84 games, .282 avg., 52 R, 27 2B, 1 3B, 13 HR, 49 RBI.
Overview:
He’s not doing jack squat for this squad in his contract year. Yea the inflated .282 average looks nice but he’s only trailing Howard in K’s by three. That average is mainly due to the ridiculous start he had in April/May when he was destorying the baseball. Now it seems as if he’s going through the motions. He’s walking a lot, leading the team with 40 along with Utley, but he isn’t producing from the five-hole. His 13 homers and 49 RBI’s are way off his 2009 mark but he’s leading the league in doubles. I expect his bat to get red hot soon along with Howard’s. They always seem to get hot at the right time. If Werth wakes out of his funk, maybe he’ll get that big payday he thinks he deserves.

SP) Roy Halladay – A+
Stats: 19 starts, 10-7, 2,19 ERA, 7 CG, 3 SHO, 148.0 IP, 19 BB, 128 K.
Overview:
You couldn’t ask for more from Doc. In fact, all Halladay asks for is a little more run support. He should only have two losses with the way he’s pitched but has gotten little to no-run support at all in seemingly his last 13 starts. But Halladay is still making hitters in the NL look foolish, pitching well enough to be high up in the Cy Young talks with Ubaldo Jimenez and Josh Johnson. His perfect game along with seven complete games and three shut outs speak volumes. He also averages over 7 2/3 IP per start, showing how much of an asset he is to the bull pen and the team.

SP) Cole Hamels – B+
Stats: 18 starts, 7-7, 3.78 ERA, 0 CG, 0 SHO, 112.0 IP, 39 BB, 107 K.
Overview:
Cole is having a much better season than his numbers suggest due to lack of run support and a couple of bad starts. Other than that, his ERA is about normal. Many were concerned if he was going to be able to bounce back from a 2009 season in which he admitted he wanted over with in the World Series. Hamels is back and has been the most reliable arm on the hill behind Doc. No pressure, Cole. Keep on hurlin’.

SP) Jamie Moyer – B
Stats: 17 starts, 9-8, 4.51 ERA, 2 CG, 1 SHO, 107.2 IP, 20 BB, 62 K.
Overview:
I should give him an A for being 47-years old and no one thinking he deserved to even be in the rotation. He quieted a lot of people by continuing to be a very reliable arm, even the third best in a rotation that has been very good for the Phillies. He’s a contact pitcher that relies on the corners of the plate. He’s done a great job at hitting those spots and making batters take bad cuts at his floating fastball and even slower change-up. He may not be the most talented or dominating pitcher but his understanding of the game is the reason he still does what he does and does it well.

Rest of the rotation – C+
Overview:
Joe Blanton is starting to pitch better after his rough first eight or nine starts. Kyle Kendrick has been either spectacular or awful in each of his starts. But the pitching situation for the last two spots will get interesting again once J.A. Happ is back up with the Phillies. The young lefty was hurt after two starts and in his 10 innings pitched, he has yet to allow an earned run.

Bull pen – D
Overview:
They have been awful. Brad Lidge, when healthy, scares the ever-loving crap out of fans when he goes out. Ryan Madson is done kicking chairs and is back to pitching the eighth inning as the opening act for the circus in the ninth. J.C. Romero has been up and down and Jose Contreras has been awful since his very good start. Danys Baez is worthless and David Herndon isn’t that good and is only on the squad thanks to the Rule-5 rules. The Phils are longing for the return of Chad Durbin though.

Bench – D
Overview:
Not one bench player is batting over .250 that has been a regular sub all season. Greg Dobbs is starting to find his stroke though as Ross Gload has gotten worse. Brian Schneider being healthy again will allow Ruiz to stay fresh. Ben Francisco has been a let-down this season. Wilson Valdez and Juan Castro are both awful choices to play in Utley’s spot but that is all they have.

Bats Disappear On Night They’re Given Away

It’s kind of ironic that the Phillies held a promotion for children ages 14 and under to give away a Louisville Slugger with Charlie Manuel’s name engraved on the barrel. It seemed as though the bats belonging to the men in pinstripes found their way to the give-away pile as the Phillies only managed three hits in a 6-3 loss to Atlanta in extra innings. The loss put the Phillies back at five games behind Atlanta.

They wasted another tremendous start by one of the arms in the rotation. Cole Hamels fell victim this time around, allowing three runs in seven innings of work on eight hits and a walk. The lefty also struck out eight batters en route to a no decision. David Herndon got the loss, giving up a single and an RBI double for the go-ahead run before being lifted.

The offense manage to make Jair Jurrjens look like a Cy Young candidate tonight. He only allowed all three runs on two hits and three walks while striking out four. His ERA dropped to a 5.40. Yea, he’s a guy who gets lit every game and he manages to make this so-called great offense look like a group of blind-folded Mexicans swinging at a pinata just out of reach. Billy Wagner pitched in the 11th to earn his 18th save of the year.

Raul Ibanez’s two-run homer in the first, Ryan Howard’s RBI triple in the seventh and Shane Victorino’s infield single in the ninth were the only bit of offense the Phillies could muster. Other than that, nothing happened. It was in the high 90’s when the game started and was still humid throughout the game. They made Jurrjens throw 28 pitches in the first inning and then swung at everything after. In this heat, you make a pitcher throw, wear him down, and then hit him around. It’s simple, guys.

The Phillies had a chance to win this game in the seventh inning. After Ibanez led off with a walk, Howard ripped an opposite field shot that just missed leaving the park. It was misread by Matt Diaz and skidded towards the left foul line. Ibanez hustled his way to score and Howard made it to third easily for his fourth triple on the season. The score was now 3-3 and the Phillies were poised to take the lead again.

What happened next was another example of why this offense is absolutely frustrating to watch. With no outs still and Howard standing on third, Jayson Werth struck out looking, barely lifting the bat off his shoulders. If anyone is to be taken out back and have sense beaten into him, it’s Werth. He’s in a contract year and has been absolutely unreliable, let alone leading the team in strike outs.

But that wasn’t the only opportunity to drive in Howard. Ben Francisco followed up with a soft hump-back liner to shallow center that wasn’t deep enough to score Howard. With two outs, Wilson “Double Play” Valdez (only GDIP’ed once tonight) hit a soft roller to third that he couldn’t beat out, ending the inning and leaving the score tied.

Matt Diaz was the star of tonight’s game. He went 3-for-5 and ripped two doubles, the latter driving in Yunel Escobar as the winning run in the top of the 11th. Eric Hinske hit a two-run blast in the 11th off of Mike Zagurski as a couple of insurance runs. Martin Prado also had a great game, homering in the seventh.

The Phillies offense has been dreaful the past two months. One amazing stat I heard today was that the Phillies have scored eight or more runs in 20 games this year. And in the games following, they’re 4-16. The past years, you could be confident that the Phillies would not go down with out a fight when trailing by three runs or less in the late innings. Now it seems this team has no offensive spark.

Injuries have ultimately torn this team apart and it all starts at the lead-0ff spot. Jimmy Rollins is not getting the job done and neither is Victorino. Both of them are bad options to lead-off with. Placido Polanco’s absence is taking away a hitter from the top of the order that will get on base. With no Chase Utley, Ibanez is forced to bat third, thus leaving Werth unprotected in the five-hole. The after Werth, you have Greg Dobbs, Valdez/Juan Castro, and Dane Sardinha/Brian Schneider before the pitcher’s spot. That’s five hitters filling three spots that are hitting .227. That’s embarrassing!

Schnieder will be back in the line-up tomorrow and hopefully will provide a bat that Sardinha is just not giving the Phils.

3B: Howard (4). HR: Ibanez (7).

WP: Chavez (1-1). LP: Herndon (0-2). S: Wagner (18).

Boxscore.

-J.R.

Doc, Dobbs Earn Phils A Huge Win

All Roy Halladay is asking for each start is a little offense. His 2.33 ERA is letting you know that if you score at least three runs, he’ll likely get you a W. Halladay only needed 93 pitches for his seventh complete game of the season as the Phillies won 3-1 to cut their deficit in the standings to four games.

Greg Dobbs was the real hero though. His two-run shot in the sixth erased the Braves’ 1-0 lead they earned in the first with a solo home run by Chipper Jones. The homer highlighted Dobbs’ two-hit game. Juan Castro drove in Jayson Werth with two outs in the eighth as an insurance run before Halladay sat down the Braves in order off of six pitches in the ninth.

Halladay gave up only five hits and a walk in the win while striking out seven. Derek Lowe’s efforts aren’t that to be forgotten. He allowed only two runs in seven strong innings of work where he allowed six hits and a walk while striking out six. Lowe basically got a taste of what it’s like to not get any support.

The Phillies were coming off of a tough series loss to a team as low as Pittsburgh as they saw themselves drop in the standings. With this win over Atlanta, they sit four games back with the ability to gain even more ground. Cole Hamels being on the mound tomorrow against Atlanta’s weakest pitcher of the series, Jair Jurjjens, is going to help them tremendously.

HR: Dobbs (2).

WP: Halladay (10-7). LP: Lowe  (9-7).

Boxscore.

Surgery For Utley, Manuel Suspended

The news that everybody didn’t want to hear came true today.  Phillies second basemen Chase Utley had surgery on his injured thumb and will miss a minimum of eight weeks.  Utley will wear a splint during the first five weeks.  Utley suffered the injury sliding into second base against the Cincinnati Reds earlier in the week.  It was also learned that Placido Polanco has chronic tendinitis and will rest his elbow for two weeks.  It is likely that Polanco will be out three to four weeks.

This puts the Phillies into an interesting position with both Utley and Polanco being out for an extended period of time.  The Phillies’ current choices for replacements are Wilson Valdez, Juan Castro, and Greg Dobbs.  I believe Manuel will stick with Valdez and play him at second or third base.  That still leaves another infield spot up for grabs.  It’s hard to imagine Greg Dobbs playing third base for more than a month.  It’s possible that Ruben Amaro Jr. could seek a trade for an adequate infield replacement. 

Names that have been tossed around include Ty Wigginton, Jhonny Peralta, and Kelly Johnson.  I’d personally like to see Amaro go after Ty Wigginton.  In 72 games for the Orioles this season, Wigginton is batting .262 with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs.  He could fill in at third base for Polanco then shift over to second base when Polanco returns.  He also provides some right-handed power off the bench.  Wigginton wouldn’t command neitherly as much in terms of trade value.  A lower level prospect or two could easily land Wigginton in red pinstripes.

On a less serious note, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has been suspended one game for a verbal altercation with umpire C.B. Bucknor during Wednesday’s game.  Manuel was suspended for inappropriate contact with Bucknor.  He will serve the one game ban tonight against the Pittsburgh Pirates

CB

Utley, Polanco to DL

Green heads and black flies aren’t the only insects biting hard this season in the Tri-State area. The injury bug has been sinking it’s teeth into the Phillies this year, most recently getting a hold of Chase Utley and Placido Polanco. They were sent to the DL and in their places, Greg Dobbs was recalled and Brian Bocock will be getting his first action as a Phillie.

Polanco struggled with his left elbow for a few weeks prior before receiving his second cortisone shot of the season days ago. The elbow problem was not going away and the Phillies opted to put him on the DL. Utley injured his right thumb when attempting to stretch a single into a double in the fourth inning. He played until the ninth and had Juan Castro pinch-hit for him because he was having troubles gripping the bat.

Utley, who made it clear that if he is injured, he won’t play, was obviously in pain. He’s the toughest player on the team, playing through an injured hip during the 2008 season and knee pain this season thus far.

“But for him to leave a game … that’s the last guy that’s going to take himself out of a game,” Shane Victorino said. “He’s obviously hurting. I hope he’s not seriously hurt.”

Dobbs has been a mystery for the Phillies this year. He was sent down when Jimmy Rollins got healthy to get AB’s in Lehigh but his presence in the line up will be needed with the injury to Utley. The struggling third baseman was only hitting .222 in 66 at-bats for the Phillies. He now has a second chance to redeem himself and stay with the Phillies once Polanco and Utley return.

Bocock is only batting .179 in Lehigh this year. It’s a complete surprise the Phillies called him up. Melvin Dorta, another middle infielder like Bocock, would’ve been a better choice seeing as he’s batting .312 in 173 AB’s.

Rollins to Return

By John Russo

Thank you! Jimmy Rollins will be back in red pinstripes as early as Tuesday. Whether or not he’s playing tomorrow is unknown but I will be proudly wearing my Rollins jersey to the park. Rollins has only played in 11 games this season while having two stints on the DL. Rollins had lofty predictions heading into the season and it appears none of those expectations will be met.

Rollins, who is batting .341 in 41 at-bats, will bring an immediate spark to a team hurting for runs and wins. Though the offense came to the life in the previous four-of-five games, the four-hit loss to Carl Pavano on Sunday killed the momentum the offense appeared to be gaining. With Rollins back, the offense will have its catalyst and they can get back to scoring runs and gaining on the first-place Braves, who sit 5.5 games in first place.

Rollins hasn’t had injury problems at all during his 10-year career. A calf injury like this can nag the 31-year-old short stop for the rest of his career if it isn’t monitored correctly. In order for that to not happen, Rollins will have to let the Phillies know if he feels discomfort and they will also have to not have him playing in an excess of games. With Wilson Valdez playing as well as he has as of late, the Phillies should continue to give him more time.

The use of Valdez is a big IF though. With the return of Rollins, it will be interesting to see who get’s designated for assignment. It’s between Valdez, Juan Castro, and even Greg Dobbs. Castro has become a forgotten utility player and Dobbs has been awful all season. Dobbs hasn’t been the 2008 pinch-hitter the Phillies wanted him to be and could land on another team if DFA’ed.

It will be interesting tomorrow to see what the Phillies do. I want them to hold onto Valdez, personally and let Castro go. You have to factor in age and overall value.

But back to J-Roll. The return of Rollins will be huge for the Phillies. Despite the fact I really want to see Rollins back in the line up tomorrow, I hope he doesn’t start tomorrow so he isn’t rushed back. Unless he and Charlie Manuel are 100% sure he can contribute without re-injuring himself, Rollins sitting the bench is the best option.

Phils Snap Skid Heading Into NY

Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia leaps after forcing out Chase Utley. Both players are regarded as the best two-baggers in their respective leagues. AP Photo/Charles Krupa

The Phillies did not want to go into a tough Yankee Stadium any more down in the NL East than they already were. They prevented that by scoring early and holding on to win by a score of 5-3 in Boston to prevent the sweep and snapping the three-game skid.

Tim Wakefield gave the Phillies a lot of problems when he faced them three weeks ago in Philadelphia. But the knuckle-baller was bested, allowing four runs in 7.1 innings. After that bad inning, he settled down and pitched great for Boston. If it weren’t for those early runs, this game could’ve been trouble for the Phils.

Cole Hamels was fantastic in his outing, allowing a run on five hits and two walks in seven innins of work while striking out eight. The lone run he allowed came off a solo homer in the second inning by Adrian Beltre. Brad Lidge pitched 2/3 of an inning to get his fourth save of the season.

While trailing 1-0, the Phillies got four runs in a huge fourth inning where Raul Ibanez hit a two-run home run to snap the 1-1 tie. Ben Francisco then doubled and was driven in by Juan Castro to make it a 4-1 game. The Phillies added a run in the top of the ninth when Ben Francisco drove in Jayson Werth on a sacrifice fly. Boston scored two in the bottom half but Lidge stopped the bleeding to shut the door on the come back.

The Phillies will have the day off Monday before heading to the Bronx to face the Yankees in a three-game rematch of the World Series. I’ll be in attendance for Tuesday’s games with six more to invade Yankee Stadium and watch Roy Halladay take on C.C. Sabathia.

Doubles: Howard (11), Francisco (4), Polanco (13). HR: Ibanez (4).

WP: Hamels (6-5). LP: Wakefield (2-5). S: Lidge (4).

Boxscore.

Historic Halladay

Phillies ace Roy Halladay hugs catcher Carlos Ruiz and is congratulated by first baseman Ryan Howard after his perfect game against Florida Saturday night. AP Photo.

Phillies fans knew there was going to be a no-hitter. But not many were expecting that Roy Halladay would be perfect. It’s almost fitting that it happened in Philadelphia where Halladay, a championship-starved pitcher, finally landed himself on a true contender.

Doc faced 27 batters and showed each one of them to their seats on the bench as he pitched the 20th perfect game in major league history and the second this season. The Phillies won the game 1-0 over the Marlins in Florida.

It was the second perfect game of the season (Oakland’s Dallas Braden threw one a couple weeks ago) and the second in Phillies history (Jim Bunning was the first on Father’s Day in 1964). The last no-hitter for the Phillies was Kevin Millwood in 2003.

Halladay got the lone run he needed in the third inning. Chase Utley hit a fly ball to center field that got misplayed by Cameron Maybin. Wilson Valdez was hustling the whole way and scored to make it 1-0.

One run was all that was needed for the 32-year old ace. He struck out 11 in the effort to see his ERA drop to a 1.99 and his record to improve to 7-3.

Florida thought they could thwart Doc’s efforts in the ninth with a couple of pinch hitters who have a history with the Phillies. They must have known ex-Phillies kill the Phightins, obviously leaving fans nervous. With one out, former Phillie Wes Helms struck out looking. Then former catcher Ronny Paulino hit a ground ball to third baseman Juan Castro who threw out Paulino to clinch history.

Josh Johnson was no slouch either in his effort against Halladay. He allowed one unearned run on seven hits and a walk in seven innings pitched.

The Phillies are winners of two straight and are hoping to build on the momentum. Though the offense has only scored four runs the last two games, the winning is all that matters. The offense will come.

Doubles: Valdez (6), Castro (5).

WP: Halladay (7-3). LP: Johnson (5-2).

Boxscore.

*********************

In a classy gesture, the Marlins are going to dig up the pitching rubber and give it to Doc as a souvenier. From ESPN.com:

The Marlins said they would give Halladay the pitching rubber as a souvenir, leading to a slightly surreal scene. The lights at Sun Life Stadium went out and fireworks began exploding two minutes after the game ended, with the field crew preparing for a postgame concert behind second base.

Working in the dark, four men went to work on the mound, digging up the slab where Halladay made history.

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