Tag:Ben Francisco
Posted on: March 20, 2011 2:27 pm
Edited on: March 20, 2011 2:27 pm

Phillies unsure how to deal with RF conundrum

GloadBy Evan Brunell

The Phillies are going to have to withstand the loss of Chase Utley at second base, but at least the team knows who will replace him in defensive wizard Wilson Valdez. But to hear manager Charlie Manuel tell it, the right-field conundrum may be more concerning.

"We've got guys we can put out there," Manuel told the Philadelphia Inquirer, referring primarily to Ben Francisco and John Mayberry. "But somebody's got to win that job. We've got to get some production, and we've got to play good defense. Our starting pitching, they're going to need defense. We've got to play the game right, and we've got to score runs."

Francisco has a .356 average in spring training, while Mayberry is hitting .319 but has bashed five home runs to play his way into a backup outfield job at the very least. But while Francisco has equipped himself well as a backup outfielder with a history of starting in Cleveland, it's clear that Manuel isn't sold on throwing him out there every day, noting that the option at this point appears to be a platoon.

"I don't know what I might do," Manuel said. "I do a lot of strange things, sometimes."

Manuel reveals that one of those strange things might be to give Ross Gload playing time in right field. While Gload can't play every day -- and certainly not in right field, with a career 36 games at the position -- his bat may be enough to force him into once- or twice-weekly action. As a result, Gload is going to get ample playing time in right field down the spring-training stretch.

The selection of Gload (pictured) may be odd, especially since Gload has evolved into being a pinch-hitter off the bench and only collected 138 plate appearances for the Phillies last season, but boasts a career line of .283/.328/.414, rising to .268/.329/.430 in 397 PA the last two seasons.

"He can get some playing time there," Manuel said. "Gload can hit. He can give you quality at-bats."

What Gload can't give is defense, something Manuel readily acknowledges but appears prepared to deal with, especially when talking about two games a week.

"I think defense comes first because of our starting pitching," Manuel said. "At the same time, we still have to score runs. You can have the greatest defensive player in the world, and you start losing games, the first thing you do is look at that defensive player."

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Posted on: March 20, 2011 2:25 pm
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Posted on: March 11, 2011 6:04 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 6:29 pm

3 up, 3 down: Ruben Amaro's best, worst moves


By Evan Brunell

Now that Charlie Manuel is in the books with a two-year extension, the Phillies are turning to Ruben Amaro, the GM that has steered the club to two consecutive playoff berths after replacing Pat Gillick. Philly.com reports that Amaro's own extension is "lacking just the finishing touches."

That begs the question: what has been Amaro's best and worst moves to date? For all of the machinations that Amaro has done -- some of which were head-scratching -- it's impressive that there were a litany of candidates for Amaro's best moves, but aside from one painfully obvious move, none of his worst moves are truly terrible.

3 UP

1. Welcome to Philadelphia, Cliff Lee! (And welcome back.)

At the trade deadline of 2009, Ruben Amaro pulled off a trade that cemented Philadelphia as a team to be feared. Lacking a clear ace, Lee predictably became a monster in the NL and helped lead Philadelphia to a second straight NL pennant. While Lee would be traded in the offseason (we'll get back to this), the impact he had on the club was immeasurable. 

Even better is that Ben Francisco came along for the ride and provided an excellent bat off the bench as backup outfielder -- and now may be poised to open the year as the starting right fielder after a hot spring. In fact. Francisco may make this deal look even better if and when he finally settles in as a full-time player. Don't forget that he received a ton of playing time in Cleveland and showed he was capable of being a solid starter.

All the club gave up was Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Jason Knapp and Jason Donald. Carrasco looks like a fungible back-of-the-rotation pitcher while Marson shows no aptitude for hitting and figures to have a lengthy career as a backup catcher -- not a  player to miss. Donald, meanwhile, has been getting all the playing time he can handle and doesn't look any better than a second-division starter best used as a utility player. Knapp could be the player that pays the deal off for Cleveland, but even he's in doubt with his checkered injury history.

Also counted in this category is bringing Lee back to town. While trading Lee to the Mariners ended up being a mistake, every ounce of credit is deserved by Amaro for being unafraid to tactically admit a mistake. After claiming Lee simply wanted too much to resign, they bounced him to Seattle and then opened the checkbook to bring him back and got a steal by convincing Lee to ink a five-year deal. While the average annual value of the deal is higher as a result (with a total value of $120 million), the Phillies did very well to only lock themselves into five years.

2. What's up, Doc?

Amaro wasn't done spinning blockbuster deals for starting pitchers, as he would bring in Roy Halladay five months later to be the new anchor of the team. All Halladay did in his first NL season was toss a perfect game against the Marlins and stifle the Reds during Game 1 of the NLDS with a no-hitter. He nailed down a Cy Young Award with a 2.44 ERA in 250 2/3 innings, posting a Lee-ian 7.30 BB/K ratio. In addition, Halladay did so while agreeing to a three-year, $60 million pact with a fourth-year option. Philadelphia had told Halladay they did not want to go beyond three guaranteed years, something they clearly changed their mind on with Lee, but regardless, they locked Doc up to a sweetheart of a deal.

So why does this rank below Lee? Simple: This time around, Amaro gave up a pretty decent package to snag Halladay. Kyle Drabek has already made his major-league debut and there is already talk of Drabek hitting 200 innings pitched in his first full season once 2011 rolls around. You can't project Drabek to be another Halladay, but the Jays did well to get a replacement for the top of the rotation. They also snagged outfielder Michael Taylor who was sent to Oakland for Brett Wallace. While Taylor bombed in Triple-A for the A's, he still remains a solid prospect worth watching. Wallace would later be dealt to Houston for center fielder Anthony Gose, a player the Jays had tried to get included in the Halladay deal that Amaro shipped away in the Roy Oswalt trade. Lastly, Toronto netted Travis D'Arnaud, who ranked No. 61 on CBSSports.com's Top 100 Prospects list and could be Toronto's catcher for a very long time.

But make no mistake about it: the Halladay deal was fantastic for Philadelphia, especially because Amaro clearly recognized the window of opportunity for Philadelphia to win was now, with well-established players capable of winning a World Series. Sure, these players Amaro dealt away could have helped the Phillies extend their winning window, but there are no guarantees of the future, plus Philadelphia still improbably has a strong farm system after decimating it in the Lee, Halladay and Oswalt trades.

3. Signing Chan-Ho Park

Yes, I couldn't think up a clever title for this one. But signing Park to a one-year, $2.5 million deal ended up paying off big time when Park was finally convinced to vacate the rotation in favor of the bullpen. By the time the South Korean arrived in Philadelphia, he had been a top starter for the Dodgers, a massive bust who made millions of dollars in Texas, rebuilt his value in San Diego, missed an entire year as a member of the Mets, then returned to L.A. and turned heads with his production out of the bullpen.

However, Park still wanted to start. Amaro granted his wish, but after seven disastrous starts in which Park put up a 7.29 ERA, he was exiled to the bullpen where he instantly became a weapon. In 50 relief innings, Park went on to whiff 52 and walk 16 while posting a 2.52 ERA. Unfortunately, that would be Park's only (so far) season in Philly as he insisted on another crack at the rotation. He would eventually go to the Yankees where he experienced bad luck, then returned to his strong self as a reliever in the nether regions known as Pittsburgh. Park will pitch in Japan for the 2011 season where, presumably, he will get his wish to start.

It may have just been one year, but the production Amaro received out of Park was invaluable in the march to the NL pennant. Not all successful moves are of the blockbuster variety. In many cases, it's the smaller, unheralded pieces that end up being crucial.



1. He did WHAT?

Yes, Ruben Amaro signed Ryan Howard to a massive five-year, $125 million deal in April, virtually a full two years before the deal will kick in. Who thought this was a good idea?

Howard was a fantastic player before 2010, but was entering his age-30 year. As someone who had a late start to his career and doesn't appear that he can hold up well thanks to old-people skills (tied up in walks and power), any slippage of Howard's power reduces his value significantly.

And that's what happened in 2010, as he hit "just" 31 home runs and 23 doubles. But hey, five triples. Howard will begin his massive deal at age 32, and it's hard to fathom anyone giving him five years and $125 million as a 32-year-old, even if he rebounds with a strong year. In addition, it's not as if Philadelphia got a discount. They could have easily waited a year and then locked Howard into the deal. This was just completely unnecessary and will unfortunately become known as a disastrous deal.

2. Driving off a Cliff (Lee)

Yes, Cliff Lee is Amaro's 1 and 1A best moves of his tenure, but trading Lee away continues to be a head-scratcher, doubly so given Lee's return as a free agent. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, so what was the issue at the time?

Simply put, Lee was expected to command a huge extension and the overtures that Amaro/Philadelphia made were rebuffed. It doesn't appear that any thought was given to a deal that eventually ended up bringing Lee back, but that's purely speculation. What we do know is that the price Lee was thought to be commanding influenced the trade. In addition, Amaro wanted to restock the farm system after the initial Lee and Halladay deal.

But that's where he went off course, agreeing to import Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and J.C. Ramirez for Lee. And simply put, none of these players appear to have the ceiling of the prospects Philly surrendured to get Lee. Aumont is a reliever who may never reach the majors, Gillies is a speedster with a questionable bat and questionable off-field issues and Ramirez is a mildly intriguing prospect. This is one trade that, from the day it was consummated (not unlike the Howard contract) was panned, and not just because of the concept behind the deal, but the return as well.

3. Jumping the gun on Ibanez

When Raul Ibanez was inked to a three-year, $31.5 million pact the day after Christmas of 2008, many didn't quite understand the deal, but it wasn't thought to be terrible. That changed quickly, as that was the offseason that the market corrected itself and many players were frozen out until well into the new year. If Ibanez had waited just a couple more weeks, he would have easily seen his market drop to no more than two guaranteed years, and it's unlikely he could have commanded $10 million per year.

Ibanez kicked off 2009 with an absolutely silly .309/.367/.649 mark in 289 plate appearances, but upon returning from a left groin strain, it was an entirely different year as Ibanez finished the drive with a .232/.326/.448 line, but he ended up with a ring. Last season, Ibanez continued where he left 2009 off, finishing with a .275/.349/.444 mark and 16 home runs -- lowest since 2004, when he also had 16, and also his lowest as a full-time starter. Couple that with his defense and inability to hit left-handed pitchers and Ibanez isn't quite living up to his deal as he enters the final year.

However, this is one deal that stood up better than most expected when it was signed. And if this is only Amaro's third worst move, he's doing fairly well. But that Howard contract...

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Posted on: January 15, 2011 9:20 pm

Arbitration deals trickle in

With more than 100 players still on track toward arbitration, and salary figures to be exchanged by Tuesday, expect to see dozens of deals reached in the next three days. Few players actually go to a hearing, and most who settle do so before the exchange of figures.

A few deals were struck Saturday, presumably during a pregame show or halftime:

* Outfielder Ben Francisco, Phillies, one year, $1.175 million.

* Reliever Kyle McClellan, Cardinals, one year, salary not available -- he was the Cardinals' only arb-eligible player.

* Reliever Carlos Villanueva, Blue Jays, one year, $1.415 million.

* Reliever Brad Ziegler, Athletics, one year, $1.25 million.

If you're really into arbitration -- and who wouldn't be, really? -- a good place to track the status of all arb-eligible players is this tracker at mlbtraderumors.com.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: October 28, 2010 1:40 pm

How will Phillies address right-field vacancy?

Brown As the Phillies lick their wounds on failing to win three straight NL pennants, the big question around town is the future of right field.

Could Jayson Werth somehow return? Is Domonic Brown (pictured) ready for prime time? Where the heck is right-handed power going to come from?

"The problem is, length-wise of a contract, and also what direction we want to go in," manager Charlie Manuel said on 610-WIP on Wednesday, via the Philadelphia Daily News . "From my point of view, to me, right now, I look at our core players, I'm a hitting guy, and I think we can develop a hitter before we can get a top notch pitcher or a top bullpen piece."

The Phillies do have top prospect Domonic Brown who could step into Werth's shoes and seems destined to develop into a star. However, that takes an already lefty-heavy Phillies lineup and tips it even more.

The solution may be to find a platoon partner so Philly can focus on adding to the rotation or bullpen, as it seems Manuel wants to do. The club could start Ross Gload or Brown on the strong side of the platoon and import someone to bat against left-handers. If Brown proves he is able to handle lefties with aplomb, the club would also have the ability to switch the platoon over to left field and Raul Ibanez.

One thing Manuel is interested in is changing up the composition of the roster, citing Brown as one person who might be able to do that.

"We need a blend, a balance, a different look. We need to get back to what I call energy," Manuel noted. "We've got established big league players and they are good big league players, outstanding. Some of them are great. And they have their own way of playing. It's not like they don't hustle and things like that, but we could use a little different mixture."

If the solution is to platoon, who could Philadelphia go after?

The first person that springs to mind is Jeff Francouer, who can hit lefties but can't hit righties whatsoever. He also has a cannon for an arm and could impact games on defense. However, Francouer still considers himself a full-time player and there will likely be a misguided front office that allows him to be just that. (Paging Kansas City.)

The Braves have a mess in the outfield, and Matt Diaz could be non-tendered as part of a rehaul. If so, Diaz could be a perfect complement as his numbers against lefties in his career are excellent. The only negative is he is essentially limited to just left field, which wouldn't work in a right-field platoon.

Jose Guillen is an option should the Phillies find themselves desperate. The drawback? His attitude is questionable and his offense and defense are deterioriating with every given day.

How about internally? Ben Francisco has been a Phillie for roughly a year and a half and boasts a career line of .267/.347/.460 against lefties, which is not all that far off from Frenchy's career .299/.343/.481 mark. The Phillies wouldn't have to shoehorn Francouer into a platoon role or pay him to do that when Francisco could be much less of a headache.

Or how about Andruw Jones?

Jones seems to be a part-time player these days and hasn't amassed more than 281 at-bats in three years. As a part-time outfielder and DH for the White Sox, he banged 18 home runs before stumbling in the middle of the season and recovering. His career line against left-handers is .261/.361/.501 -- and that's not tied up in his previous value as a perennial All-Star. Jones hit .256/.373/.501 for the ChiSox against left-handers.

What helps is that Jones could be pressed into starting duty and not completely embarrass himself in right field should Philadelphia ask him to play more. If Jones doesn't care much for the offers on the free-agent market this year, headed to a team where he would be guaranteed to face lefties and see a healthy amount of time as a backup against righties could be enough for him to pull the trigger and perhaps amass more than 281 at-bats.

The Phillies have some work ahead of themselves to address the impending vacancy in right field, and going to a platoon situation might be the best way to handle the situation in 2010. It gives Brown some time to develop, assuming he wins the strong-side platoon job, and also imports someone to protect against Raul Ibanez looking hapless against lefties. That frees up Philly to commit its dollars to pitching and hopefully some relievers who understand the name of the game is to get outs.

  -- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: October 20, 2010 5:46 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2010 5:49 pm

Phillies-Giants NLCS Game 4 breakdown

Both managers are playing with their lineups, as Charlie Manuel sits Raul Ibanez and Bruce Bochy brings Pablo Sandoval back for Game 4.

Philadelphia Phillies

Postseason stats: Hitting /Pitching

1. Shane Victorino , CF
overall: .259/.327/.429, 34 SB
on road: .267/.327/.417 in 288 AB
against LHP: .321/.381/.539
vs. SF: .320/.370/.440, 3 2B in 25 AB

2. Chase Utley , 2B

overall: .275/.387/.445, 38 XBH

on road: .240/.350/.385 in 208 AB 

against LHP: .294/.422/.581

vs. SF: .227/.370/.273 in 22 AB

3. Placido Polanco , 3B

overall: .298/.339/.386

on road: .306/.351/.387 in 248 AB 

Ryan Howard against LHP: .280/.324/.344

vs. SF: .231/.286/.231 in 26 AB

4. Ryan Howard (pictured), 1B

overall: .276/.353/.505, 31 HR, 108 RBI

on road: .266/.348/.491, 15 HR in 267 AB 

against LHP: .264/.333/.492

vs. SF: .364/.462/.727 in 11 AB

5. Jayson Werth , RF

overall: .296/.388/.532, 27 HR

on road: .270/.375/.463, 9 HR in 270 AB 

against LHP: .287/.402/.479

vs. SF: .227/.320/.409 in 22 AB

6. Jimmy Rollins , SS

overall: .243/.320/.374, 41 RBI in 350 AB

on road: .221/.311/.349 in 172 AB 

against LHP: .297/.368/.405

vs. SF: .357/.357/.714 in 14 AB, 6 RBI

7. Ben Francisco, LF
overall: .268/.327/.441, 6 HR in 179 AB
on road: .273/.308/.464 in 69 AB

against LHP: .284/.344/.557, 6 HR in 88 AB

vs. SF: .167/.167/.167 in 6 AB

8. Carlos Ruiz , C

overall: .302/.400/.447 in 371 AB

on road: .330/.419/.489 in 176 AB 

against LHP: .327/.431/.509

vs. SF: .188/.350/.388 in 16 AB

9. Joe Blanton, RHP
overall: 9-6, 175 2/3 IP, 4.82 ERA
on road: 4-4, 80 2/3 IP, 5.47 ERA
vs. SF: 1-0, 2.84 ERA in 1 GS, 7 Ks, 0 BB, 2 HR in 6 1/3 IP

X-factor to win: Chase Utley needs to return to his usual self. The Phillies second baseman not only had two errors in the last game, but he also has just one hit in the series.

Player to watch: Ben Francisco is in for the struggling Raul Ibanez in left. All six of Francisco's homers in 2010 have come off of left-handers. In his career, his numbers have been more balanced between RHP and LHP, but he's hitting lefties much better this season.

San Francisco Giants

Postseason stats: Hitting /Pitching

1. Edgar Renteria , SS
overall: .276/.332/.374 in 243 AB

at home: ..274/.317/.389 in 113 AB
against RHP: .272/.324/.347 in 173 AB
vs. PHI: .538/.571/.538 in 13 AB, 3 GP

2. Freddy Sanchez , 2B 

overall: .292/.342/.397 in 431 AB

at home: .333/.394/.419 in 186 AB

against RHP: .276/.327/.362 in 323 AB

vs. PHI: .500/.500/.500 in 2 AB

3. Aubrey Huff , 1B 

overall: .290/.385/.506, 26 HR in 569 AB

at home: .264/.361/.471, 12 HR in 280 AB

Pablo Sandoval against RHP: .287/.388/.506, 19 HR in 407 AB

vs. PHI: .150/.150/.300 in 20 AB

4. Buster Posey , C

overall: .305/.357/.505 in 406 AB

at home: .258/.304/.419 in 189 AB

against RHP: .304/.353/.479, 12 HR in 309 AB

vs. PHI: .417/.417/.583 in 12 AB

5. Pat Burrell , LF
overall*: .266/.364/.509 in 289 AB

at home: .284/.363/.539 in 160 AB

against RHP: .264/.356/.500, 17 HR in 284 AB

vs. PHI: .182/.250/.727, 2 HR in 11 AB

6. Cody Ross, RF
overall: .269/.322/.413 in 452 AB

at home**: .291/.293/.418 in 58 AB

against RHP: .229/.285/.372 in 266 AB

vs. PHI: .146/.205/.146 in 41 AB

7. Pablo Sandoval (pictured), 3B
overall: .268/.323/.409 in 563 AB
at home: .330/.382/.520 in 279 AB
vs. RHP: .282/.336/.443, 28 2B in 422 AB
vs. PHI: .320/.346/.520, 1 HR in 25 AB

8. Aaron Rowand, CF
overall: .230/.281/.378 in 331 AB
at home: .242/.294/.382 in 157 AB
against RHP: .237/.276/.373, 7 HR in 236 AB
vs. PHI: .000/.000/.000 in 4 AB

9. Madison Bumgarner, LHP
overall: 7-6, 111 IP, 3.00 ERA, 4.03 xFIP
at home: 1-3, 45 IP, 4.60 ERA
vs. PHI: N/A

* Does not include TB statistics
**Ross was acquired by the Giants on August 21. Home numbers reflect games played in AT&T Park, even if a visitor.  

X-factor to win: Bumgarner has to be more the road version of himself than his home version. Only one of his seven victories have come at AT&T Park and his ERA at home is 4.60 opposed to 1.91 on the road. Batters are hitting .303 at home against Bumgarner and .250 on the road.

Keep an eye on: Kung-Fu Panda himself, Pablo Sandoval, is back in the lineup for the first time since Game 2 of the NLDS.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com