Tag:Raul Ibanez
Posted on: July 31, 2011 11:19 pm
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3 Up, 3 Down: Cueto takes MLB lead in ERA

Cueto

By Evan Brunell


UpJohnny Cueto, Reds: Cueto spun a gem on Sunday, finally qualifying for MLB leaderboards. Now that he's qualified, he boasts baseball's lowest ERA at at a scant 1.74, going the distance for a complete-game shutout, allowing three hits and one walk, while striking out six. People have been waiting for a breakout for Cueto for years, and while he's putting together the best season of his career, he's also been inordinately lucky, limiting home runs and allowing just 23 percent of batted balls to fall in for hits, compared to the league average of 29 percent. Not that his fantasy owners (me) are complaining.

Raul Ibanez, Phillies: Ibanez is an incredibly streaky hitter, being a valued member of the Philadelphia lineup in both May and July, but an albatross in the other two months. That doesn't bode well for August, does it? Anyways, Ibanez blasted two home runs against the Pirates, the latter blow tying the game in the bottom eighth before Philly walked off in the 10th. His four RBI were 2/3s of Philadelphia's total, and boosted his overall line to .247/.293/.434 which tells you how anemic he was in April and June.

Joe Saunders, Diamondbacks: Saunders is on fire, throwing 7 2/3 innings of a victory to even his record up at 8-8. He allowed just two runs, walking none and striking out three. This is part of a larger pattern for Saunders, who was roundly criticized upon his trade to Arizona last season for Dan Haren. Saunders has found the senior circuit to his liking, posting a 3.56 ERA despite pitching in a hitter's park and has pitched 16 2/3 innings of a possible 18 in his last two starts. In July, Saunders didn't allow more than three earned runs in his six starts, a big reason why Arizona has stayed in playoff contention.

Honorable mention: Justin Verlander came oh-so-close to his second no-hitter of the season, not his first flirtation with that honor. Instead, he ended up holding on for the win in what turned into a crazy game.



DownTommy Hanson, Braves: Hanson didn't exactly get hit hard, but he give up three runs in six innings. Good enough for a quality start, but despite striking out seven, he also walked three. The start means Hanson has given up 18 runs in his last 23 1/3 innings, comprised of four starts. For comparison, prior to July, the most runs Hanson had ever given up in one month alone, never mind four starts, was 10, accomplished twice in April and May before dropping to six earned in June over four starts. So that should illustrate both how good Hanson has been and the rough stretch he's entered, which has spiked his ERA to 3.13.

Jake Westbrook, Cardinals: Westbrook took a perfect game into the sixth inning, but coughed up a walk to Koyie Hill -- the No. 8 hitter -- with one out in the sixth. The wheels came off after that, and when it was all said and done, Westbrook had given up three hits, three walks and struck out three in six innings, allowing four earned runs. Every single one of those hits, walks and runs came in the sixth. That's one way to blow up a no-no.

Trade deadline losers: The Dodgers, Orioles and Cubs were colossal losers at the trade deadline. The Dodgers traded away a potential high-impact bat for three organizational guys. The Orioles' entire season is officially a loss, and the Cubs incomprehensibly stood pat. Read more here, as well as who won the trade deadline.

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Posted on: May 27, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2011 1:29 pm
 

Breaking player slumps tough job for managers

By Matt Snyder

Just over a week after saying he would leave Adam Dunn in the three-hole, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has now dropped Dunn to seventh in the batting order. It's pretty tough to blame him, from a certain point of view.

Dunn is hitting .186 with an incredible 65 strikeouts in 156 at-bats. He's only hit five home runs. Even his traditionally-high on-base percentage is a sub-par .314.

The flip-side, however, is that Dunn has been one of the most consistent power hitters of the past decade. Scoff if you will -- there's a stigma that comes with Dunn because of his high-strikeout, low-batting average rates -- but here are his home run totals from the past seven seasons: 46, 40, 40, 40, 40, 38, 38. He reached 100 RBI in six of those seasons, his OBP was .381 and OPS was .914. He also never played less than 152 games in a season. That's a really productive offensive player.

So, if you're Guillen, you have to expect Dunn to start hitting well any day now. There's just no reason to believe he's cooked at 31. Sure, he switched leagues, but any drop off shouldn't have been this drastic. It's just that if you leave him in the third spot of the lineup and he continues to pump out four-strikeout games, it's killing your team.

This situation is a good illustration of a very tough job for managers. Figuring out how to approach a guy in a huge slump is a delicate business. No matter what action is taken, there are lots of possible negative consequences.

Lineup movement happens a lot. The Marlins have moved Hanley Ramirez to second. The Red Sox dropped Carl Crawford to eighth -- and he's absolutely going off this week, finally.

Sometimes the DH is used. The White Sox have started to play Adam Dunn at first more often, in case playing defense keeps him more into the game. On the opposite end, the Yankees have used Derek Jeter at DH three times.

Do you start benching the guy? The Indians started Carlos Santana behind the plate only once in the three-game series against the Red Sox. Sometimes that helps to clear a player's head, but sometimes he becomes worried the manager has lost confidence in him and becomes a headcase. Look at the Jorge Posada situation in New York.

What about doing things out of the ordinary, strategically? Getting the hit-and-run sign could help. If a hitter knows he has to swing at the pitch, there's a big hole in the infield and he ends up making good contact for a base hit, sometimes that's the only mental boost he needs. The Marlins made an interesting decision with Ramirez Tuesday night. With a four-run lead in the top of the ninth, they had him lay down a sacrifice bunt. I actually have no idea how this will help him break out of a slump, but I guess they're breaking out all the stops.

Or you could just leave the guy alone. Charlie Manuel essentially did this with Raul Ibanez. He rarely sat out and only bounced between fifth and sixth in the order. Now Ibanez has gotten hot after a pretty sizable slump.

Most any blogger will tell you that the managers should just relax and wait for a regression to the mean. I understand that, but it's pretty easily said for a guy behind a computer whose job doesn't depend on wins and losses. Each win is precious, and the managers need players like Crawford, Ramirez, Dunn, Jeter, Ibanez and Santana to hit the ball. The longer they go before breaking out of a slump, the more chances there are the team loses more games. The longer the managers stick with the struggling big hitter in a major lineup spot, the more risk there is of leaving the table-setters on base multiple times every game. Dropping the hitter in the lineup or benching him might mean missed opportunities to break out of the slump, too.

It's quite the juggling act, and there is no one proven method that maximizes results -- probably because the mentality of hitting a baseball is immeasurable. It's pretty difficult to blame managers for trying to be proactive instead of just sitting back. Not when their job is constantly on the line.

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Posted on: May 22, 2011 4:37 pm
Edited on: May 22, 2011 4:40 pm
 

Phillies sign Podsednik to minor-league deal

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Scott PodsednikIn what seems to be an attempt to bolster a struggling outfield, the Phillies have signed outfielder Scott Podsednik to a minor-league contract, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com tweets.

The 35-year-old signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays in the offseason, but was released earlier this month after hitting just .254/.365/.352 in 85 plate appearances.

Podsednik played for the Royals and Dodgers last season, hitting .297/.342/.382 with six home runs and 35 stolen bases.

Earlier this week, the Phillies placed Shane Victorino on the disabled list and called up top prospect Domonic Brown. Raul Ibanez and Ben Francisco have struggled as the team's other outfielders.

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Posted on: May 6, 2011 11:06 pm
Edited on: May 7, 2011 11:03 pm
 

Raul Ibanez finally on hot streak

By Evan Brunell

 

IbanezAfter Raul Ibanez started the season hot, he entered Tuesday mired in an epic slump, going hitless for his last 34. Leading up to Friday's game, he had added eight hits in 12 at-bats, homering for the second night in the row and just overall looking like the Ibanez of old. (Ibanez went 0-for-3 Friday with a strikeout.)

"He's got a shorter swing, a quicker bat, he's staying on the ball good," manager Charlie Manuel told the Philly News. "He's more selective. He's relaxed. And the biggest thing is, he's getting hits."

Yup, that's a pretty big thing.

"Just trying to do less really," Raul Ibanez added. "Just trying to stroke it and put an easy stroke on the ball. Usually it equates to more, but it's a tough concept to grasp sometimes. It's the opposite. Hitting can be counterintuitive sometimes. Sometimes you think swinging harder is better and it's not."

Ibanez so far still has a rough line on the year, checking in at .208/.276/.340. The Phillies are 10th in baseball in offense, which the team hasn't seen since prior to its World Series-winning days. (That's 2008.) They need Ibanez to show up and produce, especially in light of Chase Utley's injury that's knocked him out the entire season so far, as well as right-field maladies in trying to fill Jayson Werth's shoes.

 

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Category: MLB
Posted on: May 4, 2011 1:38 am
Edited on: May 4, 2011 1:45 am
 

3 up, 3 down: Liriano's no-no

Francisco Liriano
By C. Trent Rosecrans

3UP

Francisco Liriano, Twins -- I'm making a new rule here, you throw a no-hitter, you get in 3 up, 3 down. I'm sure Francisco appreciates it. A tip of the cap to White Sox starter Edwin Jackson, who was pretty good, too. Jackson gave up one run on six hits in eight innings.

Daniel Descalso, Cardinals -- The infielder's first career homer, a three-run shot off of Clay Hensley in the seventh inning, gave the Cardinals the lead, and ultimately the 7-5 victory over the Marlins. Descalso was 2 for 3, playing second and third in the game.

Raul Ibanez, Phillies -- Ibanez snapped an 0-for-35 streak with a fourth-inning ground-rule double off of the Nationals' Livan Hernandez. He added another double in the seventh inning that scored a run in the Phillies' 4-1 victory. He's now hitting a robust .168.

3DOWN

Mike Leake, Reds -- After Tuesday night's performance, the Reds announce Leake would be headed to the bullpen to make room for Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey to return to the rotation. Leake allowed seven runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings in a 10-4 loss to the Astros, but he did strike out five in that short time.

Rangers bullpen -- The Rangers' Pedro Strop gave up leads in the seventh and eighth inning as the Rangers lost in an opponent's final at-bat for the sixth time this season and second time in a row, also losing to the A's in the 10th inning on Monday. Darren Oliver allowed Hideki Matsui's walkoff on Monday, and gave up an RBI single to Jack Cust on Tuesday to score the winning run (even though it was charged to Strop). Neftali Feliz is scheduled to return soon, and it won't be too soon for the Rangers.

Josh Thole, Mets -- With bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning, the Mets catcher did the one thing his team couldn't afford him to do -- ground into a double play. The Mets then lost the game in the 10th on Aubrey Huff's homer off of Taylor Buchholz. Thole also had a throwing error in the fourth inning the helped lead to a Giants' run.

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Posted on: May 3, 2011 5:04 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2011 5:06 pm
 

On Deck: Dempster charged with stopping Ethier

Ryan Dempster

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Streak watch -- Ryan Dempster is the pitcher trying to stop the hitting streak of Dodgers' outfielder Andre Ethier. Last night, Ethier's fifth-inning infield single against Cubs starter James Russell extended his hitting streak to 28 games. Ethier is hitting a healthy .350/.435/.700 in 23 career plate appearances against Dempster, with seven hits, including four doubles and a homer in 20 at-bats. Dempster managed just one out while facing 10 hitters in his last outing, Thursday against the DiamondbacksCubs at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET

Another streak -- Call Philadelphia's Raul Ibanez the anti-Ethier -- Ibanez has gone 14 days and 34 at-bats without a hit. Ibanez is batting sixth for the Phillies tonight against Washington's Livan Hernandez. Ibanez is 2 for 7 (.286) in his career against Hernandez with no extra-base hits. Nationals at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET

One star in, one star out -- Evan Longoria makes his return from the disabled list tonight, but another star, Jose Bautista is not in the line for the Blue Jays tonight. Bautista left Sunday's game because of stiffness in his neck and the team was off on Monday. Rajai Davis is playing right field for the Blue Jays in Bautista's place, with Corey Patterson in center. Blue Jays at Rays, 6:40 p.m. ET

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Posted on: May 1, 2011 11:11 pm
 

As Ibanez falls apart, it's time for Brown

By Matt Snyder

Raul Ibanez has now gone 10 games without a hit. He's been removed from Sunday night's game against the Mets with another 0-4 next to his name. Ibanez has now gone hitless in his past 34 at-bats over the past 11 games (on April 18, he got a hit, but it was followed by three hitless at-bats). That has lowered his season batting average to .154 with an on-base percentage of .228. He's not getting around on mediocre fastballs. He's not really hitting many balls hard. He just looks, well, old .

And that's because he is. He's turning 39 in just over a month. It's easy to hear that age and think players should still be productive because in the PED era, players like Barry Bonds were very productive at that age. But in this day and age of testing, players are beginning to deteriorate pretty substantially once they get north of 37 -- if not a bit sooner. In Ibanez's case, he fought it off admirably with an incredibly hot early 2009, but that's long in the rearview mirror by now. You can try to use advanced metrics like BABIP or HR/FB to try and say a correction is coming, but that wouldn't be prudent. He's not hitting the ball hard, so of course his average on balls in play is low. He's lost a lot of power due to age, so of course not near as many of his fly balls are leaving the yard.

He's cooked. He's overmatched. Stick a fork in him. The sooner the Phillies admit it to themselves, the sooner they can pass the torch to a future star: Domonic Brown.

Brown is recovered from a broken bone in his hand and has recently completed a minor-league rehab assignment. The Phillies activated him but then optioned him to the minors, seemingly to get a bit more seasoning.

Brown's a good power-speed combo who should be ready to handle major-league pitching. In his first three minor-league games this season, he hit .500 with two homers and two steals. He's going to be a right fielder and Ibanez plays left, but Ben Francisco can slide across the outfield and maximize the Phillies' offense. And it's not like they'd be losing anything defensively in replacing Ibanez anyway. John Mayberry could then be the fourth outfielder with Ibanez simply being a left-handed pinch-hitter until he's out as a free agent after the season.

For the Phillies sake, the move better be sooner than later, because Ibanez is a black hole in that lineup and the Marlins don't seem prepared to give any breathing room atop the NL East.

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Posted on: March 21, 2011 6:14 pm
 

Victorino fine after collision

Shane Victorino
Shane Victorino

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Shane Victorino said he is fine after a nasty collision with Raul Ibanez in Monday's game against the Red Sox.

Victorino left the game in the fifth inning after he and Raul Ibanez ran into each other trying to catch a ball from Boston's Nate Spears.

"I cut my lip a little bit and my nose was the one I was worried about," Victorino told reporters (via David Hale of the News Journal). "If I had to stay in, I was ready to go."

Victorino said he stayed on the ground because blood was coming out of his nose and mouth. He had a cut above his left eye, another on his cheek and lip and said his jaw is sore. He jogged off the field, under his own power, laughing.

The team will continue to monitor him for concussion symptoms. He may miss a day or two, he said and may also end up with a black eye.

Ibanez stayed in the game.

"Both of us were just trying to be aggressive," Victorino said (via Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com). "It's part of the game. Everything is fine."

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