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Charlie Manuel makes plea for a right-handed hitter

Jun 23, 2011, 1:22 AM EDT

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At 47-28, the Philadelphia Phillies have the best record in baseball.

They allow an MLB-best 3.2 runs per game, and trail only the Yankees and Red Sox in run differential.

But this team could be better, and Charlie Manuel knows it.

The Phillies manager is making a rather public plea for help for his lineup, and a solid right-handed hitter tops his wish list, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.

“We could use a hitter in our lineup,” he said Wednesday afternoon at Busch Stadium. “At least one. We could definitely use a solid right-handed hitter.”

If the Phillies were to add a right-handed hitter, he would ideally be able to pick up some at-bats in the No. 5 spot in the batting order. Phillies’ No. 5 hitters are batting just .207 with a .609 on-base plus slugging percentage.

In fairness, Placido Polanco is a good hitter (though he has no power), Carlos Ruiz is serviceable enough at catcher (you’ve got to love the .370 OBP), and Shane Victorino is a switch-hitter who destroys left-handers (.362/.464/.787).

Also, the Phillies are 15-6 against left-handers this season, so it’s not like they’re helpless from the right side. What Manuel really should have said was this: “I really miss Jayson Werth. Without Jayson, we don’t have anyone with a sweet beard who can put the fear of God into a left-handed pitcher.”

Of course, Werth is hitting .172/.313/.344 against southpaws this season, so never mind.

The bigger issue here, as far as the Phillies are concerned, is money. Their payroll for 2011 is at $175 million, the second-highest in baseball and just $3 million shy of the luxury tax threshold. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of wiggle room, and Phillies GM Ruben Amaro is already on record as saying “you will not see a major move this year.”

Salisbury reports that Oakland’s Josh Willingham interests the Phillies, and San Diego’s Ryan Ludwick, Kansas City’s Wilson Betemit, and Colorado’s Ryan Spilborghs are also possibilities. Of course, even Manuel admits that the money issue could be “a huge problem.”

Still, it never hurts to ask. After all, Manuel asked for a pitcher last season and ended up with Roy Oswalt. Not too bad.

  1. xmatt0926x - Jun 23, 2011 at 2:09 AM

    Thank you Charlie for your honesty! the offense needs a serious upgrade and everyone is tired of watching Ben Francisco and John Mayberry try to jack every pitch out of the park. Once in a while they run into a bad fastball and it looks real pretty with that uppercut swing finally connects but then the next 50 at bats are garbage. Of course your going to get the standard “but dude, we have the best record!” garbage that means absolutely nothing other than great pitching hiding a terribly inconsistent offense that is among the worst in the league. The team had the best record last year too but in the playoffs the weak offense was just not enough to do any damage. Yes, they can win it all with great pitching if things break right but when you’ve decided to go for it at all costs with a $170 million payroll you dont sit around hoping for breaks to go your way. Thanks Charlie for ending the coach and GM speak about this horrid offense.

    • FC - Jun 23, 2011 at 8:58 AM

      That “weak offense” last year actually outscored the Giants, so it’s not like THEY were some sort of Run producing machine, they were clutch which was the difference. And the Reds were actually the #1 Offense last year and the Phillies rotation made putty out of them (except for Oswalt’s blip, but even then the Phillies managed to win that one too).

      Just want to put that into perspective and proper context. Would a RH bat improve the lineup? No doubt, it would. But this talk of, IF THERE IS NO RH BAT THERE IS NO FUTURE, is way over the top.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Jun 23, 2011 at 10:35 AM

      Rather have Francisco out there than Ibanez. Check out Francisco’s OBP. It is rather impressive particularly for a guy hitting .220

  2. dirtyharry1971 - Jun 23, 2011 at 2:28 AM

    sorry charlie philly is broke, maybe next year bud

  3. xmatt0926x - Jun 23, 2011 at 2:37 AM

    I’d worry about your own team Harry.

    • dirtyharry1971 - Jun 23, 2011 at 12:11 PM

      what for? My team isnt in over its head financially, yours is junior. Guess you missed the list of teams that Bud recently named, go figure.

      • mercyflush - Jun 23, 2011 at 1:43 PM

        you’re an idiot. that list wasn’t a “who’s broke” list. go back to kindergarten.

  4. skerney - Jun 23, 2011 at 3:14 AM

    Aaron Rowand for a stack of used cheesesteak wrappers.

    • Utley's Hair - Jun 23, 2011 at 11:05 AM

      He’d get a rousing ovation—if only for his face-meets-fence play.

  5. chico54 - Jun 23, 2011 at 7:55 AM

    Be careful for what you ask for Charlie, I wouldn’t put it past the gm to trade Hamels for a bat. That would be stupid but you know last year he traded Lee for minor leaguers, thinking he had enough pitching, and with Hamels a possible free agent you never know.

    • Jonny 5 - Jun 23, 2011 at 8:14 AM

      Trade a franchise face and their youngest “ace” who just so happens to be pitching as good as Roy Halladay, and in some ways better ? Not going to happen.

    • CJ - Jun 23, 2011 at 8:24 AM

      it won’t be Hamels, you can be sure of that. They learned from the Lee deal and they’re very reluctant to EVER trade away home grown talent. I wouldn’t be shocked if they considered dealing Oswalt, but he makes too much to get anything of value in return. Lee, Halladay, and Hamels aren’t going anywhere, you can be sure of that.

      • Jonny 5 - Jun 23, 2011 at 8:37 AM

        Getting rid of Oswalt would give them plenty of payroll flexibility to add a bat. Even though there would likely be little coming back in the trade it will buy them that much. I think he may have more value to the team than the flexibility though.

  6. Jonny 5 - Jun 23, 2011 at 8:22 AM

    Look, Philly has extra pitchers laying around taking up space anymore, I see them trading for a RH OF. We may lose a pitcher in the process but do we really need Kendrick, Worley, and Blanton in the 5th spot? Probably not. The Phillies not only have a strong starting rotation, but one of the best bull pens this season too. They could sacrifice in the pitching dept to gain a RH bat and be fine, or better, which would be the goal.

    • CJ - Jun 23, 2011 at 8:27 AM

      I’d gladly deal both Kendrick and Blanton, but no one will take Blanton for anything of value unless. Kendrick has turned things around and probably has proven that he can be a decent (if not effective) and cheap 4th-5th starter, just not in Philly. Maybe a deal with Kendrick and a couple prospects gets a RH OF, but how good depends on the prospects.

      • Jonny 5 - Jun 23, 2011 at 8:45 AM

        I may bust on Kendrick, but i like him as #5, as much as Worley probably, he does what he has to do and has been in Philly for some time now. With that said, for his salary? They could probably get a decent return for him I’m thinking as starting pitchers/ long relievers aren’t exactly “easy” to find.

  7. Chris Fiorentino - Jun 23, 2011 at 8:58 AM

    As I said in a previous post, the Phillies offense has been averaging 5 runs a game since Utley’s return. How they get referred to as “terrible” I have no idea. They are 6th in runs and 5th in OBP in the NL. With this starting staff pitching as historically well as they have, there’s no reason to be too worried. Sure, I’d like an upgrade over Francisco, but if they don’t end up with another right handed bat, I’m happy with the team as it is currently situated. Utley instead of Valdez offensively is a HUGE upgrade, as is shown by the average of a run+ increase since his return.

    • FC - Jun 23, 2011 at 9:09 AM

      I agree with Chris, I think too many Phillies fans were spoiled by explosive offensive in 07 and 08. That said, they are actually pretty good in the walks department and they are co-leaders in the plunked department!

      Stolen bases are way down though. Problem is you need more speed on those base-paths for Hit & Run and stealing. And of Lopes isn’t arround anymore. Though at least they are efficient when stealing, they need to steal more often.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jun 23, 2011 at 9:14 AM

        Uncle Cholly, while I love the guy’s people management skills, isn’t much of a game manager. He frankly sucks at managing a team using a small-ball philosophy and he all but says it when he begs for stuff like this. Cholly….when a guy like Shane or J-Roll gets on, and a guy like Utley or Polanco are up…you know…guys who make contact…they have this crazy concept…it’s called a “Hit and Run”. Sometimes, I wonder whether the Unc remembers that there are other ways to score besides hitting home runs.

      • Jonny 5 - Jun 23, 2011 at 9:52 AM

        Stolen bases are also a great way to injure your core players while you’re already in first place anyway. Charlie has to look at the big picture and not only win the division, but also keep his players from being hurt. Utley and Howard both were injured while stealing last season. And Rollins could blow a calf out any day now. I’d rather have them take care to preserve their bodies until it’s needed.

    • Jonny 5 - Jun 23, 2011 at 9:43 AM

      This will make you want to kill Markus Hayes then. After the Seattle series.

      Housenick: I think you should’ve DH’ed Chase. I don’t think Chase should’ve been playing second base. Not to mention — nobody wants to hear this — but Wilson Valdez has a better fielding percentage than Chase Utley. I’m not saying he’s a better player, but you’re not losing anything when you play Wilson Valdez [unintelligible] Chase Utley. I’m not saying he’s a better player –

      Hayes: He’s a much better second baseman than Chase Utley, who’s average at best. I don’t care what kind of fantasy stats you want pull out and, you know, range statistics… Chase Utley is a go-to-his-left second baseman, period. I know he made one play this year to his right, but if you compare him to a guy like Brandon Phillips — that’s a second baseman.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jun 23, 2011 at 10:03 AM

        Hayes is a moron. Always has been. Always will be. If it weren’t for Howard Eskin, Hayes would be the biggest asshole in the Philly media.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jun 23, 2011 at 10:39 AM

        Not sure what games Hayes is watching. Utley has spectacular range. He gets the yips on his throws sometimes, but he more than makes up for it with in other areas of his defense. For a couple seasons Utley was not only rated as the best defesnive 2nd baseman in baseball but they best defensive player in baseball. How he doesn’t have a Gold Glove is incredible to me.

  8. cup0pizza - Jun 23, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    The sports franchise with the most losing seasons ever has finally figured out that trying to buy championships is about all that work for them. Stay classy, Philly.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Jun 23, 2011 at 10:40 AM

      What a nonsense statement attempted at winding people up. 2008 was mostly homegrown talent and players signed on the cheap.

      • Utley's Hair - Jun 23, 2011 at 2:33 PM

        This guy’s a jagoffwho roots for people to get hurt—and comments “RIP” on any Gary Carter thread. It’s pointless to try to reason with him.

    • possiblythelongestusernameevercreated - Jun 23, 2011 at 10:58 AM

      People talk about industrialized, big market cities (NYC is the major one, then you have Boston, Chicago, Philly, LA, etc.) In the 1980s, the underperforming Phillies suffered from poor scouting and poor drafts and signing questionable free agents. A rough town with both unforgiving, passionate fans and an unforgiving stadium. A-list talent was hard to come by either in the draft (again, bad scouting) or free agency.

      Improvements in management were key. Scouting (Arbuckle) brought in better home-grown talent, Ed Wade was replaced by the now-legendary Pat Gillick (he turned all the teams he GMed into playoff contenders–see Toronto, Baltimore, Seattle, and the Phillies), and the construction of the new stadium. Build it and they will come. Fan interest will peak when a team wins (Gillick provided a spark) and with a new stadium, and revenues will increase, and ownership will feel pressure to keep fans/revenue/wins coming by bringing in talent. Players are drawn to winning teams with the potential for success.

      The 2008 team was largely home-grown talent, but the 2010+ team is kind an acknowledgement that to keep up with Yankees and Boston (and avoid being Buffalo Bills/Braves), steps need to be taken to make sure the Phillies are winners.

    • mercyflush - Jun 23, 2011 at 1:45 PM

      “has finally figured out that trying to buy championships is about all that work for them”

      is that english?

  9. possiblythelongestusernameevercreated - Jun 23, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    I remember reading where the worst thing to happen to Jimmy Rollins was hitting 30 HRs…because he suddenly thought he was a power hitter. Hitting the ball over the 330 foot walls doesn’t make him a power hitter, and constantly swinging for those walls only takes away a runner on base and the chance at moving the runners over. Not good for a leadoff hitter when you play with a clean-up hitter’s mentality. (One gets things going–the other finishes things up.)

    I think Charlie’s statement of the obvious kind of hurts Amaro’s ability to play poker, because he can’t haggle as much when the manager is begging for a right-handed hitter in the media. I figure they will go after Willingham or Ludwick–whoever they can get at a better deal. Either could hit 25-30 with a .280 average in a full season in Philly. (Frankly, I am surprised at how Ben Francisco has underperformed. The job was his to lose and he didn’t produce.)

  10. spudchukar - Jun 23, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    Ludwick would be great addition, he has power, is a clutch hitter, and an above average defender with a plus, accurate arm, and an outstanding baserunner. His drawbacks are dual, he has a history of injury and he strikes out often. The question is who would they part with that the Padres would want. No one on the 25 man roster would qualify. I am not familiar enough with the Phillie Pharm system to suggest possible options, but Ludwick won’t come cheap and the Padres aren’t going to give him away. He is only 32 and will become a free agent in 2012, but currently only makes a little under 7 mil. Most likely the Padres will lose him after this season, but because he is relatively cheap, holding on to him and reaping the draft choice is a hurdle the Phillies must choose to overcome.

  11. leftywildcat - Jun 23, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    For the time being, work with what you’ve got. John Mayberry Jr.

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