On Charlie Manuel's Defense of Rich Dubee

On Charlie Manuel's Defense of Rich Dubee

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By Matt Hammond

So, Charlie Manuel doesn’t take too kindly to national media
types bashing his pitching coach – especially not former marginally-successful
closers that may or may not have an axe to grind.

Said the Phillies manager on Saturday before Phillies-Marlins
Game 3 at Citizens Bank Park in his first public comments since Mitch Williams
basically suggested pitching coach Rich Dubee should lose his job:

“I don’t want to get involved in what people say, but at the
same time I want to tell you this, alright? I’ve been here for nine years. I’ve
had two pitching coaches in the big leagues. I’ve had two good pitching
coaches. Rich Dubee has been a lot to us. He has definitely been a part of our
success here. He is a tremendous worker. He’s a great communicator. I totally
trust him.”

There was more. Manuel tabbed Dubee's work ethic,
communication skills – he even said that Dubee's the one responsible for
organizing the team's spring training plans. In short, for finality on Manuel's
stance on Dubee's job security:

"I’ll stand behind him thick or thin, until I
die."

So that's that.

But one comment of the manager's stood out in particular.
During his spirited and blanketing endorsement of Dubee, Manuel offered this
bit of evidence to try to prove Dubee’s footprint:

"I see pitchers that we’ve run through here, and we’ve
had them in 55, 60 games, something like that. We’ve had pitchers that leave us
-- I’m talking about quite a few -- and never show up in the big leagues, and
we got mileage out of ‘em, and I look right back at Dubee."

Only to how many guys, really, does that apply? The most
notable names are Vance Worley and J.A. Happ. (You could go Ryan Madson and
Brad Lidge, too, but their post-departure declines were most linked to injury
and age.)

Manuel's observation sticks – on the surface.

Worley dazzled in 2011, going 11-3 with a 3.02 ERA. With one
more team win, he would have tied Steve Carlton's 1972 run for the most
consecutive Phillies wins behind a starter. Since being shipped to the Twins in
the Ben Revere trade this winter, he's gone 0-4 with a 7.22 ERA.

Happ was 14-5 with a 3.11 ERA over four years with the
Phillies through the summer of 2010. Since heading to Houston in the Roy Oswalt
deal and later to Toronto in a massive swap of marginal talent, he's gone 23-32
with a 4.76 ERA.

But it's not that simple.

Worley's success was largely fueled by two highly
unsustainable factors: his batting average on balls in play and called strike
percentage. Worley's BABIP through 18 starts in 2011 was .258 – not insanely
low, but low enough to suggest it would soon rise, as it has.

Worley also relied way too much on called strikes (5th
lowest SwStr% in 2011, lowest in 2013), and now that he’s had to put the ball
over the plate to try to beat batter, is getting lit up all over the place.

It's not like Worley's regression came from nowhere, either.
It started last year, and coincided with a relatively serious injury. Last year
Worley posted a 1.97 ERA in April before ballooning to a 6.00 ERA in May. After
that, Worley hit the DL with bone chips and was never the same. Between being activated
off the DL and shut down for the season in August, he posted a 4.75 ERA over 16
starts.

Oh, and it’s been, like, five starts for him in Minnesota
since being traded (great for a guy’s confidence, for sure) to the American
League (where most NL starters reliably struggle).

As for Happ, there could be other factors – namely injuries
and the psychological effects of playing for godawful organizations. Happ
managed only two starts for the Phillies in 2010 before hitting the DL in April
with a left forearm strain. His next appearance was in July, when Happ surrendered
three runs in five innings. Then came the trade – and inconsistency, an
inability to last in games.

Even last year, dude spent the first half of the year stuck
with a historically bad 105-loss franchise, and punched two poor starts with
Toronto before doctors caught a broken bone in his foot.

That has to matter.

As for the Dubee-Williams tiff, Williams there exemplified
everything wrong with broadcast journalism: national media type with a loose
regional tie comes on feisty talk radio station, is prodded into saying
something stupid and cashes in on what he sees as an opportunity to make a
sound bite.

As for Dubee’s abilities: the organization has had too many
insanely talented pitching talents come and go without the slightest peep about
Dubee. Not even Roy Oswalt, who tended to be something of a grump, ever took a
rib at the pitching coach. If Dubee was enough an impediment to justify
Williams calling for his job, someone during or after the Big 4 era would’ve
spoken up already.

Also, Kyle Kendrick’s been good and stuff.

To say the declines of Worley and Happ vouch for Dubee is
something of a liberty. Though after Williams took some himself, Manuel was
certainly entitled to do the same.

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Best of MLB: Jose Fernandez sets K's mark, helps Marlins snap Royals' win streak

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Best of MLB: Jose Fernandez sets K's mark, helps Marlins snap Royals' win streak

MIAMI -- Jose Fernandez pitched seven innings and appeared to avoid a serious injury when he tweaked his right leg on his final pitch Wednesday night, helping the Miami Marlins beat Kansas City 3-0 to snap the Royals' nine-game winning streak.

Fernandez (13-7) pulled up after striking out Christian Colon to end the seventh, and rubbed his right knee before limping to the dugout.

The Marlins pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the seventh, and no injury was announced. Fernandez was laughing with teammates in the dugout in the ninth inning and joined in the postgame celebration on the field.

His nine strikeouts increased his season total to 213, breaking the Marlins record of 209 set by Ryan Dempster in 2000. Fernandez ended a career-worst three-game losing streak.

He also had the Marlins' first two hits, hiking his average to .286, and improved to 27-2 at Marlins Park.

Fernando Rodney pitched around two singles and walk for his 25th save and eighth with Miami.

Dillon Gee (5-7) took the loss (see full recap).

Cardinals tag deGrom in win over Mets
ST. LOUIS -- Matt Carpenter, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty homered off Mets starter Jacob deGrom, powering the St. Louis Cardinals past New York 8-1 Wednesday night.

Carpenter set the tone, hitting a leadoff home run in the first inning. The Cardinals went on to win for the seventh time in nine games.

Piscotty and Yadier Molina each had three of the Cardinals' season high-tying 19 hits.

Carlos Martinez (12-7) gave up one run and four hits over eight innings. He also got two hits himself.

Roughed up for the second straight start, deGrom (7-7) allowed five runs on 12 hits in 4 2/3 innings. He was tagged for a career-worst eight runs and 13 hits in his previous outing against San Francisco (see full recap).

Rays overcome Ortiz's 30th HR in comeback win
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- David Ortiz hit his 30th home run in the first inning, but the Tampa Bay Rays came back from a three-run deficit to beat Boston 4-3 in 11 innings Wednesday night and prevent the Red Sox from taking sole possession of first place in the AL East.

Luke Maile doubled with two out in the 11th and scored after Red Sox pitcher Heath Hembree (4-1) dropped a throw to first base on Kevin Kiermaier's grounder.

Brad Boxberger (2-0) got the win after one inning of relief.

Boston has won 10 of its last 13 games and remained tied in first with Toronto after the Blue Jays lost 8-2 to the Angels.

Bidding to become the majors' first 18-game winner, Rick Porcello allowed Evan Longoria's tying homer in the eighth before leaving with 7 2/3 innings pitched. It was Longoria's 30th homer (see full recap).

SI gives Sixers 'A' grade for offseason moves

SI gives Sixers 'A' grade for offseason moves

After three straight years in or near the cellar of the NBA standings, the Sixers may be gearing to start moving up.

And people are taking notice.

The Sports Illustrated staff graded each NBA team's offseason moves and gave the Sixers a grade of A for their moves. And it was well-deserved.

Sixers fans haven't had much to celebrate in the past few years, but seeing the team draft Ben Simmons and watch his stunning passing ability in summer league was enough to get many fans excited about the upcoming season. The article noted the Simmons pick as the Sixers' best move, saying taking him over Brandon Ingram, who went No. 2 overall to the Lakers, showed they're ready to take the next step.

Jeremy Woo, one of the contributors to the article, went on to describe their other important moves this offseason:

With Joel Embiid presumably ready to return, Dario Saric coming over from Turkey and Simmons here to anchor the franchise, the future in Philadelphia is bright for the first time in years. Brett Brown can mix and match and the front office can decide which prospects to build around. Some of these guys are inevitably going to get traded, and some of them likely won’t pan out. But at least Philly is moving forward, finally.

Yes, finally.

The Sixers should have three first-round level talents making their NBA debuts this season with Simmons, Saric and Embiid, all of whom represent a separate and long wait. With Simmons, it took three years for the Sixers to finally get the first pick in the draft. With Embiid, it was waiting two full seasons for him to return from a foot injury. And with Saric, it was the agonizing wait for him to come over from Turkey after the back-and-forth reports over what he was ultimately going to decide.

The article makes note of the change in power from Sam Hinkie to the Colangelos, one that could've runied "The Process," but instead helped it continue to flourish. It also said the Sixers' worst move was that they didn't make any big gambles in free agency, whether by choice or because of lack of interest from the actual players. But this criticism is much nicer than what some of the other teams in their division received.

The Knicks received a D grade after signing injury-prone Joakim Noah and trading for Derrick Rose, both of whom have large salary cap hits for their recent production. The Nets received a C- for trying to go after too many restricted free agents and ending up with Jeremy Lin as their top acquisition, who is a good player, but isn't going to turn this subpar team around. And the Raptors got a C for essentially doing nothing other than re-signing DeMar Derozan and letting Bismack Biyombo walk in free agency.

But while the Sixers may have had a better offseason than any team in the division, this by no means suggests they'll move up in the standings too much in the immediate future. They still have to see how the new young talent meshes together and develops. But continued development has a chance to show why this offseason was such a success.

Instant Replay: Phillies 5, White Sox 3

Instant Replay: Phillies 5, White Sox 3

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO — The Phillies got a nice start from Jerad Eickhoff, mostly good bullpen work and plenty of timely hitting in posting a 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox in interleague play Wednesday night.
 
The Phils had been outscored 18-1 in losing their previous two games to the White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals.
 
The Phillies are 59-68. They are four wins shy of last year’s majors-low total of 63.
 
Starting pitching report
Eickhoff (9-12) pitched six innings of two-run ball and left with a 4-2 lead after throwing just 71 pitches. Eickhoff scattered four hits, walked nine and struck out two. The sixth inning has been a problem for him this season. He has allowed 26 earned runs over 19 innings for a 12.32 ERA in the frame. Eickhoff did hold it together and limited the damage to two runs in the sixth before handing off to the bullpen.
 
Eickhoff’s ERA in the first five innings of a game this season is 2.64.
 
White Sox right-hander James Shields gave up four runs over six innings. He is 5-16 with a 5.98 ERA.
 
Bullpen report
The trio of Edubray Ramos, Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez closed it out for the Phillies.
 
Gomez survived a run in the ninth for his 34th save.
 
Ramos and Neris both pitched a scoreless inning.

Since the All-Star break, Neris has pitched 18 1/3 innings and allowed one run and two walks while striking out 26.
 
At the plate
Tommy Joseph had a nice game with a double, his 17th homer and two runs scored. Aaron Altherr had a pair of RBI singles and scored a run. Freddy Galvis doubled home a run and Cesar Hernandez homered.
 
Dioner Navarro smacked a two-run homer off Eickhoff in the sixth.
 
Trade talk
There’s interest in Carlos Ruiz (see story).
 
Up next
The Phillies are off on Thursday. They open a three-game series against the Mets in New York on Friday night. Here are the pitching matchups:
 
Friday night — LHP Adam Morgan (1-7, 6.21) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (11-7, 3.36)
 
Saturday night — RHP Jeremy Hellickson (10-7, 3.60) vs. RHP Noah Syndergaard (11-7, 2.61)
 
Sunday afternoon — RHP Vince Velasquez (8-6, 4.31) vs. RHP Robert Gsellman (1-0, 0.00).