Instant Replay: Cardinals 11, Phillies 3

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Instant Replay: Cardinals 11, Phillies 3

BOX SCORE

ST. LOUIS -- The Phillies played another poor game in losing 11-3 to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Wednesday night.

The Phils have lost four in a row. They have scored just four runs in their last three games. And they are now eight games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East.

The trade deadline is a week away and changes could be looming.

Starting pitching report
John Lannan failed to build on two straight strong outings. He allowed eight hits, two walks and four runs in four innings.

Lannan hurt himself in the fourth when he walked the opposing pitcher, Jake Westbrook, with two outs. Westbrook then stole second and scored on a hit by Matt Carpenter.

Lannan is 2-4 with a 4.13 ERA in 10 starts.

Westbrook held the Phils to three runs over seven walk-free innings.

Bullpen report
J.C. Ramirez got tagged for four hits and five runs in the fifth inning. Justin De Fratus pitched two scoreless innings. Jake Diekman allowed four hits and two runs in the eighth.

At the plate
Carlos Ruiz drove in just his eighth run of the season with a single in the fifth. John Mayberry Jr. doubled home a run. Michael Martinez, called up earlier in the day, singled home a run.

Just one of the Phillies’ nine hits was for extra bases and they were 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position.

Shane Robinson drove in three of the Cardinals’ runs with a bases-loaded triple in the fifth inning. Matt Adams also drove in three runs.

The Cardinals had 16 hits and were 9 for 20 with runners in scoring position.

In the field
It was a tough night for the Phils. Third baseman Michael Young could not handle a ball toward the line in the second inning. It went for a hit and eventually a run. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins could not handle a tough popup to shallow center. It hit off his glove and fell for a hit. The runner eventually scored. In the fifth inning, centerfielder Mayberry grossly misplayed what should have been a single into a three-run triple.

Health check
Domonic Brown is out for two days as he gets checked for a concussion.

Trade talk
Charlie Manuel is not feeling any deals.

Up next
The series concludes Thursday night with Kyle Kendrick (9-6, 3.94) opposing Lance Lynn (11-5, 4.13)

Trade front quiet, but Phillies could lose a player or 2 in Rule 5 draft

Trade front quiet, but Phillies could lose a player or 2 in Rule 5 draft

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Phillies have a history of adding players in the Rule 5 draft. The annual event, designed to prevent teams from stockpiling minor-league talent without giving it a shot in the majors, has netted the Phillies players such as Dave Hollins, Shane Victorino and Odubel Herrera over the years.

The year’s Rule 5 draft will be held Thursday morning at the conclusion of the winter meetings, but it’s highly unlikely that the Phillies will be active. After adding 11 prospects to their 40-man roster two weeks ago, the Phillies are simply out of room. Selecting a player in the Rule 5 draft would first require the Phils to cut a player loose and that did not seem to be the plan as the sun set Wednesday.

While an addition is unlikely, there’s a strong possibility that the Phils will lose a player or two in the draft. Outfielder Andrew Pullin, a 2012 draft pick, is the likeliest to go. He hit .322 with a .885 OPS between Single A and Double A in 2016 and a number of teams are buzzing about him. A late-season elbow injury prevented Pullin from playing in the Arizona Fall League and factored into the Phillies’ decision to leave him unprotected.

If a team rolls the dice on Pullin, it must keep him in the majors all season or offer him back to the Phillies.

Other players who could go include first baseman/outfielder Brock Stassi, outfielder Carlos Tocci and pitchers Miguel Nunez and Hoby Milner.

All quiet for now
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak spent Wednesday meeting with agents and representatives from other clubs.

“Nothing is hot at the moment,” he said late in the day.

Klentak has brought back starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, added relievers Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek and traded for outfielder Howie Kendrick this offseason. The biggest remaining issue/question on his plate is whether to add a veteran hitter in a corner outfield spot or keep the pathway open for young players such as Roman Quinn and eventually Dylan Cozens and Nick Williams. 

“Successfully balancing the present and the future is the single greatest challenge that a baseball operations department faces,” Klentak said. “We’ve talked about it all offseason. The decisions that we are making right now about giving playing time to a young player that has cut his teeth in Triple A and needs that opportunity to take the next step as opposed to a shorter-term solution from the outside — that’s one of the main challenges that we’ve run into this offseason.”

While it’s uncertain whether the Phils will add a hitter, they most surely will make other roster tweaks as the winter moves on. They are likely to fill their backup catcher’s spot in-house (see story), but could add a utility infielder and more bullpen depth on minor-league contracts.

“I think there will probably be another move or two before we get to Clearwater,” Klentak said. “Who and when remains to be seen.”

Phillies likely to carry rookie backup catcher in 2017

Phillies likely to carry rookie backup catcher in 2017

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The likelihood of the Phillies going with a rookie backup catcher in 2017 increased dramatically when the Miami Marlins signed free agent A.J. Ellis on Wednesday.

Ellis spent the final month of the 2016 season with the Phillies after coming over from the Dodgers in the Carlos Ruiz trade. Ellis, 35, got high marks for his work with the Phillies’ young pitching staff and the Phils had some interest in bringing him back. The interest, however, was complicated by a tight 40-man roster, which already includes three catchers — starter Cameron Rupp and minor-league prospects Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp.

With Ellis out of the picture, the Phillies will likely use either Alfaro or Knapp as the backup catcher in 2017. Knapp spent a full year at Triple A in 2016 and could end up being the guy as Alfaro moves to Triple A for another year of seasoning.

General manager Matt Klentak spoke earlier this week of the possibility of going with a rookie at backup catcher.

“Andrew Knapp just finished his age 25 season in Triple A,” Klentak said. “He has a full year of at-bats in Triple A. At some point for both he and Alfaro, we’re going to have to find out what those guys can do at the big-league level. During the 2017 season, we’ll have to find out — not just about those two guys — but others.”

It’s not all that surprising that Ellis ended up with the Marlins on a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. He played for Marlins manager Don Mattingly during the latter’s time as manager of the Dodgers.