Instant Replay: Phillies 1, Braves 0

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Instant Replay: Phillies 1, Braves 0

BOX SCORE

One day after losing 1-0, the Phillies ended their nine-game homestand on a high note, avoided their third sweep in their last four home series, and exacted revenge on the Braves Thursday afternoon with a 1-0 win of their own.

Ben Revere's RBI single with two outs in the eighth inning provided the game's lone run. It came two pitches after Ryan Howard worked a full-count, pinch-hit walk against a left-handed pitcher.

By salvaging the final game of the Braves series, the Phillies improve to 7-8 ahead of an impending 10-game West Coast road trip. The Braves are 10-5.

Starting pitching report
A.J. Burnett, in his first outing since being diagnosed with an inguinal hernia, made his best start as a Phillie.

Burnett allowed just five baserunners over seven shutout innings and induced a season-high 13 groundouts, giving the Phillies a glimpse of what they paid $16 million for.

Even after a pair of shaky, six-walk outings, Burnett's ERA is down to 2.74. He didn't factor into the decision, however, and is still chasing his first victory as a Phillie.

Burnett worked around early control issues -- he walked the pitcher in the third inning and ran eight three-ball counts -- to throw 101 pitches.

Braves left-hander Alex Wood was also sharp through seven innings, but surrendered the game-winning run in the eighth.

The lefty Wood (2-2, 1.67) allowed eight hits and a run over eight innings, with one walk and seven strikeouts.

Bullpen report
Antonio Bastardo allowed a leadoff double to Braves backup catcher Gerald Laird to start the eighth, but struck out Wood, got Jason Heyward to line out, and popped up B.J. Upton on a 3-2 pitch that Upton narrowly mistimed to end the inning.

Jonathan Papelbon came on for a 1-2-3 save, his fourth of the season. Since allowing three runs in Texas to blow his first save opportunity of the year, Papelbon has pitched five scoreless innings and allowed just one hit.

The win went to Bastardo.

At the plate
Revere went 3 for 4 with the game-winning hit and a bunt single. He was also caught stealing for the first time this season on a pickoff.

Chase Utley, who had his 11-game hitting streak snapped Wednesday night, rebounded to go 2 for 3. Utley, who hit .219 against lefties from 2011-13, is 10 for 20 this season against left-handed pitchers. Those 10 hits vs. left-handed pitchers lead the majors. Mike Trout has nine.

Jayson Nix, starting at third base in place of Cody Asche, went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts. Nix is hitting .150 this season with no walks, no extra-base hits, and 10 strikeouts in 20 at-bats.

Successful challenge
With two outs in the fifth inning, Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons appeared to have second base stolen, but he overslid the bag. Second base umpire Bill Welke initially called Simmons safe as he raced to stretch his hand back to the base.

Bench coach Larry Bowa made a "Who knows?" gesture to Ryne Sandberg from the dugout, but Sandberg challenged anyway and was rewarded, as further replays showed Simmons' fingertips were just off the bag as Jimmy Rollins applied the tag.

Boo birds
Burnett grounded out in the sixth inning on a ball Dan Uggla bobbled twice. Loud boos came down on Citizens Bank Park toward Burnett after the play, presumably based on a perceived lack of hustle.

This after Burnett had already shut the Braves out for six innings ... with a hernia.

Attendance
A nice, round number -- 25,750 paying customers at Citizens Bank Park on a chilly Thursday afternoon.

Next up
The Phillies will fly to Denver tonight and begin a three-game series at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies at 8:40 p.m. Friday.

Here are the pitching matchups ...

Friday: Jonathan Pettibone (0-0, 1.80) vs. Tyler Chatwood (0-0, 6.00)
Saturday: Kyle Kendrick (0-1, 3.50) vs. Jordan Lyles (2-0, 4.32)
Sunday: Roberto Hernandez (1-0, 3.86) vs. Juan Nicasio (2-0, 3.50)

Chatwood, Lyles and Nicasio are all right-handed pitchers.

Seth Smith would be a logical, low-cost trade target for Phillies

Seth Smith would be a logical, low-cost trade target for Phillies

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Tuesday night he'd still like another veteran bat in addition to Howie Kendrick, though he understands the front office is conscious of not blocking young prospects.

The Phillies need offense and the clearest area to upgrade is an outfield corner. But don't expect to see the Phils go after Jose Bautista, Michael Saunders or anyone of that ilk, because those players will require multi-year guarantees and everyday playing time. If you sign one of them, you're basically telling two of Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr that they won't be needed much the next three years. 

That would be unwise. The whole point of rebuilding is filling a roster with young, inexpensive talent and then eventually supplementing that core with established players who fit. Look at what the Cubs did. Look at what the Astros are doing now, adding older players like Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Nori Aoki and Josh Reddick to fill in the holes around Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman.

For that reason, a player like Seth Smith would be a worthwhile addition for the Phillies.

Smith, 34, makes $7 million in 2017, the final year of his contract with the Mariners. When Mackanin discusses "professional hitters," Smith is the type. He has one of the better batting eyes in baseball, chasing about eight percent fewer pitches outside the strike zone the last three years than the league average.

He's a career .261/.344/.447 hitter who averages 29 doubles, 16 homers, 56 walks and 102 strikeouts per 162 games.

The left-handed Smith can play both outfield corners, and he's always been very effective against right-handed pitching. He has a .272 career batting average with an .827 OPS against righties compared to .202 with a .594 OPS vs. lefties. 

Smith is a fit for the Phillies for several reasons. They need more offense from the corner outfield. Logically, that outfielder should be a left-handed hitter because the Phillies' projected middle of the order has four right-handed bats in Maikel Franco, Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp and Kendrick.

Furthermore, Smith, unlike Saunders, for example, does not require everyday playing time. Smith shouldn't start against lefties. That would provide opportunities to Altherr and Quinn in 2017, while protecting against ineffectiveness from Altherr and another injury to Quinn.

And lastly, Smith is not going to cost anything meaningful via trade. He's a 34-year-old platoon player in the final year of his deal. The Phillies could likely land him for an insignificant prospect, perhaps a pitcher who had a high strikeout rate last season in the low levels of the minor leagues. 

For Seattle, it would be more of a salary dump. The Mariners' 2016 payroll is already $20 million more than it was last year, and per reports, they seem willing to spend to improve their starting rotation.

Smith is not a game-changer, that's not the argument here. He's not J.D. Martinez, a much bigger name and better player. Martinez would also fit the Phillies as a one-year option, and they'd likely be interested in keeping him around longer if they could acquire him. But any trade with the Tigers for Martinez wouldn't be nearly as painless for the Phils as acquiring Smith. 

So perhaps more than other available outfielders, Smith would be an offensive upgrade and a player who fits the Phillies' goal of improving without stunting a top prospect's growth.

Top Phillies prospect Mickey Moniak adds muscle, looks for big season 2017

Top Phillies prospect Mickey Moniak adds muscle, looks for big season 2017

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – The difference was striking.
 
When Mickey Moniak arrived in Philadelphia to sign his first professional contract six months ago, he was rail-thin and 170 pounds.
 
On Tuesday night, Moniak made a quick visit to the winter meetings to be honored as Baseball America’s high school player of the year for 2016. 
 
He’d added 20 pounds to his 6-foot-2 frame.
 
“It’s all muscle,” Moniak said proudly.
 
The Phillies selected Moniak with the first pick in the June draft and signed him for $6.1 million. Just a few months of professional baseball convinced the 18-year-old centerfielder that he needed to get stronger. He recently capped off his first year of pro ball with a three-week stint at the Phillies’ strength and conditioning camp in Clearwater.
 
“It’s something the Phillies wanted me to do and I knew I definitely needed it, too,” Moniak said. “I really enjoyed my first year. I got a taste of what it was like to play baseball for a job and it was a good time.
 
“There were a lot of positives that came out of the first year. I felt like I jumped in there and really competed. I hit well in July. In August, I started to fatigue and I wasn’t prepared for that, being my first season. But it was a good learning experience. I needed to get stronger.”
 
Moniak hit .284 with a .340 on-base percentage, 11 doubles, four triples, a homer and 28 RBIs in 46 games for the Phillies’ prospect-stacked Gulf Coast League team. That club, loaded with young Latin players and first-year talent from the 2016 draft, went 41-17 and advanced to the finals of the league playoffs before losing to the Cardinals.
 
After the playoffs, many of the players from that club participated in the Florida instructional league. Moniak played sparingly, however, after dealing with some soreness in his right hip. He was checked out by doctors in Philadelphia and there are no more concerns.
 
“It was just tightness,” Moniak said. “Everything is good. I’m 100 percent. They said it was either a growing pain or just tightness. I just have to stretch more.”
 
Moniak is an athletic centerfielder with speed and a good left-side bat. He has been compared favorably to former All-Star Steve Finley.
 
"Collectively, we believe Mickey was the best player available in the draft," Johnny Almaraz, the Phillies head of amateur scouting, said on draft night in June. "He's a true centerfielder with incredible offensive ability and the potential to be a perennial All-Star."

Moniak hit .476 with seven homers, 12 triples and four doubles at La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, California, during his senior season. He impressed a rival scout who saw him play five times during the season.

“The bat is good,” the scout said. “He’s going to hit and hit for average. He’s a good centerfielder. He can run. The question is how many home runs will he hit? If he ends up getting stronger, he could be a corner bat that’s unbelievable. There’s no negative here. It’s a good pick.”
 
Now, Moniak is stronger. He looked sturdy in a dress shirt and tie at the winter meetings Tuesday night. He is eager to see how it all translates on the field in 2017.
 
“I’m excited for the season,” he said. “I’m just going to go to spring training and compete and hopefully end up in (Single A) Lakewood, stay healthy and hopefully have a winning season and win a championship. That’s the ultimate goal and if personal stats come with that, too, that’s great.”