Phillies Stay or Go: Kevin Frandsen

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Phillies Stay or Go: Kevin Frandsen

The Phillies' first losing season since 2002 is sure to bring wholesale changes in the offseason. But who should stay and who should go? Over the next two weeks, we're asking that very question and putting players under the microscope.
 
We've already looked at two of the Phillies' biggest piece in Roy Halladay (see story) and Carlos Ruiz (see story). Today, we look at a guy who's role has been smaller, but valuable:

Kevin Frandsen
Position: Infielder
Status: Arbitration eligible; completed a one-year, $850,000 deal in 2013
 
Signature games of 2013
A few years behind Pat Burrell at Bellarmine College Prep in San Jose, Frandsen made the club right out of spring training and was on the Opening Day roster for just the second time in his seven big league seasons. He wasted little time in making the move worth it when he belted a pinch-hit, bases-loaded double with two outs to clear the bases and give the Phillies a 4-3 victory over Kansas City in his second plate appearance of the season.
 
Frandsen hit a walk-off homer to beat the Mets on June 22, but even that game-winner wasn't as dramatic as the bases-clearing double to beat the Royals in April.
 
Season as a whole
Frandsen set career bests with 119 games and five homers, but his batting average of .234 came nowhere close to the .338 he posted over 55 games for the Phillies in 2012. Oddly enough, Frandsen struck out just 29 times in 278 plate appearances, which means he put the ball in play a lot. Managers Charlie Manuel and Ryne Sandberg suggested Frandsen was simply a victim of bad luck.
 
“I was hitting some rockets early in the year as a pinch-hitter but had little to show for it,” Frandsen said in September.
 
Frandsen led the majors with 14 pinch hits and had starts at three different infield positions. He was dependable and ready for whatever was thrown his way. There were times when Frandsen started four games in a row and then didn’t get off the bench for four games.
 
Stay or go
On a good team where Frandsen can settle into a steady utility or pinch-hitting role, he would be the proverbial unsung hero. On the Phillies in 2013, where he was often asked to do things that weren’t necessarily his strong suit, Frandsen attacked it like he does everything — headfirst. One of those grinders who is always willing to do the dirty work, Frandsen is a bargain. If the Phillies can get him back for another one-year deal, what’s the harm?
 
What they're saying
“I have never been to the playoffs, and it's one thing I want to do and do it with the Phillies. It's a reason I don't want to leave.”
--Kevin Frandsen, September 2013
 
“He cares about being a good teammate. He does his job great. That's from his positive outlook. When he's up there in a pinch-hitter role, he's been able to thrive because he's not worried about his playing time. He's not thinking, ‘Well, I got three hits yesterday and I'm not playing today,’ and that's benefited us. He's not up there with a chip on his shoulder. It's, ‘When I get up there, whatever I need to do, let me know and I'm in.’”
--Jimmy Rollins on Frandsen, June 22, 2013

Jerad Eickhoff has 'off' game as Phillies' win streak ends with loss to Dodgers

Jerad Eickhoff has 'off' game as Phillies' win streak ends with loss to Dodgers

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES — Hold your thumb and index finger about an inch apart.

That's how close Jerad Eickhoff came to pitching an excellent ballgame on Friday night.

The Phillies' six-game winning streak came to an end in a 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers (see Instant Replay).

Eickhoff took the loss, but he and his team might have had a different fate if the right-hander could have finished off innings more efficiently.

Eickhoff allowed the leadoff man to reach base in just one of six frames and he retired the first two batters four times. However, Eickhoff allowed nine baserunners with two outs and that was his downfall on an unusually windy night in Chavez Ravine.

What happened?

Simple. Eickhoff didn't have his trusty sidekick with him.

He didn't have his curveball.

"It just comes down to the curveball," he said. "I had it in the first inning and I just couldn't find that release point after that. I struggled with it.

"I was able to keep them off balance with my slider and by locating the fastball. Eight of their hits were singles and that's frustrating.

"But yeah, just the curveball. I couldn't put them away."

Seven of the nine hits that Eickhoff gave up came with two outs. He also issued two two-out walks. The Dodgers scored five runs against Eickhoff in 5 2/3 innings and four of them came with two outs. One of the four came on a wild pitch by Eickhoff. The wild pitch was a curveball that got away.

Perhaps the most frustrating sequence of the game for Eickhoff came in the fourth inning when Cody Bellinger beat the shift with a two-out bunt single then scored when No. 8 hitter Kike Hernandez lined a double over leftfielder Aaron Altherr's head to tie the game at 2-2. Altherr just missed making a running catch as the ball ticked off his glove as he raced back to the wall.

Also frustrating was the sixth inning. Eickhoff got the first two outs before allowing a single and a walk. Mackanin went to reliever Luis Garcia and Justin Turner tagged him for a two-run double as the Dodgers put the game away.

"You get two outs, you want to put them away," Eickhoff said. "You want to get the guys back in the dugout and I couldn't do it today.

"My curveball was either coming out early or I'd adjust, grip it a little tighter and I'd spike it. There was no in between. Then I'd get it over in the zone and it got put in play."

In other words, it was one of those nights.

"Eickhoff was off," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He just wasn't himself. He's allowed to have a bad game once in a while."

The Phillies' offense didn't have the best of days. Freddy Galvis improved his hitting streak to 10 games with a two-run double against Kenta Maeda to give the Phils a 2-0 lead in the third. But the Phillies got nothing else going against Maeda over his seven innings. Maikel Franco had a sacrifice fly in the eighth, but the Phils went down quietly in the ninth with Dodgers' closer Kenley Jansen striking out Altherr, Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp to end the game.

Rupp had a double and a walk, but is hitting .180.

Joseph was hitless with three strikeouts in four at-bats. He is hitting .190.

"A two-run lead is really nothing when you think about it," Mackanin said. "It's nice to get a lead but you don't want to hang on for nine innings with a two-run lead. You need to add on and we couldn't. Maeda pitched well. He mixed it up. We just couldn't zero in on him and get a big inning going."

One bright spot for the Phils was the work of reliever Mark Leiter Jr. He pitched a scoreless seventh inning in his big-league debut. With his debut, Leiter and his dad (Mark Sr. pitched for the Phils in 1997 and 1998) became the second father-son duo, joining the Amaros, to play for the club.

Leiter, who grew up a Phillies fan in Tom's River, on the Jersey Shore, pitched a 1-2-3 inning. He got Chase Utley on a fly ball to left for the second out.

"That was pretty cool," Leiter said. "Growing up and watching the Phillies, I saw him contribute to a lot of great years. Anytime you face a guy you watched growing up and rooted for, it's pretty special. It was awesome, something you dream about."

Best of MLB: Mets beat Max Scherzer, first-place Nationals

Best of MLB: Mets beat Max Scherzer, first-place Nationals

WASHINGTON -- With Bryce Harper coming to the plate with the bases loaded and the Mets clinging to a two-run, ninth-inning lead, New York manager Terry Collins went to the mound and replaced closer Jeurys Familia with left-hander Josh Edgin.

"If we'd have won seven in a row, I probably would have left Jeurys out there, because that's what he's here to do," Collins said.

But the Mets had lost six in a row and 10 of 11, falling 7 games behind NL East-leading Washington.

Edgin got Harper to hit a comebacker the reliever turned in a game-ending double play as the Mets held on for a 7-5 victory Friday night (see full recap).

Yankees rally from 8 down to beat Orioles
NEW YORK -- Matt Holliday ended a thrilling duel of home run derby in the Bronx with one final thump.

Holliday hit the eighth homer of the game, a three-run shot in the 10th inning as the New York Yankees completed a stunning rally from an eight-run deficit, outslugging the Baltimore Orioles 14-11 Friday night.

"It's an amazing feeling. We're down 9-1, and then we were down 11-4," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "They never quit. We have the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark and that's what we did."

Starlin Castro slipped to a knee when he tied it with a two-run drive that capped a three-run burst in the ninth off Brad Brach. Then in the 10th, Holliday hit the Yankees' fifth homer of the evening with one out off Jayson Aquino (1-1) and was mobbed at the plate (see full recap).

Red Sox get to Arrieta early, beat Cubs
BOSTON -- Against Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, the Red Sox didn't have time for a slow start Friday night -- not exactly a strength for them this season.

Andrew Benintendi helped Boston solve that issue, and the club just had to hang on from there.

Benintendi hit a solo homer off Arrieta to spark a five-run first inning and Boston beat Chicago 5-4.

The Red Sox had just seven first-inning runs this season entering Friday (see full recap).

Soto's 2-run single leads White Sox past Tigers
DETROIT -- Mike Pelfrey put his emotions aside and helped his new team, the Chicago White Sox, beat his old team, the Detroit Tigers.

Pelfrey, who was released by the Tigers near the end of spring training, started Friday's game at Detroit and left after 4 2/3 innings with the game tied. Geovany Soto then had a two-run single in the eighth, helping the White Sox beat the Tigers 7-3 at Comerica Park.

"There's no bitterness," Pelfrey said of facing Detroit. "Those guys were good to me. Obviously, spring training didn't end the way I wanted, but that's on me. I don't think I lived up to my end of the bargain," (see full recap).