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Ruben Amaro: Changes to come for Phillies’ failing offense

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MILWAUKEE — The Phillies entered the final leg of a three-city road trip Monday night with a 1-5 record in the first six games.

They have hit .170 in those games.

Overall, the team has lost nine of its last 10 games (hitting .204 in the process) to fall to 14 games under .500 and 12 games out in the NL East race.

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has been with the Phillies on this trip. Before Monday night’s game, he said changes could be coming to this failing team.

“It’s disappointing, particularly the offense,” Amaro said. “What more can you say other than we’re not swinging the bats very well. I didn’t anticipate our guys being this poor. Because they are. They are this poor. We think that they’re better. But they haven’t shown it. So at some point we’re going to have to make some changes. Some guys, once they are ready to play, may be factors for us.”

Amaro indicated that Darin Ruf and Freddy Galvis, both recovering from injuries, could get playing time when they are healthy. Outfielder Grady Sizemore could also be coming in the next week or so.

“Any of those guys,” Amaro said. “Ruf, Freddy, Sizemore, whoever else in the organization may be factors for us. We have to get them healthy and see if it behooves us to make any of those changes.”

How about Maikel Franco?

“He’s swinging the bat well,” Amaro said. “Hey, listen, I’m looking for people who can swing the bat because we’re not doing it here. If he gets to the point where he starts swinging the bat consistently, he’s a guy who could be in play, too.”

Franco plays third base. Is there room for him and Cody Asche?

“Yeah,” Amaro said, “because he could play first base, too.”

Franco, 21, had two more hits for Triple A Lehigh Valley on Monday night. He is 11 for 23 with six RBIs in his last five games, but is hitting just .223 with six homers and 37 RBIs overall.

Sizemore has played eight games in Triple A since signing with the Phillies after his release from Boston. He is 10 for 37 in those games. He can opt out of his minor-league contract during the all-star break if he is not in the majors.

There’s a good chance he will be with the Phillies just before or after the all-star break.

“We’re considering it,” Amaro said. “He’s playing pretty good, moving pretty well. We have some time to make the decision on him, but everything so far has been positive.”

While Amaro talked only about potential changes that could come from within the organization, he continues to talk about trades with other clubs. He is willing to listen on any player. Trading some high-salaried players will be difficult, however. And the Phils have many of them.

The non-waiver trade deadline is July 31.

“There’s still interest in our guys,” Amaro said. “I think that we would be (active before the deadline). Again, being active and actually getting something done are two different things. We’ve been active already. We’ll be active, whether we’ll actually get it done or if there is something that can improve us, it depends on how our club is being evaluated.

“If we’re going to make changes, we make changes to get better. Everything we think about is thinking about how we can improve our club. Will we be better? That’s what you have to analyze.”

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely:

Report: Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 24: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits to hit during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In Saturday’s column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that, according to a scout, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there.” Braun has been bothered by neck and back issues this year, missing on Sunday his eighth start out of the Brewers’ last 14 games, but he has still put up a quality .351/.424/.583 triple-slash line in 170 plate appearances this year.

More importantly for an acquiring team, Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million contract. He’s earning $19 million this season and in the ensuing two seasons, and then his salary decreases slightly to $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million if both sides pick up his mutual option (else a $4 million buyout would be exercised).

Per Cafardo, the Astros, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Giants, and White Sox are potential landing spots for Braun.

Mets unhappy with Dodgers’ request to make outfield markings to position fielders

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28:  The 1986 New York Mets are honored before the game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on May 28, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.The New York Mets are honoring the 30th anniversary of the 1986 championship season.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Mets have asked MLB for clarification on the Dodgers’ use of a laser rangefinder for defensive positioning over this weekend’s series at Citi Field. The Dodgers notified the Mets’ ground crew that they wanted to mark certain positions in the outfield grass after determining positions with the rangefinder. The grounds crew said they could leave two marks in center field and one in left field.

However, the grounds crew then went to their superiors and told them that the Dodgers threatened to dig holes in the outfield grass with their cleats, so the grounds crew was then instructed to “erase or obliterate” any of the Dodgers’ markings.

According to Rosenthal, Major League Baseball reinforced a few weeks ago that teams aren’t allowed to use markers to aid defensive positioning. The Dodgers haven’t been accused of doing anything nefarious during a game. Howie Kendrick was seen pulling something out of his pocket in the outfield, but Brett Anderson clarified on Twitter that it was just a piece of paper with notes for defensive positioning.

The series between the Mets and Dodgers has been heated, as Noah Syndergaard was ejected for throwing at Chase Utley on Saturday. Utley then responded by hitting two home runs, one of which was a grand slam. The Mets may have a legitimate concern, or it may just be gamesmanship.