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Phillies GM Matt Klentak doesn’t plan to demote Maikel Franco or Odubel Herrera

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The slumping Phillies get a reprieve on Thursday, but will enter Friday’s series opener against the Giants with a 17-34 record, worst in baseball. The team’s problems are manyfold, but two players whose struggles stick out are Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera.

Franco, who hit 25 home runs last season, has mustered a paltry .216/.273/.352 batting line with six home runs and 28 RBI in 194 plate appearances this season.

Herrera, the Phillies’ lone representative in the All-Star Game last year, hit .286/.361/.420 with 42 extra-base hits and 25 stolen bases last season. So far this season, he’s batting a measly .218/.262/.326 with 15 extra-base hits and four stolen bases in 206 PA.

Both Franco and Herrera have options, so they could be sent down to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to figure things out. Franco, in particular, has reportedly been in jeopardy of a demotion. However, as CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports, GM Matt Klentak plans to let both players try to right their ships in the big leagues.

Klentak said of Franco, “We are committed to giving Maikel more time to get out of this. We believe in him. We have confidence that he will (break out). There are a lot of indicators, whether you’re looking at his exit velocities and launch angles — again, I don’t want to say he’s been a victim of bad luck by itself; it’s not the only thing, but there are reasons to believe he can get out this.”

The data doesn’t exactly paint a grim picture of Franco. Per FanGraphs, Franco is hitting a few more line drives than he did last year and is making harder contact overall as well.

As for Herrera, Klentak said, “I think he’s gotten himself into an offensive slump largely because he is not taking pitches as well as he has. When you see the productive Odubel Herrera — it’s when he’s taking close pitches, grinding out walks, pumping his fist and clapping his hands after a walk and pointing to the dugout. We haven’t seen that for the last month. We have a lot of reason to believe Odubel will come out of it. And the big thing is even when Odubel’s not hitting, he is impacting the game.”

Herrera’s walk rate has been nearly halved compared to last season, 9.6 to 5.3 percent. His strikeout rate has increased by 4.4 percent. He’s hitting more ground balls at the expense of line drives and he’s offering at significantly more pitches outside the strike zone — 34.1 percent last year, 44.5 percent this year.

We now have photographic proof that Tom Ricketts and Ted Cruz are different people

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A lot of people think they have a double walking around someplace on Earth. They may actually be right. We have an example of this in baseball and politics.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts looks a lot like Texas senator Ted Cruz. Or, since Ricketts is older, I guess Cruz looks like Ricketts. Either way, they could play brothers if someone put on, like, the worst ever production of some play about brothers.

If you’re not familiar with one or both of those guys, take a gander at the photo that was taken of the two of them in Washington this morning as the Cubs made the rounds with their World Series trophy:

If they put those rings together, Tom can turn into any animal and Ted can turn into anything made out of water. True story.

 

Anthony Rizzo calls out Miguel Montero for calling out Jake Arreita

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The morning we posted about Miguel Montero calling out his pitcher, Jake Arrieta, for allowing the Nationals to steal seven bases last night. Our view, of course, was that (a) it wasn’t all Arrieta’s fault; and (b) even if it was, publicly calling out your teammates like that is probably not a great idea and certainly isn’t a good look.

When I saw Montero’s comments I assumed that they would not play well in the Cubs’ clubhouse. I was right about that. Anthony Rizzo appeared on ESPN 1000 in Chicago this morning and had this to say:

Referring to Willson Contreras, of course, who has allowed 31 stolen bases to opponents while behind the dish. Coincidentally, Montero has allowed 31 stolen bases when he has played as well. Contreras has played in 24 more games than Montero, by the way.

I predict that, by around 3pm when the clubhouses open, we’ll see a public apology by Montero.