Category: Dailies

Hamels, Papelbon & Diekman Are Outta Here

P7193502ACA few days ago, the Phillies completed a trade with the Nationals for Jonathan Papelbon.  I am not sure if anyone in Philly is really sad to see Papelbon and his crotch-grabbing, fan-hating attitude go.  But the Cole Hamels trade announced last night is a different story.  It is bittersweet to see one of the best pitchers in Philly go to the Rangers, but the trade is in the best interest of all involved.  There was no need to let Hamels waste away on a rebuilding team; he is now on a team that at least has a chance of winning this year or in the very near future.

And Hamels will not be going to Texas alone; lefty reliever Jake Diekman is joining him.  Diekman has had a very up and down (mostly down) year so this is probably not a huge loss for the Phillies.  Although, I really liked Diekman; he was one of the friendlier guys on the team and also has great potential as a pitcher.  But he has struggled with throwing strikes and the Phillies’ patience wore out.

The Hamels trade is not technically “official” yet, but all media reports say the deal is nearly final.  The prospects the Phillies are expected to get in return include a pretty good catching prospect, Jorge Alfaro and outfielder Nick Williams.  The other three players are pitchers who are very young and have a ways to go before we will know their worth.  The Phillies also reportedly will get 29-year-old lefthander Matt Harrison who is working his way back from back surgery.  It is likely that portion of the trade will be a bust so let’s hope the youngsters are better.

So while it is sad to see Hamels go, I wish him luck.  Unless, of course, he is pitching against the Phillies.  Then all bets are off.

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Bye Bye Byrd-ie

Birdie ed copyThe deconstruction of the Phillies continues as they have now shipped Marlon Byrd to the Reds in exchange for minor league pitcher Ben Lively.  The Phillies will pay part of Byrd’s $8 million salary to complete the deal, but no specifics were given.  While Byrd struck out a lot last year, he was one of the few power bats in the lineup, hitting 25 homers and collecting 85 RBI.  However, at 37 years of age, the Phillies figured getting younger in the outfield was a good move.

Lively, 22, went 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA between class A and AA ball last season.  He was also named the Reds’ minor league player of the year.  So it does appear this was a good move for the Phillies, although the payoff is probably years away as Lively continues working in the minors.

This move also means we will have at least one more year of Domonic Brown to endure.  In my opinion, the Phillies should have traded him years ago when he was actually worth something.  The only thing he has proved over the last several seasons is that he is inconsistent at the plate and a defensive liability in the outfield.   In fact, the Sporting News ranked him as the worst left fielder in all of baseball last year.  Well, at least he came first in something 😉

The Phillies, however, may not be done moving pieces around.  There are still many, many Cole Hamels rumors and certainly, a lot of room for improvement.  Now, if only some team would get really desperate and take Ryan Howard off their hands.  That is my New Year’s wish.  I should probably make another, more likely wish, right?

Oh well!  Happy New Year, everyone!

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Byrd photo by Jenn Zambri

1960’s Weekend Ends in Series Loss to Cubs

In the final game of the Phillies retro 1960’s celebration, the Phillies had little to celebrate.  With a 0-3 loss to the Cubs, they dropped 2 of 3 games this weekend.

As an added annoyance, I was forced to try and track the game on a 1960’s-style scoreboard and all images on the big screen were in black and white…blah.  But the uniforms (grounds crew, too) were nice and even Art Garfunkel dropped in for a rendition of God Bless America.
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This was also the 50-year anniversary of Jim Bunning’s perfect game against the Mets on Father’s Day in 1964.  He was joined on the field for the first pitch by teammates Cookie Rojas and Dick Allen.  And later in the game, Bunning’s entire family went onto the field to dance with the Phanatic.
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It was also Father’s Day, 2014.  Ben Revere’s parents joined him on the field before the game and every Dad (or male human over 14 years old – hoping they are not all Dad’s) got a Phillies fedora, which were seen all over the ballpark.
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And then there was the game.  A.J. Burnett had a quality start with 3 runs allowed over 8 innings.
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But that mattered little as the Phillies did almost nothing at the plate.  By the 6th inning, I was beginning to think I was going to see my 2nd no-hitter in the last month against the Phils.  Luckily, Revere broke up the no-hitter…whew!

There were many swings, but very few productive ones.  In fact, Burnett even tossed his bat away striking out in the 6th inning (see below).
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On the bright side, it was a bright, sunny day outside…and that is where the good news ends.  Bummer.

Here is the Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  The Phillies start a series in Atlanta on Monday against the Braves.  The game starts at 7:10pm and Cole Hamels will pitch.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Back in Philly; Back in Action

The Phillies returned home to play the 1st of 2 exhibition games on Monday night in preparation for Opening Day on Thursday.  I had a very nice seat 22 rows behind home plate, but sadly, my camera died a few weeks ago.  So I apologize in advance for the crappy photos I took with an old camera while the good one is getting repaired.

Joe Blanton started the game and actually looked pretty good.  His fastball had some zip which made his change-up effective.  He actually had a no-hitter going through 3 1/3 innings.  That may not seem like much, but considering he missed most of last season with a bum elbow, this is serious improvement.  The Red Phanatic agreed:

During the game, we saw some old faces, like Placido Polanco who appears healthy, Hunter Pence and Jimmy Rollins:

And there were many new faces, like Juan Pierre and Ty Wiggington.  Pierre looked good at the top of the line-up with a double and a stolen base.

But the big moment of the evening was Jim Thome’s first at-bat in his return to Citizen’s Bank Park.  He received a hearty ovation although he played it cool.

Before the game, I wandered the stadium looking for the “mystery” player sightings that were promised.  I found Juan Pierre playing a running game with some kids, John Mayberry Jr. signing autographs at the kids play area and David Herndon serving soda.

None of the players I ran into would sign autographs according to their body guards/escorts.  When I got home, I saw other guys on TV who did sign, like Cole Hamels and Charlie Manuel.  Hey Phillies…what’s up with that?  Even more annoying, Pierre was standing alone waiting to get in that running game when NO ONE except me recognized him…being the ONLY person to ask for an autograph, you’d think they would have let him do it for ONE person.  Same with Herndon…only one there…no autographs.

So thank God for Ricky Botallico!  The former Phillies closer not only signed autographs (for a LOT of people) but he asked me to take a photo with him!  That’s right…I did not ask.  He did.  I cannot remember the last time I saw any current or former player volunteer for a photo.  He made my day…Ricky, you are the best!

Here is the rest of my Photo Album from the game.  I hope to have a real camera again soon!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Hamels Ends Phillies Losing Streak

After losing four games in a row, the Phillies needed someone to stop the bleeding.  Cole Hamels, with help from his defense and second baseman Wilson Valdez, was able to get the Phillies a 2-1 win over the Rockies on Wednesday night.

Hamels tossed eight innings of one-run ball, allowing only five hits.  In short, he was spectacular.  His five wins this season tie Roy Halladay and his 2.92 ERA is second, also behind Halladay.

The defense played well behind him, with John Mayberry Jr. getting a key out in the first inning.  On a single hit to right field, Mayberry threw out  Alfredo Amezaga going to third base.  The next batter hit a fly ball to center so, Amezaga would have tagged up and scored had been safe at third.

And although the Phillies offense continues to struggle, Wilson Valdez came up big on a number of occasions.  He went 2 for 3 in the game with an RBI-single in the fifth.  In the eighth, Valdez singled again.  Shane Victorino bunted him over to second and then Valdez advanced to third on a wild pitch.  He then scored the go-ahead run on a Jimmy Rollins sac fly.

It was nice to see Victorino in a game, however, he is still having issues running and is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday.

As for the unlikely hero, Valdez, he is hitting .400 with runners in scoring position and .667 with the bases loaded.  Both of those stats lead the team.  It is hard to expect much more out of a guy who has filled in for Chase Utley all year.  Valdez has been amazing.

The second and final game with the Rockies is tonight at 7:05pm.  Joe Blanton will pitch.

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Offense Still Missing; More Injuries

I will start with the good news.  Roy Oswalt looked good Tuesday night and had some speed on his fastball.  Through five innings, he allowed only one run, which could have been avoided if third-string catcher, Dane Sardinha knew how to tag anyone at the plate.

And now the bad news….the Phillies offense is still missing in action.  The Phillies collected only six hits, two of which were from rookie Michael MartinezRyan Howard struck out three times and left three men on base, which is unusual for him in his hometown of St. Louis.  Howard normally rakes when he is home.

All together, the Phils left 10 men on base and the only run they scored was unearned after Tyler Greene dropped a routine Jimmy Rollins pop-up.

And now for the ugly…Danys Baez came into a tie 1-1 game in the ninth and proceeded to load the bases before recording an out.  J.C. Romero was in next and he threw only one pitch.  That one pitch went deep center field, handing the game to the Cardinals for a two-game sweep.

And now for the “Oh crap!” moment of the game…rookie reliever Michael Stutes tossed three pitches in the sixth before signaling to the bench that he was hurt.  He left the game with a strained a right side muscle.  No word yet on how serious it is, but this is just one more disaster that the Phillies cannot afford.

The offense has been so bad for this team, I am finally out of words to describe it.  If the Phillies do not find a way out of this slump fast, they will find themselves plummeting down the ranks of the NL East.  The Marlins are only 1/2 game behind them and the Braves are 1.5 games back.  Ugh.

It’s Official: A Phillies Losing Streak

Some said that with this pitching staff, it would never happen.  And yet, here it is…a losing streak of three games.  Those who called it impossible must have severely overestimated the Phillies offense.

Because this offense has been horrific.  Pathetic, anemic and just plain awful are a few other descriptive terms you may choose.  On Monday night, the Phillies faced a pitcher with an ERA over 7.0 and they still only managed one lousy run.  They lost to the Cardinals 3-1.

 

There were a total of four Phillies hits in the game and one of those came from the pitcher, Cliff Lee.  Yes, Lee out hit everyone, except Jimmy Rollins and Ben Francisco who had the other three hits.

On the mound, Lee was a bit off and high in the strike zone.  He walked a career-high six batters, although at least two of those were on badly missed calls from the umpire.  Still, through 6.1 innings, Lee allowed three runs and kept the team in the game.  The problem was, no one else looked like they wanted to be in the game.

The hitters were impatient at the plate with a home plate ump who was obviously squeezing the pitchers.  All three walks issued by the Cardinals were to Ryan Howard.  With the way the strike zone was, they should have had at least three or four more free passes.

Personally, I think the starting pitchers need to get together and start screaming at the offense.  Chase Utley missing is not an excuse.  They have hit without him before and are capable of doing it again.  One man does not make a team.

Roy Oswalt will pitch tonight, despite his back issues, which makes me nervous.  Because if the Phillies continue to fail to score runs, Oswalt will have no room for error.  They could lose their fourth straight game and second straight series.  Game time is 8:15pm.

 

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*