The Phillies have been on quite a roll lately, winning their last 3 games against the Braves and 12 out of 14 since the All-Star break. But today, the Phils momentum puttered out as they lost to the Braves, 2-6. Rookie Adam Morgan started the game and went 5 innings allowing 4 runs with 7 hits and 3 walks. He did not look awful except for all the walks and the big 3-run homer, but that was all it took today.
Morgan certainly kept the outfielder’s busy. Defense was mostly very good but a lot of balls kept squeezing through the infield.
And the super-hot Phillies offense was certainly cooled off by Julio Teheran, who apparently only pitches well against the Phillies. There were many swings and misses and dull grounders tossed about, with the exception of a few solid hits in the 2nd and 5th innings. Cody Asche and Odubel Herrera accounted for the only two RBI in the game.
There were many Alumni on hand over the weekend, so at least that was entertaining. Today I saw Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand, Brad Lidge, Matt Stairs, Nick Punto, Mike Lieberthal, Scott Eyre, John Kruk and Mariano Duncan. They all appeared to be having a good time.
Probably Burrell had the most fun. He was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame yesterday and I got a good look at the plaque today. I also got a good look at Pat celebrating by smoking….eh…something? You be the judge. Clearly, he is unaware of the advent of the zoom lens. But this whole episode does go a long way towards explaining the purse he was seen carrying around all weekend. Ok, the Phillies claim it is a “satchel.” Whatever the case, I guess he really needed it to carry his….eh….important stuff? How is that for investigative reporting? LOL!
And here is my Photo of the Day: Justin DeFratus, pre-game, pretending to karate kick a small child. This will make me laugh for days …
Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game and pre-game Behind the Pinstripes taping.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri except “Purse” photo, via Twitter, @Phillies
Tuesday night’s Phillies – Giants game was one of the most exciting games I have been to in a long time. And the excitement started before the game even began. About an hour before the start time, the Giants announced that Barry Zito would pitch in place of ace Tim Lincecum, who had the flu.
At first, this was disappointing. Seeing Lincecum pitch is really fun with his odd delivery and demeanor on the mound. But with Zito, there was certainly a better chance for the Phillies to win the game.
Vance Worley started for the Phillies and did an amazing job. He kept his pitch count low and used all sides of the plate with good location to confuse the Giants. Zito did not fare as well; perhaps his super-tight pants were cutting off his circulation? You be the judge:
Worley was backed by some great Phillies offense, including four home runs. Raul Ibanez, Ryan Howard, John Mayberry Jr. and Chase Utley all took part in the home run parade. The defense was hot as well, with many great leaping plays, especially the one from Ibanez (top right) who scaled the wall in the ninth inning to help out Worley:
But the biggest homer of the night was of the inside-the-park variety from Utley. He smashed a ball into center which kicked around enough that Utley never stopped running. It was a close play, but he was safe. And another rare thing occurred right afterwards; Utley smiled…during a game. Yes, shocking, I know. Here is some of the sequence from the homer:
Former Phillie Aaron Rowand made a short appearance in the game as a pinch hitter in the 8th. He strutted to the plate looking determined to show how much he loves hitting in this ballpark. I told the guy next to me, “Watch…one pitch and he’ll homer.” No kidding…it happened. Must be that “interesting”…ahem!…stance of his:
But as Rowand enjoyed his time travel to the past, Worley was not phased. That run made the score 6-2 and in the bottom of the inning, Howard’s homer bumped the lead to 7-2.
Worley finished the game with just two runs allowed on three hits with 114 pitches. He and catcher Brian Schneider celebrated his 1st career complete game and afterwards, even Roy Halladay shared an appreciative laugh with the young pitcher:
Here is the full Photo Album from the game.
Game #2 is Wednesday at 7:05pm. Cole Hamels will face a mystery pitcher for the Giants…no word on that yet.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Sitting among the second largest crowd in Citizen Bank Park’s history to witness another historical feat was amazing. All in attendance saw the Phillies open a season at home 3-0 for the first time since 1970 and open a season at home with a three-game series sweep for the first time since 1899. Yes, 1899.
The one-two-three punch of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt proved to be too much for the Houston Astros to handle. Oswalt was great today, pitching six innings and allowing just two runs on five hits against his former ball club in the 7-3 win.
It was Oswalt’s first start against his old team in his first start of the season. But there were many first’s in this game. Ryan Howard hit his first homer of the season while collecting a team-high four RBI in the game. Michael Martinez made his first major league start in place of Shane Victorino in center. Martinez later collected his first major league hit and first RBI in the same at bat.
Ben Francisco also smacked his first home run of the season today and made a huge first impression as the starting right fielder this weekend. With three hits in this game, all he had left to prove was that he could play hard in right. Francisco accomplished that with an amazing catch in right where he crashed into the wall hard, knocking the “SD” out of the out of town scoreboard.
As Francisco gave up his body to make the play, the fans jumped to their feet and screamed his praises. It was Francisco’s very own “Aaron Rowand moment.” Remember back in 2006 when Rowand smashed face-first into the center field wall to make a game-saving catch? He was a home town hero after that.
And while Francisco did not leave the field bloodied and battered, the effort was very much the same. And just like that, Jayson Werth is a distant memory.
Victorino sat today to rest his sore calf, but was able to pinch-hit later in the sixth and then stayed in the game. He saw exactly one pitch in his first at-bat and sent it to right for an RBI single. Looks like the calf is just fine.
The Phillies are off on Monday and start a three game series with the Mets on Tuesday. Cole Hamels will pitch and game time is 7:05pm.
Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies made two moves on Tuesday that may indicate a few deals are in the works at the Winter Meetings. Pitchers Jesus Sanchez and Yohan Flande were released from the 40-man roster, likely to make room for a few additions. One of those additions is rumored to be ex-Phillie Aaron Rowand.
Rowand has two more years and $24 million left on his contract with the Giants. After a down year in 2010 and losing his starting spot, the Giants have implied that Rowand is no longer in their plans going forward. If the Giants are willing to eat most of his salary, Rowand could possibly return to Philly.
Best known for smashing his face against the centerfield wall at Citizens Bank Park to make a game-saving catch in 2006, Rowand was also the leader in the clubhouse and well loved by players and coaches alike. He was never afraid to call out a teammate who was slacking. This kind of fire is what Charlie Manuel loves about Rowand. It may also be motivation to bring him back.
In 2007, Rowand had a career year with the Phillies, batting .309 with 27 homers and 89 RBI. He also made the All-Star team that year. Since departing for San Francisco, Rowand’s numbers have steadily declined. At the time, critics said the move to a larger ballpark might affect his production and that appears to be the case. On the flip side, a return to the smaller confines of Citizens Bank Park may give new life to Rowand’s bat.
In addition, Rowand will have something to prove wherever he lands. This is a guy who plays the game hard and takes pride in his performance. Losing his starting job may have been the kick in the backside he needed.
Another upside is that Rowand can play either center or right field, just as Jayson Werth was able to. Neither Domonic Brown or Ben Francisco would likely be effective in center in the event that Shane Victorino is hurt or needs a break. And right now, Victorino is the only true centerfielder on the roster. Even if it is just coming off the bench, Rowand could fill that role while Brown and Francisco patrol right field.
Whether or not the Phillies decide to work out a deal with the Giants for Rowand is still unknown. But if the price is right, Rowand could be a real asset and maybe inject new life into this Phillies team.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
In a shocking move, Jayson Werth has signed a 7-year deal with the last place Washington Nationals, snubbing higher-profile teams like the Red Sox. After losing Adam Dunn to the White Sox and star rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg to Tommy John surgery, the Nats needed a seat-filler. Attendance in DC has been pathetic over the years due to a lack of success for the team and very high ticket prices.
In the last two years, the Nats ranked 24th and 23rd place for attendance out of 30 teams. The acquisition of Werth should produce a spike in season ticket plans, not to mention a spike in team batting average and runs scored. The exact terms of the contract have not yet been disclosed, but it is in the area of $126 million dollars.
The real shock is that Werth chose to sign with a last-place team. The Nats are trying to build a winner, but realistically, this will not happen overnight. In fact, their biggest obstacle may be the Phillies who have won the division 4-straight years now. But Werth has his ring already so maybe winning is now lower on his list than money and stability.
As for the Phillies, they now have a huge, gaping hole in right field to be filled. With Domonic Brown leaving Winter Ball early today due to being “tired and sluggish,” big questions remain as to his ability to fill the spot. Worst case scenario is that the left-handed Brown will have to platoon with righty Ben Francisco.
Another right-hander who may be able to platoon with Francisco or even Ross Gload is John Mayberry Jr. In 11 games with the big club in 2010, Mayberry batted .333 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI. He has been working on his stroke in AAA and, if Brown is not ready, Mayberry might be a better option.
There is a list of free agents as well that may also be able to fill the hole. The top choice for Charlie Manuel is probably Matt Diaz. The two men live in the same neighborhood and spend time together in the offseason. Diaz is a lifetime .301 hitter who got little playing time with the Braves last season. However, Diaz did find time to tackle a rouge Phillies fan on the field back in September. He is almost a folk-hero in Philly already after that feat.
A few other options include Jeff Francoeur, Carlos Quentin or Scott Hairston. With a little more creativity, the Phillies may wish to consider former Phillie Aaron Rowand. The Giants have indicated that Rowand is not in their plans going forward and may be willing to eat his huge salary just to get rid of him. Rowand struggled last year at AT&T Park. Perhaps the smaller, friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park can revive his bat?
A few other long-shot free-agents might be Willie Bloomquist, Joe Inglett or Jose Guillen. Whichever way the Phillies decide to go, it is clear that Werth has left very big shoes to fill. He will be missed.
In the digital age, rumors fly much quicker than they used to. It literally takes only seconds to post a rumor online and create a huge buzz over basically nothing. The same applies to Phillies free-agent right fielder, Jayson Werth.
Early this morning, a talk-show radio host mentioned that the Phillies had offered Werth a contract and that it was good enough for him to possibly sign. Should you give credence to this rumor? The simple answer is “No.”
Black Friday came and went and no “sale” on outfielders was ever advertised. Tomorrow is Cyber Monday; for those awaiting a holiday miracle and second-chance sale on Werth, put it out of your mind. It is not going to happen. The odds of Werth returning to Philly are about the same as the possibility of a meteor landing on your house; for the record, those adds are about 182,138,880,000,000 to 1.
Did you know there is even a web site page on eHow.com dedicated to helping people determine if rumors are true? One of the suggestions says, “Send at text to (CHA CHA) 242 242 with any rumor questions and they might be able to answer your question in just a few minutes.” Is this not the basic equivalent to shaking a Magic 8-ball?
So if you prefer logic to magic text messages, just look at the facts. The Phillies already have $143 million dollars committed to 2011 salaries. Werth is going to aim for an average of $15 million a year. Nearing the $160 million dollar mark does not leave room for improvements elsewhere, like in the bullpen. Plus, while Domonic Brown may not be ready to take over full-time in right field, he is close enough. The Phillies can find help elsewhere for the one year or so until Brown is ready.
Now think about some of the moves GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has already made. If Amaro was not willing to pay to keep Cliff Lee, $15 million a year for Werth seems even more like a huge, unsustainable amount. The Phillies are also not afraid to platoon players to fill the spot, as evidenced by previous pairings like Werth and Geoff Jenkins. While this will not improve the position at all, it is possible that the Phillies will settle for a platoon of Ben Francisco and Brown if all else fails.
Players will wait to get the best offer. Remember after the 2007 season when the Phillies gave a solid 3-4 offer to Aaron Rowand to return? The Giants came in with a 5-year deal and Rowand walked. It will be the same with Werth; even if the Phillies offer a very good deal, odds are that another team will outbid them.
And if all that has not quelled your suspicions that this weekend’s rumor might be true, take it from Werth himself. CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Werth said via text message about being close to signing, “Not at all. It’s very early. I will make an informed decision in due time.” So you can choose to believe the magic CHA CHA eHow text message or the verified text message sent to Salisbury. Magic or logic; you decide.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Earlier this week, the Phillies declined the option on JC Romero’s contract, thus rendering him a free agent. Romero can still return, but it would have to be at a price both parties agree on. Left-handed- relievers are not growing on trees, so hopefully, they can work something out. Romero’s control should be much improved next year as his arm, which was operated on last off-season, has more time to gain strength.
As for Greg Dobbs and Jamie Moyer, it is likely the end of the line. Neither were offered contracts and both opted for free agency.
Dobbs had a few good years with the Phillies off the bench but his numbers declined this year with his lack of playing time. Dobbs is a super-nice guy and his personality will be missed…plus, the team just got a little bit uglier without him around ;o)
Moyer missed most of this year with an injury and has had multiple surgeries between last off-season and this year. Add his age to that, 48 next month, and it may be hard for Moyer to find a new home. Moyer is a class act and I wish him luck.
Today, Placido Polanco will have surgery on his elbow due to bone fragments and tendinitis, which he played with most of the year after getting hit by a pitch. The expected recovery time is 8-10 weeks, so he should be good to go by Spring Training. Polly hit .298 this year, despite playing through immense pain and enduring 4 cortisone injections. I cannot wait to see what he does when he is healthy.
So, have you all been watching the World Series? Actually, it has been less of a series and more of a tar and feathering of the Texas Rangers so far. Cliff Lee got absolutely destroyed by the Giants in Game 1, allowing 7 runs over 4 2/3 innings. Before that game, Lee said about the Phillies, “I didn’t mind seeing them get beat, either, just because they got rid of me.” Call it baseball karma if you like. I admire the man for being honest, but the comments certainly did not help him on the mound.
The Giants walked, lirerally, all over the Rangers again in Game 2 and won by a score of 9-0. The Rangers bullpen allowed 4 walks in a row in the 8th inning…that has to be some kind of World Series record. Former Phillie Aaron Rowand had a big hit in that inning after the walks with a 2-run triple. The Rangers are down 2 games to none; Game 3 is on Saturday.
Does this make Phillies fans feel a little better about being pounded by the Giants? Ok, maybe a little. I guess I have to revise my initial prediction though….Lee will NOT be the MVP. And it looks more like Giants in 6 than Rangers in 6. Although, stranger things have happened. We shall see…
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography