Is there a doctor in the house? Apparently, there are a few very busy doctors in the Phillies clubhouse since the season ended. It had already been disclosed that Scott Eyre was pitching the latter half of the season with bone chips in his elbow, so the fact that he will have surgery tomorrow is no surprise. Eyre performed admirably despite the injury and ended the regular season with a 1.50 ERA in 42 appearances and a 2.08 ERA in the post-season. His future is uncertain though; the Phillies may offer him a spot if surgery goes well, but he also may simply choose to retire and be home with his family. It will be a while before any decisions are made.
But the fact that Raul Ibanez was hurt the entire second half of the year was not disclosed until Sports Illustrated broke the story in late October that Ibanez was playing through both a sore groin and an abdominal tear. Ibanez will have surgery Monday as well for a sports hernia. But this begs the question, had the Phillies carried on without Ibanez and gave the playing time to a healthy Ben Francisco, would that have helped their chances to win the World Series?
Ibanez was hitting .312 before the All-Star break; afterwards, he hit only .232. And in the post-season, he managed only a .259 average and a .481 slugging percentage. Whether or not Francisco could have been a bigger producer if he was given the playing time prior to the post-season, we will never know. But the Phillies had other options and instead left Ibanez in; it appears that may have hurt the team’s chances. We all admire Ibanez for his determination, but the decision is questionable based on the results.
And then the big X-Factor, Brad Lidge. The decision to keep Lidge on as the closer for the post-season may have single handedly destroyed the Phillies repeat hopes. Because as it turns out, Lidge also had serious injuries for most of the year. He will have surgery on Wednesday to remove loose bodies from his elbow and may also have damage to his right flexor tendon. Whether or not the Phillies were aware of this before or during the playoffs has not been announced. But it does raise eyebrows.
The Phillies were on the verge of a huge comeback in Game 4 of the World Series when Pedro Feliz knocked a game-tying homer in the 8th inning. Had they won the game, the Phillies would have been tied 2-2 with the Yankees and momentum would have been on their side, especially with Cliff Lee pitching the next day. But Lidge blew any chance of that happening when he allowed 3 runs in the 9th and dashed the Phillies hopes. I strongly believe that was the turning point that handed the series over to the Yankees.
So the question then is, with such injuries plus his entire 2009 history, why was Lidge allowed to pitch? Obviously, Lidge knew something was wrong. If he did not tell, then shame on him. If he did and the Phillies choose to let him go out there anyway, shame on the management. Either way, the Lidge experiment, along with the Cole Hamels experiment and other injuries, took down the Phillies this year.
And the real shame here is that there were other pitchers who could have filled in; JA Happ for Hamels, Ryan Madson or Chan Ho Park for Lidge. You know the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” Well, what is it IS broke? That is a question the Phillies will be asking themselves all off-season.
In other news, Brett Myers was told he will not be with the Phillies next year. He is currently a free agent. Pedro Feliz is still in limbo with the status of his contract option.
Player photos by Jenn
2009 was an outstanding season for the Philadelphia Phillies in many ways. Not only did they return to the World Series for the second consecutive year, but when you look at everything they had to endure to do so, the feat becomes that much more impressive. Here is a look at the obstacles the team overcame in 2009 and also some of the season highlights:
The loss of our beloved Harry Kalas
The 2008 World Series hangover
Injuries to every member of the bullpen
Losing the #2 starter (Brett Myers) at the beginning of the year
Watching the #1 starter, Cole Hamels, go through weird injuries, bad luck and a very bad season
Lack of production from the bench players
The June Swoon (11-15 record)
The struggles and eventual season ending injury of Jamie Moyer
The injury to Raul Ibanez right before the All-Star break; Ibanez went from super hot to totally not afterwards.
Offensive slumps throughout the year
A down year and very slow start from the offensive engine, Jimmy Rollins
Brad Lidge going from first to worst among closers
The Ring Ceremony
Cliff Lee – a gift from Heaven (and Ruben Amaro Jr.)
Pedro Feliz had off-season back surgery, recovered well and became a real contributor offensively
JA Happ emerged as rookie sensation with 12 wins and the lowest team ERA among starters (2.93)
Jamie Moyer wins career game #250
The Phillies visit with J-Roll Smurf (more of a personal highlight, but a highlight nonetheless)
Ryan Howard becomes the fastest player ever to reach 200 career home runs
Ryan Howard knocks the most grand slams in Phillies history
The 10 game winning streak, July 8-21
The two Old Goats, Jamie Moyer & Pedro Martinez, combine to win 2 games in August that were split up by rain delays
Jayson Werth steals home against Dodgers
Franchise record set for attendance and sellout games; 3,600,693 fans and 73 sellouts in 81 home games, finishing 3rd in baseball for total and average attendance
Return to World Series
Congratulations to the 2009 National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies!
In other news:
The 2009 coaching staff have all been invited to return next year.
Cliff Lee’s 8 million dollar club option was picked up (no surprise here) for 2010.
Raul Ibanez, Scott Eyre and Brad Lidge will all be seen by team doctors this weekend to determine if surgeries will be needed. Eyre has loose bodies in his elbow and Lidge may have the same. Ibanez has a tear in his abdomen and a hip issue.
No word yet on Pedro Feliz’s club option, but it will be decided by Monday.
Last year on Halloween Day, the Phillies were celebrating by parading down Broad Street. This year on Halloween Day, they took a spanking from the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the World Series with an 8-5 loss after a 1 hour and 20 minute rain delay. Cole Hamels did not follow my instructions and wear his “Hamels: Version 2008” costume for the occasion. Instead, Hamels 2009 took the mound and gave up 5 runs in 4 1/3 innings on 5 hits and 2 walks. A scary Halloween, indeed, complete with cloudy skies, rain and a 1-2 game deficit in the series.
This has been the story for Cole all year long; he simply cannot be counted on. He pitched well for 3 innings and then lost composure on a walk to Mark Teixeira that he felt should have been a strikeout in the 4th. A-Rod batted next and launched a controversial home run; the ball hit a FOX TV camera which was sticking out over the field. Instant Replay showed the hit and by rule, the interference made it a home run. This brings up another point: why is a TV camera sticking out over the field? They cannot back up a few inches? That simply should not be allowed. Way to go FOX.
It all fell apart after that. Once again, even though Cole showed signs of impending disaster, manager Charlie Manuel sent him out for the 5th and again, left him in way too long. He even allowed an RBI single to the pitcher, Andy Pettitte, who almost never picks up a bat. 3 runs later and this game was going downhill fast. The bullpen could not hold the Yanks to those 5 either. The next 3 relievers allowed one run a piece in each of the next 3 innings.
Add to that the horrible offensive display and Phillies fans are having flashbacks to slumps from earlier in the season. The Yankees who had not been hitting in this series, like A-Rod and Nick Swisher, found Hamels to be the cure. And the Phillies who were performing all post-season long, like NLCS MVP Ryan Howard, have seemingly lost their bats and cannot find them anywhere.
Jayson Werth looked to be the only Phillie interested in hitting; he knocked two solo home runs in the game. Carlos Ruiz also hit a solo homer and walked twice. The other 2 runs came off a walk to Jimmy Rollins with the bases loaded and a Shane Victorino sac fly. And that was basically the sum total of the offense.
Another item that irks me here: Eric Bruntlett was put in as a pinch hitter with a man on base in a situation where a home run was really what they needed. Why not Matt Stairs? Bruntlett should never be used as a pinch hitter unless they are looking to bunt. He had a terrible season and looks like he could not hit the side of a barn. Not to mention, he almost never hits homers.
As for Hamels, he is lined up to pitch Game 7, if it goes that far. In my opinion, this should not even be a consideration. Hamels has proven all year that he cannot get the job done, especially under pressure. He should be done. Come up with a mystery injury, replace him on the roster with another bullpen arm or bench player and send in Cliff Lee on short rest with JA Happ as his back-up. If I was in charge, that is what would happen. But since I am not in charge, hang on Phillies fans, it is going to be a bumpy ride if this goes 7 games.
The Phillies can try to tie up the series tonight with a win, but it will be Joe Blanton against CC Sabathia. Blanton has not done very well this post-season and is sporting a 4.66 ERA. Sabathia is the better pitcher, but does have awful memories of last post-season to overcome, including his lost battles with Brett Myers at the plate, a Grand Slam by Victorino and the banter of the home crowd. Plus he is on 3 days rest, same as that game last year where the Phillies beat up on him when he was with the Brewers.
My tummy hurts just thinking about this. Plus, I have an awful hangover from last night’s game, and I did not drink anything but water. Yet somehow, the nausea and headache still persist. Hmmmmm….wonder why? ;o)
Here is the full Photo Album from Game 3. I took a lot of photos of both teams, something I normally do not do. I also got some great pre-games shots which include Hall of Famers and old-timers, Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski and Garry Maddox. Some are a tad blurry as it rained most of the game and I had water on my lens :O( But I still did pretty well. At least this will be more enjoyable than the game was :O)
Photos by Jenn
It is finally Thursday! Just a few short hours until the Phillies and Dodgers begin the battle for the NLCS title! The final roster decisions have been made and few were interesting; Chan Ho Park did indeed make the roster and Kyle Kendrick did not, as I thought would happen. But in a surprise move, Brett Myers was also left off and Eric Bruntlett added. So, 11 pitchers instead of 12 and 1 more bench player.
Myers was very unhappy with the news, but maybe not entirely shocked. His one outing in Game 2 of the NLDS did not go well; he walked two batters and hit another. After to injuries this year, it appears Myers is not able to find his control yet.
As for the starters, it will be Cole Hamels tonight and Pedro Martinez tomorrow…maybe. Martinez told reporters he has not gotten enough work in and that his BP session was “erratic.” Either he does not feel ready, or this is some mental game he is playing with the Dodgers. Whatever the case, it makes you a bit nervous, doesn’t it?
Some other fun notes about this series:
– The Phillies will be facing lots of old Phillies! Larry Bowa, former player and manager, is the Dodgers 3rd base coach. Pitchers Randy Wolf and Vincente Padilla are both former Phils as well as slugger, Jim Thome.
– Manny Ramirez used to play for Charlie Manuel in Cleveland and Manuel says he is “like a son” to him.
– Chan Ho Park, Pedro Martinez, Paul Bako and Jayson Werth are all former Dodgers.
– Both teams each have 8 players who were born in 1975 or earlier. LOTS of experience :O)
– This is the fifth time the Phillies and Dodgers have met in the NLCS; they are split 2-2 lifetime.
– At 21 years old, pitcher Clayton Kershaw is the youngest player on either roster and will start the game for the Dodgers tonight.
Photo by Jenn
The regular season is over for the Phillies and they closed it out with a win against the Marlins for a final season record of 93-69. And as usual, it was not without high drama; oh, and extra innings too. If we have learned anything over the years, it is that the Phillies do nothing the easy way.
Most of the bench players and rookies got some time in today to make their final bid for a post-season roster spot. Miguel Cairo made his case, going 2 for 4 with 1 RBI and a triple that tied up the game when he scored after a throwing error by the Fish. Ben Francisco went 2 for 3 with an RBI and a walk, however, he was picked off trying to steal THREE times. No kidding. Another thing we learned today? Francisco is not allowed to attempt a steal…ever.
The pitching was a bit trickier. JA Happ was only allowed to pitch 2 innings to save his arm for the post-season. Sadly, he allowed 2 runs in the 1st inning which bumped his ERA up to 2.93 for the season. Still, that and his 12 wins were an amazing feat for the rookie.
Kyle Kendrick may have pitched his way off the roster as he allowed 3 runs in 2 2/3 innings. The lefty Sergio Escalona looked a little shaky too as he allowed a runner to score, although it was charged to Brett Myers.
But the real drama unfolded in the 10th inning. Jayson Werth stepped to the plate with a runner in scoring position and 1 RBI needed to reach 100 for the season. In a shallow and classless act, the Marlins manager intentionally walked Werth, taking away any shot he had at the milestone. This game was meaningless to both teams, except for possibly a moral victory. The Marlins had nothing to gain or lose. In that case, an intentional walk is uncalled for and ruins the spirit of competition.
Add to that, the Marlins pitcher who was told to walk Werth was Dan Meyer, a Philadelphia-area native who grew up in a nearby town, rooting for the Phillies. He likely had tons of friends and family there to watch him, and what did they get to see? Their hometown hero boo’ed mercilessly by an upset crowd who wanted to see the game played out the way it was meant to. Poor Meyer! This kid did not deserve to be put in that position. Manager Fredi Gonzalez, you should be ashamed of yourself!
So Werth went without the 100 RBI mark, but the Phillies ended on a positive note. Some guy named Paul who?…I mean, Paul Hoover, the 3rd catcher who spent the whole year in the minors, got the winning, walk-off infield single to score John Mayberry Jr. and end the game with a final score of 7-6. The crowd exploded and the Phillies pummeled Hoover in adulation.
Afterwards, the players ran around the field tossing balls and t-shirts to the crowd in thanks for their support. Shane Victorino threw a ball all the way to the upper deck, into the broadcast booth and announcer, Tom McCarthy caught it on the fly.
The celebration is over now and the real work begins. The Phillies will take on the Rockies Wednesday; game time has been announced and it is 2:37pm…yuck! Hey, thanks again MLB…right in the middle of the day while most normal people are at work. Just sayin’.
Here is the Photo Album from today’s game. Go Phillies!
Photos by Jenn
Even though the Phillies lost, again, to the Marlins yesterday, a loss by the Cardinals gave them home field advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs. They will face the Rockies starting on Wednesday in Philly. The Dodgers get the Cardinals.
Despite the loss, a few good things came out of the game yesterday.
· Jayson Werth now stands at 99 RBI for the season with 1 game left.
· Antonio Bastardo, who was with the team earlier in the season but got hurt, is now back and pitched a scoreless 7th inning. Bastardo is a lefty, so this may be good news for the pen.
· Brett Myers pitched a scoreless 6th inning and felt no pain since the hip surgery and shoulder injury.
· Ryan Howard blasted home run #45 for the season.
· Miguel Cairo went 1 for 3 and is making a good case as a bench player on the post-season roster.
· Brad Lidge looked like he may have his mojo back – he pitched a 1-2-3 9th inning and looked sharp for the first time in a LONG time. Maybe it was the change in music? Lidge dumped Drowning Pool’s “Soldiers” in favor of Linkin Park’s “No More Sorrow” as his intro song. I’d say that is fitting.
JA Happ will pitch today in the final game of the regular season and try for lucky win #13 to make his case for Rookie of the Year. Game time is 1:35pm.
Congress & Steroids Revisited
Yesterday, I posted some information on a CBS article that covered a possible Congressional inquest to see whether the regulations on dietary supplements should be revised by Congress. Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter was made aware of the issue because of JC Romero’s suspension when he took a supplement that was illegally tainted. Some felt that Congress should not worry about such issues and here is my response:
Senator Specter was made aware of the issue because of baseball, which is always in the limelight, but that is NOT the big picture. This is beyond baseball. It is about innocent people everywhere going to stores like GNC, which is in almost every major shopping mall in the country, and buying their vitamins and supplements and getting more than they bargained for. I am one of those people.
I take a variety of vitamins and supplements which my doctor advised for various medical conditions. These pills are not properly regulated by the FDA, which means you cannot know for sure what you are taking. We all try to buy from reputable sources, but the bottom line is, companies can and will taint their products with illegal and dangerous substances either to save a buck or get you hooked so you will buy more. I hope the only thing in my Vitamin C pill is Vitamin C, but do I know that for sure? No.
These companies are putting people’s lives at risk. Personally, I do not want steroids or anything else that could hurt or kill me in my supplements, do you? So while the steroid issue in baseball may have been the catalyst for looking into the matter, it is not the main issue. Congress does have plenty of issues to tend to, but regulating these drug companies is important as well. Remember that the next time you take some Ginkgo Biloba, Glucosamine and Chondroitin or any other supplement which is unregulated.
The Phillies lost against the Astros last night by a score of 3-5 behind the obviously tired arm of Cliff Lee.
Lee has pitched a career high 231 2/3 innings this year and is showing signs of fatigue. Yesterday, he allowed 3 runs on 7 hits and a walk in 5 2/3 innings and was all over the strike zone, seemingly unable to command his fastball. In fact, Lee has allowed 27 runs in his last 7 games after allowing only 3 runs in his first 5 games with the Phillies. This is not good news for the guy who is likely to be our #1 pitcher in the playoffs.
While Lee seems to be healthy though, other are not. JC Romero experienced soreness in his previously injured forearm after only 1 game back. Romero will seek a second opinion this week, but it does not look good for our #1 lefty in the pen.
Jamie Moyer, who has been wonderful in middle/long relief since being sent to the pen, is out for the year and will have surgery on 2 groin and 1 one abdomen muscles that he tore in the game on 9/29. Moyer will be sorely missed in October.
Another long reliever who did a great job in the pen is Chan Ho Park. Park is also out with an injury. He attempted to pitch in an Instructional League game in Clearwater a few days back and felt a pull in the injured hamstring which means, his recovery time is still uncertain.
Add to that, Scott Eyre is pitching through a bone chip in his elbow. He was effective in the clinching game on Wednesday, but how long can he go with that sort of pain? That leaves the pen with only 1 lefty who is healthy and that is the rookie, Sergio Escalona.
That means it is more and more likely that JA Happ will be moved to the bullpen for the post-season to add a lefty arm. And that is really unfortunate, especially since he and Joe Blanton are the only 2 starters who have been consistent all year. In fact, they are the only 2 starters who have recorded wins since 9/21/09 – the last 11 games.
Brett Myers is back, but he is rusty and will need some work to be ready for the post-season. The Phillies need to get their pitching staff back on track and healthy if they are to go far in the playoffs. We will see how it plays out over the last 3 regular season games; the Marlins are up…game time tonight is 7:05pm.
Photo by Jenn