Tagged: Brian Schneider

Double Disaster as Phillies Lose Two Against the Rays

The Phillies managed to spend only one day out of the basement in the NL East after Saturday’s win.  But Sunday’s twin killing against the Rays propelled them right back to where they apparently belong; in last place.  When your two best starters are pitching and you still lose both games, things have clearly gone very, very wrong.

In the first game, Cole Hamels was practically unhittable.  He did not allow a run over 7 innings and gave up only 3 hits.

Leaving the game with a 1-0 lead, the bullpen was going to have to pitch 2 clean innings.  And as you probably already know, that did not happen.

I try not to say too much about how Charlie Manuel handles this team.  Because frankly, what he has been given to work with is on par with a minor league team.  But after Antonio Bastardo walked 2 batters in the 8th with just a 1-run lead, he should not have been allowed to continue.  Bastardo was awful the day before and clearly, he still has not found proper command of his pitches.  So why then is he left in to pitch to Carlos Pena?

Apparently, he was left in to clear the bases for the next pitcher as he gave up a 3-run homer to Pena.  I saw that coming, as did everyone in my section screaming, “Take him out!”  But Manuel puts blind faith in these guys even when it has become obvious to everyone else that the leash has gotten far too long.

Then again, look at the players Manuel has to choose from.  The pickings are slim.  This bullpen just sucks, so in that regard, it is still hard to blame the manager.  I still don’t agree with the decision to leave Bastardo in, but I am also glad I was not the one having to make that decision.

And then in the 8th with 2 outs and the bases loaded, Manuel left Michael Martinez in to bat instead of pinch hitting.  Martinez is hitting .133 and could not hit the broad side of a barn right now.  After the game, Manuel told the media that neither Juan Pierre nor Mike Fontenot were hitting lefties well, so he left Martinez in.  The issue with that is, Martinez is not hitting ANYONE right now.

Angry at the media for asking, Manuel suggested the reporters should tweet him with their in-game decisions saying, “You guys can float the information down there to me, being as I ain’t smart enough to get it.”  Oh my…

Here are a few other random shots from the 1st game, which the Phillies went on to lose, 3-2.

In game 2, Cliff Lee basically squashed any shot he may have had at his first win of the season by allowing 5 runs over 7 innings.  His last 3 starts have been awful.  Where did our ace go?

Perhaps the strain of not having a win has finally stolen whatever small amount of sanity he had left?   No one really knows what is going on here.

Placido Polanco tried to get this team going.  He went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI and a walk.  John Mayberry Jr. also had a big hit and an RBI.  And it was apparently “opposite day” for Hunter Pence who drew 3 walks in the game.

But the offense literally ended there.  The Phillies managed only 4 hits and left 6 men on base.

And just so Lee did not feel singled out in this one, some of the rookie pitchers decided to help out with 5 walks, a wild pitch and 2 more runs for the Rays in one inning.  It looks like B.J. Rosenberg’s major league career may be over before it began.  He was responsible for all that damage except 1 of the walks.

Adding insult to injury, catcher Brian Schneider was leveled at home plate by Sean Rodriguez coming in to score.  He left the game with a sprained ankle.  Later, Pence almost took out the Rays catcher in a weird semi-collision with Jose Molina’s outstretched leg.

Schneider is now on the DL and the Phillies went down for the count in a 7-3 loss.

Here are the Photo Albums from both games: Game 1: Hamels start, Game 2: Lee start.

The Pirates come to town next for a 4-game series starting tonight at 7:05pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Lose 5th Straight in Horror Movie Style

You know how when you are watching a scary movie you sometimes get really uncomfortable and have to cover your eyes?  Watching the 2012 Phillies has been a lot like that.  This is not your average B-movie either.  It is a full-fledged, $175 million dollar blockbuster horror show.

The terror continued last night in a dreadful 6-5 defeat against the Dodgers for the Phillies’ 5th straight loss.  This mostly powerless offense actually had 3 home runs in the game and they still lost anyway.  It does not get much more frightening than this.

Bloodcurdling screams could be heard from fans in the stands when Kyle Kendrick blew a 4-2 lead in the 6th inning.  Kendrick continued his Jekyll and Hyde routine, going 5.2 innings with 5 runs allowed.  When Kendrick steps on the mound, you never know if you might get good Kyle or evil Kyle.  And just when you think good Kyle might prevail, a masked man yielding a hatchet emerges from the darkness and…

Oh, sorry, I forgot I was watching a baseball game for a minute and not a “Friday the 13th” marathon.

Although, the horror show theme did keep creeping up rather consistently throughout the game.  In the 5th inning, we watching Freddy Galvis solemnly walk to the dugout in the middle of his at-bat.  He is now on the DL with a back strain, probably the result of an amazing, leaping and slightly backwards catch he made earlier in the game.

Then in the 6th, as Kendrick was blowing the lead, he added to the terror by walking a run home.

In the 8th, Hunter Pence grounded into a double play to end the inning.

The final horror came in the 9th as Jim Thome stood at home plate and watched strike 3 go by.  Then Brian Schneider popped out to end the game.

Charlie Manuel said it best during a post-game interview.  “Everything about our team is kind of whacked up,” Manuel said afterward.  No kidding.

The Phillies have one more shot against the Dodgers this afternoon to attempt to avoid total and utter humiliation.  Cole Hamels is pitching, but even that no longer inspires confidence.  The Phillies are now going to be on their 3rd string 2nd baseman and have half a minor league team playing in the majors.  The offense is terrible and the light at the end of tunnel is growing dimmer after each loss.

Come to think of it, maybe watching a horror movie instead is not such a bad idea at this point.  At least we know that is make-believe.  The Phillies are far too real right now.

Game time is 1:05pm today if you really feel the need to watch the disaster continue to unfold.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Ups, Downs and All Around of Hunter Pence

This season has been quite a roller coaster ride for Hunter Pence.  And Tuesday’s extra inning win over his old team, the Astros, was a microcosm of his year so far.

Ups – Pence gave the Phillies a 3-0 lead in the 6th inning with a solo home run to right field.  It was the first time in a long time he got ahead of pitch and sent it the other way.  Brian Schneider had a 2-run homer in the 1st inning which accounted for the other 2 runs to that point.

Downs – With a 3-1 score in the 9th, thanks to 8 amazing innings pitched from Cliff Lee, the wheels began to fall off.  Chad Qualls did his Jekyll and Hyde routine again, giving up hits left and right.  But even after the Astros crept closer, cutting the lead to 3-2, Hunter Pence had another bad moment.

On a single to right with a man on third, Pence fielded the ball nicely, freezing the runner.  But after he exchanged the ball to his hand, it fell out off his hand, bounced off his knee and skidded away, allowing the run to score and tie the game.  This is a really original error; I have never seen anything like it.

All Around – What comes around, goes around, or so they say.  And luckily for Pence, the game came full circle as he was given a chance to redeem himself in the 10th inning.  The walk-off homer he smashed to left was made even more sweet by the fact that it came off a pitch from former Phillie, and Pence’s former teammate, Brett Myers.  Ah, redemption!

The one thing I can tell you about Pence for sure is that he is not boring.  As far as what may be in store for Pence next, I do not think even he knows….toss a coin.

The Phillies are in Chicago next for 2 games starting tonight at 8:05pm against the CubsVance Worley stayed in Philly to have a sore elbow checked out so Kyle Kendrick will start instead.  There has been no word on Worley’s condition yet…stay tuned.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Hamels Returns to Help Phillies Win Series

The 5-game suspension Cole Hamels received for smacking Nationals rookie Bryce Harper with a pitch last week turned out to be sort of a joke.  With the off day on Thursday, the Phillies were able to rearrange the rotation, pitching Roy Halladay yesterday and Hamels today.  So as it turns out, Hamels did not even miss a start.

And the Phillies are sure glad he did not.  Hamels was solid in the 3-2 win over the Padres, allowing just 1 run and 5 hits over 7 innings.

The offense was a little stale, as usual, but they managed 3 runs.  This time, that turned out to be enough.  Jimmy Rollins got it started in the 1st with a leadoff homer.  Brian Schneider gave Carlos Ruiz most of the day off and helped out with 2 hits and an RBI.  Juan Pierre collected 2 hits, 1 RBI and continues to be the Phillies best hitter with a .351 average.  I am not sure anyone saw that coming when he won a spot on the team out of spring training.  But we’ll take it.

Hunter Pence, on the other hand, continues to struggle.  Pence looks lost at the plate.  He is still swinging at bad pitches, although he showed a little more patience today.  But he is pulling off balls; his body goes one way and the bat goes another way…it is very awkward.  And it is more awkward than his usual approach, which is almost hard to believe.

The bullpen finally held a lead in this one, although Jose Contreras did give up a run in the 8th making the situation very tenuous.  But Antonio Bastardo got him out of the inning without further damage.  And Jonathan Papelbon finally got to pitch for a save; it was his first save attempt since May 1st.

Before the game, the Phillies celebrated Mother’s Day.  Pierre’s mom, wife and son were greeted on the field and Pierre coddled and played with the infant, which was adorable.

And luckily, the warm fuzzies before the game translated into a win as the Phillies took 2 of 3 from the Padres.

The schedule for the remainder of May gets a little weird now.  The Phils will play 2 against the Astros then fly to Chicago for 2 games with the Cubs and return home again to face the Red Sox and Nationals before hitting the road again.  Game 1 with the Astros starts at 7:05pm Monday night.

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game and pre-game warm-up’s and ceremonies.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

The Phillies Team-Wide Recession

The nicest thing I can say about today’s Phillies – Cubs game is that the weather was beautiful.  Unfortunately, that is where the joy ends.

Even the Phillie Phanatic’s birthday celebration was toned down from previous years.  There were fewer mascots, no Zooperstars except a generic monkey and the cake was less than half the size it usually is.  See for yourself…it appears the recession has finally reached the Phanatic birthday bash:

In fact, maybe the entire organization is suffering from a recession.  They accidentally give away runs to other teams for free and cannot score any of their own.  That is a recipe for going broke fast.

Today’s match-up featured Kyle Kendrick vs. Matt Garza.  Guess who won?

Garza sucked what little life was left in the Phillies offense and spat them out like garbage.  The only action the Phillies bats saw was a parade of foul balls:

Jimmy Rollins got a hit to start the game and that was it for the whole team until the 9th inning when Hunter Pence added a bookend hit.  The only run they scored was also in the 9th and came from a bases-loaded walk.

The defense was just as awful.  Here is Laynce Nix impersonating a really bad first baseman:

I say impersonating because he is an outfielder who played a total of 9 games at first base in a 9-year career before joining the Phillies.

And Pence added to the mayhem by overrunning another ball in right field which led to a run for the Cubs.  That is 3 straight games that Pence has made the same mistake.  I am confused by this…how about you?

And here is a play at the play where, according to my photo, it appears Brian Schneider tags the runner about a foot before the plate.  I did not see the TV replay, so maybe the photo is deceptive, but who knows:

Either way, it was just one more crappy moment in another crappy Phillies game.  This was officially one of the worst Phillies games I have ever seen in person.  The 5-1 loss also guarantees the Phils a losing record in April after dropping 2 out of 3 games so far to the second WORST team in the entire national league.  Depressed yet?

No worries…there is always tomorrow (please note my sarcasm here).  Feel free to add your own sarcastic comments as well.  At least we can all vent together ;O)

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.  I assure you, my photos are more entertaining than this team is right now.  You’re welcome.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Questions That Loom Over the Phillies 2012 Season

A new year is upon us and a new Phillies season is almost here, with Spring Training to begin in just over a month.  A few off-season signings have solidified some areas, where other areas may still be of concern.  Here is my list of Phillies looming questions by position:

The Starting Rotation – The projected starters and order are Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and Vance Worley.  Halladay and Lee are no brainers.  Hamels is recovering from elbow surgery but reports are that he is throwing and feeling fine.

This means the two questions remaining are Blanton and Worley.  Blanton sat out most of 2011 with a bum elbow and chose not to have surgery this offseason.  How he will respond in 2012 is a mystery.  However, Kyle Kendrick will be waiting in the wings to fill in should Big Joe go down.

And the question for Worley is simply, will he suffer the sophomore slump or pick up where he left off in 2011.  Either way, the Vanimal will be fascinating to watch.

Catcher –  Carlos Ruiz returns as Batman with Brian Schneider backing him up as Robin.  Choooooch!  No questions here.

1st Base – The sight of Ryan Howard tumbling to the ground in agony to end the Phillies 2011 season still burns in our collective memories.  Beat-writer Todd Zolecki reports that Howard is recovering well from Achilles surgery and is now beginning a light exercise program.

Still, Howard will miss some time.  Experts predict that John Mayberry Jr. will pick up most of the time at 1st with an occasional appearance from Jim Thome.  This seems like a terrible shame for Mayberry who should simply be handed left field and allowed to get comfortable there for the long haul.  Instead, the Phillies will probably platoon Laynce Nix in left with someone like Scott Podsednik.

My suggestion?  Give Nix a shot at 1st base and leave Mayberry in left.  Nix has played 1st before and with some work in Spring Training, he could work his way into the role easily.  Of course, I have no real say in the matter.

2nd Base – Can Chase Utley start and end a whole season at 2nd with his health intact?  We shall see…

Shortstop – Jimmy Rollins returns with a fresh 3-year deal.  The question here is that same as that of the other Phillies aging players…can he stay healthy?

3rd Base – I hate to beat a dead horse, but can Placido Polanco stay healthy at  36 years of age, coming off sports hernia surgery?  We hope so.  Polly’s contract is up after 2012, so who will be our 3rd baseman in 2013?

My suggestion?  Glad you asked.  Have minor league prospect Freddy Galvis spend the year working on a move from SS to 3rd.  Galvis is almost major league ready but out of options with J-Roll resigned at SS for 3 years.  Either Galvis becomes trade bait or he finds another way to be useful to the Phils.

Outfield –  As I mentioned before, Mayberry should be the left fielder but it may wind up being Nix until Howard gets healthy.  At least center and right are set: Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence will both be back and ready to play.

The Bullpen – Once again, the Phillies pen is a huge question mark.  The Phils saw rookies and younger, less experienced players, like Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo, rise and fall throughout 2011.  The status of veteran Jose Contreras is mostly unknown since having elbow surgery.  Other veterans, like Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson are gone (for now).  However, neither Lidge or Madson have found homes.  Could they return?  It’s a long shot….but not impossible.

Spring Training is going to be huge in determining the make-up of this bullpen.  There will be a lot of opportunities for younger guys to step up and steal a spot.  It will also be interesting to see if Dontrelle Willis can conjure up some of his early career magic or if he will slide back into oblivion.

And of course, the closer question was answered with the signing of Jonathan Papelbon.  The only question here is will Papelbon play up to his huge salary?

The Bench – Both Thome and Wilson Valdez are set.  The rest of the bench could consist of any number of new signings or guys like Michael Martinez and Pete Orr.  Again, Spring Training should be very interesting.

FYI – Totally off topic, if anyone has noticed some of my photos and albums mysteriously gone missing, this is due to an unexpected issue with the site I was using to store them.  I am in the process of getting it all loaded to a new site and will be working on updating older blogs as I am able to.  For now, all 2011 albums are back up and can be found under my 2007 – 2011 Photo Archives.  Thank you for your patience while I get everything back up and running :O)

I would like to thank all of my loyal readers for stopping by and helping to make Phillies Phollowers the #1 Phillies Fan MLBlog for the 4th straight year.  Among all team MLBlogs, I ranked #10 in 2011.

Many thanks to everyone in the MLBlogs community and congrats to all the leaders!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

J-Roll Rides The D-Train Right Back to Philly

The wait is finally over and Jimmy Rollins has finally re-signed with the Phillies.  The 3-year, $33 million deal is said to have a 4th year option which should be fairly attainable.  Both Rollins and the Phillies seem pleased with the outcome.  Rollins had wanted 5 years, but that was likely just a matter of him bidding high to ensure at least a 3-year deal.

Rollins shared the joy on his twitter account today:

The signing come right on the heels of the D-Train, Dontrelle Willis, agreeing to a 1-year deal with the Phils.  Rollins and Willis are old friends who attended the same high school and whose mom’s are also friends.

A former starter and former Rookie of the Year in 2003, Willis’ career has run way off the tracks in recent years.  But he may be useful as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen for very little cash.  Philly seems like a good place for a comeback, but how that unfolds is yet to be seen.

I would have loved to have been a fly on that wall when J-Roll learned that Willis got a contract before he did.  It may have gone something like, “What you talkin’ ’bout Willis?”  Only here, Willis is Gary Coleman and J-Roll is Todd Bridges.  Think of it as a 70’s reverse time warp.

Either way, both players are probably thrilled to finally be on the same side.

Earlier this off-season, I made some predictions on how the free-agent period would play out for the Phillies.  Let’s see how I did:

I said that both J-Roll and Brian Schneider would re-sign.  Check.

Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge would not have their options picked up and neither would resign.  Check.

And I predicted that Ryan Madson, Raul Ibanez and Ross Gload would also not re-sign.  Check.

That makes me 7 for 7.  Check.  Did you expect any less? ;o)

Technically, anything can happen between now and spring training, but I am fairly certain the Phillies are done making moves.  How about you?  Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments :O)

 

 

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