Prior to this past week, Jonathan Papelbon had converted all 13 of his save opportunities. But last night against the Padres, he dropped another bomb on the Phillies; it was his 4th blown save in his last 5 attempts. Red alert! The Phillies have been Papelbombed!
Worse than that, starting pitcher Cliff Lee took a 3-0 lead into the 9th inning before the bomb dropped. After putting 2 men on base, Lee was pulled and the air raid ensued. Papelbon gave up a 2-run single, hit the next batter and then managed a double-play ball. But with 2 outs and a runner on third, catcher Carlos Ruiz let the next pitch sail past him, which scored the tying run.
The end result was a mind-blowing, 10-inning 3-4 loss to the Padres. Please excuse me while I vomit…
The Phillies bullpen is the worst in all of baseball with a 4.67 ERA entering last night’s game. Now every starter on this team has to think that if he cannot go all 9 innings, he has no shot at a win. Just take a quick look at the pen’s instability:
– Raul Valdes bombed and was sent to the minors in May
– Veteran Chad Durbin was so bad they released him
– Mike Adams, the $12 million dollar man, has been on the DL twice and may not pitch again this year.
– Jeremy Horst was awful all year and is now on the DL
– Michael Stutes, having missed all of 2012 and part of 2013 due to surgery, is once again on the DL.
– Papelbon has lost his mind/command/sanity??
– The rest of the pen, except Antonio Bastardo, consists of rookies, most of whom have bounced back and forth from the majors to the minors.
It is sad to say, but this team may have just hit rock bottom. Start bracing yourselves…I predict more bombs to be dropping in the very near future. Duck and cover!
Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies looked like a shell of a team last night against the Miami Marlins, who are possibly the worst team in all of baseball. Leave it to the Phillies to make them look like All-Stars. Ugh.
When Domonic Brown smacked a home run in the second innings, it looked like the Phils might have carried over some momentum from Sunday’s dramatic walk-off win. But that was the end of the momentum and the beginning of Spit-Gate.
Marlins pitcher Alex Sanabia entered Monday’s game with a dismal 5.00 ERA and a 2-6 record. After the Brown homer, Sanabia apparently thought some cheating was in order. He was caught on camera spitting on the ball and did not make any attempt to hide it.
First of all, this is just gross. It is also against MLB rules. But did it really affect the Phillies hitters? Probably not too much…they have basically sucked all season long. However, it did add insult to injury in this very unsettling loss.
Even Cole Hamels could not hide his emotions as he slammed his glove around on the Phillies bench after his outing. And after the game, he did not speak to reporters. I believe Hamels is feeling the same frustration we all are; specifically, WHY can’t this team score runs?! Poor Hamels is now 1-7 on the season. Last year, he had 6 losses for the entire season…already this year, not even half way through the season, he has that total beat.
Two runs allowed in 6 innings should get you a win…unless you are on the Phillies, apparently. Making matters worse, this team is now riddled with injuries. Carlos Ruiz came back after his suspension to play only 16 games before being put on the DL with a strained hamstring. Mike Adams is on the DL with a bad back. John Lannan is still on the DL with no expected return date being reported. And now Ryan Howard has sat out 2 games in a row with a sore knee and possible a torn meniscus.
And at least half of the bullpen may as well be injured; they might actually pitch better. Because our healthy pen cannot stop runs from scoring. Phillippe Aumont gave up 2 more runs last night and has a 4.15 ERA, plus many inherited runners have scored on him. Pretty much everyone in the pen is guilty of that too. And check out some of the other ERA’s: Chad Durbin, 8.10; Jeremy Horst, 5.09; BJ Rosenberg, 20.25 (1 game). Yikes!
As all the crap keeps piling up on this team, it is going to be harder and harder for them to dig their way out of the heap. And I do not want to hear anyone else talk about how it is still early in the season. As far as I am concerned, it is never too early to play winning baseball. And thus far, this team has not shown they can do that.
Game time tonight is 7:10pm; Tyler Cloyd will pitch.
Photo via NBC Sports
After 3 straight solid starts, things seemed to be looking up for Roy Halladay. That all changed last night when he got scalped by the Indians. The Tribe took Doc deep 3 times; all 3 times there was a man on base. Those 6 runs, plus 2 more, chased Halladay from the game after only 3 2/3 innings. His ERA is now 6.75. Ouch.
But the pain did not end there. Chad Durbin and Raul Valdes each gave up 2 home runs each in relief. More accurately, it was the exact opposite of “relief”…agony.
That was 7 home runs total for the Indians, 5 of which were 2-run bombs. Those guys that hit the 2 solo shots should be ashamed. Clearly, they are underachievers.
Seriously, this game was painful to watch. It was so painful that I actually began paying more attention to the commercials than to the game. And when my mind begins to wander, strange things can happen.
For example, I began to wonder who would win a fight between Jan, the Toyota spokesperson and Flo, the Progressive Insurance chick. Both are equally annoying, but Flo has a clear advantage as the game was being played last night in Progressive stadium. Hmmmm…
Bad Phillies games are simply not good for my brain.
There was one small tidbit of good news last night. Delmon Young was activated off the DL and finally joined the team as the DH last night. Looking as if he were determined for fans to like him, he began his Phillies career with a home run in his first at-bat. Young went 2-for-3 on the night and was also hit by a pitch.
But the good news ended there. Chase Utley hit a solo homer and that was the end of the scoring for the Phils. The 2-14 final score looked more like 2 touchdowns and a safety than a baseball score. And the way the Phils were beat up also resembled a football game, minus all the concussions.
Although, after sitting through those 9 innings of torture, I feel like I have a concussion; or some minor brain damage, at least. Ugh.
Today is another day though. And tonight, Cliff Lee will face his old team for the first time in his career. Hopefully, some of that old Cy Young magic still resides in Progressive stadium for Mr. Lee. Game time is 7:05pm.
The ending of Saturday’s Phillies – Royals game left everyone feeling upbeat and energized. Kevin Frandsen completed an unlikely come from behind win for the Phillies with a 9th inning, bases-clearing double. The Phillies hopped off the field with a 4-3 victory.
It was such a positive moment, you almost expected the Phillies to win on Sunday just on that momentum alone. But sadly, that did not happen.
Everyone has been asking what is wrong with Roy Halladay. Well, how about, what is wrong with Cole Hamels? This guy was picked as a front runner this year to maybe even win a Cy Young. And yet, his first 2 starts of the season were both awful.
Today, Hamels gave up 8 earned runs in only 5 2/3 innings. 4 of those runs came off the 1st grand slam Hamels has ever allowed. It was also a record-setting day for Billy Butler of the Royals with his 1st grand slam and a career high 7-RBI.
The Phillies offense did look like they were on fire at the start of the game, scoring 4 runs in the first inning.
But the bats went cold as James Shields found his groove and began mowing down Phillies hitters. And once Hamels was finally pulled, the bullpen did him no favors. Chad Durbin allowed 2 more runs to score (charged to Hamels) and Jeremy Horst gave up a run in the 8th as well.
Then in the 9th, the Phillies offense attempted a comeback for the second straight night, starting off down by a score of 4-9. The Phillies squeaked out 4 more runs and fell just one shy of completing the comeback as Erik Kratz struck out after a very good at-bat where he battled to stay alive.
But in the end, it is another loss, leaving the Phillies with a 2-4 record to start the season. This has not been the start anyone hoped for. The bullpen, supposedly a strong point, has been terrible. The starters have been shaky except for Cliff Lee and John Lannan. And the offense is streaky, just as it was last year.
So what is the cure for all that ails the Phillies? Hopefully, that is the New York Mets. They come to town Monday night for a 7:05pm start; Halladay will pitch.
Here is the Photo Album from Sunday’s game.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies got crushed by the Braves on Monday night in a 5-7 Opening Day loss. But let us begin with a bit of good news…Chase Utley was amazing. Utley collected 3 RBI on a homer, single and a triple, coming just a double short of hitting for the cycle. And that concludes the ‘good news’ portion of the program…
In the bad news category, Cole Hamels faltered once again in his first start of the season. Hamels has now lost his first start of the season in 5 of his last 7 attempts. This year was different as he finally got to start on Opening Day, so the expectations were high. Allowing 5 runs in 5 innings, including 3 home runs, was not exactly what everyone had hoped for.
I blame the facial hair. Hamels had a full beard and mustache through most of Spring Training. On Friday afternoon, the hair was still there. But by Friday evening into Saturday, the beard disappeared. Finally, by Monday at game time the fuzz was history.
I think all the furry drama threw his game off. It was truly a hairy situation.
Facial hair aside, not much went right for the Phillies last night. The offense, mostly Utley, kept trying to bail Hamels out, but the Braves just kept the runs coming. And then Chad Durbin wound up allowing 2 more runs in relief without recording an out.
The main thing to focus on now is that this is just one game. It was certainly a hugely disappointing game, but still a drop in the bucket.
The Phillies are off today; the next game with the Braves is Wednesday at 7:10pm. This will be an interesting one as Roy Halladay makes his first start of the season. Facing a potent Braves line-up will be a good test of whether Halladay is really ready to go or not.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies hosted two exhibition games this weekend, signaling the end of Spring Training and the start of the regular season on Monday. As they have the past several years, the Phillies planned a number of special events and surprises on Friday and Saturday.
Friday began with the On-Deck Reception, hosted by the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. There were players signing autographs, several Q & A sessions with players and coaches, and an on-field introduction of the entire team:
I personally got autographs from Domonic Brown (and a photo as well), Erik Kratz, John Mayberry Jr. and Antonio Bastardo. This was my first time attending this particular event and it was well worth the effort. The only bummer of the day was I discovered that the autofocus on my very expensive camera had died :O( Ugh. So I apologize in advance for 2 days worth of so-so photos, as I had to use my mediocre eye sight to manually focus a very large lens.
The prior to the evenings game, players wandered around the stadium greeting fans and some stopped for photos. I had my picture taken with John Lannan, Antonio Bastardo, Humberto Quintero and hitting coach Wally Joyner.
Cliff Lee started the game that night and looked ready to go for the season. But his real highlight was helping Cole Hamels man the Phanatic’s hot dog shooter between innings:
To be honest, the game was rather boring, so the hot dog-interlude was a very welcome distraction. The Phils lost 1-0.
More fun was happening prior to Saturday’s game as well. After some very stealth stalking on my part, I managed to get photos with a few new guys and a Hall of Famer: Mike Adams, Ender Inciarte and third-base-coach/HOF guy, Ryne Sandburg. That was pretty awesome. Both exhibitions games were well worth the trip because of these little extras.
The game itself, however, did not go well against a very potent Blue Jays line-up. The Jays beat up on Kyle Kendrick, who gave up 5 runs in 3 innings. John Lannan took over for the next 3 innings and held the Jays to 1
more run. It was not quite out of reach for the Phillies though until very late. Here are a few highlights:
And Cliff Lee finally got his turn at the helm of the hot dog cannon, with Hamels “feeding” the device:
The end result was a 10-4 loss. But luckily, the game did not count.
The Phillies announced the Opening Day roster afterwards. There were not too many surprises there:
Rotation (5): Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan.
Bullpen (7): Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Adams, Antonio Bastardo, Chad Durbin, Phillippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst and Raul Valdes.
Catchers (2): Erik Kratz and Humberto Quintero.
Infielders (6): Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Michael Young, Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis.
Outfielders (5): Ben Revere, Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix and Ender Inciarte.
Inciarte is a Rule-5 guy; they have to keep him on the roster or offer him back to the D-backs. Only 22-years old, he has never played above High-A level. He offers some depth in the outfield for now. Plus, he is adorable, so I approve ;o)
So here we are, finally! Opening Day! Game time is 7:10pm Monday night in Atlanta.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The first official Spring Training game for the Phillies will take place on Saturday. I am excited for baseball! But there is also a little sadness that I cannot be in Clearwater this year to enjoy the first crack of the bat under the warm Florida sunshine. If you are lucky enough to be heading south, enjoy it!
Spring Training is a magical moment in time where players are generally happy, relaxed and having a good time. The fan-friendly atmosphere and nice weather draws big crowds each year. And while the games are interesting, they really don’t mean much. The real reason to head to Clearwater is to mingle with other fans, chat with players, get autographs and photos and, most importantly, get a closer look at how major leaguers behave when their guard is down.
You may notice a lot of smiles, laughter and silly hijinks. To demonstrate, and also to get you in the Spring Training frame of mind, here are some of my favorite photos and moments from years past in Clearwater:
First up, the normally quiet and reserved Chase Utley laughs out loud and on another occasion, poses and smiles for me:
Jimmy Rollins waves hello and later attempts to play golf with his bat and ball:
Phillies alum Mike Schmidt has some fun with Reggie Jackson; Charlie Manuel jokes around with his players:
Remember Fan Fest? For some reason, the Phillies have cancelled this annual tradition of meeting players and getting autographs. But it was amazing while it lasted. Here are Chad Durbin and Kyle Kendrick signing and posing for me:
I attended a few Team USA games while in Clearwater. The most memorable moment was watching Jimmy Rollins and Derek Jeter of the Yankees field balls side-by-side during warm-ups. The second photo is Chooch, Carlos Ruiz, making an odd face at batting practice:
Here we have the Big Man, Ryan Howard, yucking it up on the field and later doing his impersonation of an airplane (or maybe he was just playing 1st base?):
And finally, just me and my camera hanging out by the field before batting practice. You can see how close fans can get to the field:
Are you ready to pack your bags yet? Wishing I was….sigh. Maybe next year :O)
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
A recent Sports Illustrated article graded the Phillies offseason moves a “D.” They summarized it by saying, “Though the trade for Revere gives the Phillies a cost-controlled centerfielder to grow on, they’ve taken steps backward with most of their other moves, and are more likely to repeat last year’s middling showing than contend in a division where the Nationals and Braves have upgraded in impressive fashion.”
This assessment, however, may or may not be totally off-base. I decided to rank some of these moves for myself using not grades, but my emotions about each event. Roger Ebert once said, “Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you.” Let’s see if he is correct:
Happy: The trade for centerfielder Ben Revere. He is cheap, young and has room for improvement. My instinct says he will be a pleasant surprise.
Nostalgic Joy: Re-signing RHP Chad Durbin. Durbin is a solid human being and he had a great 2012 with the Braves. Plus he helped the Phillies collect their 2008 World Series championship.
Cautiously Optimistic: Signing Michael Young to play third base. Young seems like another solid human being with a true passion for the game. The question is whether or not he can still play defense. I feel that a guy with this much experience and motivation should be able to work it out.
Conflicted: Adding Chase Utley-hater and lefty John Lannan to the starting rotation. Obviously with the departure of Vance Worley, the Phillies needed a starter. Lannan is cheap, but how well he will perform and his attitude are, at least for me, big question marks.
Confused: Signing outfielder Delmon Young. This guy is a problem child who is also still recovering from offseason ankle surgery. His defense is awful and he has been, not without cause, labeled an anti-Semite with a bad temper. I get the low-risk, high reward school of thought here. What I do not get is why the Phillies would rather mess around with this guy than finally give Domonic Brown a full-time shot at one of the corner outfield spots.
Nervously Nauseous: I am just a wee bit sick to my tummy about the 2-year, $12 million deal the Phillies gave to RHP Mike Adams to be the 8th inning guy. I like Adams if he is healthy. However, he is recovering from thoracic outlet surgery. This is the same surgery that Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals had and his career looks like it may be over. That is a little scary.
Utter Disappointment: Carlos Ruiz’s 25-game suspension for using a banned substance. He did not use steroids, which is a relief. But still, getting caught with ADHD meds when he was forewarned about it after a previously positive test is very disappointing. He knew he’d probably get caught again and did it anyway. *Sigh.*
Sad: Losing Vance Worley in the Ben Revere trade. I wish him luck in Minnesota!
Indifferent: Everything else. A lot of minor moves were made, mostly involving minor league deals and guys past their prime. Unless someone makes a real impact in camp, I cannot imagine there will be much to say about these miscellaneous people.
And my final emotion of the day…
Elation! Spring Training starts tomorrow!
Please excuse the following outburst of unbridled enthusiasm for a move that many may view as not very exciting: The Phillies have signed our old friend Chad Durbin!!!! Whoo hoo!!!! Durbin was a big part of the 2008 World Championship team; he spent the last 2 years with the Indians and the Braves.
Durbin adds much needed depth and maturity to the Phillies bullpen. In his first stint with the Phillies, he was known as the intellectual of the bullpen group. He has a great personality and is extremely fan-friendly, as well. Durbin was one of my personal favorites for those reasons and I am glad he is back!
Durbin, 35, did very well with the Braves last year, pitching in 76 games with a 3.10 ERA. His new contract with the Phillies is for 1 year with an option for a second year.
The Phillies also signed a utility infielder this week to a minor league deal. Yuniesky Betancourt, who turns 31 in a few days, will join the team for Spring Training. He hit .223 with the Royals last year, but was designated for assignment in August when the team manager, Ned Yost, became unhappy with his attitude. “Yuni did a great job for us. But he was a guy that wanted more playing time, and he would get upset when he didn’t,” Yost said.
So add Betancourt to the Phillies list of problem children headed to camp next month. If nothing else, Spring Training looks a lot more entertaining now!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
‘Tis the season to buy lots of crap! Black Friday, Cyber Monday….here we come! The Phillies began shopping early when they signed Kevin Frandsen earlier this month to a 1-year, $850,000 deal. If Frandsen plays the way he did last year, that small chunk of change could wind up being the bargain of the year.
But the Phillies have a much longer shopping list than that. Unfortunately, even on Black Friday, not everything is on sale. Even if Ruben Amaro Jr. camped out in front of All-Star Josh Hamilton’s house all night, I am pretty sure someone with more money would be camped out in front of him in line. Fold up the tent, Ruben, and let’s work on a more realistic shopping list.
– The first item on the list should be a centerfielder. I hear our old pal Shane Victorino may come at a descent discount. But the Phillies seem to be more focused on B.J. Upton, who could rival Ryan Howard for strikeouts. They both strike out around 30% of the time and neither hit for average. Regardless, this team needs to shop for an outfielder!
– Bullpen help is needed….badly. Maybe the Phillies need to look back at a few guys they previously tossed in the trash? Here are some oldies, but goodies: Our old pal Chad Durbin had a 3.10 ERA for the Braves last season. And how about Jason Grilli, who was with the Phillies minor league system until they dumped him…he went on to record a 2.91 ERA for the Pirates last season. But my #1 oldie would be Ryan Madson. He is coming off Tommy John surgery so the bidding for him should not get too high.
– Third base: Personally, I feel a combination of Frandsen and a drug-free Freddy Galvis can handle the hot corner. But if you are the type who MUST buy during holiday sales whether you need to or not, here is who might deserve a look: Kevin Youkilis will be 34 in March, but the guy can still hit for power. At 36 years, Michael Young is not exactly young anymore….but he would be a solid veteran to keep the spot warm for a much younger Cody Asche in 2014.
– While the team is stocked with starting pitchers, maybe a few small upgrades could help? You know…get Roy Halladay a bionic shoulder to replace the bum one. Buy Kyle Kendrick an “All I Want For X-Mas is You” tee-shirt to keep his confidence high. And for Cliff Lee, donate to his favorite charity and make a pledge to get him more than 6 wins this year.
– Buy baby-faced Darin Ruf a pair of big-boy pants and put him on the big-boy team. That gamble may really pay off. What have they got to lose? And J.C. Penney has a great Black Friday sale on pants right now…
– And the final big purchase for the Phillies should be a stand-up comedian. When things start to go downhill for the Phils, the comedian can jump in and tell jokes between innings to keep spirits high. Because as a fan base in 2012, we have all lost a bit of our sense of humor. You cannot blame us though…losing is just not funny. Help us all remember how to laugh and smile again! And if the wins start coming, you can trade the comedian to a more needy team.
Happy shopping, everyone!
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Amaro photo by Jenn Zambri Photography