After another solid start from pitcher Kyle Kendrick on Thursday against the Astros, the competition for the 5th starters spot is getting more interesting by the day. Kendrick pitched 5 2/3 innings allowing just 1 earned run on 5 hits and 2 walks. His spring ERA stands at 1.37.
Jamie Moyer has only pitched in one “A” game so far and a bunch of “B” games, but he will face the Yankees tonight in his final bid for the 5th spot. Moyer’s one regular spring outing ended with a 1.80 ERA for 1 run over 5 innings of work. Tonight’s game then will likely be the deciding factor.
If Moyer does well, it looks like the spot may be his. However, if he gets beat up by the Yanks, he still may get the nod anyway. Although Kendrick has more than earned the spot and personally, I feel it should be his, the Phillies will probably go with experience over youth. Poor Kyle has all kinds of factors working against him; his youth, Moyer’s huge $8 million dollar salary and the fact that Moyer has never been a bullpen pitcher.
Moyer did work from the pen a little last year when Pedro Martinez arrived, but only for extended innings, like after rain delays. So essentially, he was still being used more as a starter than a bullpen piece. Manager Charlie Manuel seemed very hesitant to put Moyer in for only a few batters which tells you that they were not confident about his ability to pitch out of the bullpen.
My prediction is that the Phillies will go with Moyer and put Kendrick in the pen. After Moyer has a few bad outings, they will probably switch, just like Chan Ho Park and JA Happ did last season. Then again, as with most predictions, anything can happen.
The Phillies were reunited yesterday with former teammate Brett Myers who was the starting pitcher for the Astros. Myers made Philly his home for 11 years, with the same team who drafted him.
Seeing him another uniform was strange. Then again, considering how many ex-Phillies are with the Astros, including Myers, Pedro Feliz, Jason Michaels, Michael Bourn, and Gary Majewski, maybe we should all be Astros fans too? Or maybe not…
Myers left the game early with a strained left groin, but it appears to be minor. Afterwards, Myers spoke about the Philly fans saying, “I felt appreciated when I came out of the game and they all stood up and clapped for me. That was very respectful. Philly fans get a bad rap, but they’re loyal to the guys that played there and have done things for the organization. I really appreciated that. That was classy.” Myers will be missed by many Philly fans and we wish him well…unless he is playing against the Phillies, of course ;o)
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Photos by Jenn
Here are some highlights from the last 2 Phillies Spring games:
3/7 vs. Tampa Bay; final score 5-3, Tampa: JA Happ started the game and went 2 1/3 scoreless innings; he did walk 2 batters, but overall looked good. But even better news was that newbie Phillipe Aumont recovered from his Phillies debut, which was a 5-run pounding in less than inning against Florida State. Against the Rays, he went 2 2/3 scoreless innings with 1 walk and 2 hits. Time for Aumont to exhale; he is back in top prospect form.
Joe Savery, on the hand, has a rough inning where he allowed 3 runs on 4 hits. Savery is a former first round draft pick of the Phillies but sadly, The 6’3″ lefty has never looked comfortable on the mound. He has a 4.14 ERA in 3 years of minor league play.
The polar opposite of Savery has been young outfield propect Domonic Brown; he continues to impress this Spring and went 3 for 4 with 2 RBI against the Rays. He also threw a runner out at home, just for good measure. New bench piece Ross Gload also went 3 for 5 in the game in the DH role.
3/8 vs. Yankees; final score 7-5, Yanks: Kyle Kendrick is putting the pressure on Jamie Moyer in competition for the 5th starters spot. Kendrick went 3 solid innings allowing just one hit and no runs. But more than that, he looked comfortable and confident. I suppose sporting that Roy Halladay look-alike beard has given him an ego boost ;o)
And then in the opposite category, Jose Contreras looked horrible today. He could not seem to throw a first pitch strike, worked behind almost every batter in the count and as a result, he allowed 6 runs on 3 walks and 6 hits over only 1 2/3 innings. Luckily, the Phillies have very little invested in the righty so if he does not shape up, no big deal. Then again, Contreras was supposed to be an upgrade over the departed Chan Ho Park; do I smell a huge disappointment on the horizon? Hmmmm….
Incidentally, Contreras began his career with the Yankees and his signing in 2002 is what precipitated the Yankee nickname, “Evil Empire.” It is said that the Red Sox were so intent on signing Contreras that they booked every hotel room in the area of Cuba where Contreras was to keep the Yanks away. In the end, they still lost out to the Yankees and the Sox owner allegedly threw a chair through a window in anger. This is just a rumor, of course :O)
As for the bat today, Ryan Howard finally got his first, and then second, hit of Spring against the Yankees. Whew! But the big blast of the day came off the bat of Jimmy Rollins. Pitcher Javier Vazquez made his return to the Yankees today since departing in 2005 and his very first pitch was taken out of the park by Rollins. 1 pitch, 1 homer – nice.
Rollins had 2 hits in the game as did Howard, Chase Utley and John Mayberry Jr., who knocked the second Phillies homer of the game in the 6th inning. But while the bat were popping, the outing by Contreras put the Phils in a hole they could not climb out of.
Shane Victorino was still missing from the line-up, but it appears he may make his Spring debut tomorrow against the Braves at 7:05pm. His sore shoulder has been an issue so far this Spring and the Phillies are playing it safe with him. But hopefully the Flyin’ Hawaiian will take flight again tomorrow night.
And congratulations to reader “blueferret” who was the first person to find the mistake on the new Cliff Lee Topps trading card from Saturday’s blog. Topps photoshopped an old Phillies card to change the Phillies uniform to a Mariners uniform but they forgot to remove the “HK” patch from the new Mariners version. The “HK” patch was a Phillies-only items that the team wore in 2009 in honor of the late Harry Kalas.
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Photos by ESPN.com
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday that relief pitcher Chan Ho Park wanted to remain with the Phillies in 2010. Instead, Park wound up signing with the Yankees for 1.2 million, a great deal less than the 3 million the Phillies had offered earlier in the off-season.
Park stated, “Philadelphia was the No. 1 choice. I had a tough time leaving there. I had much support from fans and community, and I had the best teammates there…”
The question then becomes, why did he and his agent, Jeff Boris, turn down the Phillies offer if he wanted to stay there? Park made 2.5 million in 2009, so the 3 million was not only a raise, but likely to be the best offer he received. In the recent past, there has been what appears to be a string of mismanaged deals by baseball agents who become greedy and over estimate their clients’ value. This certainly looks like one of them.
By the time Park and Mr. Boris realized this deal was a gift from an appreciative team who liked Park very much in 2009, it was too late. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has a no-nonsense style of dealing with contracts. If he feels a player is not committed, he moves on. Amaro was not going to wait for Park to change his mind and quickly signed Danys Baez and Jose Contreras.
And if we believe Park was sincere in wanting to return, then why would Mr. Boris not jump on the one year deal? Another agent notorious for his hard-handed tactics is agent Scott Boras who recently took outfielder Johnny Damon on a fairly stressful ride through free agency. Damon wanted to stay with the Yankees but Boras handed down a $13 million dollar ultimatum to the Yankees, which frankly, was a lot more than Damon was worth and he should have known that. The Yankees scoffed at the gesture and Damon wound up signing with the Tigers for $8 million.
Damon told the NY Daily News, “I let Scott do his work…That’s why he’s there. In the end, I think he did a great job. It’s funny, though. Every time I’m a free agent, I’m always on a new team.” He said a mouthful there. Mr. Boras has a habit of burning bridges and this latest stunt was no exception.
Another player who may or may not have been burned by his agent this off-season is former Phillie Cliff Lee. Although agent Darek Braunecker denied any wrong doing back in December, the fact that the trade happened so quickly and right after talks with Braunecker makes you wonder if he did give some sort of indication that Lee would not accept certain terms (ie: less than 2 years, a certain dollar amount, etc…). Again, this is only speculation, but knowing the Phillies GM Amaro’s straightforward style, if Braunecker said anything at all to make Amaro question Lee’s commitment to the Phillies, it is easy to see why that could have triggered a fast trade.
Obviously, the depletion of the farm system played heavily into the trade, but was that the only consideration? What happens behind closed doors, we will never know, but it does make you stop and wonder. How much input each of these players had in the conversations with teams and their agents is also unknown, but based on the players reactions, maybe these agents need to think more about their clients well-being and less about their own pockets? But again, this is just one gal’s humble opinion :O) We will miss Park and Lee and I wish them the best!
In other Phillies news, both Brad Lidge and JC Romero threw off the mound during Spring Training on Sunday. Each pitcher is taking it slow, but making descent progress. Lidge appears to be slightly ahead of Romero as far as being ready, but both are still hopeful about Opening Day.
As for the rest of the pitching crew, here is the week’s schedule for when games begin on Wednesday:
– Wednesday vs. Florida State: J.A. Happ, Phillippe Aumont, Yohan Flande, Drew Naylor, Joe Savery, Jesus Sanchez and David Herndon.
– Thursday vs. Yankees: Roy Halladay, Kyle Kendrick, Jose Contreras, Andrew Carpenter and Sergio Escalona.
– Friday at Toronto in Dunedin: Cole Hamels, J.C. Ramirez, Ryan Vogelsong and Antonio Bastardo.
– Friday at Toronto in Dunedin (B GAME): Jamie Moyer, Chad Durbin, Ryan Madson and Scott Mathieson.
– Saturday at Pittsburgh in Bradenton: Joe Blanton, Danys Baez, Ehren Wasserman, Mike Zagurski, Bill White and B.J. Rosenberg.
– Sunday vs. Tampa Bay: Happ, Aumont, Naylor, Sanchez, Herndon, Flande and Savery.
Thanks to Todd Zolecki at The Zo Zone for posting the list!
Photos by Jenn
With just under 3 days left until the official start of Spring Training, the Phillies are getting ready to make a push for a third consecutive National League pennant. The position players and the bench players are basically set but the pitching situation has a lot of question marks. As for the starters, will Cole Hamels bounce back after a disappointing 2009? Will JA Happ suffer from the sophomore slump? And who will fill the 5th starters spot?
The rotation currently looks like this: Roy Halladay, Hamels, Joe Blanton and Happ. The 5th spot looks to be a toss-up between Kyle Kendrick and Jamie Moyer. Kendrick’s ups and downs plus his lack of diversity in pitch selection do not bode well. Then again, Moyer is coming off 3 surgeries, lengthy hospital stays and also has his age (47) working against him. Moyer told Comcast Sportsnet this week that his recovery is basically done and he is ready to try pitching again. How that will work out remains to be seen.
Bigger question marks loom in the bullpen. It appears that the Phillies only solid lefty, JC Romero, may not be ready to go until May after his arm surgery late last season. Two other solid pen pieces are gone this year; Scott Eyre retired and Chan Ho Park will not return, although, Park has yet to find a team willing to take him on. Youngsters Antonio Bastardo and Sergio Escalona may fill the lefty void, but at what cost? Both were wild last year during their travels between the majors and minors and will need to really step up this Spring if they are to be counted on this season.
The closer position is also a big question; will we see the perfect Brad Lidge of 2008 or the first to worst Lidge of 2009? The injury and surgery history with Lidge do not breed confidence. However, he should at least be motivated by the thought of redeeming himself after last year. If he fails to do so, former closer and off-season pick-up Danys Baez may be able to fill the role. As for the rest of the pen, Ryan Madson and Chad Durbin will return as two of the few solid pieces left over from the last few years.
Aside from pitching, there does not seem to be much to worry about. Placido Polanco may need time to adjust to the move from 2nd to 3rd base, but he has done that before so the issue should be minimal. He has certainly added a better bat to the line-up.
Jimmy Rollins will need to get off to a fast start to boost his confidence after a forgettable 2009. Rollins has stated he will show up to camp with the pitchers and catchers on the first day to get a head start; This will be a nice contrast to his usual routine of being the last player to report in previous years. As for the Rollins crystal ball, all he would say this year is that Halladay will be a 20+ game winner. Not a huge leap for Psychic Rollins, but we’ll take it.
As for the rest of the gang, if they can stay healthy, this will be a monster line-up for opponents to deal with. But first, let’s see how Spring Training goes :O)
Photos by Jenn
With the big trades now out of the way, Phillies fans are still left wondering who will fill the voids in the bullpen for 2010. Chan Ho Park is unlikely to return as discussions with the club have not been fruitful. Scott Eyre is still a maybe and those returning from injury, like Brad Lidge and JC Romero, may not be ready to go in April. There are a number of names being tossed around like the ageless John Smoltz, Bob Howry of the Giants and Kiko Calero of the Marlins. However, it does not look like the Phils are close to a solution yet.
The two young lefties they used a bit last year who may fill some holes are Antonio Bastardo and Sergio Escalona. Bastardo appeared in only 6 games before being put on the DL with a shoulder injury. He was very wild in the zone and oddly enough, pitched better to right-handed batters than lefties. Bastardo shows potential, but there is still a big question mark as to whether he can cut it in the Majors. Escalona pitched in 14 games and ended with a 4.61 ERA. Lefties hit only .200 off him. But at 25 years of age and lacking experience, how much he can help out as a lefty specialist is unknown.
The bottom line is, the Phillies need bullpen arms. And the ones they have need to get and stay healthy. IF GM Ruben Amaro Jr. cannot pull off a decent trade and are forced to rely on youngsters like Bastardo and Escalona, it is going to be another rocky year for the pen.
As for the rest of the team, the Phillies have guaranteed a solid infield for at least the next 2 years as they have picked up the option on Jimmy Rollins’ contract. The 8.5 million dollar option ensures Rollins will stay with the club at least through 2011.
This move was a no-brainer; Rollins is an integral part of the nucleus of this team. He is also the best dancer on the team, which in terms of sheer entertainment value, is totally worth the 8.5 million.
Photos by Jenn
In the first two days of the Winter Meetings, the Phillies have been seeking out bullpen help, so far to no avail. It now appears unlikely that they will be able to sign back Chan Ho Park due to differences of opinion, although he is not yet ruled out. Scott Eyre is also in limbo since his elbow surgery.
With the revelations that Brad Lidge, JC Romero and Jamie Moyer may not be ready for Spring Training after their off-season surgeries, the bullpen is becoming more and more of a concern. Moyer may go back to the starting rotation, but that remains to be seen. Either way, with these players unavailable, this leaves a big hole in the back end of the pen unless they find players to fill the gap.
The Phillies did pick up another bench piece late last night, signing former Marlins outfielder, Ross Gload to a 2-year deal. Gload hit .261 with six home runs and 30 RBIs in 230 at-bats with the Marlins. He turns 34 years old in April but the real head scratcher here is that he is a lefty. With a line-up that is loaded with lefties, it is curious to me that they would not sign a righty. But as usual, the method to the Phillies madness is not always clear.
It does seem that Baseball America understands the madness to a certain degree. They named the Phillies the Organization of the Year for 2009, which was announced at the meetings yesterday. This award is given each year to the organization that excels in both the major leagues and minor leagues with improving their teams and developing talent. Now let us see how much of that young talent the Phillies can hang onto while attempting to sign players for the 2010 season.
Starting pitcher Roy Halladay seems to still be in the rumor mill for the Phillies as well as several bullpen pitchers. But Halladay will command a huge salary for 2010 and the Phillies are quickly running out of money. That means if they choose to go after him, someone else will likely have to go.
It is more likely that any big moves will take place later in the off-season. However, with two days left of meetings, anything can happen. By the way, this is my 500th blog entry on MLBlogs! People often tell me I never shut up, but who knew? A few other associations for the number 500 are: So, I am either a totally awesome Italian race car, or just an annoying computer error. Either way, thanks for reading! :O)
The latest rumor is that Joe Blanton could be moved, but as most rumors, there is no way to know how credible the information is. My guess is that Halladay, with 1 year and $15.75 million dollars left on his current contract, is not a real possibility. The expense is too great and there is no guarantee they can sign him past that one year.
It is more likely that any big moves will take place later in the off-season. However, with two days left of meetings, anything can happen.
By the way, this is my 500th blog entry on MLBlogs! People often tell me I never shut up, but who knew?
A few other associations for the number 500 are:
So, I am either a totally awesome Italian race car, or just an annoying computer error. Either way, thanks for reading! :O)
Blanton photo: Jenn; Gload photo: Miami Herald
Ok then, here ya go! The Phillies have signed Placido Polanco to play 3rd base after the Tigers declined to offer him salary arbitration. Because he was not offered arbitration, this means the Phillies do not have to give up a draft pick. The deal is for 3 years, 18 million dollars, plus an option for a 4th year.
Phillies fans should be thrilled to see Polly back in the red pinstripes; he is a career .303 hitter and rarely strikes out, a stat which would be a huge help to this lineup which tends to whiff more than most teams. Polanco played second base for the Tigers, but has played 322 games at third in his career as well. The Phillies actually signed him as a third baseman originally in 2002.
Back in June of 2005, the Phillies traded Polanco to the Tigers after Chase Utley won the position at second base. Fans screamed for Polanco to stay and to be placed at third base instead of David Bell, but the Phillies sent him packing, a move which I have always felt was a huge mistake. So, the Phillies have not only signed an amazing player today, but they also righted the wrong of 2005.
In exchange for Polanco in 2005, the Phillies got right-hander Ugueth Urbina and infielder Ramon Martinez. To give you an idea of how that worked out, the following off-season in 2005, Urbina was arrested on attempted murder charges for attacking 5 farm workers at his Venezuela home with a machete and he also tried to light them on fire. He is currently serving a 14-year prison sentence. Great pick up, Phils! I wonder if we can get him back when he is released? Nothing wrong with a little entertainment… ;o)
Polanco is back and I think this is an outstanding move for the Phillies! Welcome back, Polly! We missed ya!
More Arbitration News
The Phillies did not offer arbitration to any of their free agents, not even Chan Ho Park. He may still be back, but it looks like the Phillies did want to be tied down monetarily. While this gives them greater freedom to sign players at lower costs, it also means other teams can now sign them.
Ticket Price Revisited
Thank you to everyone for their feedback on my last blog regarding the ticket price increases. There were a few revelations in those comments. For instance, Rich of Fightin’ Phillies reports that parking has also gone up from $11 to $15 and if the price continues to rise, he will not be renewing his season ticket plan in 2011.
The BILF Reporter says the ticket price increase did not upset her parents too much, but it also appears that partial plan holders are losing a playoff game opportunity. In 2009, the partial season ticket holders were guaranteed at least 3 games; for 2010, it has been knocked down to 2 games. Another comparison is that in 2008, partial plan holders not only got the 3 games, but they were also given “second chance” opportunities for up to 3 additional games when there were tickets leftover. So, it is basically going from 6 possible games to 2 in a matter of only 2 years, while prices continue to rise.
Add together the parking increase, ticket increase, lost playoff game and some partial season ticket holders getting their seats bumped backwards, this is a recipe for some very disgruntled fans. If anyone from the Phillies is listening, they may want to rethink this strategy. Imagine what is going to happen here; they will lose their loyal fans as season ticket holders, gain bandwagon fans and then, when they stop winning, who will be left in the seats? There are fewer and fewer reasons to buy or renew your season tickets. Where is the incentive when each year, we pay more and get less?
And yes, I understand the Phillies are more reasonably priced that say, the Yankees. And if you’ve got money, you are probably not concerned. But people on a budget are used to paying a certain amount for a particular level of service; they will resent the changes. All of these teams, not just the Phillies, should be more sensitive to what their fans expect and deserve. Of course, this is just my opinion :O)
Speaking of fan appreciation, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. left an automated message on my voice mail today, thanking me and all the fans for our great support. Say it with flowers, say it with a phone call….or, how about saying it with better seats and lower prices? Just an idea…
Polanco photo by Jenn