The Phillies found a back-up catcher today when they signed Brian Schneider to a $2.75 million, 2 year deal. Schneider spent the last 2 years with the Mets and the previous 8 seasons with the Nationals/Expos. The best news here is that Schneider was notorious for being a Phillie killer; pitching to him has been a 10 year nightmare. Overall, Schneider is a .251 hitter and should fit nicely into the back-up spot vacated by Paul Bako and Chris Coste before that.
And in a very odd twist to the situation, Coste has just been signed by the Mets! Coste started the 2009 season with the Phillies before being tossed and subsequently picked up off waivers by Houston in July. The self-proclaimed 33-year old rookie is now in enemy threads which is sure to send shockwaves throughout Philadelphia. Coste was well loved in Philly and many were unhappy with his departure. Not to mention, many would rather see him retire than play in a Mets uniform. It is a sad, sad day for Coste fans. But look at the bright side; at least we will get to see him a lot next year :O)
As for the other holes in the line-up, like third base, no word yet except that midnight tonight is the deadline for all teams to offer salary arbitration to their free agents. The Phillies are likely to offer arbitration to Chan Ho Park as they have stated they want him back next year. Park may decline and decide to look around for a starting pitching spot as several teams have seemed interested in him. If he accepts, he will be with the Phillies for 2010 and probably get a raise. As for the other free agents, Bako and Eric Bruntlett are out of the picture with their replacements already signed in Brian Schneider and Juan Castro. Brett Myers has already been shown the door, as has Jack Taschner. Pedro Feliz, Pedro Martinez, Matt Stairs and Miguel Cairo are also unlikely, although Stairs and Cairo may be offered minor league deals.
So, have we all looked at our season ticket invoices yet? This is not a huge shock, but Phillies ticket prices went up again this year by $2- $4 per ticket. Not only that, but some season ticket holders received worse seat assignments. Someone I know got bumped backwards 2 rows in the same section. So, we are now paying more for less? While 2 rows is not earth shattering, traditionally, season ticket holders have been rewarded for their loyalty with better seats from year to year, not punished.
So yes, the World Series win in 2008 plus the return trip in 2009 do affect the prices, unfortunately. But that does not make it any easier to swallow. The money does not go towards improving the team or free agency; it is just more in the pockets of the owners. And with the team winning now, they do it simply because they can.
Prices over the recent years have increased tremendously. A seat that cost $42 in 2004 is now $58 for 2010. The last year of the vet for the same seat was $26. What I am wondering though is what happens when the team sucks again? Do we become the Nationals with a stadium that is only 25% full? I follow the team win or lose, but I will not pay those prices to see them lose when I can do that at home for free. Then again, maybe they will never suck again…one can dream ;o)
So, did anyone else get there ticket invoice and wonder what happened? Did you get the same seats or did you get bumped back? What do you think about the prices? Let me know in the comment section below.
Coste photo by Jenn
Oh yes, here we go again… It is only mid-November and the Roy Halladay rumor mill is already in full swing. While the Phillies were unable to strike a deal with the Blue Jays in July for the star pitcher and instead wound up with Cliff Lee (and we are all ok with that, of course), the Jays may still be looking for a chance to get Halladay off their payroll.
If the Phillies can manage a deal for Halladay, odds are they will have to pay much less for him than they would have in July since now he is only good for one potential post-season instead of two. But the Jays are probably still interested in the Phillies top prospect, Kyle Drabek, whom the Phillies are unlikely to part with. In an interesting twist however, it has also been rumored that the Jays might be willing to take Cole Hamels. Can I get a Hallelujah and an Amen to that possibility?!!
Although Hamels is six years younger than Halladay, he had a terrible season for the Phillies and most fans are sick of his emotional issues, media faux pas and lack of composure on the mound. Odds are, not many people would be sad about such a trade. Sadly, if this were rumored last season, there may have been riots in the street full of angry fans unwilling to let the World Series MVP go. But now? Not so much…
Besides upgrading the pitching staff, it appears the Phillies now need a third baseman as Pedro Feliz did not have his option picked up. The Phillies can still sign him as agree agent if they come to an agreement, but it looks more likely that the Phils will look elsewhere.
Feliz had a decent season, but I think he really screwed himself in the playoffs where he hit only .167, made unproductive outs in crucial situations and hit into double plays that killed rallies. Plus, he is 34 years old, which does not help his case.
The top prospects for third base right now are Chone Figgins, Adrian Beltre, Mark DeRosa and former Phillie, Placido Polanco. Figgins would be the best choice, although fans loved Polanco when he was here and many were upset when Chase Utley took his job. Hind sight, as they say, is 20/20.
Back in 2005 when Polanco went to the Tigers, many Phillies fans felt he should have been moved to 3rd base to keep him on the team, myself included. As it turns out, had the Phillies done so, Polanco would likely still be with us. Up to that point, he had moved back and forth from 2nd to 3rd base for years. But after going to the Tigers, it was 2nd base all the way. The question then with Polanco is, could he transition back to 3rd after more than 4 years steady at 2nd? That may be too big a question for the Phillies to consider taking him.
So, third base is wide open right now and several other Phillies have filed for free agency; Chan Ho Park, Matt Stairs, Paul Bako, Pedro Martinez and Miguel Cairo. The Phillies will not likely sign Martinez again, as he will command too hefty a salary and they need a more consistent arm. Park is a possibility, Cairo and Bako will probably not be back and Stairs I am not too sure about. My feeling was that he might retire, but since he has filed, I now do not know what is on his mind. But this leaves the Phillies with the need for a back-up catcher, a right handed bat off the bench and a variety of pitching needs.
As for our walking wounded, both Scott Eyre and Raul Ibanez had successful surgeries yesterday and are expected to make recoveries before Spring Training. Eyre may or may not decide to retire so his future is uncertain. Ibanez, we hope, will be back to 2009 first-half form. Brad Lidge will have surgery tomorrow. What exactly is wrong with him will be an interesting revelation. We should have more information in the days to come.
Feliz photo by Jenn
The chance to pull off the most amazing feat in baseball is upon us: The repeat! Can the Phillies become the new Big Red Machine? We will see.
The 10-4 win over the Dodgers tonight had a multitude of highlights. Here are just a few:
– Jayson Werth smashed not one, but two home runs! Those homers accounted for 4 RBI. Oh, and he hit a single too, just for good measure.
– Shane Victorino, who has been sick with a nasty cold all week, had 3 RBI in the game including a 2-run homer and a double.
– The Phillies bullpen which has been through the ringer this year, came through again this post-season with 4 2/3 innings of 1-run ball. Chad Durbin was spectacular! Chan Ho Park had 1 good inning but got into trouble in the next inning; Ryan Madson bailed him out. And Brad Lidge pitched the 9th; it was a non-save situation but he got the job done.
– The Phillies batters finally figured out Vincente Padilla; 6 runs were charged to Padilla on 4 hits and 2 walks.
– With this win, the Phillies have scored 55 runs in 9 post-season games. Nice.
– Even better, the Phillies are now the first National League team ever to record 16 wins in 20 post-season games. The only AL team to do it is the Yankees and it is likely that the Phils will face the Yankees in the World Series; they are up 3 games to 1 over the Angels so far.
The not so great news from this clinching game was Cole Hamels, who still cannot seem to remember how to pitch. Hamels lasted only 4 1/3 innings, allowing 3 solo home runs to the Dodgers. Two of those homers came after Hamels had 2 strikes on the batter which is the really disturbing part. With 2 strikes, why is tossing cookies right down the middle of the plate? Hamels clearly cannot be counted on this year; it will be very interesting to see what Charlie Manuel does with the rotation for the World Series.
But I do not feel like thinking about that right now…it is time to celebrate! Put on your party hat and have a drink! The Phillies are going back to the World Series!!!
Fireworks photo by Jenn
Down 4-5 in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Dodgers, the Phillies were down to their last out and their last 2 strikes when Jimmy Rollins stepped to the plate with 2 runners on. Win, and the Phillies would have a huge 3-1 games advantage. Lose, and the series would be tied 2-2. What took place next was not only improbable, but it absolutely stunned the Dodgers.
Things looked good when the game started and Ryan Howard nailed a 2-run shot in the 1st inning. But the bats went quiet as ex-Phillies Randy Wolf bore down and kept the Dodgers in the game. Joe Blanton started for the Phillies and got roughed up a bit in the middle innings. By the end of the 6th, Blanton had allowed the 2-run lead slip away into a 2-4 deficit.
The bullpen took over in the 7th and held the Dodgers to those four runs. Chan Ho Park, Ryan Madson, Scott Eyre and Brad Lidge got the job done. However, the offense still seemed sleepy after that 11-0 rout the previous day, so a comeback was looking unlikely.
But then Matt Stairs stepped the plate with one out in the 9th and everyone began hoping for the same miracle that occurred in Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS: Stairs nailed a 2-run homer in the 8th inning of that 2008 game to give the Phillies the lead. Could this be a repeat performance?
Well, not quite. Facing the very same pitcher he got that hit off in 2008, Jonathan Broxton, Stairs felt confident. Broxton may not have felt quite as confident as he threw Stairs four straight balls. Eric Bruntlett was put in as a pinch runner. Broxton then proceeded to hit Carlos Ruiz with a pitch.
But Greg Dobbs lined out for the 2nd out and things were looking good for the Dodgers. J-Roll stepped to the plate with one final out remaining and 2 runners on base. With a 1-1 count, Rollins whacked a line drive into the hole in right-center field. Bruntlett and Ruiz tore up the base path, scoring 2 runs to win the game for the Phillies. Phillies fans screamed in celebration while Dodgers fans squirmed in agony.
As amazing and uplifting as this win was for the Phillies, on the other side of the spectrum it was equally as painful and gut-wrenching for the Dodgers. This was a killer blow, putting the Phillies at a 3-1 advantage; they now need only one more win in 3 possible tries to lock up a second consecutive trip to the World Series with a chance to repeat.
This win also shows why the Phillies are the defending World Champions. They believe they will win, they support one another and they never give up until the final out is recorded. To be able to witness this is the greatest joy of any fans life. Repeat or no repeat, Phillies fans should be proud of their team! What a year this has been…and it is not over yet.
Here is the Photo Album from the game…Go Phillies!!!
PS: Thank you to all my readers for making Phillies Phollowers the#1 Phillies fan blog on the MLB site for the entire 2009 season! And I am #8 overall for ALL fan blogs! Your support is greatly appreciated; it is an honor to bring you the Phillies through my eyes…Thank you!
Photos by Jenn
The Phillies took a tough loss today against the Dodgers to tie this NLCS series 1 game each. Pedro Martinez was brilliant through 7 innings where he allowed only 2 hits and no runs. You could not have asked for more out of him. But Martinez was pulled before the 8th inning in favor of a pinch-hitter and that proved to be a costly move as the bullpen could not hold down the 1-0 lead.
The pen has been the Achilles heel of this team all year. Yesterday, they pulled through; today, they did not. Manager Charlie Manuel went through five pitchers in the 8th inning and they combined to blow the lead. Chan Ho Park, who was amazing yesterday, started the inning and gave up two base hits with no outs. But it looked like he may escape the jam when Russell Martin hit an easy double play ball to third. No such luck…
In a rare and truly scary move, Chase Utley, for the second night in a row, overthrew first base which allowed the tying run to score and left 2 men on with 1 out. Last night, the slow feed from Jimmy Rollins and off-balance throw appeared to blame. But tonight, Utley just plain blew it. He rushed the throw when he had plenty of time and killed any chance Park had of getting out of the inning unscathed.
Utley is human, of course. And you cannot blame the loss on him when the only scoring the Phillies did all game was a solo homer by Ryan Howard. But it was a terrible waste of a great performance by Martinez and an even bigger waste of the opportunity to go up 2-0 in what will be a very tough series for this team.
JA Happ allowed the winning run to score for the Dodgers when he walked Andre Ethier with the bases loaded. The run was charged to Park. Chad Durbin got them out of the inning, but in the 9th, they offense went down 1-2-3. And to add insult to injury, Utley made the last out of the game by flying out to Ethier in right. I am betting that right now, Utley needs a hug; or maybe a big bowl of ice cream. Stiff drink anyone? Ugh.
This loss was depressing on a number of levels. But the good news is that we now have 3 games in Philly, starting on Sunday night. With any luck, and some sort of miracle in the bullpen, the Phillies can use the home field to get themselves back on track.
Photo by Jenn
Happy Bunny by Jim Benton
The Phillies hopped on board the Chooch Train last night and rode it to a win over the Dodgers; Carlos Ruiz smashed a 3-run homer in the 5th inning to give the Phillies a lead that they would never relinquish. Raul Ibanez hit a 3-run shot of his own in the 8th to pad that lead. That Ibanez guy is not too shabby either.
It was not all sunshine and roses though for the Phillies. Cole Hamels looked like the pitcher of old for 4 innings but then, after Chooch’s 3-run shot and Ryan Howard’s 2 RBI in the 5th blasted the Phillies to that big 5-1 lead, Hamels began to unravel. The Cardinal Sin in baseball – to give the other team a boost after you just put a hurting on them.
Hamels allowed a lead-off double, a single and then appeared to have a double play ball hit to Jimmy Rollins. The ball got stuck in his glove so the feed to Chase Utley was late and Utley overthrew to first in his haste. But Hamels still had a 3 run lead and 2 outs. Instead of focusing on that, he showed up his teammate by throwing his hands up in disgust at Utley, putting his hands on his hips and shaking his head. Cardinal Sin #2 – showing up your teammate. Hamels could not concentrate after that and gave away a 2-run homer to Manny Ramirez.
The Phillies got the win, but the gestures and attitude of Hamels is disgusting. How many times have his teammates bailed him out of bad situations? And this is the thanks they get? No double play is ever a sure thing. Besides, if Hamels had not put two men on base, he would not have been in that situation to begin with. Utley was not pitching, as near as one can tell; Hamels was. Hamels should be ashamed for the lack of respect he showed his team.
Ok, let us not dwell…we did win the game :O) The most pleasant surprise of the night was Chan Ho Park, who in his first relief appearance since 9/16/09 after an injury, came back looking sharp as ever. He pitched a scoreless, hitless inning and had a lot of movement on his pitches. Welcome back Chan Ho!
Six relievers were used in all and everyone did their job, except Ryan Madson who had a 4 hit, 2 run 8th inning. Madson has not looked good this post-season at all and it is beginning to be a real concern. Luckily, he had a 4 run lead and Brad Lidge was able to close out the game in the 9th with the 2 run lead he was left with. Lidge seems to have his confidence back, which is good to see, but Madson appears to be going to opposite direction. He did get Ramirez out to end the 8th, but how reliable is Madson going to be from now forward?
And how about that bad umpiring…again. The Dodgers decided to pinch run for Jim Thome in the 6th inning, but Randy Wolf was not ready; he did not have his spikes on. The umpire actually let the Dodgers get away with a delay of several minutes while Wolf changed his shoes in the clubhouse! JA Happ stood on the mound pacing, waiting for the game to resume. Sorry ump – BAD call. You cannot let the other team’s pitcher stiffen up while you wait for someone to change shoes. If they are not ready to go, too bad for them. Game on.
Game 2 will kick off this afternoon at 4:07pm with former Dodger, Pedro Martinez facing former Phillie, Vincente Padilla. This should be another good one! Go Phillies!!!!
Photo 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