Tagged: JA Happ

Brick Wall: Meet Head

Before today’s game against the Cardinals, the Phillies announced that Jamie Moyer would be placed on the DL after injuring his elbow yesterday.  Vance Worley, 22, was called up from AA Reading to take his roster spot.  Nelson Figueroa was claimed off waivers from the Astros, which is not great news.  But that was the chance the Phils took when they designated Figueroa for assignment.  Andrew Carpenter, who pitched 3 innings last night, was sent back to AAA.

We may see a lot of odd moves this week as the Phillies are trying to make a trade, probably for a pitcher.  Rumors have Roy Oswalt in the works, but it appears he want guaranteed money through 2012, which the Phillies probably cannot afford.  Ruben Amaro Jr. is probably regretting kicking Brett Myers to the curb right about now, among other things.

The Phillies have not been playing well; perhaps this is an understatement.  But what makes it even harder to swallow are things like this:  With 2 outs and the bases loaded in the 7th inning, the Phillies do NOT pinch hit for the pitcher, Joe Blanton.  With a 1-1 tie, knowing that Blanton has not gone past 6 innings all year without running into trouble, how do you not pinch hit for him here?

So the Phillies do not score as Blanton strikes out.  Then in the bottom of the 7th, Blanton threw ONE pitch and it went straight out of the ballpark.  Am I really the only one who saw this coming?  Really?  This is just one more piece of evidence to indicate that manager Charlie Manuel has NO confidence in the bullpen.

I do not know conclusively what Blanton’s issue has been this year and I do not really care at this point.  Because what I do know, with overwhelming evidence, is that he cannot be counted on past 6 innings, especially in a tight game like this one.  He did not enter today’s game with a 6.21 ERA for no reason.  The Phillies have to know this as well, unless they are just closing their eyes and praying instead of watching the game.

Yes, the Phillies faced a very good pitcher today.  So, knowing runs would be tough to come by, the Phillies should have been ready to use the bullpen.  Blanton did get out of the 7th with just the one run, but he gave up the lead and then they sent him out again for the 8th. 
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And without recording an out, he gave up 2 runs to cushion the lead for the Cards, 4-1.  Shocked?  I was not.  If Manuel keeps turning a blind eye in these situations, this team may not recover.

Fans are frustrated, and with good reason.  Philly fans are passionate and understand the game.  So it is easy to see how bad moves like we saw tonight infuriate people.  We want to see our team win and these mistakes make it seem impossible.  How many times do you have to bang your head against a brick wall before you realize it hurts?  Not pinch hitting for the pitcher in the 7th inning with the bases loaded is equivalent to the brick wall-head scenario.  Of course, that is just one gals humble opinion ;o)

So the Phillies went on to lose by a score of 5-1.  The only run for the Phillies was a solo homer from Ryan Howard.  Tomorrow afternoon, Cole Hamels will pitch and everyone is praying he can help this team avoid a demoralizing 4-game sweep.  Game time is 2:15pm; tune in if you can stomach it.  Just load up on Tums first.

 

Cartoon by http://carablake.wordpress.com/

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Moyer Injured; Losing Streak Continues

Before tonight’s 7-1 loss to the Cardinals, Kyle Kendrick was sent back to the minors.  Yesterday, he allowed 7 runs to the Cards in 5 innings and has been inconsistent all year. 
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Andrew Carpenter was called up to play the long-man role in the bullpen until a new starter is announced to take Kendrick’s place.  It will likely be JA Happ, but an outside trade is not out of the question either.

In fact, the Phillies have now been forced to look even harder for starting pitching help as Jamie Moyer lasted only 1 inning tonight and left with a left elbow strain.  Carpenter got into a game a lot quicker than he probably anticipated.  He took over for Moyer in the second and pitched 3 innings, allowing 3 runs on a 2-run homer and a wild pitch that scored a runner from third.

Given the circumstance, Carpenter did a decent job.  But now the Phils are in a very, very bad spot.  They need pitching help and they need it now.  It is unknown right now how serious Moyer’s injury may be, but the fact that it is his elbow does not bode well.

The need for pitching help was magnified in the 5th inning by another very bad outing from reliever, Danys Baez.  Without recording an out, Baez walked two batters and then gave up a 3-run homer to dig a deeper hole for his team.  Many people, including manager Charlie Manuel, have defended Baez throughout the year.  But there is just no excuse anymore; he is clearly not the pitcher he once was and shows no signs of improving.  By the way, Ruben Amaro Jr. signed this dud to a 2-year contract.  Ugh.

As for the offense, it was non-existent again.  Shane Victorino hit a double for the lone RBI of the game.  Jayson Werth and Placido Polanco had 2 hits each, but that was basically all that happened that was positive.  The Phillies did have runners on first and third with one out on the 3rd inning, thanks to great base running from Wilson Valdez.  But Jimmy Rollins blew it and hit into a double play.  When the guy that makes your team “go” is now making them “stop,” things are very bad.

Before tonight’s game, Rollins expressed his displeasure with the recent media coverage of the Phillies to Todd Zolecki of the Zo Zone.  He said, “It’s not over.  You can write it like it’s over. But the guys with the bats and the balls they control what the pen says.”  Really?  Well then Jimmy, show us a different result and we will show you some more positive media coverage.

Because right now, this team looks like a sunken ship.  I would not even mind the losses so much if the Phils acted like they were putting up a fight. 
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Instead, they look like zombies out there; the spark is gone.  It is like watching the colorful fall leaves turn brown, wither and die.  It is a slow, painful and depressing process.  Watching the life being slowly sucked out of this once great team is about as much fun as a root canal.

The Phillies still have time, but as each day passes and they fall further behind in the standings, the less likely it becomes that they will snap out of this funk before it is too late.  In short, the Phillies may wind up skipping right past Fall and move straight into Winter.

 

Carpenter photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Phillies 2010 First Half Review

Here is a summary of the Phillies 2010 first half, according to Jenn:

Best Off-Season Move – Acquiring Roy Halladay

Worst Off-Season Move – Trading Cliff Lee (duh!)


Thumbnail image for Halladay 1b.jpgBiggest Win
– 7/9/10: The Phillies overcame a 7-1 deficit in the 9th inning against the Reds to win the game in the 10th; it was the second walk-off homer win in a row, giving the Phillies a huge confidence boost.

Biggest Loss – When the bullpen blew a 5 run lead; Phillies lose to the Twins by a score of 10-13 on 6/19/10

Best Series Win – The 4-game sweep of the NL Central 1st place team, the Reds, 7/8-7/11

Worst Series Loss – Losing 3 out of 4 to the worst team in the National League, the Pirates, 7/1-7/4

Biggest Surprise – Jamie Moyer: At 47-year old, the combination of Moyer’s age and 3 off-season surgeries left many doubting he could be an effective pitcher.  But Moyer has performed beyond anyone’s expectations.  But at the half, Moyer has 9 wins and 2 complete games, one of which was a shut-out.

Biggest Disappointment – Raul Ibanez:  Batting only .243 with 7 homers at the half, Ibanez is on pace to hit only 14 homers, which would be his worst power outage since 2001.  He has also only driven in 39 runs, and is therefore on pace for 78 RBI, which would be his worst since 2004.  Ibanez gave his all in the first half of 2009, but since then, it has been mostly downhill and his age is starting to show.  With another entire year left on his contract, this is looking like another bad move by the Phillies.


Thumbnail image for Utley casta.jpgBiggest Question Mark
– Brad Lidge:  Sometimes Lidge looks like Mr. Perfect from 2008 and sometimes he looks like a little leaguer.  The Jekyll and Hyde routine is getting old.  Lidge needs to step up his game if the Phillies are to have success.

Best Moment of the First Half – Roy Halladay’s Perfect Game, 5/29/10 (again, duh!)

Worst Moment of the First Half – Chase Utley’s thumb injury. Noooooo!  Not Utley!!  Then there are the rest of the major injuries that have plagued this team: Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, JA Happ, Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin, etc…  The combined impact of these star players going down have combined for the Worst Moments of the year so far.


Thumbnail image for crystalball_468x317.jpgJenn’s Crystal Ball

– Will Jayson Werth be with the Phillies next year? – No.  Sorry, ladies.  He may even be gone sooner than that…

– Will the Phillies make a trade before the deadline? – Yes.

– Which position will they upgrade? – Pitching

– Will Jenn continue to let her sanity slip slowly away as each day without Chase Utley passes? – Sadly, yes.  Please come back soon, Chase!

– And finally, will the Phillies win the NL East again? – My crystal ball broke due to being overworked when I asked this question.  But I will step out on a limb here and say, yes.  I mean, YES!  Let’s be positive people ;o)

Jamie Moyer will take the mound tonight in Chicago against the Cubs to kick off the 2rd half.  Game time is 8:05pm.  Go Phillies!

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography; except Crystal Ball by http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Bad Bullpen + No Offense = Loss

It is simple math, right?  Well tonight’s Phillies – Braves match-up boiled down to that very simple math.

 
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Pitcher’s Cole Hamels and Jair Jurrjens battled fairly evenly, each allowing just 3 runs.  Hamels went 7 innings and Jurrjens was pulled after 6 plus.  Hamels did a nice job, but would the offense come through for him?

The Phillies managed only 2 hits of Jurrjens, one of which was a 2-run homer from Raul Ibanez in the 1st inning.  The other hit came in the 7th when Ryan Howard tied the game up 3-3 with a triple to score Ibanez, who had drawn a walk.  But with no outs and Howard on third, they failed to score again. 

Jayson Werth stood at the plate and watched strike three go by.  All he had to do was make contact and he just stood there like a deer in headlights.  Then Ben Francisco hit what could have been a sac fly, but either Howard, the third base coach or both decided not to tag up as it was a shallow hit ball.

Here is my issue with this: they had to know Wilson Valdez was coming up with 2 outs.  Did they expect him to be the hero and get a 2-out hit?  I know I certainly did not.  While Howard is no speed demon, he has one advantage: size.  He should have tagged and if the ball beat him, why not go old-school and knock the catcher over?  I would have taken that risk over expecting a 2-out hit from Valdez.

That decision looked like it might come back to haunt them when the bullpen took over in the 8th.  Jose Contreras quickly got into trouble with men on first and third and no outs.  But Chipper Jones got jammed in between third and home and Dane Sardinha made a great toss to trap and tag him out.  Eventually, with help from JC Romero, they escaped the inning unscathed.

With no scoring in the 8th for the Phils, Brad Lidge came into a tie game in the 9th.  It was his first game since last week when he blew a save against the Reds.  Lidge sent the Braves down in order, but with no scoring from the Phils in the bottom of the 9th, this would be a battle of the bullpens.

Sadly, in a battle of the bullpens, the Phillies were likely to come out on the losing end.  David Herndon did a great job in the 10th, but finally surrendered the lead in the 11th after a single and a double.  With the offense totally stalled, the 3-4 deficit looked insurmountable.  In fact, for many months now, the lack of hitting has made these very small deficits look like impossible obstacles to overcome.

But Mike Zagurski came into the game and made things even worse.  He looked great striking out the first two hitters, but made one very big, very costly mistake.  Eric Hinske took that mistake and tossed it over the right field wall for a 2-run homer.  The Phillies entered the bottom of the 11th down 3-6.

Watching these self-destructive games are very sad, especially in light of the talent this team possesses.  They just cannot seem to conjure it up at the most crucial moments.  The main players, like Jimmy Rollins and Werth, went hitless as they have many, many times this week.  The bottom of the lineup did absolutely nothing.  You cannot expect to win games with only three hits. 

Add to that the fact that the bullpen cannot hold a tie game down.  It is all a recipe for disaster.  And so it was; a 3-6 disastrous loss.  Jamie Moyer will try to win one tomorrow, but without any offense, how will he fare?  Not well is my guess.

Injury News

Pitcher JA Happ came off the DL today but instead of going to the majors, he was optioned back to AAA.  The Phillies are not happy with how he has pitched in his rehab, but they are hoping he will bounce back after some time in the minors.

As for catcher Carlos Ruiz, he will begin a rehab assignment this week, which is good news.  The concussion has healed to the point where he can start playing again.  Get well soon, Carlos!

By the way, we have now entered Day 8 of my Chase Utley withdrawal.  I am not doing too bad so far.  I have no fingernails left and I am stuttering a little, but all in all, it has been a mostly sanity-intact week.  Of course, we have about 7 weeks left to go so do say a short prayer for me.  Thanks…you guys rock.

 

Zagurski photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Phillies Injuries Reach Critical Mass

With the announcement today that both Chase Utley and Placido Polanco have been placed on the DL, panic has ensued in Philadelphia.  Much has been said about the Phils being “bitten by the injury bug” this year. 
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I will take that a step further and say that the Phils have been stabbed mercilessly and repeatedly by the “injury knife of death.”  Bugs can be ignored and swatted away.  But the “injury knife of death” seems a tad more menacing, with just the right amount of violence and desperation mixed in.

I saw a TV show today about a battered wife who stabbed her husband 193 times and then buried him the backyard in a hole he had dug himself for a home improvement project.  It seems both painful and unnecessary.  Sound familiar?  It should, because that is the general tone and feel of the Phillies season thus far.  Just to recap, here are the major injuries by player with the dates and positions:

2B

Chase Utley

DL

6/29 – now

Starter

3B

Placido Polanco

DL

6/26 – now

Starter

C

Carlos Ruiz

DL

6/22 – now

Starter

P

Chad Durbin

DL

6/2 – now

Relief pitcher

P

Antonio Bastardo

DL

6/17 – now

Relief pitcher

C

Brian Schneider

DL

5/9-5/24

Back-up

P

Ryan Madson

DL

4/29 – now

Relief pitcher

P

JA Happ

DL

4/16 – now

Starter

SS

Jimmy Rollins

DL

4/13-4/17, 5/22-6/22

Starter

P

Joe Blanton

DL

3/26-5/3

Starter

P 

Brad Lidge

DL

3/26-4/30, 5/10-5/31

Closer

P

JC Romero

DL

3/26-4/22

Relief pitcher

 

The entire infield, except Ryan Howard, has spent time on the DL, including both catchers and 2 starting pitchers.  Sprinkle in 3 relief pitchers plus the closer and we have here the makings of a disappointing season.

Utley hurt his thumb getting thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double yesterday against the Reds.  After the MRI, he has been diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament of the thumb.  Basically, his thumb is going to fall off.  Ok, not so much, but it is really, really bad news. 

Right now they are saying it is a “sprain,” but if the ligament is torn, this usually requires surgery and the recovery time is about 4 months.  Are you counting on your fingers right now?  No need…that brings us to the end of October which means the season would be officially over for Utley.  Utley says he will see several more doctors for additional opinions so we will know more after that.  Hopefully, it is just a sprain but either way, this is not good.

As for Polanco, he has bone spurs in his elbow.  He can try to play through the pain and keep getting cortisone shots, but the shots alone will put him out for 2-3 days at a time.  Off-season surgery is probably already being planned.

So with 7 players still on the DL, Happ not doing well in his rehab, Durbin possibly being lost for the season and the uncertainty surrounding Utley and Polanco, can this team succeed this year?  Get out the defibrillation paddles; if the team flat lines, they are going to need to be resuscitated…fast.  And preferably before the “injury knife of death” strikes again.  Ugh.

Phillies Falter Against Reds


Kendrick rope.jpgIt was another bad night for Kyle Kendrick.  Against the Reds, Kendrick pitched 6 1/3 innings while allowing 5 earned runs on 8 hits, including a 2-run homer to ex-Phillie Scott Rolen.  Chase Utley committed an error at the start of the 6th inning which gave Kendrick a little extra rope to hang himself with. 

Kendrick still seems to have trouble buckling down and making pitches after something bad happens, like an error that puts the opposing team’s pitcher on base.  No pitcher is happy when this occurs, but the good ones do not let it bother them and proceed to work out of the mess.  Some days, Kendrick looks sure of himself on the mound; and other days, he looks out of place.  But the Phillies have few other options with JA Happ still not recovering well from his injury.

Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto is similar to Kendrick in the consistency department.  He will have a few really bad games, then some really good ones.  Unfortunately for the Phils, tonight Cueto had a good game and the offense sputtered against him.  Phillies batters had a few opportunities to pounce on Cueto, but they came up short each time, going only 2 for 7 with runners in scoring position.  In all, they left 4 men on base and had 8 hits.

Utley got tossed out trying to stretch a single into a double and both Raul Ibanez and Brian Schneider hit into double plays.  Although on replay, Ibanez should have been called safe.  Ryan Howard had 2 hits in the game, including a triple, and he scored one of only two runs in the game for the Phillies.  Ibanez hit a solo homer in the 9th with two outs.

The bullpen did not help out either; David Herndon gave up a hit which allowed one of Kendrick’s base runners to score and in the 8th inning, Mike Zagurski allowed a run on one hit and a walk.  In all, it was an evening to forget as the Phillies lost by a score of 7-2.

In injury news, Placido Polanco did not play again today after getting another cortisone injection in his sore elbow on Sunday.  He may play tomorrow but it looks like this will be an on-going issue for the rest of the season.  Polanco will play through the pain and possibly have surgery in the off-season.  That makes one wonder how productive he will be the rest of the year, but all we can do is wait and see.  But a slightly banged up Polanco is probably better that leaving Wilson Valdez at third all year.

I have also just heard that Utley was pulled in the 9th inning because he hurt his thumb sliding into 2nd base.  He will have an MRI tomorrow…cross your fingers.

Do not forget to keep VOTING for your Phillies All-Stars!  Here are the team links for the Phillies Phollowers All-Star campaign:

Chase Utley    Ryan Howard    Raul Ibanez    Placido Polanco

Carlos Ruiz    Jayson Werth    Shane Victorino    Jimmy Rollins

Vote up to 25 times per day, per email address.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Rollins Announces His Return With A Walk-Off Homer

Jimmy Rollins officially announced his return to the Phillies tonight with a 2-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the 9th against the Indians. 
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It was J-Roll’s only hit in two games since coming off the DL.  Things looked grim going into that inning as Rollins was just 0 for 4 before that homer, but he hit it when it counted the most and gave his team a 7-6 victory.  Welcome back, Jimmy!

Prior to that, the Phillies offense did score some runs, but they still seem to be butting heads with the usual problems; leaving men on base, hitting into double plays and swinging at bad pitches.  Both Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez hit into double plays, the worst of which was by Ibanez in the 6th inning.  With two runners on and no outs, Ibanez tapped one back to the mound and they did not score that inning.

But Howard had 2 hits on the night and Jayson Werth had 3, including a homer. Brian Schneider hit his first homer of the year in the 7th and there were a couple extra base hits in the game as well.  The Phillies went only 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position, but with J-Roll playing the hero, it was enough to win the game.

The pitching was also interesting as the magical see-saw adventures of Kyle Kendrick continued tonight. 
Kendrick see saw.jpg
When Kendrick steps to the mound, you just never know what tricks he might pull out of his hat next.  This evening’s tricks included allowing two 2-run homers to Shin-Soo Choo.  Kendrick lasted just 4 innings with 5 runs allowed, although 1 run was unearned after a Chase Utley error.

With Kendrick, the only thing that has been consistent is his inconsistency.  And with rumors floating that the Phillies are looking for a starting pitcher, it appears they are growing impatient with not only Kendrick, but JA Happ as well.  Happ has not been progressing as quickly with his rehab as the Phillies would like.  GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told the Courier Press, “”It’s the first time he’s ever had this time off, and (he needs to) come back and cut it loose and get back to that old form. He’s going to have to get to that point or he can’t perform here.”  Those are strong words from an obviously frustrated GM.

Another player was injured tonight as well; Chad Durbin came up with a right hamstring strain at the beginning of the 9th inning.  According to Charlie Manuel after the game, the injury is “pretty serious.”  Not good news; all we can do is hope he will be okay.

In other news, Greg Dobbs did clear waivers and has been sent to AAA to work on his swing.  Hopefully, Dobbs can get back into shape and help out later in the year.  I know a lot of people have been complaining about Dobbs, and not without cause, but I am rooting for him to return to his 2008 form when he was probably the best pinch hitter in the league.  I have been fortunate to speak with Greg on a number of occasions and he is as nice a guy as you could ever hope to meet.  He is great with the fans, unselfish when giving his time and has a good heart.  For all those reasons, I wish him well and hope we might see him again soon.

Do not forget to keep VOTING for your Phillies All-Stars!  Here are the team links for the Phillies Phollowers All-Star campaign:

Chase Utley    Ryan Howard    Raul Ibanez    Placido Polanco

Carlos Ruiz    Jayson Werth    Shane Victorino    Jimmy Rollins

Vote up to 25 times per day, per email address.

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*