With pain in his right shoulder, closer Brad Lidge will start the 2011 season on the disabled list. With Lidge’s long history of injuries, this new issue should be a huge red light to the Phillies that Lidge’s time is close to being over.
Lidge was especially concerned with this new injury saying, “I haven’t had shoulder problems in the past.” Although, Lidge has had surgery on both knees multiple times, elbow surgery, an oblique strain, a strained intercostal muscle and bicep tendinitis, just to name a few.
Still, Lidge entered spring training boasting that he was healthy and felt great. Exactly when that may have changed is hard to tell. Lidge is an eternal optimist so what he says should maybe be taken with a grain of salt.
Here is a little help for those who cannot always decipher what Lidge is talking about.
The Brad Lidge Translator
Lidge Says: I feel great.
Lidge Means: The pain is unbearable!
Lidge Says: I am not concerned.
Lidge Means: I am totally freaking out here!
Lidge Says: No need to panic.
Lidge Means: Red alert, red alert…PANIC!!!
Lidge Says: It is a setback.
Lidge Means: This is the END of my career!
Lidge Says: This is disappointing.
Lidge Means: I am going to crawl into a hole with a vat of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and eat and cry until I vomit.
With Lidge out of the picture, closing duties will fall either to Ryan Madson or Jose Contreras. While it is good to know the Phillies have options, this does create major issues in the bullpen. The Phillies failed to re-sign Chad Durbin, which may come back to haunt them as they now have to rely on less experienced arms in the middle innings.
The Lidge injury is magnified when you think about the loss of Chase Utley, Domonic Brown and questions still lingering about Placido Polanco’s elbow.
So, should Phillies fans be worried? The short answer is, not yet.
The team seems to have back-up for Utley. Luis Castillo finally got a hit today and also walked twice while showing solid defense in the field. Wilson Valdez continues to impress as well.
As for Brown, Ben Francisco is doing well in what may have been Brown’s spot in the outfield. John Mayberry Jr. is also capable and the two may wind up rotating in right field.
Another good sign is that Polanco did play today in the 3-1 victory over the Braves. Polly looked a bit tentative and was sore after the game, but he expects to play again on Sunday. Or perhaps, much like Lidge, I am being a tad too optimistic about all this? I hope not.
Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography
While hitting a foul ball in Saturday’s spring training game against the Pirates, Domonic Brown fractured the hamate bone in his right hand. Oddly enough, his very next swing after breaking the bone resulted in his only hit in spring action through 16 at-bats.
Several baseball players have had this very same bone removed in the past. Some of those include former Phillie, Jim Thome and Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia. Apparently, the hand is just fine without this bone, although recovery from the surgery could take four to six weeks.
This may be a blessing in disguise for Brown who was struggling badly to adjust his swing and make the Phillies roster before the end of camp. Time off to reflect on his issues may be a good thing.
In the meantime, the job in right almost certainly will go to Ben Francisco, although the Phillies will not dub anyone the winner just yet.
Thus far, the injury bug has bitten twice for the Phillies in spring training; first Chase Utley and his bum knee, then Brown. Utley is still recovering from a cortisone injection and it will be several more days before any more is known about his knee.
On the bright side, the Phillies pitching staff looks fantastic! Cliff Lee appeared to be almost in mid-season form against the Rays today over four innings. And on Saturday Roy Halladay threw three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit.
In the bullpen, JC Romero pitched today and looked very, very sharp. After going 3-0 on the first batter, he came back to strike the guy out and then mowed down the next two batters in order.
Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras also seem to be moving along well. Neither has surrendered a run yet.
Other roster hopefuls are not having much success though. Eddie Bonine has allowed seven runs in four innings of work. J.C. Ramirez has allowed four runs in five innings. However, most of these guys were not expected to make the team anyway.
Spring action continues tomorrow when the Phillies see the Yankees again. Game time is 1:05pm.
Illustration by Wikipedia
The five teams in the NL East, the Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Mets and Nationals, have all had busy off-seasons trying to improve their clubs. Some have been more successful than others. And some, like the Phillies and Mets, are moving very slowly through the free agent and trade possibilities.
Here is a countdown of the top 10 moves so far within the division and a breakdown of potential future moves for each team.
#10 – Three Relief Pitchers to the Marlins
In mid-November, the Red Sox swapped lefty relievers with the Marlins. Dustin Richardson went to the Marlins and Andrew Miller landed with the Red Sox. Miller, previously a highly-touted prospect, was a disappointment in Florida. He struggled with control and lacked consistency.
The addition of Richardson is a good move for the Marlins. At only 26-years of age, Richardson posted a 4.15 in 26 relief appearances in the bigs, although most of his time has been spent in the minors. This lefty has great potential. The Marlins hope they can mould him into a solid reliever.
The very next day, the Marlins also acquired two right-handers, Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica. The Marlins sent Cameron Maybin to the Padres in exchange. Webb has averaged a 3.19 ERA in two major league seasons while Mujica is going into his 6th season having posted a 3.62 ERA last year.
These three pitchers combined should make a major impact on the Marlins 2011 bullpen.
#9 – Dennys Reyes to the Phillies
The Phillies have agreed to terms with veteran left-hander, Dennys Reyes. The 33-year-old reliever posted a 3.55 ERA in 59 relief appearances last season for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Phillies chose not to re-sign JC Romero after Romero struggled with control and left elbow surgery last offseason seemed to alter his mechanics. Reyes will be counted on to take over for Romero.
The only other lefty who has had much success with the Phillies in the few past years is Antonio Bastardo. The Phillies will likely go into the 2011 season with these two left-handed relievers in the bullpen.
#8 – Javier Vazquez to the Marlins
Right-handed starter Javier Vazquez struggled last year with the Yankees, ending the season with a 10-10 record and a 5.32 ERA. However, Vazquez pitched for the Braves in 2009 and ended with a 2.87 ERA. A return to the NL East may be exactly what Vazquez needs to get back on track.
The Marlins also like the idea that Vazquez can eat innings for them, which is something they have been lacking. This 13-year veteran is sure to bring some stability to the Marlins rotation.
#7 – Eric Hinske re-signs with the Braves
The Braves liked Eric Hinske in left field last year, where he made only 1 error in 360 innings. At the plate, Hinske hit .256 with 11 homers and a .793 OPS. In 2011, Hinske is likely to serve as a left-handed pinch-hitter who may fill in for Martin Prado from time to time.
#6 – John Buck to the Marlins
Catcher John Buck will enter his 8th major league season with a 3-contract from the Florida Marlins. Buck had a breakout year in 2010 with the Blue Jays and made the All-Star team for the first time in his career.
Buck set career highs in batting average (.281), on-base percentage (.314), homers (20) and RBIs (66) with the Jays and also threw out 28% of runners attempting to steal. The Marlins may have hit a home run with this signing.
Jose Contreras spent most of his career as a starter until last year with the Phillies where he made a nice transition into a full-time reliever. Contreras was one of the most dependable relievers in the Phillies bullpen and as such, the Phillies rewarded him with a new 2-year deal, including an option for a third year.
Contreras went 6-4 with four saves and a 3.34 ERA in 67 games in 2010. He is able to pitch multiple innings when necessary and can also fill in as a closer. This gives the Phillies some much needed stability in the bullpen.
#4 – Scott Linebrink to the Braves
There was one more pitching swap this offseason as the Braves sent Kyle Cofield to the White Sox in exchange for another righty, Scott Linebrink. At 23 years of age, Cofield was moved in favor of experience. Linebrink is a 12-year veteran who has had a fairly consistent career. He went 3-2 with a 4.40 ERA as a reliever for the White Sox last year and will be a solid piece in the Braves bullpen.
#3 – George Sherrill to the Braves
Continuing to add pitching, the Braves signed lefty reliever George Sherrill, who will be entering his 8th season in the majors. The one-year deal is a smart one for the Braves as it is fairly low-risk. Sherrill performed well in 2008 and 2009, but last year, he ran into trouble. Posting a 6.69 ERA with the Dodgers in 65 games, Sherrill got destroyed facing right-handed hitters who batted .427 off him.
If Sherrill can rebound to his 2009 form, the Braves move will pay major dividends. If not, they only spent $1.2 million dollars to sign him. This looks like a winner for the Braves.
#2 – Dan Uggla to the Braves
His name is Dan Uggla and yes, he is now a Brave. This All-Star second baseman has been tearing up the NL East for five years now. The Marlins refused to meet Uggla’s demand of a five-year contract and decided to trade him. They received Omar Infante and left-handed reliever Michael Dunn in exchange.
The winner of this trade may be a tough call. Uggla, with 33 homers last year, gives the Braves a right-handed power bat. However, Infante is a more versatile and solid defender. Plus, Infante batted over .300 each of the past two seasons. And with good left-handed relievers hard to come by, Dunn’s 1.89 ERA in 25 games last year looks pretty good. However, Dunn is a rookie with little experience so the Marlins cannot be sure what they will get out of him.
The worst news about this trade for the NL East is that Uggla remains in the NL East. The Marlins may have just shot themselves, plus three other teams, directly in the foot.
If anything is certain about this signing, it is that no one saw it coming. The 7-year, $126 million dollar deal handed to right fielder Jayson Werth is the biggest move made in the NL East so far this offseason. It may even wind up being one of the top five deals in all of baseball by the time 2011 gets started.
The Phillies could not afford to meet Werth’s demand, who made his first All-Star appearance with them in 2009. Batting .296 with 27 homers and 85 RBI last year, this five-tool player is a great addition to any team. However, at 31 years of age, Werth’s 7-year deal may look foolish a few seasons down the road.
Potential Future Moves: The Phillies
A name you are likely to hear a lot in the coming weeks is Zack Greinke. In fact, the only NL East team who has not been linked to Greinke is the Mets. The Royals have made it known that they are willing to part with this right-handed starter for the right price. Once Cliff Lee signs somewhere, the market for Greinke will certainly heat up.
While Greinke is on the Phillies wish list, they may also be looking at right fielder Delwyn Young. Having spent the last two years with the Pirates, Young has not exactly been lighting up the batter’s box, hitting only .236 last year. But the Phillies are still deciding how to replace Jayson Werth. Young is a possibility, but look for the Phils to fill the spot internally.
Potential Future Moves: The Braves
Aside from Zack Greinke, the Braves are also rumored to be in talks with lefty reliever Ron Mahay. While with the Braves the last few months of 2007, Mahay posted a 2.25 ERA in 30 appearances and has since expressed interest in returning to the Braves.
Mahay had surgery near the end of the 2010 season for a torn rotator cuff. but with left-handers in short supply, the Braves may take a look at re-signing Mahay.
Despite signing a few lefties already, the Marlins are still looking for depth in this area. Ron Mahay, whom the Braves are looking into, is also a possibility here. A few other lefties the Marlins may consider are Joe Beimel and JC Romero. Beimel posted a 3.40 ERA in 45 innings last year and Romero had a 3.68 ERA in 36 2/3 innings.
The Marlins have also been tossing around the idea of signing right fielder Delwyn Young, whom the Phillies expressed interest in as well.
Potential Future Moves: The Mets
The Mets have not made many moves this offseason aside from a few smaller players like catcher Ronnie Paulino and righty DJ Carrasco. The biggest potential move for the Mets may be simply retaining outfielder Carlos Beltran. Already signed through 2011, several teams including the Red Sox, have expressed interest in a trade for Beltran.
With budget concerns, the Mets have little room to squeak out any significant deals. Therefore, the most important move they make may just be retaining players like Beltran, David Wright and Jose Reyes. The Mets will need to resist the urge to dump payroll if they are to have a chance to compete in 2011.
Potential Future Moves: The Nationals
While the Nationals severely overpaid for right fielder Jayson Werth, they may not be done just yet. It seems, that like a lot of teams, star pitcher Cliff Lee is on their radar. And similar to the Werth deal, no one would ever see it coming. But the Nats appear to have money to burn so Lee may not be out of the question.
Veteran outfielder Randy Winn has also been rumored to be generating interest in Washington. Also add first baseman Adam LaRoche to their wish list and right-handed reliever Kevin Gregg. Gregg spent two years in the NL East with the Marlins from 2007 to 2008. He pitched in 63 games for the Blue Jays last year and posted a 3.51 ERA. Several teams, including the Nationals, have been courting the reliever.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies worked out a 2-year, $5.5 million dollar contract on Monday with bullpen pitcher Jose Contreras. In 2010, Contreras served a variety of roles on the bullpen, including filling in for Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson when they were injured. Contreras appeared in 64 games and ended the season with a 3.34 ERA.
The only real concern with this signing might be Contreras’ age; he is 38 now and will be 40 by the end of his contract. But the Phillies have had some good luck dipping into the senior player pool in the past (Jamie Moyer, for one) so it may be a non-issue.
The Phillies also added Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg to the organization; he will manage the AAA Iron Pigs team. Sandberg was originally drafted by the Phillies in 1978 but played only 13 games for the Phils in 1981 before they traded him in the off-season to the Cubs in what remains one of the worst trades in baseball history. Sandberg went on to have an amazing 15-year career with the Cubs, landing him in the Hall of Fame.
Almost 29 years later, Sandberg is back where he belongs. After the Cubs declined to give him the job as team manager since Lou Piniella retired, Sandberg made his way back to Philly. The Cubs may have made a huge mistake. While that does not really make up for the disastrous trade back in 1982, their loss will still be our gain. And when Charlie Manuel retires, who knows? It could be Sandberg at the helm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
I normally do not have this video done before Christmas, but it is amazing how much extra time that the lack of a World Series provides ;o) For those who have missed it previous years, at the end of every season, I pick out my favorite Phillies photos from that year and put them into a video slideshow. These photos were all taken by me and my giant zoom lens, from the stands, at both home and away games throughout the season.
In the 2010 season, I attended 27 games and 7 Phillies-related special events, like the Phestival and the Phillies Cruise. Yes, it was down year for me due to a lack of funds ;o) Going through the digital files on my computer, I calculate that I shot more than 18,000 photos at Phillies games this year. If you add in the special events, the total is over 25,000. Of those, I picked out and published around 5,000. The slideshow contains the best of the game shots for a total of 257 photos.
I am eternally grateful for the invention of the digital camera. Remember the days when we had to use film? That was one expensive habit. Well, here it is…enjoy!
Thank you for stopping by!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Everyone expected Roy Halladay to come out firing tonight with the Phillies season on the line. Instead, he walked the first batter he faced and allowed a run to score. The entire 6 innings he pitched were uncomfortable, at best. He did only allow 2 runs total; the second one, of course, off the bat of Cody Ross with an RBI-double. But he never looked settled, fell behind in counts and ended with 2 walks and only 5 strike outs.
While Halladay’s entire outing was a nail biter, he did battle through it and kept the Phils in the game. Tim Lincecum only had one bad inning through 7 and that was the 3rd. The Phillies scored 3 runs in a very odd sequence of events. Raul Ibanez, back in the line-up after being sat yesterday, singled to start the inning. That was his first hit this entire series.
Lincecum then hit Carlos Ruiz to put two men on base with no outs. Halladay bunted what looked like a foul ball but the umpire, much to everyone’s surprise, called it fair. The base runners moved up as Pablo Sandoval at third missed the bag while Ibanez slid in. Halladay just stood at home looking confused as he was thrown out at first on a foul ball.
But it worked out for the Phillies as an error by Aubrey Huff allowed both Ibanez and Ruiz to score. Placido Polanco singled to score another run. But then with runners on first and second, needing a simple sac fly to score again, Ryan Howard struck out…again. Howard has zero RBI’s this series. Jayson Werth flied out to end the inning, stranding 2 runners.
You had to wonder if these stranded runners would cost the Phillies both the game (again) and the season. They headed into the 7th clinging to the slim 3-2 lead. Jimmy Rollins singled and then stole 2 bases to land on 3rd with Ruiz on 1st and only one out. But again, the Phillies failed to score. Pinch hitter Ross Gload hit a line drive right to 1st. Huff caught the ball and stepped on 1st for the easy double play.
So it would be up to the bullpen to keep the series going and send it back to Philly. Jose Contreras and JC Romero took care of the 7th. Ryan Madson was tossing 95mph bullets in the 8th, despite having pitched the last two games. He struck out the side, including our old friend Pat Burrell. Remember when a Burrell strike out was SO frustrating? Not so much anymore ;o)
Giving the Phillies a little extra breathing room in the 9th, Werth hit a monster homer over the huge right field wall. Brad Lidge had a 4-2 lead to work with and got the first out quickly with a shallow fly ball. Next out, an easy ground ball. (Biting my nails…) Pinch hitter, whose name no one can pronounce…Travis Ishikawa…IsHeWaWa? IshiMama? IdunnoA? Whatever. He struck out, so who cares. Phillies win, 4-2!!! LIDGE gets it DONE!
With the win tonight, the NLCS series heads back to Philadelphia with the Phils trailing 2 games to 3. They have an off-day tomorrow for travel and will play Game 6 on Saturday, either at 3:57pm or 7:57pm, depending on the Rangers – Yankees series results tomorrow. I assume Roy Oswalt is still slated to pitch; we should know for sure tomorrow. Whatever happens, I am excited to go to the game on Saturday; this team may still have life in them yet.
UPDATE: Halladay apparently pulled his groin early in the game last night during either the 1st or 2nd inning. Manuel said 2nd, but also said it was during the Buster Posey at-bat, which was in the 1st. At any rate, he pitched basically the whole game injured. Halladay will have an MRI today to determine how bad the pull is.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies announced today who will be on the 25-man roster for the NLDS and there are really no surprises. Those notable players who did not make it include Kyle Kendrick, Danys Baez and David Herndon. Here is the breakdown:
Going with 10 pitchers instead of 11 allows the Phillies to add more fire power to the bench. They expect the 3 starters to go deep into games so extra long men in the pen will likely not be necessary. Blanton will fill the role if needed.
As for Ruiz and Romero, manager Charlie Manuel says both players are fine and ready to play after suffering minor injuries on Sunday.
If you are going to the game tomorrow, here is the information about pre-game festivities and other highlights:
2:00 p.m. – Phillies Postseason Party begins on Citizens Bank Way. Features music by Mr. Greengenes; Highlights include an inflatable obstacle course for children, face painters, an extreme rock wall climb and a Velcro race.
Ashburn Alley opens.
All gates open. Rally towels for all fans, compliments of StubHub.
3:30 p.m. – Phillies Postseason Rally on Citizens Bank Way! Special guests include former Phillies Scott Eyre and Greg “The Bull” Luzinski, Comcast SportsNet analyst Ricky Bottalico, the Phillie Phanatic and Phillies Ballgirls. Music provided by Mr. Greengenes; Scott Palmer, Phillies Director of Public Affairs, will emcee.
4:40 p.m. – On-field pre-game ceremony begins.
4:44 p.m. – Introduction of Cincinnati Reds.
4:48 p.m. – Introduction of Philadelphia Phillies.
4:54 p.m. – National Anthem: Sung by country singer Catherine Raney, niece of Tim McGraw, who will be representing the Tug McGraw Foundation.
4:56 p.m. – Color Guard introduced.
4:58 p.m. – Ceremonial First Pitch: Phillies alumnus Scott Eyre.
5:07 p.m. – Play ball! Phillies vs. Reds game begins.
5th Inning – “Lady PhaPha” makes her postseason debut.
7th Inning – God Bless America: Sung by national recording artist Lauren Hart, a Philadelphia native whose songs have been heard on television series and soap operas.
See you there!