The first inning of today’s Phillies – Padres match-up was a microcosm of the issues that have been plaguing the Phils since the middle of May. The offense started off with two hits, then they loaded the bases with one out and Jayson Werth hit a weak grounder into a double play to end the inning. Two batters before that, Chase Utley had popped out with 2 men on base.
Werth and Utley, previously two of the teams’ best hitters, are quickly becoming the poster-children for killing rallies. Phillies fans everywhere are losing patience waiting for the two sluggers to find their swings again. Fans used to look forward to seeing them bat. Now, all you can do is cringe when they step to the plate and begin counting the different ways they might kill an inning; will it be a double play? A pop-up? A strike-out? Or maybe the bat will spontaneously combust due to lack of use, rendering him helpless at the plate…the possibilities are endless.
Once again, the real victim of this disgusting and seemingly unending offensive slump is the starting pitcher.
Cole Hamels had a no-hitter working through 6 innings. He finally surrendered back-to-back homers in the 7th to end the streak, but with just those two runs allowed, Hamels more than did his job. It is just one more outstanding pitching performance gone to waste by the Phils offensive offense.
Eight full innings and just 3 hits later, Hamels found himself still without any assistance from his teammates. The pinch hitters failed again in the bottom of the 8th with both Greg Dobbs and Ross Gload going down in flames. Danys Baez pitched the 9th and put the Phillies in a deeper hole by giving up a homer to Adrian Gonzalez, his second of the night.
The Phillies tried to battle back in the bottom of the 9th; Placido Polanco singled, followed by another Utley out. Ryan Howard drove Polanco in but then Werth stepped to the plate and, as has been the trend, he struck out. The Phillies lose 1-3, but I suppose the good news is that at least it was not another shut-out.
Besides the huge disappointment today in the Phillies majors, the minor leagues reported one more bit if depressing news. The “big” prospect the Phillies got in the Cliff Lee trade, pitcher Phillipe Aumont, was demoted to single-A ball after sporting a 10.61 ERA in AA-ball. Remember back in Spring Training when the same guy gave up 5 runs in 2/3 of an inning in an exhibition game against a college team in his first Phillies action? And afterwards, he blamed it on the pressure of being traded for Cliff Lee? Oh yeah, that guy.
So, we get our first peek at how beneficial that trade really was. If Aumont cannot handle pressure, what good is he? And do you really think the Mariners were unaware of this when they sent him packing? I doubt it. Talent and potential are great, but I am pretty sure in the life-game of rock, paper, scissors, that mental toughness trumps both. But hey, Lee will be available again at the trade deadline this year; think the Mariners will take Aumont back? Ha, ha…I crack myself up ;o)
The draft took place tonight and the Phillies have selected a local; Jesse Biddle, a left-handed pitcher, from Philly. Best of luck to the young pitcher!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Happy Bunny by Jim Benton
The Phillies have had a very productive month so far this spring and will go into their day off tomorrow with a record of 9 wins, 4 loses and a tie. Spring Training results are not a great indicator of how a team will perform in the regular season, but based on years past, it seems like every player came to camp more prepared and more determined this year and it shows. The bats are jumping and most guys have stayed fairly healthy.
Placido Polanco’s right knee strain is minor and he will be back in action probably by Friday. Chase Utley has also sat out a few games with a respiratory illness but again, he seems to be on the road to recovery. Even pitchers like JC Romero and Brad Lidge who had off-season surgeries are getting closer and closer to game-shape. Romero threw to live batters this morning and is feeling good; both he and Lidge should be ready to go by early April.
Luck Of The Irish?
Cole Hamels was feeling lucky this week; he threw 5 innings in a win over the Tigers on Tuesday without allowing an earned run; he gave up just 2 hits and struck out 4. Joe Blanton was not quite as solid against the Yankees today in the St. Patty’s Day showdown, but still not bad. Blanton did allow 2 runs on 7 hits over 5 innings, but maybe he is just allergic to the shamrock green uniforms?
The two young lefty bullpen hopefuls also pitched in the last two games and showed some progress. Antonio Bastardo showed off some serious heat, striking out 2 batters and not allowing a base runner in his inning against the Tigers. Sergio Escalona also pitched a scoreless inning against the Yanks, although he is still struggling with his control and walked two batters. Regardless, it does appear that both players are anxious to crack the Opening Day roster.
As for the bats, Ryan Howard hit his first home run of Spring yesterday and is batting a very solid .344 so far. Not to be outdone, Jayson Werth smashed a 3-run homer today that looked like a rocket as it travelled in nearly a straight line over the left field fence faster than you could blink. It was his 2nd home run this spring.
No, not at the Phillies; or at least we think not anymore…however, he is having an interesting spring so far with the Mariners. On Monday in a game against the D-Backs, Lee was actually ejected from a Spring Training game for the first time in his career. For what? He was tossed for intentionally throwing at a batter’s head. The intended victim was D-Backs catcher Chris Snyder; teammate Mark Reynolds stood up for Snyder after the game, calling Lee’s actions “bush league.”
But did Lee really do it on purpose? Reynolds purports, “I’ve faced Cliff Lee plenty of times to know he’s got amazing control.” Check out the video and judge for yourself.
UPDATE: The league has now suspended Lee for 5 games at the start of the season for what they are calling an “intentional” act.
Tosh.0 Redeems A Philly Fan
Remember the adorable little girl who was all over TV last year for tossing her Daddy’s prized foul ball catch back onto the field? Well, the father-daughter team are back and Daniel Tosh of Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0” gave little Emily a chance at redemption. Check it out:
I am not sure what is more adorable; Emily tossing the Mardi Gras beads or her proclamation that tea parties are better than baseball. Funny stuff!
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Photos by Jenn
Roy Halladay mania is in full swing already at the start of Spring Training. Reports that he has been working out in Clearwater since mid-December and that he arrives at the ballpark by 5:45am every day are impressing the fans, his teammates and his coaches. Manager Charlie Manuel compared his work ethic to that of Chase Utley although he noted, “He (Halladay) smiles more than Chase.”
While the Utley comparisons are fun, the biggest comparisons this year are bound to be about Halladay and Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. Many Phillies fans are still in denial over the departure of Lee and that trade will be questioned all year long and perhaps even for years to come. If Hamels does not return to form and Lee does well with the Mariners, expect some strong reaction from the fan base. However, Lee did just have surgery on his foot to remove some bone fragments which will put him about a week behind schedule; this should give Halladay and Hamels a “toe” up in the race to see who comes out of the chute fastest.
Pitching coach Rich Dubee made it clear last week when speaking to the media that he believes Hamels’ issues last year revolved more around his mental game than his physical game. Dubee told Todd Zolecki of The Zo Zone, “The biggest problem with Cole last year? In my opinion he pitched with a lot of anger. With himself mostly. He’s such a perfectionist. You don’t pitch with anger. He really wasn’t nearly as focused as he was the two previous years. He expects a lot out of himself, but your expectations of what you want and the way you approach it are very, very important. And his approach wasn’t very good last year.”
So while Hamels has some personal reflecting to do, other pitchers in camp like Jamie Moyer, need only overcome their physical issues. Moyer’s recovery after 3 surgeries this off-season is precarious. He did throw off the mound on the first day of camp, so that is good news.
But with younger pitchers like Kyle Kendrick waiting in the wings to take the 5th starter spot from Moyer, this should be a very intense spring. Rumor has it that Kendrick, who was previously mentored mostly by Moyer, has latched onto Roy Halladay this spring like a baby bird looking for his next meal. Kendrick has been showing up early to work with Halladay who has apparently been hand-feeding Kendrick information.
So the competition will continue to heat up over the coming weeks. And if the temperatures here in the northeast could start heating up as well, that would be awesome. Still in the 40’s here but I am hopeful that Spring will be here soon!
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Halladay photo: ESPN.com; Kendrick photo by Jenn
During the official introduction of Roy Halladay yesterday, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. explained further why he chose to ship Cliff Lee off to Seattle. He backed off the idea of not being able to sign him past one year and moved on to replenishing the farm system. Amaro admitted this move was a risk, but one he was willing to take in order to keep the franchise winning for years to come, rather than just putting all their eggs into the 2010 basket.
As for the fans, we are all very excited to see Roy Halladay in a Phillies uniform! But many wish the ultimate pitching dream of Halladay & Lee could have been a reality. Here is a synopsis of how it all went down for the Lee fans:
5 Stages of Grief In Losing Cliff Lee:
– Denial: This cannot be happening! Lee was the only pitcher to win a game for us in the World Series!
– Anger: Noooooo! Ruben Amaro Jr., you stink!
– Bargaining: Hey Ruben, how about we keep both Halladay AND Lee? Come on….please? I’ll be your best friend :O)
– Depression: I am going to crawl in a hole; wake me in the Spring.
– Acceptance: Oh, ok. I guess it was a good business decision. I still love you Ruben :O) Thank you for a Happy Halladay!
Mr. Amaro may be the happiest person on the planet right now; he has wanted Halladay for a very long time and finally got his wish. During the press conference, Amaro referred to the acquisition of Halladay as “intoxicating.” Well, that does explain a lot about the trade I suppose. Clearly, he was drunk on Halladay Juice and made some very creative decisions. I’ll give him an A+ on getting Halladay. As for letting Lee go in exchange for the prospects, the jury is out until we see how he handles the hangover. ;o)
Well, it is the Halladay Season, so drink up Mr. Amaro! Just sober up in time for Spring Training.
By the way, the This Year In Baseball awards are in and some Phillies, plus a few of their fans, won awards. Ruben Amaro Jr. was voted Best Executive; J.A. Happ, who should have gotten the Rookie of the Year award will have to settle for the TYIB Best Rookie prize; Jayson Werth won Best Unsung Star; and the father-daughter pair who were shown all over TV after Dad caught a ball and his daughter tossed it back, were named the season’s Best Oddity.
Congrats to all!
Amaro photo by Jenn
The Phillies made it official this afternoon; Cy Young award winning pitcher Roy Halladay is now a Phillie :O) Some say he is the best pitcher in baseball. This is a huge pick up for the Phillies and an exciting day for the fans. Halladay has signed a 3-year extension, keeping him in red pinstripes through 2013 for around 20 million a year after his 1-year Jays contract is fulfilled in 2010.
So the Phillies have swapped one Cy Young winner for another and three prospects for 3 different prospects. The casualties for the Phillies include Cliff Lee, who went to Seattle plus 3 of our top 4 prospects; pitcher Kyle Drabek, outfielder Michael Taylor and catcher Travis d’Arnaud who all went to the Jays. In return, the Phillies will get 3 prospects from Seattle to restock the farm system; pitchers Phillipe Aumont, J.C. Ramirez and outfielder Tyson Gillies.
The Cliff Lee trade is disappointing, but it makes sense from a business perspective as the Phillies were nearing their payroll limit and they knew for sure that Lee would be only a 1-year pitcher, testing the market after 2010. From a fan perspective, it is sad to see Lee go and one cannot help but wish we could have had both Lee and Halladay even for just the one year.
And to all the yahoo’s out there who want to shout obscenities and declare that Phillies fans do not appreciate Roy Halladay, get over yourselves. It has nothing to do with appreciating Halladay and everything to do with losing Cliff Lee. If the Yankees got Halladay and had to ship off CC Sabathia to do so, tell me Yankee fans would not be shouting from the rooftops? It is the same thing. And yes, Lee and Sabathiha have comparable stats.
We are very, very happy to have Halladay and excited to see him pitch in a Phillies uniform. But it does seem sad to lose other good players in the process, especially Lee and the three prospects. You feel like a kid at Christmas that got exactly what you always wanted, but had to give back all your other presents to do so.
I have personally spoken to Michael Taylor, as an example, and he is not only a great player, but a great person as well. One cannot help but feel disappointed to see these guys leave. And I saw Lee pitch his first game with the Phillies in San Francisco; he pitched a complete game and made it look easy. We are entitled to be upset over losing our best pitcher, as I am sure Jays fans are upset over losing theirs. Are we getting a better pitcher in return? Absolutely. But wouldn’t both be so much nicer?
That being said, Phillies fans are thrilled to finally get the big prize! Happy Halladay’s to everyone in Philly! I cannot wait until Spring Training :O)
It appears the Phillies are going to land Roy Halladay. However, in an unbeLEEvable twist, it is said that Cliff Lee will be shipped to the Seattle Mariners as part of a 3-team deal. Shock and awe have overcome me….Cliff Lee???
Really??? Our ACE miracle pick-up of 2009 traded away? A few acronyms come to mind here; mainly OMG and WTF.
Ok, so apparently Lee is dead-set on testing the free agent market after 2010 and Halladay is agreeable to a multi-year deal; plus, Halladay really wants to come to Philly. The Phillies are looking to keep the core of this team intact for at least 2 more years and I suppose, with Lee not being a possibility past 1 year, they feel he is disposable. But we would be basically trading and ace for an ace instead of keeping TWO aces. Ugh.
Halladay may be a slightly better pitcher than Lee, but he has also pitched nearly twice as many innings as Lee at almost the same age. Halladay is 1 year and 3 months older and has pitched 2046.2 innings; Lee has pitched 1196.2 innings.
Also take into consideration that Lee was amazing in the playoffs and is super steady mentally. He may be one of the calmest players under pressure anyone has ever seen. Halladay on the other hand was rattled in July and August over the trade rumors and it affected his performance. This does not mean Lee is better than Halladay; clearly the numbers show otherwise. However, Lee has advantages that Halladay does not. The innings pitched and Halladay’s age (he will be 33 in May) are causes for concern in signing a long-term deal.
If there is any way possible to keep both pitchers, it should be done. The Phillies with both Lee and Halladay may be unstoppable. In fact, for only 2-3 million more, the Phils could trade Joe Blanton instead of Lee. Why would they NOT do this? But the money is the big issue, as it usually is; even a mere couple million apparently is too much for them to handle. I can tell you this; teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, a few of MLB’s richest teams, would not have to make such a decision. They would keep both players without question. And that is what makes this idea hard to swallow.
Not that the Phillies are poor; they ranked 7th in payroll for 2009. But a lot of money is tied up in big name players like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. The window for this group of players to score another World Championship is probably about two years. With that being the case, I would like to see the Phillies throw everything and the kitchen sink at this 2010 team. But the kitchen sink is Lee, and it looks like he will be gone.
Do not get me wrong, I will be thrilled to have Halladay. But the price does seem a bit steep, which puts a damper on the celebration. And now what about the bullpen? Is there money left to fix that gaping hole? That is the other thought that worries me. It will not matter how good the rotation is if the pen blows games, like they did a lot in 2009. That solution or lack thereof is yet to be determined.
And on top of all this, it is also rumored that the Phillies top pitching prospect, Kyle Drabek, will be sent to the Jays. This is the player the Jays have been asking for since last July. So tell me, WHY exactly would the Phillies wait until we LOSE the World Series to give up Drabek when we could have had Halladay in July had they traded him then?? This makes me very, very, very angry. Of course, we do not know the details of the deal yet, but usually, where there is smoke, there is fire.
And so we all wait with bated breath for the decision to come down from above…
Photo by Jenn
Having blown six saves already this season amidst various complaints of a sore knee, Brad Lidge recently insisted that his knee troubles were in the past. However, he was placed on the 15-day DL today, which will be retroactive back to June 7th. Does this explain his 7.27 ERA? Maybe. But placing him on the DL may very well be a combination of the knee issue plus his bad performance. Perhaps the knee, which may well be feeling better, threw off his mechanics and now he needs time to straighten things out. Lidge was looking better his last few outings, but is still not the Lidge of last season.
Ryan Madson will take over the closers role in Lidge’s absence and a new face was added to the club to fill the hole. Paul Bako, 36, has been called up from AA. Bako is a catcher who hit .357 in 10 games so far this year with the R-Phils. One can only assume he will be used as an additional bat off the bench, as we do not need two 30-something year old catchers (Coste), plus a starter (Ruiz). This still seems an odd choice though, as Bako bats lefty. I would love to look into my crystal ball to see what the Phillies are thinking here. Then again, if I could read minds, I would be making a lot more money ;O)
The draft is upon us and word has it that the Phillies will take a high school prospect for their first pick (75th overall). They had a first round pick, but that went to the Mariners in the Raul Ibanez deal. We are all fine with that though, I assume :O) The draft kicks off at 6pm.
Yes, it is back. The Mets voodoo is ON! J-Roll Smurf and friends have prepared the hex for this 3-game series which kicks off tonight at 7:10pm. Power of the mind, people – get out your pins and take a stab to help out J-Roll Smurf!
Photo by Jenn