Tagged: Matt Stairs

Catch & Toss

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!  P6216152 CCoste.jpgCoste 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 CastroBrett Myers has already been shown the door, as has Jack TaschnerPedro Feliz, Pedro Martinez, Matt Stairs and Miguel Cairo are also unlikely, although Stairs and Cairo may be offered minor league deals. 

Ticket Prices

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

 

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

 

A Frightening Performance

Last year on Halloween Day, the Phillies were celebrating by parading down Broad Street.  This year on Halloween Day, they took a spanking from the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the World Series with an 8-5 loss after a 1 hour and 20 minute rain delay.  Cole Hamels did not follow my instructions and wear his “Hamels: Version 2008” costume for the occasion.  Instead, Hamels 2009 took the mound and gave up 5 runs in 4 1/3 innings on 5 hits and 2 walks.  A scary Halloween, indeed, complete with cloudy skies, rain and a 1-2 game deficit in the series.


103109a.jpgThis has been the story for Cole all year long; he simply cannot be counted on.  He pitched well for 3 innings and then lost composure on a walk to Mark Teixeira that he felt should have been a strikeout in the 4th.  A-Rod batted next and launched a controversial home run; the ball hit a FOX TV camera which was sticking out over the field.  Instant Replay showed the hit and by rule, the interference made it a home run.  This brings up another point: why is a TV camera sticking out over the field?  They cannot back up a few inches?  That simply should not be allowed.  Way to go FOX.

It all fell apart after that.  Once again, even though Cole showed signs of impending disaster, manager Charlie Manuel sent him out for the 5th and again, left him in way too long.  He even allowed an RBI single to the pitcher, Andy Pettitte, who almost never picks up a bat.  3 runs later and this game was going downhill fast.  The bullpen could not hold the Yanks to those 5 either.  The next 3 relievers allowed one run a piece in each of the next 3 innings.


103109b.jpgAdd to that the horrible offensive display and Phillies fans are having flashbacks to slumps from earlier in the season.  The Yankees who had not been hitting in this series, like A-Rod and Nick Swisher, found Hamels to be the cure.  And the Phillies who were performing all post-season long, like NLCS MVP Ryan Howard, have seemingly lost their bats and cannot find them anywhere.

Jayson Werth looked to be the only Phillie interested in hitting; he knocked two solo home runs in the game.  Carlos Ruiz also hit a solo homer and walked twice.  The other 2 runs came off a walk to Jimmy Rollins with the bases loaded and a Shane Victorino sac fly.  And that was basically the sum total of the offense.


103109c.jpgAnother item that irks me here:  Eric Bruntlett was put in as a pinch hitter with a man on base in a situation where a home run was really what they needed.  Why not Matt Stairs?  Bruntlett should never be used as a pinch hitter unless they are looking to bunt.  He had a terrible season and looks like he could not hit the side of a barn.  Not to mention, he almost never hits homers.

Phils Yanks Gm3.jpg

As for Hamels, he is lined up to pitch Game 7, if it goes that far.  In my opinion, this should not even be a consideration.  Hamels has proven all year that he cannot get the job done, especially under pressure.  He should be done.  Come up with a mystery injury, replace him on the roster with another bullpen arm or bench player and send in Cliff Lee on short rest with JA Happ as his back-up.  If I was in charge, that is what would happen.  But since I am not in charge, hang on Phillies fans, it is going to be a bumpy ride if this goes 7 games.

The Phillies can try to tie up the series tonight with a win, but it will be Joe Blanton against CC Sabathia.  Blanton has not done very well this post-season and is sporting a 4.66 ERA.  Sabathia is the better pitcher, but does have awful memories of last post-season to overcome, including his lost battles with Brett Myers at the plate, a Grand Slam by Victorino and the banter of the home crowd.  Plus he is on 3 days rest, same as that game last year where the Phillies beat up on him when he was with the Brewers. 

My tummy hurts just thinking about this.  Plus, I have an awful hangover from last night’s game, and I did not drink anything but water.  Yet somehow, the nausea and headache still persist.  Hmmmmm….wonder why? ;o)

Here is the full Photo Album from Game 3.  I took a lot of photos of both teams, something I normally do not do.  I also got some great pre-games shots which include Hall of Famers and old-timers, Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski and Garry Maddox.  Some are a tad blurry as it rained most of the game and I had water on my lens :O(  But I still did pretty well.  At least this will be more enjoyable than the game was :O)

Photos by Jenn

 

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

 

Series Tied Up

The World Series is now tied at 1 game each as the Yankees came up with a 3-1 win over the Phillies last night.  Starting pitchers Pedro Martinez and AJ Burnett both pitched well, but Burnett did a bit better.  Burnett was trying to do his best Cliff Lee impersonation and except for 2 hits and a run in the 2nd inning, he did just that.

Thumbnail image for Martinez Burnett.jpg

Martinez allowed 3 runs over 6 innings, but the 3rd run probably should not have happened.  Martinez looked like he was done after 6 innings, but Charlie Manuel sent him out for the 7th where he allowed 2 hits with no outs and then had be to taken out.  With a bullpen full of fresh arms that had not pitched in 8 days, plus the fact that Martinez has been sick for several days, he never should have started that inning.  A one run lead may have been possible to overcome against the Yanks closer, Mariano Rivera, but two runs were insurmountable.  Chan Ho Park allowed that 3rd run to score when he came in to relieve Martinez.

Several Phillies have been taken ill these last few weeks.  Greg Dobbs was sent back to Philly early as he has the flu; Scott Eyre and Shane Victorino have both been battling illnesses as well.  Eyre was in the hospital Thursday night with the flu.  So with Martinez catching the bug as well, why push him?

The Phillies did get to Rivera, who was sent in for a two inning save.  They managed 2 hits and a walk, proving that Mo is not untouchable.  But the decision to not send the runners with two on and two strikes on Utley, who usually makes contact, cost them.  The Yankees turned a double play to end the inning, although the replay showed Utley was safe at first.

Prior to that, Matt Stairs had the only RBI for the Phillies after a Raul Ibanez double.  The Phillies never figured out Burnett and Ryan Howard even struck out 4 times.  3 of the top 4 hitters did not get a hit and as a team, the Phillies had 6 hits total.

So the good news is, we do not have to see Burnett again for a while and hopefully, not at all.  The other good news is the Phillies are headed home where they have played extremely well this post-season.  Cole Hamels will pitch on Saturday, which is Halloween.  I think Cole should dress up for Halloween as “Hamels: Version 2008.”  Hopefully, he can scare the Yanks right out of that game.

Go Phillies!

Photos by Jenn

 

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

 

Unbelievable 9th Inning Comeback

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.

101909a.jpg
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.101909b.jpg 

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

 

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

 

 

NLCS Roster Decisions

Nothing has been made officially yet, but expect a similar roster for the NLCS against the Dodgers as the Phillies had in the NLDS.  It looks likely that Cole Hamels will pitch game one since he is on full rest.  Plus, with the birth of his son and some time home with the wife and child, he should now be ready to focus on baseball.  Hamels has done exceptionally well against the Dodgers.  He threw a shut-out against them this past June and also beat them twice in last year’s NLCS.

Cliff Lee will remain a starter as well with JA Happ, Pedro Martinez and Joe Blanton being juggled around again from the pen to the starters spot.  The bullpen however may see a change with Chan Ho Park returning from injury.  He is travelling to LA with the team, so he may be in position to take a roster spot away from Kyle Kendrick.

The bullpen is still making many people very nervous.  Brad Lidge did save 2 games, but still does not look super sharp.  Ryan Madson, the other potential closer, blew 2 saves in the series in the 8th inning.  And Brett Myers, who has done the job before, played only 2/3 of an inning and walked 2 batters.  This is a huge weak spot, especially when compared to the Dodgers bullpen which is much better.   

As for the bench players, this will probably stay the same; Greg Dobbs, Matt Stairs, Ben Francisco and Miguel Cairo.  However, with 8 at-bats between these 4 in the NLDS, there was not a hit among them.  Stairs did walk once in a critical situation, but Cairo and Dobbs both went 0 for 3.  Could this open the door for Eric Bruntlett to step in for Cairo?  Probably not, but the bench players are still a concern.

Then again, when you have the big guns like Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth to bail the team out when they run into trouble, you have to like the Phillies chances.   So, here is the schedule:

Gm 1

PHI @ LAD

Thu

Oct. 15

8:07 PM

Gm 2

PHI @ LAD

Fri

Oct. 16

4:07 PM

Gm 3

LAD @ PHI

Sun

Oct. 18

8:07 PM

Gm 4

LAD @ PHI

Mon

Oct. 19

8:07 PM

Gm 5*

LAD @ PHI

Wed

Oct. 21

8:07 PM

Gm 6*

PHI @ LAD

Fri

Oct. 23

8:07 PM

Gm 7*

PHI @ LAD

Sat

Oct. 24

8:07 PM

 

And just for fun, let me introduce to you our newest family member and Phillies fan, Chase Utley Kitten.  He is a Blue Point Ragdoll:Chase kitten.jpg

Yes, I named him Chase Utley….I fully expect him to pick up a ball and glove by 3 years.  At 2 ½ months, we will have to settle for the jersey.

Go Phillies!

NLDS Roster Announced


Thumbnail image for 208910.jpgThe Phillies announced their playoff roster today and there were a few surprises.  Here is how it played out (courtesy of Phillies.com):

Catchers (2): Paul Bako and Carlos Ruiz

Infielders (6): Miguel Cairo, Greg Dobbs, Pedro Feliz, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley

Outfielders (5): Ben Francisco, Raul Ibanez, Matt Stairs, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth

Pitchers (12): left-handers Antonio Bastardo, Scott Eyre, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ and Cliff Lee and right-handers Joe Blanton, Chad Durbin, Kyle Kendrick, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, Pedro Martinez and Brett Myers

Miguel Cairo was the right decision over Eric Bruntlett.  And the rest of the bench players are what I expected.

There was one surprise with the pitchers, however.  Clay Condrey and Tyler Walker were left off the roster in favor of Kyle Kendrick and Antonio Bastardo.  I did say earlier that Bastardo may be picked over Walker, so that is not too shocking considering the lack of lefties in the pen.  But Kendrick over Condrey, I am a bit surprised about.  Kendrick did pitch well in September, but Condrey is more consistent and has a lot more experience.  I think the nagging back injury did him in; the team must not be convinced that Condrey is healthy.

I also predicted that the Game 1 starter would be Cliff Lee, and that is correct.  Cole Hamels will get Game 2 and Game 3 has yet to be decided.  My feeling is that it should be JA Happ as the Phils want to overload the Rockies with lefties.  But all Charlie Manuel would say is that Happ, Joe Blanton and even Pedro Martinez will be “available” in the pen for the first two games.  I suppose then whoever does not get used will start Game 3.

This may also be a strategic move.  This gives less preparation time to the Rockies since they will not know who to prepare for.

So, if you are actually home tomorrow at game time, tune in at 2:37pm for the first pitch.  The game time still disgusts me.  I understand all teams need air time, but how exactly is it that the reigning World Champions do not get one of the prime time slots?  I’ll tell you why…because MLB cares only about the Yankees and the Red Sox.  It has been and probably will always be about these teams, whether deserving or not.  I root for the Yankees too, so it is not personal.  It is a matter of respect.

Not to mention, normal people have jobs, kids have school and 2:37pm does not allow ANY of these people to enjoy the game, unless they call out sick or skip school.   And how about the poor Rockies fans?  The game time for them is 12:37pm! (Mountain time)  That is just wrong.  But hey, if you are a Yankees or Sox fan, I’ll bet you are happier than a pig in mud, right?  Must be nice. 

Well, best of luck to everyone tomorrow (except the Rockies, of course)!  Go Phillies!

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

Roster Ramblings

The post-season roster has not been set for the Phillies; they have until 10am tomorrow to make the final decision.  The central core is not in question, with 6 current and former All-Stars in starting roles.  roster.gifHowever, the pitching rotation, bullpen and bench players are going to be tough decisions.

 

Manager Charlie Manuel seems to favor Eric Bruntlett on the bench because he runs well and can play almost every position in the field.  However, Bruntlett has not hit well and ended the year with 18 hits in 105 at-bats for a .171 average.  Miguel Cairo has performed much better and can play most of the infield spots; he ended the season batting .267 and went 7 for his last 19 including a triple and a home run in the final game.

 

While Cairo should get the nod over Bruntlett, it may not happen that way.  Bruntlett was with the team last year and Manuel tends to favor guys he is most familiar with.  Both could make the team, but only if they sacrifice a bullpen spot.  Ben Francisco, Greg Dobbs and Matt Stairs should all be locks for the roster, despite the facts that Dobbs has been playing hurt and Stairs batted only .194 this year with 5 homers in 103 at-bats.

 

The pitching is even more complicated.  Most likely Cliff Lee will start game 1 as Cole Hamels would only have 3 days rest.  However, Lee has been mostly awful in his last 7 starts, allowing 27 runs in 39 2/3 innings.  That is an ERA of about 6.13.  Not good.  The Phillies hope he will turn things around for his first post-season appearance.

 

Hamels was equally inconsistent, ending the season with a record of 10-11 and a 4.32 ERA.  Pedro Martinez has been dealing with a sore neck, so his ability to pitch deep into a game effectively is in serious question.  Joe Blanton and JA Happ have been the only two good, consistent arms in the rotation all year and now Happ may get bumped to the bullpen due to a lack of lefties.  That would be a real shame though, because Happ has the best record of the starting staff with 12 wins, 4 losses and an ERA of 2.93.  Honestly, I think they need to keep Happ as a starter and take their chances with the lefty situation in the pen.  Happ is more valuable for 6-7 innings than he would be for only a few batters.

 

That brings us to the pen, which is basically a mess.  Every regular bullpen pitcher has suffered at least one injury this year, except Ryan Madson.  Right now, JC Romero, Jamie Moyer and Chan Ho Park are still hurt and will not play in the NLDS; Moyer is done for the year.  That leaves Scott Eyre as the only experienced lefty, and he is pitching through a sore elbow.  Chad Durbin, Clay Condrey, Brad Lidge and Madson are on the roster for sure.  That leaves Tyler Walker, Kyle Kendrick, Brett Myers and the 2 rookies, Sergio Escalona and Antonio Bastardo to fill the remaining spots.

 

Escalona and Bastardo are both lefties but lack experience and have exhibited a lack of pitching control at times as well.  It would be tough to add one of them to the roster, even though lefties are needed.  Kendrick spent most of the year in the minors, but pitched fairly well for the big club in September until his last outing where he gave up 3 runs.  And Myers has suffered two injuries which kept him out almost the whole year and he still does not look quite right.  That leaves Tyler Walker whose 3.06 ERA is 3rd best in the pen, behind Eyre and Condrey.

 

But with all the injuries, the Phillies options are limited.  My best guess is this: Madson, Lidge, Condrey, Eyre, Durbin, Walker and Myers with Pedro Martinez added to the list instead of Happ.  That makes 12 pitchers total, including the 4 starters: Happ, Lee, Hamels and Blanton.  Although, if one lefty in the pen looks problematic, they may keep Bastardo instead of Walker.  Of course, I may be totally off.  We shall see.