Tagged: Michael Young

Weekend Prelude to Opening Day

The Phillies hosted two exhibition games this weekend, signaling the end of Spring Training and the start of the regular season on Monday. As they have the past several years, the Phillies planned a number of special events and surprises on Friday and Saturday.

Friday began with the On-Deck Reception, hosted by the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. There were players signing autographs, several Q & A sessions with players and coaches, and an on-field introduction of the entire team:

I personally got autographs from Domonic Brown (and a photo as well), Erik Kratz, John Mayberry Jr. and Antonio Bastardo. This was my first time attending this particular event and it was well worth the effort. The only bummer of the day was I discovered that the autofocus on my very expensive camera had died :O( Ugh. So I apologize in advance for 2 days worth of so-so photos, as I had to use my mediocre eye sight to manually focus a very large lens.

The prior to the evenings game, players wandered around the stadium greeting fans and some stopped for photos. I had my picture taken with John Lannan, Antonio Bastardo, Humberto Quintero and hitting coach Wally Joyner.

Cliff Lee started the game that night and looked ready to go for the season. But his real highlight was helping Cole Hamels man the Phanatic’s hot dog shooter between innings:

To be honest, the game was rather boring, so the hot dog-interlude was a very welcome distraction. The Phils lost 1-0.

More fun was happening prior to Saturday’s game as well. After some very stealth stalking on my part, I managed to get photos with a few new guys and a Hall of Famer: Mike Adams, Ender Inciarte and third-base-coach/HOF guy, Ryne Sandburg. That was pretty awesome. Both exhibitions games were well worth the trip because of these little extras.

The game itself, however, did not go well against a very potent Blue Jays line-up. The Jays beat up on Kyle Kendrick, who gave up 5 runs in 3 innings. John Lannan took over for the next 3 innings and held the Jays to 1
more run. It was not quite out of reach for the Phillies though until very late. Here are a few highlights:

And Cliff Lee finally got his turn at the helm of the hot dog cannon, with Hamels “feeding” the device:

The end result was a 10-4 loss. But luckily, the game did not count.

The Phillies announced the Opening Day roster afterwards. There were not too many surprises there:

Rotation (5): Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan.

Bullpen (7): Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Adams, Antonio Bastardo, Chad Durbin, Phillippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst and Raul Valdes.

Catchers (2): Erik Kratz and Humberto Quintero.

Infielders (6): Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Michael Young, Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis.

Outfielders (5): Ben Revere, Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix and Ender Inciarte.

Inciarte is a Rule-5 guy; they have to keep him on the roster or offer him back to the D-backs. Only 22-years old, he has never played above High-A level. He offers some depth in the outfield for now. Plus, he is adorable, so I approve ;o)

So here we are, finally! Opening Day! Game time is 7:10pm Monday night in Atlanta.

And here are the links to my photo albums from the weekend: Friday’s On-Deck Reception and Exhibition Game and Saturday’s Exhibition Game.

Go Phillies!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Baby Steps to a Rejuvenated Phillies Team

The first inning of the Phillies very first official Spring Training game on Saturday offered a glimpse into what the near future could look like for this team.  And it was a very nice picture, full of promise.

Ben Revere led off by doing exactly what we have been told he can do a lot of; run out an infield single.  He followed that up with a very convincing stolen base.  This kid can fly.

Another new Phillies, Michael Young, did his job moving the runner over the 3rd base.  It was textbook small ball; very nice.

And then for the first time in 3 years, Chase Utley stepped to the plate in a Spring Training game.  Utley needs to prove to the world, but mostly to himself, that he finally has his knee issues under control.  And he did just that with his classic, short swing and a line-drive that scored Revere from 3rd base.

In a perfect world, this is what the Phillies need to do every inning of every game.

However, in the real world, this is just one baby step towards a much larger goal.  Get this team healthy and the wins will come.

Roy Halladay took his own baby step on Sunday by starting a game against the Tigers.  He went 2 innings in his first spring action and allowed a solo homer.  But just having Halladay back on the mound and feeling no pain is comforting.

These games were not pretty, by any means.  But in Spring Training, they are not meant to be.  This is the time to make mistakes, learn from them and enter the regular season with total confidence.

Over the last few days, the Phillies have made those little strides.  And with any luck, things will progress in a positive direction from here.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

An Emotional Offseason

A recent Sports Illustrated article graded the Phillies offseason moves a “D.”  They summarized it by saying, “Though the trade for Revere gives the Phillies a cost-controlled centerfielder to grow on, they’ve taken steps backward with most of their other moves, and are more likely to repeat last year’s middling showing than contend in a division where the Nationals and Braves have upgraded in impressive fashion.

Ouch.

This assessment, however, may or may not be totally off-base.  I decided to rank some of these moves for myself using not grades, but my emotions about each event.  Roger Ebert once said, “Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you.”  Let’s see if he is correct:

Happy: The trade for centerfielder Ben Revere.  He is cheap, young and has room for improvement.  My instinct says he will be a pleasant surprise.

Nostalgic Joy: Re-signing RHP Chad Durbin.  Durbin is a solid human being and he had a great 2012 with the Braves.  Plus he helped the Phillies collect their 2008 World Series championship.

Cautiously Optimistic: Signing Michael Young to play third base.  Young seems like another solid human being with a true passion for the game.  The question is whether or not he can still play defense.  I feel that a guy with this much experience and motivation should be able to work it out.

Conflicted: Adding Chase Utley-hater and lefty John Lannan to the starting rotation.  Obviously with the departure of Vance Worley, the Phillies needed a starter.  Lannan is cheap, but how well he will perform and his attitude are, at least for me, big question marks.

Confused: Signing outfielder Delmon Young.  This guy is a problem child who is also still recovering from offseason ankle surgery.  His defense is awful and he has been, not without cause, labeled an anti-Semite with a bad temper.  I get the low-risk, high reward school of thought here.  What I do not get is why the Phillies would rather mess around with this guy than finally give Domonic Brown a full-time shot at one of the corner outfield spots.

Nervously Nauseous: I am just a wee bit sick to my tummy about the 2-year, $12 million deal the Phillies gave to RHP Mike Adams to be the 8th inning guy.  I like Adams if he is healthy.  However, he is recovering from thoracic outlet surgery.  This is the same surgery that Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals had and his career looks like it may be over.  That is a little scary.

Utter Disappointment: Carlos Ruiz’s 25-game suspension for using a banned substance.  He did not use steroids, which is a relief.  But still, getting caught with ADHD meds when he was forewarned about it after a previously positive test is very disappointing.  He knew he’d probably get caught again and did it anyway.  *Sigh.*

Sad: Losing Vance Worley in the Ben Revere trade.  I wish him luck in Minnesota!

Indifferent:  Everything else.  A lot of minor moves were made, mostly involving minor league deals and guys past their prime.  Unless someone makes a real impact in camp, I cannot imagine there will be much to say about these miscellaneous people.

And my final emotion of the day…

Elation!  Spring Training starts tomorrow!

 

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Phillies Sign Mel Gibson…I Mean Delmon Young

Phillies Sign Mel Gibson Delmon Young

In what may amount to one of the most interesting/weird signings for the Phillies this offseason, a 1-year, $750,000 deal for outfielder Delmon Young is now on the books.  He is cheap, but this kid has issues.  This past April, Young was arrested for a Mel Gibson-esque, alcohol-infused episode in which he hurled anti-Semetic slurs at a group of people in New York City before a game against the Yankees.

Back in 2006, Young was suspended for 50 games from the International League after throwing his bat which hit an umpire in the chest.  In 2005, Young received a three-game suspension for bumping a minor-league umpire.

Young has also been ridiculed for his horrific defense and as a result, he was used mostly as a DH in 2012.  He posted a .947 fielding percentage with the Tigers over 31 games.  That ranks him 267th among all outfielders in the majors.

To recap, Young hates Jews, umpires, and fielding balls.  The only family-friendly thing I can think of to say is, “Oh my…”

In Young’s defense (not the baseball fielding kind), he was the 2012 ALCS MVP for the Tigers, batting .353 with two home runs and six RBI in a 4-game sweep of the Yankees.  He does have some power and nailed 18 homers in the 2012 regular season, although he only batted .267 with a .296 (yikes!) on-base percentage.

Young is young at 27 years old.  If he overcomes prior injuries, including off-season surgery for bone spurs in his ankle, he could bounce back to his top form of 2010 when he hit .298 with 21 homers.

And hey, who wouldn’t love having TWO Young’s on their team to keep us all on our toes?  I am sure Michael Young is happy to have the company.  On the flip side, Domonic Brown is probably contemplating having many, many stiff drinks as he wonders if this team will ever consider him an everyday, major-league outfielder.  Poor kid.

So if you are not a Jewish person, an umpire or a baseball, please join me in welcoming Delmon Young.  Hip, hip, hooray??

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Photo by Keith Allison, Wikipedia Commons

The Phillies Night Before Christmas 2012

 

The Phillies Night Before Christmas

 

Twas the night before Christmas, when all over the field,

Not a player was stirring, as the 2012 season had been sealed.

The bats were stacked in the clubhouse with care,

In hopes that a Championship soon would be there.

The Phillies were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of trophies danced in their heads.

And Charlie with his new line-up tucked under his cap,

Had just settled down for a long off-season nap.

When outside of his house, there arose such a clatter,

Charlie sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window he stumbled, half asleep,

Having woke from a nightmare of his bullpen being taken deep.

The moonlight lit up the old ‘08 trophy, causing it to glow,

Giving the illusion of a night game on the grass down below.

When what to his wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh filled with ballplayers in good cheer.

With his General Manager and ace pitchers in tow,

He knew in a moment it must be Ruben Amaro.

More rapid than the trade deadline, forward they all came,

And he grumbled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now, Hamels! Now, Howard! Now, Rollins and Utley!

On, Brown! On, Halladay! On, Papelbon and Lee!

To the top of the National League! To the top of them all!

Now run away! Run away! And play some baseball!”

And then, in a twinkling, Charlie heard, “You The Man!”

From the shouting and cheering of each happy fan.

As he drew in his head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney, Ryan Howard came with a bound.

He was dressed all in pinstripes, from his head to his foot,

Having tossed his old ankle brace, which was tarnished, with ashes and soot.

But he arrived with a smile and Charlie gave him a pat on his back,

Surely the fully healed Achilles would put him right back on track.

Howard spoke many words, and after tightening his shoe lace,

He welcomed Michael Young, who will now man third base.

And with thunderous joy, the fans clapped their hands,

With a few shiny new toys, 2013 is sure to be grand!

Howard then sprang to the sleigh, and to his team gave a call,

“You guys are the best ballplayers of all!”

But Charlie heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,

“Happy Holiday’s to all and to all a good night!”

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Photoshopping and re-wording by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Get Young

Adding veteran infielder Michael Young to the Phillies roster does not actually make the team younger, but it does fill the hole at third base.  Young is owed $16 million in 2013 and the Rangers are reportedly picking up at least $10 million of that.  The Phillies sent right-handed reliever Josh Lindblom and minor league pitcher, Lisalverto Bonilla to the Rangers.

Lindblom had little to no impact when he came to the Phillies in July of last season in the Shane Victorino trade.  He had a 4.63 ERA in 26 games with the Phillies, so this seems to be a good move.  And Bonilla is a prospect who probably has a future as a middle reliever.  This was also not a bad price to pay for the return.

As for Young, he is no so young (36), but may still have some ammunition left.  A 7-time All-Star, Young is the Rangers’ all-time leader in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles and triples.  He has hit over .300 7 times in his career, with the latest being in 2011.

2012 was not a great year for Young as the Rangers severely reduced his playing time.  Young had graciously moved all over the infield in prior years, playing 2nd, short and 3rd, to accommodate his team.  But he felt slighted when he was bumped down to basically a DH and utility role, despite hitting .338 in 2011.  As a result, the relationship with Young and the Rangers was strained and he wanted out.

Young’s performance suffered as a result; he hit only .277 with 67 RBI in 2012 which is a steep drop-off from his usual numbers.  The Phillies are banking on this change in scenery to have a positive impact on Young.

The likelihood of Young bouncing back to 2011 form is high.  He is a starter once again, which should make him happy.  This is also a contract year for him and his final chance to show he can still be an impact player.  Young will be 37 in 2014; getting a descent contract at that age is not easy.  He will need to impress in 2013 in order to make that happen.

So Young will fill the void at 3rd, with Kevin Frandsen filling in as needed, which should be a good thing for the Phillies.  Young is also touted as a great clubhouse guy, which is also a perk.  He joins another new edition, Ben Revere, who will take over in center.  And I have it on good authority that Revere will be loved in Philly.  Take it from the Mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota, R.T. Rybak, who told me, “You’ll love him.”

Welcome, Revere and Young!

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Young photo by Keith Allison

Ben Revere In; The Vanimal Out

Right-handed pitcher Vance Worley was actually standing in Citizens Bank Park when he got the news that he was being shipped to Minnesota.  He was as shocked as the rest of us that his time in Philadelphia was at an end.  Sadly, the Vanimal is gone.  Phillies’ top pitching prospect Trevor May will join him there as well.

In return, the Phillies got a young centerfielder.  Ben Revere, 24, hit .294 last year for the Twins with a .333 on-base percentage.  He also had 40 stolen bases and is being touted as a young Juan Pierre with excellent range in the outfield.  The downsides include his lack of power, minimal walks and below-average arm.  But he is under team control and therefore, very cheap.

It seems Revere’s skill set could make him the new lead-off hitter; he has speed and gets on base.  While it is very sad to say bye-bye to the Vanimal and to May, this trade may pay dividends for the Phillies if they can use the money they are saving towards a bullpen piece or another outfielder.

Revere should fit in well in Philly.  In fact, his name alone is a combination of two historical figures with Philadelphia ties:  Ben Franklin and Paul Revere.  I suppose then, it was fate that brought him here.

Welcome, Ben!

The Phillies are not done yet as trade talks still linger.  The latest rumor has Michael Young, who is actually not so young at 36 years of age, possibly coming to Philly with half of his salary paid by the Rangers.  Stayed tuned…

UPDATEJust a few quick notes on the Ben Franklin and Paul Revere comments above.  It seems we have some badly educated, wanna-be historians in the Twittersphere who question my references to the historical links of these figures in Philadelphia.  First, Revere was born in Boston and made several rides to visit the Continental Congress in Philly to report on the impending revolution.  Then, during the war in 1775, Revere was sent to Philadelphia to study the only powder mill in the colonies so that northern colonies could learn how to produce more gun powder.  So yes, Revere does have ties to Philly.  Look it up.

Even more shocking was someone questioning Ben Franklin’s relation to Philadelphia.  No, he was not born there, but he lived there most of his life (around 67 years), died and was buried in Philly.  Oh, and he signed that little document called the United States Constitution in Philadelphia.  Anyone questioning that should be ashamed.

By the way, Ben Revere retweeted the photo I posted of him as Ben Franklin and Paul Revere.  So clearly, he enjoyed it :O) 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography