Tagged: Milt Thompson

The Nightmare at PNC Park Continues

After a dismal, 12-inning, 2-1 loss to the Pirates last night, the Phillies are now a frightening 12-31 lifetime at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.  They simply cannot win in this ballpark.  Could it be cursed?  This place is like a haunted house of horrors for the Phils.

 
Even with the entire line-up together for the first time all season, the Phillies still looked like zombies out there.  Shane Victorino came off the DL and with the whole gang all together again, one might think it would break the sleep spell on this dreadful offense.

That simply did not happen.

The biggest victim of the night was pitcher Cole Hamels.  This poor guy left it all on the field, pitching eight innings of one-run ball.  And what did he get to show for it?  Nothing.  His team left him hanging.

The offense came out of 12-innings of play with a measly six hits.  And two of those six hits were courtesy of the pitcher, Hamels.  So they gave Cole only four hits and one run to work with.  This should be a criminal offense ;o}

Let us count the 0’fers:  Victorino, 0-for-5.  Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, Domonic Brown, Carlos Ruiz…all 0-for-4.  As a team, they complied 40 at-bats, six hits and left seven men on base.  Disgusting.

Last year, in a similar slump, the Phillies fired hitting coach and all around nice guy, Milt Thompson.  So is Greg Gross next to go?  Because if this keeps up, the team is going to be looking for another fall guy.  But they only one to blame are the players themselves.

No one seems to be getting too worked up over all this as they are still in first place, thanks to the pitching.  But the Marlins and Braves are creeping up closer and something is going to hit the fan when the Phillies drop out of first because they cannot score more than one or two runs in a game.  As I gaze into my crystal ball, I see the disaster coming.

But the disaster can easily be averted.  This team need to get back to the basics.  Stop swinging for the fences, stop swinging at bad pitches and for heaven’s sake, would someone please inform this line-up that they need to adjust their swing when a pitcher is tossing all kinds of off-speed crap at them?  They cannot just stand up there and pray for a fastball.  Pitchers have this teams’ number now and they need to adjust.

In the league, the Phillies rank #2 in fly-ball outs.  If there was a stat specifically in short pop-ups, I am pretty sure they would be #1 in all of baseball.  Also of note, they rank 19th in the majors in runs scored and batting average.  For a first place team, this is pathetic.

So the house of horrors continues tonight.  Kyle Kendrick will start and game time is 7:05pm.  Bust out your four-leaf clovers, rabbit’s foot (artificial, of course), horseshoe, crucifix, #7 pendant, voodoo doll, lucky jersey or whatever you have and start praying for the curse to be lifted!

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Sweeps And Strikeout’s Cannot Hide the Stench Of Phillies Offensive Offense

It has been an interesting few days for the Phillies.  On Sunday, they finished off a four-game sweep of the Padres, scoring only 12 runs total in all of those games.  An inside-the-park homer by Shane Victorino helped seal Sunday’s sweep.

That same day, closer Jose Contreras was sent to the DL with a strained right flexor pronator tendon in his elbow.  As a result, Michael Stutes joined the club to fill the roster spot and made his major league debut on Monday.

Also on Monday night, the Phillies five-game win streak ended with a 0-4 shut-out loss to the D-Backs.  Cliff Lee pitched an odd game where he struck out 12 batters but still allowed four runs in seven innings.  However, Lee’s performance was basically rendered obsolete as the Phils offense did absolutely nothing to help out.

The three-hit shutout by the Diamondbacks Ian Kennedy where he struck out 10 batters and did not issue a walk, matched a team record.  Only two other pitchers in team history tossed a shutout while allowing three or fewer hits with at least 10 strikeouts and no walks.  One was Curt Schilling on April 10, 2001 against the Dodgers (2 hits allowed, 10 SO) and the other, Randy Johnson, when he pitched a perfect game on May 18, 2004 at Atlanta (13 SO).

While that feat by Kennedy is very impressive, the Phillies offense certainly made it a little easier on him by swinging at bad pitches and watching good ones fly by.

The Phils offensive offense has not scored more than four runs in 14 consecutive games this season.  They currently rank 28th in baseball for runs scored since April 9th.

The worst offender amongst the starters has been Raul Ibanez, who is hitting just .179.  He should be benched in favor of John Mayberry Jr. until he figures things out.  Maybe at almost 39-year old, Ibanez needs to be in a platoon with Mayberry to get him more rest.

Team leader Jimmy Rollins is also not producing.  He got off to a hot start and has seriously cooled off.  Rollins has not had a multi-hit game since April12th.  He has batted .182 since that time.

 

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But a few players are not to blame.  The entire team is just not hitting, as if they all caught the same virus at once.  If the disease continues to spread, who will be the fall guy?  Last year it was hitting coach Milt Thompson.  Frankly, the players themselves need to be held accountable.  Play the bench guys until the starters find their swings.

While the bench is solid, it is not the long-term solution.  However, maybe benching a few guys will light a fire under them.  Because the Phillies have few other options.

Their payroll is maxed out.  The Phillies will never be a team that decides to pay the luxury tax along with the Yankees.  So as far as getting new blood into the line-up, they are out of options.  Besides, it is only April and no teams are ready to trade anyone yet.

Then again, it is only April.  The team is still winning, despite the offense, thanks to a solid starting staff.  But even the pitchers are going to get weary of the lack of support very soon.

So choose your most relaxing yoga pose and just keep telling yourself, “It’s only April.  Its only April…”

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

 

Dis-ASTROS-ous Series Ends In A Sweep


1-Electric-Bill.jpgDid the Phillies forget to pay their electric bill this month?  Because they are suffering from a serious and prolonged power outage.  When sluggers Ryan Howard and Chase Utley finally came off the DL in mid-late August, everyone was relieved to finally see the Phillies line-up back in order.  But the relief was short lived as the team has been on a downward spiral ever since. 

And now, the Phillies have lost ground in the NL East race, falling 3 games behind the Braves and missing key opportunities to catch up.  This 4-game sweep at the hands of the Astros may come back to haunt them in September.

Howard has only 3 hits in his last 10 games and has struck out 20 times.  In 16 at-bats for the Astros series, Howard got only 1 hit.  Utley has had only 7 hits in his last 34 at-bats since coming off the DL.  Other key players during the Astros 4-game series did not hit either; Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco had just 3 hits each.  They have consistently failed to hit with runners in scoring position too, with the worst offender being Jayson Werth.

So was the firing of hitting coach Milt Thompson in July really necessary?  Apparently not, because they are still not hitting.  Right now, the Phillies batters could not hit the side of a barn. 
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They have lost their fire and their intensity.  That was no more evident than today in the 5th inning when Werth tried to tag and score on a shallow fly to right.  Not only did Werth not even bother to slide, he never even touched the plate.  Werth should have slid hard and tried to take out the catcher to get that run.  Instead, he gave up and basically accepted defeat.

Kyle Kendrick looked half asleep on the mound too.  Ever since JA Happ was shipped to the Astros, Kendrick had relaxed more and more each start, to the point where he is just not present on the mound.  Maybe he figures there is no one left to take his job so why bother kicking it up a notch?  Kendrick has allowed 15 runs in his last 4 starts, with 4 of those runs coming in 6 innings tonight.

However, the real offenders this series were the Phillies hitters who got absolutely nothing done.  Except maybe for getting picked off on the base paths multiple times, failing to gets bunts down and not bothering to slide in order to score.  The way they have played is disgraceful.

If the Phillies take this sort of attitude and performance into San Diego tomorrow, they are going to be crushed.  They have 3 games with the Padres, 3 with the Dodgers and then a make-up in Denver against the now hot Rockies.  Cross your fingers.  Game time tomorrow is 10:05pm.

 

Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Firing Of Hitting Coach Lights a Fire Under The Offense

The Phillies returned home today after a very bad road trip hoping to turn things around against the Rockies.  For starters, they fired their hitting coach, Milt Thompson and replaced him with Greg Gross.  Thompson is the fall guy for this severely underachieving offense.  But would this slap to the face be the wake-up call the Phillies are certainly in need of?

At first, it looked like the same old routine of hitting into double plays and leaving the bases loaded.  But in the 5th inning, the offense woke up and figured out how to score some runs.  Three straight hits, including an RBI double from Raul Ibanez, got things started. 
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Ryan Howard even stole a base, as his teammates giggled in the dugout after seeing the big man scamper to second.  Jayson Werth hit a sac fly and then Ross Gload, getting a rare start in the outfield, smacked a 2-run homer for his second hit of the night.

The only starter who did not contribute tonight was Wilson Valdez who went 0 for 4.  Everyone else, even the pitcher, got a hit.  Ibanez finally looks like RAUUUUUULLL again!  He had 3 hits and 3 RBI tonight.  Ibanez likes hitting 3rd, as I mentioned yesterday.  Jimmy Rollins, back in the lead-off spot as I also suggested yesterday, seems to have found his groove as well.  J-Roll collected 2 hits and a walk.

On the mound, Roy Halladay returned to his usual dominating form after allowing 6 runs (5 earned) in his last outing.  Tonight, he pitched extremely well, allowing only 5 hits and no runs over 8 innings.  Oddly enough, the hitting was a bigger story today than 8 shut-out innings from Halladay.  Because we expect Halladay to be good; but the offense has been so bad, seeing the Phillies score 6 runs was more exciting. 

JC Romero pitched an easy 9th inning and looked very sharp.   He hit the leadoff batter, but was lights-out after that.  The Phillies won by a score of 6-0 and Halladay finally experienced some run support.  Hopefully, this win will be a much needed boost for the team.

The starting pitching for the rest of the weekend has finally been announced.  Kyle Kendrick will be brought up to pitch Saturday as Jamie Moyer is placed on the DL.  And on Sunday, JA Happ will get his first start since 4/15/10 when an injury sent him to the DL.

As for Moyer, the news is not good.  An MRI showed that he has both a sprained ulnar collateral ligament and strained flexor pronator muscle; those injuries are to the left forearm and elbow.  The two injuries may require surgery and this may also signal the end of Moyer’s career.  He is going for another exam early next week and should know for sure after that.  Either way, the injuries are more serious than what Happ had this year and Happ missed more than 3 months.

Moyer is in the last year of his contract with the Phillies and it is unlikely that a team would sign a 48-year old pitcher fresh off multiple injuries and possibly surgery.  So Moyer may have pitched his last inning.  Then again, if anyone can bounce back after such damage, it would be Moyer.  I wish him luck :O)

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Thompson Takes The Fall For The Phillies Offense

Hitting coach and former Phillies player, Milt Thompson, was fired last night.  In the wake of an extended hitting slump, the Phillies management probably felt that someone needed to take the fall.  And that person is Milt Thompson. 

In an interview on Comcast Sportsnet, Thompson said he was not mad about and understood they wanted to make a change.  Thompson has been the hitting coach since 2005 when Greg Gross was fired.  Oddly enough, the person taking Thompson’s place now is Greg Gross.

Thompson told the press, “I’m the hitting coach and when the team doesn’t perform, it lands on me.  I’m not going to make excuses.”  He went on to say, “They want a new voice, so I have to respect that. I have nothing but good things to say about the Phillies. I have been a part of the organization for a very long time, and I had some good times.”

Thompson played in the outfield for the Phillies from 1986-1988 and again in 1993 and 1994.  He was part of the 1993 Championship team that went to the World Series that year but did not get a World Series win until 2008 as the hitting coach.


P5090039.JPGOn a personal note, I like Milt very much and he is a lot of fun to be around.  He helped me with my batting on three different occasions as part of the Baseball 101 program for women and I always felt like he treated the ladies just as he would the big league hitters.  And he always took the time at games to say hello when he saw me.  Milt is a great guy and I will miss him.

As for the players, I can only imagine what they might be thinking right now.  They basically got him fired.  In my opinion, these guys would not be in the majors unless they know how to hit.  The hitting coach is an important part, but should he really take the fall for guys who are just not doing their jobs? 

That is not up to me of course, but maybe this change will light a fire under them.  Because once a team starts cleaning house, no one’s job is safe.  You have to think if the slide continues, that is possible the other coaches and even the manager may be next.  If the players stop to think about that, maybe that will be some motivation for them. 

Best of luck to Milt in the future!  And good luck to Gross as well; he will have his hands full with this bunch.

Voodoo And A Series Win

Scoring runs against the veteran pitcher Andy Pettitte of the Yankees is no small feat.    The Phillies did a descent job hitting him tonight, although they let several opportunities pass by.  A Ryan Howard single scored Shane Victorino in the 4th inning.  Then in the 5th, Victorino hit a 2-run homer.

Things looked promising in the 7th inning as well while the Phils loaded the bases with only one out.  But scoring runs has been the Achilles heel of this team for an entire month now.  Placido Polanco grounded into a fielder’s choice which erased Carlos Ruiz on his way home.  Then Howard struck out on another low and outside pitch, something he seem to make a habit of.  All the offense could do was pray that this inning would not come back to haunt them.

Kyle Kendrick stepped up to the challenge of pitching against the veteran Pettitte and kept the team in the game.  Through 7 innings, Kendrick allowed one run on 4 hits and 2 walks.  Despite getting himself into a multitude of bad situations, Kendrick kept his composure and did not fold under the pressure.  That, more than his pitching, was the most impressive part of his game.

Utley voodoo.jpgNot as impressive is the still struggling Chase Utley, who went hitless.  Yesterday, Utley resorted to voodoo magic to try to jump-start his swing.  He laid out a pattern on the clubhouse floor using bats, Red Bull and a variety of fruits.  Then today, batting coach Milt Thompson reportedly built a shrine to Jobu, the voodoo doll used in the movie Major League.  Can you say, “desperation”?  Oh my.

I have also been known to practice baseball voodoo from time to time.  However, I am not a major leaguer so if my readers think my noodle has slipped, no one really cares, least of all me.  Normally, I reserve the voodoo J-Roll Smurf magic for the National League East.  But with the Phillies recent struggles against everyone, and in light of Utley’s acceptance of such practices, I made an exception before today’s game.  I think it may have helped:

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The voodoo did seem to work.  The Phillies scored again in the 9th inning after a Ruiz double and a Wilson Valdez single.  Then they loaded the bases and scored two more runs on sac flies by Polanco and Howard.  Then Raul Ibanez smelled the burning Jobu / Smurf incense, woke up and hit an RBI single with two outs.  Ibanez did run into some bad luck after that, getting nicked in the foot with a hit ball.  Apparently, the umpires did not see it, as nothing was called until the Yanks complained.  So they called him out anyway to end the inning.

The defense got a spark earlier as well.  Polanco helped Kendrick get out of a rough inning by diving on top of the rolled up tarp and catching a foul ball that was inches into the stands.  And Jose Contreras snagged a bullet off the bat of Curtis Granderson in the 8th inning to save a hit.  The Phils entered the bottom of the 9th inning with a 7-1 lead. 

Contreras stayed in the game for one more batter; then with one out in the 9th, JC Romero was called in to end the game.  Romero ended it quickly and the Phils won both the game and the series, 2 games to 1.

The Phillies will head home now for a weekend series with the Twins.  They are without lefty Antonio Bastardo who is now on the DL with left elbow ulnar neuritis.  Scott Mathieson was called up to take his spot on the roster.  Mathieson looked like his career might be over after two Tommy John surgeries in 2006 and 2008 but his recovery has been remarkable.  Look forward to seeing him pitch very 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.

 

A-Rod photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Voodoo bats by Getty Images/CSN Philly

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

 

Nicknames: Past and Present

Shakespeare once posed the question, “What’s in a name?”  In baseball, a player’s nickname can stick like glue, whether they like it or not.  Here is a rundown of some of the Phillies player’s nicknames, past and present.

 

2010 Phillies Players

 

Brad “Light’s Out” Lidge

Ben Francisco – Scoots

Brian Schneider – Hoops
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Carlos Ruiz – Chooch

Charlie Manuel – Chuck

Chase “The Man” Utley or The Model (given to him by J-Roll) or Chutley

Cole Hamels – Hollywood Hamels

Greg Dobbs – Dober (he actually doesn’t like it, but everyone calls him this anyway!) or Roy Hobbs, from “The Natural”

Jamie Moyer – Grand Pappy or Dyno (for Dinosaur – given to him by J-Roll)
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Jayson Werth – J-Dub or Werewolf

Jimmy Rollins – J-Roll or Papa Smurf (I know this one is accurate because Jimmy told me himself that this is what he was called “back in the day.”)

Juan Carlos Romero – JC (did anyone even know his real name was Juan Carlos or did you read this and go, who is this guy??)

Juan Castro – “Manos de Oro” (means gold hands)

Milt Thompson (current coach)- Uncle Milty

Plácido Polanco – Polly

Roy Halladay – Doc

Ryan Howard – The Big Man or Rhino

Ryan Madson – Mad Dog

Shane Victorino – The Flyin’ Hawaiian

 

Previous Phillies Players:

 

Antonio Alfonseca – El Pulpo or The Octopus (because he has 6 fingers on each hand….seriously…I have photos)

Bake McBride – Shake n’ Bake

Bobby Abreu – El Comedulce (means The Candy Eater)

Chris Coste – Chris Clutch

Chuck Klein  – The Hoosier Hammerer

Curt Schilling – Schill

Darren Daulton – Dutch

Dick “Don’t call me Richie” Allen

Ed Delahanty – Big Ed, Human Grasshopper

Garry Maddox – The Secretary of Defense

Gary “Sarge” Matthews

Geoff Jenkins – Jenks or Brett Favre (he is his long-lost twin :o)

Greg Luzinski – The Bull

Grover Cleveland “Old Pete” Alexander

John Kruk – Krukker

John Titus – Silent John

John Vukovich – Vuk

Juan Samuel – Sammy

Kevin Saucier – Hot Sauce

Larry Bowa – Gnat (does this mean he is annoying?)

Lenny Dykstra – Nails

Mickey Doolan – Doc

Mickey Morandini – Dandy Little Glove Man (Is it just me, or is this like the gayest nickname ever?)

Mike Lieberthal – Lieby

Mike Schmidt – Iron Mike or Schmidty

Mitch Williams – Wild Thing and Mitchy-Poo (Harry Kalas coined that one)

Otto Knabe – Dutch

Pat “The Bat” Burrell

Pat Corrales (manager) – Ike

Pedro Feliz – Pete Happy (literal translation of his name)

Pete Rose – Charlie Hustle

Richie Ashburn – Whitey

Rudy Seanez – Action Traction (I have NO idea what this is about)

Steve Bedrosian – Bedrock

Steve Carlton – Lefty

Todd Jones – Roller Coaster

Von Hayes – Five-for-One

Willie Jones – Puddin’ Head

 

Have any more to add to the list?  Leave your favorites in the comments :O)

Photos by Jenn

 

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