After being swept by the Marlins today, the Phillies are 10.5 games back in the division with a 36-45 record. It is their worst effort through 81 games since 1997.
It is the halfway point of the season; time to count the bodies and see exactly how big the hole is that the Phillies are digging. Let’s begin with Jim Thome. He was traded to the Orioles in exchange for 2 prospects: Class A catcher Gabriel Lino and right-hander Kyle Simon, both of whom will report to Class A Lakewood. So the Phillies did not even get a player who could help out right now.
If the Phillies were actually contending, Thome might still be here. But it is the best move for Thome, who will actually get some playing time in the American League. I wish him the best.
And how about Cliff Lee…when Phillies beat reporter Todd Zolecki asked pitching coach Rich Dubee about Lee’s struggles, Dubee basically pleaded the 5th. The response given multiple times was, “I’m not going into it.” Lee appears healthy, no mechanical issues were mentioned. That leads one to believe that Lee, winless in 13 starts, has thrown in the towel. I hope that is not the case, but Lee has not seemed right in a long time now.
And the bodies continue to mount. Jimmy Rollins’ hot streak is over; he is hitless in his last 11 at-bats. Placido Polanco is 2 for his last 15. Antonio Bastardo has allowed 6 runs in his last 4 2/3 innings in relief.
The next head on the block might actually be Cole Hamels. Just announced as an All-Star this year along with Carlos Ruiz and Jonathan Papelbon, it is rumored that the Phillies are shopping Hamels to other teams. If team management feels Hamels will walk once he hits free agency and this 2012 team is down for the count, Hamels may be gone soon.
That would be a terrible shame, but if the Phillies do not pick themselves up and start winning, Hamels will not be the only casualty.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Losing their second straight game to the Orioles, the Phillies leave town today 8 games behind in the NL East and in last place. But today’s loss was special. It sucked more than most.
The Phillies had the bases loaded 3 times with Carlos Ruiz as the batter and scored only 1 run on a wild pitch. When your best player cannot get a hit 3 consecutive times with the bases loaded, you know it is going to be a very bad day.
But worse than that, Cliff Lee still does not have a win, even after 10 starts. Although today, it was actually his own doing. Lee blew a 3 run lead by giving up a 3-run homer in the 4th inning. As a result, Lee’s ERA finally floated above 3.00; he is currently at 3.18.
So not only did the offense and pitching suck, the defense was bad again too. After 9 errors this season, including a big one today, Ty Wigginton should not be playing 3rd base…ever. His huge error in the 10th cost the Phillies the game.
However, with Placido Polanco sidelined with a bad wrist, Wiggy keeps getting the nod. They could put Michael Martinez at 3rd, but then you are stuck with Mike Fontenot at 2nd and his defense has been worse than anyone expected. We are talking little league level here…bad.
The pickings are slim and so therefore are the Phillies chances at recovering from this disaster. It may be too early to give up just yet, but it is a tempting thought. Why not bring up some more Triple-A guys and see who rises to the challenge? I am sure Domonic Brown would agree.
Here is a small piece of good news: Michael Schwimer found his groove in 3 innings of scoreless relief today. Sorry though, that is all I have on the good news side.
Monday is an off-day as the battered Phils fly to Minnesota to take on the Twins for 3-games. Oh wait, that might be good news…the Twins suck about as bad as the Phillies do. See, it is the little things that make us happy. Or, not…
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The Phillies rallied on Friday night for 9 runs and a win that broke their 6-game losing streak. Then Saturday afternoon, they went right back to losing with a 6-4 defeat to the Orioles in 12 innings.
The combination of losing, errors, injuries and bad play may be the straw that breaks the Phillies’ collective backs. Speaking of broken backs, Freddy Galvis has one of those…literally. The acrobatic rookie second baseman was diagnosed with a pars fracture in his back.
This injury is an insult to an already depleted team now on their 3rd string 2nd baseman, Mike Fontenot, who committed 2 official errors in today’s loss and 1 that did not show up in the box score. Those errors cost the Phillies a few runs and probably the game. By the way, it was Fontenot’s 32nd birthday…what a way to celebrate.
Galvis will get a second opinion, but the outlook is bleak. A back fracture means a minimum of 6 weeks in a brace and then a very slow rehab process. Galvis was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dim season for the Phillies. And now, that small bit of joy is gone too.
Adding to the depressing vibe, the Phils sent lefty Raul Valdes to the minors and called up rookie B.J. Rosenberg. Valdes was actually doing a good job, but with too many lefties in the pen, he was the odd man out. Rosenberg had one very good inning in his big league debut but then got thrown to the wolves, forced to pitch a second inning in his very first game. Rosenberg gave up a walk-off 2-run homer, handing the O’s the win.
The only good news today was Jim Thome getting back into the swing of things with 5 hits and a homer over the past 2 games. And Chad Qualls pitched 2 scoreless innings, which based on his recent performance, was a small miracle. Qualls also provided comic relief as he slipped on the mound for no apparent reason and landed flat on his backside.
But that was the end of the smiles for the day as the Phillies lost yet another winnable game. They will try again tomorrow; game time is 1:35pm. The still winless Cliff Lee will go for it yet again…wish him luck!
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The list right now has 12 pitchers, although the Phillies could add David Herndon and go with 13. Kyle Kendrick has not had a good spring, but the Phils are paying him too much to send him back to AAA. It could happen, as Herndon has been pretty good, but it is unlikely.
What is more probable is that the Phillies will choose to carry an extra infielder or utility player because of the Chase Utley situation. Odds are very good that Utley will start the season on the disabled list with Wilson Valdez filling in at second base. However, this still leaves an extra roster spot open.
The list above includes Michael Martinez, who has played well enough to earn a spot and he plays multiple positions. Plus, Martinez is a Rule 5 player. If the Phillies do not put him on the roster, they have to offer him back to the Nationals. With the way Martinez has played, the Nationals would probably take him back.
That leaves one bench spot for either Pete Orr, Josh Barfield or Delwyn Young. Barfield has been very good at the plate, hitting .355 with three doubles and a triple. He is also speedy, which is a plus.
But Barfield’s main weakness appears to be defense. While he has not committed any “official” errors, Barfield has fumbled the ball more than once. In Saturday’s match-up with the Orioles, Barfield dropped an easy double play ball, did not get any outs and left Cole Hamels hanging. Hamels was having a rough day to begin with, so this did not help.
As for Orr, he is experienced and can play second, third and a little outfield. Orr is batting .343 with three doubles and three triples this spring. Orr also strikes out less than Barfield and Young, but his fielding is average.
That leaves Young, who is intriguing because he can play almost anywhere. However, his fielding is not very good. A lifetime .258 hitter, Young is batting .298 with one home run, seven RBI and two doubles this spring. He is probably the least likely to make the team.
However, there are still nine games left in Florida and two exhibition games in Philadelphia before the season begins. Each player still has time to make a big push towards earning a roster spot.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Anyone who says size does not matter has clearly missed out on some key moments in baseball history.
In the early 1900’s, President Roosevelt borrowed an old African proverb by stating, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” And while he may not necessarily have been referring to baseball, the saying seems to have made impact on the sport anyway.
The following is a list of the top 10 “big” moments, statistics and feats in baseball throughout the years.
The Biggest Bat
Babe Ruth played in the major leagues for 22 seasons, from 1914 to 1935. The 714 home runs he hit in that time span were smacked using the biggest bat in baseball history.
The 52 ounce bat swung by Ruth is the largest recorded bat size ever. Most players today use bats that average around 34-36 ounces in weight.
The Biggest Paycheck
The 10-year, $275 million contract broke A-Rod’s previous record of $252 million.
The Biggest Stature
The tallest player in Major League history is relief pitcher Jon Rauch, who measures six-feet, eleven inches in height.
Currently a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, Rauch first took the field on April 2, 2002. This year, Rauch will be competing for the closer role with the Jays.
The Biggest Mass
In 2005, first baseman Walter Young crushed the competition, weighing in at a whooping 322 pounds with a body mass index of 38.2, also the biggest in baseball.
Officially the heaviest player ever to grace a major league field, Young played only 15 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 2005 and batted .303.
Young played in the minor leagues until 2009. Currently, Young serves as a shift sergeant at the county jail for the Forrest County Sheriff’s Department in his home state of Mississippi.
The heaviest current MLB player is pitcher CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees who weighs in at 290 pounds.
The Biggest Home Run
Considered “the longest home run ever,” this ball is estimated to have travelled around 643 feet and was hit against the Detroit Tigers at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Michigan.
However, the longest verifiable home run distance is about 575 feet, which was hit by Babe Ruth on July 18, 1921, to straightaway center field at Tiger Stadium (then called Navin Field). It landed across the intersection of Trumbull and Cherry.
Since 1982, when the technology for accurately measuring home runs was put in place, the longest homer stands at 535 feet. That ball was hit by Adam Dunn against Jose Lima of the Dodgers on August 10, 2004.
The Biggest Dollar Amount Ever Shelled Out For A Baseball
Mark McGwire’s 70th home run baseball, which was hit on September 27, 1998 off pitcher Carl Pavano, fetched a gigantic $3,054,000 dollars at Guernsey’s auction house in New York City.
Sold on January 12, 1999 to action figure and comic book creator Todd McFarlane, his collection also includes McGwire’s #1, 63, 67, 68 and 69 home run Balls, along with Sammy Sosa’s #33, 61 and 66 home run balls.
The over $3 million dollar payment is the most money ever shelled out for a baseball.
The Biggest Payroll
In the year 2010, the New York Yankees continued their streak of breaking the bank with a total team payroll of $206,333,389.
The next closest payroll was that of the Boston Red Sox at $162,447,333. That is a difference of almost $44 million dollars.
The Biggest Arm
Prior to the 2010 season, the fastest reliable recorded speed which a baseball had ever been pitched was 100.9 mph by Nolan Ryan of the California Angels at Anaheim Stadium in California on August 20, 1974.
Since that time, Ryan’s record was broken by Reds rookie Aroldis Chapman on September 24, 2010 at PETCO Park in San Diego. That pitch was clocked at 105.1 mph.
The Biggest Hitting Streak
Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees began an unprecedented hitting streak on May 15, 1941. 56 games later on July 16, the streak ended. This record still stands today.
The only other player who came close was Pete Rose in 1978. His 44 games hit streak lasted from June 14 to August 1, just 12 games short of the record set by DiMaggio.
The Biggest Determination
He is not called the “Iron Man” for no reason. Third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, Cal Ripken Jr. set the record for the most consecutive games ever played with 2,632. The streak lasted from May 30, 1982 until September 19, 1998, spanning 16 seasons.
This feat blew away the previous record which was set by Lou Gehrig from 1925 to 1939 with 2,130 consecutive games.
Ripken played his entire career with the Orioles and retired after the 2001 season.
A-Rod photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Mantle photo by Wikimedia Commons
The Phillies have hired ex-Phillie Juan Samuel to fill the void left when first base coach Davey Lopes walked after failed contract negotiations. Samuel started his 16-year big league career with the Phillies, playing second base from 1983 to part of 1989.
Later in his career, Samuel played both second base and outfield positions and was known as an extremely versatile player. More recently, he coached third base for the Orioles and also served as interim manager when Dave Trembley was fired in June.
Samuel will take over as third base coach and outfield instructor for the Phillies while Sam Perlozzo moves to first base. When asked about returning the Philadelphia, Samuel told reporters, “I couldn’t be happier. I’m ecstatic going back and joining an elite group of players and manager. It’s a dream come true.” Samuel was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame in 2008 and has always been a fan favorite. It will be nice to have him back.
In other news, the Phillies have made a small flurry of insignifigant moves in the past week or so. They have signed Pete Orr, 31, to a minor league deal. The infielder has spent much of his baseball career lingering in the minors where he hit .264.
In the catcher category, the Phils re-signed Dane Sardinha who hit .205 in his time with the Phils last year and .207 in the minors. They also picked up Erik Kratz, 30, who hit .274 in the Pirates AAA system.
Continuing to add minor-league pitching, Eddie Bonine, 29, was added as well after spending time in the Tigers bullpen last year. Bonine had a record of 4-1 with a 4.63 ERA in 47 appearances and one start in 2010. His name indicates that he is good at preventing nausea, however, his stats indicate otherwise. Yuck. Well, at least they picked up one guy under 30….barely.
As for Jayson Werth, there is still little news. He and his super-agent Scott Boras are out and about trying to see who is willing to get serious about overpaying the outfielder. The odds of Werth returning to the Phillies lessen as each day passes. But truthfully, the odds may have been close to 1% to begin with. Don’t hold out hope…it is very unlikely that Werth will be back in red pinstripes.
Once again, things did not go well for the Phillies tonight. The way they have been playing, most expected them to struggle against the Yankees. But with Roy Halladay on the mound, you had to figure tonight would be their best chance at a win. No such luck…
In the first of a 3-game series in New York, the Phillies went down in flames by a score of 8-3. Halladay had a very bad day, allowing 6 runs, including 3 homers. Halladay has only given up 3 homers in a game nine times in his career; the last 3 times have been against the Yankees. Visably upset at the home plate umpire in the second inning,
Halladay nearly imploded while giving up a triple that scored 2 runs. The next inning was worse as he surrendered 2 homers and 3 runs. Halladay had trouble containing his emotions tonight and it hurt him.
The Phillies offense did not help either as they put forth a real effort in only one inning. With the bases loaded and no outs in the 4th inning, the Phils scraped 3 runs off CC Sabathia with a bunch of singles and a force out that scored a run. They should have scored more, but Juan Castro was fanned on a 96mph fastball and Carlos Ruiz followed up with a weak ground out. And after that inning, the offense went right back to sleep.
Manager Charlie Manuel tried to shake up the lineup by flip-flopping Placido Polanco and Chase Utley, with Utley batting second. Utley did have 2 hits in the game, but still does not look like his old self. Todd Zolecki tweeted today, “”Asked Chase Utley before the game if he’s healthy. “As far as I know I’m healthy, yes,” he said. “That’s cryptic,” I said. He did not laugh.”” Read what you would like into that, but it does seem that Utley may be having another mystery issue.
The bottom line here is, the offense has shown no signs of life. The Phils have been so awful, I think they may have better success with brain surgery than hitting a baseball. And the pitching has suddenly taken a crap, as witnessed tonight and also by the 9 runs each allowed by Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer in their last starts. And when Halladay is allowing 6 runs a game, you know that things are very, very bad.
Even worse, the next two starters scheduled to pitch are Moyer and the wildly inconsistent Kyle Kendrick…against the Yankees. If it were the Orioles, maybe they might stand a chance. Instead, this match-up looks like a disaster waiting to happen. Hope that the veteran Moyer can rebound and inject some life into this team! Game time Wednesday night is 7:05pm.
Happy Bunny by Jim Benton