An explosion of hitting broke out in Milwaukee this weekend. The Phillies beat the Brewers both Friday and Saturday by wide margins with a lot of help from the offense. In these last 2 games, Phillies hitters pounded out 28 hits and 19 runs, including 4 home runs. The biggest bang came from Shane Victorino who collected 6 hits and 7 RBI in the two games combined. And today, Paul Hoover, the 3rd string catcher, showed what he can do with 3 hits and 2 RBI to back pitcher Joe Blanton.
The pitching was not as stellar as the hitting, but both Jamie Moyer and Blanton hung in there.
On Friday in a 9-5 win, Moyer went 6 1/3 innings allowing 4 earned runs and 1 unearned following last week’s historical complete game shut-out. It was 70’s night at the park and the 47-year old Moyer looked quite at home in the old powder blue & magenta retro uniform.
Blanton escaped the embarrassing powder blue spotlight by pitching today in the regular greys, but it did not help his performance at all. He did well through 6 innings, allowing just 2 solo homers, but by the end of the 6th, he looked tired. Blanton has just 3 starts so far as he was on the DL the first month of the season. With that in mind, maybe the Phillies needed to break him in a tad slower? Because when they sent him out for the 7th, he gave up 3 more runs.
The bullpen held the Brewers down on Friday and had a fairly easy time closing the game out. That did not happen today. David Herndon allowed 3 hits and a run in just 1/3 of the 9th inning. With 2 men on base, Jose Contreras came in and loaded the bases, bringing the tying run to the plate. But that’s ok, he struck out the next 2 batters for the first save of career and the Phillies won, 10-6. Whew!
The Phillies have one more game with the Brewers tomorrow night at 8:05pm and are hoping for a sweep. Cole Hamels will pitch.
And in case you had not heard, Pat Burrell was released by the Tampa Bay Rays today. Burrell did not fare well as a designated hitter, batting only .218 since he left the Phillies after the 2008 season. Do not look for the Phillies to do him any favors by taking him back; he cannot play the field effectively anymore and our current bench players are performing well. Maybe in September they can bring him back to retire as a Phillie? In the meantime, I wish him luck in finding a job. Burrell will always be remembered in Philly for helping to bring us a World Championship :O)
UPDATE: This just in…Brad Lidge has been put on the DL with elbow inflammation (can I say now I told you so?). Lefty Antonio Bastardo will be brought back up to take his place on the roster.
Moyer photo by ESPN; Explosion: USDOE
Phillies fans were taken by surprise this afternoon as it was announced that Ryan Howard will be with the Phillies through at least 2016 with a contract worth about $125 million dollars. Howard was already on-board through 2011 and here is how the remaining years will pay out: $20 million a year for 2012-2013; $25 million a year for 2014-2016 plus an option for 2017 worth $23 million and a $10 million dollar buyout.
There is a limited no-trade clause attached as well, plus award bonuses. Needless to say, Howard will be laughing all the way to the bank.
Not he isn’t worth the money; Howard leads all major league players in home runs with 222 and RBI’s with 650 since 2005. He also has a National League MVP award under his belt and was named the NL Rookie of the Year in 2005.
What is surprising about the deal is both the timing and Howard’s willingness to commit. It is the end of April and the Phillies are in the middle of a West Coast road trip; so, the timing is weird. Plus, it was almost assumed by most experts that Howard would want to test free-agency, in search of a bigger paycheck. And while the paycheck here is plenty large, it is still nice to see that Howard wants to stay in Philly.
The only possible drawback I see is this: Remember all these years past when the Phillies used Pat Burrell’s large salary and long contract as the excuse for not resigning key players or not going out and getting players to improve the team? Oh yeah, that. While GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is set on winning, let us all hope that the financial commitment does not translate into a boat-load of excuses later.
Imagine when Chase Utley’s contract comes up for renewal in 2013, as an example. Is Howard worth losing Utley, the best overall player and most dedicated member of the team (in my humble opinion, of course)? Nope. But, I promise not to panic until it comes to that ;o)
In the meantime, congratulations to Ryan! Now go hit some more homers….please and thank you :O)
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
While nothing official has been announced yet, it looks like the 5th starters spot will go to Jamie Moyer. Against the Yankees on Friday, Moyer solidified his bid for the job by pitching 6 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed only 1 hit.
His overall ERA for spring is now 2.61, if your count all the “B” games he pitched also. Is it possible that this 47-year old man, coming off 3 surgeries in the off-season, is simply just indestructible? Either he is taking Fountain of Youth pills or secretly, he is Superman with the red, white and blue uniform being perfect camouflage for his super hero suit.
So Kyle Kendrick will probably start the year in the bullpen and just wait around for someone to toss a huge ball of Kryptonite at Moyer. Either way, Kendrick should be content just to make the team after a young but up and down career so far.
Leaving his super hero costume at home, Cole Hamels is still a work in progress. He got beat up on Saturday against the Twins, allowing 5 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks in 6 1/3 innings. While Hamels was pleased that he was able to reach the 90-pitch mark in a game, he still has some big control issues to work out. After the game, Hamels told the press that he is “starting to really feel game-oriented.” With only 8 days left until Opening Day, let us hope that his “game-oriented” compass is pointing towards the strike zone.
Another point of concern this spring is Raul Ibanez, who is barely swinging the bat with a paltry .098 average. That is only 4 hits in 41 at bats. Ibanez struggle the 2nd half of 2009 with a hernia that was operated on this off-season. While he recovered well from the operation, he still has not looked at all like the “RAUUUUUL” of old. To make matters worse, he got hit in the right elbow with a pitch on Friday. It may not be a serious injury, but it may be enough that he does not get much more hitting practice before Opening Day.
When the Phillies signed Ibanez to replace Pat Burrell last year, many people, myself included, questioned why they signed a player who was 4-years older than Burrell to a 3-year contract. Ibanez will turn 38 in June and it does appear that he is not wearing the same Superman cape that Jamie Moyer is using. Moyer is a freak of nature. Ibanez, however, appears to be a mere mortal. While everyone was thrilled with his performance in the first half of 2009, things went downhill from there and show no signs of improving. Cross your fingers; this could get interesting.
The good news is, if one of the outfielders should go down, John Mayberry Jr. is waiting in the wings. Mayberry was sent to minor league camp today, but he had a great spring and would likely be first in line to be brought up if anything goes wrong. Mayberry had 6 RBI, a homer, 3 doubles and hit for an average of .289 in camp.
Two more players were reassigned today also; catcher Dane Sardinha and infielder Ozzie Chavez. This means the bench for the Phillies should consist of catcher Brian Schneider, infielders Juan Castro and Greg Dobbs and outfielder Ross Gload. With the 12 pitchers and other regulars, that should complete the 25-man roster.
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Moyer head shot by Jenn
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
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”
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
Cole Hamels returned to MVP form last night against the Diamondbacks in a 4-3 win. Everyone was a little nervous in the 1st inning when Hamels allowed a solo home run, but after that, he settled in and did not allow another run. Even better than that, Hamels pitched all the way through 8 full innings, allowed only 4 hits and struck out nine batters. Welcome back, Cole! We missed you.
Shane Victorino led the offensive attack with 3 hits, 2 RBI and 2 runs scored. The D-Backs helped out the Phillies offense as well with 2 key errors in the game, much like they did on Monday night. But those errors and the extra run the Phillies scored because of the errors turned out to be the difference in the game.
Going into the 9th with a 4-1 lead, the Phillies sent Brad Lidge to the mound and he immediately got into big trouble. Lidge walked the leadoff batter and then gave up a 2-run homer to the next batter to cut their lead to 1 run. By what must have been some act of God, Lidge managed to get the 3 outs and end the game without blowing the save.
But fans everywhere are now officially worried about Brad Lidge. No one expected perfection like last season, but a record of 0-4, 6 blown saves, 24 walks in 38 innings and an ERA of 7.11 was not expected either. The Phillies will not go far in the playoffs with a closer posting these numbers. Either Lidge needs to get his act together, or could Brett Myers return to the closer role in August, which is when he may return after hip surgery? Does this seem farfetched? Maybe. But Lidge cannot continue to hurt the team. Last night, he got lucky. Going forward, it will not always be the case.
And is this some sort of weird Phillies curse? You get a great season out of a guy, like Lidge in 2008; you sign him to a huge contract and mayhem ensues. Remember Pat Burrell? Burrell had a breakout season in 2002; then in 2003, the Phillies gave him a monster contact of 6 years, $50 million dollars and guess what happened next? Burrell struggled for years and did not fulfill his true potential until he led the Phillies to the playoffs in 2007 and then to the World Series in 2008. But from 2003-2006, it was not always pretty. Is Lidge suffering from the post-contract blues? Whatever the case, with 3 years invested in Lidge, the Phillies need to get him back on track and fast.
The Phillies have one more game against the D-Backs tonight at 9:40pm with JA Happ on the mound. I am in San Francisco right now awaiting their arrival on Thursday for a 4-game series against the Giants. And while I am very excited to see Giants pitchers like Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito, disappointment set in this morning when it was announced that Randy Johnson has a torn rotator cuff and will be out for at least 3 weeks. Johnson is a future Hall of Famer, so I was hoping to see him pitch. I even tried to see his 300th win in DC back in June, but the game was rained out and I could not go the next day. And such is my luck…oh well! I still get to see my Phillies and hang out in California for a week, so it’s all good :O)
Off topic, I would like to send out my condolences to the family and friends of former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator, Jim Johnson. Johnson lost his battle with cancer yesterday at the age of 68. May he rest in peace.
Photo by Jenn
It has been a very weird day for the Phillies. For starters, Raul Ibanez returned to the team and is expected to play the next two games before the All-Star Break. Then, Chris Coste was let go and picked up by the Houston Astros. Coste has not had a great year off the bench and apparently, the Phillies prefer Paul Bako’s skills behind the plate as the back-up; neither Coste nor Bako have performed well offensively, so the defense was the deciding factor. Coste is a great guy and has been a huge part of this team; he will be missed :O(
And then to round out the day of weirdness, Charlie Manuel chose his outfield replacement for the All-Star game – it is Jayson Werth. Many have questioned the selection as Werth’s batting average is below many others who could have been picked, like Matt Kemp, but it is Charlie’s team and he gets to make the decision. The Phillies have gotten screwed several times in the past with All-Star picks, like Pat Burrell last year, so I guess what comes around, goes around. But Werth has been great and his power numbers are excellent; many players deserve to go and he is certainly one of them. Either way, the Phillies now have 5 players headed to St. Louis :O)
Then tonight the Phillies began a series with the Pirates. Joe Blanton had another great start and pitched through 7 1/3 innings, allowing just 1 run, a solo homer. It was a great job by Blanton and a real boost to the starting rotation.
The offense did not score much, but got just enough to win the game for Blanton. Werth rewarded Manuel for his All-Star decision by smacking a 2-run double in the 3rd inning. Shane Victorino did the same for the fans who voted him in by going 3 for 4 on the night. And Chase Utley, Mr. All-Star himself, had 1 hit, 1 walk and scored a run. Final score was 3-2 with Brad Lidge getting the save, although another nerve-wracking one after he gave up a solo homer. But, a win is a win :O) We’ll take it.
By the way, for anyone who has been following the Friday Night Phever game on CSNPhilly.com with Ricky Bottallico, I just won! Whoo Hoo!
Photo by Jenn
Jayson Werth had quite an interesting game tonight, and not all in a good way. The odyssey in the outfield began with a few leaping and diving catches in right field which Werth made look easy. But then in the 4th inning, Werth lost his mind a bit at the plate. After Matt Garza of the Rays walked the bases loaded with NO outs, Werth stepped in and swung at the first pitch. He hit into a 5-2-3 double play which left the Phillies scoreless in the inning.
When the opposing pitcher walks 3 batters in a row and begins to unravel, why do you swing at the first pitch? That should not happen. Garza’s jugular was exposed; he was shaking in his boots. That is the time to go in for the kill. And in this instance, the kill should have been to take at least one strike to put pressure on the pitcher. Instead, Werth made everyone wonder what planet he thought he was playing on by hitting a short ground ball to 3rd on the first pitch. And in one swing of the bat, Werth settled Garza back into his rhythm and gave momentum to the Rays.
But the alien adventure did not end there; in the 6th, Werth missed a ball hit to right field that he probably should have caught. But, in keeping with the weird and wacky theme of the day, Carl Crawford tried to stretch the double into a triple and, due to poor base running, he was tagged out at third by Pedro Feliz.
And still, Werth was not finished. In the 7th, Werth hit a line drive to right field which just barely stayed fair and exited the yard inches beyond the foul pole for a solo homer to bring the Phillies within 1 run. Never a dull moment…
In fact, Joe Blanton was one of the few players who had a relatively “normal” day; he went 7 solid innings, giving up only a 2-run homer to our old pal, Pat Burrell. Aside from that long ball, Blanton was in control all night.
However, the stability would end there. JC Romero came in for the 8th and gave up a single. But then Romero got a good double play ball, giving him 2 outs in the inning. What happens next? He hits a batter and then walks the next one to load the bases. Chan Ho Park had to come into the game to try to get the 3rd out. Park got Burrell to hit a weak ground ball to Jimmy Rollins, but Rollins took his time and underhanded to Chase Utley at 2nd instead of tossing Burrell out at first and the runner was called safe – a run scored instead of ending the inning. Yikes! The next batter hit a pop-up that landed in no man’s land, scoring 2 more runs. Double yikes! Another 2 runs scored on a single after that. Dare I say it?… Triple yikes!
And that pretty much put the nail in the coffin for the Phillies who went down to the Rays by a score of 7-1. It was a huge waste of a great pitching performance from Blanton. Mistakes and mental errors turned this odyssey into an alien disaster of epic proportions.
Werth photo by Jenn