Tagged: Pirates

Spring Training Ends With Two Wins Over the Bucos

040415 UtleyWell it wasn’t pretty, but the Phillies did beat the Pirates in two exhibition games this weekend.  Friday’s game was damp and icky and today was WINDY and cold.  When I say windy, I mean the kind of wind that sends 5 giant trash cans at once hurdling across Ashburn Alley without warning.  At one point, I actually had to stop and hold on to something.  It was that bad.  And the players on the field had fun avoiding all of the floating debris.

The Phillies also had to avoid many, many bad pitches from the Bucos starter, Charlie Morton.  This guy was all over the place.  In the first inning, he was so bad that the game was stopped; I am not sure if it was to warn the managers or if the Pirates thought he was hurt, but both managers were spoken to.  The Phillies wound up scoring 4 runs in the inning after Morton hit 2 batters, walked 3 and threw 1 wild pitch (at least, officially it was 1).  Needless to say, there was a lot of dancing at the plate.
040415 dancing

After scoring 2 more runs in the 2nd, the Phillies sort of went to sleep.  I, however, could not sleep, as I was freezing and being pelted in the face by 50mph wind gusts.  Although this did not seem to faze pitcher David Buchanan.  He pitched a scoreless 5 innings, allowing 2 hits and 2 walks.  The effort paid off as the Phillies announced that Buchanan will be the #3 starter behind Cole Hamels and Aaron Harrang.

040415 Buchannan

So the Phillies went on to win by a score of 6-4, ending their Spring Training with 14 wins. Overall, it was a pretty bad spring with sloppy play and a serious lack of offense.  But none of it counts, so on Monday, we will see what this team has in store for us this season.  There are a lot of new faces and people playing new positions, so at the very least, it should not be too boring….I hope.

Hamels will pitch on Monday for Opening Day.  Game time is 3:05pm.

And here is the Photo Album from today’s game.  See you on Monday!

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photos by Jenn Zambri

Advertisements

Jimmy Rollins Goes West

J-Roll says hi crIt took the departure of Jimmy Rollins to wake me from my offseason slumber.  And it was indeed a rude awakening.  The trade of Rollins to the Dodgers signals the end of a Phillies era, which is sad.  It also seems that more big changes are on the way.

I do think the trade was the right move, but that does not make it any less depressing.  During his 15 years with the team, Rollins provided fans with exciting moments, frustrating moments and everything in between.  He became the team’s all-time hits leader, won an MVP and helped bring Philadelphia a World Series.  If you follow this team closely as I have done over the years, watching J-Roll head to the west coast is akin to a family member moving away.  Love him or hate him, life will never be the same without Rollins.

The Phillies Phollowers official mascot, J-Roll Smurf, was hit the hardest.  He immediately took to the phone to call his agent and make sure he was not also being shipped out.  A blue uniform would totally clash with his blue skin.  It is not a good look.  J-Roll Smurf then drown his sorrows in sugar by raiding the cookie jar.  I have assured him he will always have a home here, as will the real Rollins.

Smurfs

It has not yet been announced what the Phillies will get in return for J-Roll, but it is assumed to be two minor league pitchers.  The Phillies acquired another new pitcher yesterday when they traded Antonio Bastardo to the Pirates for another lefty, Joely Rodriguez.  Rodriguez went 6-11 with a 4.84 ERA in 30 games this past year with Double-A Altoona and is considered to be one of their top prospects.

The question now is who will the ax fall on next?  Many hope it will be Ryan Howard, but who wants him, really?  His contract is too large and his production too little.  Cole Hamels may be next, but the Phillies have to hit a grand slam with that trade if it happens or risk losing the fan base.  And I do not even want to mention Chase Utley…I cannot imagine a Phillies team without him.

We now wait and see what will happen next.  In the meantime, I wish Jimmy the best and hope the move works out for him.

 

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photos by Jenn Zambri

More J-Roll Drama at Phillies Camp

I am sure most of us have heard about the Jimmy Rollins – Ryne Sandberg drama at Spring Training this week. To recap very quickly, J-Roll was being J-Roll and let fly a “Who cares?” when asked about the team’s offense. And then Sandberg let fly a telling, “No comment” when asked about Jimmy bringing positive energy to the club. Rollins was benched for 3 straight days (Mon.-Wed.) without having spoken to Sandberg until Thursday.

Before I offer my thoughts on the situation, I will tell you a little story from Spring Training 2009. I make it a habit to arrive to all games, even Spring Training games, many hours early. That is when some of the most entertaining and interesting things happen. Before one 2009 spring game in Bradenton, FL against the Pirates, I witnessed some real J-Roll being J-Roll behavior.

As the team was stretching on the field, manager Charlie Manual was pacing about, looking annoyed. And one player was noticeably absent from the field: Jimmy Rollins. About 20 minutes into this, Rollins suddenly appeared jogging across the field. When the team noticed him, everyone, mid-stretch, stopped what they were doing and began clapping and cheering for Rollins as he approached. It was group sarcasm, although in good fun, to congratulate Rollins for finally showing up.

As I was right up against the fence where they were stretching, I saw and hear nearly everything that happened next. Manual sauntered over to Rollins with his irritated, head-tilted, almost twitchy swagger that we have seen many time over the years. Usually you saw this when Manual was about to confront an umpire.

As Manual berated Rollins, wagging finger and all, Rollins slouched over like a 5 year old getting yelled at for stealing a cookie. He even pouted. Rollins then made various hand gestures to explain how he got stuck in traffic and then got turned around, etc… A lot veteran players these days don’t like taking the team bus to spring away games, so it was not too unusual that Rollins drove himself. Still, everyone else was on-time.

022509a1Ryan Howard then wandered over and put his arm around Rollins to comfort him, again, like a 5 year old whimpering after being punished. Manual just kept talking. It was very clear that this was not the first time Rollins broke the rules. And as we all know, it would not be the last.

But under Manual, Rollins got used to being “scolded” and then simply going about his business after some comforting words from a few teammates. This has been a decade-long pattern. So does it really surprise anyone that in this most recent incident Sandberg decided to give Rollins the silent treatment? When you were a kid, what was worse? Getting yelled at or being ignored and having to wonder what you did wrong? The silent treatment doesn’t work on everyone; however, I am sure Sandberg felt like at the very least, he needed to try something different than what Manual had done.

I have heard a lot of criticism of Sandberg the last few days for not speaking to Rollins right away. Personally, I think giving Rollins days to stew over what was going on may have an effect going forward. Although Rollins did nearly hang himself in the media afterwards with comments like, “Well, everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. It doesn’t make it right, but he’s the manager so he gets to have the last say.” I am sure that did not endear him to Sandberg at all. But as the new manager, Sandberg is going to have to think outside the box when dealing with player issues, especially with those players who have become used to a very different style of management.

How will J-Roll react now that he and Sandberg have put the issue to rest? Time will tell.

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Rumor Mill Begins to Turn…

The Phillies have done themselves no favors during the first half of the season.  Their mediocre play has left them in 3rd place in the NL East and 9.5 games out of first.  Losing 3 out of 4 against the Dodgers this past weekend did not help their case either.

And so the rumor mill begins to turn with names like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon in the mix.  If the team does not pick up their play significantly in the next few weeks, this could signal the end of an era.  It is hard to envision a Phillies team without Utley or Rollins, but that may soon be the reality.

The most persistent rumor recently has the Red Sox making a run at 3rd baseman Michael Young.  The Phillies signed Young as basically a 1-year rental, so his departure would not be surprising.  Utley is in the last year of his contract, so losing him is also a possibility, although not one that most people would be very happy about.

Utley may be the most beloved player in franchise history.  If the Phillies trade him, they run the risk of alienating a large portion of their fan base.  This is guy who blurted out the F-word on national television, not once, but twice, and people still say he can do no wrong.  That is a powerful show of affection, especially in a city like Philadelphia.

Rollins, on the other hand, may not be missed quite as much.  While he is the longest tenured active Phillie and a former MVP, Rollins still has that magical ability to piss people off.  He has made derogatory comments in the past about Philly Fans and he has been criticized for a lack of hustle.  More recently, Rollins said he was “not disappointed” with the team’s 1-3 performance in Los Angeles this past weekend.

While Rollins has a point, that being he believes the team will overcome, it still rubs some people the wrong way.  Personally, I like Jimmy.  He speaks his mind and I respect that.  So seeing him in another uniform would be quite a shock.  It would not, however, induce the same type of freak-out that losing Utley would.

On Tuesday night, the Phillies pulled out a 3-1 win over the best team in baseball right now, the Pirates.  That is still weird to say…  However, even that win may not help quite the trade rumors.  A sweep of the Bucos might be helpful, but even in a win, the Phillies still have some very obvious, glaring problems.

The bullpen, for example, is a huge mess.  It took 3 pitchers who combined to load the bases to get the Phillies through the 8th inning last night.  It did work out, but could have easily ended in disaster.  The offense is getting better, but they are still not hitting consistently with runners in scoring position.  And the defense is very shaky; Delmon Young dropped a routine fly ball last night which is a prime example of the issues on the field.

All we can do now is hold our collective breaths, wait and hope the Phillies can pull out a string of convincing wins before the All-Star break.

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Offense on Locke-Down

On Monday night, Phillies rookie Jonathan Pettibone made his major league debut against the Pirates.  He went 5.1 innings and allowed only 2 runs after a fairly shaky start and some good defense.  The Phillies offense put up 3 runs for the rookie, but two of those runs came from a wild pitch and a hit batter.

The lack of offense took another turn for the worse on Tuesday night.  Cole Hamels pitched a great game, allowing 2 runs over 8 innings.  But his teammates did nothing to help him.  As a result of the 0-2 loss, Hamels still does not have a win this year.  This is exactly what happened to Cliff Lee last year, who ended the season with only 6 wins, despite his 3.16 ERA.

There were only 4 hits for the Phillies last night.  Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke had them all tied up in knots that they could not untangle.  Sadly, it was a total Locke-Down.

For example, in the 4th inning, John Mayberry Jr. led off with a triple.  Still, the Phillies managed to squander that opportunity as well.  Not scoring a runner from 3rd with no outs to start the inning is ridiculous.  But that has been the story of the Phillies offense for a number of years now, and it does not appear it will change anytime soon.

These guys get anxious at the plate, swing at bad pitches and watch good ones fly past them.  There is no discipline at all.

Think about that 4th inning again.  With no outs, Mayberry stood at 3rd and Domonic Brown on first after being hit by a pitch. Locke was getting wild and losing his command.  So the only thing Ben Revere needed to do was not pop out or hit the ball the 3rd base side of the infield.  Even a double play would have scored the run with Mayberry going on contact.  So what does Revere do?  He swings at the first pitch and hits the ball to third; Mayberry is thrown out at the plate.

This is not Mayberry’s fault either…Ryne Sandberg told him to go on contact which was verified by manager Charlie Manual after the game.  As for Revere, remember he is only 24 years old.  Clearly, he still has a lot to learn.  But the same excuse cannot be made for the rest of the team.  This is a very experienced ball club.  Yet they continue to approach at-bats like frightened rookies.

When the only relief of the night is seeing bench player Laynce Nix step to the plate, something is very, very wrong.

The Phillies hired not one, but two new hitting coaches this season in an effort to improve the offense.  And even though both Steve Henderson and Wally Joyner have gotten rave reviews from the players, nothing changes once a guy steps to the plate.  Can you teach an old dog new tricks?  Apparently not.

Pretty soon they will have a big offensive day again and the critics will be silent until the next several games when the bats go back to sleep again.  This has become a pattern.  They give us a small bit of hope, and just like that, the hope is squashed the very next day.  I am seriously beginning to wonder if this is fixable.

In the meantime, all we can do is wait and see.  Roy Halladay will pitch tonight; game time is 7:05pm.

 

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Add More Pitching & Hamels Gets an Unpleasant Surprise

The Phillies have added three right handed pitchers;  Juan Cruz, Aaron Cook and Rodrigo Lopez.  They have each been asked to attend Spring Training as non-roster invitees on minor league contracts.

You may remember Lopez (photo to the right); he started 5 games for the Phillies in 2009.  He spent the last 2 years with the Cubs and in the minors.  Lopez, 37, has a career 4.82 ERA in the majors and compiled a 5.28 ERA in the minors last year over 18 games.

Cook and Cruz are both 34 years old.  Cook posted a 5.65 ERA in 18 starts with the Red Sox last year and will get $1.625 million if he makes the roster.  Cruz was with the Pirates in 2012 and went 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 43 games.

The combined age of all three pitchers is 105.  Clearly, these signings were not meant to help the team get any younger.  These are just more spare parts in case Cole Hamels breaks a finger nail or Roy Halladay’s arm falls off.

Hamels is already having a rough off-season.  In October, the star pitcher apparently had a sore shoulder, which the Phillies have since downplayed as being nothing serious.

And more recently, Hamels found out that the Philadelphia school system flat out lied to him in regards to donations he and his wife made to 3 Philly schools that are now slated for closure.  They were assured these schools would remain open.  The Hamels Foundation is now trying to save those schools so that the playgrounds and library they helped build do not get torn down and turned into apartment complexes or the like.

At least Spring Training is almost here…26 days to go!

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Kendrick “Happy” With Performance

With a series win on the line, the Phillies sent Kyle Kendrick to the mound against the Pirates yesterday afternoon.  The results were not what they hoped for.

The 5-4 loss ended the home stand with a 5-5 record and a 2-2 split series with the Bucos.  Of the 2 games in the series they lost, the bullpen accounted for one and most everyone had a hand in the second loss.

If you have read my posts before, you may already be aware that I am not a big Kendrick fan.  He gave up 5 runs last night during the first 6 batters he faced, putting the team into a big hole they could not climb out of.  But I was all prepared to spread the blame around and try not to pick on Kendrick.  Because he did wind up pitching 6 scoreless innings after that 1st inning disaster.  And certainly, the offense going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position was out of his control.

But then I read what Kendrick had to say after the game and my mood soured once again.  “I gave us a chance to win,” Kendrick said. “I pitched deep into the game. They needed me to pitch deep into the game. I did that. We were in the game. We had a chance to win the game. Yeah, you never want to give up runs, but I was happy with myself to go deep like that and give us a chance.”

Happy?  He was happy after that?  O…M…G…  Excuse me while I vomit…

Once in a post-game interview after pitcher Vance Worley had a rough game, he declared, “I sucked.”  No excuses, just the simple truth.  It is hard to get mad at a guy who admits his failings without hesitation and takes full responsibility.  My reaction to that is, “Ok, kid.  Go get ‘em the next time!”

But Kendrick’s complete denial of how badly he screwed up is tough to stomach.  Especially when, based on the 6 scoreless innings after the bad inning, it is obvious he is capable of better.  It is that exact attitude/vibe that I have always felt coming from him which has led to my slight lack of respect for the guy.  And now, it appears that gut feeling was absolutely correct.

If I know I can do better and I fail to live up to my capabilities in any aspect of life, I am certainly not happy with my effort.  I would be very disappointed and upset with myself, whether it was all my fault or not.  Because I owe it to myself to be the best I can be.  If you do not respect yourself, you cannot expect anyone else to.

And the idea that Kendrick is either too immature or too delusional to see this is very, very sad.  If he finds this effort to be sufficient, I really do feel sorry for the guy.  He is not only denying his teammates of the best he has to offer, he is denying himself.

So no, this loss was not all Kendrick’s fault.  But he is certainly doing himself no favors by settling for a mediocre performance.

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!