In what has become an annual tradition, I usually post New Year Resolutions for Phillies fans at about this time. But it seems that as a fan base, most of us do seem to have our act together. As for the 2012 Phillies team, the same cannot be said. They need some serious help.
So this year, I would like to propose a set of New Year Resolutions for the team instead:
Jimmy Rollins – I resolve to stop swinging for the fences and hitting pop-ups. I will stick to line-drives and grounders.
Roy Halladay, Chase Utley & Ryan Howard – We all resolve to be healthy, productive members of this team! No more bum shoulders, ankles or knees!
Kyle Kendrick – I will not mope when I feel disrespected and just keep pitching. I will put on my big-boy pants and wear them all year long.
Carlos Ruiz – My goal is to repeat my 2012 performance, without the performance-enhancing ADHD pills, thereby regaining the respect I lost after getting suspended.
Ben Revere – I resolve to hit my first major league home run in Citizens Bank Park. If Juan Pierre can hit a homer here, then so shall I!
Ruben Amaro Jr. – No matter how tempted I am to save money, I will not sign former Phillies relief pitcher Ugueth Urbina. Yes, he paid his debt to society. However, he did attempt to murder 5 ranch hands by setting them on fire and chopping at them with a machete. Perhaps we should pass on this one.
Domonic Brown – I resolve to reach my full potential this year and prove I belong in the big leagues, preferably by May.
Mike Adams – I resolve to be fully recovered from surgery and return to my All-Star relief-pitcher form in order to be deemed worthy of my giant $12 million contract.
Charlie Manuel – I will go out on top this year! World Series or bust…
I wish you all a safe and happy New Year!
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!”
Photoshopping and re-wording by Jenn Zambri Photography
Drum roll please….
Here is my annual Phillies Photo Slideshow! The slideshow includes all original photos that I took during the 2012 season; it includes players, coaches, fans, the Phanatic, and more. Enjoy!
Well, at least it was not steroids. Still, the news that the Phillies’ beloved catcher Carlos Ruiz has been suspended 25 games for violating the league’s drug policy does sort of feel like the end of the world may be upon us. Is the Phillies 2013 season already going down in flames? Oh Chooch, say it ain’t so! I am so depressed…
The stimulant Ruiz took was Adderall, which is an amphetamine used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). College students use it to improve focus and stamina. For ADHD, it helps alleviate symptoms and allows patients to behave “normally” (if there is such a thing as normal).
Many major league baseball players are prescribed this type to drug for ADHD and they are granted an exception from MLB. A good example would be our old pal Shane Victorino, who has struggled with ADHD since childhood. He even wrote about it in his book that was released last year, “Shane Victorino: The Flyin’ Hawaiian.”
Another Phillie, Kevin Frandsen, was suspended in 2011 for a different amphetamine, Ritalin, while in the minors. These pills have become more common over the years among athletes looking for a “mental” boost instead of a physical one, like steroids. There is much debate over whether or not amphetamines really offer any serious edge, but Ruiz’s numbers this past year do seem suspicious. He had career highs in many categories including batting average, home runs and slugging percentage.
Know what else is a stimulant? Caffeine. So can players just drink jugs of coffee before games to get a similar effect? And how about energy drinks, like 5-Hour Energy or Monster? While these are not nearly as strong as Adderall, it does raise some interesting questions. Does feeling more “awake” enhance baseball performance? And if so, how much?
There have been a number of studies which can be found in scientific journals, but the results are varied and, therefore, inconclusive. An article at LiveScience.com reviews a journal entry by six scientists from top universities who advocate the use of amphetamines by healthy people. But the review serves to show an opposing view, noting the dangers of drug dependency and side effects. So even scientists cannot seem to agree on the subject.
Whatever the individual opinion on the subject, the end result is the same. There will be no Chooch for the first month of the season. Worse, players are only given a suspension for use of amphetamines after their second failed test. This means Ruiz knew he was to be retested, and still did not stop taking the drug. Chooch, you are killing me, man! What the *%*^@!!??
This is a crippling blow to the Phillies, who are already in a tenuous situation as this team continues to age. The window of opportunity for wins with this core group of players is closing fast. Of course, Erik Kratz will be there to fill in, but with so many questions going into the 2013 season, this is a huge setback. Will Chase Utley be healthy? How about Roy Halladay? Can the team sign a solid outfielder? And the list goes on…
I need a stiff drink right about now. Spring training has not even begun, and I already feel the weight of impending doom upon us. Hey, isn’t the end of the world nearly upon us? December 21, 2012 is less than a month away and, according to the Mayan calendar, we are all as good as gone. Is Chooch the first sign of the apocalypse or do the Phillies just have a black cloud over them in 2012? And could the Angels signing of Ryan Madson, who the Phillies should have gone after this offseason, be apocalypse sign #2? I officially hate the Mayans for prompting this silly discussion.
Let us all hope that 2013 has better luck in store for all of us.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
‘Tis the season to buy lots of crap! Black Friday, Cyber Monday….here we come! The Phillies began shopping early when they signed Kevin Frandsen earlier this month to a 1-year, $850,000 deal. If Frandsen plays the way he did last year, that small chunk of change could wind up being the bargain of the year.
But the Phillies have a much longer shopping list than that. Unfortunately, even on Black Friday, not everything is on sale. Even if Ruben Amaro Jr. camped out in front of All-Star Josh Hamilton’s house all night, I am pretty sure someone with more money would be camped out in front of him in line. Fold up the tent, Ruben, and let’s work on a more realistic shopping list.
– The first item on the list should be a centerfielder. I hear our old pal Shane Victorino may come at a descent discount. But the Phillies seem to be more focused on B.J. Upton, who could rival Ryan Howard for strikeouts. They both strike out around 30% of the time and neither hit for average. Regardless, this team needs to shop for an outfielder!
– Bullpen help is needed….badly. Maybe the Phillies need to look back at a few guys they previously tossed in the trash? Here are some oldies, but goodies: Our old pal Chad Durbin had a 3.10 ERA for the Braves last season. And how about Jason Grilli, who was with the Phillies minor league system until they dumped him…he went on to record a 2.91 ERA for the Pirates last season. But my #1 oldie would be Ryan Madson. He is coming off Tommy John surgery so the bidding for him should not get too high.
– Third base: Personally, I feel a combination of Frandsen and a drug-free Freddy Galvis can handle the hot corner. But if you are the type who MUST buy during holiday sales whether you need to or not, here is who might deserve a look: Kevin Youkilis will be 34 in March, but the guy can still hit for power. At 36 years, Michael Young is not exactly young anymore….but he would be a solid veteran to keep the spot warm for a much younger Cody Asche in 2014.
– While the team is stocked with starting pitchers, maybe a few small upgrades could help? You know…get Roy Halladay a bionic shoulder to replace the bum one. Buy Kyle Kendrick an “All I Want For X-Mas is You” tee-shirt to keep his confidence high. And for Cliff Lee, donate to his favorite charity and make a pledge to get him more than 6 wins this year.
– Buy baby-faced Darin Ruf a pair of big-boy pants and put him on the big-boy team. That gamble may really pay off. What have they got to lose? And J.C. Penney has a great Black Friday sale on pants right now…
– And the final big purchase for the Phillies should be a stand-up comedian. When things start to go downhill for the Phils, the comedian can jump in and tell jokes between innings to keep spirits high. Because as a fan base in 2012, we have all lost a bit of our sense of humor. You cannot blame us though…losing is just not funny. Help us all remember how to laugh and smile again! And if the wins start coming, you can trade the comedian to a more needy team.
Happy shopping, everyone!
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Amaro photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The torture that was the 2012 Phillies season is finally over. And sadly, it ended just as I predicted before the season even began; without a playoff bid. I was hoping to be wrong about that.
Since the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, each year they have taken exactly one step backwards. So this year, missing the playoffs seemed like their destiny. They lost the World Series in 2009; lost the NL Championship Series in 2010; lost the NL Division Series in 2011; and now, the next logical step has arrived. The Phillies will go home early without even a sniff at a post-season run.
Remember happy days like these?:
For now, they are gone :O(
The first casualties of the 2012 disaster are already accounted for. Bench coach Pete Mackanin, hitting coach Greg Gross and first base coach Sam Perlozzo have all been given their walking papers. More fallout is probably on the horizon, but it will probably involve players, not coaches.
So who else should stay and who should go? Here are some thoughts, starting with the offense:
In 195 at-bats, Kevin Frandsen hit .338, which led the team. And for an entire month, he played with a stress fracture in his leg, yet he still kept hitting. I say put him at 3rd base and get a back-up in case of injuries.
If the Phillies do not re-sign Juan Pierre, they are insane. He hit .307 in 394 at-bats, led the team in stolen bases with 37 and he is the best bunter you can find anywhere.
Bring Shane Victorino back! After a depressing second half with the Dodgers, his price will go down, possibly to the point where the Phillies can afford to resign him. John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown can platoon and then the Phils need another outfielder or two.
Needs to Go: Nate Schierholtz, Ty Wigginton, Michael Martinez. Martinez is good defensively, but hit only .174 in 115 at-bats. They can find a better utility guy. And we are stuck with Laynce Nix for one more year unless someone is willing to trade for him…not likely.
Back-up Catcher: In – Erik Kratz; Out – Brian Schneider.
Relief Pitching: Jonathan Papelbon stays and probably Antonio Bastardo. I will also put in votes for Jeremy Horst and Phillipe Aumont. The maybes are Jake Diekman and Justin DeFratus, although DeFratus needs to be 100% healthy, which I feel is still in question. Michael Stutes may return, but no one is sure in what condition.
Please Go Away: Josh Lindblom – trade him (if anyone wants him). He has been awful. This team needs some veteran help in the pen.
Please Come Back: Ryan Madson!
As for starters, unless someone’s arm falls off, stick with the usual 5: Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay (pray he gets healthy), Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick.
And of course, all the usual suspects, like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, etc… will be back. But will they be healthy? That is the looming question.
To give an idea of how badly the injuries hurt the team this year, consider this: I may be missing some, but by looking at the team stats, at least 49 different players made an appearance for the Phillies this year, rotating in and out of the 25-man roster. Also, only 2 players of those 49 reached 400 or more at-bats; Rollins (632) and Mayberry (441). That is scary.
So the season is over and the healing (quite literally) shall begin. Do you have any thoughts you would like to share about this season? Feel free to leave comments below.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Watching the Phillies win a game against the Nationals last night and seeing the Nationals celebrate instead was like being in the Twilight Zone. Not many teams get to pop the champagne after a loss. But before the game even ended, the Nats were celebrating as the Braves lost, making Washington the new National League East Champs.
It was quite a role reversal for the Phillies who, prior to this disastrous year, won that title 5 years in a row. Sadly, they have officially traded placed with the Nationals.
It was a somber win that will guarantee the Phillies a winning record to end the season. But even that small accomplishment cannot make-up for the fact that the Phils have missed the playoffs and will go quietly into the off-season with many questions.
Perhaps less of a question now is Kyle Kendrick, who appears to finally have his act together. He pitched 7 scoreless innings last night and should be a starter next season.
Kevin Frandsen continues to hit, with 2 singles last night, even with a stress fracture in his leg. Still, he does not appear to be an option for 3rd base next year, despite his efforts.
Rookie Darin Ruf keeps slugging away and his triple last night scored the Phillies only 2 runs. But his future is also uncertain, as are many futures of players on this team. Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard are hurt again; Roy Halladay had a bad year.
The Phillies still have many questions left to answer. And they still have 2 games left to play. Game time is 7:05pm tonight.
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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography