Apparently, the Pope’s impending visit to Philadelphia has already brought blessings upon us. In preparing the proverbial landscape for the Holy Man’s visit, the Phillies finally released GM Ruben Amaro Jr. It is a papal miracle! I was tempted to go back to being a practicing Catholic after hearing the news, but the whole “thou shall not do anything fun” is still kind of in the way of that transition 😉
While I am thrilled that the Phillies may be making an attempt to move into the correct century with their baseball operations logic, I feel a little bit sorry for Amaro who spent practically his entire life with the team. He grew up in the area, his Dad played for and coached for the Phillies; Ruben also played for the Phillies and was even the bat boy as a youngster. That is a lot of time spent in one place.
But my sympathy has to end there. He made so many bad, disastrous moves over the years that it is hard not to rejoice at this news. Remember the Cliff Lee trade in 2009? What a mega-disaster that was! The Phillies probably would have gone the distance in 2010 if they had both Lee and Roy Halladay in the rotation. Instead, Amaro squandered that opportunity and got 3 horrible “prospects” who contributed nothing…except a cocaine arrest (Tyson Gillies) and multiple tantrums when they did not get their way (Phillippe Aumont).
The HUGE, ridiculous contracts given to Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon were just a few other terrible moves Amaro made. Not to mention letting Ryan Vogelsong go in 2010 (he is now a multiple World Series champ) and trading Hunter Pence for next to nothing (he is now also part of the Vogelsong / Giants dynasty). And don’t even get me started on the $12 million he threw away on Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez who has been so bad in the minors that the Phillies finally took him off the 40-man roster. This year, he spent most of his time on the DL and in the lousy 5.2 innings he did pitch in Triple-A, he ended up with a 14.29 ERA.
Sure, he had some good moves over the years. But ultimately, Amaro ran this team straight into the ground. They now sit in last place in all of baseball with little sign of improvement in the near future. Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock will fill in for Amaro until the new GM is chosen. Let us all hope the Phillies are smart enough to find a modern GM, instead of another blast from the past.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri
In the last few Spring Training games, the Phillies have gotten a good look at many new and returning pitchers.
Cole Hamels gave up a home run on only his 2nd pitch of spring against the Blue Jays, but recovered well and overall, had an good outing. Hamels allowed two hits and a walk in two innings plus the home run. He has added a cutter and a curveball to his repertoire of pitches which seems to be giving him a little more confidence in his ability to get outs.
Jamie Moyer also pitched in a “B” game that same day and does not look like a man who had 3 surgeries in the off-season. He pitched 3 scoreless innings allowing 3 hits and striking out 3 batters. Clearly, Moyer is not ready to concede the 5th starters spot to one of the younger pitchers. And with the $8 million dollars the Phillies owe him this year whether he performs or not, that is a good thing.
Three other pitchers who did not make such a great impression on Friday were J.C. Ramirez, picked up in the Cliff Lee trade; Ryan Vogelsong, a Philly-area native who recently spent time playing in Japan; and Bill White, who was picked up off waivers from the Rangers. Ramirez allowed 3 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks in 1 1/3 innings. Both Vogelsong and White gave up 4 runs each in an inning or less. It is still early in Spring, but the results do not bode well for these pitchers.
Joe Blanton also had a rough outing today against the Pirates; 5 hits and 3 runs in 2 innings plus a number of extra base hits were the highlights. However, the relievers did very well, including Danys Baez, BJ Rosenberg and Mike Zagurski; they each pitched 2 scoreless innings in the game.
As for the hitters, prospect Tyson Gillies, also from the Cliff Lee trade, hit a solo homer in the sixth inning against the Jays and was 2 for 2 overall with 2 RBI in the game, making a great first impression. Gillies also has tremendous speed and a great arm from centerfield. The Phillies top prospect Domonic Brown went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI and threw a runner out at the plate from right field. Brown appears to be on track to take over for Jayson Werth should he depart in 2011 once becoming a free agent.
Ryan Howard remains hitless so far this Spring, but more concerning is the absence of Shane Victorino. Benched with a sore shoulder since the start of the month, Victorino did not travel to the Pirates game with the team today. While this may simply be the Phillies being extra cautious with their star centerfielder, it is concerning. Victorino has had a number of nagging injuries over the last few years that seemed fairly minor, but still kept him out of the line-up for extended periods of time. All the Phillies can do is hope this does not become one of those situations.
And just for fun, has anyone seen the new Cliff Lee Topps Opening Day trading card? Generally, when a player is traded, Topps will take one of their old trading cards and paint the new uniform in the photo over the old uniform. In Cliff Lee’s transition from the Phillies to the Mariners, see if you can spot the error from Topps’ editing job:
Leave your guess in the comment section; the first person to get it right is the winner and be mentioned in my next blog.
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Photo by Jenn
The first official Spring Training game for the Phillies ended with a 3-2 win over their World Series foes, the New York Yankees. Not that spring games mean anything, but it was fun to watch. Roy Halladay pitched two innings and lived up to the hype. He did not allow a hit in 2 innings and threw 21 of 24 pitches for strikes. It did not look like even one of those pitches came near the middle of the plate. He had amazing movement on the ball, pinpoint control and he painted the corners, making it look effortless.
Kyle Kendrick and new pick-up Jose Contreras impressed as well. Each threw 2 innings and looked solid. Kendrick appears to be serious about grabbing the 5th starters’ spot. Kendrick spent extra time this off-season working out to prepare and during camp, has been following Halladay around like a lost puppy. The extra effort appears to be paying off.
Another anxiously awaited debut was that of former 2nd baseman, Placido Polanco at third base. The first batter of the day hit it right to him and Polly handled it well. Later that same inning however, he made a fantastic scoop but overthrew to first for the first error of spring. It was basically smooth sailing after that minus a pop-up that the wind took away. Polanco started his career at third and it is expected that he will progress quickly in his return to the position.
So it was all positives for the Phillies in their 1st official spring game. Yesterday’s exhibition against Florida State however was a bit more challenging for one new Phillie. Top prospect Phillipe Aumont who was acquired in the Cliff Lee trade had a memorable outing on the mound, although it won’t be a good memory for the young pitcher.
Obviously shaken by the pressure to show he was worth the trade, Aumont gave up 5 runs in 2/3 of an inning including 3 walks and a 3-run homer. Previously touted for his excellent control, that skill went right out the window as nerves got the better of him. And all that was against a college team…ouch. This poor kid needs a hug….bad. The Phillies still won 13-6 so no worries. Besides, things can only get better from here. Aumont should bounce back now that he has purged the nervous energy. I wish him luck!
So the Phillies will play a game every day until their one day off of the month on March 18th. Tomorrow they face the Blue Jays in Dunedin and Halladay will make his first visit back to his old spring stadium. Cole Hamels is scheduled to start and we will also see J.C. Ramirez, Ryan Vogelsong and Antonio Bastardo in action as well. Game time is 1:05pm.
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Photo from ESPN.com