The Phillies have been on quite a roll lately, winning their last 3 games against the Braves and 12 out of 14 since the All-Star break. But today, the Phils momentum puttered out as they lost to the Braves, 2-6. Rookie Adam Morgan started the game and went 5 innings allowing 4 runs with 7 hits and 3 walks. He did not look awful except for all the walks and the big 3-run homer, but that was all it took today.
Morgan certainly kept the outfielder’s busy. Defense was mostly very good but a lot of balls kept squeezing through the infield.
And the super-hot Phillies offense was certainly cooled off by Julio Teheran, who apparently only pitches well against the Phillies. There were many swings and misses and dull grounders tossed about, with the exception of a few solid hits in the 2nd and 5th innings. Cody Asche and Odubel Herrera accounted for the only two RBI in the game.
There were many Alumni on hand over the weekend, so at least that was entertaining. Today I saw Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand, Brad Lidge, Matt Stairs, Nick Punto, Mike Lieberthal, Scott Eyre, John Kruk and Mariano Duncan. They all appeared to be having a good time.
Probably Burrell had the most fun. He was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame yesterday and I got a good look at the plaque today. I also got a good look at Pat celebrating by smoking….eh…something? You be the judge. Clearly, he is unaware of the advent of the zoom lens. But this whole episode does go a long way towards explaining the purse he was seen carrying around all weekend. Ok, the Phillies claim it is a “satchel.” Whatever the case, I guess he really needed it to carry his….eh….important stuff? How is that for investigative reporting? LOL!
And here is my Photo of the Day: Justin DeFratus, pre-game, pretending to karate kick a small child. This will make me laugh for days …
Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game and pre-game Behind the Pinstripes taping.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri except “Purse” photo, via Twitter, @Phillies
After 13 years in the big leagues, Roy Halladay finally got his first taste of postseason play today against the Reds. He wasted no time taking full advantage of the opportunity. Halladay pitched a no-hitter and ended just 1 walk shy of his second perfect game of the season. The no-no was only the second ever in baseball history to be thrown in the postseason. And Halladay also became the first pitcher to ever throw a no hitter in both the regular season and the postseason.
Prior to the game, there were face painters, games, food and music from Mr. Greengenes:
That was followed by batting practice, player introductions and the ceremonial first pitch thrown by former Phillies pitcher, Scott Eyre. And of course, rally towels:
As the game began, Halladay relied on his defense as he followed the lead of Carlos Ruiz, who called an amazing game behind the plate.
Halladay was so good in this game, that he actually had more hits in the game than the Reds batters did. With two outs and two men on in the 2nd, Halladay smashed an RBI-single to left. Shane Victorino followed that up with 2 more RBI before Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez was pulled from the game with less than 2 innings pitched. With one run in the first on a Chase Utley sac fly, these four runs total were all Halladay needed.
After mowing down Reds hitters, both Halladay and the Phillies walked away with a huge win in Game 1 of the NLDS. The no-hitter was the icing on the cake.
I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to witness this extraordinary feat. It is a game I will never forget. The energy and excitement in the stadium was so thick you could feel it on your skin like thousands of goosebumps. Strangers celebrated with each other uninhibited, as if they were long time friends. I personally high-fived more people after the game then I ever have in my entire life combined. A woman later showed me her hands, which were bright red, and said she had high-fived so many people that her hands actually hurt. Of course, she was not that upset about it.
Today was an amazing start to the Phillies postseason, but there are still 10 more wins ahead to reach the ultimate goal. The team will be off tomorrow to soak in this win and then it is back to work again on Friday. Roy Oswalt gets the ball next; he has a very tough act to follow.
Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game. And this is a few shot video clips from the 9th inning, basically to show how loud it was in there. Sorry about the head…had some 6’5″ dude in front of me and I could not reach too well over him.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies announced today who will be on the 25-man roster for the NLDS and there are really no surprises. Those notable players who did not make it include Kyle Kendrick, Danys Baez and David Herndon. Here is the breakdown:
Going with 10 pitchers instead of 11 allows the Phillies to add more fire power to the bench. They expect the 3 starters to go deep into games so extra long men in the pen will likely not be necessary. Blanton will fill the role if needed.
As for Ruiz and Romero, manager Charlie Manuel says both players are fine and ready to play after suffering minor injuries on Sunday.
If you are going to the game tomorrow, here is the information about pre-game festivities and other highlights:
2:00 p.m. – Phillies Postseason Party begins on Citizens Bank Way. Features music by Mr. Greengenes; Highlights include an inflatable obstacle course for children, face painters, an extreme rock wall climb and a Velcro race.
Ashburn Alley opens.
All gates open. Rally towels for all fans, compliments of StubHub.
3:30 p.m. – Phillies Postseason Rally on Citizens Bank Way! Special guests include former Phillies Scott Eyre and Greg “The Bull” Luzinski, Comcast SportsNet analyst Ricky Bottalico, the Phillie Phanatic and Phillies Ballgirls. Music provided by Mr. Greengenes; Scott Palmer, Phillies Director of Public Affairs, will emcee.
4:40 p.m. – On-field pre-game ceremony begins.
4:44 p.m. – Introduction of Cincinnati Reds.
4:48 p.m. – Introduction of Philadelphia Phillies.
4:54 p.m. – National Anthem: Sung by country singer Catherine Raney, niece of Tim McGraw, who will be representing the Tug McGraw Foundation.
4:56 p.m. – Color Guard introduced.
4:58 p.m. – Ceremonial First Pitch: Phillies alumnus Scott Eyre.
5:07 p.m. – Play ball! Phillies vs. Reds game begins.
5th Inning – “Lady PhaPha” makes her postseason debut.
7th Inning – God Bless America: Sung by national recording artist Lauren Hart, a Philadelphia native whose songs have been heard on television series and soap operas.
See you there!
With just under 3 days left until the official start of Spring Training, the Phillies are getting ready to make a push for a third consecutive National League pennant. The position players and the bench players are basically set but the pitching situation has a lot of question marks. As for the starters, will Cole Hamels bounce back after a disappointing 2009? Will JA Happ suffer from the sophomore slump? And who will fill the 5th starters spot?
The rotation currently looks like this: Roy Halladay, Hamels, Joe Blanton and Happ. The 5th spot looks to be a toss-up between Kyle Kendrick and Jamie Moyer. Kendrick’s ups and downs plus his lack of diversity in pitch selection do not bode well. Then again, Moyer is coming off 3 surgeries, lengthy hospital stays and also has his age (47) working against him. Moyer told Comcast Sportsnet this week that his recovery is basically done and he is ready to try pitching again. How that will work out remains to be seen.
Bigger question marks loom in the bullpen. It appears that the Phillies only solid lefty, JC Romero, may not be ready to go until May after his arm surgery late last season. Two other solid pen pieces are gone this year; Scott Eyre retired and Chan Ho Park will not return, although, Park has yet to find a team willing to take him on. Youngsters Antonio Bastardo and Sergio Escalona may fill the lefty void, but at what cost? Both were wild last year during their travels between the majors and minors and will need to really step up this Spring if they are to be counted on this season.
The closer position is also a big question; will we see the perfect Brad Lidge of 2008 or the first to worst Lidge of 2009? The injury and surgery history with Lidge do not breed confidence. However, he should at least be motivated by the thought of redeeming himself after last year. If he fails to do so, former closer and off-season pick-up Danys Baez may be able to fill the role. As for the rest of the pen, Ryan Madson and Chad Durbin will return as two of the few solid pieces left over from the last few years.
Aside from pitching, there does not seem to be much to worry about. Placido Polanco may need time to adjust to the move from 2nd to 3rd base, but he has done that before so the issue should be minimal. He has certainly added a better bat to the line-up.
Jimmy Rollins will need to get off to a fast start to boost his confidence after a forgettable 2009. Rollins has stated he will show up to camp with the pitchers and catchers on the first day to get a head start; This will be a nice contrast to his usual routine of being the last player to report in previous years. As for the Rollins crystal ball, all he would say this year is that Halladay will be a 20+ game winner. Not a huge leap for Psychic Rollins, but we’ll take it.
As for the rest of the gang, if they can stay healthy, this will be a monster line-up for opponents to deal with. But first, let’s see how Spring Training goes :O)
Photos by Jenn
Today the Phillies agreed to terms with 32-year old right-handed relief pitcher Danys Baez, formerly of the Orioles. Pending the physical exam, Baez will be given a 2-year contract. He went 4-6 with a 4.02 ERA in 59 games last year, did not pitch in 2008 due to ligament surgery on his right pitching elbow and had a dismal 2007 with a 6.44 ERA in 53 games. Baez does have closing experience, which might be helpful if Brad Lidge is not ready to pitch in 2010.
However, this move is still a bit of a head scratcher. Baez had two good seasons; his rookie year in 2001 and with Tampa Bay in 2005. But his lifetime ERA is 4.04 with a record of 35-49. Charlie Manuel managed him from 2001-2001 when he played for the Indians, which we all know means that Chuck likes him a bunch, as he does most of his ex-players. It is easy to assume that played a factor in the decision.
Also, Baez is a righty, and the pen is in desperate need of lefties with only JC Romero signed and a few rookie possibilities. Scott Eyre’s future is still uncertain. So, this move tells us a few things: #1 – The Phillies are not confident that Lidge will be game-ready in April. #2 – The Phillies are willing to take their chances with the left-handed rookies, Sergio Escalona and Antonio Bastardo. #3 – Although we do not know the contract amount yet, it is safe to assume Baez came cheap. That means, the Phillies have blown their payroll and this will be the last big move, aside from handing out a few raises.
Another pitcher whose status is uncertain is Jamie Moyer. He has had 2 surgeries already since September, 3 hospital visits, 2 blood infections, a PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter) and a partridge in a pear tree. Well, at least there was a little holiday cheer thrown in for him. All that and he is now scheduled for surgery #3 in January on his right knee to repair his meniscus. At 47 years of age, one has to wonder if Moyer will be able to recover from such an ordeal and come back to pitch effectively. Then again, if anyone can defy the laws of aging, it would be Moyer. I wish him the best of luck and a speedy recovery!
I would also like to take this time to wish everyone out there a very Happy New Year! Be safe :O)
Photo by Jenn
With the big trades now out of the way, Phillies fans are still left wondering who will fill the voids in the bullpen for 2010. Chan Ho Park is unlikely to return as discussions with the club have not been fruitful. Scott Eyre is still a maybe and those returning from injury, like Brad Lidge and JC Romero, may not be ready to go in April. There are a number of names being tossed around like the ageless John Smoltz, Bob Howry of the Giants and Kiko Calero of the Marlins. However, it does not look like the Phils are close to a solution yet.
The two young lefties they used a bit last year who may fill some holes are Antonio Bastardo and Sergio Escalona. Bastardo appeared in only 6 games before being put on the DL with a shoulder injury. He was very wild in the zone and oddly enough, pitched better to right-handed batters than lefties. Bastardo shows potential, but there is still a big question mark as to whether he can cut it in the Majors. Escalona pitched in 14 games and ended with a 4.61 ERA. Lefties hit only .200 off him. But at 25 years of age and lacking experience, how much he can help out as a lefty specialist is unknown.
The bottom line is, the Phillies need bullpen arms. And the ones they have need to get and stay healthy. IF GM Ruben Amaro Jr. cannot pull off a decent trade and are forced to rely on youngsters like Bastardo and Escalona, it is going to be another rocky year for the pen.
As for the rest of the team, the Phillies have guaranteed a solid infield for at least the next 2 years as they have picked up the option on Jimmy Rollins’ contract. The 8.5 million dollar option ensures Rollins will stay with the club at least through 2011.
This move was a no-brainer; Rollins is an integral part of the nucleus of this team. He is also the best dancer on the team, which in terms of sheer entertainment value, is totally worth the 8.5 million.
Photos by Jenn
In the first two days of the Winter Meetings, the Phillies have been seeking out bullpen help, so far to no avail. It now appears unlikely that they will be able to sign back Chan Ho Park due to differences of opinion, although he is not yet ruled out. Scott Eyre is also in limbo since his elbow surgery.
With the revelations that Brad Lidge, JC Romero and Jamie Moyer may not be ready for Spring Training after their off-season surgeries, the bullpen is becoming more and more of a concern. Moyer may go back to the starting rotation, but that remains to be seen. Either way, with these players unavailable, this leaves a big hole in the back end of the pen unless they find players to fill the gap.
The Phillies did pick up another bench piece late last night, signing former Marlins outfielder, Ross Gload to a 2-year deal. Gload hit .261 with six home runs and 30 RBIs in 230 at-bats with the Marlins. He turns 34 years old in April but the real head scratcher here is that he is a lefty. With a line-up that is loaded with lefties, it is curious to me that they would not sign a righty. But as usual, the method to the Phillies madness is not always clear.
It does seem that Baseball America understands the madness to a certain degree. They named the Phillies the Organization of the Year for 2009, which was announced at the meetings yesterday. This award is given each year to the organization that excels in both the major leagues and minor leagues with improving their teams and developing talent. Now let us see how much of that young talent the Phillies can hang onto while attempting to sign players for the 2010 season.
Starting pitcher Roy Halladay seems to still be in the rumor mill for the Phillies as well as several bullpen pitchers. But Halladay will command a huge salary for 2010 and the Phillies are quickly running out of money. That means if they choose to go after him, someone else will likely have to go.
It is more likely that any big moves will take place later in the off-season. However, with two days left of meetings, anything can happen. By the way, this is my 500th blog entry on MLBlogs! People often tell me I never shut up, but who knew? A few other associations for the number 500 are: So, I am either a totally awesome Italian race car, or just an annoying computer error. Either way, thanks for reading! :O)
The latest rumor is that Joe Blanton could be moved, but as most rumors, there is no way to know how credible the information is. My guess is that Halladay, with 1 year and $15.75 million dollars left on his current contract, is not a real possibility. The expense is too great and there is no guarantee they can sign him past that one year.
It is more likely that any big moves will take place later in the off-season. However, with two days left of meetings, anything can happen.
By the way, this is my 500th blog entry on MLBlogs! People often tell me I never shut up, but who knew?
A few other associations for the number 500 are:
So, I am either a totally awesome Italian race car, or just an annoying computer error. Either way, thanks for reading! :O)
Blanton photo: Jenn; Gload photo: Miami Herald
The Phillies held their annual Holiday Sale this weekend at the ballpark and as usual, it was an interesting event. Phillies Charities holds the event each year, selling game-used merchandise, autographed items, left over programs and books, photos, etc… Although, this year was not nearly as crowded as last year because of the World Series loss.
This means less money for Phillies Charities, which is sad. In fact, the people selling many of the charity items were actually haggling to get rid of merchandise. A Scott Eyre signed jersey marked $125 went for $100 after the buyer decided $125 was too much and decided to walk away. Now that is something I have never seen in all the years I have attended. But plenty of other items raked in big bucks, like game used bats, balls, street banners and empty Champagne bottles from the playoff celebrations.
I picked out a locker name plate grab bag for $30 and wound up with Carlos Ruiz, Miguel Cairo and Mick Billmeyer (bullpen coach). The Ruiz plate was worth the $30, so I was happy with that. I have also been working on a collection of signed 2008 World Series balls and am trying to get every player on the team. But some players who have gone, like So Taguchi, may be impossible to get now. So I decided to try to buy a Taguchi signed regular ball, which they had a box of there, but by the time I got up front in the line, they were sold out. Yes folks, an entire box of Taguchi signed balls, gone. Did everyone else have the same idea I had or are there just huge numbers of Taguchi fans out there that I do not know about? I can tell you, he was not popular here in Philly at all, so I thought that was a bit weird. Maybe because they were only $5 people didn’t care who signed it ;o)
While there were not any players there, everyone did have a chance to meet with broadcasters Tom McCarthy and Chris Wheeler, who was signing his new book, “View From the Booth.” I think Dickie Noles was there too, but I did not see him. And Milt Thompson was scheduled to sign copies of a hitting DVD he put out later that day. I ran into Tom in the clubhouse store and chatted with him for a while, then got my book signed by Chris. Here I am below with Wheels, plus a shot of a Holiday tree and Phanta Claus, who was entertaining the kids:
It was a dreary day outside, which may have kept some shoppers home. Rain, slush and snow also dampened the Philadelphia Santa Claus parade, which made its way around the ballpark with fire engines, sirens and bright lights, although the only people silly enough to be outside were those of us waiting in line to get into the Holiday Sale. Not sure if the Phillies tree lighting went off as planned as I cut out early, but here is a photo of the tree taken from inside the Hall of Fame club:
I also walked around the concourse a bit to see what the off-season ballpark looked like. Turns out, they wrap the mobile concession stands with giant tubes of Saran Wrap. This is either to protect them from the elements, or the stands have been put on some weird plastic wrap weight-loss plan:
Maybe they can shrink the prices while they are at it? Just a thought ;o)
So, did anyone else go to the sale? What did you think about it? Feel free to comment below :O)
Oh yes, here we go again… It is only mid-November and the Roy Halladay rumor mill is already in full swing. While the Phillies were unable to strike a deal with the Blue Jays in July for the star pitcher and instead wound up with Cliff Lee (and we are all ok with that, of course), the Jays may still be looking for a chance to get Halladay off their payroll.
If the Phillies can manage a deal for Halladay, odds are they will have to pay much less for him than they would have in July since now he is only good for one potential post-season instead of two. But the Jays are probably still interested in the Phillies top prospect, Kyle Drabek, whom the Phillies are unlikely to part with. In an interesting twist however, it has also been rumored that the Jays might be willing to take Cole Hamels. Can I get a Hallelujah and an Amen to that possibility?!!
Although Hamels is six years younger than Halladay, he had a terrible season for the Phillies and most fans are sick of his emotional issues, media faux pas and lack of composure on the mound. Odds are, not many people would be sad about such a trade. Sadly, if this were rumored last season, there may have been riots in the street full of angry fans unwilling to let the World Series MVP go. But now? Not so much…
Besides upgrading the pitching staff, it appears the Phillies now need a third baseman as Pedro Feliz did not have his option picked up. The Phillies can still sign him as agree agent if they come to an agreement, but it looks more likely that the Phils will look elsewhere.
Feliz had a decent season, but I think he really screwed himself in the playoffs where he hit only .167, made unproductive outs in crucial situations and hit into double plays that killed rallies. Plus, he is 34 years old, which does not help his case.
The top prospects for third base right now are Chone Figgins, Adrian Beltre, Mark DeRosa and former Phillie, Placido Polanco. Figgins would be the best choice, although fans loved Polanco when he was here and many were upset when Chase Utley took his job. Hind sight, as they say, is 20/20.
Back in 2005 when Polanco went to the Tigers, many Phillies fans felt he should have been moved to 3rd base to keep him on the team, myself included. As it turns out, had the Phillies done so, Polanco would likely still be with us. Up to that point, he had moved back and forth from 2nd to 3rd base for years. But after going to the Tigers, it was 2nd base all the way. The question then with Polanco is, could he transition back to 3rd after more than 4 years steady at 2nd? That may be too big a question for the Phillies to consider taking him.
So, third base is wide open right now and several other Phillies have filed for free agency; Chan Ho Park, Matt Stairs, Paul Bako, Pedro Martinez and Miguel Cairo. The Phillies will not likely sign Martinez again, as he will command too hefty a salary and they need a more consistent arm. Park is a possibility, Cairo and Bako will probably not be back and Stairs I am not too sure about. My feeling was that he might retire, but since he has filed, I now do not know what is on his mind. But this leaves the Phillies with the need for a back-up catcher, a right handed bat off the bench and a variety of pitching needs.
As for our walking wounded, both Scott Eyre and Raul Ibanez had successful surgeries yesterday and are expected to make recoveries before Spring Training. Eyre may or may not decide to retire so his future is uncertain. Ibanez, we hope, will be back to 2009 first-half form. Brad Lidge will have surgery tomorrow. What exactly is wrong with him will be an interesting revelation. We should have more information in the days to come.
Feliz photo by Jenn
Is there a doctor in the house? Apparently, there are a few very busy doctors in the Phillies clubhouse since the season ended. It had already been disclosed that Scott Eyre was pitching the latter half of the season with bone chips in his elbow, so the fact that he will have surgery tomorrow is no surprise. Eyre performed admirably despite the injury and ended the regular season with a 1.50 ERA in 42 appearances and a 2.08 ERA in the post-season. His future is uncertain though; the Phillies may offer him a spot if surgery goes well, but he also may simply choose to retire and be home with his family. It will be a while before any decisions are made.
But the fact that Raul Ibanez was hurt the entire second half of the year was not disclosed until Sports Illustrated broke the story in late October that Ibanez was playing through both a sore groin and an abdominal tear. Ibanez will have surgery Monday as well for a sports hernia. But this begs the question, had the Phillies carried on without Ibanez and gave the playing time to a healthy Ben Francisco, would that have helped their chances to win the World Series?
Ibanez was hitting .312 before the All-Star break; afterwards, he hit only .232. And in the post-season, he managed only a .259 average and a .481 slugging percentage. Whether or not Francisco could have been a bigger producer if he was given the playing time prior to the post-season, we will never know. But the Phillies had other options and instead left Ibanez in; it appears that may have hurt the team’s chances. We all admire Ibanez for his determination, but the decision is questionable based on the results.
And then the big X-Factor, Brad Lidge. The decision to keep Lidge on as the closer for the post-season may have single handedly destroyed the Phillies repeat hopes. Because as it turns out, Lidge also had serious injuries for most of the year. He will have surgery on Wednesday to remove loose bodies from his elbow and may also have damage to his right flexor tendon. Whether or not the Phillies were aware of this before or during the playoffs has not been announced. But it does raise eyebrows.
The Phillies were on the verge of a huge comeback in Game 4 of the World Series when Pedro Feliz knocked a game-tying homer in the 8th inning. Had they won the game, the Phillies would have been tied 2-2 with the Yankees and momentum would have been on their side, especially with Cliff Lee pitching the next day. But Lidge blew any chance of that happening when he allowed 3 runs in the 9th and dashed the Phillies hopes. I strongly believe that was the turning point that handed the series over to the Yankees.
So the question then is, with such injuries plus his entire 2009 history, why was Lidge allowed to pitch? Obviously, Lidge knew something was wrong. If he did not tell, then shame on him. If he did and the Phillies choose to let him go out there anyway, shame on the management. Either way, the Lidge experiment, along with the Cole Hamels experiment and other injuries, took down the Phillies this year.
And the real shame here is that there were other pitchers who could have filled in; JA Happ for Hamels, Ryan Madson or Chan Ho Park for Lidge. You know the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” Well, what is it IS broke? That is a question the Phillies will be asking themselves all off-season.
In other news, Brett Myers was told he will not be with the Phillies next year. He is currently a free agent. Pedro Feliz is still in limbo with the status of his contract option.
Player photos by Jenn