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
2009 was an outstanding season for the Philadelphia Phillies in many ways. Not only did they return to the World Series for the second consecutive year, but when you look at everything they had to endure to do so, the feat becomes that much more impressive. Here is a look at the obstacles the team overcame in 2009 and also some of the season highlights:
The loss of our beloved Harry Kalas
The 2008 World Series hangover
Injuries to every member of the bullpen
Losing the #2 starter (Brett Myers) at the beginning of the year
Watching the #1 starter, Cole Hamels, go through weird injuries, bad luck and a very bad season
Lack of production from the bench players
The June Swoon (11-15 record)
The struggles and eventual season ending injury of Jamie Moyer
The injury to Raul Ibanez right before the All-Star break; Ibanez went from super hot to totally not afterwards.
Offensive slumps throughout the year
A down year and very slow start from the offensive engine, Jimmy Rollins
Brad Lidge going from first to worst among closers
The Ring Ceremony
Cliff Lee – a gift from Heaven (and Ruben Amaro Jr.)
Pedro Feliz had off-season back surgery, recovered well and became a real contributor offensively
JA Happ emerged as rookie sensation with 12 wins and the lowest team ERA among starters (2.93)
Jamie Moyer wins career game #250
The Phillies visit with J-Roll Smurf (more of a personal highlight, but a highlight nonetheless)
Ryan Howard becomes the fastest player ever to reach 200 career home runs
Ryan Howard knocks the most grand slams in Phillies history
The 10 game winning streak, July 8-21
The two Old Goats, Jamie Moyer & Pedro Martinez, combine to win 2 games in August that were split up by rain delays
Jayson Werth steals home against Dodgers
Franchise record set for attendance and sellout games; 3,600,693 fans and 73 sellouts in 81 home games, finishing 3rd in baseball for total and average attendance
Return to World Series
Congratulations to the 2009 National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies!
In other news:
The 2009 coaching staff have all been invited to return next year.
Cliff Lee’s 8 million dollar club option was picked up (no surprise here) for 2010.
Raul Ibanez, Scott Eyre and Brad Lidge will all be seen by team doctors this weekend to determine if surgeries will be needed. Eyre has loose bodies in his elbow and Lidge may have the same. Ibanez has a tear in his abdomen and a hip issue.
No word yet on Pedro Feliz’s club option, but it will be decided by Monday.
As I mentioned yesterday, we all hope that Cole Hamels comes in costume to World Series Game 3 against the Yankees dressed as “Hamels: Version 2008.” He is facing one of the best pitchers in post-season history, Andy Pettitte. Hamels has his work cut out for him. If he cannot channel the 2008 Hamels, it is going to be a long and scary night.
In the spirit of Halloween fun, I have made some costumes for a few of the other players. We already know that Cliff Lee is a Magician but J-Roll Smurf wanted to see his idol, Jimmy Rollins, dressed properly as well:
Everyone knows Shane Victorino is the Flyin’ Hawaiian and JA Happ is a Rookie who has garnered all kinds of awards already this season, including the Sporting News Rookie of the Year and the Players Choice National League Outstanding Rookie for 2009. So young and yet, so talented:
Nice legs too. ;O)
And my personal favorite, Ryan Howard as The Incredible Hulk!
I am getting ready to head out to the stadium…I did finally get a ticket at the last minute, although it looks like rain is in the forecast. Hopefully it will hold off enough to get the game in and for me to get a few photos. Wish me luck!
Photoshopping by Jenn
Down 4-5 in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Dodgers, the Phillies were down to their last out and their last 2 strikes when Jimmy Rollins stepped to the plate with 2 runners on. Win, and the Phillies would have a huge 3-1 games advantage. Lose, and the series would be tied 2-2. What took place next was not only improbable, but it absolutely stunned the Dodgers.
Things looked good when the game started and Ryan Howard nailed a 2-run shot in the 1st inning. But the bats went quiet as ex-Phillies Randy Wolf bore down and kept the Dodgers in the game. Joe Blanton started for the Phillies and got roughed up a bit in the middle innings. By the end of the 6th, Blanton had allowed the 2-run lead slip away into a 2-4 deficit.
The bullpen took over in the 7th and held the Dodgers to those four runs. Chan Ho Park, Ryan Madson, Scott Eyre and Brad Lidge got the job done. However, the offense still seemed sleepy after that 11-0 rout the previous day, so a comeback was looking unlikely.
But then Matt Stairs stepped the plate with one out in the 9th and everyone began hoping for the same miracle that occurred in Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS: Stairs nailed a 2-run homer in the 8th inning of that 2008 game to give the Phillies the lead. Could this be a repeat performance?
Well, not quite. Facing the very same pitcher he got that hit off in 2008, Jonathan Broxton, Stairs felt confident. Broxton may not have felt quite as confident as he threw Stairs four straight balls. Eric Bruntlett was put in as a pinch runner. Broxton then proceeded to hit Carlos Ruiz with a pitch.
But Greg Dobbs lined out for the 2nd out and things were looking good for the Dodgers. J-Roll stepped to the plate with one final out remaining and 2 runners on base. With a 1-1 count, Rollins whacked a line drive into the hole in right-center field. Bruntlett and Ruiz tore up the base path, scoring 2 runs to win the game for the Phillies. Phillies fans screamed in celebration while Dodgers fans squirmed in agony.
As amazing and uplifting as this win was for the Phillies, on the other side of the spectrum it was equally as painful and gut-wrenching for the Dodgers. This was a killer blow, putting the Phillies at a 3-1 advantage; they now need only one more win in 3 possible tries to lock up a second consecutive trip to the World Series with a chance to repeat.
This win also shows why the Phillies are the defending World Champions. They believe they will win, they support one another and they never give up until the final out is recorded. To be able to witness this is the greatest joy of any fans life. Repeat or no repeat, Phillies fans should be proud of their team! What a year this has been…and it is not over yet.
Here is the Photo Album from the game…Go Phillies!!!
PS: Thank you to all my readers for making Phillies Phollowers the#1 Phillies fan blog on the MLB site for the entire 2009 season! And I am #8 overall for ALL fan blogs! Your support is greatly appreciated; it is an honor to bring you the Phillies through my eyes…Thank you!
Photos by Jenn
For the second year in a row, the Phillies will face the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. The Phils beat the Rockies tonight with a 9th inning, 3-run comeback to win the NLDS series 3 games to 1. It was another nail biter; many fans were calling for the oxygen tank, and not because of the Rocky mountain air.
Early on, this was a pitcher’s duel with Cliff Lee allowing only 1 run though 7 innings. 2 solo homers by Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth were the only scoring for the Phillies at that point. But Lee ran into trouble in the 8th when he walked Dexter Fowler on 3 straight strikes that were called balls; the Pitch Tracker showed the pitches were in the zone and missed by the ump. Nothing new; he missed calls all night long.
But that walk led to big trouble. Todd Helton hit what should have been a double play ball and Jimmy Rollins dropped the feed from Chase Utley, putting 2 runners on with 1 out. Ryan Madson came in and blew the inning wide open for the Rockies. 2 hits later and the Rockies were going into the 9th, at home, with a 4-2 lead. By the way, that was Madson’s second blown save of this series.
In the 9th, Rollins singled and Utley walked to give Ryan Howard 2 runners in scoring position with 2 outs. The Phillies had not had a single hit in the game with runners in scoring position at that point. In fact, they even left the bases loaded twice in the game with 1 out and failed to score. But this team just never gives up and Howard nailed a double to tie the game up. Werth singled to score Howard and, with hearts pounding, the Phillies took the 5-4 lead into the bottom of the inning.
Scott Eyre, seemingly ok after twisting his ankle yesterday, got the 1st 2 outs, but also put 2 men on base. So, Brad Lidge got the call for the final out and faced Troy Tulowitzki, the same batter he got to pop out to end yesterday’s game. Lidge struck him out to win the game and send the Phillies back to the NLCS!
Also worth noting, Ben Francisco replaced Raul Ibanez in left late in the game as a defensive substitution. Ibanez dropped a ball earlier in the game and Charlie Manuel was taking no chances. The move paid off as Francisco made an amazing, diving catch in the 8th that saved 2 runs from scoring.
And now the champagne will flow as the Phillies celebrate their first 2009 post-season series victory. And with any luck, 2 more such celebrations shall follow. Go Phillies!
Photo by Jenn