Tagged: Shane Victorino

Phillies Fire Sale Still Burning

In an unexpected move today, the Phillies traded Joe Blanton to the Dodgers after he cleared waivers.  The Phils will get either cash or a “player to be named later,” which is usually a low-level minor leaguer.  Blanton will join Shane Victorino along with many other players to join the Dodgers just this week.  At least he will have company.

While the Dodgers are trying to buy a winner, the Phillies are trying dump a losing season.  This last trade of Blanton clears about $3 million more in salary this year, which must be an attempt to avoid paying the luxury tax.

Blanton was as surprised as the rest of us by the move.  He was slated to start tonight’s game against the D-Backs and instead, wound up packing his bags just hours before first pitch.

It also looks like the Dodgers tried to claim Cliff Lee off waivers today, but Ruben Amaro Jr. says they will pull him back.  However, with the rate the Dodgers are throwing money around, do not be surprised if Amaro is maybe planning a trade instead to squeeze a little more out of L.A.  Just a thought…a very scary one.

So is the fire sale over?  Amaro had better be careful to avoid burning this team straight down to the ground…

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

New Phillies Fitting in Fast

The newest additions to the Phillies after a few call-ups and trades are fitting in well with this team.  In some ways, that is very good.  In other ways, not so much.

Here are a few 2012 Phillies bad habits exhibited in last night’s game against the Nationals that they will need to get out of quickly:

Kevin Fransden, a call-up, commited an error at 3rd base, becoming the 4th different Phillies player to do so at the hot corner this year.  The 3rd base error total is now 13.

– Both Fransden and the newly acquired Nate Schierholtz left a runner stranded on 3rd base with less than 2 outs in the inning.

Josh Lindblom, acquired from the Dodgers, gave up a hit to the 1st batter he faced.

Domonic Brown, called-up from Triple-A, went 0-4 on the night.

But luckily, the bad habits did not break them.  In fact, each new player had at least one very nice moment as well:

– Fransden recovered after his error and played good defense.

– Schierholtz went back-to-back with Jimmy Rollins for his first home run as a Phillie.  Rollins had 2 homers in the game.

– Lindblom struck out the 2nd batter he faced.

– Despite going 0-4, Brown had a good day in the field.  He threw out a runner going home with a very strong toss.

Another guy who had a great day was Erik Kratz…again.  This guy is making a strong case to be the back-up next season.  Kratz took that toss from Brown and created a brick wall in front of home plate to save a run.  He also threw a runner out who was trying to steal second and caught a very tough foul pop-fly.  At the plate, Kratz recorded 1 hit and a walk.

And Vance Worley survived the 1st inning blunders and wound up having a great night.  He pitched 7 strong innings without allowing an earned run.  Looks like the Vanimal is back!

So the big question now is, can this new-look, last place Phillies team actually SWEEP the 1st place Nationals?  After the last 2 games, it looks like they actually have a shot.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

And in case you missed it, here is the full-page ad Shane Victorino took out in the daily news to thank Phillies fans:

No Shane, thank you!

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A New Era of Phillies Baseball Begins

Now that the dust has settled on baseball’s trade deadline, there is a lot of information to absorb and process.  And for the Phillies and their fans, there are a lot of emotions involved as well.  I think Ryan Howard summed it up best when he told beat writer Todd Zolecki, “Shane’s been here for a long time. Like I said, (he) was a very big part of this club. It is weird not seeing his face. It’s weird not seeing Hunter. But that’s how baseball works sometimes.”

“Weird” is an excellent description.  Everyone expected major change because of this backwards Phillies season, but it is still strange to see a guy like Shane Victorino in another uniform after being such an integral part of this team for so long.  He was indeed the “personality” of the team as well during their better days; loose, fun and fiery.

Shane was also open, honest and easily approachable, something many fans really appreciated.  I had the great pleasure of spending time with him and his wife Melissa on several Phillies Cruise’s and can tell you they are wonderful, generous people.  I wish Shane and his family all the best; they will be missed.

As for Hunter Pence, his energy will be missed.  But honestly, I won’t miss his free-swinging and awkward plate approach; it totally stressed me out!  But I am sure he will be a big help to the Giants; best of luck to him!

So what did the Phillies really get in return for all these moves?  Well first, they dumped some salary which will help keep them under the luxury tax this year.  They also got 5 new players; 2 major leaguers and 3 prospects.

The 2 major leaguers who will join the Phillies today are right-handed relief pitcher Josh Lindblom and outfielder Nate Schierholtz.  Lindblom has a 3.02 ERA in 48 games this year and should be able to help out the bullpen right away.  Schierholtz is a platoon player and lifetime .270 hitter.  He will be a huge defensive upgrade over Pence, but an offensive downgrade.

The 3 prospects are right-handed relief pitcher Ethan Martin, catcher Tommy Joseph and right-hander Seth Rosin.  Martin was the #7 prospect in the Dodgers top 20 and a former 1st round pick.  He is probably a few years away from the majors.

Joseph is an interesting prospect; he was #5 in the Giants top 20 and a 2012 Futures Gamer.  He is highly touted as a power-hitting run producer with a strong arm.  He will likely either take over for Carlos Ruiz after the 2013 season or be used as trade bait in the off-season.  Ruben Amaro Jr. has already gotten calls from other teams about him.

And finally, Rosin was #19 in the Giants top 20 with a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90’s.  He has a 4.31 ERA so far this season.

These are obviously not mind-blowing pick-ups, but Amaro seems to have gotten as much as would be expected by these moves.  So now we get to see if Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. have what it takes to be everyday players.  How these 2 guys play will determine many off-season moves for the Phillies.

In the meantime, this team still will keep on playing.  Oddly enough, yesterday’s moves seem to have given the Phillies a little spark as they routed the 1st place Nationals 8-0.  Now that the pressure is off and they are not expected to climb out of this huge hole, we may see some better baseball.

Mayberry looked like a new man last night with 2 hits and a walk.  New Phillie Kevin Fransden played amazing defense at 3rd base and whacked a 2-run homer.  And Juan Pierre had 3 hits, although that is not unusual for him.

But the most exciting play of the game was a 2-run inside-the-park homer from Jimmy Rollins.  He sped around the bases so fast, he scored standing.

All of a sudden, the Phillies had everything working.  Even the pitching was going well as Cliff Lee finally notched his 2nd win of the year with 7 scoreless innings.  Now that is the Lee we have been missing lately.

So here are the new Phillies…for now.  Wouldn’t it be nice if, just for spite, they could sweep the Nationals?  Ok, maybe I am dreaming…but still hoping for better baseball ahead!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Victorino and Pence Are Gone as Trade Deadline Passes

In an odd twist of fate, Shane Victorino was sent back to the team that rejected him…twice.  In 2002 and 2005, the Dodgers placed Victorino in the Rule 5 draft; the Phillies finally gave him a shot by selecting him in the 2005 draft.

In exchange, the Phillies got right-handed relief pitcher Josh Lindblom (pronounced Lind-bloom) and Double-A right-handed relief pitcher Ethan Martin.

The second trade involved sending Hunter Pence to the Giants in exchange for catching prospect Tommy Joseph, outfielder Nate Schierholtz and Class A right-hander Seth Rosin.

Here are some reactions from Victorino and Pence:

Domonic Brown was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley and back-up catcher Brian Schneider was activated off the DL to fill the spots for now.

I will have my reaction sometime later while I take time to digest the moves.  I can tell you it is a little sad to see these guys go, but after the year this team has had, it was expected.

More later…

Together Again, Phillies Sluggers Turn Back Time

After a very unusual start to the 1st inning in last night’s Phillies and Brewers match-up, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard reunited in a way that appeared to turn time back to better days.  They went back-to-back with solo home runs and just that quickly, it was like old times again.  Ah, together again…

In fact most of this previously lame Phillies squad is back off the DL and as a result, they are starting to turn things around.  Last night’s walk-off win was the second in row for the Phillies and also their first comeback win when trailing after 8 innings this season.  Prior to this, they were 0-42 when losing after 8 innings.

This game began in a very odd way though.  Roy Halladay was not his normal, studley self.  He gave up 2 runs in the first inning before Howard and Utley countered with their solo blasts.

Even stranger was what happened to Shane Victorino before those home runs.  Ex-Phillies pitcher Randy Wolf hit Victorino in the funny bone with a pitch; because he turned his shoulder to in an attempt to get out of the way, the 1st base umpire apparently got confused and called him out on strikes.  Replay showed that Victorino came nowhere near to swinging at the pitch.

Both Victorino, in obvious pain, and manager Charlie Manuel argued his case to no avail.  Once again, an idiot umpire would cost the Phillies a base runner and, after the homers, it cost them an extra run.  Even worse, Victorino’s hand went numb after the hit to the elbow and he had to be removed from the game.  He says he is fine now and should be able to play tonight; the ball just struck a nerve in the wrong place.

The umpire idiocy did not end there either.  Howard’s obvious solo shot was initially ruled a double after the ball bounced back onto the field out of the left field flower beds.  They had to go to replay to get the call overturned.  But it was quite apparent to the naked eye that the ball left the yard.  I guess the umpire went temporarily blind; an affliction which seems to be contagious.  And all that happened in the first inning.

By the 4th inning, things were getting out of hand as Halladay continued to self-destruct and allowed 4 more runs for a 6-2 Phillies deficit.  But for the second day in a row, the bullpen came through and held the score there.  And that set up the Phillies 1st comeback win after 8 innings all season long.

With 1 out in the 9th, the Phillies were still 4 runs behind and down to their final 2 outs when suddenly, the clock turned backwards again.  The Phillies offense began channeling their 2008 selves.  Jimmy Rollins drew a walk followed by a Juan Pierre single.  Utley walked; Howard singled in 2 runs; Carlos Ruiz singled in another and Hunter Pence followed with another walk.

With still only 1 out in the inning and a man on third, all the Phillies needed was a sac fly.  Most of the year, the Phillies have been unable to accomplish this seemingly routine task.  But on this throwback night, Ty Wigginton summoned his inner super-Wigginess and sent a line drive to left which scored pinch-runner Erik Kratz.

And just like that, the Phillies have found themselves on the comeback trail.  Like J-Roll said after Sunday’s win, it is time to start streaking…

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Doc Is In: The Phillies Win

After landing on the DL in late May, Roy Halladay has finally returned to the Phillies.  And his comeback was just what the Doc ordered.

Halladay was on a pitch count to play it safe last night against the Dodgers.  And while it took him a few innings to settle in, he looked pretty good after that.  Doc pitched 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and did not walk anyone. 

Early in the game though, it looked like the Phillies offense was not going to do much to help Doc out.  Against a rookie pitcher making his major league debut, they managed only 1 run through 6 innings.  The one run scored in the first as Chase Utley grounded out with a man on third.

Once the Phillies bullpen took over in the 6th inning, it was hard to imagine them keeping the 2-1 score close, based on recent past experience.  But the Phils needed a late inning comeback in a bad way, which is something they have been unable to do all season.  A lot of that had to do with the bullpen underperforming.

But on a Tuesday night in Hollywood, the script was flipped…finally.  Five Phillies bullpen pitchers held the Dodgers to those 2 runs as if they had been doing it all year long.  And that laid the groundwork for a Phillies comeback.

It was nothing too fancy, but with 2 outs in the 8th inning, the Phils took advantage of a walk and then 2 guys getting hit by pitches to load the bases.  Hunter Pence came through in the clutch situation with a single up the middle to score 2 runs.  The Phillies took a 3-2 lead and did not give it back.

That is 4 wins in a row for the Phillies!  It seems like a LONG time since that has happened…  But can they get 5?  Cliff Lee will give it his best shot this afternoon in the finale; 1st pitch is scheduled for 3:10pm.

By the way, Halladay had some comments after the game in regards to the trade rumors surrounding Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino.  He told Todd Zolecki, “It’s an organization that has been committed to winning and you want to see that continue and obviously there are points where they may have to reconsider how they’re going to go about that, but I hope that’s long after I’m gone to be honest with you.”

In other words, trade Hamels and Doc (and most of the rest of the team) is going to be real unhappy.  How much weight does that carry with team management?  That remains to be seen…

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Photoshop by Jenn Zambri Photography

Can the Phillies Save Themselves?

There is a lot of chatter and trade rumors creeping around the Phillies right now.  Who will stay and who will go?  And, do they even have any real choices here?

One of the predominant theories says that if the Phillies make a strong run in the 2nd half, they may be able to keep guys like Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino.  But to do so would mean winning a LOT of games.

Last night’s win over the Dodgers gave the Phillies a 3-game winning streak.  That is nice, but not exactly a season-saving run just yet.  Yet there were reasons to hope; Joe Blanton pitched extremely well, allowing just 2 runs in 8 innings, keeping the unreliable bullpen at bay.  Ryan Howard hit his first home run of the year.  And Victorino had 3 hits in the game.

But even if this short streak of better baseball continues, is it enough to keep the team together beyond the trade deadline?

Sadly, I believe the answer is no.

The Phillies bullpen needs serious help and a guy like Victorino is exactly what many teams will want in exchange for a solid pitcher or two.  Even a player like Juan Pierre could help out a team ready to make a run at the playoffs.  With Domonic Brown healthy again in Triple-A, the possibility of trading an outfielder greatly increases.  Plus, both Pierre and Victorino have contracts that expire after this season.

And then there is the sad tale of Cole Hamels.  The Phillies failed to get a long-term contract done last year, leaving Hamels close enough to free-agency for him to get a really big whiff of the huge piles of money waiting for him.  If they cannot come to terms, Hamels will be traded before the deadline.

The Phillies really have little choice.  If they know that Hamels will test free agency, the odds of retaining him are slim to none.  Other teams who are not on the brink of the luxury tax and whose teams did not suck this year will be gunning for Hamels.  And if you are going to lose him, you might as well get something for him in exchange.

I am not happy about this and I am sure many of you feel the same way.  But the cold, hard truth is that a very large, steaming pile of poo is about to hit the fan.  I hope I am wrong, but brace yourselves, just in case I am not.

The good news is that Roy Halladay returns to the mound tonight!  In his first start off the DL, Halladay will face the Dodgers at 10:10pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography