So another Opening Day has passed and the Phillies are on their way to global dominance…or, something like it anyway ;o) If you missed my photos from the event, check out the PHOTO ALBUM which includes Opening Day ceremonies, President Obama’s first pitch and game action.
And now it is time to start the season off right and introduce yourselves to the newest members of the 2010 Phillies. The first one is easy…if you do not know who Roy Halladay is, you are clearly not a Phillies fan. No worries though…only one game has passed; you have time to catch up . Here is Mr. Halladay on the right with his very, very serious pre-game face on. This former Cy Young winner goes by the nickname “Doc” and he is pretty amazing. Enough said.
The few players you may not know well include pitchers Danys Baez, Jose Contreras and David Herndon; outfielder Ross Gload, infielder Juan Castro and catcher Brian Schneider, pictured here in that order from left to right, top to bottom:
Both Baez and Contreras are Cuban defectors; Baez is in his 9th major league season, pitched last for the Orioles and has a name that defies normal spelling rules. Contreras, not as hard to spell, is in his 7th season and helped the Yankees coin the term “Evil Empire” when they signed him over the Red Sox back in 2002. In other words, the Sox were pissed….end of story.
Herndon was in the Angels minor leagues last year and this will be his first shot at the bigs. Ladies, he is single and plays the guitar…go get him! I kid…
As for Gload, this is his 9th season in the majors and his 6th team. He is a lifetime .283 hitter and should be a solid bench player for the Phillies. Castro is another veteran going into his 16th season; he will be 38 in June and may start taking the same youth-inducing vitamins Jamie Moyer does ;o) He is not a power hitter, but will be a good defensive back-up for the infield. Schneider, formerly of the Mets and Nationals, is very familiar with the Phillies. And as a former Phillies-killer, we are glad to have him on our side now. His 11th season will be served as back-up to Carlos Ruiz.
And as a bonus, here are a few guys who are not really new, but you may not know them. Pitchers Antonio Bastardo and Drew Carpenter are still rookies who spent a very short time with the Phillies last year. They spent most of 2009 in the Phillies minors.
And then there is Placido Polanco, who returns to the Phillies after almost a 5 year absence; he was traded in 2005 to the Tigers. But after his record-setting performance of 6 RBI in one game yesterday, the most by any Phillie on Opening Day, I am confident you now know who he is. Welcome back, Polly!
Cole Hamels will take the mound against the Nationals in game 2 tomorrow at 7:05pm…Go Phillies!
Photos by Jenn
After the Phillies day off on Thursday, it seems the Phillies offense is taking the rest of the week off. John Mayberry Jr. had the only hit for the Phils in a 2-0 loss to the Orioles on Friday. Then in a 3-0 loss today against the Tigers, they scratched out just 4 hits. But is any more appropriate time for a slump than Spring Training? Besides, we are all anxious for the real games to begin!
The pitching slumped a bit as well; Roy Halladay had a rough day against the Tigers. To start the second inning, he hit the first batter, walked the second batter and gave up a 2-run double to the third batter. A few more hits and another walk later and he had a 3-run inning. Then again, a bad day for Halladay is a spectacular day for most pitchers.
Kyle Kendrick started Friday’s game and gave up 2 runs over 5 innings bringing his spring ERA to 1.29. While Kendrick has clearly out pitched Jamie Moyer so far this year, it is still up in the air as to who will win the 5th starter’s roll. Moyer has way more experience and a much bigger paycheck, which may influence the decision.
But Kendrick should not have too much to worry about as it appears he will make the team either way. Lefty Sergio Escalona was sent back to the minors, indicating that Antonio Bastardo will get the one lefty spot in the pen. The remaining bullpen pieces are right-handers Danys Baez, Jose Contreras, Chad Durbin, David Herndon and Ryan Madson. That leaves the 7th spot for either Kendrick or Moyer. Mike Zagurski, another lefty, may also be in the mix but he has made only 1 appearance all Spring. The Phillies appear to be nursing Zagurski along after he missed all of 2008 due to Tommy John surgery.
Still recovering from off-season surgery, it looks like both Brad Lidge and JC Romero will start the season on the DL. However, they should not be too far behind schedule; both are throwing now to live batters and Lidge pitched in a minor league game on Thursday. Lidge says his command is off and he still needs to work on arm speed. But both players feel physically fine, which is great news.
Third baseman Placido Polanco is also feeling much better after a right calf sprain and was scheduled to play in a minor league game today. Chase Utley has recovered from his respiratory issues and played in both games after the off-day. If everyone else can stay healthy now, we should be looking at a nice start to the season.
And just for fun, I came across this Jayson Werth baseball card and thought I would share it with you. This is one of the shots taken during Photo Day in Spring Training from last year. Each player gets their “standard” shots for cards, programs, yearbooks and other team items on this day. The way it works is the photographer has them hold up their name / locker plate for the first photo so they know who they are shooting. They put the name plate down and then continue with the regular photos.
However, Werth decided to be silly and rather than put his name plate away, he stuck it through his belt loops. So my question is, did the photographer not notice this or did he just think it was funny and keep right on shooting? Either way, it is pretty interesting. Maybe that is why Werth let his hair and beard grow wild this spring? Could he have been trying to top last year’s bizarre photo session? We may never know…
if (WIDGETBOX) WIDGETBOX.renderWidget(‘23806c5d-27e5-4f04-a300-94a868417e13’);
Photo by Jenn
The Phillies have had a very productive month so far this spring and will go into their day off tomorrow with a record of 9 wins, 4 loses and a tie. Spring Training results are not a great indicator of how a team will perform in the regular season, but based on years past, it seems like every player came to camp more prepared and more determined this year and it shows. The bats are jumping and most guys have stayed fairly healthy.
Placido Polanco’s right knee strain is minor and he will be back in action probably by Friday. Chase Utley has also sat out a few games with a respiratory illness but again, he seems to be on the road to recovery. Even pitchers like JC Romero and Brad Lidge who had off-season surgeries are getting closer and closer to game-shape. Romero threw to live batters this morning and is feeling good; both he and Lidge should be ready to go by early April.
Luck Of The Irish?
Cole Hamels was feeling lucky this week; he threw 5 innings in a win over the Tigers on Tuesday without allowing an earned run; he gave up just 2 hits and struck out 4. Joe Blanton was not quite as solid against the Yankees today in the St. Patty’s Day showdown, but still not bad. Blanton did allow 2 runs on 7 hits over 5 innings, but maybe he is just allergic to the shamrock green uniforms?
The two young lefty bullpen hopefuls also pitched in the last two games and showed some progress. Antonio Bastardo showed off some serious heat, striking out 2 batters and not allowing a base runner in his inning against the Tigers. Sergio Escalona also pitched a scoreless inning against the Yanks, although he is still struggling with his control and walked two batters. Regardless, it does appear that both players are anxious to crack the Opening Day roster.
As for the bats, Ryan Howard hit his first home run of Spring yesterday and is batting a very solid .344 so far. Not to be outdone, Jayson Werth smashed a 3-run homer today that looked like a rocket as it travelled in nearly a straight line over the left field fence faster than you could blink. It was his 2nd home run this spring.
No, not at the Phillies; or at least we think not anymore…however, he is having an interesting spring so far with the Mariners. On Monday in a game against the D-Backs, Lee was actually ejected from a Spring Training game for the first time in his career. For what? He was tossed for intentionally throwing at a batter’s head. The intended victim was D-Backs catcher Chris Snyder; teammate Mark Reynolds stood up for Snyder after the game, calling Lee’s actions “bush league.”
But did Lee really do it on purpose? Reynolds purports, “I’ve faced Cliff Lee plenty of times to know he’s got amazing control.” Check out the video and judge for yourself.
UPDATE: The league has now suspended Lee for 5 games at the start of the season for what they are calling an “intentional” act.
Tosh.0 Redeems A Philly Fan
Remember the adorable little girl who was all over TV last year for tossing her Daddy’s prized foul ball catch back onto the field? Well, the father-daughter team are back and Daniel Tosh of Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0” gave little Emily a chance at redemption. Check it out:
I am not sure what is more adorable; Emily tossing the Mardi Gras beads or her proclamation that tea parties are better than baseball. Funny stuff!
if (WIDGETBOX) WIDGETBOX.renderWidget(‘23806c5d-27e5-4f04-a300-94a868417e13’);
Photos by Jenn
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday that relief pitcher Chan Ho Park wanted to remain with the Phillies in 2010. Instead, Park wound up signing with the Yankees for 1.2 million, a great deal less than the 3 million the Phillies had offered earlier in the off-season.
Park stated, “Philadelphia was the No. 1 choice. I had a tough time leaving there. I had much support from fans and community, and I had the best teammates there…”
The question then becomes, why did he and his agent, Jeff Boris, turn down the Phillies offer if he wanted to stay there? Park made 2.5 million in 2009, so the 3 million was not only a raise, but likely to be the best offer he received. In the recent past, there has been what appears to be a string of mismanaged deals by baseball agents who become greedy and over estimate their clients’ value. This certainly looks like one of them.
By the time Park and Mr. Boris realized this deal was a gift from an appreciative team who liked Park very much in 2009, it was too late. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has a no-nonsense style of dealing with contracts. If he feels a player is not committed, he moves on. Amaro was not going to wait for Park to change his mind and quickly signed Danys Baez and Jose Contreras.
And if we believe Park was sincere in wanting to return, then why would Mr. Boris not jump on the one year deal? Another agent notorious for his hard-handed tactics is agent Scott Boras who recently took outfielder Johnny Damon on a fairly stressful ride through free agency. Damon wanted to stay with the Yankees but Boras handed down a $13 million dollar ultimatum to the Yankees, which frankly, was a lot more than Damon was worth and he should have known that. The Yankees scoffed at the gesture and Damon wound up signing with the Tigers for $8 million.
Damon told the NY Daily News, “I let Scott do his work…That’s why he’s there. In the end, I think he did a great job. It’s funny, though. Every time I’m a free agent, I’m always on a new team.” He said a mouthful there. Mr. Boras has a habit of burning bridges and this latest stunt was no exception.
Another player who may or may not have been burned by his agent this off-season is former Phillie Cliff Lee. Although agent Darek Braunecker denied any wrong doing back in December, the fact that the trade happened so quickly and right after talks with Braunecker makes you wonder if he did give some sort of indication that Lee would not accept certain terms (ie: less than 2 years, a certain dollar amount, etc…). Again, this is only speculation, but knowing the Phillies GM Amaro’s straightforward style, if Braunecker said anything at all to make Amaro question Lee’s commitment to the Phillies, it is easy to see why that could have triggered a fast trade.
Obviously, the depletion of the farm system played heavily into the trade, but was that the only consideration? What happens behind closed doors, we will never know, but it does make you stop and wonder. How much input each of these players had in the conversations with teams and their agents is also unknown, but based on the players reactions, maybe these agents need to think more about their clients well-being and less about their own pockets? But again, this is just one gal’s humble opinion :O) We will miss Park and Lee and I wish them the best!
In other Phillies news, both Brad Lidge and JC Romero threw off the mound during Spring Training on Sunday. Each pitcher is taking it slow, but making descent progress. Lidge appears to be slightly ahead of Romero as far as being ready, but both are still hopeful about Opening Day.
As for the rest of the pitching crew, here is the week’s schedule for when games begin on Wednesday:
– Wednesday vs. Florida State: J.A. Happ, Phillippe Aumont, Yohan Flande, Drew Naylor, Joe Savery, Jesus Sanchez and David Herndon.
– Thursday vs. Yankees: Roy Halladay, Kyle Kendrick, Jose Contreras, Andrew Carpenter and Sergio Escalona.
– Friday at Toronto in Dunedin: Cole Hamels, J.C. Ramirez, Ryan Vogelsong and Antonio Bastardo.
– Friday at Toronto in Dunedin (B GAME): Jamie Moyer, Chad Durbin, Ryan Madson and Scott Mathieson.
– Saturday at Pittsburgh in Bradenton: Joe Blanton, Danys Baez, Ehren Wasserman, Mike Zagurski, Bill White and B.J. Rosenberg.
– Sunday vs. Tampa Bay: Happ, Aumont, Naylor, Sanchez, Herndon, Flande and Savery.
Thanks to Todd Zolecki at The Zo Zone for posting the list!
Photos by Jenn
Ok then, here ya go! The Phillies have signed Placido Polanco to play 3rd base after the Tigers declined to offer him salary arbitration. Because he was not offered arbitration, this means the Phillies do not have to give up a draft pick. The deal is for 3 years, 18 million dollars, plus an option for a 4th year.
Phillies fans should be thrilled to see Polly back in the red pinstripes; he is a career .303 hitter and rarely strikes out, a stat which would be a huge help to this lineup which tends to whiff more than most teams. Polanco played second base for the Tigers, but has played 322 games at third in his career as well. The Phillies actually signed him as a third baseman originally in 2002.
Back in June of 2005, the Phillies traded Polanco to the Tigers after Chase Utley won the position at second base. Fans screamed for Polanco to stay and to be placed at third base instead of David Bell, but the Phillies sent him packing, a move which I have always felt was a huge mistake. So, the Phillies have not only signed an amazing player today, but they also righted the wrong of 2005.
In exchange for Polanco in 2005, the Phillies got right-hander Ugueth Urbina and infielder Ramon Martinez. To give you an idea of how that worked out, the following off-season in 2005, Urbina was arrested on attempted murder charges for attacking 5 farm workers at his Venezuela home with a machete and he also tried to light them on fire. He is currently serving a 14-year prison sentence. Great pick up, Phils! I wonder if we can get him back when he is released? Nothing wrong with a little entertainment… ;o)
Polanco is back and I think this is an outstanding move for the Phillies! Welcome back, Polly! We missed ya!
More Arbitration News
The Phillies did not offer arbitration to any of their free agents, not even Chan Ho Park. He may still be back, but it looks like the Phillies did want to be tied down monetarily. While this gives them greater freedom to sign players at lower costs, it also means other teams can now sign them.
Ticket Price Revisited
Thank you to everyone for their feedback on my last blog regarding the ticket price increases. There were a few revelations in those comments. For instance, Rich of Fightin’ Phillies reports that parking has also gone up from $11 to $15 and if the price continues to rise, he will not be renewing his season ticket plan in 2011.
The BILF Reporter says the ticket price increase did not upset her parents too much, but it also appears that partial plan holders are losing a playoff game opportunity. In 2009, the partial season ticket holders were guaranteed at least 3 games; for 2010, it has been knocked down to 2 games. Another comparison is that in 2008, partial plan holders not only got the 3 games, but they were also given “second chance” opportunities for up to 3 additional games when there were tickets leftover. So, it is basically going from 6 possible games to 2 in a matter of only 2 years, while prices continue to rise.
Add together the parking increase, ticket increase, lost playoff game and some partial season ticket holders getting their seats bumped backwards, this is a recipe for some very disgruntled fans. If anyone from the Phillies is listening, they may want to rethink this strategy. Imagine what is going to happen here; they will lose their loyal fans as season ticket holders, gain bandwagon fans and then, when they stop winning, who will be left in the seats? There are fewer and fewer reasons to buy or renew your season tickets. Where is the incentive when each year, we pay more and get less?
And yes, I understand the Phillies are more reasonably priced that say, the Yankees. And if you’ve got money, you are probably not concerned. But people on a budget are used to paying a certain amount for a particular level of service; they will resent the changes. All of these teams, not just the Phillies, should be more sensitive to what their fans expect and deserve. Of course, this is just my opinion :O)
Speaking of fan appreciation, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. left an automated message on my voice mail today, thanking me and all the fans for our great support. Say it with flowers, say it with a phone call….or, how about saying it with better seats and lower prices? Just an idea…
Polanco photo by Jenn
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
The Phillies are 1 win away from advancing to the NLCS against the Dodgers after beating the Rockies last night 5-4. They hold a 2-1 advantage in the series and also have the chance today to win 2 post-season games on the same day; last night’s game ended at 2:15am this morning and tonight will be a 6:07pm start time. The Phillies finally got a prime time slot, since everyone else is done with their NLDS series. Gee thanks, MLB, she says as she holds her eyes open with toothpicks…
This win was a true team effort with contributions up and down the line-up. Chase Utley hit a solo homer in the 1st inning and the Rockies answered with 2 runs later that inning. The Phillies took the lead again in the 4th with 3 runs. It may have been more, but Pedro Feliz hit into a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded and no outs. But Carlos Ruiz picked his teammate up and knocked an RBI single to give the Phillies the lead again.
The two teams traded runs again in the 6th and 7th innings, but the Phillies took the lead for good in the 9th with some small ball. Jimmy Rollins led off with a hit and Shane Victorino bunted him over. Chase Utley hit a dribbler for a single and moved Jimmy to third; Ryan Howard knocked him in with a sac fly. So the Phillies gave the ball to Brad Lidge who, despite making us all bite our fingernails again, got the save.
Lidge seems to have his confidence back, which is great news. If the Phillies are going to win, they need him. The pitching overall on both sides was shaky, but bad umpiring did not help either. JA Happ got squeezed at the plate for his short 3 innings of work where he allowed 3 runs and was prematurely pinch hit for in the 4th when the potential to add on runs arose. Happ throws pitches that move a lot in a diagonal pattern across the plate. The ball passes over the plate and ends up in the catcher’s mitt towards the back corner of the plate. The ump last night was watching where the ball ended up instead of where it crossed the plate and missed tons of calls.
But the ump did that on both sides and both starters were forced out of the game in under 4 innings. Blown calls have been the story of this entire NLDS, not just the Phillies and the Rockies. It even started with the Twins-Tigers 1 game playoff where a batter was clearly hit with a pitch but no one called it. And it continued last night with the ball-strike calls and even the “dribbler” Utley hit in the ninth. If you watch the replay, the ball hit Utley in the leg and therefore should have been foul. Instead, it was a hit. But both the Phillies and Rockies were victims of bad calls, so I guess in the end it evened out.
It does make you wonder though, how are these umpires continually allowed to affect the outcome of such important games? Did you write your letters to Bug Selig last night as I suggested? If so, it was a VERY big pile. Anyone else out there tired of the bad calls and no accountability here? Feel free to vent in the comments.
But the Phillies won the game and that is what really matters. And they did it in the most awful conditions; game time temperature was 35 degrees, which ties for the coldest post-season game on record. The game also took 4 hours and 6 minutes. Yikes! No sleep for me, but at least I am not grouchy ;O)
In other news, Scott Eyre was hurt in the game; he twisted his ankle coming off the mound. No word yet on his condition, but we hope he is ok!
Cliff Lee gets the ball tonight and hopefully, he can repeat the amazing performance he had in Game 1. Go Phillies!
Photo by Jenn