This has certainly been an interesting week for the Phillies. Let us review the many weird happenings:
– First, manager Charlie Manual got the axe last Friday and Ryne Sandberg took over.
– People cried, complained and gave Charlie lots of hugs.
– Manual admitted to CSN Philly’s Leslie Gudel that he knew he could not win this year or last year with the team assembled as it was. Shocker. Not really…
– On Monday, David Murphy of Philly.com posted an article about how the front office was to blame for the Phillies failures. Also not a shocker…
– The Phillies Triple-A Iron Pigs gave away a free funeral valued at $10,000 as part of a promotion. Seriously.
– After 2 losses, Sandberg got his first win as manager on Sunday.
– Sandberg got that win, despite starting Michael Martinez at short stop. Martinez was boo’ed throughout the game, I assume because starting him or just the fact that he is on this team at all, is emblematic of a very troubled 2013 Phillies season.
– On Tuesday, Roy Halladay made a rehab start in Lakewood. He appear to be near-MLB ready.
– After Tuesday’s game, Roy Halladay spoke out on the firing of Manual.
In his comments, he added that he thought things were being “overlooked” and said, “I mean guys being at places on time, being on the field on time, taking ground balls and taking extra bp and all those little thing that nobody thinks make a difference.”
As those word emanated from Roy’s mouth, the Phillies experienced something like a meteor/asteroid shower as their happy little universe slowly imploded. All Halladay really said was what we have all been thinking/wondering about for years. This team lacks discipline and focus.
But the media took those comments to a whole new level, posting headlines that seemed to indicate that Halladay endorsed Manual’s firing, to which he took great offense.
– Also on Tuesday, the Phillies hosted their 6th annual Jewish Heritage Celebration. I think we can all agree that releasing Delmon Young prior to this event was a good idea. Because, man, that would have been AWKWARD.
– On Wednesday, Halladay “clarified” his comments and reiterated his love for Charlie, saying he did not endorse anyone being fired.
– Also on Wednesday, the Phillies took out the Washington Nationals’s trash by signing Roger Bernadina, who was cut by the Nats on Monday. Bernadina is hitting .176 this season and has not had a hit in over a month. He will fit right in.
– On Thursday, Philly.com reported on the secret pornography stash at Veteran’s Stadium, presumably, because they had nothing better to report on.
And yes, all of that and more happened in just under a week. Is this a great time to be a bored Phillies fan, or what?
Maybe don’t answer that question. Please feel free to go on with your life as originally planned. Thank you!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
With a 3-1 win on Thursday night, the Phillies managed to just barely squeak out their 3rd win in the 4-game series with the Nationals…and it was not without drama, as usual. Even with 4 errors in the game, somehow, this team found a way to win.
Of those 4 errors, 3 belonged to Chase Utley. He was so off-kilter in the field, one may have wondered whether or not someone spiked his Gatorade. But he did have a hit in the game and also ran the bases well, scoring a crucial run in bottom of the 8th inning.
The real heroes of the night however, were Darin Ruf and Kevin Frandsen…again. Ruf started off the 7th inning with a double off the Nat’s lone All-Star, Jordan Zimmerman. Carlos Ruiz bunted him to third and then, Mr. Clutch, Kevin Frandsen stepped to the plate. Frandsen smacked a double into no-man’s land in right-centerfield to score Ruf and give the Phillies their first lead of the night.
In the midst of all that, Kyle Kendrick managed to pitch a very solid 7 innings, despite all the fielding errors and the lack of run support. And then both Antonio Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon broke recent routine and pitched one drama-free inning a piece to nail down the win. It was as if the stars had finally aligned….
But even after taking 3 of 4 from the Nats, and 2 of 3 from the Braves, the Phillies still have a lot of work to do.
Slightly off topic here, did anyone else see the interview with Darin Ruf that aired a few days ago on CSN Phillly? He was asked why his offense has improved since being called up. While I cannot find a video of this anywhere (and there may be a reason for that), he said basically that he was taking advantage of the “detailed scouting reports” that were available in the majors, but not in the minors.
Here is my question – do they seriously not have scouting reports in Triple-A? Or perhaps they have generic, inferior reports? Either way, am I the only one who thinks this is a major problem? You cannot tell me this organization cannot afford to pay someone to produce minor league scouting reports. Heck, I’ll do it for a very modest paycheck and some free baseball!
Just sayin’… Thoughts anyone?
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
A 7-3 win for the Phillies over the Cardinals on Sunday night ended the series with each team taking 2 out of 4 games. It was a very long game, on a very cold night with a virtual buffet of interesting and weird happenings.
It all began with the Phanatic’s birthday bash/movie premiere (Time Traveling Phanatic DVD) which was highlighted by faux Hollywood stars and actors from the movie. I am sure all the parent who brought, or were going to bring, their kids to this fun event were less than thrilled about ESPN moving the game from 1:35pm to 8:05pm on a school night. The fun went on, but there were not too many people there to see it.
Then Kyle Kendrick took the mound and, once again, he struggled early. But Kendrick seems to have this routine down now; he tosses a boat-load of pitches early, gets in and out of trouble and eventually comes out with a quality start. In this case, he allowed only 2 runs in 6 innings. The extra drama does seem to motivate him lately.
The Phillies looked like they might get their bats going again in the first inning. Starting with a Jimmy Rollins triple, they scored two runs. But that inning also launched a very strange night for Chase Utley. Apparently forgetting there was only one out, Utley ran from second to home on a fly ball by Michael Young and was doubled up before he even realized the blunder.
The Utley Sunday night adventure did not end there. He later ran past second base on a ground-rule double, thinking it was a home run when it actually just bounced over the outfield wall. And then Utley threw away a fairly routine ground ball in the 7th which sailed past Ryan Howard. That same runner later scored, giving the Cardinals a 3-2 lead.
Utley did have 2 hits on the night, but where his head was all night long is a mystery. Perhaps he was just getting it all out of his system and will now be error-free the rest of the year? One can only hope…
The crowd was restless most of the night. The game was dragging (3 ½ hours long!), it was getting colder and later, the defense was not great and the offense died again after that run in the first inning. Both Young and Ben Revere hit into double plays to kill rallies. People were shouting not-so-nice things at players all night long. It was a bit depressing. This team has not given fans a lot to cheer about lately.
But the Phillies finally found redemption in the bottom of the 8th inning; the biggest redemption was for Revere. With 1 out and runners on the corners, Revere singled to center to put the Phils ahead. Catcher Erik Kratz, who was batting a paltry .192 coming into the game, then smashed a 3-run homer to give the Phillies a 7-3 lead which led to the win. Whew!
In other weird news, the Phillies have called up 22-year old Jonathan Pettibone to make a spot start tonight since John Lannan is on the DL. This is weird because, in 2 starts this season in Triple-A, Pettibone has a 9.64 ERA. I guess there was no one else available? It should be an interesting night; either he will get destroyed very early by the Pirates or he will totally surprise everyone. Good luck to him!
And here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s game.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies have made a few egg-head moves in the last week or so. First, they released utility infielder Yuniesky Betancourt, who will now reportedly sign with the Brewers. And now they have released pitcher Aaron Cook, who appeared to be a lock as the unofficial 6th starter in the Phillies rotation. Cook pitched in 6 spring training games, posting a 3.38 ERA over 18.2 innings.
Last year, Kyle Kendrick fit into this spot nicely, filling in when a starter was needed due to injury. But Kendrick is #4 in the rotation now. Cook performed well enough this spring to become the new Kendrick, but apparently a $100,000 bonus was too much for the Phillies to handle. So instead of paying him, Cook was sent packing.
Granted, Cook did not pitch well in the majors over the past several years. But neither did John Lannan, who coincidentally gave up 12 runs in his last 4 innings of work this spring. And Lannan is starter #5. Cook appeared to be improving and was the Phillies only veteran option to start a game in the event that a started gets injured.
The Phillies have now put all their eggs in one basket, filled with 5 starters, 2 of whom are on shaky ground. Lannan is an unknown at this point; he has not been consistent this spring. Even more frightening, Roy Halladay has been awful. Last season, he pitched injured, and the results certainly showed it. This spring, Halladay has been sick with a stomach virus, experienced a dead-arm, complained of fatigue and his velocity is way down.
If Halladay cannot get back to pitching like a major-leaguer, this team is in serious trouble. And with Cook’s release, the only option they have if Halladay goes down is to toss a minor league pitcher into the fire and hope he does not get burned. With the imminent arrival of the Easter Bunny this weekend and Opening Day on Monday, they had better hope their eggs do not start to crack.
Despite a superb spring, Yuniesky Betancourt has been released. In his contract, March 24th was designated as the deadline for the Phillies to either keep him on the big league roster or let him go. They chose to let him go even after Betancourt hit .447 with 14 RBI with 3 doubles and a home run in 47 at-bats.
This means that both Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen will make the team as utility infielders. I am a little confused by this move, but not in the way you may be thinking. I like Frandsen; while there is no guarantee he will have a solid year like he did in 2012, he has paid his dues and earned a spot on the team.
Galvis still has options and therefore, could have started the year in Triple-A and worked on his offense where he will get many more at-bats. If Betancourt did not work out, they could have released him and then brought up Galvis. That would have given the Phillies more options. As it stands now, they are walking across a very tight rope with little room for error.
And then there is the big question mark lingering in the air that no one seems to want to discuss. Galvis was suspended 50 games last year for using performance-enhancing drugs. Of course, like every player who tests positive, Galvis denies using PED’s. But what if he were to test positive again? Betancourt is gone and the options for the Phillies are now very limited.
I certainly hope nothing of the sort would happen, but think about Carlos Ruiz. No one saw that one coming either. Ruiz made the same mistake twice and so it follows that Galvis could fall into the same trap, as could anyone else for that matter. You also have to wonder how each will perform without the use of PED’s.
I will not be popular for pointing this out, but it had to be said. Galvis seems like a nice kid with a boat-load of talent and he can play multiple positions. I think he will be a big contributor to the team. So I am not saying letting Betancourt go in favor of Galvis was necessarily a terrible idea; in fact, I am glad I did not have to make that decision as it had to be a very tough one. But Betancourt would have given the Phillies more wiggle room.
A Ruf Life
Speaking of not being popular, this one will not earn me any new friends either. I think the Phillies should trade Darin Ruf. Now, hear me out before you freak.
I was really rooting for Ruf this Spring, but it became obvious that he is not an outfielder. The Phillies sent him back to Triple-A to work on it, but I have to say that it just does not look like he will ever be ready to play left field. Just look at him; he is built like a first baseman, or if he played football, a linebacker. Ruf does not have the body-type to run down balls in the outfield. He can improve, but to what extent?
First base is clearly where he belongs, however, Ryan Howard is not going away anytime soon. And Ruf’s value will not be much higher than it is right now, which is why this is the time to trade him when the Phillies will get the most in return.
If the outfield does not pan out for Ruf, what do you do with him? Ruf will be 27 years old in July; the clock is ticking…
Boom Goes The 3-4 Combo
In consecutive Spring Training games, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard have hit back-to-back homers. With the rate these two are hitting, is anyone else getting nervous? I mean, we do not want them to run out of bullets before the season even starts, right? Both Utley and Howard have gotten a ton of playing time this spring. Perhaps it is time to stop pushing their luck and rest them before anyone gets hurt or worn out?
It is extremely uplifting to see Utley and Howard back in action and, more importantly, healthy! So this is nervous excitement talking here, but pretty please, can we just give it a break until Opening Day? Dear Phillies, please do not wear out this wonderful 3-4 combo before April 1st. Thank you in advance.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Mets took Phillies rookie B.J. Rosenberg to school last night as they roughed him up for 4 runs in the 10th inning. The Mets went on to win and Rosenberg went back to the clubhouse sporting a 12.66 ERA.
As he entered the clubhouse, Rosenberg must have been given a “Baseball for Dummies” book as a gift. Because in his post-game comments, he told reporters, “Everything was up. It’s pretty simple, you make really bad pitches to good hitters and you’re going to get in trouble.” So it has taken 5 years in the minors, 13 games and 15 earned runs allowed in the majors and a beating by the Mets to figure that out? I really hope he reads the entire book…
Ok, I am picking on the poor kid, I know. He is still learning. But in the meantime, it is frustrating to see a kid with a 95mph fastball tossing it right over the middle of the plate when he knows better.
Vance Worley had a lot of trouble too, allowing 4 runs in only 4 1/3 innings. Why is Worley still pitching? He has bone chips in his elbow and needs surgery. Why not shut him down and get him healthy for next year. Because he is not helping the team right now.
Worley says the elbow is not the issue, but can that really be true? Anyone who has ever had an injury of any kind knows that if you play through it, you will inevitably compensate for that injury in some way. If my right knee hurts, I lean more on my left knee, even though I know in a week or so my left knee is going to hurt as a result. The only other option is not walking, which is not really a realistic option. But it is worse with pitchers because when they compensate, they develop bad habits which can lead to new injuries like shoulder soreness.
Logic then tells us, get Worley off the mound…now. Of course, I am not the GM so all I can give is my opinion. Maybe the Phillies need a new book too. Has anyone yet written, “How Not to Destroy a MLB Pitcher for Next Season for Dummies?”
So despite the Phillies starting this game with a Grand Slam from Ryan Howard and later, a home run from Chase Utley, they lost it 9-5 in 10 innings.
Now who will be the Mets next victim? That’s right…another rookie fresh out of Triple-A. Because Cole Hamels has a tummy ache (officially a “gastrointestinal illness”), Tyler Cloyd will make his major league debut tonight at 7:05pm.
Cloyd, named the International League’s best pitcher of the year, had a 12-1 record with a 2.35 ERA in Triple-A this year and a 1.80 ERA in Double-A over 4 games. Despite all the hype, many “experts” say Cloyd does not have major-league stuff. Well, we will find out tonight I suppose…best of luck to the kid!
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies beat the 1st place Nationals Friday night by a score of 4-2. It was a very satisfying win considering that these teams have essentially switched places this year, with the Phillies going from 1st to worst for most of the season.
It was probably also very satisfying for Kyle Kendrick who pitched very well for his 3rd start in a row. Kendrick has received a lot of well deserved criticism for his mostly inconsistent play. But he does seem to have finally turned things around and fixed whatever issues he was having. Sadly though, his 21-inning scoreless streak was snapped last night when he gave up a 2-run bomb in the 7th.
Kendrick still pitched a very good game, allowing only 4 hits and 2 walks in 6 2/3 innings. And the offense helped him out with a couple runs sprinkled here and there. They did, however, leave a number men on base again, which seems to be a recurring theme.
But the 4 runs and seven pitchers (yes, 7) were enough to get the win. Manager Charlie Manuel played bullpen roulette in the 8th inning, going through one pitcher after another to get to Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th.
Luckily, the moves paid off and the Phillies grabbed Game 1 from the Nats.
Before the game, there were whispers of some drama going on behind the scenes regarding relief pitcher Michael Schwimer, who was demoted to Triple-A on Thursday. Schwimer pitched on Sunday, but now claims to be injured with a sore bicep. Upset about the demotion, Schwimer is apparently saying he should be on the DL, not in Triple-A. However, the reasoning behind this complaint may be because, if he is put on the DL, he keeps his major league paycheck and time clock in the bigs running.
So is he really hurt or is he just pissed and wants his money? The Phillies seem to think he is just fine. All pitchers have soreness throughout the year; that does not necessarily constitute an injury. But Schwimer intends to fight the demotion; he did not report to Triple-A and is instead seeking another medical opinion.
Remember back in May when Schwimer got into trouble with the Phillies for this Tweet:
He announced moves that had not been released to the public yet, prompting a strict talking to from GM Ruben Amaro Jr. On top of that, his performances on the field since then have ranged from good to awful. The lack of consistent play, and perhaps his attitude, may be the most likely culprits behind the demotion.
If that is the case, Schwimer is making a huge mess of what was previously a good opportunity for him. If he is in fact hurt, fine, he has every right to complain. But if not, with this being the 2nd time he has pissed off Phillies management, Schwimer may be in very hot water…scalding, actually. I hope for his sake that this ends well.
On to tonight’s game! Game time is 7:05pm and I will return sometime on Sunday with photos…see you there!
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography