What would have been the perfect ending to an outstanding season for rookie pitcher JA Happ went instead to Chris Coghlan of the Marlins. The Rookie of the Year award is voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and this year, it looks like they may have gotten it wrong.
While it is difficult to compare a hitter like Coghlan to a pitcher like Happ, perhaps the deciding factor should be which player had the greatest impact on their team? Happ filled the void left by starters Brett Myers and Jamie Moyer; without him, the Phillies would not have made the playoffs. Coghlan’s resume is impressive, but his team did not go to the post-season.
To review, Happ went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA, topping all rookies in innings pitched (166), strikeouts (119), complete game shut-outs (2) and 3 total shut-outs. Coghlan hit .321 with 9 homers, 47 RBI, 162 hits and a .390 on-base percentage. Again, difficult to compare, but clearly good pitching beats good hitting as has been demonstrated by years of baseball past.
So while myself and probably a lot of people feel that Happ was snubbed having come in 2nd place, these awards are seldom fair. But the second place finish does not diminish what was an amazing season for Happ, who has more than proved his worth to this team. As a consolation prize, I hereby dub JA Happ the “Fan Rookie of the Year“! Yes, complete with a photo montage:
In other news, the Phillies have removed the following players from the 40-man roster, making them free agents: Eric Bruntlett, Tyler Walker, Paul Hoover, Andy Tracy and John Ennis. Tracy will likely be back next year with the Iron Pigs (AAA) in Allentown as well as Ennis. Hoover may find himself serving as a back-up catcher if not one fills that spot right away. But it does look like Bruntlett and Walker will probably be gone.
Free agent signings will begin on Friday.
Photos by Jenn
The Phillies announced their playoff roster today and there were a few surprises. Here is how it played out (courtesy of Phillies.com):
Catchers (2): Paul Bako and Carlos Ruiz
Infielders (6): Miguel Cairo, Greg Dobbs, Pedro Feliz, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley
Outfielders (5): Ben Francisco, Raul Ibanez, Matt Stairs, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth
Pitchers (12): left-handers Antonio Bastardo, Scott Eyre, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ and Cliff Lee and right-handers Joe Blanton, Chad Durbin, Kyle Kendrick, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, Pedro Martinez and Brett Myers
Miguel Cairo was the right decision over Eric Bruntlett. And the rest of the bench players are what I expected.
There was one surprise with the pitchers, however. Clay Condrey and Tyler Walker were left off the roster in favor of Kyle Kendrick and Antonio Bastardo. I did say earlier that Bastardo may be picked over Walker, so that is not too shocking considering the lack of lefties in the pen. But Kendrick over Condrey, I am a bit surprised about. Kendrick did pitch well in September, but Condrey is more consistent and has a lot more experience. I think the nagging back injury did him in; the team must not be convinced that Condrey is healthy.
I also predicted that the Game 1 starter would be Cliff Lee, and that is correct. Cole Hamels will get Game 2 and Game 3 has yet to be decided. My feeling is that it should be JA Happ as the Phils want to overload the Rockies with lefties. But all Charlie Manuel would say is that Happ, Joe Blanton and even Pedro Martinez will be “available” in the pen for the first two games. I suppose then whoever does not get used will start Game 3.
This may also be a strategic move. This gives less preparation time to the Rockies since they will not know who to prepare for.
So, if you are actually home tomorrow at game time, tune in at 2:37pm for the first pitch. The game time still disgusts me. I understand all teams need air time, but how exactly is it that the reigning World Champions do not get one of the prime time slots? I’ll tell you why…because MLB cares only about the Yankees and the Red Sox. It has been and probably will always be about these teams, whether deserving or not. I root for the Yankees too, so it is not personal. It is a matter of respect.
Not to mention, normal people have jobs, kids have school and 2:37pm does not allow ANY of these people to enjoy the game, unless they call out sick or skip school. And how about the poor Rockies fans? The game time for them is 12:37pm! (Mountain time) That is just wrong. But hey, if you are a Yankees or Sox fan, I’ll bet you are happier than a pig in mud, right? Must be nice.
Well, best of luck to everyone tomorrow (except the Rockies, of course)! Go Phillies!
The post-season roster has not been set for the Phillies; they have until 10am tomorrow to make the final decision. The central core is not in question, with 6 current and former All-Stars in starting roles. However, the pitching rotation, bullpen and bench players are going to be tough decisions.
Manager Charlie Manuel seems to favor Eric Bruntlett on the bench because he runs well and can play almost every position in the field. However, Bruntlett has not hit well and ended the year with 18 hits in 105 at-bats for a .171 average. Miguel Cairo has performed much better and can play most of the infield spots; he ended the season batting .267 and went 7 for his last 19 including a triple and a home run in the final game.
While Cairo should get the nod over Bruntlett, it may not happen that way. Bruntlett was with the team last year and Manuel tends to favor guys he is most familiar with. Both could make the team, but only if they sacrifice a bullpen spot. Ben Francisco, Greg Dobbs and Matt Stairs should all be locks for the roster, despite the facts that Dobbs has been playing hurt and Stairs batted only .194 this year with 5 homers in 103 at-bats.
The pitching is even more complicated. Most likely Cliff Lee will start game 1 as Cole Hamels would only have 3 days rest. However, Lee has been mostly awful in his last 7 starts, allowing 27 runs in 39 2/3 innings. That is an ERA of about 6.13. Not good. The Phillies hope he will turn things around for his first post-season appearance.
Hamels was equally inconsistent, ending the season with a record of 10-11 and a 4.32 ERA. Pedro Martinez has been dealing with a sore neck, so his ability to pitch deep into a game effectively is in serious question. Joe Blanton and JA Happ have been the only two good, consistent arms in the rotation all year and now Happ may get bumped to the bullpen due to a lack of lefties. That would be a real shame though, because Happ has the best record of the starting staff with 12 wins, 4 losses and an ERA of 2.93. Honestly, I think they need to keep Happ as a starter and take their chances with the lefty situation in the pen. Happ is more valuable for 6-7 innings than he would be for only a few batters.
That brings us to the pen, which is basically a mess. Every regular bullpen pitcher has suffered at least one injury this year, except Ryan Madson. Right now, JC Romero, Jamie Moyer and Chan Ho Park are still hurt and will not play in the NLDS; Moyer is done for the year. That leaves Scott Eyre as the only experienced lefty, and he is pitching through a sore elbow. Chad Durbin, Clay Condrey, Brad Lidge and Madson are on the roster for sure. That leaves Tyler Walker, Kyle Kendrick, Brett Myers and the 2 rookies, Sergio Escalona and Antonio Bastardo to fill the remaining spots.
Escalona and Bastardo are both lefties but lack experience and have exhibited a lack of pitching control at times as well. It would be tough to add one of them to the roster, even though lefties are needed. Kendrick spent most of the year in the minors, but pitched fairly well for the big club in September until his last outing where he gave up 3 runs. And Myers has suffered two injuries which kept him out almost the whole year and he still does not look quite right. That leaves Tyler Walker whose 3.06 ERA is 3rd best in the pen, behind Eyre and Condrey.
But with all the injuries, the Phillies options are limited. My best guess is this: Madson, Lidge, Condrey, Eyre, Durbin, Walker and Myers with Pedro Martinez added to the list instead of Happ. That makes 12 pitchers total, including the 4 starters: Happ, Lee, Hamels and Blanton. Although, if one lefty in the pen looks problematic, they may keep Bastardo instead of Walker. Of course, I may be totally off. We shall see.
The Phils got swept in 4 games against the Astros earlier this season and were looking for revenge last night. The problem is, they need to look a lot harder. In a horrible 2-8 loss, Cole Hamels allowed 6 runs in 6 2/3 innings. 5 runs were scored by Houston in the 7th inning with 2 outs and NO ONE on base. Tyler Walker gave up 2 runs of his own, plus allowed 2 for Hamels that same inning with runners he left on base.
The offense did no better. Their only 2 runs came on a sac fly and a balk call. And all this against a pitcher that they should have beat the crap out of; Yorman Bazardo was with the Phillies in Spring Training and had a 9.55 ERA coming into last night’s game. So, the Phillies knew exactly what to expect from him and still only managed 2 hits off Bazardo.
The only real highlight of the game was when Paul Bako blocked home plate as Lance Berkman tried to score. Berkman missed the plate and Bako ran him down on the dirt track behind home plate to tag him out.
Ok, I lied; 1 more highlight: JC Romero returned to the Phillies last night after a long DL stint with a torn muscle in his forearm. JC – we missed you! SO glad to see Romero healthy again. He pitched 1 inning, allowing 2 hits and no runs. Romero will need to shake some rust off, but overall, he looked great. Welcome back!
With the loss last night and a win by the Braves, the magic number is STILL at 3 and the division lead, once at 8.5 games, has dwindled down to 4. Time to panic yet? Well, do not push that button just yet…however, if the Phillies do not win tonight, go right ahead. The pitcher they will face today, Wilton Lopez, is making his first major league start. Again, the Phillies should beat the pants off this guy…”should” being the critical word.
JA Happ will start for the Phillies; Happ will need to be spectacular and show the rest of this pitching staff how it should be done! Happ and Joe Blanton are the only 2 Phillies starters to have recorded wins in the last 8 games. The rest of the staff had better step up…fast! Best of luck to JA Happ tonight!
The Phillies played back-to-back games in Miami yesterday against the 2nd place Marlins and split the series. Here is a recap:
Joe Blanton pitched 7 scoreless innings while the Phillies offense played some small ball and squeaked out 4 runs off the Marlins ace, Josh Johnson. They blew the game wide open though with a 5-run 8th inning. Every starting position player had at least one hit and 5 different players collected RBI’s.
Miguel Cairo got a rare start at 3rd base while Pedro Feliz took a break; Cairo went 2 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored. Ryan Howard led the team in RBI’s with 3, none of which came off home runs. He got it done with base hits, sacrifices and some really good base running. Out of 9 runs scored in the 9-3 win, only 1 came off a homer; Raul Ibanez hit a solo shot in the 8th.
The pen ran into trouble in the bottom of the 8th with rookie Sergio Escalona allowing 3 runs on 2 hits. Tyler Walker allowed a hit as well, but eventually got the final 2 outs of the inning. Clay Condrey pitched a hitless 9th inning; it is great to see Condrey back after a long stint on the DL!
The Phillies looked a bit sleepy in game two.
In fact, the bats took a little nap for 9 innings and they lost the game 0-3. The only 2 hits in the game came from Chase Utley who hit a single and a double. I guess they were exhausted after a 9-run game earlier? Because the Marlins pitcher, Anibal Sanchez is certainly not their best; his 2-7 record and ERA of 4.50 going into the game should be evidence enough.
Jamie Moyer did his job and pitched 7 innings, allowing 3 runs on 9 hits and 1 walk, which is basically what the Phillies expected from him. But the lack of offense did them in.
So, having split the doubleheader, the Phillies will need to concentrate on winning the final game of the series tonight. Cole Hamels gets the ball at 7:10pm.
The magic number is now 5!
Cairo photo by Jenn
While not without drama, the Phillies did manage to take 2 games in this 3-game series from the Atlanta Braves, dampening their playoff hopes. Rain also dampened the afternoon with a 2-hour delay taking Cliff Lee out of the game after only 4 innings of work. Lee was on pace to pitch another great game, but on this day, it would be up to the bullpen.
The first inning however, did not bode well for the Phils; Shane Victorino got tossed out of the game for arguing with an umpire after he was tossed out stealing second. Victorino slammed his helmet to the ground and then said a few choice words to the ump. Shane needs to watch himself; with his second ejection this year, he now has a reputation with the umps of being a hot-head. In the bottom of the first inning, Jimmy Rollins dropped the ball trying to tag out Matt Diaz who was caught between bases and a run scored on the play. The run would have scored anyway, but the ejection followed by the missed ball made things look grim. Ben Francisco took over for Victorino and hit an RBI double in the third to tie the game and give the Phillies a lift. In the 4th, a double by Raul Ibanez and a single by Pedro Feliz put two more runs on the board. The rain came and a 2-hour delay ensued. After the delay, Chase Utley nailed an RBI triple to make the score 4-1 and the bullpen took over. Tyler Walker pitched 2 innings with Sergio Escalona and Clay Condrey sharing the 7th. Ryan Madson returned to his 8th inning role and took the 4-1 lead into the 9th. Brad Lidge still looks like crap, but with a 3-run lead, manager Charlie Manuel gave him the ball anyway. As expected, Lidge got into trouble with 2 outs and gave up a run. He finally struck out the last batter and all Phillies fans breathed a collective sigh of relief. Tomorrow is an off day and then a double-header on Tuesday with the Fish! The magic number is now 6! Photography Phun A few weeks ago, I attended a Photo Workshop at an Iron Pigs game (Phillies AAA club). I experimented with different lenses and camera settings in a very low-light environment. It was great fun and our group had access to the photo pit before the game right next to the Pigs dugout. I got some great close-up shots of the players! Here is the full Photo Album from the game; you will notice a lot of different light environments…this is a result of changing lenses, camera settings and just plain fooling around :O) Some of them are really awesome, and some are just a tad off, but I promise you, all of them were FUN! We even got the Mets AAA team to pose for us:
Photos by Jenn
The 9th inning drama needs to stop! Seriously. Ok, we won and I am happy, of course. But are we really going to have to go through this EVERY game? And what if the Phillies only have a 1-run lead? You can NOT trust a 1-run lead to Lidge anymore. Luckily, the Phillies have a nice 8-game pad in the division to figure this out, but with 3 games against the Marlins up next, they had better think quick!
Hope you enjoy the pictures!
The first inning however, did not bode well for the Phils; Shane Victorino got tossed out of the game for arguing with an umpire after he was tossed out stealing second. Victorino slammed his helmet to the ground and then said a few choice words to the ump. Shane needs to watch himself; with his second ejection this year, he now has a reputation with the umps of being a hot-head.
In the bottom of the first inning, Jimmy Rollins dropped the ball trying to tag out Matt Diaz who was caught between bases and a run scored on the play. The run would have scored anyway, but the ejection followed by the missed ball made things look grim.
Ben Francisco took over for Victorino and hit an RBI double in the third to tie the game and give the Phillies a lift. In the 4th, a double by Raul Ibanez and a single by Pedro Feliz put two more runs on the board. The rain came and a 2-hour delay ensued.
After the delay, Chase Utley nailed an RBI triple to make the score 4-1 and the bullpen took over. Tyler Walker pitched 2 innings with Sergio Escalona and Clay Condrey sharing the 7th. Ryan Madson returned to his 8th inning role and took the 4-1 lead into the 9th. Brad Lidge still looks like crap, but with a 3-run lead, manager Charlie Manuel gave him the ball anyway. As expected, Lidge got into trouble with 2 outs and gave up a run. He finally struck out the last batter and all Phillies fans breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Tomorrow is an off day and then a double-header on Tuesday with the Fish! The magic number is now 6!
A few weeks ago, I attended a Photo Workshop at an Iron Pigs game (Phillies AAA club). I experimented with different lenses and camera settings in a very low-light environment. It was great fun and our group had access to the photo pit before the game right next to the Pigs dugout. I got some great close-up shots of the players! Here is the full Photo Album from the game; you will notice a lot of different light environments…this is a result of changing lenses, camera settings and just plain fooling around :O) Some of them are really awesome, and some are just a tad off, but I promise you, all of them were FUN! We even got the Mets AAA team to pose for us:
Photos by Jenn
Since Friday night’s game did not go well, I decided that it was time for J-Roll Smurf to intervene and add a little Phillies Smurf magic to the equation. So, before the game on Saturday against the Cardinals, J-Roll Smurf enjoyed visiting personally with many of the Phillies players. The real J-Roll was excited to see his old buddy again and Ryan Howard laughed out loud as he thinks J-Roll Smurf is too awesome for words. Also rubbing the luck from J-Roll Smurf yesterday was Brad Lidge, JA Happ, Chad Durbin, Pedro Feliz, Scott Eyre, Clay Condrey, John Mayberry, Kyle Kendrick and Tyler Walker. And although a few Phillies, like Chan Ho Park and Jamie Moyer, seemed confused by the little blue mascot, J-Roll Smurf rubbed his luck upon them anyway :O) You’ve gotta LOVE Photo Day:
And the Smurfy magic paid off with wins both Saturday and today for a series win over the Cards! In fact, the original J-Roll Smurf, Jimmy Rollins, nailed a GRAND SLAM on Saturday and then a 2-run homer today! There is no stopping him now!
All these wins and entertainment too! On Saturday, some crazy guy tried to interrupt the game with a laser pointer to distract the Cards hitters and a very drunk guy named, “Sully” distracted the entire outfield crowd later on:
Here is the Photo Album from the entire 3-game series!
So the Phillies will hit the road for 3 games against the D-Backs and then 4 with the San Francisco Giants. I will be in San Francisco for all 4 – hope to see you there!
Photos by Jenn