Tagged: Wilson Valdez

2011 Phillies Photo Tribute

I just finished my yearly Phillies photo tribute!  I shot all of these photos during the 2011 season which include game photos, every player who was on the big league roster (even if for only a split second), a few alumni shots and other goodies.

The “For Fun” section is my favorite.  I collect funny shots throughout the year, like players with the giggles, guys sticking out their tongues, silly faces and lots more.  Do not worry, they are all family friendly.  The really fun ones I keep to myself ;o)

Enjoy!

 

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

2011 Phillies Season Ends in a Total Disaster

First, congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals.  They played well and deserved to win this series.  And that statement may be the only light moment in this post today…

I am angry, disappointed and thoroughly disgusted by this loss and the effort this Phillies team put forth in this NLDS series.  I apologize in advance if anyone is offended by what I am about to say, but I need a good rant to get this off my chest.

I do not want to hear, “We’ll get them next year.”  I do not want to hear, “Hindsight is 20/20.”  Because frankly, the issues on this Phillies team are not hindsight.  They are glaring problems that were obvious to me before the series even began.  If they were obvious to me, what I want to know, is why weren’t they to manager Charlie Manuel?

As my first example, take Placido Polanco.  This is a guy who normally hits at least .300 every year.  But he has been playing on a hip that will require surgery this offseason.  Manuel said after the game that Polly was in pain, but still able to play.  Just because he is ABLE to play, does not mean he should have.

Polanco batted .105 in the series and should have been benched both for his lack of production and for his health.  Putting a guy with a bum hip in the line-up every day was almost a guarantee of an 0-4 day.  Wilson Valdez played in 99 games in the regular season and came through many times in big situations.  Valdez would have at least accidentally run into a hit at some point. 

I am not saying Valdez should have played every game, but Polly certainly should not have stayed in the line-up once it was obvious that he was unable to hit with this injury.  This was a huge mistake.

Another huge mistake was Ryan Howard.  Can anyone think of a good reason for Howard to be tinkering with his stance and location in the batter’s box during a playoff series?  No?  Neither can I.  He did pretty well the 1st two games and then suddenly by Game 3, he had moved so far back in the batter’s box that he was almost in New Jersey.

100811-howard-NLDS-400 Howard messed with his approached and screwed both himself and this team, going 0 for his last 15 at-bats.  And why is a guy who is not hitting giving the 3-0 green light?  WTF.  Seriously.

So Howard made the final out of the postseason again, two years in a row, in the most pathetic manner possible.  He hurt his Achilles and went down like a sack of potatoes trying to exit the batter’s box.  He had to be helped off the field.  Fittingly, the look on his face matched the feeling of every Phillies fans in attendance and watching at home; sheer agony.

Next up, Chase Utley….you all know I love Mr. Utley.  But WHY is he taking a chance trying to steal a base in a 1-0 elimination game against Yadier Molina who throws just about everyone he faces out in that situation?

And my new favorite topic of discussion is Jimmy Rollins.  Rollins may be the only player who had a pretty good series until the final game.  He openly scolded fans about being too quiet after Game 2 and asked them to give it their all in Game 5.  Ok, fine.  The fans more than obliged and Rollins proceeded to go 0-4 in the game.  The fans brought it, why didn’t Rollins?  After the game, Rollins would not speak to reporters.  Go figure.

And then there is Raul Ibanez.  I can see letting him start most games, but when he started swinging at balls 2 feet out of the strike zone, this is a sign.  Ibanez goes hot and cold like the flip of a switch.  When he is obviously cold, take him out!  Give John Mayberry Jr. a shot.  TRY something to kick start this horrid offense!

Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz were just as bad in this series.  After ending the season with a .314 average, Pence hit only .211 in the NLDS.  Ruiz was worse, going 1-17 which equates to a .059 average.

Shane Victorino and Rollins were they only two guys who hit with any sort of consistency, but Rollins crashed and burned in the final game.

And then there is the line-up as a whole.  Manuel moved Utley to the 2-hole and Pence to the 3-hole.  This worked well for all of maybe 3 games total? – A few in at the end of the regular season and Game 1 of the NLDS?  Howard hit well before with Pence behind him.  Why mess with that once it stopped working?

Manuel is big on  what he calls playing the guys who got them to this point.  I’ve got news for Charlie…Valdez, Mayberry and sometimes Michael Martinez were a HUGE part of what got this team there, filling in for injured players and making big plays.  But he started Mayberry once and totally ignored the other guys.

And now for the pitching…Roy Halladay gave everything he had and gave up only one run.  He would have bled for this team if he thought it would help.  But the team let him down and could not score even one lousy run for the one guy who has carried them all year.  Disgusting.  After the game, Halladay said that the worst part of the loss was letting down the fans who were so supportive all year.  For me, the person I feel the worst for is Halladay.  He deserved a win; he earned it.  This team should be ashamed of letting him down like this.

And among the rest of the four aces, only Cole Hamels pitched well.  Cliff Lee blew a 4-run lead in Game 2, which was the real turning point of the series.  Once that happened, the Cards knew they had the Phils by the balls.  It was all downhill from there.

The Game 3 win was a freak accident, thanks to a Ben Francisco homer.  But the Phillies did not really earn that win.  And in Game 4, Roy Oswalt choked and gave up 5 runs.  So much for four aces.  Because the Cardinals had the royal flush.

This is possible the biggest let-down for any Phillies team in history since Black Friday on October 7, 1977 when Davey Lopes with the Dodgers was called safe and the momentum propelled the Dodgers to win the series.  So Friday October 7, 2011 (yes, the same day) may go down in history as Black Friday II.

With the pitching staff the Phillies assembled this year and the overall talent on this team, to see them lose the NLDS is a gut-wrenching tragedy.  I would not be surprised to see GM Ruben Amaro Jr. at the top of a very tall building today contemplating where it all went wrong.

I feel sorry for Ruben – he did his job, got them the players they needed and has nothing to show for it.  In fact, this Phillies team since the 2008 World Series win has taken one huge step backwards each year following: in 2009 they lost the World Series; in 2010 they lost the NLCS; and now in 2011, they lost the NLDS.  One step further back each year – if the trend continues, they will not even make the playoffs next year.

The window of opportunity for this team to win is about to close, which is the worst part of this horrible loss.  The main players are getting older, they are more injury prone and many may not even be back next year.  This may officially wind up being the worst offseason in Phillies recent history.

So I am ready to spit nails, how about you?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section. 

 

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Photo by Philly.com

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Roster in Place, the Phillies Are Ready for the NLDS

Game 1 of the NLDS is scheduled for a 5:07 start tonight.  Here is the post-season roster for the Phillies:

  • Catchers (2): Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider.
  • Infielders (6): Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez.
  • Outfielders (6): Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, John Mayberry Jr., Ben Francisco and Ross Gload.
  • Pitchers (11): Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes, Vance Worley, Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton.
  • Extras: Infielder Pete Orr and Catcher Erik Kratz will travel with the team. RHP Justin De Fratus, LHP Joe Savery and outfielder Domonic Brown will work out in Clearwater, FL and Outfielders John Bowker and Brandon Moss and RHP Michael Schwimer have been sent home.

The only slightly interesting move here is that Blanton was chosen for the roster instead of David Herndon, despite missing most of the season with injuries.  The Phillies chose experience over a younger guy, even though Herndon was with the team most of the year.

As for the pitching match-ups in the series, here are the probable starters for the Phillies and Cardinals:

  • Game 1: Roy Halladay vs. Kyle Lohse (ex-Phillie)
  • Game 2: Cliff Lee vs. Chris Carpenter (on 3 days rest)
  • Game 3: Cole Hamels vs. Jaime Garcia

These are some odd moves by Tony LaRussa.  It will either turn out to be genius, or a huge mistake.  The Phillies should be able to handle Lohse and will then get Carpenter on short rest.  That is another situation they can probably take advantage of.

The pitcher the Phils have the most trouble with is Garcia, who was pushed back to Game 3 because his home numbers are much better than his road numbers.

This all seems to add up to a Phillies advantage, however, that remains to be seen.  Also of note, Game 2 has been pushed back to 8:37pm (ugh) on Sunday due to the Yankees – Tigers rain postponement.

I also wanted to share with you an article I just read about how Danys Baez has helped Antonio Bastardo out of his recent pitching funk.  Baez was released by the Phillies in July and was not picked up by another team.  He has been sitting at home in Miami watching and noticed Bastardo, a player he previously mentored, was having problems.  He reached out to Bastardo and helped him find the issues in his mechanics.

Bastardo has bounced back since then and it seems that Baez is the reason.  The story made me a little sad, thinking about how much criticism Baez took while he was in Philly from fans and media.  For him to swallow his pride and reach out to an ex-teammate like that is a sign of true character.  He may not have been the bullpen solution the Phillies hoped for, but he gets huge brownie points in my book for just being a great guy.

Hope to see you all at the game tonight!  Go Phillies!

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

No Utley, No Howard, No Rollins…No Problem

In their first of four games against the Brewers on Thursday night, the Phillies were without three of their star players, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley.  Howard got the night off, which is rare for him.  Rollins just came off the DL and the Phils will be working him back in slowly.  And Utley is back in Philly being examined after getting hit in the head with a fastball on Wednesday.

But even with the lack of star power, the Phillies were still able to handle the Brewers.  Early in the game, it did not look like it would be so easy as Brewers pitcher Chris Narveson no-hit the Phils through  four innings.  Through 5 2/3, the Phillies still had only one hit.

But with two outs in the 6th, the Phillies bats suddenly showed up.  Shane Victorino started the rally off with a double that missed going out of the park by about 1/2 inch as it hit near the top of the left field wall.  Wilson Valdez then continued his tear with runners on base by doubling to score Victorino.

Things snowballed from there.  The Phillies scored six runs in the inning, all with two outs.  Those hits included a triple from Hunter Pence, a John Mayberry Jr. single and Carlos Ruiz double.  Pence ended the night with three RBI.

And while Narveson self-destructed that inning, Cole Hamels continued to pitch well for the Phillies.  Hamels did not allow a run until the 5th when a solo homer put the Brewers on the board.  He allowed another solo shot in the 6th, but the Brewers did very little else against Hamels, who went the distance and picked up a complete game win.

The Phillies won the game by a score of 7-2.  Game two with the Brewers starts Friday night at 8:10pm.  Roy Halladay will face Shaun Marcum.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Rain-Soaked, Dreary Loss for the Phils in Florida

Tonight in Florida, it looked like the soggy north east weather had followed the Phillies south.  Downpours delayed the start of tonight’s game against the Marlins by about an hour and a half.  It was the third rain delay / postponement between the Phillies and Marlins in the course of just a week.

The game began with a light, but steady rain, still pouring down.  And while the rain chased away many of the few fans who were actually at the game, Cole Hamels stuck it out and pitched fairly well.

Although he had some control issues, Hamels got through seven innings allowing three runs on four hits and three walks.  All three runs for the Marlins were scored on home runs.

But Hamels made up for his pitching mistakes at the plate.  In the second inning, Wilson Valdez tripled to score two runs and then Hamels followed up with an RBI-single.  Hamels duplicated the feat in his next at-bat in the fourth.  So he ended the night with two hits and two RBI.  Not too shabby for a pitcher.

Unfortunately, the scoring ended with Hamels’ 4th inning RBI.  Even less fortunate than that was a bad pitching decision by manager Charlie Manuel.  He sent Antonio Bastardo out to pitch the eighth after Bastardo had just pitched almost three innings in the last two games.  While Bastardo has been superb, he has also been overused.  And that was obvious tonight when he walked the first two batters he faced.

Manuel pulled Bastardo after the walks and put in David Herndon.  And that move also proved to be costly.  Herndon has been much better lately, but he is almost always better when he starts an inning as opposed to taking on inherited runners.  And just like that, Herndon imploded.  He gave up three home runs for a total of five in the inning, giving the Marlins a huge 8-4 lead.

The way the Phillies offense had played all night, it was clear that a four run deficit might be nearly impossible to overcome.  When the only guys hitting are your pitcher and the 7 & 8-hole hitters, it is probably not going to be a great night offensively.

So although Hamels left the game with a lead, the bullpen handed the game to the Marlins.  The Phillies lost 8-4.  The only good news is that the Braves also lost tonight.

The Phillies still have a chance to win the series tomorrow afternoon at 1:10pm.  Roy Halladay will pitch.

 

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*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Phillies Breeze Through Four Game Sweep of Reds

With two days off before this series began due to Hurricane Irene, the Phillies did not skip a beat in their total dominance over the Reds this week.  This win made it only the third time in franchise history that the Phillies have been 41 games over .500. They did it twice in 1976.

Rookie pitcher Vance Worley is also knocking on the record books.  With a 10-1 record, the Phillies have won each of his last 13 starts.  That is the best streak since Steve Carlton pitched the Phillies to 15 consecutive wins in 1972.

 

In this game against the Reds, Worley was great through six innings, allowing just one run.  He ran into trouble in the seventh when he allowed a 3-run homer.  At that point, Worley was done.  But he walked away with the lead and even an RBI on a single in the 2nd inning.

The offense had already spotted Worley six runs by the time the bullpen took over.  Ryan Howard hit a solo homer for his 104th RBI of the year.  Filling in for Placido Polanco, Michael Martinez blasted a 2-run shot to right, which was his 3rd homer of the year.  Shane Victorino and Wilson Valdez had two hits in the game as well.

So September started with a bang for the Phillies.  They currently hold an 8-game lead in the division and will play 3 games in Miami next.  Game 1 against the Marlins is Friday night at 7:10pm with Roy Oswalt pitching.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Another UnbeLEEvable Month for Cliff Lee

In the month of August, Cliff Lee has been amazingLEE, wonderfuLEE and happiLEE spectacular on the mound.  Lee nearly duplicated his equally stunning month of June, where he went 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA.  He ended August tonight with the same record of 5-0 and a 0.45 ERA.

Against the Reds on Wednesday night, Lee was dominant, as usual.  Over 8.2 innings, Lee allowed only six hits plus one walk and a hit batter in the 9th.  In short, he was magical.
 

The Phillies offense was a bit sluggish against an old foe in Dontrelle Willis, who pitched for the Marlins during his better days.  Since then, Willis has struggled to find a solid place in the majors.  But the Reds gave him another shot and he appears to be trying to take advantage of that.  He allowed some runs, but was pretty good overall.

After Willis walked the first two batters he faced, the Phillies scored one run on a Ryan Howard force out in the 1st.  Later in the sixth, Hunter Pence took Willis deep for a 2-0 Phillies lead.  Shane Victorino scored in the seventh on another ground ball out, this time from Chase Utley.

So while the offense scored only three runs, that appeared to be all Lee needed.  The defense backed Lee as well, although some of the outs they recorded were rather unorthodox.

For example, in the 5th, Wilson Valdez started to turn what looked like a great double play.  He fed the ball to Utley, but Utley fired to first way over the head of Howard.  As the ball ricocheted off the wall beyond 1st, Carlos Ruiz snagged the ball and fired back to Utley, who tagged out the runner going to second on the overthrow.  Ruiz saved Utley from the error and turned a very odd double play.

In the 9th inning, Lee finally ran into trouble after a hit, a walk and then a hit batter.  The hit batter was questionable as Miguel Cairo clearly leaned into the pitch.  And unfortunately, that prevented Lee from recording his sixth shut-out of the year as he was pulled in favor of Ryan Madson.  But Madson took care of the Reds with only three pitches to end the game.

With the 3-0 win, Cliff Lee has now recorded two months without a loss and at least five wins with an ERA under 1.00.  That feat has only been accomplished two times before.

The win also guarantees another series win for the Phillies who have taken the first three games in this four game series.  Vance Worley will pitch in the finale tomorrow; game time is 12:35pm.

 

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Lee Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*