July 29th has been a significant day in recent Phillies history. On July 29, 2009, the Phillies acquired Cliff Lee. That same day in 2010, they picked up Roy Oswalt. And this year, Hunter Pence is the big prize.
A report from Phillies Beat Writer Todd Zolecki states that Pence will be sent from the Astros to the Phillies in exchange for Class A first baseman Jonathan Singleton, Class A pitcher Jarred Cosart and two yet unnamed prospects.
The best news of the night is that neither pitcher Vance Worley or outfielder Domonic Brown were included in the deal. While the two named prospects are highly touted, the Phillies really pulled off an amazing deal without having to give up any major league talent. This is another huge score for Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.
Pence, 28, is a lifetime .290 hitter and 2-time All-Star who combines both power and speed. Pence hit 25 home runs each year from 2008-2010 and had a career high 91 RBI’s last season. In addition, Pence cannot become a free agent until the 2014 season, putting the Phillies in control for years to come.
With the addition of Pence and also Placido Polanco returning from the DL this weekend, two moves will have to be made. My best guess is that Brown will be sent back to Triple-A to work on his game. The second casualty could be John Mayberry Jr.
While the playoffs and the World Series are promised to no one, the addition of Pence certainly does improve the Phillies’ chances.
And in case you missed it amidst all the excitement, there was actually a game tonight. The Phillies beat the Pirates by a score of 10-3 with Roy Halladay pitching seven one-hit innings. Andrew Carpenter allowed three runs in the eighth.
The offensive highlights included Chase Utley coming up just a double short of hitting for the cycle. His 3-run homer in the second inning put the Phillies far ahead very early.
Shane Victorino also came close to hitting for the cycle, but missed out on the home run. Jimmy Rollins smacked a 2-run homer in the seventh, but sadly for Victorino, he was not allowed to share the homer and help out his buddy Shane.
Oddly enough, Rollins hit that home run off pitcher Jason Grilli, who until a week ago was in the Phillies minor league system. The Pirates picked him up after the Phillies released him on July 20, 2011.
This is now set up to be a very exciting weekend for the Phillies. When Pence will be in the line-up probably depends on how soon he can get here from Houston. Add Polanco back into the line-up and the Phillies are set up nicely for a strong run to the playoffs.
Game two with the Pirates is Saturday night at 7:05pm; Cliff Lee will pitch.
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The last time the Phillies won seven games in a row in the month of June was in 1982. In 2011, they have done it again…finally. And they also swept the Marlins in a four game series.
Cliff Lee was on fire today, only in a good way, not in a call the fire department way. He was no-hitting the Fish until Mike Stanton singled with 2 outs in the 5th. Still, Lee wound up pitching a complete game shut-out in the 3-0 win.
In addition, Lee was hot at the plate as well. He had two hits in the game, the second of which was an RBI-double off the right-center field wall. He missed a home run by only a few feet.
And that one run, the first of the game, turned out to be all Lee needed to win the game. But just for good measure, Ryan Howard added on with a solo homer in the 5th and Jimmy Rollins knocked in the third run in the 6th with a double.
The Phillies are now on their way to Seattle where they will begin a 3-game series with the Mariners Friday night at 10:10pm. Roy Oswalt will pitch and Cole Hamels will start on Sunday.
Due to the doubleheader yesterday, the Phillies were in need of a spot starter for Saturday, which is going to be rookie Vance Worley. That brings us to the sad news of the day…
To make room for Worley, the Phillies chose to designate J.C. Romero for assignment. They have 10 days to trade him, release him or place him on waivers. Romero could be offered a minor league deal if no one takes him, but the odds are slim that he would accept that deal.
While Romero has struggled since having elbow surgery before the 2010 season, the emergence of lefty Antonio Bastardo has also made it difficult for Romero to get innings. Romero will always be remembered in Philadelphia for his contributions to the 2008 World Series championship plus a League Championship and two NL East titles.
On a personal note, I have had the privilege of being able to spend some time with J.C. and his family over the last 3+ years and I will miss them. The Romero’s are generous, kind people who contributed much more than just baseball to the city of Philadelphia and other communities in need.
I wish them the very best.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Earlier today, the Phillies finally got the deal done with manager Charlie Manuel. The two-year extension will take him through the 2013 season.
In a press conference, Manuel expressed his desire to stay with the Phillies until he leaves baseball. Manuel discussed other teams he has worked with and then stated, “I’m a Phillie. If I cut my arm it’s going to be red blood, not blue.”
Well, unless Charlie is a horseshoe crab or an octopus, I am pretty sure he bleeds red. But seriously, it is great to have a guarantee for Charlie before the season starts.
During Manuel’s time in Philly, the team has the best record in the National League. Manuel has won 544 games with the Phillies plus four division titles, one league title and , of course, the 2008 World Series Championship.
Spring Training Update
The Phillies are plugging along through spring training despite losing both Chase Utley and Domonic Brown to injuries. Utley is still out indefinitely. Brown had successfully surgery to remove the hamate bone in his hand and is expected to play again in four to six weeks.
Today, Roy Halladay pitched six scoreless innings against the Yankees, allowing only four hits. Halladay was sharp and used his curve ball more than usual in preparation for the season.
While winning by a score of 7-0, the Phillies saw contributions from several lesser-known players. One of those players, Josh Barfield, went 2 for 3, including a triple today. He is hitting .538 in 13 at-bats so far this spring. Barfield is a second baseman who spent parts of four seasons in the majors with the Indians and Padres. He hit .294 with 36 RBI last year in the Indians AAA club.
Barfield has been impressive, which may be of great importance now that Utley’s future is uncertain. Wilson Valdez is an option as well, but it could not hurt to have an extra infielder right now.
Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography
Most people who have encountered former Phillie Lenny Dykstra are aware that he is not in full possession of all his marbles. Clearly, the elevator does not go to the top floor.
But Dykstra gave new meaning to the word “insane” when he did an interview with NBC reporter John Clark earlier this month.
During the interview, Dykstra talks about the possibility of him being assassinated by a bank, tells his critics “suck my d*ck” and even compares himself to Ghandi. You cannot make this stuff up:
It gets worse when he starts talking about Charlie Sheen. Dykstra calls Sheen “focused.” He also blames Sheen’s condition on “medication” and says most of it is a “joke.”
But my favorite Dykstra moment comes when he blasts Mitch Williams, whom he says he hates. Why? Because, according to Dykstra, “He lost the World Series,” and put Dykstra through “torture” as a result. So, the rest of the team had nothing to do with losing the World Series?
Williams is a stand-up guy who admits his own mistakes. Dykstra is a delusional moron who does not deserve to even breathe the same air.
Dykstra is an embarrassment to the Phillies organization. Shameful.
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Yesterday I posed a question about Chase Utley and his health. Today, the Phillies finally spilled the beans and admitted that Utley has tendinitis in his right knee. An MRI revealed the issue which requires rest in order to heal.
While Utley has agreed to take things slow, the injury is still worrisome. According to the Mayo Clinic, knee tendinitis can involve a grocery list of complications including weakened leg muscles due to overcompensation, tendon tears and chronic pain. The recovery time is anywhere from weeks to months.
In my own personal experience, tendinitis can be chronic and linger for years. Utley has already stated that this is a condition he has dealt with in the past, so it appears to be an ongoing issue. How much it will hamper his future performance remains to be seen. But for now, it is not good news.
On to another sore subject, Jayson Werth made a very bad error in judgment this week when he trash-talked his former team. The Washington Post reported that Werth stated, “I hate the Phillies, too,” during a conversation with his new GM, Mike Rizzo.
I wonder which parts he hated. Could it be his 2008 World Series ring? Or maybe it was all the attention from fans who routinely professed their admiration of him? No, I’ll bet it was that the Phillies signed him when every other team in baseball assumed he was a washed-up, injury prone discard.
Then again, Werth is a National now. And I suppose all Nationals hate Philly for winning four straight division titles while they have done nothing but suck since moving to DC in 2005. Sounds like sour grapes from an underperforming club that has to beg fans of opponents to come to their ballpark just to sell tickets.
In another interview about Phillies fans outnumbering Nats fans in DC, Werth also said, “The reason why those people come over here is they don’t have a chance to watch their team in Philadelphia and as soon as we fill the seats with Nats fans those people are going to go away and we are going to regain homefield advantage and I am looking forward to that day too.”
News flash Werth – We see our team in Philly all the time. The reason most of us go to DC is because Nats tickets are super easy to get. And we do not mind the drive because we love and support our team, unlike most Nats fans who cannot be bothered to show up.
I will be honest; Werth has never been a favorite of mine. I have seen him treat fans badly and even watched him make rude, ignorant comments to small children who were politely asking for an autograph during a previous spring training. So frankly, the “hate” comment does not shock me.
But if Werth thinks his $126 million paycheck is going to fill seats in DC, he is in for a rude awakening. And if he is expecting a Pat Burrell-like greeting upon his return to Philadelphia, I am not sure that “rude awakening” would even begin to cover what Philly has in store for him.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Charlie Manuel’s contract as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies is set to expire at the end of the 2011 season. With Spring Training just weeks away, the Phillies have yet to finalize an extension for their skipper.
No manager likes to enter a season with their status up in the air. It can raise questions about why a manager is not yet resigned and can sometimes even undermine a manager’s authority in the clubhouse.
In the case of Charlie Manuel, the Phillies surely must want him back. A winning percentage of .560 over six years with the team, four Division titles, a National League Pennant and a World Series Championship should be reason enough for an extension.
The only feat Manuel has yet to accomplish is a second World Series title. If the Phillies are trying to squeeze more than that out of him, they may have to hook Manuel up to an IV to give blood.
Besides the winning record, Manuel has many intangible qualities that make him a perfect fit for this franchise. The players love him. They play hard not just for the love of the game, but for their love and respect of Charlie.
Because of his reputation as a player’s manager, other major leaguers want to come to Philadelphia. Just ask Cliff Lee. He turned down more money and additional years to come back and play for Manuel in 2011.
The fans love Charlie too. They love him not only because he brought winning baseball back to Philadelphia, but also for his kind, approachable attitude. Fans can walk right up to him and engage in a conversation.
Manuel genuinely respects and appreciates the fans, treating them as equals.
The Phillies should take that to heart and give the same respect and appreciation back to Manuel. Whether it is two or three years, give the man what he wants. He has earned it.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
With the Fab Four of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels already locked up in their starting rotation, do the Phillies still need Joe Blanton? The righty has two years left on his contract which will earn him a total of $17 million dollars.
In comparison, Kyle Kendrick has a 25-20 record with a 4.55 ERA in 63 starts since the 2008 season. The statistics are similar, but it should also be noted that Kendrick spent a good amount of time bouncing back and forth from the majors to the minors in 2009. And last year, Blanton spent time on the disabled list.
Another alternative for the fifth starter position is rookie Vance Worley. In two starts with the Phillies in 2010, Worley pitched 13 innings and recorded a 1.38 ERA. Between AA and AAA last year, Worley recorded a combined 10-7 record with a 3.36 ERA over 27 starts. But Worley is still a big unknown. He is young and lacks experience.
With these options, it seems that either Blanton or Kendrick would be the best fit for the role. If the Phillies are concerned with payroll, trading Blanton may be a good idea as Kendrick is still under team control.
When asked if payroll would move him to trade Blanton, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told the media, “I really don’t have to do anything.” A lower payroll would help if Amaro has other future moves in mind, however, it does not appear to be necessary right now.
If money is not a true motivator at this times, the Phillies may be better served to keep Blanton. Having both Blanton and Kendrick provides tremendous pitching depth. In the event that one of the Fab Four gets injured, the decision to then move Kendrick into the rotation to fill the hole should be a no-brainer.
Blanton also has experience in eight different playoff series, including two World Series. Kendrick pitched less than four innings in the 2007 NLDS and has not seen any playoff action since that time.
And if the Phillies start the year off with Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels and Blanton, then Kendrick can fill a hole in the bullpen as a long reliever. With Chad Durbin still unsigned, there may be a greater need for a long man.
It appears that keeping Blanton is probably a good idea. Of course, if another team makes a good offer, the Phillies still have other options for the fifth spot in the rotation. But until the season actually begins, anything can happen.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography