Tagged: Yankees

Solid Spring So Far For The Phillies

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?

199a Hamels.jpgCole 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.

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Cliff Lee Is Angry

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:

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Tosh.0
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Web Redemption 2 Girls, 1 Cup Reaction Demi Moore Picture

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!

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Photos by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Spring Drags On

Mid-March is about the time when I begin to find Spring Training dull and get anxious for the real games to begin.  Ok yes, Joe Blanton had a good outing against the Tigers today after a shaky spring start.  Cole Hamels looks like he is in good shape with two solid performances so far.  The bats are jumping and as a team, the Phillies are hitting at an average of .301 with 7 homers and 36 RBI.  And still, I am a bit sleepy about the whole thing.

In my boredom today, I decided to scan through this week’s MLB headlines to see what was going on around the league.  Here are a few fun tidbits I came across in my search:

  • Yankees shortstop and baseball God, Derek Jeter, sat out of a Spring Training game with flu symptoms.  And then an Angel lost its wings :O(

  • At age 39, Brian Giles, former Padre, has decided to retire.  It was either that or start taking the same magical, fountain of youth pills that Jamie Moyer takes.
  • Angels center fielder Torii Hunter told USA Today that Latin Americans are “imposters” in relation to black ballplayers.  Hunter was then rushed to Jose Reyes’ Canadian doctor and diagnosed with “foot-in-mouth” disease.  He was given a “special” injection and should be back to hitting homers in no time.
  • 86224234_jpg_25207_cropped.jpgRed Sox Nomar Garciaparra also retired this week.  He now has plenty of free time to write a memoir about the many baseball adventures of his gigantic nose.  Did it provide shade when trying to catch a pop fly in the sun?  How many times did the nose save his life by blocking a high, inside pitch?  It will be a must-read.
  • Braves Manager Bobby Cox reported that Derek Lowe was suffering from a blister.  “He gutted through it, and it’s a mess,” Cox said about the blister. “I don’t know how he pitched at all.”  I know what he means; last week, I broke a nail and was not sure if I could go on typing.  I toughed it out as I could not disappoint my readers – that is how much I love you guys.
  • In an interview with ESPN, Milton Bradley whined that he received hate mail from the Cubs last year.  He went on to note that unless you’re “Superman or you’re Andre Dawson, Ernie Banks or [in the] Hall of Fame, then it’s going to be tough” for African-American players in Chicago.  I don’t suppose his .257 batting average had anything to do with his difficulties?  Oh, and wasn’t Superman a white dude?  Just sayin’…
  • Going back to the drug-dealing Canadian doctor, Alex Rodriguez was treated by this same guy after hip surgery last year.  In response to the investigation, A-Rod said, “I am aware of an investigation, and I plan on cooperating.”  The last time he “cooperated” there were no real consequences; so hey, no biggie.

Come on Opening Day!  Get here….quick!

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Reyes photo by Jenn

Garciaparra photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Highs and Lows of Spring

Here are some highlights from the last 2 Phillies Spring games:

3/7 vs. Tampa Bay; final score 5-3, Tampa:  JA Happ started the game and went 2 1/3 scoreless innings; he did walk 2 batters, but overall looked good.  But even better news was that newbie Phillipe Aumont recovered from his Phillies debut, which was a 5-run pounding in less than inning against Florida State.  Against the Rays, he went 2 2/3 scoreless innings with 1 walk and 2 hits.  Time for Aumont to exhale; he is back in top prospect form.

Joe Savery, on the hand, has a rough inning where he allowed 3 runs on 4 hits.  Savery is a former first round draft pick of the Phillies but sadly, The 6’3″ lefty has never looked comfortable on the mound.  He has a 4.14 ERA in 3 years of minor league play.

The polar opposite of Savery has been young outfield propect Domonic Brown; he continues to impress this Spring and went 3 for 4 with 2 RBI against the Rays.  He also threw a runner out at home, just for good measure.  New bench piece Ross Gload also went 3 for 5 in the game in the DH role.

3/8 vs. Yankees; final score 7-5, Yanks:  Kyle Kendrick is putting the pressure on Jamie Moyer in competition for the 5th starters spot.  Kendrick went 3 solid innings allowing just one hit and no runs.  But more than that, he looked comfortable and confident.  I suppose sporting that Roy Halladay look-alike beard has given him an ego boost ;o)


Kendrick Halladay.jpgAnd then in the opposite category, Jose Contreras looked horrible today.  He could not seem to throw a first pitch strike, worked behind almost every batter in the count and as a result, he allowed 6 runs on 3 walks and 6 hits over only 1 2/3 innings.  Luckily, the Phillies have very little invested in the righty so if he does not shape up, no big deal.  Then again, Contreras was supposed to be an upgrade over the departed Chan Ho Park; do I smell a huge disappointment on the horizon?  Hmmmm….

Incidentally, Contreras began his career with the Yankees and his signing in 2002 is what precipitated the Yankee nickname, “Evil Empire.”  It is said that the Red Sox were so intent on signing Contreras that they booked every hotel room in the area of Cuba where Contreras was to keep the Yanks away.  In the end, they still lost out to the Yankees and the Sox owner allegedly threw a chair through a window in anger.  This is just a rumor, of course :O)

As for the bat today, Ryan Howard finally got his first, and then second, hit of Spring against the Yankees.  Whew!  But the big blast of the day came off the bat of Jimmy Rollins.  Pitcher Javier Vazquez made his return to the Yankees today since departing in 2005 and his very first pitch was taken out of the park by Rollins.  1 pitch, 1 homer – nice. 

Rollins had 2 hits in the game as did Howard, Chase Utley and John Mayberry Jr., who knocked the second Phillies homer of the game in the 6th inning.  But while the bat were popping, the outing by Contreras put the Phils in a hole they could not climb out of.

Shane Victorino was still missing from the line-up, but it appears he may make his Spring debut tomorrow against the Braves at 7:05pm.  His sore shoulder has been an issue so far this Spring and the Phillies are playing it safe with him.  But hopefully the Flyin’ Hawaiian will take flight again tomorrow night.

And congratulations to reader “blueferret” who was the first person to find the mistake on the new Cliff Lee Topps trading card from Saturday’s blog.  Topps photoshopped an old Phillies card to change the Phillies uniform to a Mariners uniform but they forgot to remove the “HK” patch from the new Mariners version.  The “HK” patch was a Phillies-only items that the team wore in 2009 in honor of the late Harry Kalas.

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Photos by ESPN.com

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Phillies Beat The Yanks In First Spring Action

The first official Spring Training game for the Phillies ended with a 3-2 win over their World Series foes, the New York Yankees.  Not that spring games mean anything, but it was fun to watch.  mlb_i_rhalladay2_400.jpgRoy Halladay pitched two innings and lived up to the hype.  He did not allow a hit in 2 innings and threw 21 of 24 pitches for strikes.  It did not look like even one of those pitches came near the middle of the plate.  He had amazing movement on the ball, pinpoint control and he painted the corners, making it look effortless.

Kyle Kendrick and new pick-up Jose Contreras impressed as well.  Each threw 2 innings and looked solid.  Kendrick appears to be serious about grabbing the 5th starters’ spot.  Kendrick spent extra time this off-season working out to prepare and during camp, has been following Halladay around like a lost puppy.  The extra effort appears to be paying off.

Another anxiously awaited debut was that of former 2nd baseman, Placido Polanco at third base.  The first batter of the day hit it right to him and Polly handled it well.  Later that same inning however, he made a fantastic scoop but overthrew to first for the first error of spring.  It was basically smooth sailing after that minus a pop-up that the wind took away.   Polanco started his career at third and it is expected that he will progress quickly in his return to the position.

So it was all positives for the Phillies in their 1st official spring game.  Yesterday’s exhibition against Florida State however was a bit more challenging for one new Phillie.  Top prospect Phillipe Aumont who was acquired in the Cliff Lee trade had a memorable outing on the mound, although it won’t be a good memory for the young pitcher. 

Obviously shaken by the pressure to show he was worth the trade, Aumont gave up 5 runs in 2/3 of an inning including 3 walks and a 3-run homer.  Previously touted for his excellent control, that skill went right out the window as nerves got the better of him.  And all that was against a college team…ouch.  This poor kid needs a hug….bad.  The Phillies still won 13-6 so no worries.  Besides, things can only get better from here.  Aumont should bounce back now that he has purged the nervous energy.  I wish him luck!

So the Phillies will play a game every day until their one day off of the month on March 18th.  Tomorrow they face the Blue Jays in Dunedin and Halladay will make his first visit back to his old spring stadium.  Cole Hamels is scheduled to start and we will also see J.C. Ramirez, Ryan Vogelsong and Antonio Bastardo in action as well.  Game time is 1:05pm.

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Photo from ESPN.com

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Spring Games Set To Begin

The Phillies take to the field tonight for the first real action of Spring Training in an exhibition game against Florida State.  JA Happ will be the starting pitcher followed by Phillippe Aumont, Yohan Flande, Drew Naylor, Joe Savery, Jesus Sanchez and David Herndon.  All eyes will be on Aumont as he was one of the prospects the Phillies got in the Cliff Lee trade.  Many are anxious to see if the risk will pay off.

Shane Victorino has been left off the starting line-up for precautionary reasons. 
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Victorino has been suffering from a sore shoulder and the team will likely not want to push him.  It does not seem serious, but it is usually better to be safe than sorry.  John Mayberry Jr. will fill in at center and Greg Dobbs gets the nod as the DH.  But as is usual in Spring games, the starters will probably not play long, giving the team a chance to look at some prospects.  Game time is 7:05pm.

The game everyone is waiting for though is tomorrow’s match up against the Yankees with Roy Halladay on the mound.  It will be the team’s first look at their off-season prize in live game action.  The talk about Halladay’s work ethic, poise and electric arm has been non-stop since he signed.  Finally, it is time to see some results.  Tomorrow’s game starts at 1pm and will be carried on Comcast Sportsnet and then replayed on The MLB Network at 7pm.

And now for the disturbing news of the week:  Phillies fans know Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning as the man who pitched the only perfect game in Phillies history on June 24, 1964 which happened to be Father’s Day as well.  Considered one of the best Phillies players in history, Bunning is also one of only six pitchers ever to throw both a perfect game and a no-hitter in his career.  So as a baseball player, Bunning gets two thumbs up.  As a politician, not so much…

Bunning has served in the Kentucky State Senate since 1998 and in 2006, Time magazine dubbed him one of “America’s Five Worst Senators.”  He routinely misses Senate floor votes and on Christmas Eve 2009, he was the only senator to skip the vote on the historic health care reform bill.  Adding more fuel to the fire this month, Bunning single-handedly blocked a 30-day extension of federal unemployment benefits when more than 200,000 unemployed Americans were set to lose benefits.  The proposal of unanimous consent on any legislation like this is generally reserved for situation where no one is going to object.  Essentially, the proposal is thought to be a no-brainer….that is, for everyone on the planet except Jim Bunning.

The Senate was attempting to avoid a massive hit to the economy and considered the extension an emergency.  After receiving public spankings from both Democrats and Republicans, Bunning finally relented on Tuesday night and the legislation was passed, but not before Bunning made a total as*s out of himself.   Wait a second, I though the “as*s” was the symbol of the Democratic party?


PB023558 Bunning.jpgWe still love you in Philly Jim, but please, do America a favor and get out of politics while you still have some dignity left.  Let us all remember you as the guy who tossed the only Phillies perfect game and not the guy who tried to make 200,000 angry, unemployed people storm his house, tie him and up and force him to watch tape of the 1964 Phillies collapse; they dropped 10 consecutive games at the end of the season and lost the Division after being in first place with a 3-game lead.  This type of torture is cruel and unusual punishment.  Please, don’t make us do it…we don’t want to remember that year either.

 

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Photos by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Secretive Agents

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. 
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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

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

The Chooch Train Rolls For 3 More Years

Avoiding arbitration totally for the second year in a row, the Phillies signed Carlos Ruiz, their final arbitration eligible player.  Chooch will be manning the back-stop for at least three more years with a contract worth 8.85 million, plus a 5 million dollar option for a 4th year.  Ruiz has been the little engine who could at the end of this Phillies line-up for some time now.  Keeping him on board with the rest of the crew through 2012 adds even more stability to the team.175 ruiz.jpg

Earlier this week, the Phillies also signed veteran right-hander Jose Contreras to a deal worth about 1 million for one year.  The deal is pending a physical, of course.  A starter most of his career, the 39-year old Contreras has a lifetime 4.61 ERA which includes time spent with Colorado last year and the White Sox and Yankees before that.  He won the World Series in 2005 with the Sox.  Another fun tidbit; Contreras will join pitcher Danys Baez as the second Cuban defector to be acquired by the Phillies this offseason.

All the signings this month mean that 7 of our 8 starting position players are now signed at least through 2011.  The lone wolf in the bunch is right fielder, Jayson Werth who is signed only through this coming season.  It is thought that, unless he gets hurt or has a very bad year, the Phillies will be unable to afford Werth after 2010.  While Jayson is certainly Werth-Y of big bucks, there are just too many youngsters, like highly-touted prospect Dominic Brown, waiting in the wings to justify the additional expense.  Rumor has it that Werth may command a salary near 16 million a year.  The Phils budget simply will not be able to hold him.

Anything can happen, of course.  That is, anything except for the Phillies budget jumping to Yankee-like numbers.  That being said, Werth being with us long-term does not look very likely.  Well, we will just have to worry about that next year…

Photo by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*