Thursday, April 30, 2009

Phillies vs. Mets; Get your favorite finger ready

Scott Olsen and the Washington Nats put an end to the Phils' winning streak last night with a 4-1 victory. The Phillies will rest and enjoy an off-day today, while preparing to start another streak as the New York Mets come to town for the weekend.

For what seems like the first time since acquiring him, the Phillies will not face Johan Santana in this series. Chan Ho Park takes the ball tomorrow against Mike Pelfrey. Oliver Perez starts Saturday in what could be his final appearance out of the rotation should his struggles continue. Jamie Moyer takes the hill for the Phils on Saturday, and Joe Blanton will pitch the finale against John Maine.

This series may be a slug-fest. The combined era of the three Phils starters: 6.88. The Mets' three starters: 7.01. The ball may be flying out of Citizen's Bank Park all weekend, which should make for some exciting games. If the series does turn out that way, give the advantage to the Phillies who score and come up with clutch hits late in games, where the Mets do not. When the Mets give the Phillies trouble, it's usually a dominant starting pitcher keeping the lineup off-balance.

I can't wait to get to the ballpark for Friday's game. I wonder whether Mets fans will trash talk that they're in fourth place and the Phillies are 1.5 games out of first, or that they missed the postseason again last year and the Phils won the World Series. Hmm... there's just so much to choose from.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Phils win 4th straight, Ibanez comes through again

The Phils won their fourth straight game last night, defeating the Nationals in a wild 13-11 game. In a game that featured seven home runs, the Phillies made their two count, hitting two grand slams. Ryan Howard hit a game tying slam in the 5th, and Raul Ibanez hit a bases loaded jack to put the Phils in front in the 8th. The last two Phillies to hit a grand slam in the same game: Jason Michaels and Tomas Perez.

I've developed a man crush on Ibanez. He is the best clutch hitter playing for this team in about as long as I can remember, he plays the game the right way and simply delivers every night. He's played a very solid left field, he's hitting .342, he's already slugged six long balls, a few of which were game winners, and he even has three stolen bases and a perfect stealing percentage.

While their offense is starting to come alive, pitching remains a major concern. The starting pitchers are occasionally keeping the team in the game, but far too often the offense has to battle back to win the game. Sunday's victory over the fish marked the first game this season that the Phillies won without playing from behind. Joe Blanton was flat-out terrible last night, after a spectacular first inning. Lou Marson was setting up on the outside corner, and Blanton was throwing it belt-high, right down the middle of the plate. He gave up some absolute blasts, and he needs to make adjustments before taking the mound for his next start.

The bullpen is a whole other demon to the team so far. A major strength last season, they've been plagued by inconsistency in the early going and it really seems like a different reliever blows it every game. Last night was Scott Eyre's turn; after entering the game without allowing a run or even a hit this season, he didn't record an out, allowing four runs on two hits, three walks and two long home runs.

A game like last night is what separates the Phils from most other teams in baseball. You can see the wind come out of a team's sails when something like this happens late in a game that they had already battled back in three times. The Phillies have done this before though, and they rallied for their fourth comeback of the game. Falling behind actually seems to make the Phils focus more, not become discouraged, which is one of the most valuable thing a team can have. Ryan Madson followed the eight inning rally with a tremendous ninth to close out the game.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Moyer looks for sweep, opposes rookie Taylor

After another come from behind victory to take down the Marlins last night, Jamie Moyer is set to face rookie pitcher Graham Taylor, making his Major League debut this afternoon. The fish have suddenly dropped five in a row, and looking at their upcoming schedule, their first place standing may be just about over.

Moyer has a chance to hand Florida their second consecutive sweep, and then Florida heads to New York to face the Mets and will oppose John Maine, Livan Hernandez and Johan Santana. Then, it's off to Chicago to face the Cubbies in a four-game set. The Marlins had to know that playing the Nationals every day would end eventually.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Shannnneee Victorinooooo Outtaaa Here!

Someone sure did step up last night. The team battled hard against Marlins' closer Matt Lindstrom, putting runners on base and setting up Shane Victorino's go-ahead grand slam, putting the Phils in front 6-3 while down to their last out. Chase Utley followed with a solo blast and Ryan Madson survived walking the lead-off man to put the finishing touches on an encouraging 7-3 victory.

The Marlins lost in their typical fashion, minus the errors. Emilio Bonifacio led-off the first inning with a walk, but was picked off by Brett Myers, costing Florida a run. Hanley Ramirez led-off the fifth inning with a shot to center field. Instead of running, Hanley tried his best Manny Ramirez impression, costing down the baseline admiring his shot. Well, the ball didn't go out, and Hanley should have ended up with an easy triple but was forced to stop at second. The next batter flew out to the wall in left-center, and instead of tagging up and going to third, Hanley had to scramble back to second base. Knowing he should be at third base, he made his third consecutive mistake, as Lou Marson gunned him down trying to steal third. The Marlins should have won last night, pretty easily in fact.

Lou Marson continues to impress, looking great behind the plate and contributing at the dish, hitting .333. His career average stands at .375. Not too shabby.

The Florida Marlins have still yet to name a starter for tomorrow's game. Maybe they are trying to recruit the little league girl who threw a perfect game. Back off Florida, the Mets already invited her to throw out the first pitch at Citi Field so they could scout her, they called dibs.

Friday, April 24, 2009

So far, Florida 3, Phils 0

Watching this game, the Phillies need someone to step up, and fast. Greg Dobbs just struck out looking as the potential tying run to end the top of the 7th inning. These guys are going down without a fight and it's disheartening. Josh Johnson has been good, but he hasn't been anywhere near un-hittable, which is what the Phils are making him out to be. Brett Myers pitched pretty well, making one mistake to Dan Uggla that was crushed for a three run bomb. As Myers always does, he gave up his early shot and settled in nicely. Our offense has suddenly become anemic, and being just six outs away from another loss, they really need someone to step up and become a leader immediately.

Phils prepare for Florida; Ibanez vs.Burrell

The Phils are set for an NL East showdown starting tonight in Florida against the first place Marlins. Plagued by inconsistent pitching and hitting to start the season, this weekend would be a great time to right the ship and come together as a team.

The pitching staff has allowed the most home runs in baseball, and the starting pitcher in each game has allowed at least one long ball. The offense has been inconsistent, especially at the top of the lineup with the table setters not reaching base. They were five outs away from being no-hit by local product Dave Bush yesterday afternoon, until Matt Stairs spoiled it with a pinch-hit home run off the foul pole.

Raul Ibanez has been the best player on the team, proving to be a major run producer and on base machine. He is a tremendous clutch hitter as well. He's also played a solid left field all season. As much as I loved Pat Burrell, Ibanez has been an upgrade thus far; let's look at the numbers this season.

Ibanez: .345, 13 runs, 4 doubles, 5 home runs, 11 RBI, 6 walks, 7 strikeouts, 2 stolen bases.
Burrell: .265, 5 runs, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 6 RBI, 10 walks, 8 strikeouts, 0 stolen bases.

Brett Myers will be looking for a strong outing against Josh Johnson, who will also be looking to bounce back after allowing five first inning runs against the Nationals in his last start.
Chan Ho Park pitches Saturday night, needing to find his stride and turn in his first strong outing as a Phil. Chris Volstad will oppose him. Jamie Moyer, who owns the Marlins throughout his career, pitches the series finale. The Marlins have yet to name a starter for Sunday, after placing Andrew Miller on the DL. This seems to be a cheap move, as they've had days to name a starter but are likely seeking any edge they can find, making the Phillies wait as long as possible for them to name someone. Florida will just pick one of the 467 prospects they've acquired from trading away all their talent to start on Sunday.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Brutal night in Philadelphia

Well, last night was a terrible night for Philadelphia sports fans. Starting as a somber night, with the organization doing a spectacular job of honoring Harry Kalas and the Kalas family before the game, it ended somber as well.

Cole Hamels was, once again, not Cole Hamels. He did pitch well enough to leave the game with a 7-5 lead, but the bullpen was anything but solid on yet another occasion. It seems like a different reliever getting rocked each night, and last night was Ryan Madson's turn. He blew the two-run lead, allowing three runs in one inning. Brad Lidge came in to pitch the ninth, and loaded the bases with no outs. He pitched out of the self created jam though and kept the deficit to just one run, which held up, giving San Diego an improbable 8-7 win.

Chase Utely staked the Phils to a 3-0 lead in the first with a long drive off starter Chris Young. You could collectively hear televisions switching to Comcast Sportsnet after the home run to watch the Flyers. It seemed as though they had it in the bag, scoring five in the first inning, and leading 7-1 after the fourth. The Padres began chipping away at Hamels, who allowed three more home runs. It was a pathetic way to lose a ballgame for sure.

It happens. That's baseball, especially playing in Citizen's Bank Park. But this team is having problems at the start of the season, and losing in that fashion did not help matters. They need a leader to step up and get everyone to lock in just a bit more. The entire pitching staff has ballooned earned run averages, and the rotation and bullpen simply has to improve.

This is not a Philly sports blog, so it is very rare that I will mention another sport here. That said, the Flyers lost an excruciatingly painful game last night. They came out, played much better, and should have won the game. When Jeff Carter was robbed by the skate Fluery's skate with essentially an empty net and the opportunity to put the team up 3-1 and even the series, I said they were going to lose the game. I just knew that was it, they needed that goal and somehow, someway it stayed out of the net. That save/choke was not only the turning point of the game, it was the turning point of the Flyers' season. Pittsburgh already gives us enough trouble, and the officials did not need to help them. Both of those calls were ridiculous for playoff overtime. Orpik went down like his name is toothpick, taking an obvious flop and earning the call. Moments later, Claude Giroux tapped Chris Kunitz's stick, breaking it. He was called for slashing, only because it broke the stick. I can see that being a penalty, but not when the team is already shorthanded in playoff overtime, and Orpik earned a call by flopping. Officials use discretion and call games differently based on the situation, and then suddenly change styles and start calling it more tightly. Hockey officials are the worst, most inconsistent officials in sports. All that aside, the game never should have gone to overtime. That was a brutal loss to take, and the Flyers are going to need a miraculous comeback to have a shot in this series.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Lou Marson impresive, Phils aren't

Lou Marson started his first game of the season in Washington last night, and did not disappoint. Hitting 2-for-4 with a home run in his career entering the game, Marson lined a base hit to center field in his first at bat, picking up the Phils' first hit of the night. He followed with his first career double, down the right field line, in his next at bat and finished 2-for-3. He also called a good game and handled Joe Blanton well, settling him in nicely after he threw a fastball right down the middle of the plate to Adam Dunn for a three-run home run in the first inning.

The bullpen was disappointing last night. Blanton left the game with the team trailing 3-2. The Phils are built for comebacks, and the bullpen needed to keep the game close to give the offense a chance.

Chad Durbin's struggles continued, allowing a home run to the first batter he faced, Josh Willingham, who happened to be 0-for-11 for the season prior to the long-ball. Jack Taschner got absolutely rocked, pitching one inning, allowing four runs on four hits, two walks and two home runs. In the end, it was an 8-2 loss and the inconsistent start to the season continued.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Harry Kalas passes away

Harry Kalas, long-time Phillies broadcaster passed away today, after collapsing in the broadcast booth prior to this afternoon's game in Washington. Harry was 73 and will be sorely missed by Phils fans everywhere. He was love-able, and he did so many things for this city and team. He was privileged enough to call both World Series victories in team history, and no one could call it like he could.

We lost a beloved member of the organization today, as his voice has filled so many of our homes nightly since 1971. Watching the Phillies will never be quite the same, and team president Dave Montgomery said it best, "we have lost our voice."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Phils outslug Rockies, Ruiz to the DL

The Phillies won a typical game last night, beating the Rockies 8-4 at Coors Field. Staying true to himself, Brett Myers gave up his early runs before settling in nicely and giving the team seven solid innings.

After retiring the first four batters he faced, Brad Hawpe fought off a good breaking ball, driving it down the left field line for a double. Myers temporarily unraveled, as Troy Tulowitzki followed with a two-run home run. Myers would allow two more solo shots and one walk, but nothing else. Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge were dominant to close it out, as usual.

The Phils came roaring back from the 2-0 deficit in the third inning on Ryan Howard's bases clearing two-out, three run double. Jayson Werth's two-run triple in the fifth put the Phils back in front, 5-3. On the play, Ryan Howard went first to home.

"Was it that smooth? Did it look good?" Howard joked. "I was trying to tell people. Hopefully, they'll all watch the video and see. I'm trying to show Shane Victorino how it's done."

Raul Ibanez also slugged his second homer of the season, and Chase Utley stole the team's first bases of the season.

Carlos Ruiz was placed on the 15 day DL yesterday, and manager Charlie Manuel said Lou Marson will get his opportunity behind the plate. Chris Coste started in place of Ruiz, going 1-for-5.

Chan Ho Park makes his Phillies debut today, opposing Aaron Cook, who lasted just 2.1 innings in his season debut. He allowed six earned runs on seven hits, and his era stands at 23.14.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ruiz injured, Marson called-up; Hamels, Phils blown out in Denver

Lou Marson's call-up comes sooner than expected, and Carlos Ruiz suffers a strained right oblique. Marson will be in Denver tonight to back-up Chris Coste. Ruiz is listed as day-to-day, and Marson's call-up is, for now, just a precautionary measure.

Ruiz has been one of the better Phils at the plate here in the early going, and losing him for an extended length of time could cripple the team in more ways the one.

On the heels of an improbable comeback victory in the series finale against the Braves on Wednesday, one reminiscent of 2008; the Phillies and Cole Hamels were blown out by the Rockies yesterday, 10-3.

We've seen this before. No one seems to know the cause of it, but this team starts slowly. They'll come around, but it'd be nice if they could find their groove soon, before they fall too far behind the hot Florida Marlins and talented New York Mets.

Hamels velocity was down, likely a cause of not enough work during the spring. He will become the old Cole again, just give him a few starts to right the ship.

Monday, April 6, 2009

1 down, 161 to go

It's obviously not time to even contemplate pressing the panic button. Just one loss, that's all it was. Besides, we should be used to an opening day loss. In fact, we should be used to losing the opening series.

The offense was anemic last night, which it may be at times in April. Happens every year. Brett Myers was certainly not great last night, but he wasn't terrible. Pitchers make mistakes, and a big part of the game is whether or not a team capitalizes on those mistakes. The Braves absolutely did. Myers did not implode though, which he would have at the start of last season. When he was getting shelled in 2008, he didn't know the meaning of the term settling in. He settled down last night and gave them six innings of four run ball, which isn't terrible. This team is going to win games when the pitching staff allows four runs.

The offense will wake up, and the pitching staff will settle in. It's only a matter of time. This team is accustomed to playing from behind before making a comeback, both in ball games and in the standings. Why should this year be any different?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

NL East Preview Week 10: Bullpen

The bullpen plays a crucial role in a team's success, as the Phillies and Mets proved last season. Philadelphia's excelled, locking down games in the late innings. On the other hand, the Mets' blew game after game, leading to their second consecutive September choke.

The Phillies still have the best bullpen, but not by as wide a margin. How J.C Romero preforms after serving his suspension could be a key for the bullpen down the stretch. They still have the other core guys with Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson and Chad Durbin among others.

The Mets went from worst to.... second to first. Acquiring the single season saves leader, "K-Rod," and one of the most underrated arms in baseball, J.J. Putz will do that for you. The Mets middle relief could still be a bit shaky, but if they can make it to the eight with a lead, they will be in much better shape than last season.

Atlanta has a pretty solid bullpen, with Mike Gonzalez at the back-end. Up and down, they are solid and can use a wide variety of arms to retire batters.

Washington's bullpen improved, with Joe Beimel and Julian Tavarez. Their lack of an established closer is their biggest bullpen problem.

Florida has a young and inconsistent bullpen. Their group is unpredictable, and could either excel or get lit-up. Most likely, they will be fresh and strong at the start of the season, but their lack of experience will arise once again when mid-season rolls around. Trading Kevin Gregg may have actually been a large mistake for Florida, as he won the Cubs' closer role over Carlos Marmol.

NL East Preview Week 9: Starting Pitching

It's Opening Day, time for baseball, and for the pitching staff rankings. There are too many player to list all the stats, and I'm making this a bit less in depth than my previous rankings.

The Phillies actually have the deepest rotation in the division, at least at the start of the season. There aren't too many holes or question marks, and should someone falter, a very capable JA Happ is waiting and ready to join the rotation. Led by World Series MVP Cole Hamels, they also have bulldog Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton and Chan Ho Park. Hamels is one of the more dominant pitchers in the game and features the second best change-up in MLB. Myers is in better shape and if he pitches anywhere near what he did after returning from the Minors, the team will be in great shape. Moyer just doesn't seem to want to go away, and will likely be baffling hitters when he's 80. Blanton emerged as a strong back of the rotation pitcher, and Park pitched himself into the fifth spot with a tremendous spring. The Phillies are very strong at the top of the rotation with Hamels, but what sets them apart from other teams is how deep and consistent they are at the back-end.

The Florida Marlins have a very strong rotation, and their top three can compete with just about any other rotation in baseball. Their biggest question mark lies in the back of the rotation with Annibal Sanchez and Andrew Miller. Ricky Nolasco, Josh Johnson and Chris Volstad fill out the top of the rotation, which is one of Florida's biggest strengths. Nolasco burst upon the scene last year, with a devastating curve ball. Johnson and Volstad are both big, power pitchers and should wreak havoc on opposing lineups this season. Sanchez struggled last season after coming back from an injury, and Miller has major control problems. If those two develop into stud pitchers as well, Florida could have the best rotation in the NL East.

Atlanta's revamped rotation looks strong heading into 2009. With Derek Lowe taking the ball tonight, ground balls are sure to ensue. Following him are Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vazquez and Kenshin Kawakami. Jurrjens was terrific last season, and Vazquez has been a workhorse for the White Sox for years. How Kawakami adjusts to American baseball remains to be seen, as does Atlanta's fifth starter. The top of the rotation is talented and set, but the Braves have some questions at the back-end.

The Mets have one of the game's most dominating pitchers in Johan Santana, but several inconsistent starts follow: Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, John Maine and Livan Hernandez. 2-4 have all shown dominance for New York, and they've all struggled through stretches. Hernandez used to be an innings eater, but it's unlikely he will maintain his reputation as he's older and hasn't been pitching nearly as much.

The Nationals simply have a pretty bad rotation, even after adding a few new names. John Lannan is followed by Scott Olsen, Daniel Cabrera, Shairo Martis and Jordan Zimmerman. Another group of inconsistent pitchers; Zimmerman is supposed to be the real deal. He could be a star in the making, but it's a shame he's playing in Washington.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

NL East Preview Week 8: Right Field

Right field in the NL East is mostly filled with young up and coming players, and could be a spot of feast or famine in 2009.

Jayson Werth had a breakout season for the Phillies in 2008, was an integral part of their championship run, and will be crucial to the balance of the 2009 lineup. Much to my surprise though, he is actually the best right fielder in the division. Some players have potential to be better than him, that’s for sure, but with the inconsistency of some and what Werth did last season, he deserves the number one spot. Werth hit .273 with 24 home runs and 67 driven in. He swiped 20 bags and was caught only once, and he started to hit right handed pitching toward the end of the season much better than he had previously. He excelled in the field as well, posting a .992 fielding percentage. Werth needs to drive the ball in the gaps better in 2009, as someone with his speed and power should have more than his 16 doubles last season. Werth really did it all for the Phils in 2008, and he has the opportunity to drive in more runs this season. He typically hit second, sixth or seventh in the lineup last year, but will find himself in the five or six hole most of 2009, and should find a higher RBI total this season. Also, hitting behind Ibanez should benefit Werth, as Ibanez will get on base more than Pat Burrell did, giving Werth another runner to drive home. The Phillies currently lack depth behind Werth, but they are looking for another outfielder and will likely find one before the season starts. Matt Stairs is listed as back-up, but in no way is he on the team to play the field.

For some reason, unbeknownst to me, Jeff Francoeur is getting the benefit of the doubt and placing second. With all the potential in the world, Francoeur has been extremely inconsistent throughout his short career. In 2006, his first full season with Atlanta, Francoeur hit .260 with 29 homers and 103 RBI. He also has a cannon of an arm, and is one of the best in the business at throwing out base runners. Francoeur struggled in 2007, getting off to a terrible start but ended up with solid numbers at the end of the season. He finished with a .293 average and 19 home runs with 105 driven in. 2008, however, was a horrendous year for Francoeur. He hit just .239 and ended up being sent to the minors. It is difficult to predict just how Francoeur will perform in 2009, but reports are he has finally lost his stubbornness and is willing to make changes at the plate. He is hitting .317 this spring, and appears as though he could be back on track to developing into a middle of the lineup force for the Braves. He has the potential for 30,100 seasons, but needs to find consistency. Some plate discipline would do wonders for Francoeur, as he doesn’t know the meaning of bases on balls. The highest total of walks his amassed in his career was 42 in 2007, in 642 at bats. Francoeur has the ability to be a tremendous player, and he may just find his stroke in 2009. Atlanta is fairly weak behind Francoeur, with a few kids possessing little experience. Atlanta absolutely needs Francoeur to contribute this season.

Florida found themselves a nice player in Cody Ross, whose power surge last season earned him the starting job headed into 2009. He hit .260 last year, and slugged 22 long balls while driving in 73. He also hit 29 doubles; and believe it or not, had a .997 fielding percentage. Yes, that’s right, a Florida Marlin had a .997 fielding percentage. Ross had by far the most at bats of his career last season, and is not proven as an everyday player over a long stretch. He does appear capable of holding the spot, and his power stroke should help Florida score runs. Ross is strong in the field, had a knack for delivering in the clutch in 2008, and should hit 20-25 home runs for the Marlins in 2009. Ross is backed up by, surprise, surprise, a few inexperienced players. Ross needs to have a season like he did in 2008 for Florida to maintain their lineup balance.

The Mets’ Ryan Church is a good outfielder, and has been consistent at the plate throughout his career. He’s either hit .272 or .276 each of the last three seasons, and he’s good for 10-15 homers a season. He will likely drive in 60-75 runs for New York as well. Church is nothing spectacular, just a good, solid player. He is another talented left handed batter for the Mets to insert in their lineup, and should produce for them in 2009. The Mets haven’t yet rectified their outfield situation, and Church’s back up remains to be seen.

Washington has a young, potential future star in Elijah Dukes. He has struggled to start his career though, batting just .235 over his first two seasons. He does have a bit of power; he’s hit at least ten home runs in each of his two big league seasons in limited at bats. His fielding percentage last season was just .965, a terrible percentage for an outfielder. Dukes is young and inconsistent, but he has a nice mix of power and speed, and could develop into a nice player for the Nationals. Austin Kearns fills in very nicely behind Dukes, and he will likely see some time in right field too.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Team continues to make moves, prepare for Opening Day

Chan Ho Park's great spring has been rewarded, as he's been named the team's number five starter for 2009. Ruben Amaro Jr. commented that both Park and JA Happ pitched well enough to join the rotation, and it wasn't that Happ pitched himself out of the rotation, but that Park pitched himself into it.

Park is pitching great right now, but over the course of his career, he's consistently shown what he brings to the table. He is an innings eater and does not typically possess the overpowering stuff he's shown in Florida this past month. His era usually falls in the mid-four area, and it is likely that is what he is headed for in 2009. While that's certainly not bad, Happ has the potential to do more than that. If Park struggles, look for Happ to earn an opportunity to pitch himself into the rotation. The Phillies do not feel rushed to push him into the rotation, nor should they, he is still very young and has plenty of time to mature and progress into the pitcher he has the potential to become.

The Phillies also opted to release veteran outfielder Geoff Jenkins. They felt that Matt Stairs is a more valuable pinch hitter, which ultimately made the decision for them as neither Stairs nor Jenkins would have seen much time in the outfield. This opens a spot on the bench for a right- handed bat, possibly Miguel Cairo, or maybe even Gary Sheffield; whom the Phillies contacted yesterday.

Sheffield would be a great signing if he is content with a reserve role. There are questions about his ability to play the outfield at this point in his career, to which he responded that he is healthy and capable of playing the field. It may not be the outfield that has led to Sheffield's injury problems, but being in the every day lineup, getting four or five at bats a game. Getting a few pinch hit appearances a week, and a game here and there in the outfield, would likely keep Sheffield fresh and healthy. It may be a long-shot for the Phils to sign him, but he would cost just $400,000 if they could work something out.

The last announcement coming out of Clearwater yesterday benefits Brett Myers, who has been officially name opening day starter for the third consecutive year. Myers started opening day against Atlanta in 2007 and against Washington last season, earning a no decision in each contest, both being Phillies' loses.