Thursday, July 29, 2010

Phils land Oswalt

Roy Oswalt has agreed to the proposed trade that sends him to Philadelphia in exchange for three players.

Along with J.A. Happ, the Phils will send minor-league outfielder Anthony Gose and minor-league shortstop Jonathan Villar to Houston. The Astros will pay $11 million of Oswalt's remaining contract.

It was rumored that Houston GM Ed Wade was interested in Class A first baseman Jonathan Singleton. The 18 year old is batting .319 with 12 home runs and 57 RBI. It's unknown whether the Phillies were unwilling to part with Singleton.

Most Phillies fans will hate to see Happ go. While Oswalt has been a tremendous pitcher throughout his career, Happ is much younger and has pitched very well for the Phillies. Happ has a ton of upside and is 14-5 with a 3.11 ERA in his career.

Oswalt clearly won't be around as long as Happ would have, but his presence gives the Phillies one of the best 1-2-3 punches in MLB. Unfortunately, Oswalt's performance will likely be compared to Cliff Lee's, as people continue to complain about Lee's trade.

It is unclear when Oswalt will make his Phillies debut. He was scheduled to pitch for Houston tomorrow, and Happ was scheduled to pitch tomorrow for the Phillies.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Brown starts in RF, bats 6th

A new era in Phillies history begins tonight as highly touted prospect Domonic Brown is penciled in the starting lineup.

Brown will play right field tonight and bat sixth. His first Major League at bat will, most likely, come against Edwin Jackson. Jackson owns one of MLB's five no hitters this season, but overall he's 6-9 with a 5.01 ERA.

Jimmy Rollins remains out of the lineup as Wilson Valdez will once again fill in at short stop. Placido Polanco fills the void left by the absence of Rollins and Shane Victorino in the lead-off hole with Greg Dobbs manning third base and batting second.

The Phillies are searching for their seventh straight victory.

Victorino to DL, Brown promoted

The Phillies are hot once again. Winners of six straight, they haven't lost since the firing of Milt Thompson. Thompson, of course, was a great hitting coach and baseball man. Maybe it was the shakeup the team needed to get going though.

Just as they've gotten hot, the injury bug strikes again. Jimmy Rollins is day-to-day after fouling a ball off his foot, and now Shane Victorino has been placed on the 15-day disabled list. The good news is, Phillies fans will get to see top prospect Domonic Brown. He's been promoted to take Victorino's spot on the roster.

Hopefully they can stay hot and get Rollins back in the lineup soon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hard to Watch

For the first time in years, the Phillies have actually become difficult to watch. It started as a slump but seems to be cultivating as a bad year. Every summer, the Phillies give us something to do, and to look forward to. They aren't so much fun as of late.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no front runner. I'll continue to watch every game, looking for an sign of encouragement I can muster. But for the first time this season, the optimism that the team will emerge from this destitute slump has vanished.

When they pitch well, they can't hit. When they hit, they can't pitch. Some nights, they can't do either. They have now fallen to six games behind the streaking Atlanta Braves. While standing just three games back in the wild card, there are five teams ahead of them in that race. While the Braves don't look to be slowing down at any point, unfortunetly for the Phillies, they only have three games against Atlanta remaining; a three-game set in late September.

The Phillies have been a second-half team the last few seasons. So far in 2010, they are 1-4. The road doesn't get any easier in the next few days. Jamie Moyer, who struggled in his last two outings opposes Chris Carpenter tonight. Tomorrow, Joe Blanton takes his 6+ ERA to the mound against Jaime Garcia, another outstanding St. Louis pitcher. The series will conclude on Thursday with Adam Wainwright most likely pitching for the Cards. Following that incredibly tough stretch, the Colorado Rockies and Ubaldo Jimenez come to Citizen's Bank Park for the weekend.

There is no more time to work this out. If they don't turn it around in St. Louis, the season may very well be over. A four-game sweep is likely if things don't change, and that could do the Phillies in.

They should look elsewhere for help at this point. J.A. Happ hasn't pitched great for Triple-A while rehabbing his injury, but he can't pitch much worse than Kyle Kendrick or Blanton. Happ has always been a tremendous competitor and

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Howard hot in 2nd half, Phils not

Each of the last three seasons, when the Phillies captured the NL East title, they did so in the second-half. They have been one of the best second-half teams in Major League Baseball each of the last few seasons. After a disappointing inconsistent first half, the Phillies look to once again, get hot and propel themselves to another postseason run. They are not off to a great start.

Kicking things off against a struggling Chicago Cubs squad, Ryan Howard opened game one with a first inning two-run bomb; getting off to a great second half start and giving the Phils a lead. Jamie Moyer quickly squandered the lead, allowing six runs in just three innings in a 12-6 loss. It's Moyer's second consecutive bad outing, after he allowed seven runs in 5.1 innings to the Braves on July 7th. His ERA rose from 4.13 to 4.88 over that two game span. Howard finished game one 3-5 with a pair of long two-run homers.

Yesterday's 4-3 loss was especially tough to take. Joe Blanton was off to a great start, clinging to a 1-0 lead in the 5th. Things began to unravel when he walked opposing pitcher Ted Lilly with the bases loaded to tie the game. Ryan Howard hit yet another two-run blast in the 6th but former Phil Marlon Byrd responded with a two-run jack in the bottom of the 6th off Blanton, tying the score again. Aramis Ramirez's solo shot in the 8th off Ryan Madson proved to be the game winner as the Phillies once again blew a game and failed to comeback.

Ryan Madson's disappointing season continues as his ERA stands at 6.57. He remains a key part to this team's success. The team certainly hopes he returns to his previous dominant form soon. They need it.

The Phillies need a shake-up. If they continue to wait for Raul Ibanez to produce, the waiting won't end until his contract expires. We've all seen it before; overpaid players struggling, but still finding his way into the lineup daily; David Bell come to mind? If the Phillies aren't going to acquire another bat that can produce, they should promote Domonic Brown and put him in the lineup every day. Ibanez would not a nice left-handed bat off the bench, albeit an expensive one. Brown has been great at every level of the minors and could very well help this team.

Hopefully Cole Hamels gets the Phils back on track today; giving the Phils hope of a split with Roy Halladay on the mound tomorrow.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dramatic comeback sparks Phils

The Phillies summoned the magic they possessed throughout the 2008 and 2009 seasons last night in their dramatic come from behind victory.

Their second consecutive extra inning walk-off win, this time it took six runs in the ninth inning to tie the game before Ryan Howard's walk-off two-run homer won it in the 10th.

The Phillies trailed 7-1 in a game they'd trailed since the first inning, Mike Leake kept the Phillies off balance all night until he worked himself into trouble in the ninth. The big blows obviously being Greg Dobbs' three-run blast and the pinch-hit game tying two-run shot from Cody Ransom.

The outburst took Joe Blanton off the hook who pitched poorly again. Ryan Madson pitched a one-two-three tenth to pick up the win.

These are the kind of late game dramatics the Phillies thrived off of during the last two seasons. While everyone keeps looking for something to show they are returning to form, maybe that will get them going.

Roy Halladay pitches tonight looking to secure a series victory for the Phils over the division leading Reds heading into the break.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Doc's GC provides huge lift over Atlanta, Hamels tonight

After Roy Halladay's spectacular complete game effort over Atlanta last night, the Phillies need to keep it going. They are four games behind the Braves, with an opportunity to close to within two if they take care of business today and tomorrow. They need to win at least one of the next two games to avoid falling back to five games back.

Halladay was terrific again last night, throwing his second complete game over the Braves in as many attempts this season. Tonight, Cole Hamels needs to follow suit. In his career versus Atlanta, Hamels is 8-5 with a 4.28 ERA. Atlanta's starter Jair Jurrjens is just 1-3 with a 5.59 ERA this season but he allowed just one run against Washington in his last start. In his career against the Phils, he's 3-3 with a 2.35 ERA.

The lineup needs to start producing runs more consistently. While last night's victory was a huge one, all of the RBI came from Greg Dobbs and Juan Castro. The core players need to start producing for this team to strive again.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Phils struggling again, fall 5 GB

Just when you think they're out, they pull you back in.

The slump had finally appeared to be over. But injuries to Placido Polanco and Chase Utley seemed to demoralize the team which is once again sputtering.

A four-game set against Pittsburgh, the National League's worst team, was supposed to be a chance to gain some ground as a big series against Atlanta looms. But the Phillies dropped the first two games 3-2 and 2-0 respectively and once again appear to be in serious trouble.

Charlie Manuel is trying to mix things up to get the lineup going, but how in the world did Raul Ibanez bat second last night? Ibanez is the anti-top of the order hitter. He's not capable of doing the things a number one or two hitter needs to do and it showed.

In Raul's first at bat, he struck out on three pitches, going down looking. In his second at bat with two runners on and two outs, Ibanez popped out to the third baseman on the first pitch. In his third at bat, he doubled with the bases empty. In his fourth at bat, he grounded out weakly to the pitcher.

The team has a lot more problems than Ibanez not being an ideal candidate for the two slot, but that's a pitiful game for a two-hitter. Hopefully that's the first and last time we see him in that slot.

Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard need to take over before this season is lost. They are the veterans of the team and they need to lead by example. When Wilson Valdez and Dane Sardinha have been your source of power the last few games, you know things are bad. If Rollins and Howard can get hot and light a fire under the team, they may just be able to come out of this alive. If not, 2010 will be a disappointing year.

Kyle Kendrick goes tonight looking to turn things around and possibly secure his job. With J.A. Happ nearing a return, Kendrick looks to be the odd man out of the rotation.