Monday, October 29, 2012

2012 World Champs

Congratulations to Hunter Pence and the SF Giants for winning the 2012 World Series!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Phils move to 6 back, Chooch and Ruf in Town

While extending the 2012 season into the postseason remains a major long shot, there are plenty of positives surrounding this Phillies' ball club for a nice change.

First and foremost, after sweeping the Colorado Rockies the Phils are 8-2 in their last ten games and six games out of the wild card. They still need to leapfrog four teams to jump into one of the two wild card positions. It's a longshot for them to pull that off, but at least they have something to play for in these final three weeks.

Chooch is back! Carlos Ruiz saw his first MLB action since August 2 last night, coming off the bench in the 6th and picking up right where he left off, going 2-for-2 with an RBI.

There's a buzz amongst the organization as Double-A slugger Darin Ruf (or Babe Ruf as he's already been dubbed) has been selected by the Phillies and is in Philadelphia for tonight's game against Miami. He's not in the lineup, as Charlie Manuel likely didn't want to overwhelm the youngster right off the bat. But there's a good chance Ruf makes his first appearance as a pinch-hitter tonight, and he claims he can play Left Field, even though he's only played there in 29 career games.

This is a big week of win-able games against Miami and Houston and will determine if next week we're talking about a legitimate shot at a wild card spot... although a ton of chips are going to need to fall just right.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Just When I think I'm out, They Pull Me Back In

Well, not really.

The Phillies are playing much better baseball of late, leading to speculation on the possibility of making a run at a wild card spot. The odds are ridiculously low.

They pulled off a pretty surprising sweep over the Washington Nationals over the weekend, the team with the best record in MLB. They've ripped off four straight wins and are 7-3 in their last ten games. They haven't lost a series since dropping two of three to Atlanta from August 6-8.

None of that would be possible without the production from unsung contributors like Kevin Frandsen, Erik Kratz and Domonic Brown. Frandsen especially, who sports a .351 batting average and a .402 OBP. With just one home run and seven RBI in 94 at bats, he's not the power hitting third baseman the team would like, but he's been clutch and certainly gets on base.

Even with all that, the Phillies remain ten games back in the NL Wild Card race. Even worse, there arefive teams in front of them, four of which they'd have to leapfrog for one of the two spots. Atlanta and St. Louis are leading the race, with the Dodgers and Pirates in striking distance and two and a half and three games back respectively. Arizona is seven and a half games back.

The Phillies look to continue their hot streak when they host the Mets tonight with Vance Worley (6-9, 4.06 ERA) on the mound against Chris Young (3-7, 4.33 ERA).

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Brown scratched, promoted in preparation of trades

The first move of what should be many on Trade Deadline day was an internal one by the Phillies. Domonic Brown was scratched from Lehigh Valley's lineup. He's on his way to Washington DC to join the big club.

Shane Victorino appears all but gone; expect him to be a Los Angeles Dodger tonight. Relief pitcher Josh Lindblom is reportedly in the deal, and possibly another prospect or two.

Joe Blanton's most likely destination is Baltimore, but his salary and the Phillies' unwillingness to eat a significant portion is the biggest stumbling block. They continue to try reaching a deal, but it's becoming increasingly likely that Blanton stays, at least for now. Guys like Blanton would likely clear waivers, and could still be dealt before the waiver deadline if a deal isn't reached today.

It's going to be an interesting day to see how the face of this team changes.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Phils open season deciding series with Braves

This is a make or break weekend for the Phillies. They're in Atlanta, and the result of these games will likely determine the direction the organization moves for the 2012 season.

Should the Phillies get swept by the Braves, expect Ruben Amaro Jr. to move some pieces. Shane Victorino, Ty Wigginton and Juan Pierre would likely be on the move. Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton could also be on the move in that scenario.

Should the Phils manage to sweep or even take two-of-three, there is a good chance major pieces like Pence and Victorino stay put, and Amaro Jr. intensifies his search for a right-handed arm for the bullpen.

It all starts tonight with the $144 million man on the mound against the tomahawk chopping loons. Cole Hamels (11-4, 3.23) takes on Ben Sheets (2-0, 0.00). Hamels is 11-6 in his career against Atlanta with a 3.69 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 148.2 innings. He faced them on May 1, allowing two runs over six innings with two walks and six strikeouts in a no decision. Sheets has made two starts for Atlanta this season after not pitching since July 2010 for Oakland. He's 2-0 and has yet to allow a run in 12 innings, striking out 11 and walking four. He's 2-4 in his career against Philly with a 4.88 ERA and 35 strikeouts over 48 innings.

The Phils are aiming for their fifth straight victory.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hamels signs 6 Year, $144 Deal

Phillies fans awoke to great news this morning. Cole Hamels has agreed to a six-year, $144 million contract.

On a pitching staff with three aces, Hamels has emerged as the most valuable of the three and the organization has rewarded him handsomely. The deal makes him the second highest paid pitcher in the history of baseball, behind a seven-year, $161 million deal CC Sabathia signed with the New York Yankees.

There will be a press conference at noon today to announce the deal.

Meanwhile, the team is in the middle of a three-game winning streak and has pulled off back-to-back late inning comebacks after previously being 0-42 when trailing after eight innings.

Vance Worley (5-6, 3.82) takes the hill this afternoon looking for the sweep against Marco Estrada (0-4, 4.10).

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Three homers including one from Hamels not enough vs SF

Today's 6-5 extra inning loss did not heed the results a pitching match-up as phenomenal as Cole Hamels vs. Matt Cain most would expect.

It was a wildly entertaining game though.

Hamels and Cain each allowed five runs and three home runs. And each pitcher homered off the other.

It was the sixth home run of Cain's career, and the first for Hamels.

Cain hit his in the top of the third inning, while trailing 1-0 after a first inning Chase Utley bomb off the facing of the second deck in right. Buster Posey added a two-run shot in the third.

Hamels got his revenge quickly, jacking a high fastball way out to right in the bottom of the third. Ryan Howard put the Phils ahead in the sixth inning with his third home run of the season, a three-run bomb.

Unfortunately, Melky Cabrera took Hamels deep in the eighth to tie the score, and Papelbon once again struggled in a non-save situation, allowing a run in the tenth inning and picking up his fourth loss of the season.

The Phillies came out of the wrong side of a great pitching match-up for the second time in three games, after a 5-3 loss on Wednesday that saw Cliff Lee and Clayton Kershaw combine for two runs over 16 innings and 11 strikeouts.

Mired in a three-game skid, the Phils will look to salvage a game against San Francisco tomorrow afternoon with Joe Blanton (8-8, 4.79) on the mound against Barry Zito (8-6, 3.75)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Phils looking to turn things around entering 2nd half

The unofficial second half of the season gets under way tonight and the Phillies have some serious work to do if they're going to fight back into contention.

At 37-50, the Phils are in last place in the NL East, 14 games behind the first place Nationals. They're ten games behind in the Wild Card race, behind eight teams and ahead of just four teams in the National League.

Phillies All-Stars Jonathan Papelbon, Cole Hamels and Carlos Ruiz all said the right things in Kansas City this week. Papelbon insisted trading Hamels would be the wrong move as would firing Charlie Manuel. They're maintaining a positive attitude moving into post all-star break play.

Last night, Roy Halladay made his first rehab start for Single-A Clearwater, allowing one unearned run over three innings. There is a good chance he'll be back in the rotation early next week at Dodger Stadium. Barring a setback or injury to anyone else, it will be the first time all season the starting lineup and rotation is in tact.

The return of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hasn't quite been the boost the organization expected them to be at this point. In ten games back, Utley is batting .235 (8-for-34) with three runs, two home runs, three RBI, eight strikeouts, one walk, .278 OBP, .412 SLUG and .690 OPS. In just two games, Howard is batting .250 (2-for-8) with no runs, one double, no RBI, two strikeouts, no walks, .250 OBP, .375 SLUG and .625 OPS. Since Utley made his debut on June 27, 1-10.

Things aren't looking good, but a team or two usually comes out of the break hot and gains some ground in the standings. The Phillies need to be that team if they're going to have any chance.

Cliff Lee gets things underway tonight, in his first start since July 4 in which he picked up his first win of the season. Lee (1-5, 3.98) is just 1-2 in his last three starts with a 5.95 ERA. He's 1-0 in his career against Colorado, with a 1.29 ERA and nine strikeouts in seven innings. Christian Friedrich (4-6, 5.98) starts for the Rockies. He's 0-2 with a 7.24 ERA in his last three starts. The rookie will make his first career start against Philadelphia.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Things are really bad as Phils drop 5th straight

Things are bad. Things are really bad.

The Phillies were swept in Miami over the weekend, falling to 36-45, 11 games behind Washington and 7.5 games behind the fourth place Marlins.

For the second straight time, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels pitched in back-to-back games yet yielded no victories. Lee remains winless on the season at 0-5 with a 4.13 ERA.

Jim Thome was traded to Baltimore to two prospects (good for big Jim, he deserves to play for a decent team and DH) and they're shopping Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino. Hamels' departure would be even more depressing than their record, but better to bring in a package of prospects for him to restock the farm system than let him walk in the off-season. It's becoming more and more clear that Hamels won't want to sign a long term deal worth less money to stay with a last place team.

Waiting for Chase Utley's return doesn't appear to be the boost everyone thought it would be. They're winless in the five games since his return.

This certainly could be more than a down year. It could be the start of a rebuilding period. Ruben Amaro Jr.'s next few moves will be crucial in deciding that.

On the bright side, Hamels, Carlos Ruiz and Jonathan Papelbon were all selected to this year's All-Star game. Great to see Chooch going for the first time, even know he should have been voted in as the starter.

The Phillies open a series at New York starting tomorrow. The next few weeks should be interesting. The team needs to make some moves, whether they decide to be buyers or sellers remains to be seen. But this team isn't going to capture a playoff spot.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Phils take 2 of 3 from Rox but look bad in doing so

The Phillies took 2-of-3 from the lowly Colorado Rockies to open their home-stand, but found a way to continue to make the same mistakes in the process.

Tuesday's 7-2 victory was a much needed boost for the team. Cole Hamels pitched eight outstanding innings and John Mayberry Jr. and Carlos Ruiz each homered.

Wednesday's 7-6 win was just the Phillies' second walk-off victory of the season. But, there were several negatives in the game. Joe Blanton struggled, serving up three home runs over seven innings. Jonathan Papelbon once again struggled in a non-save situation, entering a tie game in the ninth and allowing Colorado to take a 6-5 lead. But the Phils rallied in the bottom of the ninth, capped by a walk-off error on a grounder from Placido Polanco that Todd Helton failed to keep his foot on the bag.

Last night's 4-1 defeat was a particularly embarrassing performance. Jimmy Rollins hit a lead-off home run against struggling Colorado pitcher Jeff Francis. That'd be it for the bats, which failed to support a great outing from Vance Worley. After his home run, Rollins returned to Mr. Pop-up. With runners at the corners and one out in the second inning, Rollins popped a 2-0 pitch to first base. In the bottom of the fifth, Rollins lead-off the inning with a pop-up to second base. Then, Rollins ended his night by grounding into a double-play to end the seventh. Ouch.

Worley worked with a 1-0 lead until the seventh, when Chris Nelson's fifth home run of the year, a two-run shot, put the Rox up 2-1. Michael Schwimer entered in the ninth and predictably allowed a two-run home run of his own.

The result doesn't quite feel as positive and it should. They won the series, but the way they played hte final two games has to leave a sour taste in the fans' mouths.

The Phils remain nine games behind Washington, just one game behind the slumping Marlins. They welcome Tampa Bay to town tonight, who at 38-31 are third in the AL East, 3.5 games behind the first place Yankees.

Cliff Lee ( 0-3, 3.48) will once again be in search of his first victory of the season. It'll be no easy task, as James Shields (7-4, 3.72) takes the mound for the Rays. Lee is 6-5 with a 2.87 ERA in his career against Tampa. Shields is 1-0 in just six career innings against the Phils with a 4.50 ERA and six strikeouts. Sheilds had a terrific April, going 4-0 with a 3.31 ERA. He was just 2-3 with a 4.54 ERA in May, but struck out 46 batters in just 37.2 innings. In June thus far, Shields is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in three starts.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Phils swept in Toronto. Things are Bad.

What more can be said at this point?

Are the Phillies really this bad?

It appers so.

The Phillies return home tomorrow after a dreadful road-trip in which they went 3-6, finishing with a sweep in Toronto.

They're sloppy. They're making errors. They're throwing the ball away. They're blowing leads. They're just playing horrible baseball. There is no excuse for how bad veterans like Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence have been.

It was great to see the big man, Jim Thome have a great road-trip with the opportunity to finally start as a DH. He hit his 100th home run as a Phillie yesterday in what could have been his last start with the Phils and possibly of his career.

Thome may have given himself some trade value over those nine games. He's one bright spot on this team, where there aren't many. But the Phillies owe it to him to trade him to a contender in the AL where he can contribute as a DH and try to win his first ring. Ruben Amaro Jr. could also find some much needed bullpen help in moving big Jim's bat. Personally, I'd hate to see him go but it'd be the best thing for him and for the team.

Fortunetly, they didn't lose ground in the NL East because the Yankees swept Washington. But, that was a golden opportunity to gain some ground, yet they still remain nine games back. They're six games under .500.

Things are bad, and they don't appear close to getting better.

Amazingly, Cliff Lee, in his 11th start of the season was once again denied his first victory, despite the bats putting five runs on the board for him. Dating back to Game Two of last year's NLDS against St. Louis, Lee hasn't been able to hold a lead.

Cole Hamels (9-3, 3.34 ERA) takes the mound tomorrow against Colorado. He's just 1-1 with a 5.09 ERA in his career against the Rockies.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Panic time after Phils drop 8 of 9

This just keeps getting worse.

The Phils have lost eight of their last nine games. They're now eight games behind Washington, and three games behind 4th place Miami.

It's not just the bats costing them lately. Shoddy defense, especially from Ty Wigginton at third and Mike Fontenot at second in the absence of Placido Polanco and Freddy Galvis respectively. Those two players mostly cost the Phillies the last two games in Baltimore, turning what could have been a series sweep into dropping two of three. Wigginton of course allowed the winning run to reach yesterday on his ninth error of the year. He made several other misplays the day before, and Fontenot made a very costly error on Saturday along with two other blunders.

The pitching isn't holding up either. Cliff Lee remains win-less after blowing a 4-1 lead yesterday. Cole Hamels is in the midst of a two-game losing streak. Joe Blanton is in a horrendous slump since his complete game shut-out in the beginning of May.

And of course, clutch hitting remains non-existent. Yesterday alone, the Phils left 20 men on base. 20! That's no typo. Carlos Ruiz left eight runners on in his first three at bats alone. They could have blown the game wide open, but let Baltimore hang around and once again, scored early and then the offense shuts down.

They've reached the point of no return. If they don't turn it around, starting tomorrow when they open a series in Minnesota, this season is going to be a lost one. No one knows when Chase Utley and Ryan Howard will return, and even when they do, how effective they'll be. But those two players, coming off injuries, are not going to help them eclipse a 15 game deficit in the standings.
We kept saying, it's not time to push the panic button. It's still early. It's not early anymore, and the panic button has been pressed. It's do or die time. Let's see what these guys are made of.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Phils drop series to Fish, set for LA, Kershaw

This is certainly the most frustrating Phillies team to watch since the dark days. It's hard to pinpoint their identity. Just when it seems they're coming together, they go into another slump.

The Phils wrapped up May with a nice road trip, taking three of four in St. Louis and two of three against the Mets. After a 6-4 victory against the Marlins upon returning home, they lost two extremely frustrating games.

Most would imagine a 3-0 lead for Cole Hamels on Saturday would have been enough to win, but Hanley Ramirez got the best of him with two home runs and the Phillies blew late opportunities to tie the game. They had runners at second and third with no outs in the eighth and managed only one run, and had a runner at second with one out in the ninth but failed to bring him home in a 5-4 loss.

Yesterday, Joe Blanton struggled again and Carlos Zambrano completely shut down the Phils' bats in a 5-1 loss. Miami moved into a first place tie with Washington in the division, while New York is a 1/2 game back, the slumping Braves are two games back and the Phils are 3 1/2 out.

Things won't get any easier tonight, with Clayton Kershaw on the mound for the Dodgers. Kershaw is coming off back-to-back losses, and is not having as dominant a season as he did during his Cy Young season last year. Still, he's one of the premier pitchers in the league and will be a tough challenge for the Phils. Kershaw is 0-4 with a 5.18 ERA in his career against the Phils, but that was before he developed into the pitcher he is now.

Worley returns from the disabled list to make his first start since May 11 against San Diego.

Los Angeles has the best league of all of MLB, and this could be a tough four-game set for the Phils. But, it's time to start stringing some wins together. When the calendar hits June, it's a little difficult to say, "it's still early."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hamels wins 8th with help from Wiggy, Doc, Vanimal Updates

What a difference a year makes!

Cole Hamels was great last year. He was great in 2010. But he was a victim of a lack of run support. He was 14-9 in 2011, with a tremendous 2.79 ERA and 194 strikeouts. In 2010, he was just 12-11 with a 3.06 ERA and 211 strikeouts. Those numbers should certainly produce a better win-loss record.

This year, Hamels is already 8-1 with a 2.43 ERA and 72 K's.

Last night's 8-4 victory over the Mets is a prime example of the difference. Hamels was very good, but he made a few mistakes. He was dominant early, running on cruise control. But in the fith and sixth innings, he allowed a two-run home run, blowing a 2-0 lead and a 4-2 lead.

Last year, that would have been a 4-1 loss despite allowing just four hits and striking out six over eight strong. Or this year, that may have been a 4-1 loss for another pitcher, say the win-less Cliff Lee. But Hamels, while pitching dominantly all season, has been the benefactor of some run support his fellow starters haven't been.

Ty Wigginton had a big game against one of his former teams to back Hamels batting in the five-hole. He was 3-for-3 with a home run, six RBI, two runs scored and two walks.

The great day, his best with the Phils, earned him a promotion to the clean-up spot tonight. Carlos Ruiz remains out of the lineup with a sore hamstring. He's supposedly available off the bench.

Roy Halladay was placed on the DL and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks with a strained lat. Vance Worley threw a pain free bullpen session today. He'll throw at least another, but with the loss of Doc his return is becoming crucial.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Phils need Cole to Contend

The Phillies cannot afford to lose Cole Hamels. On a staff of aces, he's emerged as the ace.

As strange as it may seem, I'd wager that Hamels and Carlos Ruiz would be the top two vote getters in a pole of least expendable names on the roster.

Hamels is the young, left-handed home grown dominant pitcher. The Phils just can't lose him. He's been "the guy" this year. The guy who takes the mound and ends a losing streak (as he did last night) when you need him to. The guy who delivers a win when you need it. The guy who welcomes a 19 year old cocky rookie to the league with a fastball in the ribs.

He's a team best 7-1; the next closest in wins are Joe Blanton and Roy Halladay, each are 4-4. His 2.17 leads the starting staff, as do his 66 strikeouts by a wide margin. Halladay is second with with 56, but he's pitched 70.1 innings compared to Hamels' 62.1. Opponents are batting just .220 against Hamels, only Cliff Lee (.213) is better.

Last season, Hamels was just a notch beneath Halladay and Lee. This season, he's certainly on the same level if not having surpassed them. But, Hamels is just 28 years old. Halladay is 35, and Lee is 33.

Hamels will be a major investment for the club, but it is clearly one they need to make if they expect to be contenders in the near future. Doc and Lee may have their best years behind them. They are still dominant, top-tier pitchers. No doubt. But a young, dominant lefty like Hamels is a rare thing. He's the type of player you HAVE to keep in your organization when you have the opportunity. If that means moving someone, you do it. Lee's wife may not let Ruben Amaro Jr. leave with his manhood if he traded him a second time, but if it cleared up payroll and replenished the minor leagues, it may be the right move. That is, of course, only if a deal for Hamels was in place first and they needed to clear some payroll to dot the I's and cross the T's. There's no I or T in Cole Hamels? Eh, you get the point.

We love Doc. We love Lee. We love J-Roll and Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. But none of them are less expendable than Hamels. King Cole is the key to this franchise's future success. If he leaves, expect some dark years of Phillies' baseball. Lee will regret not resigning with Texas, who appear to be a power house. Other players, like Doc and Jonathan Papelbon may grow to resent ending up Philly; especially Doc who is in search of a World Championship and may not have a ton of time left to achieve it.  But if Amaro can lock up Hamels and keep Doc and Lee on the staff, this team will continue to be a contender. And if they get healthy, which is a big if, they could emerge as a front runner once again. But they need Cole in pin-stripes to have that chance.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Phils in midst of 3 game losing streak, Doc vs Nats

This is an interesting team. They've gone from red hot to ice cold, turning a six-game winning streak into a three-game losing streak.

After dropping two of three to the Boston Red Sox, the Phils lost the series opener with Washington last night 2-1. They've lost three of four to the Nationals this season.

The Phils outhit the Nats 6-5, but went just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. They had several chances, but also made crucial mistakes. Placido Polanco had a particularly brutal game, despite going 2-for-4 with a walk.

Polly failed to tag-up on a Hunter Pence fly ball that should have resulted in a run. He was cut down at the plate on a grounder to first base and he made the final out of the game with two runners in scoring position.

Hunter Pence was 0-for-3 with seven runners left on base.

That basically was more than enough for them to lose the game. Your clean-up hitter can't leave that many runners on base, and your smart veteran player can't have mental lapses on the base-paths.

Kyle Kendrick was solid once again, but dropped to 0-4. He allowed two runs on five hits, two walk and four strikeouts over seven innings. The Phillies have scored a total of five runs in his five starts while he's been in the ballgame.

Gio Gonzalez dominated the Phillies' lineup once again, tossing six shutout innings with nine strikeouts.

Roy Halladay (4-3, 3.22) heads to the bump tonight, after finally picking up his first win in his last outing since winning his first three starts of the season. It's his first start against Washington this season, and he's 11-1 in his career against the Nats with a 2.28 ERA and 93 strikeouts over 110.2 innings.

Jordan Zimmermann (2-4, 2.58) opposes him. Zimmermann lost to the Phillies on May 6, allowing three runs over six innings. He's 0-3 in his career against the Phils with a 6.00 ERA and 14 strikeouts over 21 innings.

Jimmy Rollins is still away from the team on paternity leave, while Vance Worley returned to the team after visiting with renowned specialist Dr. James Andrews. Fortunately, he does not require Tommy John Surgery.

Tonight's lineup:

1. J. Pierre, LF
2. P, Polanco, 3B
3. S. Victorino, CF
4. H. Pence, RF
5. C. Ruiz, C
6. H. Luna, 1B
7. F. Galvis, SS
8. M. Fontenot, 2B
9. Halladay, P

Friday, May 18, 2012

Phils welcome Beantown to Philly

The BoSox are coming, the BoSox are coming!

Everyone circles Boston on the calendar when the schedule is first announced. They're a major draw around MLB, and this series will feature two underachieving and banged up last place teams.

The Phillies are in the midst of a season high five-game win streak, have pulled one game ahead of .500 and are just four games out of first. Boston is two games under .500, and are 6.5 games behind the AL East leading Baltimore.

Charlie Manuel found out he was suspended for one game resulting from his altercation with Bob Davidson. Davidson was also suspended one game by MLB for repeated violations of "situation handling," Both men will serve their suspensions tonight.

Jonathan Paplebon will face his former team for the first time. No doubt he'll be more than fired up to shut 'em down.

Placido Polanco is not in the lineup because of his bruised knee. He's available to hit, but can't play the field.

Bobby Valentine had said he was comfortable playing David Ortiz at first base and Adrian Gonzalez in the outfield. Big Papi is not in tonight's starting lineup though. He's likely to start tomorrow against righty Joe Blanton. Gozo is batting third and playing first base, while Villain Cody Ross is in right field and batting fourth. Former Phils Marlon Byrd is in center field, batting eighth.

Red-hot Carlos Ruiz stays in the five-hole, while Ty Wigginton will fill in at third base and bat sixth.

Cole Hamels (5-1, 2.28) is a remarkable 3-0 in his career against Boston with a 1.44 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 25 innings. Bard (3-4, 4.30) has pitched just 3.2 innings in relief against the Phillies. He has a 9.82 ERA with five strikeouts.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pence Walk-off Homer caps Wild Finale

The Phils picked up their first walk-off win of the season today, 4-3 on a Hunter Pence home run in the 10th inning. They swept the two-game series from Houston.

Cliff Lee was tremendous, allowing one run on five hits, one walk and ten strikeouts over eight innings.  He left the game with a 3-1 lead, but was once again denied his first victory of the season. Chad Qualls blew his fourth save of the season, allowing two runs on four hits over 0.2 innings. It's hard to imagine the pitchers wanting to put up with this much longer.

Brian Schneider put them in front 2-0 with his first home run of the season in the second inning.

Pence added a solo shot in the 6th, and ended the game off former Phillie Brett Myers in the 10th with his ninth home run of the season.

Jake Diekman made his Major League debut and was tremendous, picking up the first win of his career. He pitched out of a two-out, two on jam in the ninth and followed with a perfect 10th. He struck out three of the four batters he faced.

Vance Worley, who was scheduled to pitch the opener in Chicago tomorrow, did not make the trip with the team because of elbow soreness. Kyle Kendrick will make the start instead Joe Savery will reportedly take Worley's spot on the roster should he hit the DL. Matt Garza starts for the Cubs tomorrow. He made the Phils look like a little league team back on April 29, allowing just a bloop single and striking out ten over seven innings.

Are the Phillies turning it around?

They haven't been overly impressive over their last four games, but they are doing something they failed to do earlier in the season. They're beating the teams they're supposed to.

After taking two of three from San Diego over the weekend; although they wasted yet another strong performance from Roy Halladay that should have given them a sweep, they took the opener from Houston last night 5-1.

Joe Blanton turned in yet another dominant outing, and Placido Polanco picked up his 2,000th career hit in style, jacking a two-run shot in the eighth inning.

Blanton allowed just one run on six hits, one walk and seven strikeouts over seven strong innings. After going 2-3 with a 3.81 ERA in April, Blanton improved to 2-0 over three May starts with a 1.99 ERA. He's allowed just five runs this month over 22 innings with 20 strikeouts and just four walks.

Bazooka Joe is second on the team in wins (4), the third best ERA among starters (2.96), second in innings pitched (48.2) and still has the only complete game and the only shut-out.

He's been terrific, and if he continues pitching well he could be valuable trade bait to land a bat near the trading deadline.

Carlos Ruiz was moved up to the five-hole, a long deserved promotion. He delivered once again, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Weather permitting (unlikely) Cliff Lee will wrap up the short two-game series this afternoon. Lee is still looking for his first victory of the season.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Gut Punch: Phils swept by Mets

This is really getting hard to watch. The Phillies were swept, at home, by the New York Mets.


They blew leads in every game, scoring first and then collapsing in each game. Hard to imagine sending Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee to the mound against the Mets in a three-game set would not yield a victory.

The Phillies aren't too far buried in the East yet. They're in last place, five games behind the first place Nationals and Braves. They're 4.5 games behind New York and 2.5 games behind Miami.

The ugly 10-6 loss caused Charlie Manuel to hold a meeting after the game.

It's about time.

As each day goes by, I can't help but fear Cole Hamels is coming closer and closer to the realization that this may not be the organization to get him another World Series ring down the line. It certainly won't be the organization that offers him the most money.

Maybe a drastic lineup change is in order. Jimmy Rollins is batting .230 with no home runs and just five RBI. He has 23 strikeouts and only nine walks. He's been terrible out of the three hole, and leading off.

Here is what I would try:

1. Juan Pierre LF (.341)
2. Placido Polanco 3B (.275)
3. Carlos Ruiz C (.319)
4. Hunter Pence RF (.262)
5. Shane Victorino CF (.244)
6. Laynce Nix 1B (.326)/ Ty Wigginton (.284)
7. Jimmy Rollins SS (.230)
8. Freddy Galvis 2B (.213)

It's worth a shot.

Up next, the Phillies will host San Diego, worst team in the NL at 11-21.

Vance Worley (2-2, 2.84) will face Clayton Richard (1-4, 4.89) in tomorrow's opener after a much needed day off. The Vanimal beat San Diego back on April 19, throwing seven scoreless innings and striking out a season high eleven.

Richard is 0-2 in his career against Philly, with a low 2.40 ERA over 15 innings.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Phils drop Opener to Nats/Umps, Lee Update

The Phillies dropped their series opener in Washington last night, 4-3 in the 11th. It was the first time the Phillies have visited Washington since the whole "Take Back the Park; Natitude Park” thing started. One thing is for sure, there were still a ton of Phillies' fans in attendance.

You hate to blame the umpires very often for a loss, but the Phils certainly have a legitimate gripe with the men blue.

It's amazing that as long as the game has been around and as much as it has progressed, if an umpire is scratched late for whatever reason, that they can't get another umpire to fill in. And if there had been four umpires last night, the Phillies would have won.

Charlie Manuel was tossed in the first inning, when Bryce Harper walked on a check-swing. The appeal went to third base, which was no occupied by an umpire. The second-base umpire, clearly in no position to determine whether or not it was a swing, ruled it a check. It was the wrong call, and Manuel was tossed extremely quickly.

More crucial a mistake, in the top of the seventh with the Phillies holding onto a one run lead, the umpires butchered two calls. With Shane Victorino on second base and one-out, Carlos Ruiz ripped a ball down the third-base line, over the bag and fair. Victorino was coming in to score easily. Only problem: the umpire called it a foul ball. Victorino then took off for third and stole the base. Only problem: the umpire called him out. He was clearly safe. Ruiz followed with a base-hit to right, which once again should have been an RBI hit, but two bad calls cost the Phillies a run and eventually the game.

The Nationals rallied to tie the game in the eighth, as Chad Qualls was once again unable to hold a lead. After a single, a sac bunt and an intentional walk, Jesus Flores doubled Chad Tracy home to tie the score. The game would remain tied, until Wilson Ramos came up with a two-out, bases loaded single in the 11th off Michael Schwimer to end the game.

The Phillies had gotten to Stephen Strasburg, touching him up for three runs over six innings on a two-run home run from Hunter Pence and a solo shot from the red-hot Ruiz. Strasburg stood to take his first loss of the season when he exited the ballgame.

Meanwhile, Kyle Kendrick pitched a great game and deserved the win. He allowed just one run on seven hits, two walks and two strikeouts over five innings. He allowed a solo shot to Tracy in the fourth.

The Phillies got some good news today. They expect Cliff Lee to return on Wednesday against the Mets.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Phils drop strange, draining 11 inning slugfest, 15-13

Well, what the hell was that?

Last night, the Phillies played one of their most bizarre games in recent memory, and the Braves eventually came out on top 15-13 in eleven innings on Chipper Jones' walk-off, two-run home run.

The teams combined for 28 runs, 36 hits and 395 pitches thrown.

It's not often, or ever, that Roy Halladay is unable to hold a 6-0 lead, but that was the case last night. He struggled and labored and looked similar to his bout with heat exhaustion last season in Chicago.

Atlanta railed in the fifth, and tied the game on a Brian McCann grand slam. Atlanta took an 8-6 lead on Doc in the sixth, on a pinch-hit two-run single from Jason Heyward.

Carlos Ruiz got it right back for them in the seventh, with a titanic three-run jack to left. Chooch had a monster game, going 3-for-5 with a home run, two runs scored and seven RBI. It's the most RBI ever by a Phillies' catcher.

Ruiz also hit a three-run double in the eighth, putting the Phils up 12-8. But once again, Atlanta answered in the bottom of the inning against Jose Contreras and Michael Schwimer. Jimmy Rollins made a key error on a Chipper Jones ground-ball that should have been a double-play, and it led to Atlanta's rally.

The Phils tied the game off last year's rookie of the year Craig Kimbrel and a two-out, infield single from Shane Victorino which plated Juan Piere.

Obviously, a wild and crazy game. The Phillies have wasted so many excellent pitching performances with a lack of run support this year and last. It's such a shame to see Doc waste the offensive onslaught they managed to produce last night.

Oddly, Cole Hamels and Halladay have blown leads they've been staked in this series, both picking upa no-decision. Hamels' blown lead was only 2-0, but more often than not, Hamels is going to nail that lead down.

Joe Blanton (2-3, 3.81) takes the ball into today's finale against Randall Delgado (2-2, 6.30). Blanton is just 1-4 with a 5.43 ERA in his career against Atlanta. Delgado has pitched only five innings against the Phils, and sports a 3.60 ERA.

Tomorrow, the Phillies open a series in Washington against the first place Nationals and Stephen Strasburg.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Phils take opener from Braves, 4-2

The Phils extended their winning streak over Atlanta to eight last night, with a clutch 4-2 victory.

Tied at two in the top of the eighth, John Mayberry Jr. came up large with a one-out, pinch-hit double. Jimmy Rollins' single moved Mayberry Jr. to third, and he came home on a wild pitch with Placido Polanco at the dish. Hunter Pence but them up 4-2, with a ground-ball base hit through the hole vacated by Dan Uggla as he covered second base on the hit-and-run play. This came off Atlanta's
all-star reliever Jonny Venters, who'd entered the game 2-0 without allowing a run all season.

Chad Qualls struggled for a second straight game, allowing two hits and a walk but ultimately striking out Juan Francisco to end the threat.

Jonathan Papelbon pitched a first ninth, fanning Michael Bourn to end the game and give Pap his ninth save in an many chances.

Both starting pitchers were good, but Cole Hamels was unable to hold a 2-0 lead and he and Brandon Beachy both picked up a no decision. Hamels allowed two run on six hits, two walks and six strikeouts over six innings. Beach allowed two runs on five hits, no walks and two strikeouts over seven.

The Phils had jumped ahead 2-0 in the fourth on a two-run single from Ty Wigginton.

Atlanta got one right back in the bottom of the fourth, on Brian McCann's fourth homer of the year. The Braves tied it in the sixth on Francisco's sacrifice fly.

Washington and New York both lost, moving the Phils 2.5 games behind the front running Nationals, 2 games behind Atlanta and 1 game behind the Mets.

Tonight certainly features another great match-up on the hill, as Roy Halladay (3-2, 1.95) opposes Tommy Hanson (3-2, 3.00). Doc is 4-1 lifetime against Atlanta with a 1.78 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 50.2 innings. Hanson is 1-2 with a 2.23 ERA in his career against the Phils with 33 strikeouts in 36.1 innings pitched.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Polly gives Phils split, Braves next, Phils searching Waivers?

The Phillies salvaged a split in their four-game series with the Cubs with a 6-4 victory last night. Placido Polanco, who is starting to come out of his early season slump was the hero, hit a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the eighth to break a 4-4 tie. It was the first time the Phils won a game on their final at bat all season. Jonathan Papelbon picked up his eighth save of the season in as many opportunities, working around a lead-off walk.

Vance Worley pitched another great game, allowing one run on five hits, two walks and five strikeouts over seven innings. He excited with a 4-1 lead, but Chad Qualls blew the lead on Bryan LaHair's game tying dinger. Despite the blown save, Qualls picked up his first win of the season, thanks to Polly. Polanco was batting just .196 on April 24. His average spiked to .254 on April 27. He's currently batting .250; rather unimpressive overall but he has seven hits in his last four games.

The Phillies open a big series with Atlanta tonight. Cole Hamels (3-1, 2.73) takes the hill against Brandon Beachy (2-1, 1.05). Hamels is 11-6 in his career against the Braves with a 3.72 ERA with 132 strikeouts in 142.2 innings. Beachy, who is off to a tremendous start this season, going at least seven innings in three straight starts is 0-3 with a 3.94 ERA against the Phils in his career.

There are a few interesting options on the waiver wire for the Phillies and their struggling offense. This name will conjure up some bad memories for Phillies' fans and some good ones for others, but Bobby Abreu was released by the Angels. He may not be the player he used to be, but he is still an on-base guy who can take a walk; something the team is lacking. Third baseman Jorge Cantu opted out of his minor league contract, making him a free agent. He was batting .294 with four home runs and 22 RBI in Triple-A. He's not the defensive player Polanco is, but he certainly has a lot more pop. He'd be an interesting option to make some starts at third, at a discounted price. Ruben Amaro Jr. is certain to be looking into these players. It will be interesting to see if he makes a push for one.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Blanton, Garza steal the show over the weekend

The weekend wielding mixed results for the Phillies, who beat the Cubs 5-2 on Saturday but were dominated by Matt Garza is yesterday's 5-1 defeat.

For Joe Blanton this season, it's been feast or famine; on the field at least, it's certainly always feast with big Joe off the field.

Blanton was terrific on Saturday, allowing two runs on eight hits, no walks and eight strikeouts over 7.1 innings. Chad Qualls got the final two outs of the eighth, to pick up his fifth hold of the season and Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts to pick up his seventh save in as many opportunities.

Carlos Ruiz had a big day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with his third home run of the year and three RBI. Jimmy Rollins drove in the other two runs, with a looper down the right-field line that landed just fair for a two-run double in his first game of the season out of the lead-off hole.

Charlie Manuel mixed up the lineup for Saturday's game, putting J-Roll back on top, moving Hunter Pence to third and giving Jim Thome the start in the clean-up spot.

Thome was 0-for-1 and injured his back running the bases. No word on how much time he's miss just yet.

On Sunday, Garza continued his dominance over the Phillies, allowing no runs on just one hit over seven innings. He walked one and struck out ten. Ouch.

Kyle Kendrick pitched well, but was victimized by a mis-judged ball in right field by Hunter Pence which led to a second inning run, and a Laynce Nix error in the third. Kendrick allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits, one walk and seven strikeouts. David Herndon allowed two more runs on three hits over two innings.

The always interesting Carlos Marmol entered with a 5-0 lead on the ninth, and made it an adventure as he typically does. He allowed one run on one hit and three walks. He walked Ty Wigginton with the bases loaded to force in a run and bring the tying run to the plate, but Shane Victorino bounced out to end the game.

Tonight the Phillies, who stand four games behind Atlanta and Washington and one game behind third place New York, look to split the four-game set with Chicago.

The Vanimal, Vance Worly (2-1, 2.16) takes the mound against former Florida Marlin Chris Volstad (0-3, 6.14) who is obviously off to a bad start with the Cubs.

Worley is 1-0 in his career against Chicago with a 1.13 ERA and seven strikeouts over eight innings,

Volstad is 2-5 lifetime against Philly, with a 5.88 ERA.

Starting tomorrow, the Phillies open an important stretch in which they'll see both Atlanta and Washington for the first time this season.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Phils Return Home, Drop Opener to Cubs 5-1

Tough night for the Phils who, after returning from a long west-coast trip which saw them finally put some crooked numbers on the board, struggled to produce in just their seventh home game of the season.

It looked promising. Roy Halladay was on the mound, and they had scored 20 runs in their last 19 innings. The Chicago Cubs have been struggling to score runs. It seemed like the perfect storm.

But the Phillies dropped the series opener 5-1, behind Doc who struggled but battled, and a faltering offense.

Once again, the first inning looked promising. Juan Piere led-off with a knock, advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on Placido Polanco's base hit. Jimmy Rollins, after a foul pop-up or two that made its way out of play, popped out foul to the catcher for the first out. Ouch. Hunter Pence followed with a pop-out to the shortstop for out number two. Ouch. Shane Victorino followed with an inning ending ground-out. OUCH.

Doc was dominant at the start, but struggled with command in the middle innings. He ended up falling to 3-2 after allowing three runs on six hits, two walks and five strikeouts.

The Phils managed nine hits, but only two were for extra bases; a double for Carlos Ruiz and a solo home run for Ty Wigginton, his second of the season.

Rollins continues to make a case for demotion from the three-hole, a spot typically reserved for the team's best hitter. His 0-for-4 dropped him to .216 for the season, and his first inning at bat is extremely tough to swallow. Even if he hits a double play ball, the Phils would have taken a 1-0 lead. He couldn't even manage that, as he left three runners on base for the game.

Joe Blanton (1-3 4.34) takes the ball tomorrow night against Randy Wells (0-0 3.60). Since Blanton's outstanding first start against Miami in which he allowed one run on three hits over seven innings, he struggled in his following two outings at San Francisco and San Diego. He's never beaten the Cubs, but has a 3.04 ERA against them in his career.

Wells has made just one start this season, allowing two runs on six hits and five walks over five innings against Cincinnati. He's decision-less against the Phils in his career, with a 2.89 ERA over just 9.1 innings.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bats continue to fail Phils, Lee

Our worst nightmare is coming true. Outstanding pitching performances are being wasted by a dreadful offense; and none was more egregious than last night.

Cliff Lee pitched ten scoreless innings, scattering seven hits and seven strikeouts with no walks. His opponent, Matt Cain pitched nine shutout innings, allowing just two hits and one walk with four strikeouts. After Lee's dominant outing and no decision, the bullpen lasted just 1/3 of an inning before allowing the Giants a walk-off victory. Antonio Bastardo took his first loss of the season.

According to Todd Zolecki, Lee became the first pitcher to toss ten innings in a game since Roy Halladay and Aaron Harang in 2007, the first to pitch ten scoreless innings since Mark Mulder in 2005 and the first Phillies pitcher to go ten since Terry Mulholland in 1993. He certainly deserved a win.

The Phils have sole possession of last place in the NL East at 5-7. They're four games behind the first place Nationals and a game and a half behind fourth place Miami.

The team actually has some decent averages, with Hunter Pence, Carlos Ruiz, Juan Piere, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino all batting .277 or better. And Freddy Galvis is batting .346 since he started the season 0-for-12. But, if they can't string together single after single, they aren't going to score runs.

They have just six home runs as a team, tied for second to last in all of baseball. Their 35 runs scored is second to last as is their 34 RBI. They have just 16 doubles, tied for second to last in MLB and are one of three teams with no triples. They're tied for last with just 20 walks.

The offensive numbers are horrible. Aside from their middle of the pack batting average, they're close to last in almost every category. Fans have to worry that not only will it have a negative impact on this season, but could sway Cole Hamels' decision to leave.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bats break out against JJ to support Doc

Roy Halladay picked up his second win of the season in as many outings last night against Marlins' ace John Johnson. It was also win number two on the season for the Phils.

Doc worked out of a bases loaded jam in the first, and allowed a run in the second on a Johnson RBI ground-out. Phils fans had to be thinking, 'oh no, not another 1-0 loss with Doc on the mound.' But the Phillies exploded for five in the third, putting them up for good in what would be a 7-1 victory.

Juan Pierre started it off with a one-out single. He then picked up his second stolen base of the season on a beneficial call; he was clearly out. Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino  all followed with singles. Two batters later, Freddy Galvis came up in a big spot and he delivered amid chants of "Freddy, Freddy" with a two-run double to right.

Johnson lasted just 3.2 innings, allowing six runs on a career high 11 hits, one walk and one strikeout.

Carlos Ruiz added a solo home run, just the Phillies' second homer of the season, in the seventh inning.

Halladay improved to 2-0, going seven innings and allowing one run on five hits, one walk and three strikeouts. Chad Qualls and Mike Stutes closed the door, each with a perfect inning.

Doc is the only pitcher with a win, while Cole Hamels, David Herndon and Joe Blanton each have a loss. Cliff Lee and Vance Worley each have a no decision. Blanton looks to become the first pitcher not named Halladay to pick up a win in 2012, not a bet anyone would have made. He'll oppose Mark Buehrle, making his second start as a Marlin. He lost his debut against Cincinnati, allowing two runs on seven hits, two walk and five strikeouts over six innings. He's 3-0 in his career against the Phils with a 5.06 ERA. Blanton is 6-2 with a 3.33 ERA lifetime against the Marlins.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bats/Mistakes have Phils struggling out of the gate

The 2012 Phillies have picked up right where the 2011 Phillies left off. Excellent starting pitching, anemic offense.

It's only four games of a long season, but the stats for the 1-3 Phils are alarming.

They've scored just eight runs while the team is batting .198 with one home run, three doubles, ten walks, 29 strikeouts and are 5-for-5 in stolen bases.

Rookie Freddy Galvis just got the first hit of his career yesterday, in 13 at bats, and is second on the team in RBI.

Carlos Ruiz is batting .400, Shane Victorino .308 and Hunter Pence is batting .267. John Mayberry Jr. and Jimmy Rollins are batting just .250, and Placido Polanco and Galvis are really struggling at .154 and .077 respectively.

The Phillies have used a different first baseman in each of their first four games; the first time any team has done so in MLB history.

It's certainly not time to hit the panic button, but there is certainly reason for concern. Tomorrow's match-up between Roy Halladay and Josh Johnson is sure to be an intriguing one that continues to the theme of a low scoring game.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Opening Day Roster is Set

The 25-man roster is set, and the biggest surprise is Joe Savery. Savery, who has just 2.2 career innings in the big leagues made the team and provides the Phillies with an extra left-hander out of the bullpen. Here's the roster:

Pitchers (12): Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley, Joe Blanton, Jonathan Papelbon, David Herndon, Kyle Kendrick, Chad Qualls, Mike Stutes, Antonio Bastardo and Savery.

Catchers (2): Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider

Infielders (6): Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Freddy Galvis, Jim Thome, Ty Wigginton and Pete Orr

Outfielders (5): Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, Juan Pierre, John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix.

Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Michael Martinez, Jose Contreras and Justin De Fratus were all placed on the DL.

Roster hopefulls Scott Podsednik, Hector Lunas and Raul Valdes were optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. That's a tough break for Podsednik who had a great spring, and was clearly disappointed when Pierre was picked for the roster. Hopefully he can hang around long enough to earn a promotion when an inevitable injury strikes.

It apears Charlie Manuel will give Pierre a shot at the everyday left field position, and the lead-off spot; at least with Howard and Utley on the shelf. Here's my guess for tomorrow's Opening Day lineup against lefty Eric Bedard:

1. Juan Pierre, LF
2. Placido Polanco, 3B
3. Jimmy Rollins, SS
4. Hunter Pence, EF
5. Shane Victorino, CF
6. John Mayberry Jr., 1B
7. Carlos Ruiz, C
8. Freddy Galvis, 2B
9. Roy Halladay, P

Victorino and Mayberry Jr. could potentially swap positions in Manuel's lineup. After originally stating Jim Thome could play in two games a week, Manuel recently stated that Thome is sore after playing six innings and would likely only play 20 games all season at first base. Hopefully, that's not the case and Thome grows more accustom to playing the field as he continues to get his work in.

This is a great time of year. Opening Day is one of the best days of the season! Hopefully tomorrow's contest is nearly as dramatic and exciting as last season's Opening Day was.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Pierre gets a spot

Juan Pierre received good news yesterday, one day before the Phillies needed to inform he if he'd have a spot on the Major League roster, or if he'd be given his release.
Pierre is a Phillie.

Good news for one inevitably means bad news for another, and that man is Scott Podsednik. Podsednik has outplayed Pierre this spring, but it appears he will not have a spot on the team.

Podsednik is batting .347 (17-for-49) with eight runs scored, five doubles, one home run, two RBI, four walks, eight strikeouts and five stolen bases in five attempts.

Pierre is batting .313 (15-for-48) with seven runs scored, one double, two RBI, five walks, three strikeouts and just three stolen bases on six attempts.

A year after stealing 68 bags, Pierre took a major step back last season. He swiped just 27 and was caught 17 times, just one fewer caught stealing than the previous year.

Both are veteran outfielders, but Pierre had the edge going into the spring. But, Podsednik really couldn't have done anything else to earn a spot on this roster which struggles to produce offense. So, if he had just about no chance of making the roster entering camp, why waste everyone's time?

Well, one factor in their decision could be that Podsednik signed a Minor League contract, meaning they can send him to Triple-A to start the season. They have until June 1 to offer him a Major League roster spot before offering him his release. He could be an insurance policy for a little while, in case of injury or someone struggles.

It's good to see a veteran like Pierre on the team, but the way Podsednik is playing, it'd be a shame for him to not make the team.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bats falter once again in 2-0 defeat

With the regular season less than two weeks away, the Phillies are still struggling at the plate. Their Achilles heel the last two seasons, pun intended, have been silent bats. They haven't been all the loud this spring either.

The Phils managed just four singles in yesterday's 2-0 loss to Toronto. Carlos Ruiz, who is batting. 478 this spring, had two of them. Shane Victorino (.238), Hunter Pence (.275), Ty Wigginton (.237), Laynce Nix (.208), Juan Pierre (.257) and Freddy Galvis (.255) all went hitless; and those are some pretty brutal batting averages.

Cliff Lee tossed six strong innings, allowing a run on five hits, no walks and seven strikeouts. Jose Contreras made his second appearance of the spring and allowed one run in one inning.

But back to what is sure to be a hot topic all season: the offense. Hunter Pence, Jimmy Rollins and Hector Luna lead the team in home runs with two. Pence hit his two in the first two games of the spring and hasn't hit one yet, and also has a team high 14 strikeouts compared to one walk. Rollins is only batting .256 to accompany his two dingers and Luna isn't likely to make the team.

Amazingly, Galvis leads the team in RBI with eleven. The closest to him of players expected to make the team is John Mayberry Jr. with six.

Scott Podsednik leads the team with five stolen bases, and could beat out Pierre for that last spot. Podsednik is batting .378 with five doubles and has yet to been caught stealing. Pierre is batting .257 with no extra base hits, two steals and has been caught stealing three times. If the better play decides who gets a spot, Podsednik is clearly in the lead.

Fortunetly, Placido Polanco, who is batting .529 this spring, took batting practice and is close to returning.

The red hot Vance Worley takes the mound this afternoon when the Phillies host the Yankees. Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Stutes and David Herndon are also scheduled to pitch.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Halladay, Galvis lead Phils over O's

Freddy Galvis is getting plenty of playing time in preparation for Opening Day. Charlie Manuel had him leading off yesterday against Baltimore in a 4-1 win. Galvis was just 1-for-5, but he made the 1 count.

Deadlocked in a 1-1 tie in the seventh inning, Galvis laced an RBI triple, bringing Michael Martinez around to score and putting the Phillies on top for good. Galvis also struck out twice.

Roy Halladay was solid after a very bad outing that led to speculation that something was wrong with him and his velocity was down. He went six strong, allowing one run on three hits with no walks and five strikeouts. Jonathan Papelbon, Michael Stues and David Herndon each tossed a scorless inning.

The Phils are off today before visiting the Toronto Blue Jays tomorrow afternoon. Cliff Lee will take the ball with Chad Qualls and Jose Contreras also expected to pitch.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A look at Freddy Galvis, your Opening Day Second Baseman

Freddy Galvis was thwarted into an even larger spotlight yesterday afternoon at Bright House Field as news of Chase Utley's departure from camp swirled. Unless Ruben Amaro Jr. can find the right deal in the next two weeks, Galvis is the Phillies' Opening Day second baseman.

It's not what anyone wanted, anyone not named Galvis anyway, but having him at their disposal is a luxury. Galvis is not going to be a liability for the club. He's an excellent defensive player and has great baseball sense. Naturally a shortstop, he made the transition to second base instantly and flawlessly. Everyone raves about his glove. But can he hit?

That's been the question. This spring he's been very good at the plate, going 11-for-39 (.282) with six runs, two doubles, one triple, one home run, ten RBI, two walks, three strikeouts, one stolen base and no caught stealing. Each of the previous two springs with the Phils, Galvis bat .182. It's certainly safe to say he's progressing as a hitter. But this is only spring training.

Last year, in time spent between AA and AAA, he had a career year, batting .278 with 78 runs, 28 doubles, five triples, eight home runs, 43 RBI, 23 steals and 13 caught stealing. Nearly every stat was a career high. He's a career .246 hitter in the minors.

Galvis is not likely to hit at the .282 clip in which he's currently batting in the big leagues during the regular season, but his ceiling is extremely high and he's clearly maturing as a hitter after every at bat. That bodes well for distressed Phillies' fans. There's a good chance we've all seen the last of the real Chase Utley. Start buying your Galvis T-shirts; he has the potential to become a fan favorite.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Utley leaves camp, all but ruled out for opener

We've seen this story unfold before. Chase Utley not on the field. Utley says don't panic. Ruben Amaro Jr. says he's fine and will be on the field Opening Day. This has been the plan all along. Stop overreacting everyone. It all sounds great; until it doesn't.

Utley has left camp to go see a specialist regarding the tendinitis in his knee that has prevented him from even fielding ground-balls this spring. Amaro finally admitted it is unlikely that Utley will be on the field on Opening Day. Rookie Freddy Galvis is likely to start in Utley's absence.

It looks like Utley will start the season the disabled list for the second straight season. This was considered by many to big a big year for Chase, who had career lows in just about every statistical category, to see if he could bounce back from injury and return to the all star player he once was. That notion is in serious doubt. There's a good chance we've seen the last of Chase Utley; at least the Chase Utley we used to know.

Hamels, Contreras roughed up by Jays

Cole Hamels was roughed up in yesterday's 10-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Hamels allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits over 3.1 innings. He's been sharp this spring, and wasn't worried about the outing saying, "I was very happy with what I was able to do today. I thought I thew a lot of really good pitches."

Manager Charlie Manuel shared that sediment, "He was all right. He was working on his change and his cutter. He's fine. He'll be ready."

Jose Contreras, who pitched in just 14 innings last season, made his spring debut. He lasted just one-third of an inning, allowing four runs on four hits with one strikeout.

It was a big step for the 40-year-old, on his way back from elbow surgery. Hopefully he can progress along to the point where can contribute to the bullpen in 2012.

Scott Elarton is getting his first start of the spring against Max Scherzer and the Detroit Tigers this afternoon. In eight innings this spring, Elarton has allowed four runs on five hits, one walk and one home run with five strikeouts. Opponents are batting .185 against him. The Phillies are home, and it remains to be seen if Detroit's big boys, Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, will make the trip.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Halladay roughed up by Twins

The Doc was not in yesterday.

Roy Halladay was not Roy Halladay, allowing five runs on seven hits in 2.2 innings against Minnesota. He walked a batter and struck out three. Josh Willingham hit a solo shot off Halladay in the first inning, and Chris Parmelee crushed a three-run shot in the third.

Halladay's spring ERA ballooned up to 10.57. Is anyone worried though? I didn't think so.

Jonathan Papelbon pitched a scoreless inning, allowing a hit and a walk with one strikeout.

Jimmy Rollins went 0-for-3 on the day, dropping his spring average to .217. Shane Victorino went 1-for-4 but struck out twice and left three runners on. He's batting .231.

Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz continued swinging a hot bat; Polly was 2-for-4 with an RBI, keeping his average at .500. Chooch was 2-for-2 with an RBI and a walk, raising his average to .600.

The Phillies have split-squad games today. They'll host the Braves with Joe Blanton starting on the mound, and will visit the Rays where Joel Pineiro gets the nod.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hamels Strong, Brown Homers

Cole Hamels had another strong outing yesterday in a 6-5 loss to Houston. Hamels went five innings, allowing one run on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts.

Domonic Brown hit his first home run of the spring, untying the game in the 10th inning, before Brian Bixler hit a walk-off three-run shot in the bottom of the tenth for Houston. Brown struggled once again in the field, making his second error of the spring and botching a few other plays. He continues to frustrate the Phillies with his defensive problems.

Roy Halladay takes the mound today against the Twins. Jonathan Papelbon is also scheduled to pitch.

Some notable player stats thus far:

John Mayberry Jr.- 5-for-26 (.192) 2 2B, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 0 SB, 2 CS.
Scott Podsednik- 8-for-25 (.320) 3 2B, 2 BB, 4 K, 3 SB, 0 CS.
Hunter Pence- 7-for-24 (.292) 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 6 K.
Freddy Galvis- 8-for-22 (.364) 2 2B, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K
Laynce Nix- 4-for-19 (.211) 1 RBI, 5 BB, 5 K
Juan Piere- 5-for-19 (.263) 3 BB, 3 K, 1 SB, 2 CS
Ty Wigginton- 3-for-16 (.188) 2 2B, 2 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K
Placido Polanco- 4-for-8 (.500) 1 RBI
Carlos Ruiz- 4-for-8 (.500) 1 HR, 3 RBI
Domonic Brown- 5-for-16 (.313) 2 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 CS

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Worley dominates Pirates

Vance Worley took a big step yesterday in a dominant spring outing against Pittsburgh. The rookie of the year candidate last season struggled during his first outing of the spring; heading into a season in which he looks to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump.

Worley pitched four perfect innings, retiring all 12 batters he faced, striking out eight of them. He pitched with attitude and swagger, exuding a 'don't mess with me' confidence on the mound. He mixed locations masterfully, one of his strengths last season, and didn't walk a batter.

He faced most of Pittsburgh's regulars, including Nate McLouth and Andrew McCutchen who were a combined 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rotation picks up where they left off

The rotation is off to a great start. Joe Blanton took a huge first step in his recovery from injuries that plagued his 2011 season by tossing two scoreless innings in his debut. Cliff Lee followed with two scoreless innings of his own yesterday in a 7-0 victory over the Blue Jays. Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay each allowed one run over two innings in their debuts.

The Vanimal, Vance Worley makes his debut today against Houston as he looks to avoid a sophomore slump after a tremendous rookie campaign. The Phillies lineup today:

1. J. Rollins, SS
2. S. Victorino, CF
3. H. Pence, RF
4. J. Thome, DH
5. J. Mayberry. Jr, 1B
6. L. Nix, LF
7. K. Frandsen, 3B
8. E. Kratz, C
9. M. Martinez, 2B

Jonathan Papelbon and Dontrelle Willis will also make their second appearances.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pence off to a hot start

Hunter Pence started his spring off with a bang in a pair of losses this weekend to the Yankees. Pence jacked a two-run first inning home run in each of the first two Grapefruit League games this spring. The first came off Ivan Nova, while yesterday's blast was off veteran Freddy Garcia.

Hamels pitched well in Saturday's 8-5 loss, allowing one run on three hits over two innings with one strikeout. The run was win aided; Raul Ibanez hit a foul pop-up down the left field line, which was blown back toward the field and dropped just fair.

Jonathan Papelbon was strong in his debut, pitching a one-two-three inning in the fifth. Lefty Raul Valdez also had a strong outing, pitching a perfect inning with two strikeouts.

Dave Bush followed Hamels for two innings, allowing one run on one hit, a Curtis Granderson home run, with two strikeouts.

The debuts of Dontrelle Willis and Chad Qualls did not go quite as well. Willis allowed one run on two hits and one walk over one inning, and Qualls allowed three runs on three hits over just one inning of work.

Starters Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Jim Thome, John Mayberry Jr, Domonic Brown, Eric Kratz and Michael Martinez were a combined 0-for-15.

Pence's first inning blast yesterday once again wouldn't hold the lead for long, as the Phils dropped this one 7-4 behind some shoddy defense.

The team made four errors; two by Martinez, one by Ty Wigginton and one by Brown. One three of New York's seven runs were earned.

Roy Halladay made his spring debut, allowing a run, on a first pitch opposite field home run to Alex Rodriguez in the first, on two hits with three strikeouts over two innings.

Joel Pineiro made his Phillies' debut and allowed three runs (one earned) over two innings. Phillippe Aumont also allowed three runs (one earned) over just one inning with two strikeouts.

Brown and Freddy Galvis each had two hits, with Galvis and Hector Luna each driving in a run.

Mayberry Jr. picked up his first hit of the spring, a double off D.J. Mitchell.

Many of the regulars did not make the trip, but Juan Pierre picked up another hit while additions Laynce Nix and Wigginton were a combined 0-for-6.

The Phillies will host New York this afternoon for a third straight match-up with the Bronx Bombers. Joe Blanton gets the start while Scott Elarton, Austin Hyatt, Brian Sanchez and David Herndon are all schedule to pitch.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Young arms lead Phils to 6-1 exhibition win

The Phillies kicked off their spring schedule with a 6-1 victory over the Florida State Seminoles yesterday afternoon. The highlight of the game was a very strong performance from the club's young pitchers.

Austin Hyatt started the game, pitching two perfect innings with three strikeouts. Jake Diekman, Jeremy Horst, Michael Schwimer and Joe Savery each followed with a scoreless inning. J.C. Ramirez with a blown save in the seventh when he followed the Seminoles to scratch across a run, but also picked up the win when the bats put a five-spot on the board in the bottom of the inning. Phillippe Aumont and B.J. Rosenberg closed out the game, each with a scoreless inning.

The Phillies' regulars didn't do much at the plate. Hunter Pence and Tuffy Gosewich's doubles were the only hits from the starting lineup. Domonic Brown was hit by a pitch, and promptly swiped second base easily.

The team's off-season additions didn't jump out to a big start. Juan Pierre was 0-for-2 with a strikeout and an infield pop-up, and Ty Wigginton went 0-for-2 with a double play. The big man, Jim Thome was 0-for-1 with a walk, a run scored and a strikeout.

Outfield prospect Tyson Gillies was 1-for-2 with an RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base.

Utility man Hector Luna, who has bounced around different organizations since 2004, belted a three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh.

John Mayberry Jr. theoretically had the worst day at the plate, going 0-for-3 with five men left on base. No one else left more than two.

The Phillies open the Grapefruit League schedule on Saturday as they play host to the New York Yankees. Cole Hamels will start the game, with Dave Bush, Jonathan Papelbon, Dontrelle Willis, Raul Valdez and Mike Stutes also scheduled to take the ball.

Charlie Manuel has yet to say whether Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Carlos Ruiz or Brian Schneider would make their debuts against New York.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Manuel sets lineup as Phils face FS

The Phillies square off against the Florida State Seminoles this afternoon in an exhibition game at Bright House Field. Here's a look at Charlie Manuel's first lineup of the spring:

1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Juan Piere, DH
3. Shane Victorino, CF
4. Hunter Pence, RF
5. Ty Wigginton, 3B
6. Domonic Brown, LF
7. John Mayberry Jr, 1B
8. Michael Martinez, 2B
9. Tuffy Gosewisch, C

Austin Hyatt will start on the mound. Also scheduled to pitch are Jake Diekman, Jeremy Horst, Michael Schwimer, Joe Savery, J.C. Rameriz, B.J. Rosenberg and Phillippe Aumont.

Manuel said Chase Utley and Placido Polanco will not play, nor will catchers Carlos Ruiz or Brian Schneider.  Jim Thome will get at least one at-bat but will not play in the field.

Obviously, Manuel wants to get a good look at Pierre this spring. A spot on this team is his to lose during camp. Brown will also see a lot of playing time, but unless he completely wows everyone and wins the left field job outright, he'll start the season with Triple-A.

The Phillies open their Grapefruit League schedule on Saturday against the New York Yankees in a game that will be televised by Comcast and be streamed on MLB.TV.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Recent additions create competition this spring

The Phillies have made quite a few potential low-risk, high-reward additions this off-season that could help the team in 2012.

This week they added the speedy veteran outfielder Juan Pierre on a minor league deal and reliever Chad Qualls on a one-year pact.

The team has a few roster spots to fill during spring training and while Qualls is expected to join the big club, Pierre has his work cut out for him while he looks to earn one of the vacant spots.

Examining the offense, Charlie Manuel usually carries five bench players. First, the players guaranteed a spot barring injury:

C: Carlos Ruiz
1B/OF: John Mayberry Jr.
2B: Chase Utley
SS: Jimmy Rollins
3B: Placido Polanco
OF: Shane Victorino
OF: Hunter Pence
Bench: Jim Thome
Bench: Laynce Nix
Bench: Ty Wigginton
Bench: Brian Schneider

That leaves two open spots while Ryan Howard is on the DL; one on the bench and one in the outfield, assuming Mayberry gets the lion's share of the play at first base.

Michael Martinez is likely to come back, especially after Wilson Valdez was dealt away. That would leave one spot for an outfielder, and it likely could come down to Domonic Brown and Pierre.

Pierre has one thing working in his favor: Brown is unlikely to be a bench player.

Brown needs at bats to become an every day player. If he doesn't win the left field job outright in spring training, expect him to return to the minors which should open a spot for Pierre as a pinch-hitter/runner and occasional starter.

Of course, injuries could always wreak havoc on these plans, or Ruben Amaro Jr. could have something else up his sleeve.

Pitchers and Catchers report in less than three weeks!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Phils sign Pineiro, Moyer receives offer

The Phillies added some pitching depth, signing right-hander Joel Pineiro to a minor league contract.

Pineiro went 7-7 with a 5.13 ERA in 27 appearances for the Angels last season. He has 104 career victories with a 4.41 ERA over 1,754 innings pitched.

Breaking into the league in 2000, Pineiro spent his first six seasons with the Seattle Mariners. His experiment in Boston in 2007 was short lived, as he was shipped to St. Louis after just 34 innings with an ERA above five.

His most successful season in St. Louis was his last, when he won 15 games with a 3.49 ERA in 2009. He spent the last two seasons with the Angels, winning ten games with a 3.84 ERA in 2010 but struggling last season.

Pineiro has been invited to join the Phillies at Spring Training.

Another veteran pitcher receiving a minor league contract offer is Jamie Moyer, as the Colorado Rockies offered the 49-year-old a deal.

Moyer missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John Surgery. Colorado is likely more interested in what Moyer has to offer them off the field rather than on it. With a youthful rotation and a man who's been pitching since 1986, why not take a shot? Either way, Phillies' fans will certainly be rooting for him.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Phils exploring Kerry Wood, keeping Brad Lidge on the radar

The Phillies have been in contact with free agent relief pitcher Kerry Wood. The veteran starter turned setup man would help to relieve concerns about the back end of the bullpen behind closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes were tremendous in the setup role for much of last season, but both struggled mightily down the stretch.

The asking price for Wood, thought to be around $4 million for one-year, may be the biggest obstacle in him landing in Philly.

Ruben Amaro Jr. has already stated that the payroll is "well past where [they] want it to be."

Wood, who went 3-5 with a 3.35 ERA in 55 games last season would be an intriguing addition. However, it seems Amaro is more likely to explore cheaper options.

The Phils have also remained in contact with Brad Lidge, while the Angels appear to be the front runner. Let's face it, the Angels are likely to be the odds on favorites to win it all this year, while Lidge has witnessed the Phillies get older and further away from another World Series championship each season. Most people would consider Anaheim a more desirable destination and while Philadelphia remains one of the best teams and baseball cities in the league, I can't really argue at this point.