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.