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.