Results tagged ‘ Ben Francisco ’

Hamels, The Marked Man & More Injuries For The Phillies


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for P7098599 Hamels.jpgIn yesterday’s spring training game against the Astros, pitcher Cole Hamels had words with second baseman Bill Hall.  Hamels threw a pitch up and in which did not even come that close to Hall, but he apparently took offense.

Hamels blew off the incident saying Hall was a “good guy.”  Hall reacted a bit differently.  According to the veteran infielder, “He’s (Hamels) definitely a marked man for me now.  So when I do some damage off him I’m going to let him know I did some damage off him.  I guarantee that.  I’m not going to let him disrespect me.  If you disrespect me I’m going to do my best to disrespect you back.”

In nine years in the majors, Hall is a lifetime .250 hitter.  I am not sure what “damage” Hall is referring to and I am guessing we will not find out anytime in this decade.  For a 31-year old, below-average player, these are certainly very immature remarks.  Hall is not worthy to lick Cole’s muddy cleats.

More Injuries

The grocery list of Phillies player injuries has just grown a bit longer.  It began with Chase Utley’s bum knee, moved on to a broken hand bone for Domonic Brown, a sore neck for Ben Francisco and now, Brad Lidge has joined the party.

According to Phillies sources, Lidge has bicep tendinitis.  Pitching coach Rich Dubee said, “He generally has it in the spring,” indicating that this is business as usual for Lidge.  The Phillies insist it is not serious.  Then again, we have heard that one before.

There are also reports that Lidge’s fastball is not up to speed.  Combined with his injury history and the fact that he has yet to get through an entire spring training with the Phillies healthy, there may be reason for concern.

Speaking of Lidge’s history, did you know that Lidge missed parts of his first four professional seasons, from 2002 to 2005, with a variety of injuries?  These included a torn rotator cuff, right shoulder tendinitis and a broken forearm that almost ended his career.

Here is a closer look at some of Lidge’s injury history:

- 2002, a strained intercostal muscle near the rib cage.

- December 2003, arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

- June – July 2005, shut down with elbow issues.

- May 2007, bone bruise on his right femur near his knee.

- June – July 2007, left oblique strain.

- October 2007, surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee.

- February 2008, tore the meniscus in the same knee he just had surgery on during his first pitch off a mound in spring training.

- June 2009, sprained right knee and a sore elbow, specifically the flexor pronator tendon.

- January 2010, surgery on both the elbow and the right knee again.

- March 2010, the elbow is still an issue and Lidge gets a cortisone injection.

- March 2011, bicep tendinitis.

While history does not always predict the future, the long list of injuries is a bit scary.  The amount of time Lidge has missed is an issue as well.

Of the top ten closers in baseball who remained basically healthy in 2010, the average number of innings pitched for each closer was about 68.2 innings per year.  Lidge pitched only 45.2 last year and 58.2 in 2009.

The current injury for Lidge may indeed be nothing to worry about.  Phillies fans certainly hope that is the case.  But at the rate Phillies players are dropping, any injury is scary. 

Adding to the Phillies woes, Placido Polanco left a spring game early today after hyperextending the same elbow he had surgery on this offseason.  Just like Lidge, the Phillies say he is not expected to miss much time.

For both Lidge and Polanco, many are hoping that history will not repeat itself.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

 

Brown To Have Surgery On Broken Hand

While hitting a foul ball in Saturday’s spring training game against the Pirates, Domonic Brown fractured the hamate bone in his right hand.  Oddly enough, his very next swing after breaking the bone resulted in his only hit in spring action through 16 at-bats.


Hamate Bone.jpgSeveral baseball players have had this very same bone removed in the past.  Some of those include former Phillie, Jim Thome and Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia.  Apparently, the hand is just fine without this bone, although recovery from the surgery could take four to six weeks.

This may be a blessing in disguise for Brown who was struggling badly to adjust his swing and make the Phillies roster before the end of camp.  Time off to reflect on his issues may be a good thing.

In the meantime, the job in right almost certainly will go to Ben Francisco, although the Phillies will not dub anyone the winner just yet.

Thus far, the injury bug has bitten twice for the Phillies in spring training; first Chase Utley and his bum knee, then Brown.  Utley is still recovering from a cortisone injection and it will be several more days before any more is known about his knee.

On the bright side, the Phillies pitching staff looks fantastic!  Cliff Lee appeared to be almost in mid-season form against the Rays today over four innings.  And on Saturday Roy Halladay threw three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit.

In the bullpen, JC Romero pitched today and looked very, very sharp.  After going 3-0 on the first batter, he came back to strike the guy out and then mowed down the next two batters in order.

Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras also seem to be moving along well.  Neither has surrendered a run yet.

Other roster hopefuls are not having much success though.  Eddie Bonine has allowed seven runs in four innings of work.  J.C. Ramirez has allowed four runs in five innings.  However, most of these guys were not expected to make the team anyway.

Spring action continues tomorrow when the Phillies see the Yankees again.  Game time is 1:05pm.

 

Illustration by Wikipedia

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Spring Update and Ideas For Keeping Utley Healthy

Over the last two days, both Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee saw their first spring training action on the mound.  Halladay went two scoreless against his old team, the Blue Jays.  And Lee gave up two runs in two innings today against the Tigers.  Both Phillies aces are in the beginning stages of working out the kinks before the regular season.

But while some are easing their way into baseball shape, others need to play well now.  Ben Francisco has taken the proverbial bull by the horns right from the start, as he is competing for the job in right field.  Francisco is batting .400 with four hits and five RBI in ten at-bats.

As for his competition, Domonic Brown has yet to get a hit.  He is 0 for 12.  John Mayberry Jr. has not done too much either, hitting just .250.  It looks like the job may be Francisco’s if the young guys do not step it up, fast.

Chase Utley is still resting after being diagnosed with right knee tendonitis.  He is able to hit, but not doing any running.  The issue has been downplayed by Utley and team management, but this may be something to keep a close eye on.

I had a few thoughts about how to keep Chase Utley healthy.  Here are a few ideas:

Clone him.  Use a different Utley clone each day to keep him fresh!

Utley clones.jpg

The Bionic Man: Replace bum body parts with super-powerful bionic parts:

Bionic Utley.jpg

Iron Man armor:

 

Iron Man Utley.jpg

Store Utley in a protective bubble:

 

Utley bubble.jpgAny other ideas?  Pass them on!

 

Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

Also, if you are looking for some cool Phillies tees, check out The Phightins for some unique designs.

 

 

 

Phillies Five Good Omens To Start Spring Training

Hope springs eternal for all 30 MLB teams this time of year.  Spring is a time of rebirth, renewal and new beginnings.  At the first crack of the bat, anything is possible.

For the Phillies, 2011 could be all that and more.  The potential of this team is unlimited.  But potential does not guarantee success, as execution and a little bit of luck will play a major role in the outcome.

However, the Phillies do have plenty of reasons to be hopeful.  Here are five good omens for the Phillies as they begin spring training.


DSCF1209b0215.jpgThe Starting Rotation

If you have not heard all about the Phillies starting rotation, you are probably living in a cave.  The media frenzy in Clearwater, Florida is in full swing but luckily, the players are not buying all the hype.

In a press conference on Monday, all five starters, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton, looked very relaxed.  They were so laid back that if one of them had dozed off, it would not have been surprising.

And it would be hard to blame any of these guys for taking a cat nap while reporters asked Lee all the same questions he has been answering repeatedly since signing in December.  It became so redundant that a media member actually asked him if he liked the food in Philadelphia.  Lee responded with, “I like Philly cheese steaks, but that had nothing to do with me coming back to Philadelphia.”

The fact that none of these pitchers take the attention too seriously is a very good omen for the Phillies.  This rotation understands what it takes to win and how to avoid distractions, like ridiculous questions from baseball-starved reporters.

Their nonchalance in the face of all the hype is even more impressive when you add in the overwhelming talent and potential of this group which includes three Cy Young awards, 13 All-Star selections and three postseason MVP awards.

In short, things look very good for the 2011 Phillies pitching staff.

Jimmy Rollins Becomes An Early Bird

Known almost as much for his consistent lateness as his batting average, Jimmy Rollins has never been a timely guy.  He is normally the last player to report to camp every year.  But for the first time in his Phillies career, Rollins arrived early.

Not only did Rollins show up a full week early but he arrived in excellent physical condition as a result of a more disciplined off-season routine.  At 32-years of age and entering a contract year, Rollins obviously realizes the importance of the 2011 season.

It is important for Rollins as an individual and also for the team as a whole.  After a very bad, injury plagued 2010, J-Roll needs to get back to being the engine that makes this Phillies offense go.

Arriving early to camp is a good sign that he is ready to do just that.

Brad Lidge Is Healthy


Lidge 5x70215.jpgIn his first year with the Phillies in 2008, Brad Lidge threw just one pitch off the mound in Spring Training and just like that, he tore the meniscus in his right knee.  Lidge recovered well from surgery and went on to pitch the best season of his career and help the Phillies win a World Championship.

But in 2009, Lidge had a complete reversal of fortune.  By the end of June, Lidge had blown six saves and landed on the disabled list again with a sprained right knee.  Lidge finished the year with season with an 0-8 record, an ERA of 7.21 and he converted 31 saves in 42 opportunities.

Lidge then spent most of the first half of 2010 on the DL after elbow surgery.  And although he finished the season much improved from 2009, questions about his healthy still lingered.

This year, Lidge reported to camp healthy and raring to go.  When asked about the upcoming 2011 season, Lidge responded, ” Fans should be pumped up. I know I am.”

And if Lidge can channel his 2008 form while avoiding injury, the Phillies will have the anchor they need at the end of the bullpen to help propel them to another post-season.

Versatility And Depth

The Phillies have a handful of players in camp that they feel can fill multiple roles.  Last year, Wilson Valdez was a lifesaver filling in for injured players and short stop, second base and third base.

This spring, the Phillies have decided to try him out in centerfield as well, in case Shane Victorino goes down.  With Jayson Werth off to the Nationals, options in center are slim and Valdez has a rocket for an arm.

John Mayberry Jr. is another player who could fill other roles.  Normally an outfielder, Mayberry played first base in college and will see time there this spring to add to his versatility.

Delwyn Young, a non-roster invitee, might be another possibility.  He has played infield and outfield, although the odds of him making the team are not very good.

Still, the fact that the Phillies have a number of viable options for their bench is a good thing.  And their willingness to experiment, moving players around, means they have confidence in this group they have assembled.

Competition In Right Field

Competition is good.  It breeds motivation.  Players like Domonic Brown, Ben Francisco, John Mayberry Jr.  and Ross Gload have plenty of motivation since the departure of Jayson Werth.

The huge, gaping hole in right field is theirs for the taking.  It will be a matter of whoever plays the best wins.  The starting spot could go to one player or maybe two in a platoon situation.

Brown is especially anxious to show what he is made of.  After a less than inspiring major league stint at the end of 2010 and then a bad showing in the Dominican Winter League which he left early, Brown has something to prove.

Only three days after leaving the Dominican Winter League, Brown went straight to Clearwater to work on his swing.  With the help of hitting coach Greg Gross, Brown found the flaw in his swing and has spent the last two months fixing it.

There is nothing like a little competition to bring out the best in a ball player.  Each of the right field-hopefuls have their work cut out for them.

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Phillies Avoid Arbitration in 2011 by Signing Kendrick

The Phillies locked up their final arbitration eligible player today by signing pitcher Kyle Kendrick to a one-year, $2.45 million dollar deal.  Ben Francisco signed this past Saturday as well.  His contract is also for one-year and totals $1.175 million.


KendrickKK.jpgTo start the year, Kendrick will wind up in one of two places.  If Joe Blanton is traded, Kendrick will be the favorite to win the fifth starters spot.  If Blanton stays, Kendrick can take over the long-man job in the bullpen vacated by the still unsigned Chad Durbin.

The nice part about avoiding arbitration for the Phillies is having less drama going into Spring Training.  This is especially true for Kendrick who, in years past of travelling back and forth to the minors, seemed constantly conflicted about his role with the team.

The only thing Kendrick has to worry about now is pitching.  This kind of focus, without the unnecessary distraction of a hearing, is exactly what Kendrick needs to be successful.

It has been a busy offseason for Kendrick.  He got married to Stephanie LaGrossa, bringing the second Survivor contestant into the Phillies family.  Heidi Hamels is the other former Survivor.   And now, Kendrick can add “millionaire” to his resume.

But the best part of his new-found stability is that Kendrick will probably not fall for any more “you have been traded to Japan” pranks. 

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Will Aaron Rowand Return To The Phillies?

The Phillies made two moves on Tuesday that may indicate a few deals are in the works at the Winter Meetings.  Pitchers Jesus Sanchez and Yohan Flande were released from the 40-man roster, likely to make room for a few additions.  One of those additions is rumored to be ex-Phillie Aaron Rowand.


29 Rowand Runs (1)A.jpgRowand has two more years and $24 million left on his contract with the Giants.  After a down year in 2010 and losing his starting spot, the Giants have implied that Rowand is no longer in their plans going forward.  If the Giants are willing to eat most of his salary, Rowand could possibly return to Philly.

Best known for smashing his face against the centerfield wall at Citizens Bank Park to make a game-saving catch in 2006, Rowand was also the leader in the clubhouse and well loved by players and coaches alike.  He was never afraid to call out a teammate who was slacking. This kind of fire is what Charlie Manuel loves about Rowand.  It may also be motivation to bring him back.

In 2007, Rowand had a career year with the Phillies, batting .309 with 27 homers and 89 RBI.  He also made the All-Star team that year.  Since departing for San Francisco, Rowand’s numbers have steadily declined.  At the time, critics said the move to a  larger ballpark might affect his production and that appears to be the case.  On the flip side, a return to the smaller confines of Citizens Bank Park may give new life to Rowand’s bat.

In addition, Rowand will have something to prove wherever he lands.  This is a guy who plays the game hard and takes pride in his performance.  Losing his starting job may have been the kick in the backside he needed. 

Another upside is that Rowand can play either center or right field, just as Jayson Werth was able to.  Neither Domonic Brown or Ben Francisco would likely be effective in center in the event that Shane Victorino is hurt or needs a break.  And right now, Victorino is the only true centerfielder on the roster.  Even if it is just coming off the bench, Rowand could fill that role while Brown and Francisco patrol right field.

Whether or not the Phillies decide to work out a deal with the Giants for Rowand is still unknown.  But if the price is right, Rowand could be a real asset and maybe inject new life into this Phillies team.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Werth Signs With The Nationals


34B.jpgIn a shocking move, Jayson Werth has signed a 7-year deal with the last place Washington Nationals, snubbing higher-profile teams like the Red Sox.  After losing Adam Dunn to the White Sox and star rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg to Tommy John surgery, the Nats needed a seat-filler.  Attendance in DC has been pathetic over the years due to a lack of success for the team and very high ticket prices. 

In the last two years, the Nats ranked 24th and 23rd place for attendance out of 30 teams.  The acquisition of Werth should produce a spike in season ticket plans, not to mention a spike in team batting average and runs scored.  The exact terms of the contract have not yet been disclosed, but it is in the area of $126 million dollars.

The real shock is that Werth chose to sign with a last-place team.  The Nats are trying to build a winner, but realistically, this will not happen overnight.  In fact, their biggest obstacle may be the Phillies who have won the division 4-straight years now.  But Werth has his ring already so maybe winning is now lower on his list than money and stability.

As for the Phillies, they now have a huge, gaping hole in right field to be filled.  With Domonic Brown leaving Winter Ball early today due to being “tired and sluggish,” big questions remain as to his ability to fill the spot.  Worst case scenario is that the left-handed  Brown will have to platoon with righty Ben Francisco.
Brown Francisco.jpgAnother right-hander who may be able to platoon with Francisco or even Ross Gload is John Mayberry Jr.  In 11 games with the big club in 2010, Mayberry batted  .333 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI.  He has been working on his stroke in AAA and, if Brown is not ready, Mayberry might be a better option.

There is a list of free agents as well that may also be able to fill the hole.  The top choice for Charlie Manuel is probably Matt Diaz.  The two men live in the same neighborhood and spend time together in the offseason.  Diaz is a lifetime .301 hitter who got little playing time with the Braves last season.  However, Diaz did find time to tackle a rouge Phillies fan on the field back in September.  He is almost a folk-hero in Philly already after that feat.

A few other options include Jeff Francoeur, Carlos Quentin or Scott Hairston.  With a little more creativity, the Phillies may wish to consider former Phillie Aaron Rowand.  The Giants have indicated that Rowand is not in their plans going forward and may be willing to eat his huge salary just to get rid of him.  Rowand struggled last year at AT&T Park.  Perhaps the smaller, friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park can revive his bat?

A few other long-shot free-agents might be Willie Bloomquist, Joe Inglett or Jose Guillen.  Whichever way the Phillies decide to go, it is clear that Werth has left very big shoes to fill.  He will be missed.

Howard Saves Mets Fans While Free Agency Heats Up

Yes, Ryan Howard saved some Mets fans from certain death…on TV anyway.  Last night both Howard and Chase Utley made guest appearances on the show “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.”  Howard may have gotten the biggest laugh of the night when he stopped one of the characters from attacking a few Mets fans:


Howard Mets fan.jpgUtley did not have many lines, which is probably a good thing.  So while a career in acting is out, at least his hair looked terrific.  And Howard got the best line of the night with, ” I just saw you bite that dude.”

Crossing Broad has the video of their segment, in case you missed it.

Free Agent News With a Dash of Sarcasm

- Pitcher Kyle Kendrick and outfielder Ben Francisco were both tendered contracts yesterday in order to keep them with the Phillies and out of free agency.  Francisco was a no-brainer.  And due to a lack of starting pitching depth, signing Kendrick makes sense as well…unless his 27.51 ERA with 2 outs and runners in scoring position bother you.

- The San Francisco Giants have asked Pat Burrell to return and signed him to an undisclosed amount.  Apparently his 0 for 13 with 11 strikeouts World Series performance prompted the signing?  Here is another fun Burrell fact; Pat “The Bat” has two World Series rings and only one World Series hit.  It is good to be The Bat.

- Adam Dunn and his 38 home runs in the 2010 season signed a four-year, $56 million dollar deal with the White Sox.  The Washington Nationals collective batting average immediately dropped about 100 points.  Attendance will likely drop to a 15 fan per game average.

- Star closer for the Yankees, Mariano Rivera, 41, has been signed to a new two-year deal.  As part of the contract negotiation, Rivera will still be allowed to use his Senior Citizen discount at the team gift shop.

- Jayson Werth has still not signed with the Phillies and hell has not yet frozen over.  Coincidence?

Have a great weekend!

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

Are Rumors Werth Listening To?

In the digital age, rumors fly much quicker than they used to.  It literally takes only seconds to post a rumor online and create a huge buzz over basically nothing.  The same applies to Phillies free-agent  right fielder, Jayson Werth. 
30a.jpg
Early this morning, a talk-show radio host mentioned that the Phillies had offered Werth a contract and that it was good enough for him to possibly sign.  Should you give credence to this rumor?  The simple answer is “No.”

Black Friday came and went and no “sale” on outfielders was ever advertised.  Tomorrow is Cyber Monday; for those awaiting a holiday miracle and second-chance sale on Werth, put it out of your mind.  It is not going to happen.  The odds of Werth returning to Philly are about the same as the possibility of a meteor landing on your house; for the record, those adds are about 182,138,880,000,000 to 1.

Did you know there is even a web site page on eHow.com dedicated to helping people determine if rumors are true?  One of the suggestions says, “Send at text to (CHA CHA) 242 242 with any rumor questions and they might be able to answer your question in just a few minutes.”  Is this not the basic equivalent to shaking a Magic 8-ball?

So if you prefer logic to magic text messages, just look at the facts.  The Phillies already have $143 million dollars committed to 2011 salaries.  Werth is going to aim for an average of $15 million a year.  Nearing the $160 million dollar mark does not leave room for improvements elsewhere, like in the bullpen.  Plus, while Domonic Brown may not be ready to take over full-time in right field, he is close enough.  The Phillies can find help elsewhere for the one year or so until Brown is ready.

Now think about some of the moves GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has already made.  If Amaro was not willing to pay to keep Cliff Lee, $15 million a year for Werth seems even more like a huge, unsustainable amount.  The Phillies are also not afraid to platoon players to fill the spot, as evidenced by previous pairings like Werth and Geoff Jenkins.  While this will not improve the position at all, it is possible that the Phillies will settle for a platoon of Ben Francisco and Brown if all else fails.

Players will wait to get the best offer.  Remember after the 2007 season when the Phillies gave a solid 3-4 offer to Aaron Rowand to return?  The Giants came in with a 5-year deal and Rowand walked.  It will be the same with Werth; even if the Phillies offer a very good deal, odds are that another team will outbid them.

And if all that has not quelled your suspicions that this weekend’s rumor might be true, take it from Werth himself.  CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Werth said via text message about being close to signing, “Not at all. It’s very early. I will make an informed decision in due time.”  So you can choose to believe the magic CHA CHA eHow text message or the verified text message sent to Salisbury.  Magic or logic; you decide.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

2010 Phillies Photo Tribute

I normally do not have this video done before Christmas, but it is amazing how much extra time that the lack of a World Series provides ;o)  For those who have missed it previous years, at the end of every season, I pick out my favorite Phillies photos from that year and put them into a video slideshow.  These photos were all taken by me and my giant zoom lens, from the stands, at both home and away games throughout the season.

In the 2010 season, I attended 27 games and 7 Phillies-related special events, like the Phestival and the Phillies Cruise.  Yes, it was down year for me due to a lack of funds ;o)   Going through the digital files on my computer, I calculate that I shot more than 18,000 photos at Phillies games this year.  If you add in the special events, the total is over 25,000.  Of those, I picked out and published around 5,000.  The slideshow contains the best of the game shots for a total of 257 photos. 

I am eternally grateful for the invention of the digital camera.  Remember the days when we had to use film?  That was one expensive habit.  Well, here it is…enjoy!

 

 

Thank you for stopping by!

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

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