Results tagged ‘ Carlos Ruiz ’

Dramatic Walk-Off Win Gives Phillies a Series Win

I returned from my trip to the Galapagos Islands this weekend just in time to attend today’s PhilliesReds game.  But before we get to that, check out what my little friend the Phanatic was up to on our trip to his homeland.  He visited 5 different islands, some beaches and even a distant relative, the Marine Iguana:

Yes, the Phanatic and I had a lovely vacation where we swam with sharks, rays, turtles and fish and wandered the land with giant tortoises.  It was amazing!

I had to catch up on my Phillies news when I returned and it appears much has happened.  Roy Halladay is having surgery (yikes!), the Phils signed hot-head Carlos Zambrano to a minor league deal (double-yikes!), Raul Valdes became the first regular bullpen guy to get sent down to the minors (more may be coming), Mike Adams has a bad back (oh my…), Tyler Cloyd started a game, Kyle Kendrick returned to earth in a loss yesterday after an amazing start to the season….and oh yeah, the offense still sucks.  Did I miss anything?

All that drama aside, the Phillies did manage to pull out a win today, which based on the first 7 ½ innings, did not look likely.   Jonathan Pettibone was very solid again, only allowing 2 runs, and the defense backed him up.

But once again the offense was asleep and the feeling of dread grew deeper when Carlos Ruiz was pulled from the game with a strained hamstring.

Finally, the Phillies scratched out a run in the 8th, thanks to Ben Revere legging out a base hit.  Revere led the team with 3 hits today.  Then in the 9th, it appeared as if the Phils were going down in flames, despite getting the first runner of the inning on base against flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman.  Because as soon as Cliff Lee came in to pinch run for Delmon Young, he got picked off at first.  Ugh.

But when Erik Kratz smacked a home run to tie the game, the tide turned quickly.  Freddy Galvis was up next and hit a line-drive homer just over the left field wall for the walk-off win!  It was the first time Chapman gave up more than one homer in a game…ever.  Go figure.

So even after a 0-10 pounding on Saturday, the Phillies still walked away with the series win and, hopefully, some momentum going into Miami tomorrow.  Game time is 7:10pm.

And here is the Photo Album from today’s win.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Hamels Gets 1st Win as Chooch Returns for Sweep of Mets

Perhaps it is fitting that Cole Hamels did not get his first win of the season until the day Carlos Ruiz returned from a 25-game suspension.  Throughout the weekend, the Phillies suddenly began to show signs of life.  Maybe a lot of that had to do with the anticipation of Chooch’s return.

After losing 3 of 4 to the Pirates, the Phils proceeded to storm New York and sweep the Mets in 3 games.  Kyle Kendrick shut them out on Friday and Jonathan Pettibone collected his first major league win on Saturday.  Then Sunday afternoon, Hamels held the Mets to 1 run to complete the sweep.

While Ruiz did not have a huge impact on the game, going 1 for 4, his mere presence did seem to have everyone in high spirits.  The game was tied 1-1 going into the 7th; in previous games, this lack of offense would have had the entire team tied up in knots, pressing at the plate.  But today, everyone was a little more relaxed.

That 7th inning was the key; Laynce Nix came through again as a pinch-hitter with a 2-out single and Jimmy Rollins followed with a single of his own.  Then Ryan Howard, who did not start the game, smacked a 2-run, pinch-hit double to put the Phillies on top.  Chase Utley singled to score Howard and add to the lead.

Even the bullpen finally looked normal.  Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon each pitched a scoreless inning to nail down the 5-1 win.  This is the team we have all been waiting to see.  The question is, can they keep the momentum going?

Monday is an off day and Tuesday, the Phillies will be in Cleveland to take on the Indians at 7:05pm.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Phillies Offense Has Sprung a Leake

In 2012, the Phillies faced Reds pitcher Mike Leake twice and destroyed him to the tune of 13 runs.  He had an overall ERA against the Phils of 17.55.  Ouch.  But last night, this team sprung Leake from his Phillies prison, allowing him to mow them down one hitter after another.

Ah, sweet freedom for Mr. Leake.  He must be quite relieved this morning.

On the exact opposite side, the Phillies probably got little sleep due to nightmares.  Some people have nightmares about standing naked in a crowd.  The Phillies are probably having nightmares about standing at home plate without a bat.  They may as well have been standing there without one if they were never going to use it.

And that pretty much describes this entire 6-game road trip which went down in flames after getting swept in 3-games by the Reds.  They scored only 10 runs in all 6 games and came away with just 2 wins, both against the Marlins.

Granted, it is very, very early in the season.  The Phillies have time to make up ground, however, these are very serious issues.  At some point, one has to question whether or not this team is capable of more.  But we will not really know until we see the whole team together as it was meant to be; that means when Carlos Ruiz returns and we also finally see what Delmon Young has to offer.  Ruiz cannot return due to suspension until April 28th.  And Young is still on the DL, although he has been participating in extended Spring Training games.

To make matters worse, Domonic Brown left the game early with a sore back; he will have an MRI today.  And John Lannan, who got pounded for 6 runs in 1.2 innings last night, complained of a sore knee after the game.  His status is unknown.

Do not be surprised if manager Charlie Manual decides to shake up the line-up tonight against the Cardinals.  And say a prayer that Cole Hamels can get his first win of the season; although, he may need a little offense to get that done.  *Sigh.*

Game time is 7:05pm.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Magic Moments of Phillies Spring Training

The first official Spring Training game for the Phillies will take place on Saturday.  I am excited for baseball!  But there is also a little sadness that I cannot be in Clearwater this year to enjoy the first crack of the bat under the warm Florida sunshine.  If you are lucky enough to be heading south, enjoy it!

Spring Training is a magical moment in time where players are generally happy, relaxed and having a good time.  The fan-friendly atmosphere and nice weather draws big crowds each year.  And while the games are interesting, they really don’t mean much.  The real reason to head to Clearwater is to mingle with other fans, chat with players, get autographs and photos and, most importantly, get a closer look at how major leaguers behave when their guard is down.

You may notice a lot of smiles, laughter and silly hijinks.  To demonstrate, and also to get you in the Spring Training frame of mind, here are some of my favorite photos and moments from years past in Clearwater:

First up, the normally quiet and reserved Chase Utley laughs out loud and on another occasion, poses and smiles for me:

Jimmy Rollins waves hello and later attempts to play golf with his bat and ball:

Phillies alum Mike Schmidt has some fun with Reggie Jackson; Charlie Manuel jokes around with his players:

Remember Fan Fest?  For some reason, the Phillies have cancelled this annual tradition of meeting players and getting autographs.  But it was amazing while it lasted.  Here are Chad Durbin and Kyle Kendrick signing and posing for me:

I attended a few Team USA games while in Clearwater.  The most memorable moment was watching Jimmy Rollins and Derek Jeter of the Yankees field balls side-by-side during warm-ups.  The second photo is Chooch, Carlos Ruiz, making an odd face at batting practice:

Here we have the Big Man, Ryan Howard, yucking it up on the field and later doing his impersonation of an airplane (or maybe he was just playing 1st base?):

And finally, just me and my camera hanging out by the field before batting practice.  You can see how close fans can get to the field:

Are you ready to pack your bags yet?  Wishing I was….sigh.  Maybe next year :O)

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

An Emotional Offseason

A recent Sports Illustrated article graded the Phillies offseason moves a “D.”  They summarized it by saying, “Though the trade for Revere gives the Phillies a cost-controlled centerfielder to grow on, they’ve taken steps backward with most of their other moves, and are more likely to repeat last year’s middling showing than contend in a division where the Nationals and Braves have upgraded in impressive fashion.

Ouch.

This assessment, however, may or may not be totally off-base.  I decided to rank some of these moves for myself using not grades, but my emotions about each event.  Roger Ebert once said, “Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you.”  Let’s see if he is correct:

Happy: The trade for centerfielder Ben Revere.  He is cheap, young and has room for improvement.  My instinct says he will be a pleasant surprise.

Nostalgic Joy: Re-signing RHP Chad Durbin.  Durbin is a solid human being and he had a great 2012 with the Braves.  Plus he helped the Phillies collect their 2008 World Series championship.

Cautiously Optimistic: Signing Michael Young to play third base.  Young seems like another solid human being with a true passion for the game.  The question is whether or not he can still play defense.  I feel that a guy with this much experience and motivation should be able to work it out.

Conflicted: Adding Chase Utley-hater and lefty John Lannan to the starting rotation.  Obviously with the departure of Vance Worley, the Phillies needed a starter.  Lannan is cheap, but how well he will perform and his attitude are, at least for me, big question marks.

Confused: Signing outfielder Delmon Young.  This guy is a problem child who is also still recovering from offseason ankle surgery.  His defense is awful and he has been, not without cause, labeled an anti-Semite with a bad temper.  I get the low-risk, high reward school of thought here.  What I do not get is why the Phillies would rather mess around with this guy than finally give Domonic Brown a full-time shot at one of the corner outfield spots.

Nervously Nauseous: I am just a wee bit sick to my tummy about the 2-year, $12 million deal the Phillies gave to RHP Mike Adams to be the 8th inning guy.  I like Adams if he is healthy.  However, he is recovering from thoracic outlet surgery.  This is the same surgery that Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals had and his career looks like it may be over.  That is a little scary.

Utter Disappointment: Carlos Ruiz’s 25-game suspension for using a banned substance.  He did not use steroids, which is a relief.  But still, getting caught with ADHD meds when he was forewarned about it after a previously positive test is very disappointing.  He knew he’d probably get caught again and did it anyway.  *Sigh.*

Sad: Losing Vance Worley in the Ben Revere trade.  I wish him luck in Minnesota!

Indifferent:  Everything else.  A lot of minor moves were made, mostly involving minor league deals and guys past their prime.  Unless someone makes a real impact in camp, I cannot imagine there will be much to say about these miscellaneous people.

And my final emotion of the day…

Elation!  Spring Training starts tomorrow!

 

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Delmon’s Diet and My Off-Season Hangover

The signing of Delmon Young on a $750,000, one-year contract just got weirder, if that is possible.  An initial look at Young’s problems included a 2012 arrest for a brawl involving Anti-Semitic remarks, the pummeling of a minor league umpire with his bat, terrible defense and an inconsistent bat.  Let us now add to that list two items: Young’s weight and dog poop.

Yes, dog poop.  Apparently, part of his community service for the 2012 arrest includes cleaning up doo-doo at a community park.  Also of note, Young does not like soupy poop:

“I didn’t like cleaning up dog poop,” Young said inside the Phillies clubhouse. “It was a dog park and people don’t clean up after their dogs sometimes and we’re left to. A lot of times, I just stared at it, because it was too soupy. But that put some perspective on things, too.”

This is a man who has actually spent time staring at dog poop.  Now let that sink in for a moment and see the picture develop in your brain…

While that thought marinates and comes to a slow, sad simmer, let us examine the next oddity in this signing.  Young’s contract has been set up so that he can earn an additional $2.75 million in bonuses.  $600,000 of that involves him getting on a scale and meeting a goal weight.

Young will receive $100,000 each time he makes weight.  If someone offered me that deal, I would be anorexic by now.

That aside, I am actually beginning to feel sorry for this guy.  Think about the endless jokes we can all make about this.  Then picture Young walking sadly past a box of donuts in the clubhouse, carrying a poop scoop on his way to the dog park, while singing a melancholy version of Hava Nagila and wearing an “I Love Umpires” pin on his lapel.  I don’t know about you, but I am really depressed now.

In fact, this entire off-season has seemed like a long, tortuous, binge-induced hangover.  Seriously, my head hurts.  All these strange and questionable roster moves, the thought of poor Domonic Brown sulking over the Phillies apparent disinterest towards him, the looming injury questions, Chooch cheating…all this and more is making slightly insane.

Is it Spring Training yet?  If I am going to be tortured by all these uncertainties, at least once the season begins, I will get a bigger glimpse of what is to come.  In the meantime, pass the donuts.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies 2013 New Year Resolutions

In what has become an annual tradition, I usually post New Year Resolutions for Phillies fans at about this time.  But it seems that as a fan base, most of us do seem to have our act together.  As for the 2012 Phillies team, the same cannot be said.  They need some serious help.

So this year, I would like to propose a set of New Year Resolutions for the team instead:

Jimmy Rollins – I resolve to stop swinging for the fences and hitting pop-ups.  I will stick to line-drives and grounders.

Roy Halladay, Chase Utley & Ryan Howard – We all resolve to be healthy, productive members of this team!  No more bum shoulders, ankles or knees!

Kyle Kendrick – I will not mope when I feel disrespected and just keep pitching.  I will put on my big-boy pants and wear them all year long.

Carlos Ruiz – My goal is to repeat my 2012 performance, without the performance-enhancing ADHD pills, thereby regaining the respect I lost after getting suspended.

Ben Revere – I resolve to hit my first major league home run in Citizens Bank Park.  If Juan Pierre can hit a homer here, then so shall I!

Ruben Amaro Jr. – No matter how tempted I am to save money, I will not sign former Phillies relief pitcher Ugueth Urbina.  Yes, he paid his debt to society.  However, he did attempt to murder 5 ranch hands by setting them on fire and chopping at them with a machete.  Perhaps we should pass on this one.

Domonic Brown – I resolve to reach my full potential this year and prove I belong in the big leagues, preferably by May.

Mike Adams – I resolve to be fully recovered from surgery and return to my All-Star relief-pitcher form in order to be deemed worthy of my giant $12 million contract.

Charlie Manuel – I will go out on top this year!  World Series or bust…

I wish you all a safe and happy New Year!

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2012 Phillies Photo Tribute

Drum roll please….

Here is my annual Phillies Photo Slideshow!  The slideshow includes all original photos that I took during the 2012 season; it includes players, coaches, fans, the Phanatic, and more.  Enjoy!

Sign of the Apocalypse? Ruiz Suspended for Stimulant Use

Well, at least it was not steroids.  Still, the news that the Phillies’ beloved catcher Carlos Ruiz has been suspended 25 games for violating the league’s drug policy does sort of feel like the end of the world may be upon us.  Is the Phillies 2013 season already going down in flames?  Oh Chooch, say it ain’t so!  I am so depressed…

The stimulant Ruiz took was Adderall, which is an amphetamine used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).  College students use it to improve focus and stamina.  For ADHD, it helps alleviate symptoms and allows patients to behave “normally” (if there is such a thing as normal).

Many major league baseball players are prescribed this type to drug for ADHD and they are granted an exception from MLB.  A good example would be our old pal Shane Victorino, who has struggled with ADHD since childhood.  He even wrote about it in his book that was released last year, “Shane Victorino: The Flyin’ Hawaiian.” 

Another Phillie, Kevin Frandsen, was suspended in 2011 for a different amphetamine, Ritalin, while in the minors.  These pills have become more common over the years among athletes looking for a “mental” boost instead of a physical one, like steroids.  There is much debate over whether or not amphetamines really offer any serious edge, but Ruiz’s numbers this past year do seem suspicious.  He had career highs in many categories including batting average, home runs and slugging percentage.

Know what else is a stimulant? Caffeine.  So can players just drink jugs of coffee before games to get a similar effect?  And how about energy drinks, like 5-Hour Energy or Monster?  While these are not nearly as strong as Adderall, it does raise some interesting questions.  Does feeling more “awake” enhance baseball performance?  And if so, how much?

There have been a number of studies which can be found in scientific journals, but the results are varied and, therefore, inconclusive.  An article at LiveScience.com reviews a journal entry by six scientists from top universities who advocate the use of amphetamines by healthy people.  But the review serves to show an opposing view, noting the dangers of drug dependency and side effects.  So even scientists cannot seem to agree on the subject.

Whatever the individual opinion on the subject, the end result is the same.  There will be no Chooch for the first month of the season.  Worse, players are only given a suspension for use of amphetamines after their second failed test.  This means Ruiz knew he was to be retested, and still did not stop taking the drug.  Chooch, you are killing me, man!  What the *%*^@!!??

This is a crippling blow to the Phillies, who are already in a tenuous situation as this team continues to age.  The window of opportunity for wins with this core group of players is closing fast.  Of course, Erik Kratz will be there to fill in, but with so many questions going into the 2013 season, this is a huge setback.  Will Chase Utley be healthy?  How about Roy Halladay?  Can the team sign a solid outfielder?  And the list goes on…

I need a stiff drink right about now.  Spring training has not even begun, and I already feel the weight of impending doom upon us.  Hey, isn’t the end of the world nearly upon us?  December 21, 2012 is less than a month away and, according to the Mayan calendar, we are all as good as gone.  Is Chooch the first sign of the apocalypse or do the Phillies just have a black cloud over them in 2012?  And could the Angels signing of Ryan Madson, who the Phillies should have gone after this offseason, be apocalypse sign #2?  I officially hate the Mayans for prompting this silly discussion.

Let us all hope that 2013 has better luck in store for all of us.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The 2012 Phillies: A Season to Forget

The torture that was the 2012 Phillies season is finally over.  And sadly, it ended just as I predicted before the season even began; without a playoff bid.  I was hoping to be wrong about that.

Since the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, each year they have taken exactly one step backwards.  So this year, missing the playoffs seemed like their destiny.  They lost the World Series in 2009; lost the NL Championship Series in 2010; lost the NL Division Series in 2011; and now, the next logical step has arrived.  The Phillies will go home early without even a sniff at a post-season run.

Remember happy days like these?:

For now, they are gone :O(

The first casualties of the 2012 disaster are already accounted for.  Bench coach Pete Mackanin, hitting coach Greg Gross and first base coach Sam Perlozzo have all been given their walking papers.  More fallout is probably on the horizon, but it will probably involve players, not coaches.

So who else should stay and who should go?  Here are some thoughts, starting with the offense:

In 195 at-bats, Kevin Frandsen hit .338, which led the team.  And for an entire month, he played with a stress fracture in his leg, yet he still kept hitting.  I say put him at 3rd base and get a back-up in case of injuries.

If the Phillies do not re-sign Juan Pierre, they are insane.  He hit .307 in 394 at-bats, led the team in stolen bases with 37 and he is the best bunter you can find anywhere.

Bring Shane Victorino back!  After a depressing second half with the Dodgers, his price will go down, possibly to the point where the Phillies can afford to resign him.  John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown can platoon and then the Phils need another outfielder or two.

Needs to Go:  Nate Schierholtz, Ty Wigginton, Michael Martinez.  Martinez is good defensively, but hit only .174 in 115 at-bats.  They can find a better utility guy.  And we are stuck with Laynce Nix for one more year unless someone is willing to trade for him…not likely.

Back-up Catcher:  In – Erik Kratz; Out – Brian Schneider.

Relief Pitching:  Jonathan Papelbon stays and probably Antonio Bastardo.  I will also put in votes for Jeremy Horst and Phillipe Aumont.  The maybes are Jake Diekman and Justin DeFratus, although DeFratus needs to be 100% healthy, which I feel is still in question.  Michael Stutes may return, but no one is sure in what condition.

Please Go Away:  Josh Lindblom – trade him (if anyone wants him).  He has been awful.  This team needs some veteran help in the pen.

Please Come Back: Ryan Madson!

As for starters, unless someone’s arm falls off, stick with the usual 5: Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay (pray he gets healthy), Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick.

And of course, all the usual suspects, like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, etc… will be back.  But will they be healthy?  That is the looming question.

To give an idea of how badly the injuries hurt the team this year, consider this: I may be missing some, but by looking at the team stats, at least 49 different players made an appearance for the Phillies this year, rotating in and out of the 25-man roster.  Also, only 2 players of those 49 reached 400 or more at-bats; Rollins (632) and Mayberry (441).  That is scary.

So the season is over and the healing (quite literally) shall begin.  Do you have any thoughts you would like to share about this season?  Feel free to leave comments below. 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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