Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’

Phillies Holiday Shopping List

‘Tis the season to buy lots of crap!  Black Friday, Cyber Monday….here we come!  The Phillies began shopping early when they signed Kevin Frandsen earlier this month to a 1-year, $850,000 deal.  If Frandsen plays the way he did last year, that small chunk of change could wind up being the bargain of the year.

But the Phillies have a much longer shopping list than that.  Unfortunately, even on Black Friday, not everything is on sale.  Even if Ruben Amaro Jr. camped out in front of All-Star Josh Hamilton’s house all night, I am pretty sure someone with more money would be camped out in front of him in line.  Fold up the tent, Ruben, and let’s work on a more realistic shopping list.

- The first item on the list should be a centerfielder.  I hear our old pal Shane Victorino may come at a descent discount.  But the Phillies seem to be more focused on B.J. Upton, who could rival Ryan Howard for strikeouts.  They both strike out around 30% of the time and neither hit for average.  Regardless, this team needs to shop for an outfielder!

- Bullpen help is needed….badly.  Maybe the Phillies need to look back at a few guys they previously tossed in the trash?  Here are some oldies, but goodies: Our old pal Chad Durbin had a 3.10 ERA for the Braves last season.  And how about Jason Grilli, who was with the Phillies minor league system until they dumped him…he went on to record a 2.91 ERA for the Pirates last season.  But my #1 oldie would be Ryan Madson.  He is coming off Tommy John surgery so the bidding for him should not get too high.

- Third base: Personally, I feel a combination of Frandsen and a drug-free Freddy Galvis can handle the hot corner.  But if you are the type who MUST buy during holiday sales whether you need to or not, here is who might deserve a look:  Kevin Youkilis will be 34 in March, but the guy can still hit for power.  At 36 years, Michael Young is not exactly young anymore….but he would be a solid veteran to keep the spot warm for a much younger Cody Asche in 2014.

- While the team is stocked with starting pitchers, maybe a few small upgrades could help?  You know…get Roy Halladay a bionic shoulder to replace the bum one.  Buy Kyle Kendrick an “All I Want For X-Mas is You” tee-shirt to keep his confidence high.  And for Cliff Lee, donate to his favorite charity and make a pledge to get him more than 6 wins this year.

- Buy baby-faced Darin Ruf a pair of big-boy pants and put him on the big-boy team.  That gamble may really pay off.  What have they got to lose?  And J.C. Penney has a great Black Friday sale on pants right now…

- And the final big purchase for the Phillies should be a stand-up comedian.  When things start to go downhill for the Phils, the comedian can jump in and tell jokes between innings to keep spirits high.  Because as a fan base in 2012, we have all lost a bit of our sense of humor.  You cannot blame us though…losing is just not funny.  Help us all remember how to laugh and smile again!  And if the wins start coming, you can trade the comedian to a more needy team.

Happy shopping, everyone!

 

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Amaro 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

Lee’s Effort Returns Phillies To .500

After a disastrous weekend in Houston, the Phillies managed to crawl back to the .500 mark after a 3-1 win over the Mets on Monday night.  Cliff Lee pitched extremely well, allowing only 1 run over 8 innings.  His strong performance kept the Phillies in the game against tough knuckleballer, R.A. Dickey.

For the offense, Jimmy Rollins is on a serious hot streak.  It seems lately that even when he slips up, luck is on his side.  He struck out in the 1st inning last night to start the game, but wound up being safe at first base anyway on a passed ball.  He eventually scored on a Chase Utley sac fly.  Rollins ended the game with 2 runs scored, a home run and a walk.

The home run was interesting; the ball snuck over the right field wall but appeared for a moment to have dribbled off the glove of outfielder Scott Hairston.  Then without prompting, the umpires decided to review the play and correctly called it a home run.  That is the first time I have seen any MLB umpire voluntarily review a play without first being harassed by a manager.  It is about time.

Domonic Brown provided the other run with a solo shot in the 7th to give the Phillies a little more breathing room.  Jonathan Papelbon nailed down the save in the 9th.

This win was a nice lift for the Phillies who remain 3.5 games out of the Wild Card race with 15 games to play.  Realistically, the horrendous Houston weekend probably killed any shot they had at the postseason this year.  So while it is great to see this team playing well, as far as the playoffs, don’t hold your breath.

Game 2 with the Mets is tonight at 7:10pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Playoff Hopes: Fool’s Gold or the Real Deal?

Out of the 9 Phillies Opening Day 2012 starters, 6 have landed either on the disabled list or with another team at some point during the year.  And that does not even include Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who started the year on the DL.  So basically, 8 out of 9 regular starters missed a lot of time this year.  The only one who avoided either a trade or the DL was Jimmy Rollins.

It is fitting then that a 2-run shot from J-Roll last night led the team to a 3-game sweep of the Miami MarlinsCliff Lee did his part as well, allowing just 1 run, which was unearned due to an error, over 7 innings.

The win has placed the Phillies only 3 games back in the Wild Card race, which is something not many people saw coming.  This team was beaten up so badly throughout most of the year and played so poorly that a possible playoff run, until now, seemed impossible.  Here is a look at the Wild Card standings:

But even after a 7-game win streak, is all this new playoff hope just fool’s gold or can the Phillies really sneak in the backdoor?  Consider this:  6 of those 7 games in the streak came against two of the worst teams in baseball, the Marlins and the Rockies.  Just a few weeks ago, the Phillies lost a series to the Mets, who are also pretty bad.

Then again, the momentum of a 7-game win streak could be enough to help elevate the Phillies performance and confidence to the point where they can start stomping on good teams as well.  But we are not going to know if that is possible for a while as the Houston Astros are next on the agenda.  With a record of 45-98, the Astros are by far the worst team in all of baseball.  Losing even 1 of the 4 games against the Astros would be a tragedy.

So maybe this series could be a descent barometer after all.  Because if the Phillies struggle against the Astros, I think the faint light of playoff hopes would be markedly dimmed.  But if they beat the crap out of the Astros, as they very well should, then go ahead and keep the light of hope burning.  Then we can all say, “Watch out National League!  Here come the Phillies…”

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9th Inning Walk-Off Gives Phillies a Win Over the Rockies

The start of Friday night’s Phillies game against the Rockies was painful to watch.  Cliff Lee did not start off very well, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits in the 1st inning.  Michael Martinez made an error at 3rd base, which extended the inning.  In all, not a great beginning.

But Lee settled down after the 1st inning snafu.  However, the Phillies offense seemed content to keep blowing opportunities.  Ty Wigginton got a rare start at 1st base, but the rust from sitting on the bench was very apparent.  He struck out in all 3 at-bats, twice when there was 1 out and a runner on 3rd base.  Worse, Juan Pierre was on base both times and managed to steal 2 base the second time around.  Still, Wigginton could not get the runs home.

Clearly not his night, manager Charlie Manuel decided to pinch hit for Wigginton in the 7th.  That move proved to be a momentum changer as Laynce Nix smashed a 2-run double to tie the score.  Then 4 bullpen guys held the lead from the 7th to the 9th inning, giving the Phillies a chance to win.

In the bottom of the 9th, Jimmy Rollins worked out a lead-off walk and Pierre, already with 3 hits on the night, put down a sacrifice bunt to move the runner over.  The Rockies intentionally walked Chase Utley and Nate Schierholtz stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter.  A wild pitch moved Rollins to 3rd and Schierholtz then singled to right, scoring Rollins for the walk-off win.

This has been a tough year for Schierholtz who got traded here from the Giants mid-season, giving him hope of more playing time and a chance to prove himself.  But a broken toe sidelined him in mid-August, just as he was getting comfortable in the line-up.  Schierholtz was activated off the DL on September 1st and had not had a hit since returning until last night.  That walk-off single had to be quite a relief for him.

The Phillies have two more games with the Rockies; Cole Hamels will pitch tonight and then Tyler Cloyd on Sunday.  I will be attending both games and hope to return with some photos if the weather cooperates.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Sweep the Nationals!

It was apparent today that Cliff Lee was determined to win a game at home, something he has not done all year long.  And for most of the 1st 5 innings, it was all Lee, all the time.  He pitched, he hit and he played defense.

The first score of the game came off the bat of Lee who doubled in a run in the 5th inning.  The rest of the team got on board fast, with a 2-run homer from Jimmy RollinsLaynce Nix added a solo homer in the 6th and Lee held the Nats to 1 run in 7 innings for the 4-1 win and a 3-game sweep!

The day before, Roy Halladay continued his journey to being Roy Halladay once again.  He went 7 innings allowing only 2 runs on 7 hits and a walk.

Halladay got our old buddy Jayson Werth to strike out twice and coaxed 2 grounds out from rookie star Bryce Harper.  Both were all smiles before the game, but not after.

The big bopper of the night was John Mayberry Jr. who had two hits, including a line-drive homer to left, and picked up 3 RBI in the game.  Chase Utley drove the other run in and Rollins set the table with 2 walks off another old Phillie, Gio GonzalezKevin Fransden also had a hit and did a lot of cheering for his teammates.

Then in the 8th, the old Antonio Bastardo came back for a visit.  Where has this guy been all year?  He struck out the side, handing a fairly easy save to Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th.

Some other awesome sights at the ballpark on Saturday were creatures from the Philly Zoo and a grinning Domonic Brown, despite having a sore knee:

Despite the sweep, the Phillies are still 9.5 games back in the Wild Card race, so don’t get your hopes up too much.  It is not impossible, however, they’d pretty much have to win every game from here to the end.  But the news is good for next year as the bullpen is improving and starters are getting healthier.

And of course, they just swept the dreaded Nationals.  I cannot think of a better reason to be happy right now.  Here is the full Photo Album from Saturday’s game.

The Phillies have a day off on Monday and the Mets come to town on Tuesday.  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Loose Another Wild One

Last night’s Phillies – Reds game looked like it might wind up being an exciting win for the Phils.  Instead, it was a loss, although it was still an interesting contest.

The Phillies took the lead in the game and then lost or tied it again 3 times.  Ryan Howard drove in a run in the 1st and that was all the scoring through the first 6 innings.  Cliff Lee was pitching well, but a slim 1 run lead seemed, as it has all season long, unlikely to hold up.

Sure enough, Lee got into trouble in the 7th and gave up 3 runs, although 1 was unearned due to a Howard error.  The defense behind Lee ranged from spectacular to awful, with the Howard error being of the “awful” variety.

But before that, Lee worked out of a 6th inning jam thanks to some amazing defense.  Kevin Fransden dove for a ball at third, flipped around on the ground and threw home from his knees to get a force out and save a run.  You have to see it to believe it.  It was an incredible effort.

Later in the game, Fransden shined again with another toss from his knees that bounced 3 times and still landed securely in Howard’s glove at 1st.  He also had 3 hits in the game with an RBI-triple in the 8th to once again tie the game for the Phillies.  If they had not lost, Fransden would have been the hero in this one for sure.

But Jonathan Papelbon tossed exactly 1 pitch in the 9th and gave up a solo homer and broke the tie in favor of the Reds.  The 5-4 score was the final.

So poor Cliff Lee gets yet another no-decision in what was a winnable game.  Lee was visibly upset and seen slamming his glove onto the bench in the dugout.  For a guy who normally shows little emotion, this was very telling.  Lee has had enough of this crazy season, as have we all.

And yet, time marches on…and so does this season whether we like it or not.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Where Has This Phillies Team Been All Year?

The Phillies put a brutal 12-5 beating on the Cincinnati Reds last night.  So where has this ball-pounding Phillies team been all year long?  Oh that’s right; they have been on the disabled list.  Sad.

In fact, let us take a look at the 2012 Phillies path to destruction:

That is a lot of injuries.  But with Placido Polanco returning yesterday, the Phillies now have most of their starters back, although some of them from the beginning of the season went to other teams in trades.  And guys like Domonic Brown and Juan Pierre are making this look like a real line-up once again.

Unfortunately, it is probably too little, too late.

Still, any victory is a happy one.  And the Phillies stomping all over the Reds last night was certainly fun to watch.  And everyone in the line-up contributed.  John Mayberry Jr. is suddenly on fire; he had 3 hits, including a 2-run homer.  Pierre also had 3 hits and 2 stolen bases.  Everyone in the starting line-up had at least one hit, which has been rare this year.

Roy Halladay did not get a hit, and he did not pitch very well either.  But it did not matter.  The 5 runs he allowed were easily swept under the proverbial rug since the offense kept on scoring.  They scored in every inning except the 2nd, so each run Halladay gave up did not seem like a big issue.

The Phillies will go at the Reds again tonight and they will have a new, interesting player on the staff for this one.  Remember that awful Cliff Lee trade a few years back…well, one of the fruits of that goof-up is now on the roster.  Phillippe Aumont will take Jeremy Horst’s place on the roster as Horst is now on paternity leave for 3 days.

Aumont has had issues.  His control is not great and he is an emotional guy, easily rattled at times.  He has posted a 4.26 ERA in Triple-A this year.  I guess this is the Phillies way of throwing him into the fire to see if he burns.  Best of luck to him!  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Phillies Bullpen Bombs Again

It is difficult to imagine what must be going through Cliff Lee’s head these days.  He has had his ups and downs, but certainly has pitched better than just the 2 wins on his record indicate.  Last night, he had a quality start against the Brewers, allowing 3 runs in 7 2/3 innings.

But that good start was quickly wiped away in the Phillies cursed 8th inning.  And once again, it was a bullpen guy doing the damage.  You can see the reasoning behind why Lee was pulled with Ryan Braun coming up; Braun had already tagged Lee for 2 homers in this game.  But with the bullpen performing like it has, maybe taking the chance on Lee was a better decision.

That did turn out to be the case as the game was blown wide open for the Brewers thanks to reliever Josh Lindblom, who was acquired from the Dodgers in the Shane Victorino trade.  Lindblom walked the bases loaded and then gave up a grand slam to wipe away the Phillies 4-3 lead and turn it into a 7-4 loss.

And with that turn of events, I think Lindblom has earned himself a new nickname: How do you feel about LindBUM?  Or even better, LindBOMB.  There you go.  LindBOMB has a nice ring to it…and bomb, he did.  In a big way.  Since coming to the Phillies, LindBOMB is 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA.  Ouch.

Nothing personal against the guy; after all, most of the bullpen has sucked all year long.  His name just happens to more easily lend itself to a little joke ;o)  And we could all use a little humor right about now.

The real shame of it was that after being down 3-1, the Phillies battled back and score 3 runs in the 5th on a bases-clearing double from Kevin Fransden.  Oddly enough, it was Fransden’s throwing error in the 8th that caused Lee to be pulled from the game.

So the downtrodden Phils will again try to beat the Brewers this evening at 8:10pm.  Vance Worley will pitch.  Hopefully, he can pick this team up…they need a lift in a big way.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Doc Operates on the Red Birds

It seems like a very long time since we have seen a really good Phillies game.  But with Roy Halladay on the mound last night looking like the ace that he is, it felt like old times again.

After a year of struggles and injury, Halladay appears to be at 100% finally.  Against the World Champion Cardinals Friday night, he pitched 8 innings and allowed only 2 hits, one of which was a solo homer.  That would be the only run of the night for the Cards.

The Phillies are in the process of finding out exactly what they have for next year.  Halladay’s performance was a huge boost in that regard.  They also tooled around in the outfield, moving guys here and there like a roulette wheel to see which one might hit the jackpot.

As a result, Nate Schierholtz played center field for the first time in his MLB career.  Domonic Brown started in right and then both guys got shuffled around later in the game.  Even with all the changes, everyone held their own pretty well.

Brown knocked in the first run for the Phillies with a single in the second that scored Ryan Howard.  The other 2 runs scored on an 8th inning 2-run homer from Chase Utley.  He hit the ball so hard it went into the upper deck of the bullpen in center field.  It looks like Utley has also found his groove again.

The pitching was excellent for both teams, but the Utley homer won the game for the Phillies who walked away with a 3-1 victory.  Game 2 starts tonight at 7:05pm.  Cliff Lee will pitch and try to keep pace with the Doc’s amazing performance.

And a quick congratulations to former catcher Mike Lieberthal who was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame last night!  Lieby looked both humbled and honored as he accepted the award and thanked the fans for their support.  Congrats to him…a well deserved honor!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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