Results tagged ‘ Cole Hamels ’

Utley to Dodgers – Noooooooo!

Ok, so I knew it was going to happen, but that does not make it suck any less.  My favorite player of all time, Chase Utley, is now a Los Angeles Dodger.  That is painful to write.  On the plus side, he is now reunited with double-play partner, Jimmy Rollins.  I guess this means I now have to cheer for the Dodgers, unless of course, they are playing the Phillies.

I purposely went to bed right after the Blue Jays game last night so I did not have to hear the “official” word on the trade before attempting to sleep.  But when I saw Utley tip his cap to the fans right after the game ended, my heart sank.  He knew he was leaving.  Of course, I am happy he will get to play for a contender and be close to home, so that is the bright spot.

Utley MontageI am not sure I am able to sum up what Chase Utley has meant to me and this team for the last 13 years.  I remember the first time I saw him play back in 2003, I said to a friend, that guy is going to be a star.  An argument then ensued.  He, of course, thought I was biased by Utley’s good looks.  And he thought Utley would not amount to anything as his defense was weak.  But my retort was, “Look at his eyes when he plays.  This guy has a passion for the game I have not seen in a long time.”  That fire is what I believed would propel Utley to greatness, and I was not wrong.  This guy was all about playing hard and I knew, with that kind of work ethic, he would get better.  A lot better…

And that is what I love about Chase Utley.  Sure, the looks don’t hurt.  But as a person who loves baseball, that same passion is what I look for in players.  I want to watch guys who give it everything they have and make no excuses.  This is the same reason I never really loved Cole Hamels (sorry folks); sure, I liked him as a pitcher.  Who wouldn’t?  But early in his career, he was Mr. Excuses…a prima donna.  He was sometimes very rude to fans, myself included.  And I will stress “sometimes,” because I know a lot of you had good experiences with him.  Overall, his attitude got better in time.  But I had a hard time getting past that behavior.

My point is that Utley is the example that all other players should follow.  Losing a guy like that is going to be very hard on this team; but luckily, some of his awesomeness should have rubbed off on the younger guys by now.


So next month, I will actually be in Southern California for a bit.  Looks like I am now going to have go to a Dodgers game to see my two guys, Utley and Rollins, together again.  Anyone been to that stadium and have any advice?  Please leave me some comments below.  I will leave you with a few final images, including my absolute favorite from the 2008 All-Star Home Run Derby; it is Dan Uggla grabbing himself some Utley…ah, memories!  MISS YOU ALREADY, CHASE!!! Utley collage

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Hamels, Papelbon & Diekman Are Outta Here

P7193502ACA few days ago, the Phillies completed a trade with the Nationals for Jonathan Papelbon.  I am not sure if anyone in Philly is really sad to see Papelbon and his crotch-grabbing, fan-hating attitude go.  But the Cole Hamels trade announced last night is a different story.  It is bittersweet to see one of the best pitchers in Philly go to the Rangers, but the trade is in the best interest of all involved.  There was no need to let Hamels waste away on a rebuilding team; he is now on a team that at least has a chance of winning this year or in the very near future.

And Hamels will not be going to Texas alone; lefty reliever Jake Diekman is joining him.  Diekman has had a very up and down (mostly down) year so this is probably not a huge loss for the Phillies.  Although, I really liked Diekman; he was one of the friendlier guys on the team and also has great potential as a pitcher.  But he has struggled with throwing strikes and the Phillies’ patience wore out.

The Hamels trade is not technically “official” yet, but all media reports say the deal is nearly final.  The prospects the Phillies are expected to get in return include a pretty good catching prospect, Jorge Alfaro and outfielder Nick Williams.  The other three players are pitchers who are very young and have a ways to go before we will know their worth.  The Phillies also reportedly will get 29-year-old lefthander Matt Harrison who is working his way back from back surgery.  It is likely that portion of the trade will be a bust so let’s hope the youngsters are better.

So while it is sad to see Hamels go, I wish him luck.  Unless, of course, he is pitching against the Phillies.  Then all bets are off.

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Phillies Sweep for Christmas in July

Instead of coal in their stockings, the Phillies received a 3-game sweep of the Marlins for their Christmas in July celebration today.  Considering they started the second half of the season as the worst team in baseball, this is nothing short of a miracle.  Please wake me if I am dreaming…

It looked like a sure win today early on as the Phils exploded for 5 runs in the second inning.  There was a lot of staring at home runs (Ryan Howard and Freddy Galvis) and celebrating.  Even Cole Hamels had a hit in the inning.
071915 offenseBut the warm fuzzies wore off quickly as Hamels bombed in the 3rd inning.  The fielders were awfully busy while Hamels struggled to get by. 071915 fielding

Ultimately, Hamels took the 3-run lead the Phillies spotted him and handed those runs right back to the Marlins.  By the end of the inning, Hamels had 76 pitches and would not return to the game.
071915 HamelsIn his defense, it was hotter than hell today.  The temperature was 93 degrees at game time and got hotter as the game went on.  It even looked for a minute like we may lose the home plate umpire, who needed assistance getting cool. 071915 umps

So it would take 5 bullpen arms to finish the game after Hamels’ early exit.  Both Elvis Araujo and Luis Garcia pitched perfect innings.
071915 pen

But then Ken Giles blew a save in the 8th inning, where the Marlins took a 7-6 lead.  Giles was all over the place which sent many of the few fans in attendance streaming towards the exits, myself included.  I was melting by then and not sure if I’d make it to the car if I stayed much longer anyway.

But luckily for the Phillies, Jeff Francour decided to play Santa Claus today and unwrap a 2-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the 9th inning to give the Phillies an 8-7 win.  I enjoyed the hit from the comfort of my air-conditioned car, which made finding the energy to celebrate a bit easier ;)

The Phillies take on the Rays tomorrow.  Game time is 7:05pm.

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.

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Halfway through 2015: Down the Rabbit Hole

A recent article in The New Yorker described going down the rabbit hole as “a bizarre and disorienting alternate reality.”  That perfectly describes how many Phillies fans feel at the halfway point of the 2015 season.  We followed the Phillies here and have now fallen into the proverbial, Alice in Wonderland-esque rabbit hole.

This team is such a departure from that of the 2008-2011 teams that watching them really does feel like a bad acid trip.  The Phillies are dead last in all of baseball with a 29-62 record.  Their closer, Jonathan Papelbon, cannot stop yelling to the media about how badly he wants to be traded.  Cole Hamels is pitching like a man who has given up on life.  And their manager, Ryne Sandberg, ran screaming from his duties, despite the obvious detriment to his career by doing so.

Sad Phillies (2)But the most depressing part of the season has been the lightning fast decline of Chase Utley’s career.  According to the general manager, Utley is no longer the starting second baseman, even after he comes off the disabled list.  This is officially the end of Phillies baseball as we knew it.  Indeed, an alternate reality that is painful to watch.

But even with Utley’s downfall, there was no reason to think the Phillies would be THIS bad, as in 62 losses bad, the worst half way mark in team history.  There is a lot of young talent here, like Maikel FrancoBen Revere is hitting .297 with 21 stolen bases and 45 runs scored.  Ryan Howard has hit 15 home runs and has 45 RBI, which is really pretty good considering he is on the tail end of his career.  Papelbon has been perfect in saves, although he has had limited opportunities.    But most of the pitching has be atrocious.  Even so, this team should have won more than 29 games, given their talent.

Perhaps Pat Gillick’s pre-season declaration about this team not being able to compete for several years has created a culture of losing?  And not only that, but the team seems to have accepted this.  They are not showing any fight, maybe because they simply expect to lose.  They are just collecting their fat paychecks and then going home.  And if this attitude continues, attendance will continue to drop to levels where you can hear crickets chirping.  Hopefully, the Phillies will emerge from their slumber in the second half and at least put on a good show.  Then again, that could just be the psychedelic acid talking.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Tension Still Building Despite Phillies Win

At the beginning of the year, we knew this Phillies team would be bad; but I do not think anyone expected them to be THIS bad.  By “this bad” I mean 24-47 near the end of June, dead last in all of baseball.  I also mean a team that constantly makes mental errors, missing bases and forgetting to put the bullpen phone back on the hook (yes, that happened).  And also a team that got Chase Utley so mad, the usually quiet and calm second baseman screamed at the pitching coach during a mound visit this past Tuesday. Oh yeah, THAT team.

So despite a rare 9-2 win today over the Cardinals, there were still disgruntled fans, players and even boo’s raining down from the stands.  Why?  Because manager Ryne Sandberg showed everyone that he cannot manage this team.  As if the “players-gone-wild” (Utley) vibe were not bad enough, Sandberg dug a deeper hole today by pulling rookie pitcher Adam Morgan with 2 outs in the 6th inning for no apparent reason.  The kid had pitched a great game, allowing 1 run, and only had 78 pitches.  Not to mention that the Phillies had a 5-1 lead.  Sure, Morgan had just walked a batter, but who cares?  He deserved to finish the inning.  At this point, winning and losing is of little consequence – this team sucks and will not make the playoffs.  So what is important is developing young players.  By taking Morgan out, Sandberg sent a message that he has no confidence in the young player, which can be devastating to a guy, especially in his major league debut.  Morgan got a standing ovation as he walked off, while Sandberg left to a chorus of boo’s.

062115 Morgan
And that was a real shame especially because the Phillies finally managed some offense today, which should have been cause to celebrate.  Instead, we are all left with a feeling of disappointment because it seems obvious (at least to me) that Sandberg is not cut out for the job.  He simply does not have the appropriate people skills to manage.  Don’t get me wrong; I have met Sandberg and he is a super nice guy.  But being nice does not a good manager make.  And with the GM’s job also in jeopardy, Sandberg may be out of time to find ways to improve.
062115 Offense

A few other items of note today involved Cole Hamels.  Before the game, he was seen cavorting with Cardinals players and even posing for photos.  One of these is Greg Garcia; I think the other is Xavier Scruggs.  I have seen players chat during warm-ups; this is not unusual.  But Hamels brought a photographer with him to the Cards dugout for a pre-meditated photo-op.  Now that is something I have never seen.  Seeing baseball etiquette pushed aside, I can’t help but wonder if maybe Cole has one foot out the door already?
062115 Hamels

And by the way, does anyone else find it suspicious that Hamels had a “minor” hamstring issue that caused him to miss pitching against the Cardinals and magically rescheduled him to pitch against the Yankees in New York on Wednesday?  It could be legit, but rumor has it that the Yankees are in dire need of starting pitching.  And this is the perfect way to showcase Hamels to the Yanks.  Just sayin’…

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Circling the Drain

Remember was back a few weeks ago when the Phillies won 7 games in a row?  Ah, memories!  And it does seem like a very distant memory now that the Phillies have just lost 7 games in a row.  They were swept by the Rockies today, losing the 3rd game of the series by a score of 1-4.

So just how bad is this team?  Let us count the ways…

Before the game started, Cole Hamels tried to convince Kyle Kendrick to come back; Kyle thought this was very funny.  Odubel Hererra could not decide on a thumbs up or down for his team, which is sad.  And the Phanatic had to bring a Panda friend to the game to stop all the children from crying as the game got worse and worse.

2015.05.31 before game

But seriously, the Phillies were already down 0-2 only 5 pitches into the game.  This was not a good sign.  Jerome Williams has been struggling for a while now and today, he gave up 4 runs in only 5 innings.

2015.05.31 Williams

The Phillies managed only 7 hits in the game, with Cody Asche scoring the lone run.  And this is just how bad it got: In the 7th inning, the Phillies managed to load the bases with no outs and then Cameron Rupp, Darin Ruf and Ben Revere all proceeded to strike out to end the threat.  There were not many people left in the stadium at that point, but those who were there boo’ed loudly.

2015.05.31 offense

Actually, the attendance was bad even before that.  It seems like people are still coming to games for two reasons only – to get free giveaways for their kids or to get really, really, really drunk.  I unfortunately had a close encounter with some of those very drunk people today.  Two girls and a guy behind me were yelling, cussing, bumping into me and generally being such a nuisance, I was actually ready to call security.  Then one of the girls proceeded to throw up – everywhere.  Luckily, I heard it coming and moved, but the ground beneath me was puddling up with vomited beer, forcing me to find another seat.  And that, folks, just about sums up your 2015 Phillies.  A stomach churning, vomit-inducing mess that no one wants to clean up.  Yup…nailed it.

And yet, much like seeing an accident on the highway, I can’t stop watching.  I keep waiting for the next disaster.  Like sending Asche to the minors for two weeks just to piss him off.  And then letting Grady Sizemore go when they could have just done that in the first place and let Asche learn left field in the majors.  Then Ruben Amaro Jr. bites the hand that feeds him by saying Phillies fans don’t understand the game.  By the way, a few days later, I got a call from the Phillies thanking me for being a season ticket holder and offering to upgrade one of my next games for free.  Thanks, Ruben!  I’d also like free food at my games so maybe Ruben can go on TV again and call fans stupid a few more times…thank you in advance.

So you see where this is all going right?  Straight down the proverbial toilet.  But before you flush, at least try to enjoy the view ;)

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Phillies Settle for Series Win Instead of Sweep

Despite their struggles, the Phillies actually had a good shot at sweeping the Nationals today to end the 3-game series.  But they apparently had one thing working against them: Ryan Howard.  I hate to be so blunt about it, but Howard absolutely stunk up the ballpark today.  He struck out to end an inning 4 times, all with runners on base; and 3 of those 4 times, he had runners in scoring position.  One would think after more than 10 years in the majors, he would learn to stop swinging at balls in the dirt; no such luck.  Howard is now batting .150 only 6 games into the season.

But on to more positive things… Sean O’Sullivan got the spot start today and rewarded the Phillies for their confidence in him.  O’Sullivan lasted 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and 1 walk.  Overall, he looked good and kept the team in the game.
041215 O'Sullivan

Odubel Herrera, the rookie Rule 5 pick, continues to wow fans with his speed and hustle.  After hitting the walk-off winner in last night’s game for his first major league hit, Herrera collected 2 more hits today plus an RBI and a stolen base.
041215 Herrera

Cody Asche also had another great game with 3 hits, an RBI and a walk, putting veterans like Howard to shame.  Asche is batting .429.  Eventually, Darren Ruf replaced Howard in the game and began with a home run in the 7th to put the Phillies in a 2-2 tie, just like the night before.
041215 Ruf

But unlike Saturday’s game, the Phillies could not come back in extra innings to win.  Although, they never stopped trying, which was nice to see.  Even after the bullpen allowed 2 runs in 10th, the Phillies scored in the bottom of the inning and then fell just short of the win, losing by a score of 3-4.

So there have been several encouraging signs to start the season, even though overall, this team is probably not going far with the youth they have and the dried up veterans.  But it was a good game with some energy, which the Phillies have been missing the last several years.

Also, I just want to give kudos to pitcher Jerome Williams.  Going back to last year, Williams is always out engaging with the fans and signing autographs, unlike most of the players.  Today, he even scooped up what appeared to be a 3 or 4 year old fan out of the stands and played catch with him.  He then literally picked the kid up and handed him back to his parents.  It is a rarity to see a major league player truly appreciate his position and give back to the fans to consistently.  The Phillies are lucky to have him!
041215 Williams

So the team is off to New York for an early game tomorrow against the MetsCole Hamels will pitch and the game starts at 1:10pm.

And here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

2015 Opening Day – Phillies Begin with a Beating

On Opening Day this past Monday, the Phillies got trampled by the Red Sox in a 0-8 loss in front of what will probably be the only sell-out crowd they will see this season.  Well, at least the pre-game activities were fun as usual.
040615 OD

One thing we learned from the ceremonies was that Jonathan Papelbon thinks Phillies fans have cooties, as witness by his gloved hands in the pre-game entrance:
040615 Pap

The next time a fan runs into Pap, they should fake sneeze on him for fun.  If anyone gets the opportunity, please let me know…thanks!

The only other real highlight of the day was seeing our old buddy, Shane Victorino.  He got a standing ovation before his first at bat, which was well deserved.
040615 Shane

And then the day went downhill from there.  Cole Hamels was awful; he could not hit any of his spots and the Red Sox wasted no time taking him yard.  Hamels allowed 4 home runs in only 5 innings, two of which came off the bat of super mini-sized ball player, Dustin Pedroia.  He is little and adorable, I’ll give him that.  But he seriously needs to stop beating up on the poor, defenseless Phillies who are clearly in awe of his short stature.
040615 Hamels

However, the smallest thing in the stadium on this day was the Phillies offense.  They were no-hit through 3 innings and then only managed 3 hits total for the whole game.
040615 misc

Jake Diekman got beat up as well; he gave up a Grand Slam to Hanley Ramirez who also had 2 homers in the game.  If this performance is a taste of what is to come, it is going to be a long season.  Buckle in Phillies fans…the next game is Wednesday night at 7:05pm.

And here is the Photo Album from Opening Day.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Spring Training Ends With Two Wins Over the Bucos

040415 UtleyWell it wasn’t pretty, but the Phillies did beat the Pirates in two exhibition games this weekend.  Friday’s game was damp and icky and today was WINDY and cold.  When I say windy, I mean the kind of wind that sends 5 giant trash cans at once hurdling across Ashburn Alley without warning.  At one point, I actually had to stop and hold on to something.  It was that bad.  And the players on the field had fun avoiding all of the floating debris.

The Phillies also had to avoid many, many bad pitches from the Bucos starter, Charlie Morton.  This guy was all over the place.  In the first inning, he was so bad that the game was stopped; I am not sure if it was to warn the managers or if the Pirates thought he was hurt, but both managers were spoken to.  The Phillies wound up scoring 4 runs in the inning after Morton hit 2 batters, walked 3 and threw 1 wild pitch (at least, officially it was 1).  Needless to say, there was a lot of dancing at the plate.
040415 dancing

After scoring 2 more runs in the 2nd, the Phillies sort of went to sleep.  I, however, could not sleep, as I was freezing and being pelted in the face by 50mph wind gusts.  Although this did not seem to faze pitcher David Buchanan.  He pitched a scoreless 5 innings, allowing 2 hits and 2 walks.  The effort paid off as the Phillies announced that Buchanan will be the #3 starter behind Cole Hamels and Aaron Harrang.

040415 Buchannan

So the Phillies went on to win by a score of 6-4, ending their Spring Training with 14 wins. Overall, it was a pretty bad spring with sloppy play and a serious lack of offense.  But none of it counts, so on Monday, we will see what this team has in store for us this season.  There are a lot of new faces and people playing new positions, so at the very least, it should not be too boring….I hope.

Hamels will pitch on Monday for Opening Day.  Game time is 3:05pm.

And here is the Photo Album from today’s game.  See you on Monday!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Third Time a Charm? Ho-LEE Crap!

P5181075AK Cliff Lee is hoping that the third time for rehab is a charm; more likely, it will be three strikes and he is out.  Lee has had a torn common flexor tendon since last May, although prior reports on that called it a “strain,” which I am guessing was never the case.  Tears generally do not heal themselves; it can happen, but it is highly unlikely, especially on the elbow.  So this third attempt at rehab is probably a waste of time and energy.

I feel bad for Lee.  He obviously wants to pitch again, but then why did he not have the surgery in the first place?  He at least could have been ready for this year.  Now, that chance is gone.  Of course, no one wants to have surgery, so I understand to some extent.  I guess there is no right or wrong answer, but personally, I’d have had it fixed last year.

I was there for Lee’s first pitch as a Phillie on 7/31/09 in San Francisco.  And now it looks like I may have seen his last pitch.  I suppose a miracle could occur, but I am not holding my breath.  It is a very sad day.  Not that I expect the Phillies to do very well this year, but at least Lee was entertaining to watch.  He gave fans something to look forward to on an otherwise bland and rebuilding team.

So who is left to pitch besides Cole Hamels and Jerome Williams?  The newly signed Aaron Harang has back issues, so I am not optimistic about him.  And Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is looking like a $12 million dollar bust.  He has a nice fastball, but lacks control.  Speed is of no use if he doesn’t know how to use it.  I am rooting for Chad Billingsley to make the rotation in late April, but coming off two elbow surgeries, there is no telling what will happen.  There are a lot of young arms like David Buchanan and Jonathan Pettibone who may make the cut.

Now we just wait and see.  In the meantime, I wish Cliff Lee the best and hope he will get his miracle.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri

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