Results tagged ‘ Giants ’

5 Big Positives From The Phillies Signing Cliff Lee

December 15th is a historical date.  In 1794, the United States Bill of Rights became law.  In 1933, the 21st Amendment went into effect, legalizing alcohol.  Russians landed on Venus in 1970. And now, in the year 2010, Cliff Lee re-signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The signing will obviously not impact our society in such way as the Bill of Rights or the 21st Amendment once did.  And it is doubtful that December 15th will be named a national holiday.  However, this is still a historic occasion for the City of Philadelphia.

The following is a list of five ways in which the Cliff Lee deal has made a positive impact on the team, the city and the fans.

Four Aces Are Better Than Three


4 starters.jpgThe entire Phillies team just got a whole lot better.  Adding Cliff Lee to the already dominant rotation of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels has the potential to make the opposition weep like children.

All together, that makes 3 Cy Young awards, 13 All-Star appearances plus an NLCS and a World Series MVP title.  Combining all four starter’s 2010 ERA’s comes out to an average ERA of 2.86.  If they stay healthy, this rotation will be frightening.

Statistics aside, these are four very competitive pitchers who will push each other to do better.  This type of healthy dynamic should inspire the entire team to work harder and expect more from themselves and their teammates. 

Having solid starting pitching also takes a great deal of pressure off the offense.  Players who can relax at the plate will be more productive.  After a down year in 2010, this Phillies offense should be ready to explode.

The City of Philadelphia Finally Gets Some Respect

The City of Philadelphia and their sports fans constantly get a bad rap in the media.  Focusing only on the negative, national press makes Philadelphia look like a war zone. 


240A.jpgYes, some horrible human being threw up on a little girl at a Phillies game.  The Eagles snowballs and Santa disaster begs the question, will the media ever get over it?  That was in 1968.  It is officially time to let it go.

There are idiots everywhere, not just in Philly.  Look at the Cubs fan who threw beer on Shane Victorino during a play in the outfield.  Ask the family of the poor teenager who was killed after a San Francisco Giants game in 2008.  But these are isolated incidents and by no means do they reflect the attitudes or actions of an entire fan base.

About Philadelphia fans, Cliff Lee told the press, “They get excited. They’re passionate fans. They understand what’s going on. They don’t need a teleprompter to tell them to get up and cheer, to do that.”  Lee also stated, ” Yeah, you know, the feeling of playing on the field feels different than anywhere else. I don’t know how to explain it other than you can feel the volume that’s created by the fans and their intensity.”

Lee loves Philadelphia, the team and their fans so much that he took fewer contract years and less money to play here.  Much to the dismay of the national media, Cliff Lee has finally given Philadelphia the respect it deserves.

Philadelphia Just Landed On Every Player’s Wish List

Along with the respect that Cliff Lee’s words and actions have delivered, this signing has also put the Phillies on the wish list of all major league players who are interested in winning. 

The days of JD Drew, who was drafted by the Phillies in 1997 but refused to sign, are long gone.  No more grumblings from the likes of Scott Rolen either, claiming the Phillies have no desire to win.

The Phillies were already on the minds of many players before the Cliff Lee signing.  Roy Halladay made an exception to his no-trade clause last year to come to Philadelphia.  Later in July of 2010, Roy Oswalt did the same.

But the Cliff Lee deal puts the Phillies in a whole new echelon.  They are now able to compete with the likes of the Red Sox and Yankees.  The Yankees lost out on Lee despite offering more money and additional years.  So while the Yankees payroll still far outweighs the Phillies, in terms of status, they are now nearly equals.

Jayson Who?  Losing Werth Is Not So Bad

There was a lot of groaning among Phillies fans when All-Star right fielder Jayson Werth signed a gigantic contract with the Washington Nationals.  Fans having flashbacks to Werth’s monster home runs, a steal of home plate, his rocket arm nailing runners at the plate and the 2008 World Series win, were disappointed that the Phillies did not try harder to sign him.

The facts now show that had the Phillies re-signed Werth, Cliff Lee would not be on the team.  They simply would not have had the money or resources to bring Lee back.

Pitching wins ballgames.  The impact Lee will have on this Phillies team in the long run far outweighs anything that Werth may have delivered.

Werth went where the money was and no one can fault him for that.  But that move further illuminates the magnitude of Lee’s decision to sign with the Phillies for less money.  Lee will be appreciated by Phillies fans everywhere.  Werth will simply fade away into a distant memory.

Ruben Amaro Jr. Is Now A Phillies Legend


P5140472 Amaro2.jpgA Philadelphia native, Ruben Amaro Jr. started out as a Phillies bat boy in 1980.  His father, Ruben Amaro Sr., was the first base coach at that time.  Prior to that, Amaro Sr. played short stop for the Phillies from 1960-1965.  Amaro Jr. also played for the Phillies from 1992 to 1993 and 1996 to 1998 in the outfield.  He became the Assistant GM right after his playing career ended.  Currently the Phillies General Manager, this man has literally spent almost his entire adult life, and part of his teenage years, with the Phillies.

Many were unsure of how Amaro would fare in the GM spotlight, having taken over the job right after the 2008 World Series.  Amaro was doing a pretty average job but did not score big until wrapping up Roy Halladay last offseason.  Most were thrilled with the Halladay signing.  However, the happiness quickly turned to shock when it was announced that Cliff Lee was traded in order to replenish the farm system.

The short half year that Lee spent with the Phillies in 2009 was enough to enamor him to the entire fan base.  His easy-going and unwavering demeanor on the mound combined with his ability to mow down opposing batters made Lee a fan favorite.  He was also the only Phillies pitcher to record a win in that year’s World Series, which they ultimately lost to the Yankees.

To say that trading Lee was a stunning blow to the fans is an understatement.  Even months later and well into the 2010 season, people questioned the move.  Some even went so far as to proclaim it the dumbest move Amaro would ever make.

And while those people may be correct, Amaro created an extreme reversal of fortune by re-signing Lee on December 15, 2010.  The five-year, $120 million dollar dear with a sixth year option completely redeemed Amaro. 

Amaro jumped though a number a very large hoops to make this deal happen.  The biggest of those had to be convincing team ownership, who have been notoriously stingy in the past, to cough up the dough.  This will be the highest payroll carried in Phillies team history.

Respect is not easy to come by in this business, but Amaro has now earned it.  He is a formidable opponent in the eyes of other ball clubs and to his own staff and players, he is a true leader.  More than that, Amaro has earned the trust of this organization.  They know he wants to win both now and in the future.

The Cliff Lee deal has cemented Amaro’s place in Phillies history.  All he is missing now is his very own World Series Championship. 

 

Photos 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*

 

Ticket Prices Rise Again

Rising ticket prices have become an annual tradition for the Phillies and 2011 will be no different.  With a $2-$5 increase on all ticket prices, season ticket holders are going to be smacked with a $415 increase per seat.  If you have 2 seats, that is $830 you probably did not plan on.  Partial plans (17 or 14 games) will rise $70-$85 dollars for each seat.


money_tree1.jpgWith every game sold out in 2010 and a 123-game sell-out streak dating back to 2009, it is easy to see why the Phillies feel they can keep gouging fans for more money.  But they are failing to see the long term effects.  They are forcing out low-middle income fans and pulling in more corporations and those at the top of the proverbial food chain.

If the team stops winning in a couple of years as the talent ages or moves on to other teams, the higher-end fans, whom are usually the fair-weather fans, are going to drop off like flies.  And there won’t be any low-middle class fans left to pick up the slack in ticket sales because they will not be able to afford the high prices.  Of course, that is just my opinion.  You may agree or disagree.

There are other ways to make money; all the Phillies need to do is look around and see what other teams are doing in terms of creative enterprise.  Take a look at some of the fee-based services and opportunities the San Francisco Giants offer to their fans:

- Lou Seal-ebrity Ride of the Game:  Allows Giants fans the opportunity to tag along with Lou (the mascot, like the Phanatic) for an inning.

- Lou Seal Appearance:  The mascot will visit your party, take photos, etc… between innings or a your kid’s birthday party, etc…

- Steal Second: Tag along with the Giants grounds crew during the third inning and change out 2nd base!

- Slumber Party: Pitch a tent and sleep ON the field, overnight and then meet a player in the morning.

- Fantasy Batting Practice: Take a swing or shag a ball; for up to 30 people which includes a two-hour batting practice with Giants Alumni, lunch on the Club Level, a Q&A session with the Giants Alumni and tickets to the game that day.  (I saw this event when I was in San Francisco last year taking a park tour and was SO jealous!)

And this is just ONE team.  One team that has figured out how to please their fans and earn money at the same time.  If the Phillies incorporated a few of these ideas into their plans, there would be no need to keep jacking up ticket prices.  Fantasy batting practice?  Can you imagine?  That would be SOLD OUT every time!  And fans would be willing to pay top dollar for such an opportunity…I know I would.

How about riding around with the Phanatic for an inning?  That would be AWESOME!  Have the fan paying for the experience sign a waiver that does not hold the team liable for any accidents and also has the fan pledge not to do anything stupid and…abracadabra!  An easy money maker.  Magic.

Hey Phillies, how about a little creativity?  You will make more money and fans will be happier; it’s a win-win.  Not to mention that offering these unique experiences is a great public relations move.

That is my rant for the day…feel free to comment below.

And in case you missed it, here is my 2010 Phillies Photo Tribute with pictures I took throughout the year:

Thanks 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*

 

Lopes Moves On; Giants Are Champs

In their first major blunder of the off-season, the Phillies allowed 1st base coach and base running guru Davey Lopes walk.  Lopes was happy in Philadelphia, but with the additional responsibilities he has handled in his 4 years with the club, he felt he should be properly compensated.  Lopes told reporters, “I just felt it was time to make a stand.”

Normally first base coaches are low man on the totem pole as far as salary goes.  But Lopes did much more for the Phillies than point runners in the right direction. 
110.jpg
He taught them how and when to steal bases and was the sole person in charge of the running game, something that is the manager’s job on most teams.   Since 2007, Lopes ensured that the Phillies led all of baseball with an 84.3% stolen base success rate.

Lopes is right; with the added responsibilities, he deserved a larger pay check.  He said the money they offered was good, but it did not reflect his true value to the team.  Lopes stated, “I wanted to get paid what I felt I was worth…Believe me, I wasn’t trying to break the bank.”  So, why not pay the man?

I spoke with Lopes during an event in 2009 about base stealing and also about player discipline.  I asked him why a particular player (who shall remain nameless ;o) continually seemed to be in the wrong field position during certain situations.  Lopes told me that he had personally spoken to that player about that exact issue on numerous occasions, but the player felt he knew better and would not follow instructions.  I then expressed that I did not think discipline should be part of his job, to which he agreed.  But Lopes is the kind of man that always does the right thing, whether it is his job or not.  So after four years of doing many tasks that he was not getting paid for, I can see why he felt the need to make a stand.

The real shame here is that when Lopes expressed this to the management team, it fell on deaf ears.  He should not have been allowed to walk.  Will the Phillies suffer as a result of this loss?  Only time will tell, but I can assure you that either way, he will be greatly missed by both the team and the fans.  I wish Mr. Lopes all the best in his future and hope he lands in a city that appreciates his talents.

And The New Champs Are…

…the San Francisco Giants!  Ok Phils fans, you can now officially feel better about the Giants whooping us in the NLCS; they did the same thing to the Rangers in the World Series, taking the title by 4 games to 1.  The Giants pitching totally shut down the Rangers powerful offense, just as they did to the Phillies.

Another thing to feel good about?  Cliff Lee lost both games he pitched in the series.  I will always appreciate Lee for what he did for the Phillies in 2009, but losing him stings a little bit less now.  It will be interesting to see where Lee lands in 2011.

So congratulations to the World Champion Giants and their fans…they deserve the title!  See you next year :O)

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Free Agent News

Earlier this week, the Phillies declined the option on JC Romero’s contract, thus rendering him a free agent.  Romero can still return, but it would have to be at a price both parties agree on.  Left-handed- relievers are not growing on trees, so hopefully, they can work something out.  Romero’s control should be much improved next year as his arm, which was operated on last off-season, has more time to gain strength.

As for Greg Dobbs and Jamie Moyer, it is likely the end of the line.  Neither were offered contracts and both opted for free agency. 
P7265926_dobbs_hr.jpgDobbs had a few good years with the Phillies off the bench but his numbers declined this year with his lack of playing time.  Dobbs is a super-nice guy and his personality will be missed…plus, the team just got a little bit uglier without him around ;o)

Moyer missed most of this year with an injury and has had multiple surgeries between last off-season and this year.  Add his age to that, 48 next month, and it may be hard for Moyer to find a new home.  Moyer is a class act and I wish him luck.

Today, Placido Polanco will have surgery on his elbow due to bone fragments and tendinitis, which he played with most of the year after getting hit by a pitch.  The expected recovery time is 8-10 weeks, so he should be good to go by Spring Training.  Polly hit .298 this year, despite playing through immense pain and enduring 4 cortisone injections.  I cannot wait to see what he does when he is healthy.

So, have you all been watching the World Series?  Actually, it has been less of a series and more of a tar and feathering of the Texas Rangers so far.  Cliff Lee got absolutely destroyed by the Giants in Game 1, allowing 7 runs over 4 2/3 innings.  Before that game, Lee said about the Phillies, “I didn’t mind seeing them get beat, either, just because they got rid of me.”  Call it baseball karma if you like.  I admire the man for being honest, but the comments certainly did not help him on the mound.

The Giants walked, lirerally, all over the Rangers again in Game 2 and won by a score of 9-0.  The Rangers bullpen allowed 4 walks in a row in the 8th inning…that has to be some kind of World Series record.  Former Phillie Aaron Rowand had a big hit in that inning after the walks with a 2-run triple.  The Rangers are down 2 games to none; Game 3 is on Saturday.

Does this make Phillies fans feel a little better about being pounded by the Giants?  Ok, maybe a little.  I guess I have to revise my initial prediction though….Lee will NOT be the MVP.  And it looks more like Giants in 6 than Rangers in 6.  Although, stranger things have happened.  We shall see…

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Analyzing Ryan Howard’s Season

The final out of the Phillies 2010 season will linger in the minds of many fans throughout the off-season.  In Game 6 of the NLCS on a pitch that was borderline, Ryan Howard stood and watched as strike three was called, officially ending the Phillies year.  Whether it was a ball or a strike does not matter; it was close enough that Howard probably should have swung to protect the plate and at least try to foul it off to stay alive.  But that is how the season went for this team – they were so close to breaking out and just never got it done.

Injuries plagued the team all year, including Howard who missed 16 games with a sprained ankle.  So while Howard’s numbers were down significantly from 2009, how much better could he have produced if he played those 16 games?

This is a chart that shows Howard’s numbers in 2009 and 2010.  The numbers in red bold are projections if 16 games, which is roughly 12% more at-bats, were added in.  Take a look:

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

TB

BB

SO

SLG

AVG

2009

616

105

172

37

4

45

141

352

75

186

.571

.279

 

616

97

170

26

6

35

121

311

66

176

.505

.276

2010

550

87

152

23

5

31

108

278

59

157

.505

.276

 

From the data, it appears that Howard had a similar season to 2009, although his power numbers are clearly declining.  Even with the adjustment, on average, Howard would still be hitting 10 fewer home runs and have 20 fewer RBI’s than in 2009. 
P2241224 Howard2.jpg
Back in 2007, the year of the MVP award, Howard hit 47 homers in only 529 at-bats.  In 2008, it was 48 homers in 610 at-bats.  So the years 2007 – 2010 show a steady and consistent decline in power.

It is also worth noting that with the power outage, Howard’s batting average has not improved.  Howard has been getting more singles and fewer extra-base hits.  So while the average remains steady, they are not paying him around $25 million dollars a year to hit singles.

The high strikeout count for Howard has also been an issue since he arrived.  He had 157 this year, an improvement over 186 in 2009.  But if you average in 12% more at-bats, that number rises to 176, only 10 fewer than 2009.  So he is striking out at about the same rate but seeing less production in extra base hits, homers, runs scored, walks and RBI’s.

One positive may be that Howard’s defense has improved, something he has worked very hard at.  While he had the same number of errors this year and last with 14, sometimes the numbers do not accurately reflect the overall performance.  Howard was able to get to balls this year that he may not have last year and seemed to put more effort into diving for balls that he may have given up on before.

All this amounts to is that Howard had a disappointing season and did not come through in clutch situations during the playoffs.  In fact, the same can be said for most of the team; many had down years.  That makes the age of the Phillies’ key players a bit more concerning overall.  But Howard, 31, should be in his prime, which is why his steady decline in power is alarming.  His numbers are not bad by any means; I just think the Phillies expected more from him when they gave him a huge extension.  Howard is signed through 2016 with an option and $10 million dollar buyout for 2017.  The Phillies will have Howard for at least 6 more years so, they had better hope he comes out of the gate swinging next year.

I will be examining other Phillies players as well throughout the next few weeks while we await word on free agency and other off-season moves. 

The World Series begins tonight (without the Phils….*SIGH*).  Who are you rooting for and what are your predications?  Please let me know in the comment section below.  My crystal ball says Rangers in 6.  The MVP will be Cliff Lee.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Phillies Season Over Too Soon

The Phillies lost Game 6 of the NLCS to the Giants last night, prematurely ending their season.  The Giants will go on to face the Texas Rangers in the World Series while the Phils sit at home and watch.  Having made it to the World Series two straight years, this loss was tough to take.

The game ended, perhaps fittingly, on a Ryan Howard strike out with 2 men on base.  Howard struck out 12 times in 22 at-bats and had zero RBI the entire series.  This performance was a microcosm of entire Phillies playoff run where the big producers did very little.  Chase Utley hit .182 with only 1 RBI; Shane Victorino batted .208 with only 2 RBI; Carlos Ruiz hit .167 with only 1 RBI…you get the picture.

In last night’s game, the Phils had plenty of chances to turn things around and force a Game 7; they simply did not do it.  Roy Oswalt pitched a great game while Jonathan Sanchez did not.

1023 pitching.jpg

The Phillies took advantage of Sanchez early in the 1st inning; after a walk and a wild pitch, Utley doubled, Howard singled and Jayson Werth hit a sac fly.  Two runs scored and it looked like the Phils were in control.
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It started out similar in the bottom of the 3rd inning too; Sanchez walked  Placido Polanco and then hit Utley in the upper back.  As Utley ran to first, the ball bounced to him; he caught it and underhanded it to Sanchez who then started spewing cuss words at Utley.  If you read his lips, Utley said, “What?  What’s bulls*it?” And then the benches cleared…

Here are some photos I took and I have marked where a few interesting things are going on in the group.  You can see Carlos Ruiz getting pretty angry; Utley running in while Polanco tries to restrain a Giants player; Pat Burrell right in the middle of the argument having words with his old friends; JC Romero trying to hold back Sanchez:

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Utley and Sanchez have a history; Sanchez threw at his head on 7/30/09, to which Utley said nothing. Later, Utley called time out during his at-bat and Sanchez got mad about when he called it.  Utley then took him deep for a homer to right.  Apparently, Sanchez has issues with Utley.

Anyway, after the near-brawl on the field, Sanchez was pulled; the Phillies had two free base runners with NO outs and still failed to score.  That may have been the moment that changed the entire season for the Phillies.  Because in the top of the inning, everything had gone wrong for the Phils defensively.  Getting a run after that may have made the difference.

The 3rd started with a hit by the pitcher Sanchez which Utley should have fielded and did not.  A single and a sac bunt were followed by this missed fly ball to Victorino:

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On the very same play, Victorino threw home and Ruiz made the tag to save a run:

1023 Ruiz defense.jpg

The Phils could have escaped with just the one run scored but Polanco got a ground ball and was charged with a throwing error as Howard did not make the catch at first.  Frankly, it looked like a ball he should have caught.  Another run scored on the error to tie the game 2-2.

It was a virtual stalemate after that for a while.  The Phillies had chances to score, like in the 5th when Howard doubled but the 3rd base coach held Jimmy Rollins at third.  With two outs and little offense working, he should have been sent home.

In the 6th, Raul Ibanez doubled and Ruiz moved him to third with a bunt.  But pinch hitter Ben Francisco went down on strikes instead of hitting a much needed sac fly.  No scoring…again.  In all, the Phillies left 11 men on base and went 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position.  It was a lackluster effort, just like most of this series was for the Phillies.

Werth did make a heroic catch in foul territory, which was one of the few highlights:

1023 Werth catch.jpg

But in the 8th, forced to pitch his 2nd inning of the night, Ryan Madson gave up a solo homer to Juan Uribe which broke the tie.  The Phillies could not manage a rally, down by only one run and with many base runners.  They lost 3-2 and sent the Giants to the World Series.

I would like to congratulate the Giants and their fans for the victory.  They are a great team who fought hard and earned it.  The Phillies did not play like the team we all know and that is the most disappointing part.  But to have made it this far is still an accomplishment as 26 other teams did not.

In the coming days, I will be analyzing the aftermath and looking ahead to what next season might bring.  For today, I will quietly mourn the end of the 2010 Phillies season and try to look on the bright side later.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game.  It includes game shots, pre-game, Darren Daulton tossing the 1st pitch, Kane Kalas singing God Bless America and more…

 

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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