Results tagged ‘ Laynce Nix ’

Spring Has Sprung: Phillies 2012 Edition

The start of spring training is always an exciting time.  It means a new year, new players and another shot at the World Championship.  For me, the day pitcher’s and catcher’s report does not exactly conjure the urge to cheer out loud; it is more a feeling of relief.  It is time to exhale…

Because all winter long, I have been holding my breath waiting for spring to arrive and it is finally here!  Winter is the worst season for baseball addicts.  You can try to distract yourself with the holidays, football, hockey and hoops, but it is just not the same.  And there are so many down days and so much time to fill.

Now, like a child on Christmas morning, we all feel the anticipation of the new season upon us.  Just as excited must be Roy Halladay, who arrived to spring training in style.  This appears to be a 1932 Ford Roadster; the photo was tweeted by Matt Gelb:

As spring training rolls forward, here are a few things to keep your eyes out for:

Who’s on First? – After Achilles surgery, Ryan Howard will be out of the line-up until at least May, probably longer.  Will John Mayberry take over?  Or, will he start in left and leave 1st base to new Phillies Laynce Nix and Ty Wigginton?  My preference is the latter.

What’s on Second? – The “who” here is Chase Utley.  The “what” is what shape will he be in after nursing a bum knee throughout the 2011 season.

Juggling of the Bullpen – There are some significant changes to the pen this year starting with new closer Jonathan Papelbon.  But that role is set, so what about the rest of the pen?  What role will Kyle Kendrick fill?  Will Dontrelle Willis be a real contributor?  And can Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes move past the awful ending to an otherwise solid 2011 season?   Add Chad Qualls and a possible return from Jose Contreras and this has the makings of a huge soap opera.

The Infirmary – One of the biggest question marks on an aging team is can they stay healthy?  Many players had off-season surgery including Cole Hamels, Placido Polanco, Hunter Pence and, of course, Ryan HowardJimmy Rollins has only played around 1/2 of the last two seasons due to injuries.  And this year, he has a brand new contract, making his continued health a real priority.

The Contract SituationCole Hamels is on board for the year.  But unless the Phillies ink a long-term deal with him this spring, they are likely to lose him in free agency next year.  The question is, how much of a distraction will this be?  Personally, I think the Phillies need to cut a deal now and be done with it.

Luckily, this year fans will have more opportunities to see these dramas play out thanks to expanded TV coverage of spring training.  Comcast has published a list of all 14 games that will be aired plus many news and social media events.  This is the first time EVER that you can see every Phillies spring training game without travelling to Clearwater.

Of course, I would rather be in Florida.  However, this is a great alternative.  With the early March games being aired, you can see a lot of young guys and prospects play that without the TV coverage, you normally would not.  In prior years, those players were already sent back to the minors by the time games began to air.

Changing the subject to a more personal note, many of you who follow my blog regularly know that I generally post new content frequently.  However, this off-season has been a tough one for me.  It seems like life keeps tossing me curve balls.  I have been quite ill all off-season.  Then a short time ago, my cat of 15 years passed away in my arms.  I had to have surgery just 6 days after that happened and am still recovering with another surgery on the horizon.

I will live, but it has been a rough go for a while here.  So I thank you all for continuing to follow my silly little blog :O)  I hope to be back on track with regular postings and some fun photos real soon.  And what could be a better cure for that which ails me than baseball?

Thank goodness, Spring Training has sprung!

 

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Questions That Loom Over the Phillies 2012 Season

A new year is upon us and a new Phillies season is almost here, with Spring Training to begin in just over a month.  A few off-season signings have solidified some areas, where other areas may still be of concern.  Here is my list of Phillies looming questions by position:

The Starting Rotation - The projected starters and order are Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and Vance Worley.  Halladay and Lee are no brainers.  Hamels is recovering from elbow surgery but reports are that he is throwing and feeling fine.

This means the two questions remaining are Blanton and Worley.  Blanton sat out most of 2011 with a bum elbow and chose not to have surgery this offseason.  How he will respond in 2012 is a mystery.  However, Kyle Kendrick will be waiting in the wings to fill in should Big Joe go down.

And the question for Worley is simply, will he suffer the sophomore slump or pick up where he left off in 2011.  Either way, the Vanimal will be fascinating to watch.

Catcher -  Carlos Ruiz returns as Batman with Brian Schneider backing him up as Robin.  Choooooch!  No questions here.

1st Base – The sight of Ryan Howard tumbling to the ground in agony to end the Phillies 2011 season still burns in our collective memories.  Beat-writer Todd Zolecki reports that Howard is recovering well from Achilles surgery and is now beginning a light exercise program.

Still, Howard will miss some time.  Experts predict that John Mayberry Jr. will pick up most of the time at 1st with an occasional appearance from Jim Thome.  This seems like a terrible shame for Mayberry who should simply be handed left field and allowed to get comfortable there for the long haul.  Instead, the Phillies will probably platoon Laynce Nix in left with someone like Scott Podsednik.

My suggestion?  Give Nix a shot at 1st base and leave Mayberry in left.  Nix has played 1st before and with some work in Spring Training, he could work his way into the role easily.  Of course, I have no real say in the matter.

2nd Base – Can Chase Utley start and end a whole season at 2nd with his health intact?  We shall see…

Shortstop – Jimmy Rollins returns with a fresh 3-year deal.  The question here is that same as that of the other Phillies aging players…can he stay healthy?

3rd Base – I hate to beat a dead horse, but can Placido Polanco stay healthy at  36 years of age, coming off sports hernia surgery?  We hope so.  Polly’s contract is up after 2012, so who will be our 3rd baseman in 2013?

My suggestion?  Glad you asked.  Have minor league prospect Freddy Galvis spend the year working on a move from SS to 3rd.  Galvis is almost major league ready but out of options with J-Roll resigned at SS for 3 years.  Either Galvis becomes trade bait or he finds another way to be useful to the Phils.

Outfield -  As I mentioned before, Mayberry should be the left fielder but it may wind up being Nix until Howard gets healthy.  At least center and right are set: Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence will both be back and ready to play.

The Bullpen – Once again, the Phillies pen is a huge question mark.  The Phils saw rookies and younger, less experienced players, like Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo, rise and fall throughout 2011.  The status of veteran Jose Contreras is mostly unknown since having elbow surgery.  Other veterans, like Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson are gone (for now).  However, neither Lidge or Madson have found homes.  Could they return?  It’s a long shot….but not impossible.

Spring Training is going to be huge in determining the make-up of this bullpen.  There will be a lot of opportunities for younger guys to step up and steal a spot.  It will also be interesting to see if Dontrelle Willis can conjure up some of his early career magic or if he will slide back into oblivion.

And of course, the closer question was answered with the signing of Jonathan Papelbon.  The only question here is will Papelbon play up to his huge salary?

The Bench – Both Thome and Wilson Valdez are set.  The rest of the bench could consist of any number of new signings or guys like Michael Martinez and Pete Orr.  Again, Spring Training should be very interesting.

FYI - Totally off topic, if anyone has noticed some of my photos and albums mysteriously gone missing, this is due to an unexpected issue with the site I was using to store them.  I am in the process of getting it all loaded to a new site and will be working on updating older blogs as I am able to.  For now, all 2011 albums are back up and can be found under my 2007 – 2011 Photo Archives.  Thank you for your patience while I get everything back up and running :O)

I would like to thank all of my loyal readers for stopping by and helping to make Phillies Phollowers the #1 Phillies Fan MLBlog for the 4th straight year.  Among all team MLBlogs, I ranked #10 in 2011.

Many thanks to everyone in the MLBlogs community and congrats to all the leaders!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Bye, Bye Benny

With a plethora of outfielders now in the Phillies system after a few signings, Ben Francisco has been traded Toronto for Minor League relief pitcher Frank Gailey.  Gailey, 26, is from Philly and has a record of 23-15 with a 2.45 ERA in 175 appearances in the minors. 

Francisco had a promising spring training before the 2011 season, but his hot streak ran cold quickly.  While Francisco was not consistent as a starter, the bench role did seem to suit him well.  He hit .269 with 4 RBI in 2011 and .289 with 7 RBI in 2010 as a pinch hitter.

But John Mayberry Jr. clearly outplayed him this past season.  And with the new additions of Scott Podsednik and Laynce Nix plus Domonic Brown on the roster, the outfield is full.

However, the Phillies seem to have some concerns about Brown’s future and they seem intent on giving him more time in the minors before they bring him up again.  Brown should be major league ready by now, but the Phils do not seem convinced.

If this is true, why not trade Brown now while he is still listed as a top prospect?  Because if they give him another shot in the bigs and he bombs again, his value will go right out the window.  At least now, they could get something in return for him.  Just a thought…

In other news, Jimmy Rollins is still in limbo, although rumors are flying that a deal is imminent.  J-Roll has not gotten much interest from other teams so resigning him at a descent price may be getting a little easier.

So what has J-Roll been doing while he waits?  Apparently, tweeting about Ryan Braun’s positive drug test“: “I really hope Braunie’s initial test is not upheld. Either way people are gonna judge him. I believe him though.”

Braun was named the NL MVP this year.  So this may be the worst timing ever, although many people think the test was an error or some weird medical condition.  Whatever the case, we will not have a real answer anytime soon as Braun is appealing the ruling which, if he loses, will end in a 50-game suspension.

 

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Ibanez Gets Nixed & Utley Procreates

Considering it is the offseason, this has been a busy week for the Phillies.  In an unusual roster move, the Phillies have potentially signed left fielder Laynce Nix, 31, to a two-year deal, pending a physical.  I say this is unusual because in a 9-year career, Nix is a .244 hitter and from 2006-2008, he spent most of his time in the minors.

Last year with the Nationals, Nix hit .250 with 16 home runs.  Similarly, Raul Ibanez hit .245 with 20 homers.  And this signing pretty much signals the end of Ibanez’s career with the Phillies.  So they are replacing him with a guy who is similar and only a little bit younger in baseball years.  The big difference here is that Ibanez had a solid career.  Nix has not.

So yes, this move is just one more head scratcher this offseason for the Phillies who seem to be going back to their roots of taking out the trash and hoping it turns into treasure.  Sometimes that works out; most of the time, it does not.  As for Ibanez, it certainly looks like he has been “Nixed.”

In happier news, Chase Utley and his wife Jen welcomed their first child on December 2.  His name is Benjamin Cooper Utley; FYI – Cooper is mom’s maiden name.  There was a photo posted on Crossing Broad but the Utley’s had them remove it.

So you can either use your imagination…or, use my imagination ;o)

By the way, the market for short stops just heated up.  The Miami Marlins have signed Jose Reyes for 6 years at $106 million.  He is not a Met anymore, but the NL East is still not rid of the annoying, showboating Reyes.

And his price tag also means that Jimmy Rollins may expect more money than the Phillies are able to give.  As a back-up plan, rumors have been flying about interest in Aramis Ramirez.  However, Ramirez plays third base.  Where does that leave Placido Polanco and who will play short stop?

So many questions, so few answers…  I will tell you this though, the 2012 Phillies are starting to look a whole lot different than the 2011 Phillies, although it is more of a lateral-type movement so far.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Unproductive Phillies Offense Leads to Series Loss

The month of June did not start off as the Phillies may have hoped.  After a win on Monday, the Phils went on to lose two straight to the lowly, last place Washington Nationals by a score of 2-1.

Domonic Brown was almost the hero as he blasted a shot to left center that should have scored the three runners on base at the time.  But the Nats left fielder, Laynce Nix, ripped the Superman cape right off Brown’s back, put it on himself and literally flew through the air to snatch the ball out of no-man’s land.  Nix won the tug-o-war battle.

That catch will be on highlight reels all week.  Nix also hit the go-ahead home run off pitcher Roy Oswalt.  He was a one-man wrecking crew.

Oswalt had a descent game, allowing just the two runs.  He was pulled early after five innings in order to send Brown in with the bases loaded, after which Brown was robbed of that big hit.

The real disappointment, however, was watching the Phillies offense revert back to old habits.  They had only five hits in the game, went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 9 men on base.  Ryan Howard had two of the five hits.  No one collected an RBI as the lone run scored after a Nats error.

Chase Utley is another concern.  He is hitting only .194 since coming off the DL.  And although he appears healthy, his swing is simply not there.  That is especially concerning when you remember that the only thing Utley was able to do the entire time he was injured was hit.

The Phillies have a day off tomorrow to lick their wounds, but things do not get much better on Friday.  They are headed to Pittsburgh and recent history shows the Phillies have a rough time there.  Despite the Pirates fielding fairly awful teams over the years, the Phillies simply play badly in Pittsburgh.  They better hope that changes.

Shane Victorino should be back for the series, which will hopefully be a nice boost for the offense.  However, who will be sent down to make room?

My feeling is that John Mayberry Jr. has to stay, as he is the only suitable center field back-up who can match Victorino’s defense.  Brown should be here to stay.  Michael Martinez is a Rule-5 and the Phils do not want to lose him.  But Ross Gload is injured.  He can hit, but cannot run or play the field.  If it were up to me, he’d be going on the DL to make room.

Another option is pitcher Mike Zagurski, but it seems like the Phillies want an extra pitcher around.  However, Zagurski still has not shown he is a major leaguer.

It is a tough decision.  Glad I do not have to make it :O)

 

Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

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