Results tagged ‘ Mets ’

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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The Case for Kevin Frandsen

In a 3-2 win over the Mets on Thursday, the Phillies’ newest 3rd baseman Kevin Frandsen went 4-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored.  In 107 at-bats this season, he is hitting a very hot .355.  His defense has been solid and rumor has it that he is great in the clubhouse as well.  So, what is the problem?

News reports, staff interviews and sports talk shows all say the same thing:  Frandsen is old, he is not an everyday player and this run he is on is just a fluke.  Frankly, I don’t get it.  Why are all these people so down on Fransden?  I say, give a guy a chance.

First, let us examine this claim that Frandsen is “old.”  He just turned 30 in May.  30 is not old, not even in baseball years.  The only other Phillies infielder younger than Frandsen is Michael Martinez, who will be 30 in 2 weeks.  Everyone else, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, all have at least 2 years or more on Fransden.  In fact, the average age of the entire team, including all the rookies, is 30.

Conclusion: Frandsen may be middle-aged, but he is not old.

And what about this notion of Frandsen not being an “everyday player?”  Frandsen had exactly 1 year, out of the last 7 seasons, during which he almost played everyday.  In 2007 with the Giants he hit .269 in 109 games with 31 RBI.  He then missed all of 2008 with a ruptured Achillies.  Since then, he has not been given another shot at being an everyday guy, except in the minors, where he hit for an average of .292 from 2009-2011 combined.

Frandsen is finally playing everyday and it is paying off.  He is the hottest hitter on the team right now.  So my conclusion on this topic then is, keep watching.  If he keeps this pace up through September, there should be no question that Frandsen can be an everyday player.

As to the charge that this is just a fluke, Frandsen has over 100 at-bats now.  That is obviously not a huge amount, but it is enough to make an initial judgment and .355 is not too shabby.  My conclusion here is the same as before: if he keeps going strong over the next several weeks, I don’t see at all how this is a fluke.  It seems to me that he is finally getting a shot and taking full advantage of it.

All these people need to quit hating on Frandsen and give the guy a chance!  He just might be an option at 3rd base next year.  He would certainly save some salary for the team.  Also, you can be fairly certain that, unlike Rollins and his recent episode, he is going to hustle every time out.

So what do you think?  Feel free to leave comments below.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Cloyd’s Debut & Utley’s Big Idea

A very excited and nervous Tyler Cloyd took the mound for the Phillies last night.  His major league debut would eventually end in a 3-2 loss to the Mets, but the rookie was still happy just to be there.

With Vance Worley finally put on the DL and expected to have elbow surgery, Cloyd will get a few more shots at a win.  He told reporters, “It’s an awesome feeling that they’re going to let me stay up here and show what I can do.

Cloyd allowed 3 runs in his debut over 6 innings and walked 2 batters.  Much of his early struggle appeared to be nerves.  But once he settled down, Cloyd looked pretty good, despite his lower than average fastball.  His location was good and his breaking pitches had some nice, late movement on them.

The bad news is, the Phillies have now dropped 2 games in a row to the lowly Mets.  Depressing.

There was some other near earth-shattering news yesterday as well.  Chase Utley began taking ground balls at 3rd base and later told the media that he asked GM Ruben Amaro Jr. if he could give 3rd base a try.  Amaro figured, why not?

Utley is apparently trying to help the team solve the current 3rd base issue.  With Placido Polanco constantly having back issues and likely not returning next year, the Phillies need a 3rd baseman.  They seem to view Kevin Fransden as a utility guy, although he has played very well at the hot corner.

As for Utley, we all know his is Superman already (except for those bum knees, of course).  But he has not played 3rd base in 10 years, since his time in the minors.  He told reporters, “I figured I’d give it a try just to get back over there, get my feet wet, just get a feel for the position again.” 

This brings up many questions.  Would 3rd base be less taxing on Utley’s knees?  I doubt it.  Does he have the arm strength for the position?  Maybe, maybe not.  Couldn’t the Phillies try Freddy Galvis there?  He adjusted well going from short to 2nd, so maybe 3rd is not a huge leap.

It is nice to see Utley offering to take on something new for the better of the team.  Whether or not that is a realistic option remains to be seen.

In the meantime, the Phillies have to try not to get swept by the Mets this afternoon.  Game time is 1:05pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Rosenberg Gets Schooled Again / Cloyd Is Called Up

The Mets took Phillies rookie B.J. Rosenberg to school last night as they roughed him up for 4 runs in the 10th inning.  The Mets went on to win and Rosenberg went back to the clubhouse sporting a 12.66 ERA.

As he entered the clubhouse, Rosenberg must have been given a “Baseball for Dummies” book as a gift.  Because in his post-game comments, he told reporters, “Everything was up. It’s pretty simple, you make really bad pitches to good hitters and you’re going to get in trouble.”  So it has taken 5 years in the minors, 13 games and 15 earned runs allowed in the majors and a beating by the Mets to figure that out?  I really hope he reads the entire book…

Ok, I am picking on the poor kid, I know.  He is still learning.  But in the meantime, it is frustrating to see a kid with a 95mph fastball tossing it right over the middle of the plate when he knows better.

Vance Worley had a lot of trouble too, allowing 4 runs in only 4 1/3 innings.  Why is Worley still pitching?  He has bone chips in his elbow and needs surgery.  Why not shut him down and get him healthy for next year.  Because he is not helping the team right now.

Worley says the elbow is not the issue, but can that really be true?  Anyone who has ever had an injury of any kind knows that if you play through it, you will inevitably compensate for that injury in some way.  If my right knee hurts, I lean more on my left knee, even though I know in a week or so my left knee is going to hurt as a result.  The only other option is not walking, which is not really a realistic option.  But it is worse with pitchers because when they compensate, they develop bad habits which can lead to new injuries like shoulder soreness.

Logic then tells us, get Worley off the mound…now.  Of course, I am not the GM so all I can give is my opinion.  Maybe the Phillies need a new book too.  Has anyone yet written, “How Not to Destroy a MLB Pitcher for Next Season for Dummies?”

So despite the Phillies starting this game with a Grand Slam from Ryan Howard and later, a home run from Chase Utley, they lost it 9-5 in 10 innings.

Now who will be the Mets next victim?  That’s right…another rookie fresh out of Triple-A.  Because Cole Hamels has a tummy ache (officially a “gastrointestinal illness”), Tyler Cloyd will make his major league debut tonight at 7:05pm.

Cloyd, named the International League’s best pitcher of the year, had a 12-1 record with a 2.35 ERA in Triple-A this year and a 1.80 ERA in Double-A over 4 games.  Despite all the hype, many “experts” say Cloyd does not have major-league stuff.  Well, we will find out tonight I suppose…best of luck to the kid!

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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

Another Nail in the Coffin of the Phillies 2012 Season

The Phillies have lost 47 games so far this season.  Some of them have been very ugly, some of them have been sleep-inducing and some have been downright aggravating.  But last night’s 6-5 loss to the Mets may have been the worst loss for a number of reasons.

For starters, the Phillies were actually able to score 5 runs off one of the best pitchers in baseball right now, R.A. Dickey.  And they should have scored even more.  The Phillies left 9 men on base and went 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position.  They had opportunities and missed out.

Cole Hamels was not spectacular, but he kept the team within a run of the Mets.  Over 7 innings, Hamels allowed 4 runs and walked one batter.  But he was by no means awful.

Then Antonio Bastardo came out in the 8th and actually pitched a 1-2-3 inning.  Based on the rest of his season so far, that was pretty amazing.

The Phillies fought to hang on to that one run lead only to see Jonathan Papelbon, their $50 million closer, blow it in the 9th.  And that is what really makes this one sting more than the other 46 loses.  They stayed in it, they battled and came up short anyway as Papelbon gave up a lead-off double, walked a batter and hit a batter before finally surrendering the winning runs.  It was ugly.

And the timing could not be worse.  This loss puts the Phillies at 13 games out of first place with 78 games left to play.  It is another series lost and one more nail in the coffin of this 2012 season.

Do the math.  The Phillies need to win at least 50 of their last 78 games, based on the current pace of teams in the NL East, to even have a shot at a Wild Card spot with 87 wins.  That means they have to win ALL 22 of the 3-game series’ left and at least split the 3 remaining 4-game series’.  Yes, win or split EVERY remaining series this year.  ALL OF THEM.

Based on the Phillies performance so far this season, anyone out there think that is possible?

It saddens me to say this, but I believe this is the game that signals the end of the 2012 season for the Phillies.  When you look back later for a turning point, this is it.  I hope I am wrong, but things are not looking good right now.

 

 

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Happy Cliff Lee Win Day!

Yes, it is the 4th of July.  But more importantly for the Phillies, it is Cliff Lee Win Day!  Appropriately, fireworks and celebration will be seen all over the land!

It only took 3+ months and 83 games, but Lee finally won a game.  Hey, you know what Lee’s favorite holiday is?  That’s right!  Independence / Cliff Lee Win Day!

Over 8 innings against the Mets, Lee allowed just 2 runs, one of which was a solo homer.  He struck out 9 batters and only walked 1.  THIS is the Cliff Lee we have all been missing.  Finally, he is back!

This day was also the first win for Chase Utley.   7 games ago, Utley played his first game of the year after a long rehab of his shoddy knee(s).  In that game, he hit a home run in his first at-bat and then Carlos Ruiz did the same right after.  Oddly enough, that combination set off a 6-game losing streak.

But tonight, Utley and Ruiz went back-to-back again, apparently spinning the universe back into the correct direction and producing a Phillies win.  The earth is back on its axis and gravity is once again in proper alignment.  Whew!

That home run combo gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead which they added onto in the final two innings.  Jimmy Rollins no-hit streak ended and he drove in 2 runs.  And Ty Wigginton added 2 more RBI with a home run in the 9th.

So both Utley and Lee get their first wins of the year with a 9-2 final score.  After the game, Lee had bear hugs for Chooch and was later greeted with a chilly Gatorade bath.

Could this be the big win the Phillies needed to get back on track?  We can only hope so.  Certainly, we can at least see that this team is still capable of winning.

Game 3 with the Mets starts tomorrow at 7:10pm.  Cole Hamels will have to face R.A. Dickey; the knuckleballer has been on fire this season.  But in the meantime, sit back, relax and enjoy the fireworks in honor of Cliff Lee Win Day!  Whoo hooo!

Oh, and Happy 4th of July, too! :O)

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Lee & fireworks photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Get Wrecked by the Mets for 6 Straight Loses

An 11-1 loss against the Mets tonight was a complete and utter disaster on all sides for the Phillies.  The pitching stunk, the offense was invisible and the defense phoned it in too.

Vance Worley had the worst start of his career, allowing 6 runs in only 4 innings.  When Raul Valdes took over, he left 2 runners on base in the 6th before being pulled with 2 outs recorded.  Why was he pulled?  Because apparently, he was not giving up enough home runs.  So the Phillies brought in Brian Sanches from our minor-league bullpen to take care of that.  David Wright thanks him for the 3 RBI.

Behind the pitchers, the defense was not great either.  John Mayberry Jr. missed a fly ball he should have caught.  Chase Utley made a mistake on what could have been a double play ball.  Instead, both runners were safe.  And Placido Polanco was charged with a throwing error.

But the offense was even worse.  The Phillies managed only 3 hits and went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position.  The only Phillies run in the game was a solo homer from Carlos Ruiz in the 2nd inning.

Folks, this is as bad as it could possibly get right now.  This game was the epitome of this horrible season, now more than halfway over.  We could all try chanting the insurance jingle, “Like a good agent, State Farm is there…with a 10-game winning streak!  Poof!”  But I have a very bad feeling that even that will not help.

Instead, you could go to blast some virtual home runs online at statefarm.com/gotobat for the chance to win two tickets to the World Series.  So even if the team doesn’t win, you can get back that feeling of good baseball, even if it is just a virtual version.

I mention that because the Go To Bat charity has offered me a video interview with Ryan Howard!  I will be posting that sometime next week during the All-Star break; Ryan will be in Kansas City promoting the charity and I have a few fun questions for him.

So there is a little bit of good news in the midst of a whole bunch of bad.

The Phillies will try once again to conjure a win tomorrow at 1:10pm.  Start praying for a 4th of July miracle!

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Utley photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Support Group: Get Cliff Lee a Win!

The Phillies beat the Mets on Wednesday night by a score of 10-6.  And while the offense finally produced some big runs, the hit parade did not actually arrive until after pitcher Cliff Lee exited the game.  You know what that means…still no wins for Cliff Lee.

It has been 8 starts and 2 months and poor Lee has been shut-out of the win column.  Carlos Ruiz tried to bust him out of winless jail by smacking a pinch hit 2-run homer in the 7th, but that merely tied the game.  The lead finally arrived in the 8th when Shane Victorino hit a sac fly to score Juan Pierre.  Sadly though, Lee was no longer the pitcher of record at that point.

And all those runs they pounded out in the 9th inning, including a Jimmy Rollins homer, also did Lee little good.  We can all agree…wins are good!  But how about sharing the cookies with a starving man?  Geez.

With that in mind, I have decided to start a support group for Cliff Lee.  As you can see, his teammates appear to be on board:

So let’s get to it, Phillies!  Get Cliff a freakin’ win already!

Thank you in advance.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Injuries and Questions Plaguing the Phillies

As I am sure many of you are already aware, Roy Halladay has been placed on the DL with a right latissimus dorsi strain.  His projected time for recovery is 6-8 weeks.  The good news is that the strain is a Grade ½ which means he just needs rest for the muscle to heal.  The bad news is he will be gone probably until August.  Yikes.

In regards to how long this has been going on, pitching coach Rich Dubee told the media, “I’ve thought since spring training that there was an issue.”  My question then is, why was nothing done about this sooner?  Why no MRI in spring training?

Of course, Halladay probably down-played the issue thinking it was nothing serious.  But if you are paying a guy $60 million dollars, isn’t it your obligation to do everything possible to ensure the health of that player?  In my opinion, this should have been handled in March.  Luckily, the muscle did not tear in the meantime, but damage to the team was certainly done by allowing this to drag on.

The overwhelming sentiment in the press has been, “It could be worse,” referring to a potential tear or rotator cuff injury.  But really, any injury with any player “could be worse.”  What they should be doing instead of telling us how great it is that this is not worse is asking some real questions.  Like, why was this not addressed earlier?

This also raises questions for me about the team management, from the top brass to the training staff.  Because the Halladay issue does not seem to be the only thing they missed.  What about Chase Utley?  Should they have done more in the offseason to ensure Utley was healthy, especially after the 2011 knee problem?

But it is also easy to see why the team was maybe playing the “ignore it and it may go away” game.  Imagine for a minute if they did check Halladay out in spring training.  Now imagine having Halladay, Utley and Ryan Howard on the DL to start the season.  How many fans do you think would have immediately written the team off with that kind of start?  I would assume the Phillies would have asked themselves the exact same question.

As it stands now, those 3 players make up 32% of the entire team $174.5 million payroll.  That is $55 million sitting on the DL.  Ouch.

So, you still want to look on the bright side?  Ok, think of it like this: Halladay is not really hurt.  He is simply having his bionic parts tuned-up.  As with most bionic men, this procedure can take some time.

Then when Halladay returns, he should be right back to his robot-self!  Awesome.

My next question is, could the Phillies be playing the same “ignore it and it may go away” game with Joe Blanton?  Missing most of last season with a sore elbow, Blanton was also seemingly left to his own devices all off-season and did not have surgery.

Blanton came back and appeared healthy and pitched very well in April.  But then May rolled around and it all went downhill.  In his last 3 starts, Blanton has not made it past the 5th inning and given up a total of 19 runs.  That is an ERA of 12.52 in 3 starts.  Last night against the Mets, he allowed 6 runs in 5 innings which lead to a 6-3 loss.  Am I really the only one who finds this pattern disturbing?

Ok, let’s examine the bright side once again…Cliff Lee pitches tonight!  Yes, it is Lee vs. Gee once again.  And Lee could actually pick up his first win of the year before May ends!  Cross your fingers…

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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