Results tagged ‘ National League ’

Painful Math: Adding Up the 2013 Phillies Season So Far

It is a very good thing that I already have a college degree. Because this Phillies season is giving me many compelling reasons to hate math, which is generally not a good thing where school is concerned. If I had to walk into a calculus class right now, I may run screaming from the room instead.

Call it a math hangover. Or just call it the 2013 Phillies season, which has been a statistical nightmare.

For example, let us discuss OBP. It is really too bad that the on-base percentage statistic does not include how many times a player wiped himself and others off the bases after getting on. If it did, Michael Young’s .355 OBP would not look so great. Young has hit into 13 double plays in 57 games. He has more double play balls than he has RBI’s (11) even though his .355 OBP leads all starters on the team. This is a frightening statistic.

Did you also know that Ryan Howard, making $20 million this year, has hit only 1 home run in his last 103 plate appearances? With 7 homers total on the year in 59 games, Howard is averaging 1 home run every 8.5 games. Say Howard plays 145 of 162 games this season; at this rate, he would end the year with 17 home runs. That means the Phillies are paying him $1.2 million dollars per home run. Ouch.

Erik Kratz has 8 home runs in 43 games, more than Howard. And now, he is on the disabled list after hurting his knee this weekend. So one of the guys picking up the slack is now gone. Not to mention, the Phillies are on their 3rd string catcher with Carlos Ruiz still out as well.

And how about Mike Adams, who was supposed to be the savior of the 8th inning for the Phillies? He has already been on the DL with back pain and is now suffering from a mystery bicep issue. Despite coming off surgery in the off-season for thoracic outlet syndrome, the Phillies still paid aging, injury-prone Adams $12 million for 2 years.

Adams has given up runs in 5 out of his last 7 appearances; that is a rate of 71%. His ERA has ballooned to 3.92. Plus, no one has any idea when or if he will be pitching again. He has pitched in only 23 of 64 games so far this season.

And here are a few random stats, just to add to the misery: 10 out of 16 position players on the roster have batting averages at or below .250; that is 63%. The team average is .247. Only 3 teams in the National League have a worse team ERA than the Phillies 4.15. And with 38 errors on the season, the team fielding percentage is .984.

There is plenty more disturbing data where this came from, but I must stop here before my head explodes. The Phils just got swept out by the Brewers so I think we have all been tortured enough for now.

Put down the calculator…no matter how hard you try to change it, this math adds up to a very bad season.

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Trading Places: Phillies Out; Nationals In

Watching the Phillies win a game against the Nationals last night and seeing the Nationals celebrate instead was like being in the Twilight Zone.  Not many teams get to pop the champagne after a loss.  But before the game even ended, the Nats were celebrating as the Braves lost, making Washington the new National League East Champs.

It was quite a role reversal for the Phillies who, prior to this disastrous year, won that title 5 years in a row.  Sadly, they have officially traded placed with the Nationals.

It was a somber win that will guarantee the Phillies a winning record to end the season.  But even that small accomplishment cannot make-up for the fact that the Phils have missed the playoffs and will go quietly into the off-season with many questions.

Perhaps less of a question now is Kyle Kendrick, who appears to finally have his act together.  He pitched 7 scoreless innings last night and should be a starter next season.

Kevin Frandsen continues to hit, with 2 singles last night, even with a stress fracture in his leg.  Still, he does not appear to be an option for 3rd base next year, despite his efforts.

Rookie Darin Ruf keeps slugging away and his triple last night scored the Phillies only 2 runs.  But his future is also uncertain, as are many futures of players on this team.  Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard are hurt again; Roy Halladay had a bad year.

The Phillies still have many questions left to answer.  And they still have 2 games left to play.  Game time is 7:05pm tonight.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies All-Stars Contribute to NL Shut-Out Win Over the AL

In an 8-0 win over the American League, 3 Phillies All-Stars made big contributions for the National LeagueCole Hamels pitched a perfect 7th inning, probably driving up his free agent value a little bit more.  Carlos Ruiz caught the final 4 innings and had one at-bat, a fly-out to left field.  And Jonathan Papelbon recorded the final out of the game, sealing the NL victory.

Here are a few MLB photos from the game:

And this next set of MLB photos show Ruiz holding his glove and then the glove R.A. Dickey gave him to use in order to catch his crazy knuckle balls.  That glove is almost as big as Chooch!  There is also a nice shot of Papelbon and then more adorable Chooch getting a hug from the Nationals teenage rookie, Bryce Harper:

Melky Cabrera of the Cardinals got the MVP award for the game.  He had 2 hits, including a homer, and 2 RBI.  Some rare events occurred during the game, including 3 triples, 5 rookies playing in the game, and the first shut-out during an All-Star game since 1996, when the game was played in Philadelphia.

The biggest blunder of the game came from 19-year old Harper who lost a routine fly ball in the outfield, which eventually landed behind him.  He also got caught leaning too far off base in a fielder’s choice and was tagged out.

So now we wait until the Phillies return on Friday to see if they have any gas left to rescue their dreadful season.  Roy Halladay will make a rehab start tomorrow so, hopefully, that means he will be back very soon.

In the meantime, here is a fun blast from the All-Star past.  These are a few of my favorite All-Star photos from 2008.  The top one will never get old…it is Dan Uggla goosing Chase Utley to the surprise of many around them, as you can see by my marker edits.  Below that is Utley and Brad Lidge, who appear to be trying to club David Wright. And then there is Mike Schmidt standing up in a moving vehicle (next to Utley) during the All-Star parade to point me out and say hello.  I was one Phillies jersey in a sea of Yankees jersey’s so I was easy to spot and he was clearly excited to see a Phillies fan!  Utley yelled out to me right after that as well.  And yes, that was one of the highlights of my simple existence ;o)

By the way, I am hoping to have my video interview with Ryan Howard posted in the next few days, so stay tuned for that!

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2012 photos by MLB; 2008 photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Doc Helps Cure Phillies Losing Streak

After losing eight straight games since clinching the NL East, the Phillies sent Roy “Doc” Halladay to the mound today to operate on the Mets.  Thanks to six scoreless innings from Doc, the Phillies had a shot at a win.

But the ailing offense would also need to find a cure for their disease.  Manager Charlie Manuel decided to shuffle the line-up around to see if that band-aid might stick.  Chase Utley was moved to the 2-hole, Hunter Pence to the 3-hole and Shane Victorino 5th behind Ryan Howard.

Whether it was the new line-up or just the agony of losing 8 straight, something worked.  The Phillies came out swinging and scored 3 runs in the 1st inning, 2 of which came off a Pence homer.  By the end of 4 innings, the Phillies had piled on 9 runs.

Every starter in the line-up had at least one hit, including Halladay.  Carlos Ruiz was absolutely on fire going 4-4 with 2 RBI and a walk.  Pence made up for yesterday’s blunders by going just a double short of the cycle and driving in 3 runs.  Jimmy Rollins also collected 3 hits.

The only negatives in the game came out of the bullpen.  After claiming that lefty Antonio Bastardo had been tipping his pitches which was the cause of his recent struggles, Manuel put Bastardo into the 7th inning to test the theory.  News flash – Tipping his pitches was not the issues.

Bastardo struggled with control and missed his spots.  In just 1/3 of an inning, he gave up 3 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks.  It was not good.  As the only lefty in the bullpen, if Bastardo cannot find his control again, this will be a huge issues in the playoffs.

Vance Worley also ran into trouble in his return to the bullpen.  He closed out the 7th for Bastardo just fine, but the 8th was not as easy for him.  Worley gave up one run to bring the score to 9-4.

The win gives the Phillies 99 for the season with 3 games to go against the Braves.  Beating the Braves could still give them the franchise record in wins, but it may also be a catch-22.  If the Braves do not get the Wild Card, it will probably go to the Cardinals.  The Phillies may then wind up facing the Cards in the NLDS.  They won only 3 of 9 against the Cards in the regular season.

Game 1 against the Braves is Monday night at 7:05pm; Cliff Lee will pitch.

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Halladay head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Halladay Keeps the Win-Train Chugging

This Phillies series with the Brewers has been touted by some as a possible playoff preview.  If that is the case, things are not looking great for the Brewers so far.

After a 7-2 victory last night, the Phillies picked up right where they left off, scoring early and allowing their ace, Roy Halladay, to handle the Brewers hitters.  Halladay was his usual sparkling self, allowing only one run through eight innings on four hits.
 

Ryan Howard was back in the line-up tonight after a day of rest yesterday.  The break seemed to help as Howard smashed a 3-run homer in the first inning.  He also walked twice after that.

After spending most of the year in the minors, Pete Orr finally saw some action tonight in place of Chase Utley who is still in Philly.  Utley is being observed for a possible concussion after getting beamed in the head by a fastball on Wednesday.  Orr took full advantage of the playing time, going 3-for-4 at the plate.  Although, he was almost murdered by a rouge group of sausages ;o)

Several Phillies had multi-hit nights including Carlos Ruiz and Raul Ibanez.  Ruiz was on base in all four of his at-bats; he walked twice and collected 1 RBI.

But while Halladay and the offense were all clicking, there may be cause for concern about Antonio Bastardo.  He started the 9th inning and put two runners on base with a hit and a walk, all without recording an out.

Bastardo had a similar situation only two appearances ago where he put two men on against the Marlins and was pulled before getting an out.  In that game, both runs ended up scoring.  Both runs scored tonight as well.

This young lefty has been so good all year, he has seemed practically unhittable.  But suddenly, Bastardo does not look like the same pitcher.  One could argue he has been overused, but before tonight’s game, Bastardo ranked 44th in innings pitched in the NL.

Still, Bastardo’s recent troubles are not a reason to panic, but it is something the Phillies need to keep an eye on.  And tonight, Ryan Madson took over for Bastardo and was able to secure the 5-3 win.

This win ensures the Phillies cannot lose the four game series and they to grab only one of the next two to win it.  Game 3 is Saturday night at 7:10pm with Cliff Lee pitching against former Phillie, Randy Wolf.

Post-Season Magic # – 3 games

Division Magic # – 10 games

 

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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*

Halladay Gives Up Lead in 9th As Phillies Fall to the D-Backs

The Phillies began a 3-game series tonight with the Arizona Diamondbacks who currently hold first place in the NL West.  As expected, it was a very tight game between two very good teams.

With Roy Halladay coming in to the game with two extra days of rest due to a rain out and an off-day, things looked good for the Phillies.  But while Halladay was solid through eight innings, he was unable to hold down a slim 2-1 lead in the ninth.

Halladay has completed so many games and held down so many leads in the past, it probably seemed right to hand him the opportunity again.  But with no outs in the ninth, Halladay gave up two straight singles.  Then Lyle Overbay, in only his second game with the D-Backs, smacked a bases clearing double to take a 3-2 lead.  Overbay was a one-man wrecking crew, going 3-for-4 in the game with 3 RBI.

Prior to this, the Phillies had given away many opportunities on offense, which really put them into this jam.   While most Phillies struggled at the plate, Halladay contributed two hits, including his first career extra-base hit with a double to right.  But both times, Halladay advanced to third and was left stranded.

Chase Utley had three hits, but two of those came with two outs in the inning and all three times either Ryan Howard or Hunter Pence struck out after each of his hits.  Pence left the bases loaded in the third inning for what was the Phillies best shot at breaking the game open.

In the bottom of the ninth, Carlos Ruiz walked and Michael Martinez bunted him over to start the inning for a potential comeback.  But pinch hitter Ross Gload, who has not had a hit since July 28, struck out.  Jimmy Rollins then struck out to end the game with a 3-2 loss.

Halladay has come through for this team too many times to be counted.  It was a real shame that his teammates could not bail him out the one time he needed the help.

The Pence streak was also broken today.  Previously, if Pence did not hit the Phillies did not win and vice versa.  Tonight, Pence had a hit, but the Phillies did not win.  Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Before the game today, the Phillies unveiled the new Harry Kalas statue outside of Harry The K’s at the ballpark.  The unveiling was originally scheduled for this past Sunday, but the game was rained out.

 

Jimmy Rollins and former Phillies ace, Steve Carlton, presided over the unveiling.  The memorial sculpture was requisitioned by and paid for by Phillies fans and given as a gift to the Phillies in Harry’s honor.   It features Harry holding a microphone while leaning on a baseball bat and he is wearing his 2008 World Series ring.

The statue is a testament to how loved and respected Kalas was in Philadelphia and the impact he had on many lives.  While he will always be missed, this sculpture is a beautiful way to keep Harry in both our hearts and in the ballpark, right where he belongs.

 

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Photo: Phillies.com

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

Philadelphia Phillies 2011 First Half Report Card

Having ended the first half of the season with a 57-34 record, the best in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies have much to look forward to in the second half.  And although many injuries and questions still loom in the background, the first half of play was very successful for this team.

What makes the first half even more remarkable is that the Phillies were able to win despite injuries and missed time from a bucket-full of All-Star caliber players including Chase Utley, Roy Oswalt, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco.

In the bullpen, the Phillies are currently on their fourth closer of the year as the first three all went on the DL.  First Brad Lidge, then Jose Contreras and finally, Ryan Madson.

The rest of the pen has been run primarily by rookies and inexperienced players over the last several month.  But these players have stepped up and are keeping hope alive.

The following  is a look at the Phillies 2011 First Half Report Card.

Starting Pitching:  A+

The Phillies ended the first half with the best ERA in baseball at 3.02, the fewest earned runs allowed with 279 plus 11 complete games and 13 shut-outs, both of which are also the most in baseball.

Both Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels have earned 11 wins each and their ERA’s are 2.45 and 2.32, respectively.  Those numbers have prompted talk of a Cy Young award for one of the two pitchers.  Cliff Lee has been outstanding as well with a 2.82 ERA and nine wins.

The starters have suffered some major injuries, including Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton, both of whom are on the DL.  But the rookie Vance Worley has filled in admirably with an occasional spot start from Kyle Kendrick.

Bullpen:   B+

The Phillies bullpen has had some real challenges this year, including a plethora of injuries.  But thanks to some very young, very solid talent, the pen has endured.

What was thought to be a major team weakness at the start of the year has turned into a strength in many ways.

Lefty Antonio Bastardo has been outstanding and probably should have earned an All-Star nod.  In 33 innings, Bastardo has allowed only three earned runs and has a microscopic ERA of 0.82.  He has also gone 5-for-5 in save attempts since the Phillies sent their first three closer to the DL.

Michael Stutes and Juan Perez have also been very nice surprises.  If Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson can come back healthy in the second half, the bullpen will only be that much stronger.

Offense:  C-

The Phillies offense for the first half ranks 20th in all of baseball and 10th in the National League with a .250 team batting average.  Statistically, this puts them below average.

But their 377 RBI moves them up the list a little, ranking 11th among all teams and 10th in on-base percentage with .323.

The first couple months were rough without Chase Utley, who is hitting .280 since his return.  But other top team hitters like Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco have missed time with injuries as well, making it difficult for manager Charlie Manuel to post any sort of consistent line-up on a regular basis.

Ryan Howard is tied for the league lead in RBI with 72, which has helped carry this weakened offense.  But with so many rookies in the line-up because of injuries, the other veteran players will need to step up in the second half.

Defense:  A-

Statistically, the Phillies have the best defense in the National League and are around fourth best in all of baseball with 45 errors and a .987 fielding percentage.  Many teams have similar numbers, but looking at the major categories, I would put them in about fourth place.

Among position players, Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard have the highest fielding percentages on the team with .996 and .995, respectively.  Howard has improved his defense greatly over the past couple of years.

This team has a very solid defense.  There were a few games this year where sloppy play brought that into question, but they are humans, not robots.  Overall, it was a very good first half for the defense.

Attendance:  A+

The Phillies ended the first half on Sunday with their 172nd consecutive home sellout.  They are also first in total attendance for all of baseball with 2,228,630 fans so far this year, according to ESPN.  The Yankees were second with 2,173,619 fans.

The Phillies keep winning, and the fans keep the party going. 

1st Half MVP:  Roy Halladay

Because their numbers are very similar, I was tempted to go with Cole Hamels on this one.  But with six complete games and the most innings pitched in the National League, I am giving the first half MVP to Roy Halladay.

This man is a beast.  In Tuesday night’s All-Star game, Brian Wilson of the Giants called Halladay a “Cyborg.”  That seems fitting.

There is nothing Halladay won’t do to help his team win.  With 11 wins, a 2.45 ERA and team-leading 138 strike-outs, Halladay is the MVP.

Most Memorable 1st Half Moment:  Tie, Wilson Valdez & Cliff Lee

This one had to be a draw, because both players provided Phillies fans with some amazing memories this year so far.

First, watching Wilson Valdez tow the rubber in the May 25th 5-4 win in 19 innings over the Reds was simply unforgettable.  The Phillies ran out of pitchers and Valdez volunteered.  He pitched one perfect inning and the Phillies won the game in the bottom of the 19th as a result of his effort.

Before this win by Valdez, the last player to start a game in the field and get the win as a pitcher was Babe Ruth in 1921.  But the best part was hearing Valdez joke after the game that he could have gone three or four more innings if needed.

And then this past Saturday, pitcher Cliff Lee provided another memorable moment.  In the third inning, after a 10-pitch at-bat and six foul balls, Lee smashed his 1st career home run off the Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson, who watched in disbelief.

Lee spent most of his career in the American League, with few chances to hit.  But Lee has remarked on many occasions that he prefers the National League because he loves to hit.  And that joy was all over his face as he rounded the bases in front of thousands of screaming fans who gave him a standing ovation.

Watching a man who truly loves the game of baseball be rewarded in a way that is rarely seen was a real treat.  Pitchers do not hit many home runs and it is even less common among pitchers of Lee’s caliber. 

That was a moment that both Lee and all of the Philadelphia fans watching will not soon forget.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Halladay & Lee Pitch As NL Wins All-Star Game

Named the starting pitcher for the National League in Tuesday’s All-Star game, Roy Halladay gave it his best All-Star effort.  He pitched two perfect innings using only 19 pitches.

Cliff Lee went right after Halladay, pitching a perfect third inning.  But in the fourth, he ran into trouble, allowing a solo homer to Red Sox Adrian Gonzalez.  Fresh off the Home Run Derby, Gonzalez was primed and ready to go yard.

But in the bottom half of the inning, Brewer Prince Fielder erased the homer with one of his own, a 3-run shot that hit the top of the padded wall in center field.

The NL added on two more runs for a 5-1 lead.  The NL pitches held the lead and Brian Wilson of the Giants finished the game, getting the final two outs and frightening people with his enormous, black beard.

Also very amusing was the Padres’ reliever Heath Bell who made a grand entrance in the top of the eighth inning.  He ran full-speed towards the mound and pulled off a feet-first, pop-up slide just before he arrived at the pitchers’ mound.  At 6’3″, 260 pounds, Bell’s slide was quite a sight to behold.  The Padres are probably just glad he did not snap an ankle.

So the National League won, giving them home field advantage, which we hope will benefit the Phillies.  Three other Phillies attended, but did not play in the game.  Both Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco are hurt and Cole Hamels was not allowed to pitch because he started on Sunday.

 

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Photo by David J. Phillip – AP

Manuel’s Contract & Spring Update

Earlier today, the Phillies finally got the deal done with manager Charlie Manuel.  The two-year extension will take him through the 2013 season.

In a press conference, Manuel expressed his desire to stay with the Phillies until he leaves baseball.  Manuel discussed other teams he has worked with and then stated, “I’m a Phillie. If I cut my arm it’s going to be red blood, not blue.”


Thumbnail image for Manuel phillie.jpgWell, unless Charlie is a horseshoe crab or an octopus, I am pretty sure he bleeds red.  But seriously, it is great to have a guarantee for Charlie before the season starts.

During Manuel’s time in Philly, the team has the best record in the National League.  Manuel has won 544 games with the Phillies plus four division titles, one league title and , of course, the 2008 World Series Championship.

Spring Training Update

The Phillies are plugging along through spring training despite losing both Chase Utley and Domonic Brown to injuries.  Utley is still out indefinitely.  Brown had successfully surgery to remove the hamate bone in his hand and is expected to play again in four to six weeks.

Today, Roy Halladay pitched six scoreless innings against the Yankees, allowing only four hits.  Halladay was sharp and used his curve ball more than usual in preparation for the season. 

While winning by a score of 7-0, the Phillies saw contributions from several lesser-known players.  One of those players, Josh Barfield, went 2 for 3, including a triple today.   He is hitting .538 in 13 at-bats so far this spring.  Barfield is a second baseman who spent parts of four seasons in the majors with the Indians and Padres.  He hit .294 with 36 RBI last year in the Indians AAA club.

Barfield has been impressive, which may be of great importance now that Utley’s future is uncertain.  Wilson Valdez is an option as well, but it could not hurt to have an extra infielder right now.

 

Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Why Charlie Manuel Deserves A Contract Extension Before Spring Training

Charlie Manuel’s contract as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies is set to expire at the end of the 2011 season. With Spring Training just weeks away, the Phillies have yet to finalize an extension for their skipper.


C Manuel hat1.jpgNo manager likes to enter a season with their status up in the air. It can raise questions about why a manager is not yet resigned and can sometimes even undermine a manager’s authority in the clubhouse.

In the case of Charlie Manuel, the Phillies surely must want him back. A winning percentage of .560 over six years with the team, four Division titles, a National League Pennant and a World Series Championship should be reason enough for an extension.

The only feat Manuel has yet to accomplish is a second World Series title. If the Phillies are trying to squeeze more than that out of him, they may have to hook Manuel up to an IV to give blood.

Besides the winning record, Manuel has many intangible qualities that make him a perfect fit for this franchise. The players love him. They play hard not just for the love of the game, but for their love and respect of Charlie.

Because of his reputation as a player’s manager, other major leaguers want to come to Philadelphia.  Just ask Cliff Lee.  He turned down more money and additional years to come back and play for Manuel in 2011.

The fans love Charlie too. They love him not only because he brought winning baseball back to Philadelphia, but also for his kind, approachable attitude. Fans can walk right up to him and engage in a conversation.

Manuel genuinely respects and appreciates the fans, treating them as equals.

The Phillies should take that to heart and give the same respect and appreciation back to Manuel. Whether it is two or three years, give the man what he wants.  He has earned it.

 

Photo 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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