Results tagged ‘ Rangers ’

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.
1023 offense.jpg

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:

1023 benches clear2.jpg

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:

1023 Victorino dropped ball.jpg

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*

 

Staying Alive; Phillies Pull Out A Win And Head Back To Philly

Everyone expected Roy Halladay to come out firing tonight with the Phillies season on the line.  Instead, he walked the first batter he faced and allowed a run to score.  The entire 6 innings he pitched were uncomfortable, at best.  He did only allow 2 runs total; the second one, of course, off the bat of Cody Ross with an RBI-double.  But he never looked settled, fell behind in counts and ended with 2 walks and only 5 strike outs.PA163444AR.jpg

While Halladay’s entire outing was a nail biter, he did battle through it and kept the Phils in the game.  Tim Lincecum only had one bad inning through 7 and that was the 3rd.  The Phillies scored 3 runs in a very odd sequence of events.  Raul Ibanez, back in the line-up after being sat yesterday, singled to start the inning.  That was his first hit this entire series.

Lincecum then hit Carlos Ruiz to put two men on base with no outs.  Halladay bunted what looked like a foul ball but the umpire, much to everyone’s surprise, called it fair.  The base runners moved up as Pablo Sandoval at third missed the bag while Ibanez slid in.  Halladay just stood at home looking confused as he was thrown out at first on a foul ball.

But it worked out for the Phillies as an error by Aubrey Huff allowed both Ibanez and Ruiz to score.  Placido Polanco singled to score another run.  But then with runners on first and second, needing a simple sac fly to score again, Ryan Howard struck out…again.  Howard has zero RBI’s this series.  Jayson Werth flied out to end the inning, stranding 2 runners.

You had to wonder if these stranded runners would cost the Phillies both the game (again) and the season.  They headed into the 7th clinging to the slim 3-2 lead.  Jimmy Rollins singled and then stole 2 bases to land on 3rd with Ruiz on 1st and only one out.  But again, the Phillies failed to score.  Pinch hitter Ross Gload hit a line drive right to 1st.  Huff caught the ball and stepped on 1st for the easy double play.

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In the middle of the 7th, the Giants sent this strange thing out to sing God Bless America; I think that is a small village on her head?  Weird.

So it would be up to the bullpen to keep the series going and send it back to Philly.  Jose Contreras and JC Romero took care of the 7th.  Ryan Madson was tossing 95mph bullets in the 8th, despite having pitched the last two games.  He struck out the side, including our old friend Pat Burrell.  Remember when a Burrell strike out was SO frustrating?  Not so much anymore ;o)

Giving the Phillies a little extra breathing room in the 9th, Werth hit a monster homer over the huge right field wall.  Brad Lidge had a 4-2 lead to work with and got the first out quickly with a shallow fly ball.  Next out, an easy ground ball. (Biting my nails…) Pinch hitter, whose name no one can pronounce…Travis Ishikawa…IsHeWaWa?  IshiMama?  IdunnoA?  Whatever.    He struck out, so who cares.  Phillies win, 4-2!!!  LIDGE gets it DONE!

With the win tonight, the NLCS series heads back to Philadelphia with the Phils trailing 2 games to 3.  They have an off-day tomorrow for travel and will play Game 6 on Saturday, either at 3:57pm or 7:57pm, depending on the Rangers – Yankees series results tomorrow.  I assume Roy Oswalt is still slated to pitch; we should know for sure tomorrow.  Whatever happens, I am excited to go to the game on Saturday; this team may still have life in them yet.

UPDATE: Halladay apparently pulled his groin early in the game last night during either the 1st or 2nd inning.  Manuel said 2nd, but also said it was during the Buster Posey at-bat, which was in the 1st.  At any rate, he pitched basically the whole game injured.  Halladay will have an MRI today to determine how bad the pull is.

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Division Series Schedule

As you may know already, the Phillies will be playing the Reds in the NLDS.  The Phillies won 5 out of 7 games against the Reds this year in the regular season; 3 of those in July all went to extra innings and ended in spectacular walk-off fashion for the Phillies.  So while the Phils have a slight edge, it is sure to be a well played series.

With the 8 playoff teams finally decided, TBS and MLB announced some of the start times for both the AL and NL Division series.  Here is the schedule so far:

Series

Teams

Day/Date

Time ET

ALDS Game 1

Rangers @ Rays

Wed. Oct. 6

1:30 p.m.

NLDS Game 1

Reds @ Phillies

Wed. Oct. 6

5 p.m.

ALDS Game 1

Yankees @ Twins

Wed. Oct. 6

8:30 p.m.

ALDS Game 2

Rangers @ Rays

Thurs. Oct. 7

2:30 p.m.

ALDS Game 2

Yankees @ Twins

Thurs. Oct. 7

6 p.m.

NLDS Game 1

Braves @ Giants

Thurs. Oct. 7

9:30 p.m.

NLDS Game 2

Reds @ Phillies

Fri. Oct. 8

6 p.m.

NLDS Game 2

Braves @ Giants

Fri. Oct. 8

9:30 p.m.

ALDS Game 3

Rays @ Rangers

Sat. Oct. 9

5 p.m.

ALDS Game 3

Twins @ Yankees

Sat. Oct. 9

8:30 p.m.

NLDS Game 3

Phillies @ Reds

Sun. Oct. 10

TBD

NLDS Game 3

Giants @ Braves

Sun. Oct. 10

TBD

*ALDS Game 4

Rays @ Rangers

Sun. Oct. 10

TBD

*ALDS Game 4

Twins @ Yankees

Sun. Oct. 10

TBD

*NLDS Game 4

Phillies @ Reds

Mon. Oct. 11

TBD

*NLDS Game 4

Giants @ Braves

Mon. Oct. 11

TBD

*ALDS Game 5

Rangers @ Rays

Tues. Oct. 12

TBD

*ALDS Game 5

Yankees @ Twins

Tues. Oct. 12

TBD

*NLDS Game 5

Reds @ Phillies

Wed. Oct. 13

TBD

*NLDS Game 5

Braves @ Giants

Wed. Oct. 13

TBD

 

As I expected, the Phillies, despite have the BEST record in baseball, still got screwed out of the Prime Time slot in favor of the Yankees…again.  So for the 3rd year in a row, I will have to take a day off work to go to get to the stadium in time to find parking and see the pre-game festivities.

Now I realize there are 22 other teams out there whose fans would love to have this problem so it is hard to complain.  But when is a team, other than the Yankees, going to get some much deserved respect?  The Phillies have certainly earned it.   

To the TV people it is all about ratings, and I suppose it is their prerogative.  But guess which team brings in more fans based on stadium capacity?  The Phillies – 103.5%.  It is over 100% due to standing room only tickets that are sold to accommodate more fans.  The Phillies sold out EVERY game this season.  Where do the Yankees rank?  They are 7th in baseball with 88.9%.  If the Phillies had a bigger stadium like the Yankees do, they would no doubt have sold all those seats as well.  Just sayin’…

Not to mention that the TBS coverage of the games, in general, is horrible.  The announcers have NO clue about the teams they are watching and tend to be biased towards particular teams.  The coverage has been historically so bad that there is even a section on Wikipedia dedicated to how bad they suck.  The TBS slogan is “very funny” but we are not laughing.

Don’t Mess With Texas; Cliff Lee Will Be There

Phillies fan everywhere can breathe a huge sigh of relief as it was announced today that Cliff Lee has been traded to the Texas Rangers.  The relief comes for many reasons.  #1 – He did not go the Mets or anywhere in the Phillies division.  #2 – He did not land with their World Series rivals, the Yankees. #3 – He is in the American League.  Whoo Hoo!


P8195298 Lee2.jpgWhy so excited?  Because Lee was LOVED in Philly and losing him this off-season in a very bad trade stung enough.  To have seen him go to a local or rival team would have been rubbing salt in the wound.  Of course, Philly would have loved to have him back, but did anyone really think that was going to happen?  Not likely.  To acquire Lee again would have meant Ruben Amaro Jr. would be admitting he made a mistake trading him in the first place.  Plus, the Phillies farm system has very little left to offer in any trade.

Here are the gritty details of the trade:  The Mariners get first baseman Justin Smoak and minor leaguers Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Matt Lawson.  The Rangers get Lee plus reliever Mark Lowe.  They will call up Chris Davis to play first since Smoak was moved.

Best of luck to Cliff Lee in Texas (unless he is playing the Phils, of course)!  He will always hold a special place in the hearts of all Phillies fans.

 

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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