Results tagged ‘ Roy Oswalt ’

Book Review – “The Rotation: A Season with the Phillies and the Greatest Pitching Staff Ever Assembled”

The new Phillies book, “The Rotation: A Season with the Phillies and the Greatest Pitching Staff Ever Assembled” was written by Phillies beat reporters Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com and Todd Zolecki of “The Zo Zone.”  The book offers an inside view  of the much-hyped 2011 Phillies starting pitching staff led by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.

As an avid Phillies fan, the two major things I look for in any book about the team are as follows: 1 – Does it tell me anything that I did not already know?  2 – Is it entertaining?  Both of those questions, I can answer with an emphatic, “Yes.”

The thing that really stood out in this book was the amount of behind-the-scenes details.  The authors provide a true inside look at multiple aspects of the game, including the modern day player-reporter relationship, front office dealings, personal lives of “The Rotation” and what really makes each person tick.

The Cliff Lee chapter was my favorite.  This segment gives an in-depth account of the initial Lee acquisition, the trade to Seattle and the re-signing of Lee.  There are verbal accounts from everyone involved including Lee, his agent, the Phillies front office staff and other involved parties.  An actual e-email sent to Dave Montgomery prior to re-signing Lee is even posted in the book.

After reading all about the gut-wrenching details and roller coaster of emotions involved in these trades and signings, I actually felt sorry for those people, including Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and especially assistant GM Scott Proefrock.  You will have to read it for yourself to believe it.  What these men went through with their families, co-workers and the press is much more intricate than it appeared in the news.

And those are exactly the kind of details that make this book truly stand out.  It includes everything you ever wanted to know and then some.

Even the month by month recount of “The Rotation” during the 2011 season goes above and beyond.  It not only provides statistics and baseball details, but the authors also bring the characters to life with personal stories and locker room banter.  For example, the veil of Halladay’s steel demeanor is slightly peeled back when his first game back in Toronto as a Phillie is recounted.  And did you know that Lee made a bet with Kyle Kendrick that involved a belt and smacking each other with it?

What we do know is exactly how the story ends.  And that is the only issue with this book, which can hardly be blamed on the authors.  We all would have preferred the “happy” ending but it was just not meant to be.  Perhaps they can write that happy ending after the 2012 season?  I am sure every member of the 2012 rotation is thinking the exact same thing.

If you do not yet have a copy of the book, get it here!  Also, Jim Salisbury and Todd Zolecki will be signing copies of their book in various locations as follows:

•March 19: Bright House Field in Clearwater, FL, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

•April 2: Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting, PA, 7 p.m.

•April 3: Chester County Book Company in West Chester, PA, 7 p.m.

•April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.

 

 

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J-Roll Rides The D-Train Right Back to Philly

The wait is finally over and Jimmy Rollins has finally re-signed with the Phillies.  The 3-year, $33 million deal is said to have a 4th year option which should be fairly attainable.  Both Rollins and the Phillies seem pleased with the outcome.  Rollins had wanted 5 years, but that was likely just a matter of him bidding high to ensure at least a 3-year deal.

Rollins shared the joy on his twitter account today:

The signing come right on the heels of the D-Train, Dontrelle Willis, agreeing to a 1-year deal with the Phils.  Rollins and Willis are old friends who attended the same high school and whose mom’s are also friends.

A former starter and former Rookie of the Year in 2003, Willis’ career has run way off the tracks in recent years.  But he may be useful as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen for very little cash.  Philly seems like a good place for a comeback, but how that unfolds is yet to be seen.

I would have loved to have been a fly on that wall when J-Roll learned that Willis got a contract before he did.  It may have gone something like, “What you talkin’ ’bout Willis?”  Only here, Willis is Gary Coleman and J-Roll is Todd Bridges.  Think of it as a 70’s reverse time warp.

Either way, both players are probably thrilled to finally be on the same side.

Earlier this off-season, I made some predictions on how the free-agent period would play out for the Phillies.  Let’s see how I did:

I said that both J-Roll and Brian Schneider would re-sign.  Check.

Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge would not have their options picked up and neither would resign.  Check.

And I predicted that Ryan Madson, Raul Ibanez and Ross Gload would also not re-sign.  Check.

That makes me 7 for 7.  Check.  Did you expect any less? ;o)

Technically, anything can happen between now and spring training, but I am fairly certain the Phillies are done making moves.  How about you?  Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments :O)

 

 

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

 

Award Season: Which Phillies Made the Grade So Far

Despite an early exit from the playoffs, the Phillies 102 regular season wins and stellar individual performances have earned some players much deserved honors.

Earlier this offseason, Placido Polanco was awarded a Gold Glove for his work at third base.  Polly also won the award playing second base for the Tigers in 2007 and 2009.  He and Darin Erstad are now the only two players in big league history to win a Gold Glove at multiple positions.

MLB.com also handed out awards on Monday.   Ryan Howard was named the club’s Player of the Year, while right-hander Roy Halladay was chosen the team’s Pitcher of the Year.  And rookie right-hander Vance Worley was voted the Breakout Player of the Year.

Not to be outdone, the Philadelphia chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America put its two cents in as well.  Center-fielder Shane Victorino was the winner of the Mike Schmidt Award  for Most Valuable Player and left-hander Cliff Lee received the Steve Carlton Award for Most Valuable pitcher.

The big awards come out next week which will include Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year and the Cy Young award.  It is expect that many Phillies will be considered for these top honors, but realistically, none of them will win.  Charlie Manuel is overlooked every year in the manager category; Worley will probably lose out to Freddie Freeman.  As for the Cy Young, both Halladay and Lee will probably get passed over in favor of Clayton Kershaw who had 21 wins and an almost invisible 2.28 ERA.

Of course, anything can happen.  But those are my predictions…how about you?  Leave your best guess in the comments and we will see who gets it right.

And if anyone missed it, here is my annual Phillies Photo Tribute slideshow.  Enjoy!

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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*

2011 Phillies Photo Tribute

I just finished my yearly Phillies photo tribute!  I shot all of these photos during the 2011 season which include game photos, every player who was on the big league roster (even if for only a split second), a few alumni shots and other goodies.

The “For Fun” section is my favorite.  I collect funny shots throughout the year, like players with the giggles, guys sticking out their tongues, silly faces and lots more.  Do not worry, they are all family friendly.  The really fun ones I keep to myself ;o)

Enjoy!

 

 

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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*

Grieving the Phillies 2011 Season – Stage 4: Depression

Has anyone been watching the World Series?  I have not been able to.  Not because my TV blew up or squirrels chewed through my cable lines, but because it is just too depressing.  The 2011 World Series without the Phillies?  *SIGH* :O(

The only thing I think about right now is that there are approximately 124 days, 2,996 hours, 179,761 minutes and 10,785,690 seconds left until players report to Spring Training.  That means I have ahead of me approximately 124 days, 2,996 hours, 179,761 minutes and 10,785,690 seconds of sheer boredom and misery.

Sad Phillies

I know, I should really get a grip.  Perhaps join a 12-step program?  But I simply cannot fathom what those 12-steps might be that would be able to lift me out of this funk.

To make matters worse, there are many impending decisions on the horizon that will greatly impact the future of this Phillies team.  There are seven free agents the Phils have to make decisions on: Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Madson, Roy Oswalt, Brad Lidge, Raul Ibanez, Brian Schneider and Ross Gload.

My thoughts are that the options on Lidge and Oswalt’s contracts will not be picked up nor will either player be resigned.  Neither lived up to expectations this year and injuries were a huge problem.

Madson’s agent is Scott Boras.  That being said, the Phillies will not be able to afford to resign him.  Plus, rumor has it that Madson’s wife hates Philadelphia.  He is gone.

As for the other four, Gload and Ibanez likely will not be back.  This team needs to get younger and healthier.  The Phils will probably resign Schneider at a discount as his offensive numbers are exactly that – offensive.  And Rollins will hopefully return after some intense negotiations.

And all of that is also depressing.  This team we have all come to know and love will be broken apart with holes likely to be filled with some new faces.  Change is necessary here, especially after the final results of this season with the team ousted way earlier than expected.  But that does not make it less sad :O(

I am currently in the process of peeling myself out of this dark, hopeless abyss where I am blubbering uncontrollably while cowering in a corner.  This disappointing season has been difficult to cope with, but we must all make a commitment to try.

Although, if trying includes watching the Rangers and Cardinals, I may pass for now.  It is just too demoralizing  right now :O( 

Stay tuned for Stage 5…

 

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Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Grieving the Phillies 2011 Season – Stage 2: Anger

I can no longer deny that the season is OVER for the Phillies.  And over in the most awful way possible.  So  now, I am pissed.

Anger managementSeriously, WTF were these players thinking when they proceeded to swing at bad pitches and watch good ones fly past?  You know the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”  Well, isn’t the opposite true as well?  WHY, in the name of all that is unholy, did the Phillies offense stay the course with what was NOT working and skip any attempt to FIX the problem?

There were a variety of ridiculous press conferences this week where players, manager Charlie Manuel and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. all admitted that something has to change.  They talked about players having a “better approach” at the plate and more “patience” and “discipline.”

If you ask me, this is one of the most undisciplined Phillies teams in recent memory.  Manuel’s nice guy approach is refreshing, but when things are going bad, it is also counterproductive.  Sometimes, players need a kick in the rear.  Sometimes, actual coaching is required.  And most times, discipline is a very, very good thing.

Manuel says he is a good ” hitting coach.”  But his “coaching” seems to come across to many experienced players as “suggestions” rather than  correction or direction.  But are some of these players too damn old and set in their ways to be coached?  If they are, MOVE ON.

Because what exactly is going to change next year?  Ryan Howard is still going to swing at a ball in the dirt on a 3-0 count no matter what you tell him.  That is who he is.  I am not saying dump Howard (which frankly, would be impossible now) or anyone else, but DO let these guys know they need to do as they are told or bench them!

I do not care how much money they are making.  If they cannot follow directions, teach them that there ARE consequences.  If I suck at my job, I will get fired.  If I do not follow directions or at least TRY things my boss tells me to, I am in BIG trouble.  And my paycheck is crap…these guys are making millions and still do not feel like they need to listen to their boss?  WTF!

If Manuel tells a guy to move closer to the plate, he needs to let the player know this is an ORDER, not a suggestion!  If it doesn’t work, fine, he tried.

Lee yellingabThis is probably the most disgusted I have ever been with a Phillies team in 30 years.  Even all those years when they were losing consistently, it was easier to take because they did not have a lot of talent.  This 2011 team was loaded with talent and they just plain blew it!

This season was a huge waste of time, money and superior pitching.  Heck, even the great pitching sucked in 2 out of 5 games in the NLDS.  And I love Cliff Lee, but if he was in front of right this second, I might bash him repeatedly over the head with a soft, fluffy pillow.  I saw pillow because I prefer to express my anger and disappointment without actually causing injury ;o)

For Roy Oswalt, my plan is to drop to the ground at his feet, cry hysterically and shout, “You ruined my life!  HOW could you do that?  What kind of a cruel person are you! Waaaaaaaaa!”  While none of that is really accurate, it would brighten my mood to make him feel bad for a few seconds ;o)

Ok, so I know they all feel terrible as it is, so all of that is really unnecessary, but damn, I am pissed!  Aren’t you?

And that concludes my angry and slightly insane rant during my extended period of mourning.  Stay tuned for Stage 3…

 

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 Lee photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

2011 Phillies Season Ends in a Total Disaster

First, congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals.  They played well and deserved to win this series.  And that statement may be the only light moment in this post today…

I am angry, disappointed and thoroughly disgusted by this loss and the effort this Phillies team put forth in this NLDS series.  I apologize in advance if anyone is offended by what I am about to say, but I need a good rant to get this off my chest.

I do not want to hear, “We’ll get them next year.”  I do not want to hear, “Hindsight is 20/20.”  Because frankly, the issues on this Phillies team are not hindsight.  They are glaring problems that were obvious to me before the series even began.  If they were obvious to me, what I want to know, is why weren’t they to manager Charlie Manuel?

As my first example, take Placido Polanco.  This is a guy who normally hits at least .300 every year.  But he has been playing on a hip that will require surgery this offseason.  Manuel said after the game that Polly was in pain, but still able to play.  Just because he is ABLE to play, does not mean he should have.

Polanco batted .105 in the series and should have been benched both for his lack of production and for his health.  Putting a guy with a bum hip in the line-up every day was almost a guarantee of an 0-4 day.  Wilson Valdez played in 99 games in the regular season and came through many times in big situations.  Valdez would have at least accidentally run into a hit at some point. 

I am not saying Valdez should have played every game, but Polly certainly should not have stayed in the line-up once it was obvious that he was unable to hit with this injury.  This was a huge mistake.

Another huge mistake was Ryan Howard.  Can anyone think of a good reason for Howard to be tinkering with his stance and location in the batter’s box during a playoff series?  No?  Neither can I.  He did pretty well the 1st two games and then suddenly by Game 3, he had moved so far back in the batter’s box that he was almost in New Jersey.

100811-howard-NLDS-400 Howard messed with his approached and screwed both himself and this team, going 0 for his last 15 at-bats.  And why is a guy who is not hitting giving the 3-0 green light?  WTF.  Seriously.

So Howard made the final out of the postseason again, two years in a row, in the most pathetic manner possible.  He hurt his Achilles and went down like a sack of potatoes trying to exit the batter’s box.  He had to be helped off the field.  Fittingly, the look on his face matched the feeling of every Phillies fans in attendance and watching at home; sheer agony.

Next up, Chase Utley….you all know I love Mr. Utley.  But WHY is he taking a chance trying to steal a base in a 1-0 elimination game against Yadier Molina who throws just about everyone he faces out in that situation?

And my new favorite topic of discussion is Jimmy Rollins.  Rollins may be the only player who had a pretty good series until the final game.  He openly scolded fans about being too quiet after Game 2 and asked them to give it their all in Game 5.  Ok, fine.  The fans more than obliged and Rollins proceeded to go 0-4 in the game.  The fans brought it, why didn’t Rollins?  After the game, Rollins would not speak to reporters.  Go figure.

And then there is Raul Ibanez.  I can see letting him start most games, but when he started swinging at balls 2 feet out of the strike zone, this is a sign.  Ibanez goes hot and cold like the flip of a switch.  When he is obviously cold, take him out!  Give John Mayberry Jr. a shot.  TRY something to kick start this horrid offense!

Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz were just as bad in this series.  After ending the season with a .314 average, Pence hit only .211 in the NLDS.  Ruiz was worse, going 1-17 which equates to a .059 average.

Shane Victorino and Rollins were they only two guys who hit with any sort of consistency, but Rollins crashed and burned in the final game.

And then there is the line-up as a whole.  Manuel moved Utley to the 2-hole and Pence to the 3-hole.  This worked well for all of maybe 3 games total? – A few in at the end of the regular season and Game 1 of the NLDS?  Howard hit well before with Pence behind him.  Why mess with that once it stopped working?

Manuel is big on  what he calls playing the guys who got them to this point.  I’ve got news for Charlie…Valdez, Mayberry and sometimes Michael Martinez were a HUGE part of what got this team there, filling in for injured players and making big plays.  But he started Mayberry once and totally ignored the other guys.

And now for the pitching…Roy Halladay gave everything he had and gave up only one run.  He would have bled for this team if he thought it would help.  But the team let him down and could not score even one lousy run for the one guy who has carried them all year.  Disgusting.  After the game, Halladay said that the worst part of the loss was letting down the fans who were so supportive all year.  For me, the person I feel the worst for is Halladay.  He deserved a win; he earned it.  This team should be ashamed of letting him down like this.

And among the rest of the four aces, only Cole Hamels pitched well.  Cliff Lee blew a 4-run lead in Game 2, which was the real turning point of the series.  Once that happened, the Cards knew they had the Phils by the balls.  It was all downhill from there.

The Game 3 win was a freak accident, thanks to a Ben Francisco homer.  But the Phillies did not really earn that win.  And in Game 4, Roy Oswalt choked and gave up 5 runs.  So much for four aces.  Because the Cardinals had the royal flush.

This is possible the biggest let-down for any Phillies team in history since Black Friday on October 7, 1977 when Davey Lopes with the Dodgers was called safe and the momentum propelled the Dodgers to win the series.  So Friday October 7, 2011 (yes, the same day) may go down in history as Black Friday II.

With the pitching staff the Phillies assembled this year and the overall talent on this team, to see them lose the NLDS is a gut-wrenching tragedy.  I would not be surprised to see GM Ruben Amaro Jr. at the top of a very tall building today contemplating where it all went wrong.

I feel sorry for Ruben – he did his job, got them the players they needed and has nothing to show for it.  In fact, this Phillies team since the 2008 World Series win has taken one huge step backwards each year following: in 2009 they lost the World Series; in 2010 they lost the NLCS; and now in 2011, they lost the NLDS.  One step further back each year – if the trend continues, they will not even make the playoffs next year.

The window of opportunity for this team to win is about to close, which is the worst part of this horrible loss.  The main players are getting older, they are more injury prone and many may not even be back next year.  This may officially wind up being the worst offseason in Phillies recent history.

So I am ready to spit nails, how about you?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section. 

 

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Photo by Philly.com

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

Opportunity Lost As Cards Tie Series

So far in this NLDS, two of the Phillies heralded four aces have been hugely disappointing.  In Game 2, Cliff Lee gave up 5 runs in 6 innings.  Tonight in Game 4, Roy Oswalt did exactly the same.

Those two starts, and even yesterday’s Game 3 win, only served to amplify another Phillies major issue: the offense.  The bats have been mostly quiet in every game except the first one.  The Phillies snuck by with 3 runs for a win in Game 3 thanks only to a Ben Francisco homer.

It looked like the Phils might put a hurting on the Cardinals early tonight, scoring two quick runs in the 1st.  But instead of piling on, Ryan Howard struck out and on the same pitch, Hunter Pence got nailed going to second, although on replay, he was safe.  No matter, because that one strike out / throw out killed the rally and the offense died after that.

The slow, painful death of the Phils offense this postseason could signal the premature end of their playoff run.  Even with Roy Halladay to pitch in the final Game 5 of the NLDS on Friday, if the Phils do not score, what Halladay does will not matter.

The only light moment in tonight’s disgusting loss was the reappearance of the Busch Stadium squirrel.  The BS Squirrel enjoyed a run around the field in Game 3.  In Game 4, he interrupted an Oswalt pitch by running straight across home plate.

The umpire had no sympathy for Oswalt.  Shocking, I know.

The Phillies will head back home, in a 2-2 series tie.  Friday night is a case of win or go home…start praying that the Phillies find their bats before then.

 

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

Big Ben Unlikely Hero In Game 3 Win

With the NLDS series tied 1-1 between the Phillies and the Cardinals, Game 3 was going to be big for the winner.  The Phillies had not been able to hit Cards starter Jaime Garcia in previous meetings, so for the Phillies, this was not an easy task.

Equally intimidating, Cole Hamels pitched for the Phillies.  Over 6 innings, he did not allow a single run.  But multiple base runners and deep counts ran Hamels out of the game earlier than the Phillies would have liked.

Big Ben Francisco There was no score by the time Hamels was out of the game, but an unlikely hero emerged in the top of the 7th inning to keep Hamels in-line for the win.  Shane Victorino singled to start the inning and later, Carlos Ruiz was intentionally walked to bring up Big Ben Francisco.

Outfielder Francisco  was a relative non-factor most of the year after the emergence of John Mayberry Jr. and the acquisition of Hunter Pence.  He hit only 6 homers the entire regular season and saw limited at-bats.

But on the one night the Phillies really needed a hero, Big Ben stepped up with a 3-run blast in the 7th.  Even better, the bomb came off a pitch from Garcia who suddenly lost some of his command in that inning.  Finally, the Phillies hit Garcia and took a 3-0 lead.

The Phillies bullpen made the final 3 inning a real adventure though.  Vance Worley gave up a run in the 7th.  Then he and Brad Lidge combined to load the bases in the 8th.  But Ryan Madson, brought into the game earlier than usual, coaxed a double play ball to end the threat.  Madson did give up a run later in the 9th, but still earned the save.

This was a huge win for the Phillies who now need only one more win to erase the Cards and advance to the NLCSRoy Oswalt will pitch tomorrow night; game time is 6:00pm.

 

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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*

Roster in Place, the Phillies Are Ready for the NLDS

Game 1 of the NLDS is scheduled for a 5:07 start tonight.  Here is the post-season roster for the Phillies:

  • Catchers (2): Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider.
  • Infielders (6): Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez.
  • Outfielders (6): Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, John Mayberry Jr., Ben Francisco and Ross Gload.
  • Pitchers (11): Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes, Vance Worley, Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton.
  • Extras: Infielder Pete Orr and Catcher Erik Kratz will travel with the team. RHP Justin De Fratus, LHP Joe Savery and outfielder Domonic Brown will work out in Clearwater, FL and Outfielders John Bowker and Brandon Moss and RHP Michael Schwimer have been sent home.

The only slightly interesting move here is that Blanton was chosen for the roster instead of David Herndon, despite missing most of the season with injuries.  The Phillies chose experience over a younger guy, even though Herndon was with the team most of the year.

As for the pitching match-ups in the series, here are the probable starters for the Phillies and Cardinals:

  • Game 1: Roy Halladay vs. Kyle Lohse (ex-Phillie)
  • Game 2: Cliff Lee vs. Chris Carpenter (on 3 days rest)
  • Game 3: Cole Hamels vs. Jaime Garcia

These are some odd moves by Tony LaRussa.  It will either turn out to be genius, or a huge mistake.  The Phillies should be able to handle Lohse and will then get Carpenter on short rest.  That is another situation they can probably take advantage of.

The pitcher the Phils have the most trouble with is Garcia, who was pushed back to Game 3 because his home numbers are much better than his road numbers.

This all seems to add up to a Phillies advantage, however, that remains to be seen.  Also of note, Game 2 has been pushed back to 8:37pm (ugh) on Sunday due to the Yankees – Tigers rain postponement.

I also wanted to share with you an article I just read about how Danys Baez has helped Antonio Bastardo out of his recent pitching funk.  Baez was released by the Phillies in July and was not picked up by another team.  He has been sitting at home in Miami watching and noticed Bastardo, a player he previously mentored, was having problems.  He reached out to Bastardo and helped him find the issues in his mechanics.

Bastardo has bounced back since then and it seems that Baez is the reason.  The story made me a little sad, thinking about how much criticism Baez took while he was in Philly from fans and media.  For him to swallow his pride and reach out to an ex-teammate like that is a sign of true character.  He may not have been the bullpen solution the Phillies hoped for, but he gets huge brownie points in my book for just being a great guy.

Hope to see you all at the game tonight!  Go Phillies!

 

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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*

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