Results tagged ‘ Ruben Amaro Jr. ’

The Phillies Night Before Christmas 2012

 

The Phillies Night Before Christmas

 

Twas the night before Christmas, when all over the field,

Not a player was stirring, as the 2012 season had been sealed.

The bats were stacked in the clubhouse with care,

In hopes that a Championship soon would be there.

-

The Phillies were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of trophies danced in their heads.

And Charlie with his new line-up tucked under his cap,

Had just settled down for a long off-season nap.

-

When outside of his house, there arose such a clatter,

Charlie sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window he stumbled, half asleep,

Having woke from a nightmare of his bullpen being taken deep.

-

The moonlight lit up the old ‘08 trophy, causing it to glow,

Giving the illusion of a night game on the grass down below.

When what to his wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh filled with ballplayers in good cheer.

-

With his General Manager and ace pitchers in tow,

He knew in a moment it must be Ruben Amaro.

More rapid than the trade deadline, forward they all came,

And he grumbled, and shouted, and called them by name!

-

“Now, Hamels! Now, Howard! Now, Rollins and Utley!

On, Brown! On, Halladay! On, Papelbon and Lee!

To the top of the National League! To the top of them all!

Now run away! Run away! And play some baseball!”

-

And then, in a twinkling, Charlie heard, “You The Man!”

From the shouting and cheering of each happy fan.

As he drew in his head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney, Ryan Howard came with a bound.

-

He was dressed all in pinstripes, from his head to his foot,

Having tossed his old ankle brace, which was tarnished, with ashes and soot.

But he arrived with a smile and Charlie gave him a pat on his back,

Surely the fully healed Achilles would put him right back on track.

-

Howard spoke many words, and after tightening his shoe lace,

He welcomed Michael Young, who will now man third base.

And with thunderous joy, the fans clapped their hands,

With a few shiny new toys, 2013 is sure to be grand!

-

Howard then sprang to the sleigh, and to his team gave a call,

“You guys are the best ballplayers of all!”

But Charlie heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,

“Happy Holiday’s to all and to all a good night!”

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Photoshopping and re-wording by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Holiday Shopping List

‘Tis the season to buy lots of crap!  Black Friday, Cyber Monday….here we come!  The Phillies began shopping early when they signed Kevin Frandsen earlier this month to a 1-year, $850,000 deal.  If Frandsen plays the way he did last year, that small chunk of change could wind up being the bargain of the year.

But the Phillies have a much longer shopping list than that.  Unfortunately, even on Black Friday, not everything is on sale.  Even if Ruben Amaro Jr. camped out in front of All-Star Josh Hamilton’s house all night, I am pretty sure someone with more money would be camped out in front of him in line.  Fold up the tent, Ruben, and let’s work on a more realistic shopping list.

- The first item on the list should be a centerfielder.  I hear our old pal Shane Victorino may come at a descent discount.  But the Phillies seem to be more focused on B.J. Upton, who could rival Ryan Howard for strikeouts.  They both strike out around 30% of the time and neither hit for average.  Regardless, this team needs to shop for an outfielder!

- Bullpen help is needed….badly.  Maybe the Phillies need to look back at a few guys they previously tossed in the trash?  Here are some oldies, but goodies: Our old pal Chad Durbin had a 3.10 ERA for the Braves last season.  And how about Jason Grilli, who was with the Phillies minor league system until they dumped him…he went on to record a 2.91 ERA for the Pirates last season.  But my #1 oldie would be Ryan Madson.  He is coming off Tommy John surgery so the bidding for him should not get too high.

- Third base: Personally, I feel a combination of Frandsen and a drug-free Freddy Galvis can handle the hot corner.  But if you are the type who MUST buy during holiday sales whether you need to or not, here is who might deserve a look:  Kevin Youkilis will be 34 in March, but the guy can still hit for power.  At 36 years, Michael Young is not exactly young anymore….but he would be a solid veteran to keep the spot warm for a much younger Cody Asche in 2014.

- While the team is stocked with starting pitchers, maybe a few small upgrades could help?  You know…get Roy Halladay a bionic shoulder to replace the bum one.  Buy Kyle Kendrick an “All I Want For X-Mas is You” tee-shirt to keep his confidence high.  And for Cliff Lee, donate to his favorite charity and make a pledge to get him more than 6 wins this year.

- Buy baby-faced Darin Ruf a pair of big-boy pants and put him on the big-boy team.  That gamble may really pay off.  What have they got to lose?  And J.C. Penney has a great Black Friday sale on pants right now…

- And the final big purchase for the Phillies should be a stand-up comedian.  When things start to go downhill for the Phils, the comedian can jump in and tell jokes between innings to keep spirits high.  Because as a fan base in 2012, we have all lost a bit of our sense of humor.  You cannot blame us though…losing is just not funny.  Help us all remember how to laugh and smile again!  And if the wins start coming, you can trade the comedian to a more needy team.

Happy shopping, everyone!

 

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Amaro 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

Phillies Fire Sale Still Burning

In an unexpected move today, the Phillies traded Joe Blanton to the Dodgers after he cleared waivers.  The Phils will get either cash or a “player to be named later,” which is usually a low-level minor leaguer.  Blanton will join Shane Victorino along with many other players to join the Dodgers just this week.  At least he will have company.

While the Dodgers are trying to buy a winner, the Phillies are trying dump a losing season.  This last trade of Blanton clears about $3 million more in salary this year, which must be an attempt to avoid paying the luxury tax.

Blanton was as surprised as the rest of us by the move.  He was slated to start tonight’s game against the D-Backs and instead, wound up packing his bags just hours before first pitch.

It also looks like the Dodgers tried to claim Cliff Lee off waivers today, but Ruben Amaro Jr. says they will pull him back.  However, with the rate the Dodgers are throwing money around, do not be surprised if Amaro is maybe planning a trade instead to squeeze a little more out of L.A.  Just a thought…a very scary one.

So is the fire sale over?  Amaro had better be careful to avoid burning this team straight down to the ground…

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

A New Era of Phillies Baseball Begins

Now that the dust has settled on baseball’s trade deadline, there is a lot of information to absorb and process.  And for the Phillies and their fans, there are a lot of emotions involved as well.  I think Ryan Howard summed it up best when he told beat writer Todd Zolecki, “Shane’s been here for a long time. Like I said, (he) was a very big part of this club. It is weird not seeing his face. It’s weird not seeing Hunter. But that’s how baseball works sometimes.”

“Weird” is an excellent description.  Everyone expected major change because of this backwards Phillies season, but it is still strange to see a guy like Shane Victorino in another uniform after being such an integral part of this team for so long.  He was indeed the “personality” of the team as well during their better days; loose, fun and fiery.

Shane was also open, honest and easily approachable, something many fans really appreciated.  I had the great pleasure of spending time with him and his wife Melissa on several Phillies Cruise’s and can tell you they are wonderful, generous people.  I wish Shane and his family all the best; they will be missed.

As for Hunter Pence, his energy will be missed.  But honestly, I won’t miss his free-swinging and awkward plate approach; it totally stressed me out!  But I am sure he will be a big help to the Giants; best of luck to him!

So what did the Phillies really get in return for all these moves?  Well first, they dumped some salary which will help keep them under the luxury tax this year.  They also got 5 new players; 2 major leaguers and 3 prospects.

The 2 major leaguers who will join the Phillies today are right-handed relief pitcher Josh Lindblom and outfielder Nate Schierholtz.  Lindblom has a 3.02 ERA in 48 games this year and should be able to help out the bullpen right away.  Schierholtz is a platoon player and lifetime .270 hitter.  He will be a huge defensive upgrade over Pence, but an offensive downgrade.

The 3 prospects are right-handed relief pitcher Ethan Martin, catcher Tommy Joseph and right-hander Seth Rosin.  Martin was the #7 prospect in the Dodgers top 20 and a former 1st round pick.  He is probably a few years away from the majors.

Joseph is an interesting prospect; he was #5 in the Giants top 20 and a 2012 Futures Gamer.  He is highly touted as a power-hitting run producer with a strong arm.  He will likely either take over for Carlos Ruiz after the 2013 season or be used as trade bait in the off-season.  Ruben Amaro Jr. has already gotten calls from other teams about him.

And finally, Rosin was #19 in the Giants top 20 with a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90’s.  He has a 4.31 ERA so far this season.

These are obviously not mind-blowing pick-ups, but Amaro seems to have gotten as much as would be expected by these moves.  So now we get to see if Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. have what it takes to be everyday players.  How these 2 guys play will determine many off-season moves for the Phillies.

In the meantime, this team still will keep on playing.  Oddly enough, yesterday’s moves seem to have given the Phillies a little spark as they routed the 1st place Nationals 8-0.  Now that the pressure is off and they are not expected to climb out of this huge hole, we may see some better baseball.

Mayberry looked like a new man last night with 2 hits and a walk.  New Phillie Kevin Fransden played amazing defense at 3rd base and whacked a 2-run homer.  And Juan Pierre had 3 hits, although that is not unusual for him.

But the most exciting play of the game was a 2-run inside-the-park homer from Jimmy Rollins.  He sped around the bases so fast, he scored standing.

All of a sudden, the Phillies had everything working.  Even the pitching was going well as Cliff Lee finally notched his 2nd win of the year with 7 scoreless innings.  Now that is the Lee we have been missing lately.

So here are the new Phillies…for now.  Wouldn’t it be nice if, just for spite, they could sweep the Nationals?  Ok, maybe I am dreaming…but still hoping for better baseball ahead!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Go From Minor Problems to Major Ones

In yesterday’s 2-1 loss, the Phillies looked either unable or unwilling to deal with Braves pitcher Mike Minor.  The only Phillies run was a solo shot from Chase Utley.  They also committed 2 errors in yet another game.

The near-comatose effort, careless swings and lack of hustle have gone from being a minor issue to a major one.

Just ask manager Charlie ManuelHe told reporters, “Our team, we used to – and I hate to say ‘used to’ – we did things different,” Manuel said. “A lot of that contributed to our success. People do change. Success changes people. Money definitely changes people. You have to be able to see those things, too. I’m not singling out one person. I’m talking about a team.”

It is interesting to finally hear the manager say what the rest of us have been thinking all season long.  This is also why many doubted whether getting injured players back, like Utley and Ryan Howard, would make any real difference.  Because if the good attitude and the hustle are not there, it doesn’t matter who they throw out onto the field.  And that is exactly what we are witnessing now.

These 2 losses against the Braves are probably going to push GM Ruben Amaro Jr. to pull the trigger on some trades in the next few days.  The Phillies are too far behind to catch up now as they sit 11.5 games out of the 2nd Wild Card spot and 15.5 out of 1st with 61 games to go.

If that happens and the team really shuts down, it will be a truly sad sight to behold.  Because even if they have nothing else to play for, you would hope they might have enough pride left to at least attempt to finish strong.  All we can do is hope that they choose the high road and try to improve for next season.

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Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Is There a Bright Side to the Phillies Skid?

With 6 straight losses, horrible defense, an anemic offense and banged up pitching staff, the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies are going nowhere fast.  Unless of course the “somewhere” you are thinking of involves a deep, dark, black hole in an alternate universe.

But for those of us stuck in the reality of here and now, being a Phillies fan sucks right now.  And there are no signs of relief on the way either.

I have been a Phillies fan for over 30 years and will always be a Phillies fan.  I remember all the ups and downs; even the mention of the name “Joe Carter” still makes me want to vomit.

But this recent downhill spiral is harder to take than most.  It is a combination of a lot of factors: Getting used to winning in the recent past; the enormous $175 million payroll; the injuries to key players; paying more for everything from parking to tickets to food at the ballpark; the utter depletion of the farm system to get all this expensive players; etc…

Before spring training even started, I predicted that the Phillies would not make the playoffs this year.  I also hoped that I was wrong.  But check out the trend:

2008: World Series win!

2009: NLCS Champs, World Series loss :O(

2010: NLDS Champs, NLCS loss

2011: NL East Division Champs; NLDS loss

The Phillies have literally gone down exactly 1 step on the postseason ladder every year since winning the World Series in 2008.  If the trend continues, that means either a Wild Card spot or no playoffs at all.

And the off-season moves the Phillies made did not inspire confidence either.  It was like Ruben Amaro Jr. tossed a coin and said, “Gee, I hope this is enough for us to scrape by with.”  Hmmm…no so much.

So let’s take a few moments to review the bright side of cheering for a bad team.  I worked very hard on this list so hang in there with me…

-          If you can afford it, it will be a lot easier to find tickets to the games in a good spot (i.e. – not the nosebleeds).

-          Games will be less crowded, therefore concession stand lines will be shorter (again, if you can afford to buy food at an overpriced stadium).

-          Better parking spots!

-          Less traffic!

-          Lower expectations: It is easier to watch your team suck when you totally expect them to suck.  Trust me…I have a lot of experience with this.

-          Fewer people at games also means it should be easier to get autographs!  And the players who were once too smug to sign should have a new attitude very soon.

-          When someone on the street sees your Phillies gear and tells you how bad they suck, you can simply reply with, “Yes, we suck.  But they are still my team.”  This is WAY less work than feeling the need to defend your team to a total stranger.

So who’s with me for the next home stand?!  Meet me Tony Luke’s in the 3rd inning; don’t worry, the line will be short so we won’t miss much of the game and once we return to our seats behind home plate, we will have a great time cheering despite strike-outs, pop-ups and bad plays while easily fending off haters rooting for the opposing team.

It’s a plan.  Go Phils!

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Phillies Infield Grasping at Straws

After trading utility infielder Wilson Valdez for a minor league pitcher in January, things have gone steadily downhill since then.  In an interview on 97.5 The Fanatic earlier this month, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. finally admitted that the Valdez trade was “foolish.”  His exact quote was, “It was foolish to trade Wilson Valdez” and Amaro then admitted if he could go back in time, he would take Valdez back.

I knew that in January.  Why didn’t Amaro?  Obviously, he did not see the train coming before it ran him over this spring training.  You cannot predict injuries, but even I knew that Chase Utley would be a big question mark this year after last year’s chronic knee issues.  Sure enough, he is out and no one knows when he will return.

Adding to the disaster at second base,  Michael Martinez has a broken foot and will be out until at least May.  To begin with, I’d have taken Valdez over Martinez anyway.  But again, Valdez is gone.  And first base is going to be an adventure as well with Ryan Howard out until…???  No one knows.

Now the Phillies are stuck with a rookie short stop as their starting second baseman.  Don’t get me wrong, Freddy Galvis is a wonderful prospect, but can he handle this type of pressure so early in his career?  Switching positions makes this even harder on a very young player who may not be ready for the big leagues yet.

Galvis may be just fine.  But this is certainly not the kind of uncertainty the Phillies wanted to start the season with.

Pete Orr may wind up being the back-up for Galvis, although the roster will not be set in stone until probably Sunday night.  We do know outfielder Juan Pierre has made the team, but the rest of the roster is still in limbo.

You can see the Phillies are very worried though…today they signed a Nationals reject, just in case.  Andres Blanco, a 27-year-old utility infielder who hit .224 with the Rangers last season, was given a minor-league deal.  This is the Phillies idea of a back-up plan.  Yikes.

A few other bonehead moves by Amaro this offseason include signing outfielder Laynce Nix to a 2-year deal.  This guy has hit above .255 only ONE time in a nine-year career.  And this spring, he is hitting .200.  And how about first baseman Ty Wiggington?  His career has been on a steady decline the last two seasons, hitting .248 and .242 respectively.  This spring, Wiggington has hit .190.

The good news is, both guys were cheap and Wiggington was given just a one-year deal.  But in case anyone is wondering, Valdez is hitting .318 in 44 at-bats this spring with the Reds.  Just saying…

Ok, so maybe all these new guys will surprise us all and get some big hits?  But I do not see any of them volunteering to pitch the 19th inning and risk making a total idiot out of themselves for the team.  That guy is gone….Wilson!  Miss you already…

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Valdez Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Phillies Night Before Christmas 2011

The Phillies Night Before Christmas

 

Twas the night before Christmas, when all over the field,

Not a player was stirring, as the 2011 season had been sealed.

The bats were stacked in the clubhouse with care,

In hopes that a Championship soon would be there.

-

The Phillies were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of trophies danced in their heads.

And Ruben with his new closer contract tucked under his cap,

Had just settled down for a long off-season nap.

-

When out in Charlie’s house, there arose such a clatter,

He sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window he stumbled, half asleep,

Having woke from a nightmare of his bullpen being taken deep.

-

The moonlight lit up the old ’08 trophy, causing it to glow

And gave the illusion of a night game on the grass down below.

When, what to his wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh filled with ballplayers in good cheer.

-

With his General Manager, ace pitchers in tow,

He knew in a moment it must be Ruben Amaro.

More rapid than the trade deadline, forward they all came,

And he grumbled, and shouted, and called them by name!

-

“Now, Utley! Now, Howard! Now, Rollins and Victorino!

On, Ruiz! On, Halladay! On, Pence and Polanco!

To the top of the National League! To the top of them all!

Now run away! Run away! And play some baseball!”

-

And then, in a twinkling, Charlie heard, “You The Man!”

From the shouting and cheering of each happy fan.

As he drew in his head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney J-Roll came with a bound.

-

He was dressed all in pinstripes, from his head to his foot,

Having tossed his old contract, which was tarnished, with ashes and soot.

But he arrived with a smile and Charlie gave him a pat on his back,

Surely the new 3-year deal would put this team right back on track.

-

J-Roll spoke many words, but getting on with his job,

He welcomed Jonathan Papelbon, whose new deal has him living high on the hog.

And with thunderous joy, the fans clapped their hands,

With a few shiny new toys, 2011 is sure to be grand!

-

J-Roll then sprang to the sleigh, and to his team gave a call,

“You guys are the best ballplayers of all!”

But Charlie heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,

“Happy HoLEEday’s to all and to all a good night!”

-

Re-wording & photoshopping by Jenn

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*

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