Results tagged ‘ Ruben Amaro Jr. ’

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*

Hunter Was The Hunted; Now, He Is A Phillie

July 29th has been a significant day in recent Phillies history.  On July 29, 2009, the Phillies acquired Cliff Lee.  That same day in 2010, they picked up Roy Oswalt.  And this year, Hunter Pence is the big prize.

A report from Phillies Beat Writer Todd Zolecki states that Pence will be sent from the Astros to the Phillies in exchange for Class A first baseman Jonathan Singleton, Class A pitcher Jarred Cosart and two yet unnamed prospects.

The best news of the night is that neither pitcher Vance Worley or outfielder Domonic Brown were included in the deal.  While the two named prospects are highly touted, the Phillies really pulled off an amazing deal without having to give up any major league talent.  This is another huge score for Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.

Pence, 28,  is a lifetime .290 hitter and 2-time All-Star who combines both power and speed.  Pence hit 25 home runs each year from 2008-2010 and had a career high 91 RBI’s last season.  In addition, Pence cannot become a free agent until the 2014 season, putting the Phillies in control for years to come.

With the addition of Pence and also Placido Polanco returning from the DL this weekend, two moves will have to be made.  My best guess is that Brown will be sent back to Triple-A to work on his game.  The second casualty could be John Mayberry Jr.

While the playoffs and the World Series are promised to no one, the addition of Pence certainly does improve the Phillies’ chances.

And in case you missed it amidst all the excitement, there was actually a game tonight.  The Phillies beat the Pirates by a score of 10-3 with Roy Halladay pitching seven one-hit innings.  Andrew Carpenter allowed three runs in the eighth.

The offensive highlights included Chase Utley coming up just a double short of hitting for the cycle.  His 3-run homer in the second inning put the Phillies far ahead very early. 

Shane Victorino also came close to hitting for the cycle, but missed out on the home run.  Jimmy Rollins smacked a 2-run homer in the seventh, but sadly for Victorino, he was not allowed to share the homer and help out his buddy Shane.

Oddly enough, Rollins hit that home run off pitcher Jason Grilli, who until a week ago was in the Phillies minor league system.  The Pirates picked him up after the Phillies released him on July 20, 2011.

This is now set up to be a very exciting weekend for the Phillies.  When Pence will be in the line-up probably depends on how soon he can get here from Houston.  Add Polanco back into the line-up and the Phillies are set up nicely for a strong run to the playoffs.

Game two with the Pirates is Saturday night at 7:05pm; Cliff Lee will pitch.

 

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Photo by http://blogs.houstonpress.com/

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

To Boo Or Not To Boo: What Reception Will Jayson Werth Get From Phillies Fans?

Much has been made out of Jayson Werth’s offseason departure from the Phillies after accepting a huge $126 million, 7-year deal from the Nationals.  On Tuesday night, Werth will face his former team for the first time as the Phillies travel to D.C. for a three-game series.


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for P8249196N Werth.jpgSome fans have expressed their disappointment that Werth chose a big paycheck over staying with a winning team.  After all, Cliff Lee gave up more money from the Yankees to come back to Philadelphia.

But in the same circumstance, most people would take the money.  And the offer Werth got from the Nats was significantly more than the Phillies offered.  So can you really blame him?

Money aside, there may be other reasons that Phillies fans feel the need to boo Werth.  For example, this past February, Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post quoted Werth as saying, “I hate the Phillies, too,” in response to a comment made by Washington GM Mike Rizzo.

Then in late March, an interview with Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. by nick DiUlio of Philadelphia Magazine revealed more angry words by Werth.  Amaro stated he received a text message from Werth after the Lee signing that said, “BOOOOOOOO!” 

The next part of the same article read as follows: “That reaction from Jayson was funny,” says Amaro in his office in February, again flashing that smile. “He was pissed*off. He had just signed with Washington. He said to me, ‘You dum*bass. You could’ve had both of us.’ And I said, ‘You’re the dum*bass. You could have taken our arbitration offer.'”

While Werth is clearly sore over the deal, should fans be sore about Werth’s reaction?

Maybe.

But a few childish and angry words should not overshadow what Werth contributed to the Phillies team over four seasons.  He helped them win the 2008 World Championship, played solid defense and added some pop to the line-up.

While Werth’s choice of words could be perceived as blatant disrespect for a team and a fan base that always had his back, the words were spoken out of shock and likely, disappointment.

Games in D.C. against the Phillies have been traditionally overrun with Phillies fans in the past several years.  So, despite this being a home game for the Nats, Phillies fans will be heard.

So the question then remains, to boo or not to boo?   Booing is not really my style, but each person is free to make their own choice.  Ultimately, I hope Werth hears more cheers than boos out of appreciation for the time he was in Philadelphia.

And if you would really like Werth to feel bad about his poor choices of words this offseason, there is no better way than offering up a loud, hearty cheer to make him regret the indiscretion.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Kendrick VS. Worley, Amaro’s Contract & Utley’s Knee

The Phillies played two games today in split squad action.  Kyle Kendrick started against the Rays in Clearwater and Vance Worley took the mound against the Pirates in Bradenton.

Worley did well and allowed just one run over 3.1 innings on two hits and two walks while striking out five batters. 
Thumbnail image for KendrickKK.jpg
Kendrick, on the other hand, looked good for two innings but was then slammed with three homers from lefties in his final two innings.  The five runs Kendrick surrendered contributed to a 6-2 Phillies loss.

While it is only spring training, the question of whether or not Kendrick can get left-handed batters out still remains.  In four seasons with the Phillies, Kendrick has been consistently inconsistent.  The issues with lefties, a sinker ball that does not always sink and Kendrick’s tendency to become frustrated on the mound are concerning.

With all the experience he had gained over the years, the time for Kendrick to get it together into one complete package may be now or never.

Worley, 23, is younger and has less experience.  But in the long run, he may turn out to be the better pitcher between the two.  In 13 innings with the big club last year, Worley posted a 1.38 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP.  His minor league lifetime WHIP is 1.280.

In addition, Worley has a variety of pitches including both a two-seam and four-seam fastball, slider, curve and cut fastball.

It is possible that Worley will have outpitched Kendrick by the end of spring.  If so, do the Phillies go with Worley or stick with experience in Kendrick?

There is a different possibility as well.  If another bullpen pitcher bombs, like Danys Baez for example, there could be room for both players.  This also gives the Phillies additional options in the case that a starting pitcher gets injured.  Although, having two long-men in the bullpen seems unlikely as Worley could easily be recalled from the minors if needed.

With only a few weeks left this spring, both pitchers will need to bring their A-games.

Amaro’s Contract Extension

Earlier today, Ruben Amaro Jr. signed a four-year contract extension with the Phillies.  Amaro has been with the Phillies organization for a very long time and it appears that will not end anytime soon.

Amaro played for the Phillies from 1992 to 1993 and again from 1996 to 1998.  Right after that, he moved to the Phillies front office, serving as Assistant GM until being promoted to GM at the end of the 2008 season.  Amaro grew up in Philadelphia and his father, Ruben Amaro Sr., also played for the Phillies for six seasons.

Chase Utley’s Knee

The Phillies have issued a statement that Chase Utley has made “a small improvement” in his rehab after suffering patellar tendinitis, chondromalacia and bone inflammation this spring.

The news is underwhelming.

However, a newspaper cartoonist had another take on the subject:

 

Utley cartoon 007.jpg

It seems he feels like Utley is comparable to Humpty Dumpty.  Quick, get the Super Glue!

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Cartoon from The Dover Post

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

 

Phillies Honored At The PSWA Awards Banquet

On Monday night, the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association held their 107th annual awards banquet in Cherry Hill, NJ.  The PSWA honors athletes in every sport around the Philadelphia area. 


P13162920201.jpgThis year, the PSWA honored Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay as the Outstanding Pro Athlete of 2010.  He was also presented with his 2010 Cy Young award.  Shane Victorino received the Humanitarian Award for his charitable efforts in the community.

A large portion of the Phillies family was in attendance as well, including President Dave Montgomory, the Phanatic, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and manager Charlie Manuel.  As a guest speaker, Manuel had the crowd in stitches with his southern humor. 

Manuel spoke about his home state saying, “You know they don’t have Christmas plays in West Virginia, you know that? They cut it out. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.”

The speeches from Victorino, Halladay and Manuel are in the following video:

Also present was comedian Joe Conklin who attends every year to entertain the guests.  He does amazing impersonations of a variety of Philly athletes including Manuel, Cole Hamels and Eagles coach Andy Reid.  Conklin’s routine is the highlight of the banquet:

The full Photo Album from the event includes members of the Phillies, Flyers, Sixers and Eagles, plus college and high school athletes.

 

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Should The Phillies Trade Joe Blanton?

With the Fab Four of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels already locked up in their starting rotation, do the Phillies still need Joe Blanton?  The righty has two years left on his contract which will earn him a total of $17 million dollars.


P7260632 JoeBlanton.jpgIn his two and a half years with the Phillies, Blanton has a combined record of 25-14 with an average 4.36 ERA in 72 starts.  For a fifth starter in the rotation, these are pretty good numbers.

In comparison, Kyle Kendrick has a 25-20 record with a 4.55 ERA in 63 starts since the 2008 season.  The statistics are similar, but it should also be noted that Kendrick spent a good amount of time bouncing back and forth from the majors to the minors in 2009.  And last year, Blanton spent time on the disabled list.

Another alternative for the fifth starter position is rookie Vance Worley.  In two starts with the Phillies in 2010, Worley pitched 13 innings and recorded a 1.38 ERA.  Between AA and AAA last year, Worley recorded a combined 10-7 record with a 3.36 ERA over 27 starts.  But Worley is still a big unknown.  He is young and lacks experience.

With these options, it seems that either Blanton or Kendrick would be the best fit for the role.  If the Phillies are concerned with payroll, trading Blanton may be a good idea as Kendrick is still under team control.

When asked if payroll would move him to trade Blanton, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told the media, “I really don’t have to do anything.”  A lower payroll would help if Amaro has other future moves in mind, however, it does not appear to be necessary right now.

If money is not a true motivator at this times, the Phillies may be better served to keep Blanton.  Having both Blanton and Kendrick provides tremendous pitching depth.  In the event that one of the Fab Four gets injured, the decision to then move Kendrick into the rotation to fill the hole should be a no-brainer.

Blanton also has experience in eight different playoff series, including two World Series.  Kendrick pitched less than four innings in the 2007 NLDS and has not seen any playoff action since that time.

And if the Phillies start the year off with Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels and Blanton, then Kendrick can fill a hole in the bullpen as a long reliever.  With Chad Durbin still unsigned, there may be a greater need for a long man.

It appears that keeping Blanton is probably a good idea.  Of course, if another team makes a good offer, the Phillies still have other options for the fifth spot in the rotation.  But until the season actually begins, anything can happen.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

The Phillies Night Before Christmas 2010

The Phillies Night Before Christmas

 


Santa Phillies elves.jpg 

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

Not a player was stirring, as the 2010 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 HoLEEday 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, Lee 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 Cliff Lee came with a bound.

 

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

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

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

Surely the return of his ace would put this team right back on track.

 

Cliff spoke many words, but getting on with his job,

He showed off his great arm, getting praise from the mob.

And in their joy, the fans clapped their hands,

With Lee, Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels together in Philly, 2011 is sure to be grand!

 

Cliff 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 & photoshop by Jenn

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